So, we had climategate, which in my estimation — and that of others — amounted to a hill of beans. Even Chylek admits that nothing in the emails destroys the main pillar in the AGW paradigm — the globally averaged temperature record. AGW, which is not premised on the hockey stick, or solely on model projections, is still intact despite the braying of the denialist donkeys around the blogosphere.
Then we had glaciergate, which was admittedly embarrassing, but not a mistake of the pillar-toppling variety that is enough to bring down the AGW house.
The next Denialist-created “gate” making the rounds is “Amazongate”. As I write this, google shows 27,300 results for “amazongate” — amazing how fast dreck flows. Speaking of dreck, I wonder when FOX News (fair and balanced) will pick this up and run with it?
“AGW theory is toast. So’s Dr Rajendra Pachauri. So’s the Stern Review. So’s the credibility of the IPCC. But if you think I’m cheered by this you’re very much mistaken. I’m trying to write a Climategate book but the way things are going by the time I’m finished there won’t be anything left to say: the battle will already have been won and the only people left who still believe in Man Made Global Warming will be the eco-loon equivalents of those wartime Japanese soldiers left abandoned and forgotten on remote Pacific atolls.Here’s the latest development, courtesy of Dr Richard North – and it’s a cracker. It seems that, not content with having lied to us about shrinking glaciers, increasing hurricanes, and rising sea levels, the IPCC’s latest assessment report also told us a complete load of porkies about the danger posed by climate change to the Amazon rainforest. [my emphasis]
Apparently, another reference has been found to a WWF report in the IPCC AR4.
According to Delingpole :
The two expert authors of the WWF report so casually cited by the IPCC as part of its, ahem, “robust” “peer-reviewed” process weren’t even Amazon specialists. One, Dr PF Moore, is a policy analyst. [OMG a policy analyst. Like, I'm a policy analyst and even the Great Puzzler himself was once one]
Of course, one should always read the comments section, to get a sense of Delingpole’s readership:
So not only do we have more proof that the IPCC report was packed with flawed evidence, but the clowns who put it together turn out to be unqualified ‘experts’ and chippy journos with a track record in cheerleading for organisation who regard the solution for every problem to be a bigger state, higher taxes, more rules and less freedom.
I suppose we should be grateful that the idiots responsible for this piece of Soviet-style propaganda were so arrogant, and in such a hurry to come up with a mandate for their Leftist agenda, that they failed to make it less susceptible to the infuriating forces of reality.
Incidentally, that Rowell character sounds like a hoot, what with his passions for environmentalism, animal rights and anti-smoking. I must invite him round for a dinner party some time.
James Delingpole of the Telegraph says this better than I ever could, so I’ll provide his summary here. Note that there are plenty more cases of unsubstantiated non peer reviewed references in the IPCC report, a list of which you can see here. For those wondering what “Load of porkies” means, see this.
The IPCC also made false predictions on the Amazon rain forests, referenced to a non peer-reviewed paper produced by an advocacy group working with the WWF. This time though, the claim made is not even supported by the report and seems to be a complete fabrication
Thus, following on from “Glaciergate”, where the IPCC grossly exaggerated the effects of global warming on Himalayan glaciers – backed by a reference to a WWF report – we now have “Amazongate”, where the IPCC has grossly exaggerated the effects of global warming on the Amazon rain forest.
Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000). It is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas.
The study of climate-induced changes in key ecosystem processes (Scholze et al., 2005) considers the distribution of outcomes within three sets of model runs grouped according to the amount of global warming they simulate: <2°C, 2-3°C and >3°C. A high risk of forest loss is shown for Central America and Amazonia, more frequent wildfire in Amazonia, more runoff in north-western South America, and less runoff in Central America. More frequent wildfires are likely (an increase in frequency of 60% for a temperature increase of 3°C) in much of South America. Extant forests are destroyed with lower probability in Central America and Amazonia. The risks of forest losses in some parts of Amazonia exceed 40% for temperature increases of more than 3°C (see Figure 13.3).
The section quotes Rowell and Moore and the next paragraph quotes Scholze et al.
Here is the quote from the 2000 WWF report by Rowell and Moore:
Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall. In the 1998 dry season, some 270,000 sq. km of forest became vulnerable to fire, due to completely depleted plant-available water stored in the upper five metres of soil. A further 360,000 sq. km of forest had only 250 mm of plant-available soil water left. Scientists from Woods Hole Research Centre (WHRC) and IPAM (Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia) who have undertaken ground-breaking work on fires in the Amazon, conclude that “in a scenario of increasingly frequent El Niño events, Amazonia is poised to experience catastrophic forest fire events that dwarf the fires of Roraima in early 1998 and of deforestation activity in scale”. The implications are severe, because if the normally fire-resistant Amazon forest dries out, this could change the hydrologic cycle and hence the whole climate of the region, which has global implications, not least for global climate.
They cite two studies by Nepstad et.al.:
45 D. C. Nepstad, A. G .Moreira, & A. A. Alencar, Flames in the Rain Forest: Origins, Impacts and Alternatives to Amazonian Fire, Pilot Program to Conserve the Brazilian Rain Forest. Ministry of Environment, Secretariat for the Co-ordination of the Amazon, 1999
46 D. C. Nepstad, A. Veríssimo, A. A l e n c a r, C. Nobre, E. Lima, P. Lefebvre, P. S c h l e s i n g e r, C. Potter, P. Mountinho, E. Mendoza, M. Cochrane, V. Brooks, Large-scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire, Nature, 1999, Vo l 398, 8 April, pp505
Here’s one of the Nepstad et. al. references:
“we find that surface fires burn additional large areas of standing forest, the destruction of which is normally not documented. Forest impoverishment due to such fires may increase dramatically when severe droughts provoke forest leaf-shedding and greater flammability; our regional water-balance model indicates that an estimated 270,000km2 of forest became vulnerable to fire in the 1998 dry season. Overall, we find that present estimates of annual deforestation for Brazilian Amazonia capture less than half of the forest area that is impoverished each year, and even less during years of severe drought. Both logging and fire increase forest vulnerability to future burning 6,7 and release forest carbon stocks to the atmosphere, potentially doubling net carbon emissions from regional land-use during severe El Nino episodes. If this forest impoverishment is to be controlled, then logging activities need to be restricted or replaced with low-impact timber harvest techniques, and more effective strategies to prevent accidental forest fires need to be implemented.Large-scale burning of tropical forest during severe ENSO episodes may impoverish vast areas of these species -and carbon-rich ecosystems; such episodes are increasing in frequency, possibly in response to the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere 26. These considerations point to the need to either restrict the logging industry in Amazonia, or to replace conventional logging practices in moist tropical forest regions with low-impact harvest techniques 17,27. Cost-effective investments in the prevention of accidental forest tres by Amazonian farmers and ranchers are also needed 28. Both of these changes are unlikely to occur unless access to these forest lands provided by expanding road networks, electrical grids and water transport systems is sharply curtailed 28.
Risks of changes in fire frequency are also widespread. Fire frequency partly depends on fuel type and availability, and its relationship to runoff is not straightforward. Reduced fire frequency, reflecting wetter conditions, is indicated for parts of the boreal region, but increased tree cover in some other parts (especially eastern Canada) promotes fire. Reduced fire frequency accompanies increased runoff in tropical Africa. Most semiarid regions, including the Sahel, central Australia, central Asia, southern Africa, and the western U.S., show a high probability of increased wildfires, especially for >3°C, reflecting increased biomass growth. Increased fire risk is also apparent in the southeastern U.S. and at high elevations (notably the Tibetan plateau). More frequent wildfires are likely (>60% for >3°C) in much of South America. Fire is a major factor in structuring vegetation (20), and some biome shifts follow these changes in fire regime, whereas others are forced directly by climate. Forests extend with high probability into the Arctic and into semiarid savannas. Extant forests are destroyed with high probability in parts of the southern boreal zone (especially southern Siberia, the Russian Far East, and the western interior of Canada) and with lower probability in eastern China, Central America, Amazonia, and the Gulf Coast of the U.S. The risks of forest losses in some parts of Eurasia, Amazonia, and Canada are >40% for >3°C. [my emphasis]
But the IPCC’s shamelessness did not end there. Dr North has searched the WWF’s reports high and low but can find no evidence of a statement to support the IPCC’s claim that “40 per cent” of the Amazon is threatened by climate change. (Logging and farm expansion are a much more plausible threat).