Sunday, January 24, 2010

Admission that IPCC report was deliberately dramatised

The Mail on Sunday has the following story:
The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.
‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’

12 comments:

P Gosselin said...

This story is everywhere in the US blogs. I think the focus also has to move to the IPCC projected sea level rise. I think some scrutiny there would also turn up some surprises. I read somewhere that Rahmstorf's crystal ball fantasy of 1.7 meter SLR over the next 90 years would be put in the next IPCC report. I wonder if they'll reconsider.

Hans von Storch said...

Reiner,
how is the common practice in the UK? - Are direct quotes authorized, or could it be that the journalist is rephrasing quotes so that they may become inaccurate? - Hans

Reiner Grundmann said...

I don't know about authorization practices but would think that not every line is read and agreed by its authors. However, the UK probably has the toughest libel laws in the world. A story that does not hold water will be put to pieces very soon. This is costly.

Leigh Jackson said...

The Mail does not mention the original source of error, the publication "Down to Earth" and the India Environment Portal, which reproduced the DtE article online.

There is a bizarre blog on the Centre for Science and Environment site, whose precise relationship with DtE and IEP I am not sure of, but is an intimate one.

The blog says: " ...it is important to recognize that it was a silly mistake on the part of the authors of the IPCC report... to pick up a non-peer reviewed paper and quote it as a definitive finding. Silly still, they quoted a definitive year – 2035 – for the vanishing of the entire Himalayan glaciers. Considering that the science of climate change is still evolving (that is why IPCC publishes its reports every six years), giving a definitive year was a blunder."
http://www.cseindia.org/content/glaciating-climate-debate

To see how bizarre view the offending IEP page.
http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/node/319

'"Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high," says the International Commission for Snow and Ice ( icsi ) in its recent study on Asian glaciers.'

Someone needs to be asking some questions to CSE/IEP/DtE.

Leigh Jackson said...

Thinking a little more I can see how an environmental activist organiation like the CSE might go to the extreme and beyond, in an effort to make its message as loud as possible. They are, after all, only trying to put out the message being put out by the IPCC before IPCC 2007 - that global warming and its consequent effects are happening and will get worse. And it's their job to get that message out in their own region and also to attract external attention to their problem.

That is not to excuse them. However, Murari Lal has no conceivable defense. If what the Mail says is correct then he has to go.

Anonymous said...

Finally, it is inconceivable that CSE did not know that the article from Down to Earth had been grafted into IPCC 2007. They must have been ecstatic. To deny that they knew is just not credible.

Steve said...

This latest incident appears part of the obvious political slant of the IPCC - to overplay/maximize the adverse consequences of global warming. Chris Landsea gives a much earlier example in his letter at:
http://www.climatechangefacts.info/ClimateChangeDocuments/LandseaResignationLetterFromIPCC.htm

The fact that there were no consequences from what he described demonstrated that the IPCC had much less interest in science than in advocacy, no matter how flimsy the basis.

This kind of bias may be a small part of the IPCC process, but unfortunately it brings everything into disrepute.

Defensive posts are busily being put up over the last week about how it's one little mistake in a massive document, busy scientists, there's still global warming, here's lot of peer reviewed papers that support the apocalypse, etc, etc.

But for those not already thoroughly convinced of the massive problem that awaits us from AGW, both the IPCC and their cheerleaders have really missed the point.

Leigh Jackson said...

I am convinced that serious problems may reasonably be anticipated - though we cannot be absolutely sure. I do not think we ought to carry on regardless.

To take such a sanguine view of the possible risks is as foolish as raising fears of inevitable catastrophe if we do nothing.

Marco said...

@Hans von Storch & Reiner Grundmann:
Libel laws in the UK may be quite strict, but faulty quotes are not libel. If David Rose would call someone a thief, they may have a chance. Here, at best, Lal could claim he was misquoted.

And that he was misquoted is not unlikely. David Rose has previously 'quoted' Latif as claiming that several decades of cooling were coming (also claiming that Keenlyside et al predicts as much). Latif has noted quite the surprise at being quoted as such in the Guardian.

Hans von Storch said...

Thanks, Marco,
I suggest we wait for independent confirmation of this quote by Murari Lal. Quotes in the media are not always repeating what somebody said, but what somebody heard, or wanted to hear.

Marco said...

As expected, Lal denies having made the comments David Rose claims in the Daily Mail:
http://climateprogress.org/2010/01/25/un-scientist-refutes-daily-mail-claim-himalayan-glacier-2035-ipcc-mistake-not-politically-motivated/
Sorry for all the Romm-babble, Lal's comments are about 1/3 down the page (unless many more comments are added).

Hans von Storch said...

I just read on
http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/19/heat-over-faulty-un-view-of-asian-ice/


"[UPDATE, 1/27: Here's an email from Murari Lal, a lead author on the chapter on Asia in the 2007 impacts report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:

I am not a Glaciologist but a Climatologist and the statement attributed to me in "Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified” By David Rose in UK Daily Mail on 24th January 2010 has been wrongly placed. I never said this story at any time and strongly condemn the writer for attributing this to me.

More specifically, I never said during my conversation with Rose the following statements being attributed to me:

(a) 'it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.'

(b) ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.'

(c) ‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’, and

(d) ‘We as authors followed them to the letter,’ he said. ‘Had we received information that undermined the claim, we would have included it.’."


Also: In a note to the I.P.C.C. office, a copy of which was sent to The Times, he wrote:

"Dear sirs, The statement attributed to me in 'Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified' By David Rose in UK Daily Mail on 24th January 2010 has been wrongly placed. I never said this story at any time and strongly condemn the writer for attributing this to me."


I would guess this makes clear that Dr. Lal is objecting the "quote" attributed to him.