There has been no respite for the UN’s climate change body this week. Critics continue to circle following the admission by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that it was wrong to claim Himalayan glaciers could vanish by 2035.
The IPCC hit back at the Sunday Times this week, after the paper published an article claiming it was guilty of “wrongly linking global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters”. Such a claim is “misleading and baseless” it said in a statement.
According to the IPCC, its influential Fourth Assessment Report actually “clearly makes the point that one study detected an increase in economic losses, corrected for values at risk, but that other studies have not detected such a trend”.
Still, the row about IPCC claims regarding natural disasters clearly has legs.
Climate researcher and blogger Roger Pielke Jr has been digging into what he calls the ‘IPCC mystery graph’, which displays US losses from catastrophes alongside temperature anomalies. His hypothesis: “The IPCC created a graph that did not exist in the peer reviewed literature or in the grey literature to suggest a relationship between increasing temperatures and rising disaster costs.”
Meanwhile, critics are also claiming to have found another instance of the IPCC relying on un-peer reviewed and unreliable information from NGOs. Fox News (and others) are now digging into the predictably named Amazon-gate. They claim that there is no real evidence for the claim in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report that “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”.
Warming skeptic blogs claim this claim comes from a WWF study, Global Review of Forest Fires, which doesn’t really relate to the Amazon. Further, the 40% claim in this report they trace to a Nature paper that doesn’t relate to global warming.
IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri has come out swinging though. He staunchly defended his group’s work in an interview in Science this week.
Support is also being shown for Pachauri in the press. In the Hindustan Times, Darryl D’Monte, chairman of the Forum of Environmental Journalists of India, says suspicions are growing that there is a smear campaign being launched to undermine Pachauri. “If one sees the sequence of events, it does appear that vested interests — using British media — are seeking to discredit the IPCC,” he writes.
And in the week’s most surprising development, al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has apparently demanded action on climate change. Seriously.