Sunday, January 24, 2010

Journalism versus Advocacy: The Unscientific Approach of the Global Warming Alarmists Illustrated

We can be thankful for the honest and critical reporting in the Times of London and the Daily Telegraph in the UK on recent revelations of fraud, error and deception among global warming alarmists. The sloppiness and mendacity of much of the global media over the past few years is exemplified by a blog entry in the news blog "the two way" at the US National Public Radio website.

This blog entry reveals a totally unscientific mentality in its transparent attempt to twist the facts, understate the seriousness of the allegations and deny the implications of the recent IPCC panel's admissions that one of its most spectacular predictions was wrong.

To review the agreed upon facts: In 2007, the IPCC report claimed that the glaciers in the Himalayas, which are the sources of major rivers providing drinking and irrigation water for over half a billion people in Asia, are melting so fast they would be gone by 2035 (20 years from now). Now the IPCC has admitted that the skeptics and critics who have never accepted this story were right all along and that there is no actual scientific research to support this wild-eyed claim at all.

So how does the pro-global warming, liberal, advocacy media spin this dicey situation? Watch and learn the difference between journalism and partisanship. My comments in [red and square brackets].

"One of the most shocking revelations from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in 2007 was that the glaciers in the Himalayas could melt away entirely by 2035. That would mean, in a mere 25 years, large parts of Asia would lose the rivers that sustain the farms and lives of half a billion people. [It is worth noting that the IPCC won the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on global warming. Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for not being George Bush. Hmmm . . . any trends apparent here? Nah, there is no such thing as a leftist bias in "science," is there? Well, no, but is "global warming" science?]

The factoid was buried in one of the voluminous reports from the IPCC, which won a Nobel Peace Prize for its work. The statistic never made it to the all-important summary for policymakers. But even so, it has been creeping out into polite society. [This makes it sound like this was a little detail that hardly anyone noticed. But it was one of the scary stories used extensively to influence public policy and decisions about spending trillions of dollars of your money.]

In fact, NPR has repeated it on several occasions. For example, a year ago we covered a congressional hearing at which Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) discussed it with former Vice President Al Gore. The two talked about the shocking implications of losing the headwaters of the Irrawaddy, the Ganges, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Yellow rivers. [It was a prime talking point used by scare-mongers like Gore. Please note, everyone now agrees that the conservatives in the US Senate were quite right and prudent to disbelieve Gore and the IPCC on this point.]

OK. Deep breath. After a government minister in India expressed his skepticism about the assertion recently, the head of the IPCC went and looked it up. Oops. It's wrong. [O0ps? O0ps? This is all you can say about this scandal? Oops? And, for the record, the "head" of IPCC did not go and "look it up." The skeptics showed that the claim was baseless and the mainstream media embarassed the IPCC into fessing up. That is a little different than "looking it up."]

The IPCC has issued a statement saying that the organization's fact-checking system broke down in this instance.

How did this happen? A letter being published online later today in Science Magazine says the IPCC picked up the date from a report by the World Wildlife Fund, which has since corrected its error. WWF picked up the date from a quote in the popular science magazine, New Scientist. But the final clue to the mystery may lie in an obscure study that discussed the global fate of glaciers in the year 2350. Flip around a few of those digits and... [Flip around a few digits? This is supposed to be the "gold standard of science," an internationally peer-reviewed summary of the scientific consensus world-wide. This makes it sound like a Grade 7 science poster.]

That's not quite the end of the story, though. The IPCC stands by its overarching message, [Now, just stop right there and ask yourself if anything - any facts, any research, any arguments, any logic, any new information - could ever persuade the IPCC to change its mind on this issue. If not this, then what? We were wrong in our facts but our conclusions stand. Did the facts ever have anything to do with the conclusions in the first place?] which is that the world's glaciers are rapidly melting and bad things will happen to people if that continues unabated. But the demise of the Himalayan glaciers is, thankfully, not just a few decades away. [Maybe it is a million years away and maybe it will never happen. Maybe it will only happen in a parallel universe. And this rot is what our government is supposed to base its decisions on about issues such as making the Alberta tar sands no longer economically viable? One last point, the comments on this blog post are uniformly hostile to the "Scandal? What scandal?" stance taken in the blog. Many are cogent and well-worth reading.]


Further Comments:
Now the pro-global warming alarmism journalists like Geoffrey Lean and Mark Lynas are calling for the resignation of Dr. Pachauri, head of the IPCC. It appears that their response to the string of embarrassing revelations of errors and deceptions from Al Gore to Climategate to the IPCC is to let a few heads role, do some PR and carry on business as usual. Charles Clover in the Times Online clearly attempts to make Pachauri the sacrificial lamb, but in doing so exposes what the UN and the pro-global warming alarmists were willing to put up with until they got caught. Read the following indictment of Pachauri, which is more damning than anything I've read from a AGW skeptic.

"Pachauri already stands accused of poor judgment for defending the report’s general conclusions about Himalayan glaciers after they were called “alarmist” by India’s environment minister, Jairam Ramesh. Pachauri accused Ramesh of relying on “voodoo science”. Pachauri looks pretty silly now.

The IPCC chairman also stands accused of making policy statements — for example, encouraging the world to eat less meat — when he is meant to be an adviser to policy makers, not one himself.

Pachauri also seems to have an awful lot of jobs. He already has a full-time job as director general of the Indian Energy and Resources Institute, which seems to benefit from UK government funding. He is also an adviser to Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and the Chicago Climate Exchange — all of which stand to benefit from carbon trading. His predecessors, Bert Bolin, a Swedish scientist, and Bob Watson, now chief scientist at Defra, were part-time, but they put enormous effort into the job. How much time is Pachauri putting in? It doesn’t appear to be a lot.

If we are to have the best possible predictions about climate change, urgent decisions need to be taken. The agreeable but gaffe-prone Pachauri should accept it would be wise to walk now, so some heavy-hitters can step in and prevent a disastrous slide in the IPCC’s credibility. The sooner, the better."

Notice that the focus is not on how to reform the IPCC and restore its lost scientific credibility, but on how to manage the PR disaster and keep everything going on just as before. One can't resist asking of the final sentence: "better for whom?" From what Clover has said in his article it sounds like "better for Dr. Pachauri's bank account."

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