Monday, February 08, 2010

Sunday Times Amazongate goes phut

Finally I get around to the Amazon question.
The Sunday Times had a piece on Jan 31st under the headline "UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim" (the headline you land on now has been toned down). 
"A STARTLING report by the United Nations climate watchdog that global warming might wipe out 40% of the Amazon rainforest was based on an unsubstantiated claim by green campaigners who had little scientific expertise...
The latest controversy originates in a report called A Global Review of Forest Fires, which WWF published in 2000. It was commissioned from Andrew Rowell, a freelance journalist and green campaigner who has worked for Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and anti-smoking organisations. The second author was Peter Moore, a campaigner and policy analyst with WWF.
In their report they suggested that “up to 40% of Brazilian rainforest was extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall” but made clear that this was because drier forests were more likely to catch fire. 

The IPCC report picked up this reference but expanded it to cover the whole Amazon. It also suggested that a slight reduction in rainfall would kill many trees directly, not just by contributing to more fires."

Nasty, no? Well, no, actually. Next week Moore wrote to the Sunday Times, 
standing  by the conclusion of their report "that “up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall”. The primary source for this statement is Fire in the Amazon, a 1999 overview by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute that states: “Probably 30-40% of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon are sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall.” This is fully supported by peer-reviewed literature" .

So, Amazongate is another damp squib.
2 take-home points:
1 Do not trust or buy the Sunday Times
2 The IPCC needs to clean up its act.

Update here.
Nepstad replies here


Richard said...

Wishful thinking me old China ...

DocRichard said...

Hi Richard, you old bastard. Nice of you to drop by.

It's wishful thinking that keeps us all going. Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

Excuse me while I go read your piece a second time.

DocRichard said...

Richard, I have put my response as a blog post here.

Good luck in getting an EU referendum. The Greens back a referendum, as should anyone with a vague understanding of what the word "democracy" means.