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Inhofe: CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE IN THE IPCC
February 11, 2010

Contact: Matt Dempsey matt_dempsey@epw.senate.gov

‘CRISIS OF CONFIDENCE' IN THE IPCC

Inhofe Senate Floor Speech

Mr. President, I rise today to highlight several recent media reports uncovering serious errors and possible fraud by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. 

I can already hear the question: just what is the IPCC?  Many in this body may not be familiar with it.  But I hope the Senate becomes more acquainted with it very soon, if only because of its sheer importance to the debate we're having on global warming and cap-and-trade legislation.

For now, you need to know just 3 things about the IPCC: (1) the Obama Administration calls it "the gold standard" of climate change science; (2) some say its reports on climate change represent the so-called "consensus" of scientific opinion about global warming; and (3) the IPCC and Al Gore were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007 for "their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change..."

Put simply, what this means is that, in elite circles, the IPCC is a big deal.  So when ABC News, the Economist, Time Magazine, and the Times of London-among many others-report that the IPCC's research contains embarrassing flaws, and that the IPCC chairman and scientists knew of the flaws, but published them anyway-well, you have the makings of a major scientific scandal.

Where to begin?  Well, how about with the IPCC's claim that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035?  It's not true.  That's right.  It's simply false, yet it was put into the IPCC's Fourth Assessment report.  Here's what we know:

- According to the Sunday Times, the claim about the Himalayas was based on a 1999 story in a news magazine, which in turn was based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist.

-In 2005, the activist group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) cited the story in one of its climate change reports. Yet, despite the fact that the WWF report was not peer-reviewed, it was referenced by the IPCC.

- According to the Times, "The Himalayan glaciers are so thick and at such high altitude that most glaciologists believe they would take several hundred years to melt at the present rate. Some are growing and many show little sign of change."

- "When finally published," the Sunday Times wrote, "the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was ‘very high'." (The IPCC, by the way, defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.)

There's more.  According to the Times:

- "The chairman [Rajendra Pachauri] of the leading climate change watchdog was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit...[he] was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it. He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists."

So why was the Himalayan error included?  We now know from the very IPCC scientist who edited the report's section on Asia that it was done for political purposes-it was inserted to induce China, India, and other countries to "take action" on global warming.  According to the UK's Sunday Mail, Murari Lal, the scientist in charge of the IPCC's chapter on Asia, said this:

"We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."

In other words, the Sunday Mail wrote, Lal "admitted [the glacier alarmism] was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders."

There's still more.  The glaciologist, Dr. Hasnain, who originally made the alarmist ‘2035' claim, works for Dr. Pachauri at his think tank in India.  According to ABC News: "The glaciologist now works at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi, whose director is none other than Rajendra Pachauri. Could this explain why Pachauri suppressed the error in the Himalaya passage of the IPCC report for so long?"

So what has the IPCC done to correct this fiasco?  I went into the IPCC report to see if a correction had been made.  Well, the 2035 claim is still there.  Of course, now there's a note attached.  It says the following:

"It has, however, recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938-page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly."

Mr. President, I had to read that twice-the IPCC says the glacier alarmism came about because of "poorly substantiated estimates."  Well, that's one way of putting it.  To me, from what we know now, the leadership of the IPCC lied about the Himalayas.  They knew it was false, but for political purposes, they kept it in. 

I could go on and on.  Let me just cite a few more examples.  The UK Telegraph recently uncovered more problems.  The IPCC's report from 2007 found observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps, and Africa-all caused by, of course, global warming.  In anarticle titled, "UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article," the Telegraph reported:

"one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them. The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps."

The article further reveals that:

"the IPCC report made use of 16 non-peer reviewed WWF reports. One claim, which stated that coral reefs near mangrove forests contained up to 25 times more fish numbers than those without mangroves nearby, quoted a feature article on the WWF website. In fact the data contained within the WWF article originated from a paper published in 2004 in the respected journal Nature. In another example a WWF paper on forest fires was used to illustrate the impact of reduced rainfall in the Amazon rainforest, but the data was from another Nature paper published in 1999."

On top of this, we find that the IPCC was exaggerating claims about the Amazon.  The report said that 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest was endangered by global warming.  But, again, as we've seen, this was taken from, yes...a study by the World Wildlife Federation, and one that had nothing to do with global warming.  Even worse, it was written by a green activist.  

So again, here we have the "gold standard" of climate research; here we have a body that was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2007.  How can the world's preeminent climate body fall victim to such inaccuracy, and, it must be said, outright fraud? 

I'm sure that, for many in this body, this information is shocking.  But for me, I'm not very surprised.  Five years ago, I sent a letter to Dr. Pachauri, specifically raising the many weaknesses in the IPCC's peer-review process.  But Dr. Pachauri dismissed my concerns.  Here's how Reuters reported his response:

"In the one-page letter, [Pachauri] denies the IPCC has an alarmist bias and says ‘I have a deep commitment to the integrity and objectivity of the IPCC process.' Pachauri's main argument is that the IPCC comprises both scientists and more than 130 governments who approve IPCC reports line by line. That helps ensure fairness, he says."

Given the significance of the reports, Dr. Pachauri should come clean and respond directly to the numerous charges made against himself and the IPCC.   And given that Dr. Pachauri's has testified before Congress, including the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, we should hear directly from him as soon as possible as to how he can salvage the IPCC's vanishing credibility. .

How did we get to this point?  I've been documenting deceit of this kind for several years now.  But I must say that a great turning point occurred just a few months ago,when thousands of emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, or CRU, were leaked to the media.   The CRU is one of the world's most prestigious climate research centers.  The emails appear to show some of the world's preeminent climate scientistsmanipulating data, violating information disclosure laws by deleting emails, and blocking publication of research contrary to their own. 

This revelation sparked several investigations, including one by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office.  The office recently concluded that the CRU broke the UK's Freedom of Information Act.  However, as the Times of London reported:

The Information Commissioner's Office decided that UEA failed in its duties under the Act but said that it could not prosecute those involved because the complaint was made too late...The ICO is now seeking to change the law to allow prosecutions if a complaint is made more than six months after a breach.

The Times further reports on the details, noting: "In one e-mail, Professor Jones [former director of the CRU who has now stepped down because of the scandal] asked a colleague to delete e-mails relating to the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He also told a colleague that he had persuaded the university authorities to ignore information requests under the act from people linked to a website run by climate sceptics."

Time magazinereported that ‘Glaciergate' is a "black eye for the IPCC and for the climate-science community as a whole." In the article posted online from Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010, Himalayan Melting: How a Climate Panel Got It Wrong, Time reports:

The mistake is a black eye for the IPCC and for the climate-science community as a whole. Climate scientists are still dealing with the Climategate controversy, which involved hacked e-mails from a major British climatology center that cast doubt on the solidity of evidence for global warming.

The Economist newspaper, which had heretofore accepted the IPCC climate "consensus," essentially claimed that it had been duped by the IPCC.  Here's the Economist: ,

"THE idea that the Himalaya could lose its glaciers by 2035-glaciers which feed rivers across South and East Asia-is a dramatic and apocalyptic one. After the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said such an outcome was very likely in the assessment of the state of climate science that it made in 2007, onlookers (including this newspaper) repeated the claim with alarm. In fact, there is no reason to believe it to be true. This is good news (within limits) for Indian farmers-and bad news for the IPCC."

The Economistfinds that, "This mixture of sloppiness, lack of communication, and high-handedness gives the IPCC's critics a lot to work with."  :

"This mixture of sloppiness, lack of communication and high-handedness gives the IPCC's critics a lot to work with."

Seth Bornstein with the Associated Press, a reporter whose objectivity I have questioned at various times, asked the IPCC to respond to Glaciergate. Borenstiein reported in his January 20, 2010 article, UN climate report riddled with errors on glaciers:

"The credibility of the IPCC depends on the thoroughness with which its procedures are adhered to," Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, told The Associated Press in an e-mail. "The procedures have been violated in this case. That must not be allowed to happen again because the credibility of climate change policy can only be based on credible science."

Borenstein also quotes Roger Pielke Jr's concerns with the significance of the errors writing,

"However, Colorado University environmental science and policy professor Roger Pielke Jr. said the errors point to a "systematic breakdown in IPCC procedures," and that means there could be more mistakes."

Further troubling is the revelation of several instances in which the IPCC relies on non-peer reviewed work, mainly from left-wing pressure groups. As the Wall Street Journal reports in an article from January 18, "Climate-Change Claim on Glaciers Under Fire,":

The citation of an environmental advocacy group as a source within the IPCC report appears to be a rare, but not unique, occurrence. That same chapter on Asian climate impacts also cited work from the World Resources Institute, which describes itself as an ‘environmental think tank.' Most of the thousands of citations supporting the rest of the voluminous IPCC report were from scientific journals.

Fox News reported last week in an article online at Foxnews.com titled, U.N.'s Global Warming Report Under Fresh Attack for Rainforest Claims,

Mr. President, there is a crisis of confidence in the IPCC. The challenges to the integrity and credibility of the IPCC merit a closer examination by the US Congress. The ramifications of the IPCC spread far and wide, most notably to the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that greenhouse gases from mobile sources endanger public health and welfare.  EPA's finding rests in large measure on the IPCC's conclusions-and EPA has accepted them wholesale, without an independent assessment.   At this pivotal time, as the Obama EPA is preparing to enact policies potentially costing trillions of dollars and thousands of jobs, the IPCC's errors make plain that we need openness, transparency, and accountability in the scientific research financed by U.S. taxpayers. 

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February 2010 Speeches
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