More Dodgy Citations in the Nobel-Winning Climate Report

January 23, 2010 at 2:38 pm

At its heart, the Himalayan glacier scandal that has recently shaken the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) involves a document created by the WWF.

The WWF is an activist organization. Much of its funding comes from public donations. The more successful the WWF is at persuading the public that there’s a crisis, the more likely people are to give it money. (In North America, WWF stands for World Wildlife Fund. Elsewhere, it stands for World Wide Fund for Nature.)

Many of those associated with the WWF are lovely human beings. But that doesn’t change the fact that the WWF is not a neutral, disinterested party. It has an agenda, an ax to grind, a definite point-of-view. Rather than being a scientific organization, it is a political one. In the UK, the media aptly calls the WWF a “pressure-group.”

click here for a 2-second sound clip: “That’s an Opinion – Not Evidence”
Commander Chakotay (Robert Beltran),
Star Trek Voyager, Season 7, Repression

The IPCC, on the other hand, describes itself as “a scientific body” that provides “the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of climate change” by assessing “the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information.” [bold added]

Many people would consider it improper for a science-focused organization to rely on a document created by an oil company, since the oil company can’t be counted on to provide the whole story. Surely, therefore, it is equally improper for the IPCC to consider a statement to be true solely because an activist group says it is.

Surely scientists working for a scientific body – and tasked with producing a scientific assessment – would endeavor to keep their distance from political spin of all kinds.

But that is not how the IPCC behaves. AR4 is the shorthand name for the 2007 Nobel-winning IPCC report. When one types “WWF” into an AR4 search box dozens of results are returned.

For example, a WWF report is cited twice on this page as the only supporting proof of IPCC statements about coastal developments in Latin America. A WWF report is referenced twice by the IPCC’s Working Group II in its concluding statements. There, the IPCC depends on the WWF to define what the global average per capita “ecological footprint” is compared to the ecological footprint of central and Eastern Europe.

Elsewhere, when discussing “mudflows and avalanches” linked to melting glaciers, the oh-so-scientifically-circumspect IPCC relies on two sources to make its point – an apparently still unpublished paper delivered to a conference five years earlier (Bhadra, 2002) and a WWF document.

Similarly, the only reason the IPCC can declare that “Changes in climate are affecting many mountain glaciers, with rapid glacier retreat documented in the Himalayas, Greenland, the European Alps, the Andes Cordillera and East Africa” is because a WWF report makes this claim.

In a section on coral reefs and mangroves, a WWF report is the IPCC’s sole reason for believing that, in “the Mesoamerican reef there are up to 25 times more fish of some species on reefs close to mangrove areas than in areas where mangroves have been destroyed.”

When the IPCC advises world leaders that “climate change is very likely to produce significant impacts on selected marine fish and shellfish (Baker, 2005)” it doesn’t call attention to the fact that the sole authority on which this statement rests is a WWF workshop project report (see the “Baker” document below).

All told, an extensive list of documents created or co-authored by the WWF is cited by this Nobel-winning IPCC report:

  • Allianz and World Wildlife Fund, 2006: Climate change and the financial sector: an agenda for action, 59 pp. [Accessed 03.05.07: http://www.wwf.org.uk/ filelibrary/pdf/allianz_rep_0605.pdf]
  • Austin, G., A. Williams, G. Morris, R. Spalding-Feche, and R. Worthington, 2003: Employment potential of renewable energy in South Africa. Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Denmark, November, 104 pp.
  • Baker, T., 2005: Vulnerability Assessment of the North-East Atlantic Shelf Marine Ecoregion to Climate Change, Workshop Project Report, WWF, Godalming, Surrey, 79 pp.
  • Coleman, T., O. Hoegh-Guldberg, D. Karoly, I. Lowe, T. McMichael, C.D. Mitchell, G.I. Pearman, P. Scaife and J. Reynolds, 2004: Climate Change: Solutions for Australia. Australian Climate Group, 35 pp. http://www.wwf.org.au/ publications/acg_solutions.pdf
  • Dlugolecki, A. and S. Lafeld, 2005: Climate change – agenda for action: the financial sector’s perspective. Allianz Group and WWF, Munich [may be the same document as "Allianz" above, except that one is dated 2006 and the other 2005]
  • Fritsche, U.R., K. Hünecke, A. Hermann, F. Schulze, and K. Wiegmann, 2006: Sustainability standards for bioenergy. Öko-Institut e.V., Darmstadt, WWF Germany, Frankfurt am Main, November
  • Giannakopoulos, C., M. Bindi, M. Moriondo, P. LeSager and T. Tin, 2005: Climate Change Impacts in the Mediterranean Resulting from a 2oC Global Temperature Rise. WWF report, Gland Switzerland. Accessed 01.10.2006 at http://assets.panda.org/downloads/medreportfinal8july05.pdf.
  • Hansen, L.J., J.L. Biringer and J.R. Hoffmann, 2003: Buying Time: A User’s Manual for Building Resistance and Resilience to Climate Change in Natural Systems. WWF Climate Change Program, Berlin, 246 pp.
  • http://www.panda.org/about_wwf/what_we_do/climate_change/our_solutions/business_industry/climate_savers/ index.cfm
  • Lechtenbohmer, S., V. Grimm, D. Mitze, S. Thomas, M. Wissner, 2005: Target 2020: Policies and measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the EU. WWF European Policy Office, Wuppertal
  • Malcolm, J.R., C. Liu, L. Miller, T. Allnut and L. Hansen, Eds., 2002a: Habitats at Risk: Global Warming and Species Loss in Globally Significant Terrestrial Ecosystems. WWF World Wide Fund for Nature, Gland, 40 pp.
  • Rowell, A. and P.F. Moore, 2000: Global Review of Forest Fires. WWF/IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 66 pp. http://www.iucn.org/themes/fcp/publications /files/global_review_forest_fires.pdf
  • WWF, 2004: Deforestation threatens the cradle of reef diversity. World Wide Fund for Nature, 2 December 2004. http://www.wwf.org/
  • WWF, 2004: Living Planet Report 2004. WWF- World Wide Fund for Nature (formerly World Wildlife Fund), Gland, Switzerland, 44 pp.
  • WWF (World Wildlife Fund), 2005: An overview of glaciers, glacier retreat, and subsequent impacts in Nepal, India and China. World Wildlife Fund, Nepal Programme, 79 pp.
  • Zarsky, L. and K. Gallagher, 2003: Searching for the Holy Grail? Making FDI Work for Sustainable Development. Analytical Paper, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Switzerland

I’ve only spent a few hours tracking these down, so there may be more.

I haven’t yet fully explored the Greenpeace citations, but two occur in the first paragraph on this page.

Finally, there are these authoritative sources cited by the IPCC – publications with names such as Leisure and Event Management:

  • Jones, B. and D. Scott, 2007: Implications of climate change to Ontario’s provincial parks. Leisure, (in press)
  • Jones, B., D. Scott and H. Abi Khaled, 2006: Implications of climate change for outdoor event planning: a case study of three special events in Canada’s National Capital region. Event Management, 10, 63-76

This, apparently, is how you win a Nobel prize.

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Entry filed under: climate bible, Greenpeace, IPCC, NGOs, World Wildlife Fund. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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