Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
I’ve been writing about how the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) systematically recruited scientists associated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to join its own, parallel, panel. Between 2004 and 2008 the WWF signed-up 130 scientists – most of whom, it said, were members of the IPCC (please see my earlier posts here, here, and here).
The fact that these scientists were incapable of understanding that it was wildly improper to join an organization with a climate change axe to grind at the same time that they were supposed to be making careful, impartial, objective decisions about climate change tells us that advanced degrees aren’t everything.
All the education in the world is no substitute for good judgment. And, sooner or later, the chickens do come home to roost.
The most notorious part of the IPCC’s 2007 climate bible is found within the pages of Chapter 10 of the Working Group 2 report. It is here that the IPCC said there was a very high chance that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.
The IPCC cited a single, solitary piece of evidence to back up this dramatic prediction. A single, non-peer-reviewed piece of evidence. A piece of evidence that had, in fact, been produced by an activist group.
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.
In 2010 the IPCC was forced to admit that the disappearing glaciers prediction had no basis in fact (backup link). Or, in the words of a glacier expert quoted by the BBC at the time, the 2035 date was “so wrong that it is not even worth discussing” (backup link).
After that came the establishment of the InterAcademy Council committee to investigate the manner in which the IPCC conducts its affairs. Then came the committee’s report which identified “significant shortcomings in each major step of [the] IPCC’s assessment process” (see p. 31 of this 123-page PDF).
I myself have remained rather mystified by what came to be known as Glaciergate. How could world-class scientists possibly think it was OK to base any factual claim – never mind one this dramatic – on nothing more than a report written by activists?
Now things make a bit more sense. Chapter 10 may have had twice as many coordinating lead authors as the usual IPCC chapter (four rather than two), but even then it had less than half the brains. This is because two of its four top people have a cozy relationship with the WWF. They are members of its parallel panel.
Since coordinating lead authors Hideo Harasawa (from Japan) and Murari Lal (from India) were predisposed to view the WWF in a positive and benign light, it apparently wasn’t a big leap for them to regard anything that organization sets down in black-and-white as gospel.
They also had company. Chapter 10 lead author Batima Punsalmaa (from Mongolia) sits on the WWF panel. So, too, does one of it review editors – Shuzo Nishioka (from Japan).
Does it matter that two-thirds of the chapters in the 2007 IPCC report included WWF-affiliated personnel? Does it matter that one-third of them were led by WWF-affiliated personnel?
Yes it does. Because bad judgment doesn’t stop with one decision.
The WWF-affiliated scientist in Chapter 7 was lead author Manmohan Kapshe, from India.
First there was coordinating lead author Anthony Nyong from Nigeria.
Then there was lead author Mahmoud Medany from Egypt.
These gentlemen were joined by four contributing authors: Ghislain Dubois from France, and a trio from South Africa – Alison Misselhorn, Richard Washington, and Gina Ziervogel.
Rounding out the complement was review editor Mohamed Senouci from Algeria.
All seven of these people are members of the WWF’s panel. Which makes one feel ever-so-confident in the IPCC’s conclusions, doesn’t it?