February 27, 2010
A perfect storm is brewing for the IPCC
The emerging errors of the IPCC's 2007 report are not incidental but fundamental, says Christopher Booker
The news from sunny Bali that there is to be an international investigation into the conduct of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri would have made front-page headlines a few weeks back. But while Scotland and North America are still swept by blizzards, in their worst winter for decades, there has been something of a lull in the global warming storm – after three months when the IPCC and Dr Pachauri were themselves battered by almost daily blizzards of new scandals and revelations. And one reason for this lull is that the real message of all the scandals has been lost.
The chief defence offered by the warmists to all those revelations centred on the IPCC's last 2007 report is that they were only a few marginal mistakes scattered through a vast, 3,000-page document. OK, they say, it might have been wrong to predict that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035; that global warming was about to destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest and cut African crop yields by 50 per cent; that sea levels were rising dangerously; that hurricanes, droughts and other "extreme weather events" were getting worse. These were a handful of isolated errors in a massive report; behind them the mighty edifice of global warming orthodoxy remains unscathed. The "science is settled", the "consensus" is intact.
But this completely misses the point. Put the errors together and it can be seen that one after another they tick off all the central, iconic issues of the entire global warming saga. Apart from those non-vanishing polar bears, no fears of climate change have been played on more insistently than these: the destruction of Himalayan glaciers and Amazonian rainforest; famine in Africa; fast-rising sea levels; the threat of hurricanes, droughts, floods and heatwaves all becoming more frequent.
All these alarms were given special prominence in the IPCC's 2007 report and each of them has now been shown to be based, not on hard evidence, but on scare stories, derived not from proper scientists but from environmental activists. Those glaciers are not vanishing; the damage to the rainforest is not from climate change but logging and agriculture; African crop yields are more likely to increase than diminish; the modest rise in sea levels is slowing not accelerating; hurricane activity is lower than it was 60 years ago; droughts were more frequent in the past; there has been no increase in floods or heatwaves.
Furthermore, it has also emerged in almost every case that the decision to include these scare stories rather than hard scientific evidence was deliberate. As several IPCC scientists have pointed out about the scare over Himalayan glaciers, for instance, those responsible for including it were well aware that proper science said something quite different. But it was inserted nevertheless – because that was the story wanted by those in charge.
In addition, we can now read in shocking detail the truth of the outrageous efforts made to ensure that the same 2007 report was able to keep on board IPCC's most shameless stunt of all – the notorious "hockey stick" graph purporting to show that in the late 20th century, temperatures had been hurtling up to unprecedented levels. This was deemed necessary because, after the graph was made the centrepiece of the IPCC's 2001 report, it had been exposed as no more than a statistical illusion. (For a full account see Andrew Montford's The Hockey Stick Illusion, and also my own book The Real Global Warming Disaster.)
In other words, in crucial respects the IPCC's 2007 report was no more than reckless propaganda, designed to panic the world's politicians into agreeing at Copenhagen in 2009 that we should all pay by far the largest single bill ever presented to the human race, amounting to tens of trillions of dollars. And as we know, faced with the prospect of this financial and economic abyss, December's Copenhagen conference ended in shambles, with virtually nothing agreed.
What is staggering is the speed and the scale of the unravelling – assisted of course, just before Copenhagen, by "Climategate", the emails and computer codes leaked from East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Their significance was the light they shone on the activities of a small group of British and US scientists at the heart of the IPCC, as they discussed ways of manipulating data to show the world warming faster than the evidence justified; fighting off legitimate requests for data from outside experts to hide their manipulations; and conspiring to silence their critics by excluding their work from scientific journals and the IPCC's 2007 report itself. (Again, a devastating analysis of this story has just been published by Stephen Mosher and Tom Fuller in Climategate: The CRUtape Letters).
Almost as revealing as the leaked documents themselves, however, was the recent interview given to the BBC by the CRU's suspended director, Dr Phil Jones, who has played a central role in the global warming scare for 20 years, not least as custodian of the most prestigious of the four global temperature records relied on by the IPCC. In his interview Jones seemed to be chucking overboard one key prop of warmest faith after another, as he admitted that the world might have been hotter during the Medieval Warm Period 1,000 years ago than it is today, that before any rise in CO2 levels temperatures rose faster between 1860 and 1880 than they have done in the past 30 years, and that in the past decade their trend has been falling rather than rising.
The implications of all this for the warming scare, as it has been presented to us over the past two decades, can scarcely be overestimated. The reputation of the IPCC is in shreds. And this is to say nothing of the personal reputation of the man who was the mastermind of its 2007 report, its chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri.
It was in this newspaper that we first revealed how Pachauri has earned millions of pounds for his Delhi-based research institute Teri, and further details are still emerging of how he has parlayed his position into a worldwide business empire, including 17 lucrative contracts from the EU alone. But we should not expect the truth to break in too suddenly on this mass of vested interests. Too many people have too much at stake to allow the faith in man-made global warming, which has sustained them so long and which is today making so many of them rich, to be abandoned. The so-called investigations into Climategate and Dr Michael "Hockey Stick" Mann seem like no more than empty establishment whitewashes. There is little reason to expect that the inquiry into the record of the IPCC and Dr Pachauri that is now being set up by the UN Environment Programme and the world's politicians will be very different.
Since 1988, when the greatest scare the world has seen got under way, hundreds of billions
of pounds have been poured into academic research projects designed not to test the CO2 warming thesis but to take it as a given fact, and to use computer models to make its impacts seem as scary as possible. The new global "carbon trading" market, already worth $126 billion a year, could soon be worth trillions. Governments, including our own, are calling for hundreds of billions more to be chucked into absurd "carbon-saving" energy schemes, with the cost to be met by all of us in soaring taxes and energy bills.
With all this mighty army of gullible politicians, dutiful officials, busy carbon traders, eager "renewables" developers and compliant, funding-hungry academics standing to benefit from the greatest perversion of the principles of true science the world has ever seen, who are we to protest that their emperor has no clothes? (How apt that that fairy tale should have been written in Copenhagen.) Let all that fluffy white "global warming" continue to fall from the skies, while people shiver in homes that, increasingly, they will find they can no longer afford to heat. We have called into being a true Frankenstein's monster. It will take a mighty long time to cut it down to size.