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All IPCC definitions taken from Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press.

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Comparing what the IPCC and peer-reviewed science say about Amazonian forests

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate
The IPCC statement on Amazon rainforests was correct, and was incorrectly reported in some media.

Climate Myth...

IPCC were wrong about Amazon rainforests

"The IPCC also made false predictions on the Amazon rain forests, referenced to a non peer-reviewed paper produced by an advocacy group working with the WWF. This time though, the claim made is not even supported by the report and seems to be a complete fabrication." (EU Referendum)

An article in a British newspaper claimed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published wrong information about the Amazon Rainforest in their 2007 report. The issue centred on the statement that about 40% of the Amazon was susceptible to the effects of drought, or more specifically "slight reductions in rainfall".

The Amazon is the world's largest tropical rainforest, and due to its immense size, has a global effect on the Earth's climate. Despite being well adapted and resilient to wet and dry periods which occur throughout the year, the rainforest is vulnerable to extended periods of drought. Any major decline in the health of the Amazon rainforest is likely to impact the world climate.

The skeptic claims relate to section 13.4.1 of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (2007) which made the statement: 'Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation' (Rowell and Moore, 2000)

The reference is to a non-peer reviewed report prepared by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) which itself cites an original peer reviewed study (Nepstad 1999) as the basis for the claim. The citations in the WWF and IPCC reports are not complete, Nepstad 1994, Nepstad 1999 and Nepstad 2004 support the claim that up to half the Amazon rainforest were severely affected by drought. Further studies, carried out since the 2007 IPCC report, reinforce the Amazon's susceptibilty to long term reductions in rainfall .

The IPCC could have avoided confusion by simply citing the peer reviewed studies themselves, rather than the WWF report and perhaps "slight reduction" should have been better defined or qualified. Despite the error in citation, the statement made by the IPCC is factually correct. Maybe the last word should go to the lead author of the papers upon which the statements were based, Daniel Nepstad, who made a public press release to clear up the mainstream media confusion over the subject. Nepstad concludes:

"In sum, the IPCC statement on the Amazon was correct. The report that is cited in support of the IPCC statement (Rowell and Moore 2000) omitted some citations in support of the 40% value statement.

Last updated on 30 October 2010 by Rob Painting.

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Further reading

Daniel Nepstad, the scientist who wrote the papers cited (and erroneously not cited) in the WWF report, endorses the correctness of the IPCC’s (AR4) statement on Amazon forest susceptibility to rainfall reduction.

Comments

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Comments 51 to 69 out of 69:

  1. Good, relevant comment from JBowers over at the GUARDIAN 'Comment is Free' : "Citizen Audit failed to classify book chapters that are actually peer reviewed papers as "peer reviewed". They also fail to place IPCC self-citations, which are peer reviewed, into the peer reviewed category. The IPCC self-cites are some of the most expert reviewed literature ever. Example: Wg3 Ch1 ‘Gritsevsky, A., and N. Nakicenovic, 2002: Modelling uncertainty of induced technological change’ is classed as not peer-reviewed. The chapter is a reprint from the highly refereed journal Energy Policy, and has itself been cited 138 times to this date. A truly sceptical Citizen Audit Audit is clearly required, but that's something we can never expect from the Denialsphere." I notice that isn't one of the papers that Willis copied and pasted unsourced - and he wonders why his fellow so-called skeptics like Richard North get annoyed with him not acknowledging all their 'hard work', and have handbag fights with him.
  2. Returning to the so-called 'citizens audit' of the IPCC, it would appear that they have mis-classified another reference. "Reference #22 is an atlas, therefore it does not qualify as peer-reviewed literature according to the criteria of this project." 22. Boyer, T.P., et al., 2002: World ocean database 2001, Volume 2: Temporal distribution of bathythermograph profiles. In: NOAA Atlas NESDIS 43 [Levitus, S. (ed.)]. Vol. 2. U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC, 119 pp, CD-ROMs. This reference is cited twice in Ch.5 of WG1 : The objective analysis procedure used for interpolation (filling in data-void areas and smoothing the entire field) is described by Boyer et al. (2002). 5.2 The data used for temperature and heat content estimates are based on the World Ocean Database 2001 (e.g., Boyer et al.,2002; Conkright et al., 2002), which has been updated with more recent data. App. 5A So, the reference is used describe a procedure and to show where the data has come from. The source itself : "This atlas describes a collection of scientifically quality controlled ocean Mechanical Bathythermograph (MBT) and Expendable Bathythermograph (XBT) profiles. Data distributions for individual years of all MBT and XBT profiles in the database are presented to provide information on the state of ocean MBT and XBT profile observations." WORLD OCEAN DATABASE 2001 Volume 2: Temporal Distribution of Bathythermograph Profiles I.e. a pictorial and graphical list of actual data, from where you can access the actual data itself. To so-called skeptics, that is not allowed...
  3. As for one of the ones that was copied and pasted by Willis : Working Group 2, Chapter 5 COPA COGECA, 2003a: Committee of Agricultural Organisations in the European Union General Committee for Agricultural Cooperation in the European Union, CDP 03 61 1, Press release, Brussels. http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg2/en/ch5s5-references.html And what, exactly, is the reference about ? "Forage production was reduced on average by 30% in France and hay and silage stocks for winter were partly used during the summer." Now, how would they find out about such figures ? Peer-reviewed science ? No : why bother when you can get the actual figures (which is, after all, what you want) from the main representative body for the entire agricultural and fisheries cooperative sector, which represents 660,000 such workers ? And who might have that sort of information ? Um, COPA-COGECA. Well, I never.
  4. doug_bostrom at 17:06 PM on 4 July, 2010
    Ho-hum, Willis has gone off down the Amazon rabbit hole yet again. I suppose it would best to get Nepstad's entire statement out here so Willis can deal with it in detail.
    Thanks, Doug. I'll do that very thing. Nowhere in your Nepstad quote does he show that the IPCC claim is in the peer reviewed literature. He says that:
    Our 1999 article (Nepstad et al. 1999) estimated that 630,000 km2 of forests were severely drought stressed in 1998, as Rowell and Moore correctly state, but this forest area is only 15% of the total area of forest in the Brazilian Amazon.
    That was the only paper cited by Rowell and Moore as their reference for the claim. But that's not what the IPCC claim said. And Nepstad accepts that. He says:
    The IPCC statement on the Amazon is correct, but the citations listed in the Rowell and Moore report were incomplete.
    OK, we see he thinks the IPCC statement is correct, and he admits that citing his 1999 paper didn't support the claim ... but he neglects to give us a peer-reviewed citation showing that it is correct. I understand that he believes it, Doug, but belief is not what we're looking for. We're looking for peer reviewed studies, not simple credence. The WWF later said the claim was from an earlier IPAM document. This also turned out to be untrue. So that couldn't be the citation that would complete the citations listed in the Rowell and Moore report. So if the citations in the Rowell and Moore are "incomplete" as Nepstad said, and the IPAM document doesn't "complete" them, what citation should have been made to "complete" the Rowell and Moore paper? Nepstad would have us believe that to complete their citations, they should have cited the 2004 Nepstad et al. paper. In their 2004 paper, Nepstad said that "half of the forest area of the Amazon Basin had either fallen below, or was very close to, the critical level of soil moisture below which trees begin to die in 1998." But that's not the claim made by the IPCC either. All that the Nepstad 2004 paper shows is that there was a big drought in the Amazon, and that the Amazon did not experience either the "drastic reaction" or the "climate shift" that the IPCC warns of. So that doesn't support the Rowell and Moore/IPCC claim either. In fact, Nepstad 2004 tends to show that the Amazon is more stable than they claimed, rather than show it is very sensitive as they would like us to think. Finally, is Nepstad 2004 the citation that Rowell and Moore should have listed to "complete" their citations? That's not even theoretically possible. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out why ... So all Nepstad has done is agree that the citations to Rowell and Moore are incomplete. He has not given us a single reference to complete them by showing where their 40% claim, or their danger of an impending climate shift claim, is valid. As I said, even George Monbiot has given up on your claim, Doug, saying:
    It is also true that nowhere in the peer-reviewed literature is there a specific statement that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation".
    And contrary to your claim, Nepstad has not given us such a citation in the quote you reproduce above. Monbiot knows about Nepstad's quote, and he couldn't find the answer in Nepstad's quote. Or outside his quote. I can't find one either. And neither, apparently, can you ... you just keep recycling Nepstad's heartfelt statement that he believes it is true. Look, I know that Nepstad believes it, that's obvious. Unfortunately, science requires more than heartfelt belief ...
  5. JMurphy at 00:06 AM on 5 July, 2010
    Returning to the so-called 'citizens audit' of the IPCC, it would appear that they have mis-classified another reference.
    Whoa, two errors? JMurphy, there are definitely questions about some of the classifications in the audit of the IPCC report. And yes, some of them are clearly in error. However, this does not invalidate what I cited. I've given you dozens and dozens of non peer-reviewed citations to things like newspaper and magazine articles and WWF and Greenpeace articles. How does invalidating two references, neither of which I cited, change that?
  6. JMurphy at 02:58 AM on 5 July, 2010 Before anyone declares "errors" in the Citizens Audit report, they need to understand what the audit was all about. How else would one know if something is an error or not? The following is from the Audit Results website ... http://www.noconsensus.org/ipcc-audit/quality-assurance.php "The IPCC chairman has declared that non-peer-reviewed research sources belong in the dustbin (see the last lines of this newspaper article) but this project does not necessarily take that position. Its primary goal was to determine whether the chairman's claim (frequently repeated by journalists) that this report is based only and solely on peer-reviewed literature is accurate". The audit did not comment on the science nor did it comment on whether certain references should be included, or not, from the AR4. All the audit did was to list in detail what is/isn't a peer reviewed reference. Most certainly, many references in the AR4 did not need to be nor could be expected to be peer reviewed. Population statistics is a good example. For those who are interested in finding out how many references SHOULD HAVE BEEN peer reviewed but were not, bulk of the work has been done, download the Audit reports and go through the 5,587 non-peer reviewed references listed and find out for yourself. maybe you'll find 90% of the list DIDN'T need to be peer reviewed, that would leave 560 non-peer reviewed references. Whether that's too high or not is subjective and would probably make a good blog post one day. maybe JMurphy is up to the task?
  7. Willis Eschenbach wrote : How does invalidating two references, neither of which I cited, change that? Leaving aside the dubious origin of your 'cites', as I have already cited above : "Citizen Audit failed to classify book chapters that are actually peer reviewed papers as "peer reviewed". They also fail to place IPCC self-citations, which are peer reviewed, into the peer reviewed category. The IPCC self-cites are some of the most expert reviewed literature ever." And as I already acknowledged that you hadn't used those actual references, reference to them was to show how untrustworthy that whole audit is. And that is just on a cursory glance : who knows what else will be found after a detailed proper audit ? But who has the time and energy to spend on deflating all these skeptical bubbles ? You did however copy and paste the COPA COGECA, 2003a reference - Why would you expect that to be peer-reviewed ? (The same goes for COPA COGECA 2003b.) As for your statement "Unfortunately, science requires more than heartfelt belief ...", that explains why the so-called skeptics have to rely on faith and hope for their beliefs. They way they obssess about certain matters and automatically disbelieve any scientist they don't want to believe (except their lone, and lonely, gurus, of course), is a definite act of faith and belief. How long before they gather the torch-bearing mobs ?
  8. Baa Humbug wrote : For those who are interested in finding out how many references SHOULD HAVE BEEN peer reviewed but were not, bulk of the work has been done, download the Audit reports and go through the 5,587 non-peer reviewed references listed and find out for yourself. maybe you'll find 90% of the list DIDN'T need to be peer reviewed, that would leave 560 non-peer reviewed references. Whether that's too high or not is subjective and would probably make a good blog post one day. Come off it - you cannot be serious ? They would have highlighted (and it would have been passed onto and through every blog in the denialosphere) ANY true scientific statement which hadn't been properly sourced. The fact that certain people are obssessing about the Amazon one, shows how meagre the crumbs are from this so-called audit. And to be fair about Pachauri's quotes, he usually talks about the conclusions, the science and the assessments being based on peer-reviewed science, and that is obviously correct. Just because there are other sources used doesn't get away from that basic fact. Generally, though, why can't so-called skeptics move on and see what the next report says. You can be certain that it will be even more rigorous than the last one and many of you can waste many hours checking the fine detail for any human error.
  9. JMurphy at 19:48 PM on 5 July, 2010 wrote.. "Come off it - you cannot be serious ? They would have highlighted (and it would have been passed onto and through every blog in the denialosphere) ANY true scientific statement which hadn't been properly sourced". I am serious. They (meaning me as I was one of the auditors)were not given such a brief. Please do read the section titled "Quality Assurance". http://www.noconsensus.org/ipcc-audit/quality-assurance.php You also said.. "And to be fair about Pachauri's quotes, he usually talks about the conclusions, the science and the assessments being based on peer-reviewed science, and that is obviously correct". I refer you to my comment at #56 where I said... "The audit did not comment on the science nor did it comment on whether certain references should be included, or not, from the AR4". You conclude with... "You can be certain that it will be even more rigorous than the last one and many of you can waste many hours checking the fine detail for any human error". I would have thought it was a good thing to check such an important document for errors. We would want the errors, (if any) corrected wouldn't we JMurphy? And the hours "wasted" are mine to waste, but you get the benefit of anything positive that may come out of it. Not something to complain about I would have thought.
  10. JMurphy at 19:31 PM on 5 July, 2010 "How long before they gather the torch-bearing mobs ?" Awww don't be such a drama queen. I give you my word I won't bear any torches nor will I hang out with mobs. OK?
  11. Baa Humbug wrote : And the hours "wasted" are mine to waste, but you get the benefit of anything positive that may come out of it. Not something to complain about I would have thought. And what are the real benefits that you believe have come out of your work ?
  12. personally I believe those who are presenting the next report will be a little more careful in "translating" what a given paper concludes. I believe it's a good thing if the presenters know their words will be scrutinized by (literally) thousands of people. Less chance for "hype" don't you think? Did you find any benefits JMurphy? or is that a silly question? p.s. I'll bge away from my computer for a few hours. Apologies if I don't respond straight away.
  13. Baa Humbug wrote : Did you find any benefits JMurphy? or is that a silly question? Knowing the source of the 'audit', and also knowing that the IPCC itself would have thoroughly checked everything before publishing, I have to honestly answer 'No' - to the first question, which isn't a silly question at all. Knowing, also, that anything published by humans is subject to human error, I have no problems acknowledging the minor errors found, especially to do with Himalayan glaciers; and the ones found by the recently released Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency report. Everything else is just semantics and misunderstandings but I'm sure the IPCC will be making doubly sure of their output from now on, which can only be a good thing. I would also not like to be associated with anything associated with NO CONSENSUS, especially as your audit will be used for political, propaganda and denial purposes. You may well have done it with good intentions but you must also have known how it would be used once completed.
  14. I dont know what all the fuss is about. The Amazon rainforest wont change much until the Andes Mountains wear down (groundwater runoff), the Atlantic Ocean ceases to exist, and it doesn't rain when warm, moist, tropical air rises. Despite the 'peer-reviewed literature', seasonal droughts have nothing to do with long term rainfall patterns. The warming over the 20th century has shown no trend in Amazonian rainfall, because when warm moist air rises-it rains. The Amazon rainforest will still be here in much the same manner in a 100 years, even if all the IPCC T projections turn out to be correct.
  15. When things get this polarized, it appears to an outsider like me that almost everybody is busy trying to be "right", as in win points. I can certainly understand that, being human myself. Willis appears to need to hear confirmation that there was no peer reviewed publication to be cited for the 40% quote - acknowledgment of a mistake in citation even if it doesn't affect the actual facts or outcome. That's his strong point. He would appear to not care much whether the science was correct or not, just whether a mistake was made and he can force his opponents to admit that. JMurphy seems to want to focus instead on whether the science was probably correct, which is his strong point. He doesn't care as much whether a mistake was made in the published event - admitting a mistake might be embarassing or give ammunition to the critics, and the actual truth is more important than the citation formality anyway (this is what I'm reading into it). For some of us, the real point is more about whether the IPCC's case was very strong, rather than whether it was flawless. So maybe this was another error, and maybe there's too much "circling the wagons" defensiveness - if so, that's regretable, but still a sideshow to the main issues. I see no evidence that the IPCC's conclusions are overall in question because the chairman spoke too enthusiastically to the press. For those of us concerned about balancing the planet and the economy, trying to make this or that person right or wrong in what they said when is not very interesting. Trying to discredit the report based on what the chairman said to the press about only peer reviewed science is not terribly relevant - it's more about scoring points than arriving at the truth. Hey, maybe he spoke too incautiously to the press and deserves a bad PR report card or something - that's still a side show, not a challenge to the science. Many people on both sides think this is a critical make or break decision for mankind - fearing potentially enormous environmental or economic consequences from a wrong decision. In that circumstance, I'd like to see our first priority being to find the most fundamental truths, not win contests. I picture us on an old sailing ship with most of the ship's carpenters saying there is some dry rot that could cause big problems - other folks say there's no big problem and we don't need to beach the ship to fix it at great financial cost. That's an important question in which all of us have a great deal invested. One of the carpenters says this was the best built ship in the navy - and some people want to attack or support him in this assertion. If the perfection of that carpenter's personal judgment was all we had to go on, that would be relevant, but there are measurements and soundings being taken. So the report itself acknowledges & justifies using "grey literature", and even some critics think that's reasonable. But the chairman has told the press it's all peer reviewed and it isn't. If your job is to do his annual review, then this is relevant - maybe his PR skills are not up to par - he exaggerated or appeared to. But if you want to know what's happening, this really isn't the main question to focus on. I want to know whether the IPCC is basically sound or not, not whether anybody ever got defensive or made relatively minor errors. Again, as an outsider, there seems to be a huge bias being asserted by the critics - the IPCC and its supporters must prove their case to an extremely high standard and even a few errors out of 3000 pages are a big deal. The critics are not held to the same standards. This seems to presuppose that "the course we are on" needs no justification, only course changes do, and no course change can be made while there is some dissent. Imagine if the shoe was on the other foot, and there was need of a comprehensive and bullet-proof EIR before more gigatons of carbon were emitted. Imagine if it took a more solid scientific consensus than we have today, but in in the other direction, before continuing to emit CO2 was allowed. Imagine if the EIR supporting "no AGW to worry about" could be discredited on even a fraction of a percent of errors which didn't affect the conclusions, or a small number of dissenting scientists? That would not be reasonable either. For deciding what's probably happening and making adjustments, we need a more balanced standard of proof. Reading blogs on both sides has convinced me that the preponderance of the evidence supports AGW and that it's only by creating highly assymetric burdens of proof that any policy debate continues. That doesn't mean I think AGW is proven, only that if both sides are evaluated on an even footing, the critics are trying to poke some holes in a remarkable intellectual edifice (albeit one with some holes) while unable to build anything even remotely as impressive themselves. They have no alternative which they can agree upon, which would "prove" that there's no problem. That is, I don't see critics creating and supporting against criticism any GCMs which fit the data better without CO2 or with a low sensitivity. I don't see anything similar in scope and accuracy to the IPCC positing a coherent alternative around which to build a scientific consensus (I see lots of incompatible anti-AGW threads: solar, GCR, it ain't happening, etc). And a lot of sniping. Which doesn't seem to bring out the best in AGW supporters, who do seem to get defensive and sometime change the subject when a critic gets the upper hand on an argument. I can see evidence of that - but WHO CARES? So they are human and can be baited until they react defensively. THAT'S NOT THE SCIENCE and AGW doesn't rest on the unbaitability of its proponents. Sigh. This will probably be deleted, it's not really about the science of course, but about how it gets discussed. A bunch of frustration after many hours reading "both sides" just came out. If a person or two reads it before it gets deleted, thanks for listening.
  16. Zeph, well written and well put. I think I agree with you 100%. Well, except for the probable deletion part... Hope to see more from you in future.
  17. Zeph at 15:57 PM on 13 July, 2010 Thank you for this viewpoint. It is welcome and I think from wide experience it also more broadly reflects the viewpoint of many scientists who normally stay clear of proactive public debate.
  18. I respect that Willis Eschenbach has provided a lot of evidence to strongly argue that the IPCC report doesn't appear to have relied *entirely* on peer-reviewed sources; however, I believe he(?) is mostly still relying on his interpretation of what peer-review sources are or aren't saying. He makes a reasonable claim off that interpretation, but it's not the only reasonable interpretation. As I think doug_bostrom said, W.E. is going against the public opinion of the main author of those sources. I want to argue against W.E.'s interpretation and also against his ultimate conclusion that the IPCC was not supported by peer-reviewed work. I want to note that I tried to find the paper online but failed, so I am relying on quotations from this thread. Here is a key quote from W.E. **********start Nowhere in your Nepstad quote does he show that the IPCC claim is in the peer reviewed literature. He says that: > Our 1999 article (Nepstad et al. 1999) estimated that 630,000 km2 of forests were severely drought stressed in 1998, as Rowell and Moore correctly state, but this forest area is only 15% of the total area of forest in the Brazilian Amazon. That was the only paper cited by Rowell and Moore as their reference for the claim. But that's not what the IPCC claim said. And Nepstad accepts that. He says: > The IPCC statement on the Amazon is correct, but the citations listed in the Rowell and Moore report were incomplete. OK, we see he thinks the IPCC statement is correct ##########end That paper refers to "severely drought stressed". One can make a good argument from the above that Nepstat, the paper's principle author, agrees that such a characterization of rain forest ("severely drought stressed") is consistent with what the IPCC stated: "Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation." Now, that itself appears to cover only 15%. As for the rest, and as W.E. stated: **********start Nepstad would have us believe that to complete their citations, they should have cited the 2004 Nepstad et al. paper. In their 2004 paper, Nepstad said that "half of the forest area of the Amazon Basin had either fallen below, or was very close to, the critical level of soil moisture below which trees begin to die in 1998." ##########end OK. It appears from this material that we have enough to claim the IPCC paper relied on peer-reviewed sources. W.E. disagreed: **********start But that's not the claim made by the IPCC either. All that the Nepstad 2004 paper shows is that there was a big drought in the Amazon, and that the Amazon did not experience either the "drastic reaction" or the "climate shift" that the IPCC warns of. So that doesn't support the Rowell and Moore/IPCC claim either. In fact, Nepstad 2004 tends to show that the Amazon is more stable than they claimed, rather than show it is very sensitive as they would like us to think. ##########end I'd like to give a variable conclusion (a rebuttal to the rebuttal). While I (and others) already pointed out that we can stop since Nepstad already stated his opinion, essentially that his papers and/or other papers supported the IPCC conclusion, let's get a bit more detailed. Since this comment is a mess of quotations and can be hard to follow. Let me number the following section's main points. 1 -- Let me recap W.E.. (a) He does appear to accept that the 1999 paper is in agreement with the IPCC statement if we change the 40% to 15%. He apparently is accepting Nepstad's position about the meaning of his own 1999 paper. (b) However, it appears W.E. came to the conclusions that the 2004 paper (which mentions 50%) does not support the IPCC statement by the fact that the 2004 paper did not prove "drastic reaction" or "climate shift" occurred during a drier season than average. 2 -- The IPCC paper didn't state that "drastic reaction" or "climate shift" had happened. It merely stated qualitatively of a probability of those things happening. In fact, the 2007 report has to be taken in the context of the "dry" spell that already had occurred by the time the 2004 paper was written. 3 -- The 2004 paper showed that around 50% of the trees were in a tough position ("fallen below, or was very close to, the critical level of soil moisture below which trees begin to die in 1998"). 4 -- That 2004 description sounds completely consistent with the earlier 1999 position of the trees being "severely drought stressed". 5 -- It was already noted that Nepstad (and W.E.) agreed that this 1999 conclusion was consistent with the IPCC wording. 6 -- So it seems very reasonable to conclude from these two papers that something like 50% of the trees in 2004 came close to the 1999 dangerous condition of being "severely drought stressed". 7 -- Thus, it appears we have peer-reviewed support for a condition ("severely drought stressed") which apparently is believed to be consistent with the condition described by the IPCC 2007 report, and that condition applies to a percentage amount of the rain forest (50%) which is a number also consistent with the IPCC 2007 statement. To recap: It appears the IPCC example does rely on peer-reviewed material. It's a matter of interpretation perhaps, but the author of such works appears to agree with the IPCC. Maybe the author is not the best writer of English, but it appears that even W.E., despite variable interpretations of the author's words, should agree that the IPCC report is backed if we are to believe Neptstad's interpretation of his own words. Regardless of what W.E. ultimately believes, a great argument can be made that this example does not show Pachauri to have misspoken. As W.E. quoted: **********start "People can have confidence in the IPCC's conclusions…Given that it is all on the basis of peer-reviewed literature." - Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman, June 2008 "The IPCC doesn't do any research itself. We only develop our assessments on the basis of peer-reviewed literature." - Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman, June 2007 "This is based on peer-reviewed literature. That’s the manner in which the IPCC functions. We don’t pick up a newspaper article and, based on that, come up with our findings." - Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC chairman, June 2008 ##########end It does appear that the IPCC doesn't just rely on newspaper articles and such but do try to make sure the peer-reviewed literature supports their conclusions.
  19. Zeph,

    I love your analogy (from a decade ago). The double standard you mention seems quite irrational. Why must changing our course require such an asymmetric burden of proof (free of any miniscule imperfection), while those who argue not to alter course have no such burden? Well, those asking us to “change course” move to take away our status quo and make us do "something extra"... very inconvenient, right? All burden is on them.

    Your analogy shows us: neither decision is “something extra”… both “changing course” (reacting to data) and “continuing course” (not reacting to data) are decisions. A worse inconvenience (loss of time / money / life) could be present in either action. Passengers don’t want to experience delay (or sinking!) unnecessarily. Ideally, the next step isn’t based on matching the prior step, but instead is guided by the best data, which becomes stronger over time.

    To this end, the captain sends 100 wood specialists down to evaluate. Ninety-seven return saying the rotten wood is starting to leak, present innumerable impressive data sets demonstrating risk of accelerated leaking & sinking, and recommend repair. Ship owners, not wanting idle vessels, argue it isn’t absolutely proven that the ship would sink, and point to 3 of the 100 specialists who found some imperfections in the models. Owners influence the captain to push the boat further out to sea, and taut to passengers how much inconvenience they are preventing.

    Of course, the specialists wanting to repair the ship aren’t causing the major inconvenience… the data (rotten wood) is doing this. It makes no sense to put the burden of proof asymmetrically on those wanting to repair the ship. After all, it seems some owners won’t be convinced until the ship is partially submerged, which of course then is too late.

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