Out in the Ama-zone

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There have been lots of articles lately discussing the retraction by the UK Sunday Times of their claims about Amazongate. Folks like George Monbiot are claiming that their point of view has been vindicated, that Amazongate is “rubbish” and that skeptics have been “skewered”. So I decided to follow the tortuous trail through the Amazon jungle, to see where the truth lies.

Figure 1. The long, twisted, rainy jungle trail leading to the facts …

First, what did the IPCC say that caused all of the furor? Here’s the quote:

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). It is more probable that forests will be replaced by ecosystems that have more resistance to multiple stresses caused by temperature increase, droughts and fires, such as tropical savannas.  (IPCC, PDF, p. 596)

Scary stuff, climates tipping to a new steady state, 40% of the Amazon rainforest changing to savanna …

Now, this is referenced to Rowell and Moore (PDF). The first problem that arises is that this is a World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) overview piece, and is as far from peer-reviewed science as one can imagine. The WWF says:

Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall. In the 1998 dry season, some 270,000 sq. km of forest became vulnerable to fire, due to completely depleted plant-available water stored in the upper five metres of soil. A further 360,000 sq. km of forest had only 250 mm of plant-available soil water left. 46

Note that already we see a difference between the citation (such as it is) and the IPCC statement. The WWF says that the forest is “extremely sensitive” to “small reductions” in rainfall. The IPCC has upped the ante, saying the forest could “react drastically” to “even a slight reduction” in rainfall. In addition, the IPCC has added an uncited claim that the South American “vegetation, hydrology and climate system” could suddenly change to a new “steady state” … be very afraid.

Now, the WWF paragraph has a citation (46). This is:

46 D. C. Nepstad, A. Veríssimo, A. Alencar, C. Nobre, E. Lima, P. Lefebvre, P. Schlesinger, C. Potter, P. Mountinho, E. Mendoza, M. Cochrane, V. Brooks, Large- scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire, Nature, 1999, Vol 398, 8 April, pp505

The problem is that their citation only supports the second half of the paragraph, the part that relates to the 1998 dry season. It says nothing about the extreme sensitivity of the Amazon. It says nothing about a new “steady state.” Even Dr. Lewis, who convinced the Times to issue the retraction, admits this:

The 40% claim is not actually referenced in the Rowell & Moore 2000 report (they use Nepstad to reference the specific figures in the next sentence). The Nepstad Nature paper is about the interactions of logging damage, fire, and periodic droughts, all extremely important in understanding the vulnerability of Amazon forest to drought, but is not related to the vulnerability of these forests to reductions in rainfall. I don’t see how that can be the source of Rowell’s 40% claim. Its more likely an unreferenced statement by Rowell.

And there, the trail stops. Despite Pachauri’s oft-repeated claim that the IPCC is based 100% on peer reviewed science, the IPCC has referenced a WWF document which:

1. Is not peer reviewed, and

2. Has no further citation for the claim.

So why did the Times have to retract their claim? It was the result of a letter sent to the Times by Dr. Simon Lewis, who claimed that a) he had been misquoted, and b) the IPCC claim was scientifically accurate.

From Dr. Lewis’s statement, I do believe he was misquoted. However, that does not mean that the IPCC statement was correct. Dr. Lewis defends it, saying:

The IPCC statement itself is poorly written, and bizarrely referenced, but basically correct. It is very well known that in Amazonia tropical forests exist when there is more than about 1.5 meters of rain a year, below that the system tends to ‘flip’ to savanna, so reductions in rainfall towards this threshold could lead to rapid shifts in vegetation.

Indeed, some leading models of future climate change impacts show a die-off of more than 40% Amazon forests, due to projected decreases in rainfall. The most extreme die-back model predicted that a new type of drought should begin to impact Amazonia, and in 2005 it happened for the first time: a drought associated with Atlantic, not Pacific sea-surface temperatures. The effect on the forest was massive tree mortality, and the remaining Amazon forests changed from absorbing nearly 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere a year, to being a massive source of over 3 billion tonnes.

The Amazon drought impacts paper was written by myself and colleagues in Science (attached). Here is the press release explaining the sensitivity: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/news/article/36/amazon_carbon_sink_threatened_by_drought

Now, there’s a couple of things to note about this claim. First, other than a paper by Dr. Lewis himself about Amazon carbon sinks, there are no citations. The paper about carbon sinks is interesting, but it does not show anything about a “flip” to savannah, and doesn’t mention the 40% claim.

Second, he does not present any evidence that the 40% statement is correct. Instead, he says that climate models show that the statement is correct … Now, climate model results are interesting, but they are not evidence of anything but the assumptions of the programmers of the models.

And in fact, the 40% claim is called into question by another paper by the same Nepstad cited by the WWF document. It says:

During the severe drought of 2001, PAW10m [plant-available soil water to 10 metres depth] fell to below 25% of PAWmax in 31% of the region’s forests and fell below 50% PAWmax in half of the forests.

Now, if the Amazon were so sensitive, if it “could react drastically” to even a “slight reduction” in rainfall, certainly such a large reduction would make a big difference … but that didn’t happen. There was no “flip” to savannah mentioned in the paper.

Third, Dr. Lewis seems to want us to think that some fraction of the rainforest becoming savannah is supportive of the IPCC claim that:

… the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state …

That’s just misdirection. Dr. Lewis does not provide any evidence in support of the alarmist claim that the South American climate is in danger of a rapid change to some other steady state. Which is no surprise to me, since I know of no historical evidence of such a rapid large-scale change in the tropical climate to a much dryer state.

And finally, even Dr. Lewis recognizes that there is no scientific certainty about this question, saying:

This is not to say this there isn’t much uncertaintly as to exactly how vulnerable how much of the Amazon is to moving to a savanna system.

Well … yeah. Given that uncertainly, his claim that the IPCC statement is “basically correct” is unsupportable. “Much uncertainty” means that we cannot make scary statements like the IPCC has done, and we certainly can’t say that they are “basically correct”. All we can say is that they are uncertain.

Before going on to look at some actual data, lets review the story so far:

1. The IPCC made a claim that “Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”, and that the South American climate could change rapidly to a new steady state.

2. This was referenced to a WWF review paper which was not peer reviewed.

3. The WWF paper had no citation for that claim.

4. Dr. Lewis says the claims are correct. However, like the IPCC, he does not provide a citation for his claim that the 40% statement is correct. He points us to a 2009 paper, of which he is a co-author. It doesn’t contain any support for the 40% claim. He refers to a few climate models, but shows no evidence.

5. Dr. Lewis says that there is “much uncertainty” about the question.

6. Dr. Lewis does not provide any evidence to support the idea that the South American climate is likely to change rapidly to a new steady state.

Now, having reviewed the story so far, lets think about this a bit dispassionately. First, is it theoretically possible for the Amazon to “flip” from rainforest to savannah?

Certainly it can. If the Amazon rainfall went to a tenth of the current value, it would all be savannah. So how much would a “slight reduction” affect the Amazon rainforest?

To investigate this, we can look at the amounts of rainfall around the Amazon. Figure 2 compares the vegetation and the rainfall:

Figure 2. Vegetation map of central South America. The Amazon rainforest is dark green. Violet rectangle show area of measured rainfall shown below in Fig. 3. Red lines show rainfall in millimetres per year.

There are several things we can see from this map. First, rainfall is not the only thing that is limiting the Amazon rainforest. There are areas with less than 1600 mm which are rainforest, and areas with more than 1600 mm which are not rainforest.

Second, at the left edge of the rainforest, we have the Andes mountains. In these areas, the Amazon is limited by elevation rather than by rainfall.

Now, suppose that the rainfall drops by 10%. I’d call that a “slight reduction” in rainfall. Will that affect 40% of the rainforest? No way. If we were to shrink all of the red lines by 10%, we’d only get about a 20% reduction in area … but there are large areas which are not rainfall limited in that sense. So a 10% reduction in rainfall might, and I emphasize might, give us a maximum of a 20% reduction in rainforest area. To get to 40% rainforest loss, we’d need a large reduction in rainfall, not a slight reduction.

But who is claiming that there will be a large reduction in Amazon rainfall? That is a model prediction, and not even one that appears in all of the models. Dr. Lewis says:

Indeed, some leading models of future climate change impacts show a die-off of more than 40% Amazon forests, due to projected decreases in rainfall.

This, of course, also means that some leading models do not show a die-off. Even the models don’t all agree with the IPCC claim.

However, all of this, all of the claims and counterclaims, and the models, and Dr. Lewis’s letter, and the cited scientific documents, all run aground on one ugly fact:

The data shows no change in Amazon rainfall in a century of measurements.

Figure 3 shows three different ground-based observational datasets, along with the recent Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite data.

Figure 3. Four Amazon rainfall datasets, covering the rectangular area shown in violet in Fig. 2 (2.5°N–12.5°S, 72.5°W–50°W). Note the generally good agreement between the four datasets (including the TRMM satellite data)

The main feature of this dataset is its stability. Note the lack of any trend over the last century, and the lack of any large excursions in the rainfall. It stays between two and two and a half metres per year. There are no really wet years, and no really dry years. 95% of the years are within ± 10% of the average rainfall. There are individual dry years, but no prolonged periods of drought.

So while Dr. Lewis says (correctly) that rainforest can change to savannah, he is not correct that 40% of the Amazon is at risk from a “slight reduction” in rainfall. More to the point, there is no evidence to indicate that we are headed for a reduction in Amazon rainfall, “slight” or otherwise. That is a fantasy based on climate models.

The reality is that despite the globe warming by half a degree or so over the last century, there has been no change in the Amazon rainfall. As usual, the IPCC is taking the most alarmist position possible … and Dr. Lewis is doing all he can to claim that the IPCC alarmism is actually good science.

Unfortunately for both the IPCC and Dr. Lewis, here at the end of a long, twisted, and rainy jungle trail, we find that the facts inconveniently disagree with their claims.

[UPDATE] Credit where credit is due. I love writing here because I always learn something. The Amazongate story was originally broken by Richard North, whose blog is EUReferendum. Give it a look, lots of good stuff.

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179 Responses to Out in the Ama-zone

  1. PJB says:

    “Indeed, some leading models of future climate change impacts show”

    Yet again, the Incredibly Poor Climatologically Challenged spin machine churns out another smokescreen of alarmism. Your analysis is straightforward, clear and totally refutes their model-based fervor.

    I wonder, can we sue the IPCC for mendacity? Or perhaps request a grant to study the effect of the reduction in IPCC spending on model survival rates…..just a wishful thought.

  2. Sera says:

    I completely disagree with this irresponsible and unprovable commentary. Next time you could at least attempt to back up your claims with peer reviewed science, Mr. Eschenbach (if that is your real name?).

    /sarc

  3. Keith W. says:

    Nice logic trail, Willis. Simple to follow; if only the MSM would open their eyes so they could see the forest instead of the trees.

  4. John of Kent says:

    Good work, Willis- you should really be in the IPCC!

  5. pgosselin says:

    The rainforest reductions are based junk science. Models with different inputs are used to generate various outputs. Next, the dramatic outputs are deemed likely and those that are not dramatic are deemed as unlikely. Dramatic results are scientific, undramatic ones are unscientific. That’s how the junk science alarmism industry operates. It always based on models.
    The citing of a nonpeer reviewed literature remains the scandal here. The 40% number is an exaggeration.
    Stefan Rahmstorf immediately seized upon the Times retraction at his blog. http://www.wissenslogs.de/wblogs/blog/klimalounge/medien-check/2010-06-23/sunday-times-zieht-amazongate-zurueck
    And then rambled on, citing Jon A. Krosnick bogus study, on how public opinion of climate change was tending to even greater concern.

    But I doubt many people are reading his rubbish, as he has gotten only 3 reader comments thus far, i.e. his blog is at about the same level as my hobby, for-fun blog.
    Of course, we do not know how many comments he is deleting. I only know my comment was deleted.

  6. Michael Larkin says:

    This is a stonkingly good article, Willis, for which many thanks – it’s the first time I’ve been able to get a good grasp of this story. If people wonder why agnostics like me come to blogs like this, it is because we get articles like this and end up learning stuff from them. One day we hope to become gnostics, whatever the truth might be.

  7. Willis,
    Great post. In an ‘amazing’ conincidence, I happened to examine another aspect of the IPCC statement. Take a look yourself

    http://nigguraths.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/amazongate-ipcc/

    With regards

  8. L says:

    Bravo, Willis!

  9. Andreas says:

    Fantastic posting as always from Mr Eschenbach, posts like this is exactly what’s needed to get the “medias” attention. If only there were a way to get their eyes open and actually read it too…

  10. Capn Jack Walker says:

    Coupla things matter in fear mongering, it always begins up to, in this case up to’s upper limit is 40%, but where is the bottom limit, could be zero per cent.

    Weasel words, weasel language.

    The amazon is a great Jungle to use, no one actually goes there, it’s not a holiday destination.

    Me I don’t know much about it myself, except that it’s mysterious and an icon for fear mongerers.

    Up to 40% of women on the planet reckon I am a red hot lover, mind you at 54 with one leg ad arthritis it might be zero per cent too.

    Semantics weasel words and they always leave out perspective and real error bands they can have their prognostications held to. better off with me mum when she was going thru meno pause and her seance and tea leave reading stage.

    Flim and flam.

  11. KenB says:

    Perhaps Dr Lewis will be so concerned, that he will turn up here to defend his defence of (Post) “normal below par climate science”??

  12. Paul Vaughan says:

    While I have no interest in rabidly partisan, untactful spin, I’ll agree whole-heartedly that they appear absolutely clueless about hydrology. I put the blame squarely where it belongs: on corrupt scientists pedaling this nonsense. It is neither sensible nor practical to blame others who have been conned. When it comes to hydrology, they have no option but to admit that it is simply not understood. The understanding of the fundamentals has not yet been developed – and pretending that hydrology is driven by CO2 & GHGs is purely foolish — such fantasy is not only plainly wrong, but an unacceptable hazard to civilization that must be resisted with absolutely rigid resolve. We need to put aside party lines [& goofy partisan spin] to confront these hazardous fantasies. Sensible people must stand up and demand that these issues not be allowed to fall along left/right political lines. That is the true challenge which we face – nevermind climate fantasy. This garbage is playing into the hands of the radical right and tilting our future towards irrational imbalance. Without balance we fall. Too many lefties are unaware that they have been conned on climate fantasies – and unaware that this has eroded their credibility on vitally important social issues. When I run into a righty who is a “denier” I feel the same thing as when I run into a lefty who is a “believer”: anger. Our civilization cannot afford such irrational conflation. It will be sensible people from all political camps who will cooperate to stop this partisan madness (…and then there’s the scientific issue of developing an understanding of climate to tackle)…

  13. GG says:

    Exposing these people is starting to become irrelevant and pointless. If you expose their fraud, then they just invent a new lie that goes along the lines “you are wrong because of xxxx”. Where “xxxx” is just made up.

    They lie to coverup their lies. We`ve seen it time and time again with Mann, Jones, Hansen et al.

    They know that the MFM (MSM) is part of the AGW fraud, and they know if they lie about your exposure of their lies, then the MFM will print their new-lies as the truth that proves they were right in the first place, and that your exposure was false.

    We saw it with the Hockey Stick, Climategate, UHI, etc etc.

    It`s pointless treating these people as “scientists” and using argument and facts, because like all hard core criminals – they will continue comitting the crime, until they are caught and face jail sentances.

  14. tobyglyn says:

    As usual Willis, excellent work – thank you!

  15. richard telford says:

    “If the Amazon rainfall went to a tenth of the current value, it would all be savannah.”
    Unlikely. It would mostly be dry enough to be desert.

    “since I know of no historical evidence of such a rapid large-scale change in the tropical climate to a much dryer state.”
    Since the historical record for most of the tropics is short, it is useful to look at the palaeoecological record. There are several examples of tropical forest-savanna transitions in the Holocene.

    “First, rainfall is not the only thing that is limiting the Amazon rainforest.”
    Annual precipitation is certainly not the only factor. The seasonal distribution of rain is as important, especially the length and severity of the dry season. In some areas edaphic factors are important.

  16. Verity Jones says:

    Willis, thank you for this. Succinct and clear as ever.
    The pro-AGW view is finding that when you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing back at yourself, and having pointed at skeptics and cried “but it is not peer-reviewed” they have to judge by their own metric.

    You know, just thinking how much the whole peer-review thing stinks, we could have a ‘generation’ of scientific literature that is skewed by climate change. Not just what gets published and what doesn’t, but what the published papers say and how they say it…. and how it is cited and reported.

    Environmentalists divide into two groups – those who fear for the Earth and think that any change they attribute to humans is or will be detrimental, and those who see it as adaptable and repairable. You can sense the frustrations of the likes of Dr Lewis (who I assume is in the former camp) who have formed a set of beliefs, based on their experience and projection of their fears, but now have to back up their opinions with references which…. aren’t there!

  17. allen mcmahon says:

    The idea that 40% of the Amazon forests are at risk from a small reduction in rainfall is absurd. The most alarming scenario is represented by the Amazon “dieback” theory proposed by Cox et al 2004 It is based on the HAD3 GCM , a model that predicts the greatest reduction in rainfall for the Amazon in 21st century, and they use the one senario that predicts the least rainfall despite the fact that this GCM underestimated 20th century rainfall by 20%. A paper by Malhi et. al.2009 PNAS found that in the unlikely event that Cox proved correct at the most 600,000sq.kms. of forest, could revert to savanna and that the core Amazon rainforests were not at risk. As the Amazon forests cover some 8,200,000 sq kms this is less than 8% of the total. Only 2 of 19 models present senarios that could result in conditions leading to widespread savanna. If we only chose the 3 models that accurately approximated 20th century rainfall the prognosis is for no change in the 21st century and most models predict increased rainfall for the 21st century. In terms of senarios at one extreme the Hadley GCM postulates a 21% reduction in rainfall for the 21st century and an increase in the dry season of up to three months while at the other extreme the GISS ER model opts for a 10% increase in rainfall and a reduction of the dry season of one month. 20th century climate in the Amazon exhibited stability with no uni-directional trends and research by Marengo identified cycles that correspond with ENSO and PDO cycles. Despite compelling evidence to the contrary it came as no surprise that Dr Pachauri in a recent Yale 360 opinion piece opted for the “die back” theory proving beyond doubt that politics rather than science drives the IPCC.

  18. James Evans says:

    Thanks, that’s all very clear.

    You have rained on the alarmist parade.

  19. Baa Humbug says:

    Don’t you love it when they switch from one measurement to another? Like the following…

    Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall. In the 1998 dry season, some 270,000 sq. km of forest became vulnerable to fire, due to completely depleted plant-available water stored in the upper five metres of soil. A further 360,000 sq. km of forest had only 250 mm of plant-available soil water left.

    Scary stuff that 270,000 sq.km and 360,000 sq.km That must be close to the 40% they’re talking about right?

    The amazon basin alone is 6,151,000 sq.km the higher end 360,000 sq.km would be 5.9%
    Also, the paper says this area became vulnerable to fire. It doesn’t state whether it actually burnt and how much of it burnt.
    I’d bet much much less than 360,000 smelled smoke,

  20. Rhys Jaggar says:

    Presumably 100% of the Amazon is susceptible to rapid growth under conditions of rain also??

    So what I see is this: most of the time, the Amazon forest is growing rapidly, occasionally there is a drought and a fire.

    This is nature at its most natural and whether humans are there or not, it happens.

    What is unnatural is to highlight the effects of drought without highlighting the effects of rain. Not to mention the frequency of the two scenarios…………

    I suspect you will find that parts of the Sahara desert were once forests. They aren’t now. And the reason they aren’t? Natural climate change. Nothing to do with humans……

    Now I grant you that chopping down trees in the Amazon will reduce the size of the forest…………..and that the more you reduce transpiration rates by plant life, the less likely you are to enjoy daily thunderstorms………..although with a monstrous outflow like the Amazon, you’ll need to cut a huge amount of the forest down before you don’t get any storms downstream……….

  21. Jobnls says:

    This argument is based solely on logic and so falls short on the internationally accepted and validated consensus scale that governs modern climate science.

    If you seek to drastically change the world order it is hard to find a more suitable motivator than a looming catastrophe of cataclysmic proportions. This is a well known and finely perfected human art that has been perfected during our short history on earth. If you are a bit to aggressive in projecting the immediacy of the upcoming catastrophe in order to further appeal to the majority of shortsighted world citizens you might run into troubles like the one presented above. In that case you naturally have to adapt. Great adaptation techniques include “I was misquoted” etc.

    I speculate that we will have the entertaining experience of seeing the AGW proponents developing this art during the coming years.

  22. Alexander K says:

    I collected model cars in my early adulthood. I was an utter petrolhead then (stll am, after half a century of avidly following F1 and other series of events such as the IOM Motorcycle TT) but I never saw any link between a make of car or motorcycle and models of them.
    While scientists may invest huge faith in modelled behaviour of climate, more rational among us know the difference between a model and reality. Some scientists must have difficulties with their id when passing an Anne Summers shop window!

  23. Chris says:

    Perhaps you could write to the Times and ask them to retract the retraction..?

  24. Marot says:

    Dr Simon Lewis est directly funded by wwf-Tanzania and wwf-US :

    http://www.valuingthearc.org/about_us/index.html

  25. hunter says:

    The CAGW community had the opportunity to deal with the problems of the IPCC and other promotional problems and has instead decided in many cases to bluff their way out by pretending there are no problems and to blame those who pointed out the problems.
    Sort of like the Catholic church in dealing with Luther and Galileo.

  26. allen mcmahon says:

    Their was an error in my earlier post, the Cox die back theory is not the most absurd of the Amazon theories the dubious honor goes to none other that Dan Nepstad. In a paper he produced for the WWF in 2007 with the conservative title “Amazon’s Vicious Cycles” Nepstad claims that 55% of the Brazilian forests could be destroyed within 20 years, note the nice qualifier “could”. This document was the basis of the REDD submission presented at the Bali conference in December 2007 by the Woods Hole Research Center, authored by none other than rather busy Dan Nepstad , who seems to be alternately employed by the WHRC, WWF and the Moore Foundation( a major contributor to the WWF). The REDD scheme’s intention is to preserve the worlds forests by using a market based emissions trading scheme. The WHRC , is aided by Goldman Sachs, a foundation sponsor of the WHRC. It is great when an independent scientific organization, despite the numerous environmental activists on their board, and a philanthropic financial institution combine their resources for the benefit of the world.

  27. Phil Clarke says:

    … And there, the trail stops [...] other than a paper by Dr. Lewis himself about Amazon carbon sinks, there are no citations [...]

    Really? Lewis refers us to his colleague Daniel Nepstads article on the issue both online and as an Appendix to his PCC Complaint. This is amply referenced, here’s the relevant extract:

    ” 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. In another article published in Nature, in 1994, we used less conservative assumptions to estimate that approximately half of the forests of the Amazon depleted large portions of their available soil moisture during seasonal or episodic drought (Nepstad et al. 1994). After the Rowell and Moore report was released in 2000, and prior to the publication of the IPCC AR4, new evidence of the full extent of severe drought in the Amazon was available. In 2004, we estimated 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. This estimate incorporated new rainfall data and results from an experimental reduction of rainfall in an Amazon forest that we had conducted with funding from the US National Science Foundation (Nepstad et al. 2004). Field evidence of the soil moisture critical threshold is presented in Nepstad et al. 2007. ”

    Which leads Nepstad to state:

    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.

    Hope this helps.

  28. Mike McMillan says:

    If there is any conversion to savanna, it is likely to come from local logging and burn-clearing for agriculture. Because the heavy rain leaches nutrients from the soil, most Amazon nutrients are held in the biomass. Since logging removes that biomass immediately and slash and burn ag removes it over a longer time, you don’t get the regrowth, but that isn’t a rainfall problem.

    With reduction in rainfall, you’d first go through all the forest stages that populate non-rainforest tropical areas before you got to open savanna, and that might take centuries. Soil nutrients will continue to wash down slowly from the Andes.

    Reduced rainfall would be beneficial to agriculture in that respect, leaving imported potash and locally produced nitrates available in the soil longer. Gotta look on the bright side.

  29. Shona says:

    I have to say, I am becoming increasingly un-willing to even discuss MODELS as actual climate. I wish articles would state at the beginning that the predictions in them are based on models. Then it would be clear that we are discussing models and not actual events.

    I’m sure models can be useful tools, but until they can actually predict the past or the future I’m afraid they are just academic.

    Any honest climate scientist’s interview would conclude with “but we just don’t know yet”.

  30. tim c says:

    I’m beginning to feel that the people creating “models” are using Edsels as benchmarks. It’s time for the modeling police to require “real world possibilities” and not be filled with worst case scenarios and adjustments for “public attitude adjustment”(propaganda). The models look like they are all “rube goldberg” scenarios of run away reactions.

  31. That’s amazing – even their own models contradict the claim…..

    Any idea exactly how much rainfall reduction would be needed to cause a 40% die-off? I’m guessing quite a bit.

  32. Peter Miller says:

    As any good alarmist would say: “Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.”

  33. Juraj V. says:

    Is there any IPCCish claim, which can withstand exposure to real data?
    Temperature: http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/icrutem3_285-310E_2.5–12.5N_na.png
    Precipitation: http://climexp.knmi.nl/data/iprca_285-310E_2.5–12.5N_na.png
    One gotta love the KNMI Climate explorer.
    Note, that IPCC claim contains twice “could” and once “probable”.

  34. Richard111 says:

    “The great tragedy of science is the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.” – Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-95)

  35. TerryS says:

    As I sat here reading this article an advert for the WWF was broadcast on the television. They were asking for money to save the Jaguar because “20% of the Amazon rainforest has already disappeared”. This time they blamed logging etc (not climate) for the present decrease and future decreases. Obviously they don’t have enough confidence in the IPCC version to claim another 40% will disappear due to climate change unless you give them money.
    It’s in the WWF own financial interest to promote alarmist forecasts. The more alarmist the claims, the more money they can fool the public into giving. But any claim they make has to get past the Advertising Standards Authority and I doubt this one would.

  36. anna v says:

    Thanks Willis.

    You are a great investigator for us.

  37. Peter Plail says:

    Thank you for taking us by the hand and leading us through the arguments step by step. All very logical and reasonable.

    I now wait a step by step refutation of all your points by Dr Lewis or one of his cohort, with the same clarity.

    And wait…….

    And wait….

  38. Fredrick Lightfoot says:

    As usual Willis puts in the missing link, logic, well done Willis, and all this work without a grant? but then grants don’t pay for logical results.

  39. Harry Lu says:

    Rainfall

    positive feedback
    clearance fire smoke -low rainfall – fires/smoke -low rainfall
    [http://] irina.eas.gatech.edu/EAS_spring2008/Andreae2004.pdf

    Greenhouse on ENSO
    [http://] iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/users/axel/GL11677W01.pdf

    Drought and Fire in the Greenhouse
    Ecological and Climatic Tipping Points of the World’s Largest
    Tropical Rainforest, and Practical Preventive Measures
    WWF! but An independent scientific review of the content of this report was conducted by Prof. Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science at Oxford University.

    [http://] [www] .whrc.org/policy/pdf/cop13/Amazon-Vicious-Cycles.pdf#search=”Nepstad et al amazon”

    Tipping point.
    This is a very silly statement , made without backup “Now, if the Amazon were so sensitive, if it “could react drastically” to even a “slight reduction” in rainfall, certainly such a large reduction would make a big difference … but that didn’t happen. There was no “flip” to savannah mentioned in the paper”

    It is obvios to even me that the tipping point of ecology is not a rainforest-to-no-forest-in-a-year-situation. Ecological tipping points take time to be evident but once the tipping point is passed it may be difficult to turn back. All trees do not die in a year. They may, for example, become less resistant to pest attack and then die over a number of years etc.

  40. Vincent says:

    Good analysis, Willis. You have destroyed the IPCC claim in two ways. Firstly, by following the paper trail which leads to a dead end of oft vague and unsupported assertions, and secondly, by taking a practical, common sense appraisal of the actual rainfall data, to show that a small reduction cannot possibly lead to a changeover to savannah.

    To my mind however, the saddest thing about this episode with “The Times” is that they appear totally unable to defend themselves from the ludicrous charges of Lewis. Have they no scientific journalists who can defend their position, as you have done? It is as if a national newspaper, on uncovering a major political scandal, suddenly published a retraction because some minister wrote a letter saying that the scandal had not in fact occured.

  41. Chris in OZ says:

    Amazongate Mk II

    How to hide the decline of IPCC credibility !!

    .

  42. DennisA says:

    Nicely dealt with.

    Now what if the Amazon WAS savannah? Professor Philip Stott wrote this a few years ago: Tropical Rain Forests – Exposing the Myths http://www.probiotech.fsnet.co.uk/trf.html

    “At the end of the Last Ice Age, only some 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, the tropics which are today occupied by these so-called ‘ancient cathedrals’ were seasonal savanna grasslands, both cooler and much drier than now.”

    It is based on an earlier paper called Jungles of the Mind, http://www2.csusm.edu/spanish/undergradcenter/jungles_of_the_mind.htm

    Interesting stuff.

  43. Charlie Barnes says:

    Nice one, Willis.

    It’s curious how people with an apparent political point to make don’t seem to think that evidence matters.

  44. 1DandyTroll says:

    WFF pfft. WWF has become the largest get rich quick scheme factory in the world.

    If they can’t, or don’t, set up a daughter organization, or company, to charge other organizations and companies if they don’t like it.

    Fish farmers bad — unless they pay. Loggers bad — unless they pay. Oil companies bad — unless they pay. Heavy industry bad — unless they pay. Et Cetera. Unless you pay for WWF certificate of approval or what ever everyone is bad. Other “climate organization” are of course approved, somewhat, to tax everyone as well if it’s a “good” scheme.

  45. John says:

    Small point, Willis: it was the Sunday Times which retracted, not the (daily) Times. Different newspapers, different editors, different staff – though same proprietor (R Murdoch).

  46. Jack Simmons says:

    Baa Humbug says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:08 am

    Don’t you love it when they switch from one measurement to another? Like the following…

    Up to 40% of the Brazilian forest is extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall. In the 1998 dry season, some 270,000 sq. km of forest became vulnerable to fire, due to completely depleted plant-available water stored in the upper five metres of soil. A further 360,000 sq. km of forest had only 250 mm of plant-available soil water left.

    Scary stuff that 270,000 sq.km and 360,000 sq.km That must be close to the 40% they’re talking about right?

    The amazon basin alone is 6,151,000 sq.km the higher end 360,000 sq.km would be 5.9%
    Also, the paper says this area became vulnerable to fire. It doesn’t state whether it actually burnt and how much of it burnt.

    Baa Humbug,

    Here are some other things I find strange. It is claimed 40% of the Amazon is “extremely sensitive” to small reductions in rainfall.

    Yet…

    1998 saw, not a small reduction in rainfall, but a DROUGHT.

    That was 12 years ago.

    Certainly, if 40% of the Amazon is “extremely sensitive” to a “small reduction in rainfall”, wouldn’t any of the Amazon react to a DROUGHT?

    I would expect if all the above were true, this drought affected region would be well on its way to savannah hood. Yet, nothing is mentioned in follow up reports.

    I did catch some episodes of River Monster. It seems there’s still enough water in the Amazon to grow some mighty big and fearsome fish.

    Now there’s a guy with a good job. He gets to go fishing and paid for it to boot.

    Almost as good as a programmer for a GCM. Paid to program and you don’t need to produce anything verifiable.

  47. allen mcmahon says:

    Mike MCMillan @ 3.34am
    The dangers from logging have diminished in recent years. Since its peak in 2004 logging has reduced been by 64% due to a government crackdown on illegal logging, the establishment of protection zones that cover more than 30% of Brazil’s forests and act as a buffer zone between cleared land and the core rain forests, limiting the clearance of privately owned land to 20% and the growing lack of land suitable to pasture or agriculture. What the alarmists never mention is that pasture land soon degrades and that 32% of cleared land has been revegitated either by plantation timber or natural regrowth. They also fail to mention that the FAO consistently over estimated logging until recent years when satellite coverage provided a more accurate means of assessment.

  48. Amazon = $

    Lots of attractive graphs, including a hockey stick, from Nepstad.

    http://news.mongabay.com/2008/0124-nepstad.html

  49. Mr Eschenbach, if you had actually followed the debate instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, you would be aware that the WWF has asserted that the problem stems from a reference accidentally omitted from its report, as in the claim that “WWF acknowledges that a reference to Fire in the Amazon as the source of the 40% claim outlined above was mistakenly omitted during the editing process of the Global Review of Forest Fires report.” It goes on to say:

    WWF’s source for this statement is Fire in the Amazon, a 1999 overview of Amazon fire issues from the respected Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM – Amazon Environmental Research Institute). The source quotation from Fire in the Amazon reads “Probably 30 to 40% of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon are sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall.”

    Intriguingly, the WWF then goes on to say that: “Our report does NOT say that 40% of the Amazon forest is at risk from climate change.”

    The argument has thus already progressed to a discussion over the provenance of “Fire in the Amazon”. It turns out that this is edited (in fact, largely written) by Daniel Nepstad, and is not peer-reviewed. Thus, we have the IPCC citing an assertion in a WWF document which is “accidentally” unreferenced but, when the reference is identified, it relates to a non-peer-reviewed publication.

    It then gets better, for “Fire in the Amazon” refers to the Brazilian rainforest (less then half the total) while the IPCC asserts that the 40 percent mentioned applies to the Amazon basin as a whole. Thus, even if “Fire in the Amazon” could be relied upon as a legitimate source (which it cannot), it still does not support the IPCC assertion.

    All this and much more can be read about on EU Referendum, including this comprehensive analysis which pre-dates yours by three months and which, had you noted it, would have significantly improved your exposition.

    I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying that you are not the only toiler in the vinyard. Some of us have been at this specific theme a lot longer than you and a little bit of acknowledgement would not only not go amiss, but might actually benefit WUWT readers.

  50. allen mcmahon says:

    Jack Simmons , the 2005 drought which followed 2 years of below average rainfall was described as a 100 year event and was of greater severity that the 1998 drought. Based on the assumed (modeled) estimation of the reduced Plant Available Water mortality statistics were supposed to go through the roof. The problem with theory is that facts tend to get in the way, since 2005 recruitment has exceeded mortality and biomass has increased substantially. According to vegetation models an increase in direct sunlight following canopy loss and should have led to a high mortality rate of trees that had been shaded. For some bizarre reason these trees actually thrived on increased sunlight and elevated C02 levels.

  51. kdk33 says:

    “Instead, he says that climate models show that the statement is correct ”

    and other don’t. But I suspect that all these climate models predict increasing temperatures. This is an example of why the global average temperature metric is misleading – one gets the impression of great consistency across models. I suspect (but don’t know) that a closer look at the more important outputs (changes in rainfall, for example) would reveal much less agreement across the models.

    …and if I’m wrong, I’d like to know that too.

  52. And why does your photograph show what appears to be a temperate, deciduous forest?

  53. allen mcmahon says:

    Richard North
    All kudos to you. Your well researched, detailed and informative commentary led to my interest, my wife says obsession, with Amazon forests. An analysis of the research shows how incredibly biased and how fragile is the basis for the IPCC claims in AR4. I suspect that this would be the case in many other areas.

  54. Henry chance says:

    It looks like the Shamans of carbon are flourishing with application of the biological changes in other venues. Porn and hedonism Are now in focus by algore and Choo Choo Pachauri.

    The dishonest people over at WWF are facing a dry spell. Nothing better to wilt donations for those fleecein g a flock than a good scam being exposed.

  55. DirkH says:

    Harry Lu says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:31 am
    “[...]
    It is obvios to even me that the tipping point of ecology is not a rainforest-to-no-forest-in-a-year-situation. Ecological tipping points take time to be evident but once the tipping point is passed it may be difficult to turn back. All trees do not die in a year. They may, for example, become less resistant to pest attack and then die over a number of years etc.[...]”

    Once the TIPPING point is passed it MAY be difficult to turn back, you say. They MAY beome less resistant,… and this is OBVIOUS to even you. So let me repeat: It is OBVIOUS to you that something bad MAY happen. Yeah, oh, well. Got any evidence to back it up? Some numbers, probability, data, anything?

  56. allen mcmahon says:

    Richard Telford you state “Since the historical record for most of the tropics is short, it is useful to look at the palaeoecological record. There are several examples of tropical forest-savanna transitions in the Holocene.”
    How right you are. Mayle & Power 2008, found that during the drier climatic conditions of the Early-Mid- Holocene that the forests were remarkably resilient and that the “die back” senario’s simulated by Cox, Betts and others is unlikely. Given that the Hadley model they use under-predicts rainfall by 20% and that recent research has shown that TRIFFORD vegetation model used in conjunction with the GCM substantially underestimates biomass responses to sunlight and elevated CO2 we can look forward to a bright future for the Amazon forests.

  57. James Sexton says:

    Nice article, one again, Willis. I still don’t see how they escape scrutiny of the basic premise of the claims. The basic claim appears to be, a warmer earth, which then means there would be a requisite additional H2O in the water cycle via melting, would somehow, magically, cause less rain in the Amazon jungle.

    While I’ve read some blather about weather pattern change (as if it doesn’t constantly change) cause by warming, I’ve never seen any assertion backed by any science that states the Amazon jungle will have a decrease in rainfall if the earth warms. This premise is counter-intuitive and should be questioned. I’ve asked some alarmists sites to show how this premise would or could be true, but my question, to my knowledge has never been posted on any alarmist site, much less responded to.

    It should be also noted, as you correctly pointed out, there are other factors involved in the making and retaining of a jungle other than simple rainfall. A jungle as some built-in water retaining functions that assist the jungle during times of decreased rainfall. While the world continues to drone on about the green house effect, jungles quit literally have a canopy that retains moisture. This canopy allows for moisture in the form of rain to fall in, but the light that causes evaporation comes in in a greatly reduced measure and as you can see by the picture you posted, even in aerosol form, is unable to escape. Another obvious observation is the ground and the plants themselves, unique to jungles are given to maximize moisture retention and draw moisture from the main water source, in this case, the Amazon river.

    Jungles aren’t sensitive to occasional reductions in rainfall, they’ve built in mechanisms to deal with reductions in rainfall!

    I’d leave plenty of citations regarding my assertions, but most come from recollections of junior high science books long ago burnt at the alter of political correctness. But for a basis read on the light, canopy and soil assertions,

    http://www.kew.org/ksheets/pdfs/r1_rainforest.pdf “(only 2 percent of the light falling on the canopy reaches the ground) with very little air movement.”
    http://rainforests.mongabay.com/0303.htm Regarding canopy structure.

    Moran, E.F., “Deforestation and Land Use in the Brazilian Amazon”, Human Ecology, Vol 21, No. 1, 1993 “It took more than 15 years for the “lungs of the world” myth to be corrected. Rain forests contribute little net oxygen additions to the atmosphere through photosynthesis.”

  58. VicV says:

    With every little eddy in the ocean of discharge created by Warmists while they mentally masturbate on their climate model fantasies, I am always drawn back to the original Big Masturbater (BM) himself, AlGore, and his creative fantasy movie, An Inconvenient blah blah. (Perhaps his next flick will be a porn, as it seems there are reports he is studying the genre.) We have all become familiar with the fact that in his science fiction flick (or rather, fiction science), Gore crossed-up the relationship between warming and CO2 levels. At one point in this fiasco that is the subject of Willis’s article, Dr. Lewis wrote (and is quoted by Willis) that “The effect on the forest was massive tree mortality, and the remaining Amazon forests changed from absorbing nearly 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere a year, to being a massive source of over 3 billion tonnes.” It seems that Dr. Lewis’s mastications on CAGW leading to reduced rainfall in the Amazon would reinforce the evidence that CO2 rise follows temperature rise, not the other way around.

  59. James Sexton says:

    “basis” in the 5th para should read “basic”.

  60. Billy Liar says:

    Marot says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:25 am

    ‘Dr Simon Lewis is directly funded by wwf-Tanzania and wwf-US :

    http://www.valuingthearc.org/about_us/index.html

    Good link; WWF sure have bought a lot of scientists

  61. sierra117 says:

    Earlier today I went to RC to see what they were making of the retraction. Of course, the majority were crowing. So I tried posting a comment asking ANYONE there if they could tell me how much rain forest had disappeared since 1998.

    My post didnt make it past the moderator….no surprises I guess.

  62. Steven Schuman says:

    If you’ve ever gone to a sale offering up to 40% off and more, you know how meaningless those numbers are. I don’t buy from those places. I’ve never seen a sale sign with the additional information about the probability of receiving the discount. I’m not buying anything from the IPCC either.

  63. Ed Caryl says:

    Willis,
    Throw a long-term trend line on that rainfall chart. My eye says it trends up.

  64. Dear Willis,

    Love your work. I do recommend though that you consider the work of Mauas et al on Parana River flows, which shows a strong correlation between sunspot number and flow of the Parana River. We are in a Dalton Minimum repeat. The Mauas work can be used as a predictive tool.

  65. geo says:

    Ahh, context and semantics (the emotional loading of words/phrases to produce different meanings). What is a “very rapid” change in geologic timeframes? 50 years? 100? More? One year of drought surely isn’t it, whatever it is.

  66. Henry chance says:

    Amazon gate helps create a drought in book sales for the warmistas.

    Joe Romm is tearing it up!!

    Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #175,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books) Straight Up

    Before climate gate, they had floods of book orders for the most severe profits of warming.

  67. Pamela Gray says:

    You have just saved Sunset Magazine (Amazon edition) from having to change their climate zone designations and planting recommendations to “cactus”.

  68. Pamela Gray says:

    Richard, you seem to have covered taking credit quite well and have provided sufficient accolades, so much so that anymore coming your way would, dare I say, be gluttonous.

  69. tarpon says:

    Slice and dice, very well done analysis … Thanks

    They seem to be unable to see the rain forest for all the smoke. I wonder when will the smoking die down. Having dealt with computer models all my life, what people are trying to make others believe about the “magic of computer models” is frightening.

    And as the victims of Hurricane Charlie are quick to point out, it can go from bad to downright scary in a few short hours. Leave the unverified computer models alone.

  70. Scott says:

    My climate model shows that if it snowed in the amazon rain forest, there would be over 40% of the vegetation killed. In fact if the amazon river froze over even once there would be a dramatic change in the type of trees and vegetation for years

  71. JohnWho says:

    “…we find that the facts inconveniently disagree with their claims.”

    It appears that this happens quite often, doesn’t it?

  72. Erik says:

    In Praise of Willis Eschenbach – ‘Cos I like to use my brain

    http://diggingintheclay.wordpress.com/2010/06/14/in-praise-of-willis-eschenbach/

  73. Steve in SC says:

    And all this time I thought Hulk Hogan was one of the good guys…..

  74. DR says:

    Willis,
    Is this in response to RealClimate’s rendition which also mentions ‘Africa-gate’?

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/leakegate-a-retraction/

  75. JimF says:

    @Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    OK, I’ve bookmarked your site now, but this little jewel copied from there:

    “…UPDATE: Willis Eschenbach writes a guest post in Watts up with that? – no mention of EU Referendum, The Sunday Telegraph or any of our posts. With “friends” like that, no wonder our enemies prosper….”

    is graceless, as are your comments here. “Friends” is a two-way street in my experience. One might have congratulated Willis on a good contribution to this debate, and pointed out “friendly-like” that you had dug deeply into the matter, too.

  76. beng says:

    The Amazon drier in a warmer world goes against evidence. There was much less rainforest & more savanna during the cold glacial periods. The tropics were estimated to be 1 – 4C cooler during the glacials.

    Most of the rainfall there is convective & depends on daytime heating. Lower temps during the day mean weaker convection.

  77. D. W. Schnare says:

    Models => speculation
    Science => observation

    Speculation => science fiction
    Observation => understanding reality

  78. Mike Roddy says:

    I believe Dr. Simon, not Willis Eschenbach, who can only get published in fossil fuel supported rags like Energy and Environment. That’s because Eschenbach is a global warming denier, and probably a paid one. He has a long record of distorting the work of actual climate scientists, though he could never get published in a reputable peer reviewed journal himself.

    Lewis’ Amazon data is robust. Green’s comment settles this issue. Time to move on.

  79. Gail Combs says:

    Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    “….I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying that you are not the only toiler in the vinyard. Some of us have been at this specific theme a lot longer than you and a little bit of acknowledgement would not only not go amiss, but might actually benefit WUWT readers.”
    _____________________________________________________________________

    Thank you, There is an awful lot of “official” information out there that is “sleazy” at best. Any light shown on the propaganda we are constantly being fed is much appreciated by me and I am sure the rest of WUWT.

    Please keep the pointers to your site coming here at WUWT.

  80. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    Excerpt from: Richard North on June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Mr Eschenbach, if you had actually followed the debate instead of trying to reinvent the wheel…

    Heh. I got a saying about that: If no one had ever reinvented the wheel then we’d still be shaping them from stone. There can be benefit in investigating old territories anew, as originally certain lines of inquiry may have been passed over due to then-current knowledge as well as lack of resources to pursue them. Also there is the “fresh eyes” effect, new people find stuff that’s significant that previous investigators may have automatically dismissed.

    Besides, one thing we’ve all learned, you especially (for which we are grateful), is the more people there are looking into this stuff, the worse this stuff looks. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you’ll agree we have yet to hit bottom. So all hands on deck, anyone who wants can help anyway they can.

  81. We're all doomed says:

    The effect on the forest was massive tree mortality, and the remaining Amazon forests changed from absorbing nearly 2 billion tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere a year, to being a massive source of over 3 billion tonnes.

    Now this “carbon sink” notion of the rain forest annoys me to hell. So where does this year-on-year accumulation of gigatonnes of carbon in the amazon go to? No coal seams being laid down, no peat bogs or arctic conifer needles accumulating in the permafrost there. No dead plants and animals slowly sinking in their billions to the bottom of the sea bed in the Amazon either. The Amazon rain forest, when not being cut down and burned, would be a steady state: any dead plant rots away in a few weeks, trees in a few years, and returns to the atmosphere, replaced by others of roughly the same mass. The only way the carbon could “sink”, is if the total biomass increased by several gigatonnes a year, every year. I don’t think so, even before logging started.
    Cut and burn those trees, and all the carbon stored in them returns to the atmosphere, but the belief in existing untouched forest as a carbon sink seems to violate the conservation of mass…

  82. 899 says:

    Chris says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:21 am
    Perhaps you could write to the Times and ask them to retract the retraction..?

    Hey, Willis, what Chris said!!

    Go for it, man! When you’re hot, you’re hot! Take them to the wood shed!

    Yet another most excellent report on the facts.

  83. Policyguy says:

    The precipitation data sets presented above may actually be unmodified by “UHI” corrections that have artificially modified our temperature data sets. As such, this data might be reliable enough to support unbiased research of precipitation trends in various locals around the world. Another interesting data set would be paleo information regarding changes in vegetation in areas like the Amazon during periods of glaciation in the northern hemisphere similar to the Dryus analysis.

    DennisA says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:40 am

    “At the end of the Last Ice Age, only some 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, the tropics which are today occupied by these so-called ‘ancient cathedrals’ were seasonal savanna grasslands, both cooler and much drier than now.”

    It would be interesting to review the underlying research to support that claim. If accurate it suggests that rising CO2 and warmer temperatures are not the problem, but that colder temperatures and weather patterns that lock atmospheric water in extensive NH glaciers are the risk to the Amazon.

  84. pat says:

    So the precipitation rises in accordance to temperature according to the annual rain graph. And I would expect the river flow to demonstrate a similar pattern. The Amazon is 55 million years old. It has withstood ice ages and droughts of unimaginable magnitude. The problems it faces are not excess CO2 , a growth accelerant to the Amazon Basin, but ranching, mining, burning, dams, agriculture run-off and similar insults. Again we see ‘scientists’ using useless models to project their own political beliefs rather than to deal with the reality of an environmental problem.

  85. Colin from Mission B.C. says:

    Typical for the Believers. When pushed on the credentials of their sources, back up their argument with The-Models-Say-Such-And-Such meme. I know of no other discipline in science where models are cited as a priori proof — heh, even when they fail to ‘predict’ past observations.

  86. Athelstan says:

    If Lewis or any one person from the WWF phoned me at 0200 o’clock in the morning to tell me it was dark outside, I would still open the curtains and check.

    “It ain’t the science, it’s the agenda stoopid!”

  87. Willis Eschenbach says:

    John of Kent says:
    June 27, 2010 at 1:49 am

    Good work, Willis- you should really be in the IPCC!

    I’ve been waiting, but I think my dang invite got lost in the mail …

  88. Willis Eschenbach says:

    richard telford says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:36 am

    “since I know of no historical evidence of such a rapid large-scale change in the tropical climate to a much dryer state.”

    Since the historical record for most of the tropics is short, it is useful to look at the palaeoecological record. There are several examples of tropical forest-savanna transitions in the Holocene.

    Richard, thanks for that. Do you have a citation of the Amazon transitioning to savanna? Because my understanding was that it was a persistent feature.

  89. Mike D. says:

    This entire argument, on both sides, is predicated on the supposition that fires and savanna are natural phenomena, but they are not. Both are largely anthropogenic, especially in the Amazon, and have little or nothing to do with rainfall.

    There is no savanna on Earth that is not anthropogenically induced through frequent human-set fire.

    Historically, much of Amazonia was NOT rainforest, despite the fact that rainfall amounts have not changed. That is because historically Amazonia has been home to human beings who altered the vegetation with fire.

    Here are some references on the topic of historical human influences on Amazonia:

    http://westinstenv.org/histwl/?s=amazonia

    I hope that someday the “intelligensia” will finally clue into the fact that climate does not rule over everything. Much of the so-called “natural” environment has actually been shaped and modified by human agency for millennia. That includes savannas wherever they exist.

  90. Willis Eschenbach says:

    allen mcmahon says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:47 am

    The idea that 40% of the Amazon forests are at risk from a small reduction in rainfall is absurd. The most alarming scenario is represented by the Amazon “dieback” theory proposed by Cox et al 2004 It is based on the HAD3 GCM , a model that predicts the greatest reduction in rainfall for the Amazon in 21st century, and they use the one senario that predicts the least rainfall despite the fact that this GCM underestimated 20th century rainfall by 20%. A paper by Malhi et. al.2009 PNAS found that in the unlikely event that Cox proved correct at the most 600,000sq.kms. of forest, could revert to savanna and that the core Amazon rainforests were not at risk.

    allen, thanks for that fascinating information. The Malhi paper is available here. Inter alia it says:

    We then examine climate simulations by 19 global climate models (GCMs) in this context and find that most tend to underestimate current rainfall. GCMs also vary greatly in their projections of future climate change in Amazonia. We attempt to take into account the differences between GCM-simulated and observed rainfall regimes in the 20th century. Our analysis suggests that dry-season water stress is likely to increase in E. Amazonia over the 21st century, but the region tends toward a climate more appropriate to seasonal forest than to savanna.

    The bizarre part to me is that they find that the models underestimate current rainfall, and that they vary greatly in their predictions about the future. Despite that, they go ahead and make forecasts for the future of the Amazon based on the models … what’s wrong with this picture?

    At least they are taking a more evenhanded view of bad models, rather than grabbing the worst one as the IPCC and Dr. Lewis do. As a result, they say nothing about any 40% dieoff in forest.

  91. Doug Proctor says:

    Sir,
    This is a wonderful opportunity to determine the thinking/rationalization/justification process of what appears to be a response based on warmist ideology, not fact. Would Dr. Lewis deign to do us the favour of refuting this response to his insistence that the Times retract its article? Article-response-reply is a fairly standard aspect of peer-review: how would Dr. Lewis correct these statements?

  92. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Marot says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:25 am

    Dr Simon Lewis est directly funded by wwf-Tanzania and wwf-US :

    http://www.valuingthearc.org/about_us/index.html

    Merci, Marot. I busted out laughing at that one, no wonder he doesn’t see anything wrong with citing the WWF.

  93. dr.bill says:

    Richard North: June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    ……… All this and much more can be read about on EU Referendum, including this comprehensive analysis which pre-dates yours by three months and which, had you noted it, would have significantly improved your exposition……….

    Richard: I visit your blog regularly, and learn a great deal from doing so, but it does have one significant disincentive: the content is quite voluminous, in both the number of articles and the length of many of them, and it is often necessary to read all or most of an article in order to grasp its import. This is the main reason that scientific papers are generally accompanied by highly condensed abstracts. Perhaps a ‘précis + link to the rest’ model might elicit better results for you.

    /dr.bill

  94. Willis Eschenbach says:

    allen mcmahon says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:27 am

    Their was an error in my earlier post, the Cox die back theory is not the most absurd of the Amazon theories the dubious honor goes to none other that Dan Nepstad. In a paper he produced for the WWF in 2007 with the conservative title “Amazon’s Vicious Cycles” Nepstad claims that 55% of the Brazilian forests could be destroyed within 20 years, note the nice qualifier “could”. This document was the basis of the REDD submission presented at the Bali conference in December 2007 by the Woods Hole Research Center, authored by none other than rather busy Dan Nepstad , who seems to be alternately employed by the WHRC, WWF and the Moore Foundation( a major contributor to the WWF). The REDD scheme’s intention is to preserve the worlds forests by using a market based emissions trading scheme. The WHRC , is aided by Goldman Sachs, a foundation sponsor of the WHRC. It is great when an independent scientific organization, despite the numerous environmental activists on their board, and a philanthropic financial institution combine their resources for the benefit of the world.

    So Dr. Lewis is funded by the WWF … and Dan Nepstad is funded by the WWF …

    Now if I were funded by “Big Oil”, and I cited a study non-peer reviewed study by Mobil in support of my claims, I’d never hear the end of it. Being funded by “Big Green”, on the other hand, and citing the non-peer reviewed WWF study, raises no eyebrows.

    Go figure …

  95. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Vincent says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:35 am

    … To my mind however, the saddest thing about this episode with “The Times” is that they appear totally unable to defend themselves from the ludicrous charges of Lewis. Have they no scientific journalists who can defend their position, as you have done? It is as if a national newspaper, on uncovering a major political scandal, suddenly published a retraction because some minister wrote a letter saying that the scandal had not in fact occured.

    As I said in the article, I do think that Dr. Lewis was misquoted. And the libel laws in Britain are draconian, you can even libel the dead. I suspect the Times did a quick cost-benefit analysis and decided to to cut their losses.

  96. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Shub Niggurath says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:41 am

    The definitive account of Amazongate

    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/search/label/Amazongate

    Thanks, Shub. Curiously, the link says:

    UPDATE: Willis Eschenbach writes a guest post in Watts up with that? – no mention of EU Referendum, The Sunday Telegraph or any of our posts. With “friends” like that, no wonder our enemies prosper.

    Geez, EU Referendum guys, take a deep breath. As is my custom, before I write I don’t spend a lot of time looking at what others have said about an issue. I find that it leads me to prejudge the outcome, and that it makes me tend to miss things I would have otherwise seen because my mind is already in a certain channel. I prefer to approach the issues with what Zen Buddhists call “beginner’s mind”.

    As a result, rather than spend my time patting people on the head, I prefer to simply focus on the underlying source documents and data. If you want someone to praise your work, I can do that, there’s lots of people out there doing great work, EU Referendum is an excellent site, and I appreciate all of them.

    However, I don’t see praising EU Referendum as my job. My self-appointed task is different – to look, not at other people’s views of an issue (however valid they may be), but at the issues themselves.

  97. Willis Eschenbach says:

    John says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Small point, Willis: it was the Sunday Times which retracted, not the (daily) Times. Different newspapers, different editors, different staff – though same proprietor (R Murdoch).

    Thanks, John, fixed.

  98. JB Williamson says:

    This is also the subject of Christopher Booker

    Amazongate: the missing evidence
    The story of the IPCC’s claims about threats to the Amazon rainforest takes another bizarre turn, says Christopher Booker

    See

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7856474/Amazongate-the-missing-evidence.html

  99. DirkH says:

    Does the WWF run ad campaigns in the Sunday times? Some reader of the Sunday Times here?

  100. Paddy says:

    I understand that a several of the climate models present scenarios that rainfall will increase in the tropics and subtropics as a consequence of increased greenhouse gas emissions. If correct, should not those advocating less rainfall and and rainforest transformation into savannas disprove the increased precipitation scenarios?

  101. Doug in Seattle says:

    With articles like this it is easy to see why the US administration is keen to control the internet.

  102. 1DandyTroll says:

    Richard North,
    ‘Intriguingly, the WWF then goes on to say that: “Our report does NOT say that 40% of the Amazon forest is at risk from climate change.”’

    This is what WW says:

    “The Amazon rain forests are a globally important ecosystem, and are intimately connected to the world’s climate. A WWF study reports the many ways climate change is speeding up the destruction of the Amazon while at the same time, deforestation in the Amazon influences climate change.  The study predicts that 55 percent of the Amazon’s forests could be gone by 2030. This could release billions of tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, with major contributions to global warming. In turn, up to 75 percent of Brazilian greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation and forest fires – mainly in the Amazon. Because of this, Brazil is the fourth largest climate polluter in the world. Read WWF’s report “The Amazon’s Vicious Cycles.””

    So it’s supposed to be way higher at a stunning 55% right, and not a measly 40%. That’s what a WWF study says anyways. Check page 8 of the WWF study mentioned for a nice visual linkage between global warming and forest fires as well.

  103. Stephen Skinner says:

    “Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”.
    Why is it not possible to think about this the other way round? A 40% reduction in Amazonian forests will bring about a reduction in rainfall because the vast reservoir of water held by the forests that drives precipitation will no longer be there. It is also perverse to argue that the Amazon will change to Savannah by a change in precipitation, when that process, if it were to happen this way, has been overtaken by the simple act of changing the Amazon to Savannah by cutting down the trees. CO2 doesn’t come into it.

  104. Gail Combs says:

    DennisA says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:40 am

    “At the end of the Last Ice Age, only some 12,000 to 18,000 years ago, the tropics which are today occupied by these so-called ‘ancient cathedrals’ were seasonal savanna grasslands, both cooler and much drier than now.”

    It would be interesting to review the underlying research to support that claim. If accurate it suggests that rising CO2 and warmer temperatures are not the problem, but that colder temperatures and weather patterns that lock atmospheric water in extensive NH glaciers are the risk to the Amazon.
    ___________________________________________________________________
    Dennis there is this information on the paleovegetation of SOUTH AMERICA DURING THE LAST 150,000 YEARS Compiled by Jonathan Adams, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN

    Hope that helps.

  105. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    Mr Eschenbach, if you had actually followed the debate instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, you would be aware that the WWF has asserted that the problem stems from a reference accidentally omitted from its report, as in the claim that “WWF acknowledges that a reference to Fire in the Amazon as the source of the 40% claim outlined above was mistakenly omitted during the editing process of the Global Review of Forest Fires report.” It goes on to say:

    WWF’s source for this statement is Fire in the Amazon, a 1999 overview of Amazon fire issues from the respected Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (IPAM – Amazon Environmental Research Institute). The source quotation from Fire in the Amazon reads “Probably 30 to 40% of the forests of the Brazilian Amazon are sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall.”

    I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying that you are not the only toiler in the vinyard. Some of us have been at this specific theme a lot longer than you and a little bit of acknowledgement would not only not go amiss, but might actually benefit WUWT readers.

    Richard, thanks for the information. Yes, I didn’t know that the un-peer-reviewed WWF document mistakenly forgot to cite an un-peer-reviewed IPAM report. That is interesting, thank you for that information.

    And yes, I didn’t acknowledge your part in the revelations of the story, or EU Referendum’s part, or Bishop Hill’s part, or James Delingpole’s part … so?

    See, what I do is look at the data and the source documents and write about them. There’s no way to find out everything about any issue, and no way to acknowledge everyone who has ever written about the issue, this is the web.

    Normally, what happens when I haven’t noticed something is that someone comes along and says “Willis, not only that, but wait, there’s more! Jim Schlub has a great piece on this very question at thepoorschlub.org” or the like.

    Occasionally, on the other hand, someone like EU Referendum gets all upset because I didn’t mention their findings. Sorry, folks, not my job, and not possible in any case. If you want your findings noticed here and I have not mentioned them, post a link … but busting me because I haven’t read everything on the web goes nowhere. I am well aware that I am not the only “toiler in the vineyard”, in your lovely phrase … but I’m also aware that for any given subject, no-one can acknowledge or even read all of the relevant pieces on the web.

    Finally, what you see in this post are my own ideas, based on my own research. It owes nothing to the EU Referendum analysis, I’ve never even read the EU Referendum analysis of Amazongate … which makes it kinda hard for me to acknowledge the EU Referendum analysis as you request.

  106. DirkH says:

    “Mike Roddy says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:08 am
    I believe Dr. Simon, not Willis Eschenbach, who can only get published in fossil fuel supported rags like Energy and Environment. That’s because Eschenbach is a global warming denier, and probably a paid one. He has a long record of distorting the work of actual climate scientists, though he could never get published in a reputable peer reviewed journal himself.

    Lewis’ Amazon data is robust. Green’s comment settles this issue. Time to move on.”

    Mike, are you self-parodying now?

  107. Doug in Seattle says:

    Willis and Richard:

    Cool it. Besides being unseemly, it’s unproductive.

  108. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:23 am

    And why does your photograph show what appears to be a temperate, deciduous forest?

    Because it was picked for artistic reasons, not scientific reasons. It is a photo of Matheran, India, at 18°N … so freakin’ what?

  109. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Ed Caryl says:
    June 27, 2010 at 6:28 am

    Willis,
    Throw a long-term trend line on that rainfall chart. My eye says it trends up.

    Two of the long-term trends are slightly up, one is slightly down, and they are all a long way from statistical significance.

    w.

  110. Willis Eschenbach says:

    David Archibald says:
    June 27, 2010 at 6:30 am

    Dear Willis,

    Love your work. I do recommend though that you consider the work of Mauas et al on Parana River flows, which shows a strong correlation between sunspot number and flow of the Parana River. We are in a Dalton Minimum repeat. The Mauas work can be used as a predictive tool.

    Thanks, David. I’ve seen Mauas’s work, very interesting. I’m always somewhat skeptical about sunspot correlations, our datasets are short and fragmentary when we are looking at 11-year or 22-year cycles. However, Mauas’s work is some of the best. Whether it can be used as a predictive tool is less certain, because we’re not very good at predicting future sunspot numbers …

  111. Hu Duck Xing says:

    WS,
    This just sticks out;
    “Indeed, some leading models of future climate change impacts show a die-off of more than 40% Amazon forests, due to projected decreases in rainfall.

    This, of course, also means that some leading models do not show a die-off. Even the models don’t all agree with the IPCC claim.”

    I’d like to know the numbers of each “some!” How desperately have they “cherry-picked” to come up with their “some leading models.” Is there anyway those numbers can be determined?
    HDX

  112. Pdeter Foster says:

    40 years ago when I was teaching enviromental biology the Amazon rainforest was cited as a disaster waiting to happen due to deforestation. The argument was that the rainfall in the inner Amazon basin was due to recycling of water of transpiration and that water got recycled nine times by this means before the it hit the Andes. Due to the slash and burn by farmers it was thought that if enough forest was removed in the eastern part of the basin then there would be insufficient water to maintain the transpiration cycle inland and the area would dry out to the point where the forest could not survive.

    Nothing to do with climate change at all. However I do not know if this theory is still considered valid or not.

  113. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Mike Roddy says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I believe Dr. Simon, not Willis Eschenbach, who can only get published in fossil fuel supported rags like Energy and Environment. That’s because Eschenbach is a global warming denier, and probably a paid one. He has a long record of distorting the work of actual climate scientists, though he could never get published in a reputable peer reviewed journal himself.

    1. Where someone has published in the past has nothing to do with whether they are right on any given issue.

    2. I have a peer-reviewed “Communications Arising” which was published in Nature Magazine. Curiously, they didn’t share your prejudice against my work.

    3. Energy and Environment is the peer-reviewed journal that AGW supporters love to hate. I get great pleasure out of seeing people like yourself frothing and foaming about E&E.

    4. I recommend that you don’t “believe” either Dr. Simon or me, but that you actually look at the data and make up your own mind. Deciding a scientific question based on the personalities or the prior publications of the people debating the issues is the height of foolishness.

    5. “Probably” I’m a paid denier? Oh, that’s rich. You make allegations up out of the whole cloth, without a scrap of evidence either way, and expect people to give your ideas weight? Dude, with nonsense claims like that one, nobody will care whether you “believe Dr. Simon” or not.

    w.

  114. 1DandyTroll says:

    Willis Eschenbach, “Sorry, folks, not my job, and not possible in any case.”

    Why be sorry for a perfectly natural phenomenon?, Ha, before internet people only thought they had the thought first because they didn’t see anyone else having had the same thought. Poof, enter Internet and 2 billion people and counting, and now a lot of people, still, find out the hard way that they actually aren’t that unique or original in their logical processing, that quite a lot of people out there come to the same type of conclusion even with completely different data or source reference. lol like it should be difficult to understand in the first place. :p

  115. Gail Combs says:

    1DandyTroll says:
    June 27, 2010 at 4:51 am

    WWF has become the largest get rich quick scheme factory in the world….
    _______________________________________________________________
    WWF was never meant to be anything but window dressing for an extortion scheme. Look at WHO’s Funding WWF The other foundations funding both Greenpeace and WWF are the Rockefeller Foundations

    “…Congressman Wright Patman, chairman of the House Banking Committee, has charged that the Rockefellers and other foundations act in concert, using their enormous portfolios to perform maneuvers which used to be known indelicately as -rigging the market.-

    So powerful have the major foundations become that the Patman Committee concluded: “Unquestionably, the economic life of our Nation has become so intertwined with foundations that unless something is done about it they will hold a dominant position in every phase of American life.”.. Collectively, the Rockefeller foundations have in excess of $1.5 billion in assets but they also have interlocking control over the other most powerful foundations, the Carnegie Group and the giant Ford Foundation.”

    Note: The Tides Foundation was formed to hide WHERE the funds from the primary foundations are actually going.

  116. Hi Willis

    North was ‘attacked’ for being the source of ‘Amazongate’. What Monbiot and the others missed was that, in the end, EU Ref and WUWT have been basically correct about the underlying problem with the statement made.

    The authorities in question seem to paper over this with their press releases.

    Regards

  117. Billy Liar says:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6918024.ece

    Britain cuts down forests to keep ‘green’ power stations burning

    Britain is set to plunder the lungs of the world to feed its growing hunger for wood to burn in power stations. A series of biomass-fired plants are being built in the UK that will trigger a 150 per cent surge in timber imports from 20 million tonnes today to 50 million tonnes by 2015, according to the Forestry Commission.

    British power plants are already shipping wood from Canada, Brazil, Scandinavia and South Korea.

    ‘Green’ energy = ship wood from Brazil whilst sitting on 400 years worth of fossilized wood under your feet.

  118. Mr Lynn says:

    Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:15 am

    . . . All this and much more can be read about on EU Referendum, including this comprehensive analysis which pre-dates yours by three months and which, had you noted it, would have significantly improved your exposition.

    Maybe if you changed the name of your blog from EUReferendum to something that suggested you covered scientific and other global issues as well as regional politics, it might attract more attention here.

    /Mr Lynn

  119. Willis

    The point that you miss is that “Amazongate” was broken on WUWT last January, here and here. Thus the story is better than five months old and even then had developed beyond the point where you leave it.

    The further point is that EU Referendum’s “part” – as you so dismissively put it – was to originate the story. Without it, there would be no “Amazongate” at all … or, for that matter, any story in The Sunday Times – as I fed the information to Leake. If you had looked at the data and “the source documents”, therefore, as you claim, you would have discovered that the source documents for “Amazongate” were on EU Referendum/WUWT.

    And, as this is the web, it costs you nothing and takes only seconds to link to the source and acknowledge it, strengthening your own piece and adding to the information you give your readers. Why is that a problem?

    Best

    Richard

  120. Mr Lynn says: “Maybe if you changed the name of your blog from EUReferendum to something that suggested you covered scientific and other global issues as well as regional politics, it might attract more attention here.”

    Does The Times write about clocks, or Little Green Footballs write about little green footballs? Sadly, we are saddled with our title – we have five years of “brand identity” locked into it and to change now would lose a lot of our readers.

  121. Hu Duck Xing says:

    In my post at 11:09, I, of course meant to type WE, Willis Eschenbach, not WS! Sorry! New bifocals,,,,,,,

  122. Tom in Texas says:

    “…and expect people to give your ideas weight?”

    Willis, cut Mike some slack. He graduated from UC Berkeley (1967-1970) with honors.

  123. oneuniverse says:

    Willis Eschenbach: “Richard, thanks for that. Do you have a citation of the Amazon transitioning to savanna? Because my understanding was that it was a persistent feature.”

    The IPCC apparently cites a few ‘extreme’ modelling studies which, if correct, support the IPCC’s “40% / savanna” statement :

    Betts et al. 2004, “The role of ecosystem-atmosphere interactions in simulated Amazonian precipitation decrease and forest dieback under global change warming.”

    Cox et al. 2004“Amazonian forest dieback under climate-carbon cycle projections for the 21st century.”

    Huntingford et al. 2004, “Using a GCM analogue model to investigate the potential for Amazonian forest dieback.”

    I don’t have access to the Huntingford et al. paper., but the Cox & Betts (et al.) feature model projections of temperature rises of 8-12K by 2100 (extreme with respect to the IPCC consensus range), and semi-arid to arid environments in the 22nd Century (<= 2mm/day at the end of the 21st century, and still falling).

    More realistically, the following study finds against the IPCC's "40% / savanna" statement :

    Mahli et al. 2009, PNAS, “Exploring the likelihood and mechanism of a climate-change-induced dieback of the Amazon rainforest”

  124. DirkH says:

    oneuniverse says:
    June 27, 2010 at 12:57 pm
    “[...]
    The IPCC apparently cites a few ‘extreme’ modelling studies which, if correct, support the IPCC’s “40% / savanna” statement :”

    That’s a good one.

  125. Solomon Green says:

    Mike Roddy says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:08 am
    “Lewis’ Amazon data is robust. Green’s comment settles this issue. Time to move on.”
    I have looked for any member of my extended tribe to whom Mr. Roddy might be referring. I found none. Perhaps he could reference his remarks. Otherwise let it be known that this Green at any rate wholly accepts Mr. Eschenbach’s debunking of Dr. Lewis’s pseudo science.

  126. Zhang et al in Nature, 2007 estimate (whether you accept it or not) that long-term precipitation trends over the past century over the Amazon (among other regions) are slightly positive.

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v448/n7152/abs/nature06025.html

    The same is borne out in the TRMM data posted above.

    The ‘savannization’ paradigm basically originates in modeling. The modeling conclusions seems to have triggered a search for its ‘signature’ in real-world observations

  127. oneuniverse says:

    Willis, unless you discovered the unfounded nature of the IPCC’s Amazon claim independently of Dr. North, may I suggest that a link to his original work is appropriate, now that you know who the original investigator was.

  128. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    Willis

    The point that you miss is that “Amazongate” was broken on WUWT last January, here and here. Thus the story is better than five months old and even then had developed beyond the point where you leave it.

    The further point is that EU Referendum’s “part” – as you so dismissively put it – was to originate the story. Without it, there would be no “Amazongate” at all … or, for that matter, any story in The Sunday Times – as I fed the information to Leake. If you had looked at the data and “the source documents”, therefore, as you claim, you would have discovered that the source documents for “Amazongate” were on EU Referendum/WUWT.

    And, as this is the web, it costs you nothing and takes only seconds to link to the source and acknowledge it, strengthening your own piece and adding to the information you give your readers. Why is that a problem?

    Best

    Richard

    Richard, I’m not getting it. The particular issue that I am talking about, as expressed in the first sentence of my post, is the recent retraction by the Sunday Times of their Amazongate article. How was this “broken on WUWT last January” when it happened last week?

    Look, you want the credit, you got the credit. You broke the story? Fine, my congratulations to you, that is a very noteworthy accomplishment. You have stuff to add to the story? That’s great, please add it.

    But you want the ugly truth? Until today, I can’t recall ever reading your blog … sorry, but there it is. I’ve seen the name come up a couple of times, and being totally disinterested in EU politics, I gave it a pass. A great mistake, I now see … but not one that I can rectify ex post facto. You seem to think that I was deliberately ignoring you, when in fact I was unaware of you. Hey, the web is a big place. Your Alexa traffic rank (smaller is better) says:

    Site Information for eureferendum.blogspot.com

    Alexa Traffic Rank: 209,537
    Traffic Rank in GB: 33,426
    Sites Linking In: 1,045
    Category: Regional > Europe > United Kingdom > Society and Culture > Issues > European Union
    Keywords: referendum, money tree, how to get rich, eu, double your money

    Call me crazy, but that doesn’t scream “skeptical climate science”. Sorry I missed it, it’s an interesting site, but hardly a well-known site.

    Regarding credit for your work, I take a different view than you. I have found in my life that I can accomplish amazing things if I don’t care who gets the credit … but in any case, my apologies. Everyone, Richard North broke the Amazongate story, and I was unaware of that. Because I didn’t know that, I did not give him credit for doing so, nor for his perseverance in furthering the story. There are a number of interesting articles about Amazongate on his website, EUReferendum. Go over and give them a read, the story continues, and no one person can see all of the facets.

    w.

  129. DirkH says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm
    “Everyone, Richard North broke the Amazongate story, and I was unaware of that. Because I didn’t know that, I did not give him credit for doing so, nor for his perseverance in furthering the story.”

    Willis, it would be great if you could add that as an update to your post. Pretty please. I hate to see the two of you arguing.

  130. Mr Lynn says:

    Richard North says:
    June 27, 2010 at 12:29 pm
    Does The Times write about clocks, or Little Green Footballs write about little green footballs? Sadly, we are saddled with our title – we have five years of “brand identity” locked into it and to change now would lose a lot of our readers.

    Easy enough to do, if you do it gradually. Remember how Datsun changed to Nissan (in the USA, at any rate)? You run both names for a while, create a new URL, and forward the old one. Then you emphasize the new name, while the old one gradually shrinks, and eventually it becomes “North by Worldwide [or whatever you decide to call it], formerly EU Referendum.”

    Then get Willis to bookmark it.

    For additional consulting services, just email me: RepletewRue at Yahoo dot com. ;-)

    /Mr Lynn

  131. Yes Willis. Let me give you an example. You filed the first (?) FOIA request to the CRU right? What if someone started a new post about FOI to address environmental and science data lapses, talking about Climategate and all else, never once mentioning you, Climateaudit, David Holland and the others?

    ‘EU’ Ref was never about just EU. Some of the most important climate stories, the whole Pachauri Glaciergate saga and many others were broken, or significantly advanced by North.

    You guys should make up

    Regards

  132. Dave McK says:

    Willis – you just rock.
    I haven’t seen anybody be so good in a long while – and it’s sustainable, too!
    Pleasure to know you exist, dude.
    I hope you never get surrounded by clingons, though. Even Rand died of that. Stay free!

  133. 1DandyTroll says:

    Richard North

    ‘The point that you miss is that “Amazongate” was broken on WUWT last January, here and here. Thus the story is better than five months old and even then had developed beyond the point where you leave it.’

    So instead of furthering the story happy as you please, you rather nit pick and bicker?

    What’s the point of “trashing” a story when it is deserving of furthering? Especially when you apparently, by your own accord, didn’t break the story?

    Can a story only be told once by one version, first revision?

  134. Steve in SC says:

    The WWF is much like their siblings the Islamofacist charities.

  135. richard Telford says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 9:42 am

    From Africa

    Ulrich Salzmann and Philipp Hoelzmann 2005. The Dahomey Gap; an abrupt climatically induced rain forest fragmentation in West Africa during the late Holocene.
    The Holocene, 15(2):190-199

    A. Ngomanda et al. 2009 Western equatorial African forest-savanna mosaics: a legacy of late Holocene climatic change? Climate of the Past. Clim. Past, 5, 647–659
    http://www.clim-past.net/5/647/2009/

    I’m less familiar with the Amazonian literature.

    Over a wide range of tropical climates, savanna and forest are alternative stable states. When undisturbed, both are resilient to small changes in climate. For example, Fire (and herbivores) helps maintain savanna, even if precipitation is greater than that required to sustain a forest.
    If the climate becomes dryer, the forest not immediately transition to savanna, but the probability of this transition increases. Processes like fragmentation and logging in Amazonia will increase the likelihood of a transition from forest to savanna, even without climate change.

  136. James Sexton says:

    Tom in Texas says:
    June 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    “…and expect people to give your ideas weight?”

    Willis, cut Mike some slack. He graduated from UC Berkeley (1967-1970) with honors.

    Doesn’t say much for Berkeley. Do they teach debate there? ..and probably a paid one. What the heck? Why don’t you just ask him, you twit? Or do you try to make a point by innuendo? Do they teach that at Berkeley?

  137. Al Gored says:

    DirkH says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm
    “Everyone, Richard North broke the Amazongate story, and I was unaware of that. Because I didn’t know that, I did not give him credit for doing so, nor for his perseverance in furthering the story.”

    Willis, it would be great if you could add that as an update to your post. Pretty please. I hate to see the two of you arguing.

    ————-

    I agree. Just distracts from the issue that was covered very well by both. i would say the more mutual support, the better.

    That said, I must say that I did learn more about the specific details here… in yet another very clear, concise and well illustrated article from Mr. E.

    However, unfortunately, because neither has been vetted by a peer review process recognized by the establishment or featured in a WWF brochure, it is clearly all just fluff. Move along. Nothing to see here. 2 + 2 = 5.

  138. Al Gored says:

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this but there is a growing body of evidence that more than just climate has shaped the past Amazon. This was first brought to the attention of the braoder public in Charles C. Mann’s book ‘1491’ and the more they look, the more they find…

    Here’s one paper I just quickly googled… from the PNAS, which may explain the “hotly debated” point.

    Pre-Columbian agricultural landscapes, ecosystem engineers, and self-organized patchiness in Amazonia

    Doyle McKey,a1 Stéphen Rostain,b José Iriarte,c Bruno Glaser,d2 Jago Jonathan Birk,d Irene Holst,e and Delphine Renarda

    Abstract

    The scale and nature of pre-Columbian human impacts in Amazonia are currently hotly debated. Whereas pre-Columbian people dramatically changed the distribution and abundance of species and habitats in some parts of Amazonia, their impact in other parts is less clear. Pioneer research asked whether their effects reached even further, changing how ecosystems function, but few in-depth studies have examined mechanisms underpinning the resilience of these modifications. Combining archeology, archeobotany, paleoecology, soil science, ecology, and aerial imagery, we show that pre-Columbian farmers of the Guianas coast constructed large raised-field complexes, growing on them crops including maize, manioc, and squash. Farmers created physical and biogeochemical heterogeneity in flat, marshy environments by constructing raised fields. When these fields were later abandoned, the mosaic of well-drained islands in the flooded matrix set in motion self-organizing processes driven by ecosystem engineers (ants, termites, earthworms, and woody plants) that occur preferentially on abandoned raised fields. Today, feedbacks generated by these ecosystem engineers maintain the human-initiated concentration of resources in these structures. Engineer organisms transport materials to abandoned raised fields and modify the structure and composition of their soils, reducing erodibility. The profound alteration of ecosystem functioning in these landscapes coconstructed by humans and nature has important implications for understanding Amazonian history and biodiversity. Furthermore, these landscapes show how sustainability of food-production systems can be enhanced by engineering into them fallows that maintain ecosystem services and biodiversity. Like anthropogenic dark earths in forested Amazonia, these self-organizing ecosystems illustrate the ecological complexity of the legacy of pre-Columbian land use.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2867901/

  139. Al Gored says:

    Here’s another link related to my last post. The underlying point is that until European impacts – notably smallpox – the Amazon was not the great ‘wilderness’ rain forest that the WWF et al like to see it as. There were millions of people there, effectively managing much of the landscape for their own needs. Obviously this ‘original’ Amazon would have been a different carbon sink than the depopulated and overgrown one. Similarly, the great Mayan temples were discovered overgrown by jungles.

    Science. 2003 Sep 19;301(5640):1710-4.

    Amazonia 1492: pristine forest or cultural parkland?
    Heckenberger MJ, Kuikuro A, Kuikuro UT, Russell JC, Schmidt M, Fausto C, Franchetto B.

    Abstract
    Archaeology and indigenous history of Native Amazonian peoples in the Upper Xingu region of Brazil reveal unexpectedly complex regional settlement patterns and large-scale transformations of local landscapes over the past millennium. Mapping and excavation of archaeological structures document pronounced human-induced alteration of the forest cover, particularly in relation to large, dense late-prehistoric settlements (circa 1200 to 1600 A.D.). The findings contribute to debates on human carrying capacity, population size and settlement patterns, anthropogenic impacts on the environment, and the importance of indigenous knowledge, as well as contributing to the pride of place of the native peoples in this part of the Amazon.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14500979

  140. Derek B says:

    Strange that Lewis thinks Nepstad’s paper “is not related to the vulnerability of these forests to reductions in rainfall”. Nepstad told the Sunday Times that his “rainfall exclusion experiments in the Amazon showed trees began dying suddenly after three years of well-below average rainfall”. Looks like Nepstad hasn’t read his own paper. How careless these alarmists are!

    Sadly, such carelessness is everywhere. Take your own observation:
    ‘Now, if the Amazon were so sensitive, if it “could react drastically” to even a “slight reduction” in rainfall, certainly such a large reduction would make a big difference … but that didn’t happen. There was no “flip” to savannah mentioned in the paper.’
    This is what happens when you take things out of context. In the original context it is clear that these slight reductions are in average rainfall, i.e. sustained over many years. Nepstad makes it clear that the forests can and do cope with droughts of a year or two.

  141. Al Gored says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 11:13 am

    “Where someone has published in the past has nothing to do with whether they are right on any given issue.”

    Indeed. just out of curiosity, does anyone know what journals the (false) conclusions about the validity of the Piltdown man were published? I’m guessing that the Royal Society fell for that one… too.

  142. Stephen Skinner says:

    Pdeter Foster says:
    June 27, 2010 at 11:12 am
    …”Due to the slash and burn by farmers it was thought that if enough forest was removed in the eastern part of the basin then there would be insufficient water to maintain the transpiration cycle inland and the area would dry out to the point where the forest could not survive”.
    “Nothing to do with climate change at all. However I do not know if this theory is still considered valid or not”.

    I disagree. I think what you have described is everything to do with climate change and is not a theory. The effect of slash and burn on a large scale in the Amazon was observed as far back as 1865 when the sugar plantations were expanding. This is a key excerpt: “This destruction of the forests has exhausted the soil, which in many places now produces nothing but grasses suitable for grazing cattle. The temperature has intensified, and the seasons have become irregular. The rains at times damage the crops, and at other times there is not rain at all”.
    Also, have you read ‘The Damned’ by Fred Pearce?

  143. Al Gored says:

    Billy Liar says:
    June 27, 2010 at 6:16 am
    Marot says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:25 am

    ‘Dr Simon Lewis is directly funded by wwf-Tanzania and wwf-US :

    http://www.valuingthearc.org/about_us/index.html‘

    Good link; WWF sure have bought a lot of scientists

    ———–
    Indeed. This is just the tip of the iceberg. As a bonus, they also get ‘peer reviewed journals.’ Another of the arc team:

    Prof Jon Lovett
    University of York

    Jon is Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Twente in the Netherlands and Director of the Centre for Ecology, Law and Policy at the University of York, England. He is associate editor of the African Journal of Ecology…

  144. 899 says:

    Al Gored says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:27 pm
    Here’s another link related to my last post. [--snip for brevity--]

    There’s a really good book you might peruse when you get the chance. It’s titled The Mystery of The Mexican Pyramids, by Peter Thompkins.

    I purchased it about 30 years ago, and he goes into detail over matters.

    From what I recall, his thoughts are that the culture dissipated because of internal strife having to do with political matters, and changing climate, much as happened with Machu Picchu.

    IIRC correctly, he also talks about there being trees on a certain hillside which seem out of place, because the current weather pattern doesn’t support them being there, they being more of a wet weather species.

    Check it out if you can find a copy.

  145. 899 says:

    Derek B says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm
    Strange that Lewis thinks Nepstad’s paper “is not related to the vulnerability of these forests to reductions in rainfall”. Nepstad told the Sunday Times that his “rainfall exclusion experiments in the Amazon showed trees began dying suddenly after three years of well-below average rainfall”. Looks like Nepstad hasn’t read his own paper. How careless these alarmists are!
    [--snip for brevity--]

    I wonder how he conducted those “rainfall exclusion experiments”?

  146. Willis Eschenbach says:

    DirkH says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    “Everyone, Richard North broke the Amazongate story, and I was unaware of that. Because I didn’t know that, I did not give him credit for doing so, nor for his perseverance in furthering the story.”

    Willis, it would be great if you could add that as an update to your post. Pretty please. I hate to see the two of you arguing.

    Done, thanks for the good plan.

  147. jorgekafkazar says:

    Richard North says: “Mr Eschenbach, if you had actually followed the debate instead of trying to reinvent the wheel…”

    A major part of science, as has been stated here (and probably in EUReferendum) many times, is the necessity for experimental results to be replicable. This involves a lot of wheel reinvention. Wheel reinvention is a way of life for a scientist. “Following the debate” is difficult on the web, Google notwithstanding, and “reinventing the wheel” is not illegal, unethical, or immoral. It just happens, and I see no justification for you to assume that Willis was deliberately “trying” to do so.

  148. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Shub Niggurath says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Yes Willis. Let me give you an example. You filed the first (?) FOIA request to the CRU right? What if someone started a new post about FOI to address environmental and science data lapses, talking about Climategate and all else, never once mentioning you, Climateaudit, David Holland and the others?

    I’m in this game to make a difference, not to make a name. The less I care about the latter, the more I am able to do the former.

    ‘EU’ Ref was never about just EU. Some of the most important climate stories, the whole Pachauri Glaciergate saga and many others were broken, or significantly advanced by North.

    You guys should make up

    Regards

    Look, I understand that now, and I’ve posted an update to the head post. But for Richard to bust me for something that I was totally unaware of was a bridge too far. I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, I just didn’t know the back story. I don’t hold it against Richard, it’s just a cautionary tale about assumptions.

  149. 899 says:

    Stephen Skinner says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm
    [--snip for brevity--]
    I disagree. I think what you have described is everything to do with climate change and is not a theory. The effect of slash and burn on a large scale in the Amazon was observed as far back as 1865 when the sugar plantations were expanding. This is a key excerpt: “This destruction of the forests has exhausted the soil, which in many places now produces nothing but grasses suitable for grazing cattle. The temperature has intensified, and the seasons have become irregular. The rains at times damage the crops, and at other times there is not rain at all”.
    Also, have you read ‘The Damned’ by Fred Pearce?

    I find myself questioning that remark about the change in precipitation.

    Here in Northwest Washington, there was a great degree of logging going on back in the 1980’s such that when viewed from the air, there was an alarming denuding of the landscape in the National Forests of the Cascades.

    However, such didn’t stop the torrential rains common to the region, and in fact there was much concern over the matter because of the flooding caused by the lack of trees on the hillsides which had been logged.

    In fact, that concern continued even after the logging had pretty much abated. If denuding the landscape was supposed to change the precipitation patterns, it sure as heck made no difference here!

    So I’m going to think that there’s some iffy statements being made by the author of that book.

    That the temperatures intensified, I could understand, what with there being no tree cover to moderate matters. But the precip remarks bother me no end.

  150. Willis Eschenbach says:

    richard Telford says:
    June 27, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    From Africa

    Ulrich Salzmann and Philipp Hoelzmann 2005. The Dahomey Gap; an abrupt climatically induced rain forest fragmentation in West Africa during the late Holocene.
    The Holocene, 15(2):190-199

    A. Ngomanda et al. 2009 Western equatorial African forest-savanna mosaics: a legacy of late Holocene climatic change? Climate of the Past. Clim. Past, 5, 647–659
    http://www.clim-past.net/5/647/2009/

    I’m less familiar with the Amazonian literature.

    Over a wide range of tropical climates, savanna and forest are alternative stable states. When undisturbed, both are resilient to small changes in climate. For example, Fire (and herbivores) helps maintain savanna, even if precipitation is greater than that required to sustain a forest.
    If the climate becomes dryer, the forest not immediately transition to savanna, but the probability of this transition increases. Processes like fragmentation and logging in Amazonia will increase the likelihood of a transition from forest to savanna, even without climate change.

    Richard, as I pointed out in the head post, I know that if there’s not enough rainfall to sustain a rainforest, it will be replaced by some other ecosystem.

    My objection is to the unsupported claims that

    a) it would be a sudden change wherein “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”.

    b) there is observational evidence that such a change is coming or is likely.

    c) this change could be precipitated by a “slight reduction” in rainfall.

    I find none of those to be even remotely credible.

  151. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Derek B says:
    June 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Strange that Lewis thinks Nepstad’s paper “is not related to the vulnerability of these forests to reductions in rainfall”. Nepstad told the Sunday Times that his “rainfall exclusion experiments in the Amazon showed trees began dying suddenly after three years of well-below average rainfall”. Looks like Nepstad hasn’t read his own paper. How careless these alarmists are!

    Strange that you would feel you had to write to us about it, rather than write to Lewis …

    Sadly, such carelessness is everywhere. Take your own observation:
    ‘Now, if the Amazon were so sensitive, if it “could react drastically” to even a “slight reduction” in rainfall, certainly such a large reduction would make a big difference … but that didn’t happen. There was no “flip” to savannah mentioned in the paper.’
    This is what happens when you take things out of context. In the original context it is clear that these slight reductions are in average rainfall, i.e. sustained over many years. Nepstad makes it clear that the forests can and do cope with droughts of a year or two.

    Sadly, you have mistaken the original context, which is not Nepstad, but is the IPCC report on what climate models prognosticate. In that original context of a PlayStation™ World, the climate can do a host of wondrous things … so?

  152. Mike D. says:

    Al Gored says, June 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Not sure if anyone else has mentioned this but there is a growing body of evidence that more than just climate has shaped the past Amazon. This was first brought to the attention of the broader public in Charles C. Mann’s book ’1491′ and the more they look, the more they find. …

    Al Gored says, June 27, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Here’s another link related to my last post. The underlying point is that until European impacts – notably smallpox – the Amazon was not the great ‘wilderness’ rain forest that the WWF et al like to see it as. There were millions of people there, effectively managing much of the landscape for their own needs. …

    Al, I hear you man. I did inject enthno-ecological theory into this thread at June 27, 2010 at 9:47 am and again at June 27, 2010 at 11:12 am.

    But we’re talking way over these people’s heads here. They are on a mission to discredit Moon Bat, WWF, and the IPCC. Which is like shooting fish in a barrel IMHO and frankly, a little boring. They are even arguing about who got the first lick in. It’s an chest thumping thing.

    All the while, nobody here but you and me (and 899) have a clue about the actual ecological development pathways in Amazonia or the overwhelming historical human influences there. By overwhelming, I mean that humanity has played a bigger role than “climate change” in establishing and maintaining various vegetation types like “rain forest” and “savanna”, which btw are fairly nonspecific glosses that fail to describe the actual variety of vegetation types in that vast landscape.

    Thank you for the references. Mann, McKey, Heckenberger, et al are doing cutting edge research. Maybe in a few years or decades the rest of the science “establishment” will catch up. Right now the distraction of pseudo-post-normal-politicized-junk science has captured everybody’s attention. Which is understandable. Still, I think it’s too bad most folks don’t realize that the actual truth is not part of the discussion, right now. It could help them. It could help us all to understand what’s really going on.

    PS – thank you, too, 899.

  153. Bill Illis says:

    There is a least one example of 40% of the Amazon turning into Savanna – during the ice ages that is.

    Temperatures were 1C to 3C lower in this region at the time and CO2 levels were mostly 200 ppm and lower. The C3 rainforest plants have a hard time growing when CO2 levels are this low and temperatures are high (as they still would have been in the Amazon even at 1C to 3C lower than today). The stomata have to increase in size due to the lower CO2 levels and this leads to more transpiration of water through the stomata.

    So with higher CO2 levels, the C3 rainforest plants don’t need as much rainfall as they would have needed at 280 ppm.

    So with global warming as a result of higher CO2 levels, I say they are not, in fact, succeptible to a small reduction in rainfall. They will grow even better in the areas which do not have as much rainfall as the current Amazon rainforest gets.

  154. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Mike D. says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    All the while, nobody here but you and me (and 899) have a clue about the actual ecological development pathways in Amazonia or the overwhelming historical human influences there.

    Oh, please. Just because the subject of this thread is not the historical human impact on the Amazon doesn’t mean that I and many others are not aware of it. I’ve read about it for years. But it has nothing to do with what we are discussing in this thread, which is the IPCC and Dr. Lewis and the WWF and the use of non-peer-reviewed sources and the lack of data to support their claims and related issues.

    Now if you want to discuss how humans have impacted the Amazon since the year zero I’m not going to stop you, although I’d much prefer if you found a thread where that is actually what people are interested in talking about.

    But for you to lash out with gratuitous insults, just because we haven’t hopped on your hobby-horse du jour, is not polite behaviour.

  155. allen mcmahon says:

    Stephen Skinner you posted
    “The effect of slash and burn on a large scale in the Amazon was observed as far back as 1865 when the sugar plantations were expanding. This is a key excerpt: “This destruction of the forests has exhausted the soil, which in many places now produces nothing but grasses suitable for grazing cattle. The temperature has intensified, and the seasons have become irregular. The rains at times damage the crops, and at other times there is not rain at all”.
    Recent research has found that following land clearance there is in the short term a negative effect in rainfall but in the longer term there is no change. You are incorrect regarding exhaustion of the soil in fact the effect is the opposite. When the land is cleared for pasture it eventually degrades, when left fallow you get is secondary forest or it is suitable for plantation timber as has occurred with more than 30% of cleared land in the Brazilian forests.

  156. Henry chance says:

    The green hypocrits.

    I wil bring out the issue that is not on this thread. We have the extremists scream against deforestation of the Amazon jungle. Now we have them peddle the moral superiority of ethanol fuels.

    Can’t have it both ways. Sugar came if a pollutant at many levels.

    1 It is burning the gields before it is harvested causes soot and CO2.
    2 The brewing process is petrol energy intense
    3 It destroys the strength of the soil
    4 Clearing forrests for cash crops is kinda linke a step back in carbon capture.

    WOW!!!
    The single benefit? Sugar cane is much more energy efficient is terms of consuming BTU’s before it turns into ethanol It is sugar from the beginning
    Corn starches must be treated and processed with additional steps befo0re the starches are turned into sugars and then ethanol.

    The sustainable energy drive within the green movement is contrary to the ideology that protects forrests. They want to wipe out the jungle for biofuels.

  157. B. McCune says:

    Many years ago (about 40 or so) when I was much younger, I was a member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) because at that time they seemed to be very focused on world wildlife – trying to save some of it and trying to make many of us more aware of it. Now that they have become the World Wide Fund or the World Warming Fund or whatever they are working on these days, I have little interest in supporting them. I think they are still known as the World Wildlife Fund even though it is difficult to see why.

    Real data speaks much more clearly than models. And in my opinion that’s all that is needed to prove this point. Thanks for showing us the data.

  158. Hi, Willis,

    You know I have spent years exploring the Amazon jungle and I can tell you it is nonsense to speak about depeltion of water 5 -10 metres below the surface, and plants drying up. That is utter nonsense. It is well beyond any doubt that about 80% of the Amazon region is lateritic, that is, soil that has been lixiviated by rains losing most nutrients. The soil becomes a red (iron rich) and hard clay base covered by a mere two to three inch of decomposed organic material (leaves falling from trees, dead trunks, dead fern, etc).

    Trees and other plants don’t sink their roots into the hard lateritic clay because it is har as steel. They have long and widely extenden superficial root thriving on those 3 inches of organic rotting material.

    There are parte huge of the Amazon where I lived where aquifers are between 10 and 26 meteres. That water comes from snow and glacier melting in the Andes. Drilling there is by means of rotatory drill, due to the softer clay. On the east side there is a hard bedrock starting at around 30 meteres (called the Guaporé shield or “escudo de Guaporé”) where we must use oil drilling techniques (impact drilling) to pierce through the rock. The water is found then between 100 and 200 meters deep.

    This Guaporé rock shield is composed of crystalline precambric rocks and it is the most ancient geological macro unit in Bolivia.

    There is a good paper on the 2005 drought in the Amazon area that I encourage you to have a look: http://tinyurl.com/264r89k “THE DROUGHT OF AMAZONIA IN 2005” by José A. Marengo et al.

    It says: “River streams. Previous studies (See reviews in Marengo et al. 2006 and Ronchail et al. 2002) have identified negative rainfall anomalies in Amazonia associated with El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events and to SST anomalies in the tropical Atlantic as well. The studies have linked some of major droughts in Amazonia to (a) the occurrence of intense El Niño events, (b) strong warming in the surface waters of tropical North Atlantic during the Northern Hemisphere summer-autumn season, or (c) both. Very intense El Niño events have been associated with the extreme droughts in 1925-26, 1982-83 and 1997-98 and the last two also experienced intense warming in the tropical North Atlantic along with warming in the equatorial Pacific. There is evidence of extensive droughts, and perhaps widespread fires, linked to paleo ENSO events occurred in the Amazon basin in 1,500, 1000, 700 and 400 BP, and these events might have been substantially more severe than the 1982-83 -and 1997-98 ones (Meggers 1994). The best documented case of an earlier drought event in Amazonia linked to El Niño event was during 1925-26 (Sternberg 1987, and Williams et al. 2005). Rainfall anomalies in the central-northern Brazilian Amazonia and southern Venezuela in 1926 were about 50% lower than normal.
    [snip]
    Regardless the systematic differences among all data sets, the rainfall series in northern Amazonia (Fig. 2a) show the large negative departures during the droughts of 1963-64, 1980-81, 1982-83, 1997-98 and 2005 in northern Amazonia. The index derived from rainfall stations shows the year 1998 with negatives anomalies of the order of 1.5 mm/day while 2005 exhibited 1 mm/day below normal, implying that the drought of 1998 was more intense than that of 2005.

    There is a lot of BS in this issue!

  159. sHx says:

    Mike Roddy says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:08 am

    I believe Dr. Simon, not Willis Eschenbach, who can only get published in fossil fuel supported rags like Energy and Environment.

    I am sick and tired of the uppity arrogance of the CAGW cultists.

    My country’s laws consider me a reasonable person; good enough to vote, to serve as a member of jury and to judge the facts of a murder case that may end with the accused found guilty and imprisoned for life. But I am not good enough to judge the facts as presented by climatologists. But this is just the beginning of the CAGW cultists’ shameless, immoral change of goalposts as it suits them.

    When a skeptic says “I am reasonable as well as an intelligent and informed person”, CAGW cultists will reply “yes, but you haven’t got the higher education necessary to understand the details. Just who do you think you are?”

    When a skeptic says “I have a university degree in Law”, the cultists will reply, “See? Ignorant dolt! It is Law, not Science.”

    When a skeptic says “I have a degree in science, and PhD to boot, in physics, chemistry, medicine, etc “, then the cultists will say “As you’ve confessed, you are no expert in Climatology; so shut up already!”

    When a skeptic says “Well, I have a degree plus in Climatology”, the cultist will say “Well, how long have you been in the field and what have you published lately? Show us your quality.”

    When a skeptic shows his years of experience and his published articles in the field of Climatology, the cultist will say claim “they are not peer-reviewed, not original, not scientifically ‘cutting edge’, etc”

    When a skeptic shows his/her peer-reviewed articles published in Climate Science literature, the cultists will say “Anybody can get reviewed and published in journals funded by big oil, big coal, etc. By scientific literature, we meant reputable scientific journals.” A skeptic may say “yes, I’ve been published in reputable journals, as well”. Then, the cultists will reply, “How many times, and when was the last time?”

    Of course that is not the biggest problem facing the reasonable, intelligent, well-informed, scientist with a degree and a PhD in Climatology. The biggest problem facing him/her is to pass the peer-review process of those so-called reputable journals, which have been forced to toe the CAGW line by cultist bullies; the bullies who say they will re-define “peer-review”, if they have to, in order to keep the contrarian views out.

    And once they have done that too, the cultists are then free to attack anyone, scientist or not, on the grounds of being uninformed and/or lacking credibility and what not.

    Meanwhile, the high priests of the CAGW cult are happy to portray, and play ball with, the vast percentage of population that has been duped into their apocalyptic eco-cult as ‘intelligent’, ‘informed’, ‘scientifically literate’, ‘aware’, ‘concerned’, etc, citizenry that rightfully demand justice for planet Earth.

    What an uppity, arrogant, intolerable, hypocritical and vicious circus that this CAGW cult has become!

    REPLY: Well said, would you have any objections to elevating this to full post status? – Anthony

  160. Al Gored says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    “But it has nothing to do with what we are discussing in this thread, which is the IPCC and Dr. Lewis and the WWF and the use of non-peer-reviewed sources and the lack of data to support their claims and related issues.”

    Willis, here’s why I think the pre-contact human impacts on the Amazon are relevant, if admittedly off your main tangent.

    You wrote: “First, is it theoretically possible for the Amazon to “flip” from rainforest to savannah?

    Certainly it can. If the Amazon rainfall went to a tenth of the current value, it would all be savannah…

    To investigate this, we can look at the amounts of rainfall around the Amazon. Figure 2 compares the vegetation and the rainfall…”

    So let’s imagine that some researcher did some pollen or other historical vegetation analysis and found evidence of that savannah. They might assume that that meant it had something to do with rainfall and even create some historical weather/climate graph… perhaps even something hockey stickish. In reality, that savannah could have been due to indigenous human activity, period.

    In regards to the WWF et al, their whole schtick is that once upon a time the Amazon was a pristine ‘wilderness’ of wall to wall rainforests, and that that was the ‘natural’ state that must be ‘saved.’ (This is the basic idea for the whole North American ‘wilderness’ movement and the baseline for the so called restoration projects of the Conservation Biology gang.) In this case this ‘natural’ Amazon is supposed to have been the ‘natural’ carbon sink that has supposedly saved the planet from CO2 planetary fever up to now (excuse my exaggeration). But the recent ‘natural’ Amazon wasn’t natural, at least since humans arrived there long ago. So its just one more aspect of why this whole story is a crock, albeit a minor one.

    So that’s why I posted what I did and why I thought it was relevant.

    I truly appreciate your articles and your excellent analysis on a broad spectrum of topics. You obviously know a lot about a lot, and do an excellent job communicating that. But sometimes, as in your response to Mike D, you do seem as thin skinned as Obama. Chill. Enjoy. Maybe someday an off tangent comment will stir a thought you hadn’t previouisly considered.

  161. Al Gored says:

    B. McCune says:
    June 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    “Many years ago (about 40 or so) when I was much younger, I was a member of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) because at that time they seemed to be very focused on world wildlife – trying to save some of it and trying to make many of us more aware of it. Now that they have become the World Wide Fund or the World Warming Fund or whatever they are working on these days…”

    Me too. Used to donate regularly, and contribute in other ways. Now I call them the World Watermelon Fund. They just use green issues for another agenda.

  162. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Al Gored says:
    June 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 6:56 pm

    “But it has nothing to do with what we are discussing in this thread, which is the IPCC and Dr. Lewis and the WWF and the use of non-peer-reviewed sources and the lack of data to support their claims and related issues.”

    Willis, here’s why I think the pre-contact human impacts on the Amazon are relevant, if admittedly off your main tangent.

    [... good stuff snipped ...]

    So that’s why I posted what I did and why I thought it was relevant.

    I truly appreciate your articles and your excellent analysis on a broad spectrum of topics. You obviously know a lot about a lot, and do an excellent job communicating that. But sometimes, as in your response to Mike D, you do seem as thin skinned as Obama. Chill. Enjoy. Maybe someday an off tangent comment will stir a thought you hadn’t previously considered.

    Thanks, Al. I just get tired sometimes of people coming in and saying in essence “you idiots don’t know anything”. Or in MikeD’s words:

    All the while, nobody here but you and me (and 899) have a clue about the actual ecological development pathways in Amazonia or the overwhelming historical human influences there.

    Right. We don’t have a clue …

    Yes, there are many valid issues in the history of the Amazon, which (like many things in climate science) is not as well understood as many people believe. Some of them, as you point out, are relevant to this discussion. And random comments are often surprisingly valuable.

    What is not relevant is coming in and calling everybody on the site clueless. You are correct, I am touchy about that. I’m not willing to have people come here and trash up my thread with baseless accusations … there are a lot of very smart people who either post or lurk here, I’m not willing to let them be abused at random.

  163. Mike D. says:

    Now, having reviewed the story so far, lets think about this a bit dispassionately. First, is it theoretically possible for the Amazon to “flip” from rainforest to savannah?

    Certainly it can. If the Amazon rainfall went to a tenth of the current value, it would all be savannah. …

    So while Dr. Lewis says (correctly) that rainforest can change to savannah, …

    Willis,

    None of that is true. It is just not how ecosystems work. Savannas are not climate induced. They occur across wide bands of rainfall and temperature. They are not “dried up” rainforests. If climates were to change, and a rainforest suddenly started receiving 1/10th of the rain it does today, it would not become a savanna.

    But maybe more to the point, there are deeper epistemological issues at play. The control of the land, for better or worse, should belong to the local residents. Whether they log it or not, graze it or not, burn it or not.

    Amazonia is not tabula rasa, largely devoid of history, a canvas for narratives about wilderness, purity, the lungs of the earth, a stomping ground for WWF or the UN or any other foreign overseer. People live there. It’s their backyards. It’s theirs to manage however they see fit, without interference from outsiders.

    The struggle today is really about local autonomy versus global autocracy. In my view, that’s what the AGW “conflict” is about at a fundamental level. So yes, my hobby horse du jour is humanity, our role in “nature,” and our freedom to be in control of our own lives. I think all that exceedingly relevant to this discussion thread. Consider it a gratuity from me to you.

  164. sHx says:

    Anthony,

    I’d be honoured. Please feel free to correct the errors and flesh it out as you wish. I’d be delighted to have you as my co-author.

    Kind regards.

  165. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Mike D. says:
    June 27, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Now, having reviewed the story so far, lets think about this a bit dispassionately. First, is it theoretically possible for the Amazon to “flip” from rainforest to savannah?

    Certainly it can. If the Amazon rainfall went to a tenth of the current value, it would all be savannah. …

    So while Dr. Lewis says (correctly) that rainforest can change to savannah, …

    Willis,

    None of that is true. It is just not how ecosystems work. Savannas are not climate induced. They occur across wide bands of rainfall and temperature. They are not “dried up” rainforests. If climates were to change, and a rainforest suddenly started receiving 1/10th of the rain it does today, it would not become a savanna.

    Yeah, you’re right. Some of the rainforest would become savanna, some would become mixed forest, some montane or sub-montane forest … so what? That is nitpicking that has nothing to do with my point, which was that if we had 10% of the rainfall, we wouldn’t have rainforest, it would flip to some other ecosystem.

    But maybe more to the point, there are deeper epistemological issues at play. The control of the land, for better or worse, should belong to the local residents. Whether they log it or not, graze it or not, burn it or not.

    There are epistemological issues at play? Have you notified the local residents of Amazonia, so they can be on the lookout for them?

    Epistemology is the study of the nature and scope of knowledge. I don’t have a clue how that relates to whether someone logs the Amazon. I agree that locals should have control over their own land.

    Amazonia is not tabula rasa, largely devoid of history, a canvas for narratives about wilderness, purity, the lungs of the earth, a stomping ground for WWF or the UN or any other foreign overseer. People live there. It’s their backyards. It’s theirs to manage however they see fit, without interference from outsiders.

    I agree completely, with the normal caveat about how your undoubted freedom to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose.

    The struggle today is really about local autonomy versus global autocracy. In my view, that’s what the AGW “conflict” is about at a fundamental level. So yes, my hobby horse du jour is humanity, our role in “nature,” and our freedom to be in control of our own lives. I think all that exceedingly relevant to this discussion thread. Consider it a gratuity from me to you.

    There is a struggle about local autonomy versus global autocracy. And that, as you point out, is an important issue.

    But I fail to see what that important issue has to do with the discussion of whether the IPCC is making unsubstantiated claims, whether about the Amazon or the Himalayas. This thread is not about the “AGW conflict”, whatever that might or might not be. This thread is about the IPCC’s claims about the Amazon, and whether they are true or not. And in general, it is considered polite to discuss the issues that are the subject of the thread, and not to try to drag a thread around to what you might like the thread to be about.

    Consider that a gratuity from me to you …

  166. Models models models, if only the world could be made to agree. then we could all by little plastic kits of our perfect “model” and we’d all be happy, well 40% would be.

  167. allen mcmahon says:

    I believe a scientist should have the last word on Amazongate.
    From a 2010 working paper by Hector Maletta:

    To sum up: even for the most outspoken proponents of the “tipping point” hypothesis about the Amazon, such as Cox, Nepstad, Lenton and their collaborators, the possibility of an Amazon abrupt dieback is a highly uncertain event, a mere possibility dependent on the chances of the establishment of a persistent or nearly permanent El Niño, and the latter has itself, if any, a very small probability, with evidence not showing any consistent trend, and even if it happens it would develop over a very long time. In the most favourable case, for which no evidence is presented, a transition to more amplitude in ENSO (not to a permanent El Niño) would happen “within this millennium” but definitively well after this century, and without any sign of a threshold to be passed or having been passed. More ENSO amplitude would not mean a permanent El Niño, and no consistent signal exists for marked decrease of precipitation over the Amazon, and less so for the near future. No proof is offered that this hypothetical millennial increase in ENSO amplitude would imply a permanent
    El Niño (it is rather the opposite), or would be the effect of a tipping point reached by critical human decisions taken this century, which are the durations required by the rather arbitrary political and ethical time horizons proposed by Lenton et al.19 Even if an ENSO tipping point (assuming it exists) is reached this century, its supposed effects (a persistent El Niño) would not materialize for many centuries, and likewise would consequently happen with one of its alleged consequences, i.e. decreased Amazon precipitation triggering forest dieback.

  168. Mr Lynn says:

    Mike D. says:
    June 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm
    All the while, nobody here but you and me (and 899) have a clue about the actual ecological development pathways in Amazonia or the overwhelming historical human influences there. . .

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 27, 2010 at 6:56 pm
    Oh, please. Just because the subject of this thread is not the historical human impact on the Amazon doesn’t mean that I and many others are not aware of it. I’ve read about it for years. But it has nothing to do with what we are discussing in this thread, which is the IPCC and Dr. Lewis and the WWF and the use of non-peer-reviewed sources and the lack of data to support their claims and related issues. . .

    The problem with “their claims and related issues” is that they spring from the romantic myth of a pristine Amazonian “state of nature,” which works against anyone trying to inject a modicum of realism into what is, at bottom, an ideological issue. If the press and public at large were more aware of Mann’s and other work revealing the vast scale of human modification of the Amazon (the the rest of the New World), they might not be so easily succored into supporting the claims of eco-aggrandizers like the WWF and their scientific allies.

    I suspect Mike D did not mean to cast aspersions on Willis; he was expressing a sense of frustration that this underlying ideological problem is never addressed. Willis is of course correct that it was not the topic of his post, which dealt with narrower issues. “Nobody. . . have a clue” was obviously a poor choice of words!

    Anthony, how about enlisting Mike D and/or others to discuss in a guest post or two the recent discoveries of pre-Columbian modification of the Amazonian environment and their implications for the ongoing debate about the alarmist IPCC claims?

    /Mr Lynn

  169. Mr Lynn says:

    Erratum: Parens in my first paragraph should read:

    “(AND the rest of the New World)”

    /Mr L (wishing we could edit our comments. . . )

  170. John T says:

    “…some leading models of future climate change impacts show a die-off of more than 40% Amazon forests, due to projected decreases in rainfall.”

    So if we plug the results from one set of unverified climate models for “projected decreases in rainfall” into a second set of unverified models on Amazon Jungle impact, we see 40% die-off?

    Next, we plug those results into another model and find something even scarier…

  171. Malaga View says:

    Willis: Great article…. Thank you.

    What has intrigued me is how the Rowell and Moore statement 40% of the Brazilian forest gets translated into 40% of the Amazonian forests by the IPCC.

    According to Wikipedia the Amazon Rainforest supports five and a half million square kilometers of rainforest.
    Brazil contains 60% of the rainforest while the other 40% is shared between Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Rainforest

    However, Wikipedia really is a star when it comes to looking at the Amazon Basin because it states The basin is located mainly (40%) in Brazil and that The South American rain forest of the Amazon is the largest in the world, covering about 8,235,430 km2 with dense tropical forest.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Basin

    The difference in the numbers might have something to with the WWF selection of rainforest http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Amazon_rainforest.jpg from within the Amazon Basin http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/02/Amazonriverbasin_basemap.png/600px-Amazonriverbasin_basemap.png

    Either way: 40% of the Brazilian forest DOES NOT EQUAL 40% of the Amazonian forests.

  172. 899 says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    June 28, 2010 at 4:23 am
    [--big snip for brevity--]
    But I fail to see what that important issue has to do with the discussion of whether the IPCC is making unsubstantiated claims, whether about the Amazon or the Himalayas. This thread is not about the “AGW conflict”, whatever that might or might not be. This thread is about the IPCC’s claims about the Amazon, and whether they are true or not. And in general, it is considered polite to discuss the issues that are the subject of the thread, and not to try to drag a thread around to what you might like the thread to be about.

    When you consider the entirety of the matter, it all ties in.

    I fully understand your stand on why you want to focus on just one aspect, as you’ve written of it.

    But that narrow focus tends to ignore the larger implications. The WWF and their cadre of insiders have it in mind to remove man from the Amazon equation, inasmuch as they’ve purchased —or have plans for such— large tracts of that area.

    Virtually all of that is predicated upon receiving money from ‘carbon credits.’ That is, they buy the land, exclude man, and get paid many times more than they paid for the land. And that repeats itself many times over.

    If they had their druthers, they’d eliminate man completely from large areas of the world, and thence declare that whatever change in the weather patterns were as a result of that removal were beneficial, even if the impacts are adverse consequences.

  173. Gilles Barthod says:

    According to my own observations during the last thirty years in French Guiana, savannahs are increasingly at risk of becoming rain forest and not the opposite. You can actually see the gradual invasion at the edges of the savannahs that has occured over the last 10 years or so. Increased rain fall or increased C02 levels, I don’t know…

  174. E.M.Smith says:

    Wonder if the IPCC noticed the ‘near record flooding’ in the Amazon in 2009?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/weather/2009/may/06/amazon-flooding-thousands-homeless

    But that was last years Panic Du Jour…

    Even the extreme greens noticed: http://news.mongabay.com/2009/0513-amazon.html

    I suspect that was the red blip near the far right of your graph. And yes, overall not much ever changing. Though I do note that it starts off low and ends high. So to the extent there is any ‘trend’, it is not toward drying and loss of rain forest for savanna.

  175. pesadilla says:

    In so far as the rainfall chart is so very constant over the last 100 years, i am amazed that this story ever reached the IPCC in the first place.
    Then again, i am assuming that the subject was researched beforehand, which it evidently was not.
    The Sunday Times retraction is a further mystery and needs to be investigated with vigour.”Methinks there is something rotten in the state etc etc”
    How many incidents of this nature does it take to expunge the IPCC from the climate debate. Surely we must be reaching the tipping point here.

  176. http://www.valuingthearc.org/reports_publications/BES_VTASept08.pdf

    899 has a real point. As environmentalists we always pretend to study ‘nature’ from a holistic perspective – why not apply that to humans first? Examine WWF and its actions in its totality.

    Please look at slide 12, and then slide 16.

    Slide 16 has become the cause for slide 12.

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