IPCC Gate Du Jour: UN climate change panel based claims on student dissertation and magazine article

Issue 208, 2002 -click to enlarge

It’s worse than we thought! Now the IPCC has been citing magazine articles, like this one from Climbing Magazine, issue 208, shown at left. We’ve heard the title before, according to their index: “Canaries in a Coal Mine,” – Feature on global loss of glaciers. But wait there’s more! If you think that’s crazy, we also learn that IPCC Chairman Pachauri has penned a “smutty” romance novel! Bizarre, but true.

The Telegraph reports on the magazine issue:

The United Nations’ expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world’s mountain tops on a student’s dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.

The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming.

The IPCC’s remit is to provide an authoritative assessment of scientific evidence on climate change.

In its most recent report, it stated that observed reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and Africa was being caused by global warming, citing two papers as the source of the information.

However, it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.

The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master’s degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.

The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.

It comes after officials for the panel were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC’s report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.

Sceptics have seized upon the mistakes to cast doubt over the validity of the IPCC and have called for the panel to be disbanded.

This week scientists from around the world leapt to the defence of the IPCC, insisting that despite the errors, which they describe as minor, the majority of the science presented in the IPCC report is sound and its conclusions are unaffected.

But some researchers have expressed exasperation at the IPCC’s use of unsubstantiated claims and sources outside of the scientific literature.

Professor Richard Tol, one of the report’s authors who is based at the Economic and Social Research Institute in Dublin, Ireland, said: “These are essentially a collection of anecdotes.

“Why did they do this? It is quite astounding. Although there have probably been no policy decisions made on the basis of this, it is illustrative of how sloppy Working Group Two (the panel of experts within the IPCC responsible for drawing up this section of the report) has been.

“There is no way current climbers and mountain guides can give anecdotal evidence back to the 1900s, so what they claim is complete nonsense.”

The IPCC report, which is published every six years, is used by government’s worldwide to inform policy decisions that affect billions of people.

The claims about disappearing mountain ice were contained within a table entitled “Selected observed effects due to changes in the cryosphere produced by warming”.

It states that reductions in mountain ice have been observed from the loss of ice climbs in the Andes, Alps and in Africa between 1900 and 2000.

The report also states that the section is intended to “assess studies that have been published since the TAR (Third Assessment Report) of observed changes and their effects”.

But neither the dissertation or the magazine article cited as sources for this information were ever subject to the rigorous scientific review process that research published in scientific journals must undergo.

The magazine article, which was written by Mark Bowen, a climber and author of two books on climate change, appeared in Climbing magazine in 2002. It quoted anecdotal evidence from climbers of retreating glaciers and the loss of ice from climbs since the 1970s.

Mr Bowen said: “I am surprised that they have cited an article from a climbing magazine, but there is no reason why anecdotal evidence from climbers should be disregarded as they are spending a great deal of time in places that other people rarely go and so notice the changes.”

The dissertation paper, written by professional mountain guide and climate change campaigner Dario-Andri Schworer while he was studying for a geography degree, quotes observations from interviews with around 80 mountain guides in the Bernina region of the Swiss Alps.

read the complete article at the Telegraph

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Ron de Haan

Icecap note to AR-4:
“In fact the whole IPCC report and AGW movement is based on a house of cards with a lot based on the unproven assumption that the atmosphere’s sensitivity to CO2 is high (proven empirically and by theory not to be the case), that its atmospheric lifetime is centuries (research suggests 5-7 years) and that temperatures have never been as warm as they have been this decade”.
In short, the entire AR-4 report is RUBBISH.


I believe that CO2 has an effect on Climate. It is obvious that “Climate Science” has absolutely no idea what that could possibly consist of. It is a sad sad day for science.


“The Telegraph reports on the climabing magazine:”
Should read: The Telegraph reports on the climbing magazine:”.


But some researchers have expressed exasperation at the IPCC’s use of unsubstantiated claims and sources outside of the scientific literature.
Truer words were never spoken. Darn right I’m exasperated.

Fascinating, Mountaineering Magazines can get in the IPCC but Skeptical Peer-Reviewed Papers cannot? This just keeps getting better and better.

Just LOL.


oh my, today there’s an avalanche of material, isn’t there?
however, cnn just ran an ad from Suzlon, “global warming won’t just melt ice” blah blah…”we are the wind specialists” or whatever…
and the following will make you cry! how to stop them?
30 Jan: Washington Post Editorial: President Obama reaches out to Republicans to get new energy legislation
Mr. Obama was right about something else on Wednesday: Beyond such fixes, the best way to promote emissions-free energy is for Congress to put a price on carbon, giving private actors incentives to devise the most efficient ways to curb U.S. emissions. The best way to do that is through a carbon tax or a well-designed cap-and-trade scheme…
28 Jan: KLBJ: Austin’s carbon reduction plan more than “Cap and Trade” bill proposal
Austin Energy head Roger Duncan says the local utility’s plan calls for a 20% reduction.
To see the presentation Duncan presented to the Austin City Council yesterday, click here.
Duncan says putting the plan in place could potentially cost the city around $2.6 billion. He says Austin Energy customers should expect to see a slight rate increase in three years, stemming from some of the changes that have already been made.
7 Jan: Bloomberg: Simon Lomax: States to Lead Carbon Markets as Federal Plan Stalls (Update2)
While cap-and-trade legislation, which would create carbon dioxide permits that companies could buy and sell, is stalled in the U.S. Senate, a group of Northeastern states already has a carbon market and two more regional programs in the Midwest and West plan to follow suit.
Regional-level carbon trading “is where the action is going to be” this year, Bill Becker, executive director of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which represents state and local environmental regulators, said in an interview.
“The states are juiced to expand their programs,” Becker said. “They don’t like the slow pace that we’re seeing in the federal government, and they’re not confident that anything meaningful is going to necessarily pass.” ..
While no change to last year’s minimum bid of $1.86 is planned for the next auction in March, the price may yet be increased “so that states can attempt to maintain a revenue stream,” Shattuck said. Past auction results would support a new minimum bid of $2.33, he said.
Two other regional carbon markets, the Western Climate Initiative and the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord are being designed. They aren’t scheduled to start until 2012.
To meet that deadline, the states involved in the new programs must make “detailed decisions” this year about which companies to regulate, the number of permits to sell at auction and how many should be given away, Shattuck said. ..
Even if cap-and-trade legislation is approved this year, it’s unlikely the Environmental Protection Agency could complete the regulations needed for the carbon market to function by 2012, Roger Martella, former general counsel at the EPA under President George W. Bush, said in an interview.
The EPA would probably need three to five years of lead time, leaving regional programs as an option for “those who want to play in some kind of trading system,” said Martella, a Washington-based partner at law firm Sidley Austin LLP. ..
Regional carbon trading programs are likely to face legal challenges from industry and states without matching greenhouse gas regulations. Last year, a New York power plant filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of the Northeast carbon market on the grounds it unlawfully interferes with the federal government’s authority to regulate interstate commerce.
While that case was recently settled, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is now considering legal action against regulators in neighboring Minnesota, a member of the Midwest’s proposed emissions trading program, over plans to include carbon price estimates in future electricity purchasing decisions.
love the inclusion of Sidley Austin where the Obamas met when they worked there.

“I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” – Barak Obama- Jan 27, 2009
hmmm…. I wonder why we disagree with the overwhelming “scientific” evidence…

Priceless !!!!


The real warming comes when the IPCC bursts into flames. It’s smoldering right now.

This is a truly garbage piece of reporting – the journalists refer to:
“In another example a WWF paper on forest fires was used to illustrate the impact of reduced rainfall in the Amazon rainforest, but the data was from another Nature paper published in 1999.”
… which is followed by this:
“When The Sunday Telegraph contacted the lead scientists behind the two papers in Nature, they expressed surprise that their research was not cited directly but said the IPCC had accurately represented their work.”
This is “Amazongate” – they are completely contradicting Booker, in the same newspaper …
Just when Amazongate goes big time in the Sunday Times …

Jim Papsdorf

This story is already on Drudge-with 26 million readers per day.

John Goetz

Regarding the novel, seems like nothing more than Pachauri wanting to add the Nobel prize for literature to his well-deserved Nobel Peace prize.

Mike McMillan

‘Smutty,’ as opposed to ‘chaste,’ romance novel?
Fiction indeed, but AR4 isn’t much of a breathless bodice ripper.


In IPCC AR5 we’ll get WG 5 which will deliver a huge feature-length rant against sceptics, calling them the anti-science crowd and other names. The rant will be delivered by a computer model based on a Mark V. Chaney-algorithm reading through all of Joe Romm’s rants.

Baa Humbug

Ultimate responsibility must rest with Pachauri but the following people must be contacted and asked “WTF were you thinking”
Climate Change 2007:
Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
Edited by
Martin Parry , Co-Chair, Osvaldo Canziani, Co-Chair, Jean Palutikof, Head, Technical Support Unit
Paul van der Linden, Deputy Head, Technical Support Unit
Clair Hanson Deputy Head, Technical Support Unit
Just so there is no doubt, here is what the IPCC says about who is directly responsible for this report
Please use the following reference to the whole report:
IPCC, 2007: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment
Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E.
Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 976pp.


Praise be to the Sun god.
Without whose timely naps,
we would be but fried embers on a scorched Earth,
and at the mercy of crazed lunatics.

Henry chance

How do mediocre scientists like Hansen and Mann explain the casual part of their field? It isn’t science but outdooor activities.
This isa anti science Joe Romm. Kinda like working for G soros.

Robert of Ottawa

Mr Bowen said: “I am surprised that they have cited an article from a climbing magazine, but there is no reason why anecdotal evidence from climbers should be disregarded as they are spending a great deal of time in places that other people rarely go and so notice the changes.
Mr. Bowen, understand that anecdotal evidence has the same standing in science as hearsay evidence in a court of law. Both must be confirmed by independent observation.

Henry chance

The plural for anecdote is not data.


Why is “Solar Minimum” a taboo subject to write about?
I search every day for news article on the extended solar minimum but find very few if any articles.

Climbing Mag covergirl has hair that defies gravity. Or maybe the pic is photoshopped? Or rotated at least? In any case, they can’t be trusted with matters of science. Same situation as with Nature Mag.

John Whitman

My question iswhy in the past 2.5 years didn’t anyone in the professional scientific community actually read the AR4 report? I am assuming they didn’t because if they are professionals and they did read it then there would have been an immediate uproar of indignation on the AR4 late of scientific basis. Is the state of science that bad?


Climb every melting mountain.


Michael (18:09:19) :
Solar Minimum has progressed out of the Deep and presently lies at the level of the previous SC22-23 lowest point.

Phil's Dad

Candidate for QOTW
Henry chance (18:07:11) :
“The plural for anecdote is not data.”


“John Whitman (18:15:51) :
Is the state of science that bad? ”
They needed to use the climbing magazine because climate science is so underfunded. And the scientists have to fight against evil FOI requests all the time. And there were still blank pages left. And climbing and climate both start with “clim” so it’s an obvious best fit, least deviation, well, as good as a GCM output anyway.

Does the fact that a student wrote it make a paper less scientific? We can question the methodology used in the paper, but I can’t agree with dismissing simply because it was a Master’s dissertation.


Now I know why IPCC changed their rules for AR4. They’re obviously desperate; they can’t find any legitimate scientific evidence supporting catastrophic AGW, so now they’re resorting to mountaineer magazine articles. Yodel-ley-ee-hoo!!!

Henry chance

Great magazine cover. The rock is vertical and was rotated by the camera. her toe holds prove she is actually going vertical. Check the hair as mentioned.

Jeff L

Of course, even if the climbers observations are correct, so what !
Is this because it is snowing less?
Is this because it is warmer & the ice is melting?
Is this due decadal variations in weather (ie PDO etc)?
Is this localized to where observations were made?
Is it possible the decrease is due to coming back to some normal, where we were previously above normal?
etc etc etc
The bottom line is even if these observations are correct, in themselves, they are completely meaningless without being placed in some sort of larger framework.

oh the horror…


“”People will gradually start to leave carbon desks,” the head of climate change and carbon finance at one British law firm told The Guardian this week.
Westpac, The Guardian reported, had shelved plans to expand its London carbon desk. The bank put out its own spin saying the business was always intended to grow organically.
In Australia there is no downsizing yet, although, coincidentally, after Royal Bank of Scotland’s Sempra commodities business was put up for sale, respected trader Craig McBurnie – who last year chaired the Australian Financial Markets Association’s carbon committee – resigned.
McBurnie still believes carbon trading is a growth area but he now has to consider a scenario that ”was not even on my radar 12 months ago: a complete collapse in the whole global approach to co-ordinated action”.”
Dealing with life in the carbon trading Twilight Zone

John Whitman

” By DirkH on January 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm – . ..still blank pages left. And climbing and climate both start with “clim” so it’s an obvious best fit, least deviation . . .”
Dirk- That was pretty good.
But seriously though, this must be a hugh embrassament for any truly professional scientists. Or maybe not … if isn’t embarassing to them then it is really bad. Where have they been for 2.5 years?
NOTE: sorry about spelling and sentence structure, I am doing this from a public bus in Taipei.

a jones

What are we all going to do once the house of cards is gone?
Show our scars upon St. Crispin’s day I suppose and tell tall tales over a beer or two?
And as the for young ones well ONCE UPON A TIME
Kindest Regards


Some really funny stuff above, guys and gals! thanks for the laughs
Thanks to latitude’ on the previous thread for the following link, which deserves another airing:
I particularly liked this:
As reported in the **peer-reviewed** Himalayan Journal of Sciences in 2005:
The Times of London (21 July 2003), reporting on an international meeting held at the University of Birmingham, noted that ‘Himalayan glaciers could vanish within 40 years because of global warming . . . 500 million people in countries like India could also be at increased risk of drought and starvation.’ Syed Hasnain is quoted as affirming that ‘the glaciers of the region [Central Indian Himalaya] could be gone by 2035’.
However, most interestingly, the above quote comes from a withering attack and exposure by Professor Jack D. Ives of the false claims being made by Hasnain about the Himalayan glaciers. Jack Ives is a foremost expert on mountains, especially the Himalayas. As Professor Emeritus, Environmental Science, University of California and Davis Honorary Research Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ives is no obscure scientist, but a towering figure in the field…”
So they rejected the peer reviewed stuff and went with hearsay. Great science!
The author links to the paper, which is titled “Himalayan misconceptions and distortions: What are the facts? Himalayan Delusions: Who’s kidding who and why — Science at the service of media, politics and the development agencies.”
It’s detailed and devastating. The comments are interesting too


Does the fact that a student wrote it make a paper less scientific?
No, of course not. I’ve seen some awesome Masters papers in my time. The issue in this case is that it is, at least as reported, itself based on anecdotal evidence.
In any case, the IPCC and the warmistas have trumpeted about how their evidence is the best possible. All peer reviewed, by trained scientists, in particular. If they are prepared to lie about that, what else are they lying about?


By the way, is everyone watching the hit counter? Over 10,000 in the last couple of hours, and it’s the middle of the night in Europe and most of the US


Re: Edward – Entry Level Dilemma (18:27:51) :

Does the fact that a student wrote it make a paper less scientific?

Who wrote the paper and where it was published makes no difference to its scientific merit.

We can question the methodology used in the paper, but I can’t agree with dismissing simply because it was a Master’s dissertation.

The IPCC is supposed to produce a report based on papers that have already had their methodology checked via the peer review process. The governments who receive the reports are supposed to be able to depend on the science it is based upon being methodologically correct. If they subsequently have to review the source material themselves because its based upon student papers then what is the purpose of the IPCC?
Also, if you are going to include masters dissertations then why not include degree dissertations or essays for high school diplomas? Exactly the same argument can made for them being included.

What I want to know is how we can get Pauchauri’s novel cited in the next IPCC report?

Richard M

Matt Carden (17:43:32) :
“I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.” – Barak Obama- Jan 27, 2009
hmmm…. I wonder why we disagree with the overwhelming “scientific” evidence…

I think you have this wrong. The only folks I can think of that disagree with climate change are Michael Mann and a few of his buddies. The rest of us have been claiming climate has always changed. As such, I think the president was technically correct, just not in the way he probably meant.
Or, maybe it was what he meant. Could that be why he got the big laugh from everyone including Pelosi.

Roger Carr

pat (17:41:31) : and the following will make you cry! how to stop them?
I’m way past crying, Pat; and stalled on how to stop them — but if we cannot, I fear for freedom, scholarship, truth and rationality; and sense a darkness descending upon democracy…
…all for a few lousy pieces of silver.

Don’t be too sure about the cover being photoshopped. Wind, head motion, etc. may be at play. Note how her right hand is out of focus, she may be almost sideways on the boulder.
I’m not an accomplished rock climber (I have climbed a Flatiron in CO, easy after you get on the face, and Seneca rock in WV), but a quick Google Images for “lisa rands” bouldering yields similar photos like
I suspect subscribers to Climbing would have very little patience with faked photos on the cover.


Point of information on “dissertations”:
At US universities, a candidate for a master’s degree writes a thesis. A candidate for a Ph.D. writes a dissertation. Sometimes one refers to one’s Ph.D. dissertation as a thesis, but the reverse is almost never true. The former type of project is usually shorter and may take a year or so at most to complete. In general, a master’s thesis is far less demanding in terms of research and scope. (But who knows, maybe this master’s thesis, as is ever true of all things Swiss, is superior in that regard.)
If the work in question were a Ph.D. dissertation in some area of climate science undertaken at a research university, its inclusion in the AR4 would not be, in my mind at least, automatically suspect. It might represent a very recent and important piece of research that had not yet made it into the, ahem, peer-reviewed literature. Dissertations can contain original work, and will undergo a form of peer review in the writing and revising process. However, I would be very suspicious if it became clear that Mann, Jones, et. al. were making a habit of slipping their graduate students’ work into the reports, the better to show “consensus”.
But this, a master’s thesis? In geography? Based on reports by Swiss mountain guides? Why didn’t the IPCC reviewers just go ahead and cite Heidi? Gah!


Oh man, hard to keep up with IPCC “science”. At this point I have only one question: Why this railroad door knob is not presented to the world in handcuffs (with two pictures and a number included)?
Well, it looks that “leaders” of the “free” world share his views. On the other hand I think we should wait couple more weeks to enjoy some more of his verbal diarrhoea defending IPCC science

Doesn’t a dissertation have to be defended? In a sense that is a review similar to a peer-review. I would hope that the IPCC reviewed the methodology of each paper it cited (although this is apparently not happening), regardless of source.
“Also, if you are going to include masters dissertations then why not include degree dissertations or essays for high school diplomas? Exactly the same argument can made for them being included.”
A 5 page essay in high school is hardly in the same league as a dissertation in terms of amount of research done, and depth of thinking.
Depending on the extent of the thesis, there is nothing wrong with writing a paper based on anecdotal evidence. Claiming “global warming is melting glaciers because mountaineers see less snow” isn’t a sound thesis, but “snow pack is higher according to mountaineers” is.
I’ve known climbers that keep very detailed logs; if they report snow pack being higher 100m higher than the previous year, that is probably an accurate observation.


It’s not just AR4. In AR3, they cited Greenpeace multiple times!
Remeber Ed Begley’s rant about ‘peer-reviewed’? I wonder what he thinks now.


These guys are the Keystone Cops of Climatology.

Bill DiPuccio

The number of unsubstantiated claims by the IPCC is becoming quite numerous.
I hope someone will find the time to compile a running list or table of these claims, showing their non-peer reviewed sources, and include links to the originating news story.
Or, does such a list already exist?