The readers of WUWT – not unlike those of Telegraph blogs – are ferociously well-informed and very brainy, especially to do with matters scientific. I’m guessing there are probably more PhDs among its readership than contributed to all four of the IPCC’s assessment reports put together. And this is what makes them such formidable opponents of sites like RealClimate – the Warmist propaganda outlet set up a few years ago by friends of Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann. They don’t miss a trick.
So you can imagine how downcast I was when I woke this morning to discover an email from WUWT’s proprietor Anthony Watts, advising me that an error had been spotted in my piece on Amazongate:
It appears that the 40% figure references this passage in the WWF/IUCN report:
“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.”
This passage references a peer-reviewed article in Nature:
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, Vo l 398, 8 April, pp505
Unfortunately I don’t have access to the full article but to call this reference “a complete load of porkies” seems a bit unjustified, unless it can be shown that Rowell and Moore completely misrepresent the Nature article (which of course *is* written by Amazonian specialists).
Before I rushed to correct, I thought I’d do a bit of checking with the great and supremely thorough Dr Richard North whose original post on Amazongate I had quite shamelessly plagiarised. And guess what? The IPCC 4th Assessment report emerges EVEN LESS CREDITABLY from the tale than we had originally suggested.
Here’s what that referenced Nature article said:
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.
Yes. Hands up. We did miss the 40 per cent reference. But what we weren’t doing, by any means, was exaggerating the skullduggery and scientific dishonesty involved – as Maurizio Morabito has noticed.
North, as ever, has the full details.
It turns out that the Nature article HAD been misrepresented. There’s a clue in the title “Large-scale Impoverishment of Amazonian Forests by Logging and Fire”. It wasn’t about the effects of climate change at all. Yet from this irrelevant article, the IPCC had decided to cherry-pick a paragraph which seemed to chime nicely with its urge to co-opt the mighty Amazon rainforest to its cause. After all, it’s not as though anyone was likely to notice, was it?