First, you may not remember the accusations in the UK press back in January that the 2007 IPCC Report had lied about misrepresented the facts regarding the die back of the Amazon tropical rain forest by Jonathan Leake of the Sunday Times often referred to as Amazongate (original Times’ article no longer appears on its website but here’s a copy), but a number of people misquoted in the article did. And one of the major researchers, Simon Lewis, who was misquoted sued The Timesfor claiming that he claimed the IPCC statements in its 2007 report about the Amazon were grossly in error.

Well, now the Sunday Times has been forced to retract its original story (via Real Climate) and admit that it was its reporting, and not the original research or the statement about it in the 2007 IPCC Climate Assessment, which was grossly in error:

The article “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” (News, Jan 31) stated that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had included an “unsubstantiated claim” that up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest could be sensitive to future changes in rainfall. The IPCC had referenced the claim to a report prepared for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) by Andrew Rowell and Peter Moore, whom the article described as “green campaigners” with “little scientific expertise.” The article also stated that the authors’ research had been based on a scientific paper that dealt with the impact of human activity rather than climate change.

In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF report, the figure had, in error, not been referenced, but was based on research by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) which did relate to the impact of climate change. We also understand and accept that Mr Rowell is an experienced environmental journalist and that Dr Moore is an expert in forest management, and apologise for any suggestion to the contrary.

The article also quoted criticism of the IPCC’s use of the WWF report by Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds and leading specialist in tropical forest ecology. We accept that, in his quoted remarks, Dr Lewis was making the general point that both the IPCC and WWF should have cited the appropriate peer-reviewed scientific research literature. As he made clear to us at the time, including by sending us some of the research literature, Dr Lewis does not dispute the scientific basis for both the IPCC and the WWF reports’ statements on the potential vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest to droughts caused by climate change.

In addition, the article stated that Dr Lewis’ concern at the IPCC’s use of reports by environmental campaign groups related to the prospect of those reports being biased in their conclusions. We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view – rather, he was concerned that the use of non-peer-reviewed sources risks creating the perception of bias and unnecessary controversy, which is unhelpful in advancing the public’s understanding of the science of climate change. A version of our article that had been checked with Dr Lewis underwent significant late editing and so did not give a fair or accurate account of his views on these points. We apologise for this.

[emphasis addded]

(cont.)
It’s nice to see that the Times is being forced to retract these baseless attacks on the legitimacy of the IPCC’s 2007 Report, as well as own up to the shoddy reporting by Mr. Leake.

One other German newspaper recently had to retract a similar “bogus” story regarding claims in the 2007 IPCC report that alleged that comments in the report on the potential effect of man made climate change of African crop yields was not legitimately sourced. (For a discussion of this ginned up controversy labeled “Africagate” by the same Jonathan Leakes in a different Times’ article go to this post by Real Climate).

Unfortunately, because of the original barrage of phony stories in the media, including the ones which misrepresented the contents of the hacked emails from the University of East Anglia’s Hadley Climate Research Unit, known as Climategate, a large portion of the British public has gone from accepting the claims of legitimate scientists to believing the arguments of those who, with little if any basis in fact, deny climate change is real and primarily caused by the actions of human beings.

No matter that every investigation of the Climategate emails has vindicated the scientists involved, and more importantly the validity of their research on climate change. The damage to the reputations of these scientists and to the massive amount of data and research that supports their peer reviewed conclusions has been done.

It is because of propaganda and disinformation spread by climate change “skeptics” that we continue to do little if anything to limit our dependence on burning fossil fuels. And as we have all seen in the Gulf of Mexico that “addiction” can have profound and immediate consequences as oil companies around the globe continue to conduct ever more risky drilling and extraction procedures in search of profits from their “product.”

* * *

And now for my second story, one that should come as no surprise to the people of Tennessee, Arkansas, Texas, Rhode Island and Oklahoma: massive flooding in southern China from torrential rains that began last week has killed 175 people and left nearly a million people homeless:

Huge floods in southern China have killed at least 175 people and displaced 800,000, the government said today as the annual storm season picked up ferocity. Around 107 people are still missing amid torrential rains which began a week ago. Local media showed images of people abandoning their homes in rubber dinghies in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, one of the worst-hit areas. […]

More than 10 million people have lost property, been injured or suffered a cut in power or water supplies as a result of the rain across Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi, Jiangxi and Sichuan.

Many of these areas have gone from one extreme to another, according to the government. Earlier this year, south-east China endured its worst drought in living memory, but in the past week, some places have been inundated with three times the average rain for this period. […]

Southern China experiences flooding almost every summer, but the Beijing climate centre says extreme weather events have increased in recent years, with droughts becoming longer and rain falling in more intense and damaging bursts.

[emphasis added]

Of course it goes without saying that climate scientists have been predicting that more severe weather events such as increased droughts and heavy rainfall events would be a consequence of global climate change for quite some time. That they are happening sooner and with more frequency than scientists had expected earlier in the decade should be setting off alarm bells in every Capitol in the world:

A US report commissioned by the Bush Administration in 2007 and released in 2009 warned that the United States would see greater incidences of severe weather and heavier rainfall. The report, which looked at the US regionally, predicted that more precipitation in winter and spring in the Midwest would lead to increased flooding. In addition, the report predicted increases in flooding and severe weather for the Southeast.

The report stated that “the amount of rain falling in the heaviest downpours has increased approximately 20 percent on average in the past century, and this trend is very likely to continue, with the largest increases in the wettest places.”

At the time of the report’s release, Evan Mills, a Berkley scientist and contributor said: “This is the most thorough and up-to-date review ever assembled of climate-change impacts observed to date as well as those anticipated in the future across the United States.”

The evidence that climate change is happening and is affecting our lives on a daily basis is everywhere, from severe droughts, increases in severe wild fires and now extreme precipitation events such as have occurred this Winter and this Spring in the United States. And NOAA has already reported that the temperature record for the first five months of 2010 are the warmest on record:

The combined global land and ocean surface temperature was the warmest on record for May, March-May (Northern Hemisphere spring-Southern Hemisphere autumn), and the period January-May according to NOAA. Worldwide average land surface temperature for May and March-May was the warmest on record while the global ocean surface temperatures for both May and March-May were second warmest on record, behind 1998.

That would put 2010 well on track for being the warmest year on record, immediately the warmest decade (2000-2009) on record. Yet, sadly prospects for a game changing climate change bill passing muster in the House and Senate seems increasingly unlikely.

Members of the Democratic caucus met behind closed doors to discuss various legislative proposals, telling reporters afterward that no single vision has emerged as the way forward. The difficulty is that any policy change needs 60 votes to be approved in the Senate.

“One of the many lessons of the BP disaster is we can’t afford to continue business as usual,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after the meeting. Reid, of Nevada, expressed his goal of voting on one bill that addresses both the BP spill and concerns about global warming before recessing in August, adding that “stalling for political purposes” is unacceptable. […]

“Do we have 60 votes to come up with strong global warming legislation? No. I think that’s a tragedy,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont. “And why they are rejecting the scientific views of virtually the entire world’s community and playing politics with this when the future of the planet is at stake, I just don’t understand.”

The world is being devastated and our politicians sit like helpless little children. And it is not just in the United States. Despite the warmest year on record for the Southern Hemisphere last year, Australian legislation on climate change also appears unlikely to pass this year which means remedial measures to remove carbon from our global environment continue to be delayed by a lack of political will from politicians around the world:

May 21 (Bloomberg) — Carbon Conscious Ltd., an Australian company that plants gum-trees to absorb greenhouse gas emissions, said demand from customers for forests has stalled after the nation shelved climate-change laws. […]

[Prime Minister] Rudd’s legislation to cut emissions by at least 5 percent was blocked in the Senate by the Greens party and the Liberal- National coalition last year, creating a possible trigger for an early election.

The government’s climate plan would have taxed companies with high emissions like energy, steel and cement makers and offset the charges with free emissions permits and financial compensation.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense that to achieve a unilateral 5 percent cut in greenhouse emissions, the government is now waiting to assess commitments from other nations before moving ahead with its domestic carbon-trading scheme, which it has acknowledged is the best policy,” New Energy Finance’s Henbest said.

Indeed, the climate skeptic lobby has begun to join forces with creationists and religious fundamentalists to mount a coordinated attack on science in general, from evolution, to the Big Bang theory to climate change. In short we are a nation under siege by people with an agenda to make “science” itself the enemy in order to further the political agenda:

Critics of the teaching of evolution in the nation’s classrooms are gaining ground in some states by linking the issue to global warming, arguing that dissenting views on both scientific subjects should be taught in public schools. {…]

The linkage of evolution and global warming is partly a legal strategy: courts have found that singling out evolution for criticism in public schools is a violation of the separation of church and state. By insisting that global warming also be debated, deniers of evolution can argue that they are simply championing academic freedom in general.

Yet they are also capitalizing on rising public resistance in some quarters to accepting the science of global warming, particularly among political conservatives who oppose efforts to rein in emissions of greenhouse gases.

In South Dakota, a resolution calling for the “balanced teaching of global warming in public schools” passed the Legislature this week. […]

Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist who directs the Origins Initiative at Arizona State University and has spoken against efforts to water down the teaching of evolution to school boards in Texas and Ohio, described the move toward climate-change skepticism as a predictable offshoot of creationism.

“Wherever there is a battle over evolution now,” he said, “there is a secondary battle to diminish other hot-button issues like Big Bang and, increasingly, climate change. It is all about casting doubt on the veracity of science — to say it is just one view of the world, just another story, no better or more valid than fundamentalism.”

For now, the Climate Denialist industry is winning the public relations propaganda war, and all the facts in the world that fly in the face of their disinformation campaign that is unlikely to change that anytime soon.

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