the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

More UN alarmism exposed by Climatequotes blog

Posted by Jeff Id on June 10, 2010

Reposted from Climatequotes blog, click the headline for the original.

TEEB report has multiple errors in first chapter alone, Part #1

It’s been quiet here for over a month. This has been a busy time for me, I am now a college graduate (and looking for a job, know of any?). I intend to continue posting however, and when I saw a headline article on climate depot a while ago I dug a little deeper into the story.

This article from the Guardian talks about new UN biodiversity report. It’s worth reading. Here is an interesting quote:

The report will advocate massive changes to the way the global economy is run so that it factors in the value of the natural world. In future, it says, communities should be paid for conserving nature rather than using it; companies given stricter limits on what they can take from the environment and fined or taxed more to limit over-exploitation; subsidies worth more than US$1tn (£696.5bn) a year for industries like agriculture, fisheries, energy and transport reformed; and businesses and national governments asked to publish accounts for their use of natural and human capital alongside their financial results.

Shock! The UN is using protection of the natural world as a reason to make massive changes to the global economy? This sounds familiar, which I’m sure is why Morano posted it. Whenever the UN puts out a report that involves the world spending a lot of money, I get suspicious, so I decided to take a look at the interim report (the final isn’t going to be published until later this year). Here is the report.

I started at Chapter 1. On the second page of Chapter 1 (page 12 on the pdf) there is a short list of items showing how the earth has lost its biodiversity:

However, the levels of many of the benefits we derive from
the environment have plunged over the past 50 years as
biodiversity has fallen dramatically across the globe. Here are
some examples:

• In the last 300 years, the global forest area has shrunk
by approximately 40%. Forests have completely
disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries
have lost more than 90% of their forest cover. The
decline continues (FAO 2001; 2006).

• Since 1900, the world has lost about 50% of its
wetlands. While much of this occurred in northern
countries during the first 50 years of the 20th century,
there has been increasing pressure since the 1950s for
conversion of tropical and sub-tropical wetlands to
alternative land use (Moser et al. 1996).

• Some 30%of coral reefs – which frequently have even
higher levels of biodiversity than tropical forests – have
been seriously damaged through fishing, pollution,
disease and coral bleaching (Wilkinson 2004).

• In the past two decades, 35% of mangroves have
disappeared. Some countries have lost up to 80%
through conversion for aquaculture, overexploitation
and storms (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
2005a).

• The human-caused (anthropogenic) rate of species
extinction is estimated to be 1,000 times more rapid
than the “natural” rate of extinction typical of Earth’s
long-term history (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
2005b).

If you read this list you can see why we need to take urgent action. Forests have disappeared in 25 countries, and in 29 they have lost 90% of their forests. Half of the worlds wetlands have gone in only a century. Species are going extinct 1,000 times more quickly because of humans. This is frightening.

This also sounds familiar. Making startling claims about how much damage humans are doing to our planet is nothing new. But just because something is startling doesn’t mean it isn’t true, and these claims have citations, so let’s look at them.

The source for the claims about the 30% reduction of coral reefs isn’t peer-reviewed, but otherwise it at least matches the source.

The source for the claims about Mangroves isn’t peer reviewed, although that source references a Science article, and the claim does match the source. So far, two of these five claims at least match their source.

However, the rest are all estimations or patently false. Not only that, but none of the references for the entire first chapter of the TEEB report are peer-reviewed. They are nearly all (UN) government reports or environmental institute reports. Not only do they entirely rely on non-peer-reviewed material, but their claims don’t even match their cited sources. Let’s start with the first claim:

” In the last 300 years, the global forest area has shrunk
by approximately 40%. Forests have completely
disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries
have lost more than 90% of their forest cover. The
decline continues (FAO 2001; 2006).”

FAO 2001 and 2006 are referenced as:

FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (2001) Global Forest Resources Assessment
2000. [Found here]

FAO – Food and Agriculture Organization of the United
Nations (2006) Global Forest Resources Assessment
2005. [Found here]

None of these claims are in the FAO reports. In fact, one of the claims is roundly contradicted by their own source. They claim that “Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries”, yet the FAO report says (page 14 of 2005 report):

“Seven countries or areas have no forest at all, and an additional 57
have forest on less than 10 percent of their total land area.”

This is repeated and gone into more depth in the report but the numbers are the same. Only 7 countries are without forests, not 25. The other claims are not in the report, the article doesn’t talk about forest loss before the 1940′s when countries started to report the state of their forests. Also, there is no mention at all of “another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover”. Where did these claims come from?

Another UN document. Surprised? This time it is the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, Chapter 21, Forest and Woodland Systems. Here is part of the first claim in the ‘Main Messages’ section at the beginning of the document:

In the last three centuries, global forest area has been reduced by approximately 40%, with three quarters of this loss occurring during the last two centuries. Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover.

This is practically verbatim to the TEEB claim. They clearly cited the wrong source.

The claim itself is suspect. The first part, about 40% reduction, appears here (pg. 588):

From today’s perspective, however, preagricultural impacts on
overall forest cover appear to have been slight. Since that time,
the planet has lost about 40% of its original forest (high certainty),
and the remaining forests have suffered varying degrees of fragmentation
and degradation (Bryant et al. 1997; Matthews et al.
2000; Ball 2001; Wade et al. 2003). Most of this loss has occurred
during the industrial age, particularly during the last two centuries,
and in some cases much more recently. Some analyses have
yielded substantially smaller estimates. Richards (1990), for example,
estimates global loss of forests to have been only about 20%.

Just reading this leads to some uncertainty, they admit that some research indicates that it has only been 20% loss. Also, all of those references (except Wade et al. 2003) are done by environmental groups. But the real deception is in the statistic itself. The implication of including this statistic is that this loss of forest is bad, but clearly this isn’t the case as the study itself admits in the very next sentence:

Much of the progress of human civilization has been made possible by the conversion of some forest areas to other uses, particularly for agricultural expansion.

Even if the 40% statistic is accurate, it is hardly a cause for concern in and of itself. It reflects mankind’s progress to this point, to be able to tame the outdoors and provide ourselves with food.

The second half of the claim “Forests have completely disappeared in 25 countries, and another 29 countries have lost more than 90% of their forest cover” is not mentioned in the report at all. If you find it in there please let me know. As I mentioned before, it is contradicted by their cited source, which claims only 7 countries have no forest and the FAO report makes no mention of the 90% claim.

I’ll address the other two errors in another post, this one has gotten quite lengthy.

I’m uncertain why, but UN reports seem to have difficulty correctly citing their claims. It doesn’t seem as though using one UN report is any better than using another UN report (FAO paper versus Millennium Assessment), so why can’t they keep their citations straight? Also, the reliance on other UN reports seems to cast serious doubt on the report itself. Of the 16 references for Chapter 1, 7 of them are from UN reports (along with 4 news articles and 5 reports from environmental groups). I don’t know what the full report will look like this summer, but just the very first chapter of this report is pretty pathetic.

15 Responses to “More UN alarmism exposed by Climatequotes blog”

  1. Charlie A said

    I took a short look. Many of the references have URLs. Most of them have a notation of “last access May 8, 2008″ or “last access 18 May, 2008″.

    So it looks like the report has been in some sort of review cycle for quite a while.

  2. Dagfinn said

    The issue of bad citations is obviously important and interesting. But from what I’ve seen written about this report so far, there’s also another interesting aspect: climate change seems to be less emphasized in comparison to the usual song and dance about AGW causing–or at least contributing to–every conceivable environmental problem.

  3. Dagfinn said

    In other words, this looks like a different kind of alarmism than what we’re used to.

  4. Mac said

    It is very much the same type of UN alarmism.

    Dodgy science, dodgy claims, dodgy citations, dodgy taxes.

    Once more the UN proves that the road to green hell is paved with dodgy intentions.

  5. A C Osborn said

    Are they moving away from AGW?
    Do they now see it as a losing/lost cause?

  6. Sam said

    Dagfinn – If you read through the document you will see climate change everywhere. While there is clearly less emphasis on climate change than biodiversity (to be expected in a biodiversity report) the threats of climate change are all over the place. Here are a few examples:

    Current trends on land and in the oceans demonstrate the
    severe dangers that biodiversity loss poses to human health
    and welfare. Climate change is exacerbating this problem.
    And again, as with climate change, it is the world’s poor who
    are most at risk from the continuing loss of biodiversity. They
    are the ones most reliant on the ecosystem services which
    are being undermined by flawed economic analysis and
    policy mistakes.

    Continuing high rates of economic
    growth in some of the large developing economies
    have resulted in demand outstripping supply for several
    commodities, putting even greater pressure on natural
    systems. Recent evidence of climate change suggests
    much faster and deeper impacts than previously predicted,
    including the risk of human conflicts caused by competition
    for biodiversity resources and ecosystem services
    (WBGU 2008).

    However, lessons from the last 100 years demonstrate
    that mankind has usually acted too little and too late in face
    of similar threats – asbestos, CFCs, acid rain, declining
    fisheries, BSE, contamination of the Great Lakes and, most
    recently and dramatically, climate change.

    That’s a funny one right there.

    There is no sign that this pressure for conversion fromnatural
    ecosystems towards arable land will abate. Demand for food
    is set to increase as populations grow and their consumption
    shifts towards more meat. Supply cannot keep pace as
    yields are growing only slowly. On top of this, scientists of the
    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predict
    in their 2007 report that even slight global warming would
    decrease agricultural productivity in tropical and subtropical
    countries (IPCC 2007).

    So on and so on. I haven’t seen any potential good effects on biodiversity from climate change, only bad. This report was put out in 2008, before there was much controversy (at least publicly) about the science behind climate change, so it isn’t surprising that climate change is still mentioned so frequently.

    It will be interesting to see if the final biodiversity report issued this year will mention climate change as much as the interim report did. Then we can see if they plan on switching from fear-mongering based on the changing climate to fear-mongering based on losing bio-diversity.

    By the way, the second part of my article is posted here.

  7. [...] Oh No! New UN Biodiversity report riddled with errors! It really is ‘IPCC like’! —…– Biodiversity report’s references ‘are nearly all UN government reports or environmental institute reports…their claims don’t even match their cited sources’ [...]

  8. Gary said

    Hey, that’s a neat trick, getting paid for what you don’t do. The only problem I see is that there will be no incentive to deliver checks to all the lay-abouts. ;-)

  9. kwik said

    Climate-change is an important driving factor for bio-diversity. Maybe they will suggest geo-engineering in order to get more frequently climate changes?

    It will be fun when they reprogram their super-duper computers and start running new bio-diversity models. They will get all kinds of results, and can declare worst and best case scenarios.

    And of course, lots of climate-change professors will now become bio-diversity professors.

    Not to mention that there will most likely be a bio-diversity TIPPING point in a future near you.

    Tens of tousands of species will be declared going extinct every second, but not a single dead animal will be found. Its all in the models, you see.

    There will be big seminars in fancy places, and you can only go there flying Boeing 747′s or the latest Airbus. Video conferences will be totally out of the question. Must connect with people, you see.

    The prime minister of Norway will be on the forefront. Must save the whale, you know.

    It will all end in a crescendo of new taxes.

    Old taxes will change names. From CO2 tax to…..Bio tax?

    Then a new scare will take over, and it will all be forgotten.

    Prince Charles will be there too.

  10. Sam said

    Not to mention that there will most likely be a bio-diversity TIPPING point in a future near you.

    Kwik, you are so right. In fact, the tipping point scare already exists in the document:

    As demonstrated by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005a), the impacts of cumulative pressures on ecosystemsmay not be felt for many years, until some tipping points are reached leading to rapid non-linear changes.

    These types of complex phenomena show us how vulnerable
    we are to tipping points beyond those linked directly
    to increasing temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.

    1. The problem of biodiversity loss is increasingly urgent
    in terms of the rate and costs of loss and the risks of
    crossing “tipping points”.

    It would be interesting to look at all the people involved in the AR4 and see if they had a hand in the TEEB also. The scare language is downright identical at times.

  11. Paul Z. said

    Close down the UN already. These crazies just won’t give up until they get their one world dictatorship and tax the middle class to hell.

  12. John Blake said

    Though “seven countries or areas have no forest at all” and an additional 27 [one-sixth of the world's nations]have less than 10% wooded areas, this hardly means –even if accurate, which we doubt– that forests have vanished or been reduced by 90%. Vast swaths of Africa and Asia never had forests to begin with… equating forests with biodiversity is foolish anyhow, nevermind ignorantly equating biodiversity with “desirable” ecosystems.

    Some months ago, Andrew Watts’ site posted an actual, documented study demonstrating that despite Green Gangsters’ bleats and squeaks the actual number of verifiable human-caused extinctions since AD 1600 has totaled about three– not quite the 40,000 per year so blithely “modeled” by climate hysterics in 2007 – ’08 during their pre-Climategate “fleeting hour of brutish triumph” (Churchill, 1942).

    Dump Pachauri, abolish not only his Ministry of Truth/IPCC but Ban Ki-moon’s bizarrely parasitical UN itself: “You have sat here too long, for any good you have done. Now go– in the name of God, go!” (Cromwell to the Long Parliament, 1648). By Rule of 72, we give these peculating bumwads until 2018 at the latest.

  13. Araucan said

    Sorry, but check the pages 60 to 66 and the Forewords.
    This paper was paid by Germany and EU for the UN …
    The title is about economy of biodiversity : the intent was to produce a “Stern like report” for biodiversity (in particular with the view to promote ecosystem payments).
    The assessment in itself is the Millenium ecosystem assessment
    http://www.millenniumassessment.org/en/index.aspx wich is a true UN paper, but with the same kind of method, …

  14. S.S. said

    The above information is of great value and a very hard work had been done according to me, i appreciate it, keep it up.

  15. Brian H said

    A “Stern like report” is all the condemnation you need. Stern’s prescriptions are not just a road to collapse and chaos, but a greased chute.

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