February 25, 2010
Sensenbrenner: Administration Officials Must Take Errors in Climate Science Seriously
February 25, 2010
Mr. Todd Stern
US Special Envoy for Climate Change
US Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Stern:
On February 16, you took media questions following a climate change briefing at the Department of State. In response to questions about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and recent controversies surrounding the 2007 4th Assessment Report, you dismissed concerns regarding recent errors:
I think that to the extent - and again, I make no comment one way or another about whether they’re mistakes - I just don’t know. But to the extent that there were any mistakes in the IPCC report, reports, assessments, or anywhere else, that’s regrettable. You don’t want there to be mistakes. But what should not happen is that any individual mistakes, typos, whatever they might be, be taken to undermine the very fundamental record that exists from scientists all over the world and from observed data from all over the world that this is a quite serious and growing problem. So I think that that’s really the kind of underlying important point.
The errors you dismissed as “typos” are in fact serious concerns. For example, the IPCC wrote that the Himalayan Glaciers would disappear by 2035. When this assertion was challenged, Dr. R.K. Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, dismissed the concerns as “voodoo science.” When the Indian Environment Minister questioned whether global warming was responsible for rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers, Dr. Pachauri retorted, “We have a very clear idea of what is happening. I don't know why the minister is supporting this unsubstantiated research. It is an extremely arrogant statement.”
The IPCC’s claim, now universally dismissed as preposterous, was not a mere typo. It was based on a white paper published by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). When the purported “gold standard” of climate science is highlighting claims that every expert knew to be absurd based on unsubstantiated publications of an advocacy group, we should all be concerned. Our government is predicating multi-billion dollar regulatory policies on this report.
Worse still, the IPCC’s error regarding the Himalayan glaciers was not its only mistake. Other serious errors in the IPCC’s report include:
· The U.N. dramatically claimed that 55 percent of the Netherlands is below sea level when the accurate portion is 26 percent.
· Because of purported global warming, the world supposedly “suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s.” The U.N. cited one unpublished study to prove this. When the research eventually was published in 2008 after the IPCC report was released, the authors backpedaled: “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses.”
· Up to 40 percent of the Amazon rain forest was said to be at risk because of rising global temperatures. Again, the U.N. referenced a WWF report authored by two environmental activists.
· By 2020, agricultural production in Africa will be reduced by 50% due to influences of global warming. This fact, which the “new lead author of the IPCC’s climate impacts team told The Sunday Times that he could find nothing in the report to support the claim,” has been repeated frequently by Dr. Pachauri, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
The practice of dismissing challenges (and ridiculing those who raise them) has been a hallmark of climate science. Al Gore tried to cut off debate by declaring the science settled, Dr. Pachauri attempted to dismiss valid scientific challenges as voodoo science, and the scientists involved in Climategate did their best to discredit fellow scientists who they viewed as “skeptics.” Your comments seem similarly aimed at dismissing rather than confronting challenges.
F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
Select Committee on Energy Independence
and Global Warming
cc: The Honorable Ed Markey, Chairman
 Briefing by the Special Envoy for Climate Change Todd Stern, US Department of State (February 16, 2010), found at http://www.state.gov/g/oes/rls/remarks/2010/136755.htm.  Christopher Booker, Pachauri: the real story behind the Glaciergate scandal, The Telegraph (January 23, 2010), found at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/christopherbooker/7062667/Pachauri-the-real-story-behind-the-Glaciergate-scandal.html.  A Glacier Meltdown, The Wall Street Journal (January 23, 2010), found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703837004575013393219835692.html.  Off-base camp: A mistaken claim about glaciers raises questions about the UN’s climate panel, The Economist (January 21, 2010), found at http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15328534.  Netherlands adds to UN climate report controversy, AFP (February 5, 2010), found at http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.8d6e5773c60565dfc6e882b0a8dcbf18.4e1&show_article=1.  Jonathan Leake, UN wrongly linked global warming to natural disasters, The Sunday Times (January 24, 2010), found at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7000063.ece.  Jonathan Leake, The UN climate panel and the rainforest claim, The Sunday Times (January 31, 2010), found at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7009705.ece.  Jonathan Leake, Africagate: top British scientist says UN panel is losing credibility, The Sunday Times (February 7, 2010), found at http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article7017907.ece.