Voie3 (Germany): Le rapport du GIEC est « la meilleure évaluation des risques disponible
Février 8, 2010
Le Directeur exécutif du Programme des Nations Unies pour l’environnement (PNUE), Achim Steiner, a pris vendredi, dans une tribune, la défense du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC), accusé par une partie de la presse de catastrophisme et de sensationnalisme.
« Il est juste de pointer les erreurs, de faire les corrections nécessaires et de vérifier et de revérifier les sources pour des raisons de précision et de crédibilité », a-t-il déclaré, mais il faut également « laisser de côté le mythe selon lequel la science des changements climatiques coule rapidement dans une mer de mensonges ».
Depuis 22 ans, le GIEC a réuni l’expertise de milliers des meilleurs scientifiques du monde, nommés par leur propre gouvernement, afin de décrypter la complexité des évènements climatiques et leurs conséquences sur les économies et les sociétés, a souligné Achim Steiner.
Ainsi, si la science des changements climatiques a été sur la défensive ces dernières semaines, en raison d’une erreur typographique qui a considérablement surestimé la vitesse à laquelle les glaciers de l’Himalaya disparaissent, il n’en demeure pas moins que le rapport du GIEC publié en 2007 est « la meilleure évaluation des risques disponible ».
Les attaques de certains médias et de ceux qui sont sceptiques sur les changements climatiques ont troublé le public, a-t-il regretté, estimant que l’accusation de sensationnalisme formulée à l’encontre du GIEC est « peut-être la plus étonnante, sinon la plus risible de toutes ».
En effet, le GIEC a été souvent critiqué pour son conservatisme dans ses projections sur la montée des eaux, et « la prudence, plutôt que le sensationnalisme, a été son mot d’ordre durant son existence ».
Evoquant « les preuves accablantes » que les émissions de gaz à effet de serre doivent être réduites et la nécessité d’une meilleure gestion des ressources dans un monde où la population va passer à neuf milliards d’individus dans les cinquante prochaines années, il a appelé à redoubler d’efforts pour aider le GIEC dans sa tâche titanesque de rassembler les éléments et les savoirs pour son cinquième rapport d’évaluation en 2014.
« Le GIEC est faillible, comme les êtres humains qui le composent. Mais il reste sans aucun doute la meilleure et la plus solide fondation dont nous disposons pour faire maintenant les choix globaux les plus essentiels », a dit Achim Steiner.
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Terra (Brasil): PNUMA defende papel do IPCC no debate sobre clima
08 de fevereiro de 2010
O diretor executivo do Programa nas Nações Unidas para o Meio Ambiente (Pnuma), Achim Steiner, defendeu o papel desempenhado pelo Painel Intergovernamental Sobre Mudanças Climáticas (IPCC) na avaliação das alterações do clima no mundo.
O anúncio foi feito no dia 5 de fevereiro, em artigo publicado no site do Pnuma.
Steiner citou representantes de mídia e céticos que estariam analisando cada detalhe do IPCC nas últimas semanas devido a um erro de taxa exagerada sobre o desaparecimento das geleiras do Himalaia.
Ele ressaltou que alguns estariam inclusive tratando as alterações climáticas como uma brincadeira comparada ao chamado ''bug do milênio'', na virada do século.
Segundo Achim Steiner, o resultado seria confusão pública sobre o questionamento do IPCC e seu presidente, com proporções parecidas a uma caça às bruxas.
Ele disse que agora é hora para checar a realidade.
O diretor executivo do Pnuma afirmou que está certo apontar erros e fazer correções, mas pediu para o mundo colocar de lado o mito de que a ciência da mudança climática é um rombo e está se afundando rapidamente em um mar de mentiras.
Mentes Científicas Achim Steiner lembrou que, em 22 anos, o IPCC elaborou estudo baseado nas melhores mentes científicas, especialistas indicados por governos, para avaliar a evolução dos acontecimentos ambientais e seu impacto sobre economias e sociedades.
Steiner enfatizou que o relatório de 2007 do órgão apresenta a melhor avaliação de risco disponível, apesar do erro de digitação na declaração do derretimento glacial do Himalaia. Ele avaliou que o consenso alcançado foi muito alto, com 90% de chance de estar correto.
O diretor executivo do Pnuma ressaltou que o IPCC pode ter falhas, mas continua sendo o melhor e mais sólido fundamento que existe para uma comunidade de mais de 190 nações para as futuras escolhas globais.
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Actualites-News (France): Le PNUE prend la défense du GIEC
7 February 2010
L’ONU défend le Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC), contre les attaques et les accusations de catastrophisme et de sensationnalisme portés sur lui par une grande partie de la presse.
L’ONU défend le Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat (GIEC), contre les attaques et les accusations de catastrophisme et de sensationnalisme portés sur lui par une grande partie de la presse.
En effet, c'est le Directeur exécutif du Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement (PNUE), Achim Steiner, qui a pris vendredi, dans une tribune, la défense du GIEC.
« Il est juste de pointer les erreurs, de faire les corrections nécessaires et de vérifier et de revérifier les sources pour des raisons de précision et de crédibilité.
Mais il faut également laisser de côté le mythe selon lequel la science des changements climatiques coule rapidement dans une mer de mensonges », a-t-il déclaré.
Un Groupe d'experts intergouvernemental sur l'évolution du climat, le GIEC, élabore un consensus scientifique sur cette question.
Son dernier et quatrième rapport, auquel ont participé plus de 2 500 scientifiques de 130 pays, affirme que la probabilité que le réchauffement climatique depuis 1950 soit d'origine humaine est de plus de 90 %.
Ces conclusions ont été approuvées par plus de 40 sociétés scientifiques et académies des sciences, y compris l'ensemble des académies nationales des sciences des grands pays industrialisés.
L'importance d'une origine humaine du réchauffement climatique est néanmoins contestée par une minorité de la communauté scientifique.
L’ONU défend le GIEC, contre les attaques et les accusations de catastrophisme et de sensationnalisme portés sur lui par une grande partie de la presse
Si la science des changements climatiques a été sur la défensive ces dernières semaines, en raison d'une erreur typographique qui a considérablement surestimé la vitesse à laquelle les glaciers de l'Himalaya disparaissent, il n'en demeure pas moins que le rapport du GIEC publié en 2007 est « la meilleure évaluation des risques disponible », a ajouté Achim Steiner, dans un communiqué de presse.
Pour le directeur exécutif du Programme des Nations Unies pour l'environnement, ces attaques de certains médias et de ceux qui sont sceptiques sur les changements climatiques ont troublé le public, et que l'accusation de sensationnalisme formulée à l'encontre du GIEC est peut-être la plus étonnante, sinon la plus risible de toutes.
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Laprensa (Bolivia): La agricultura puede proteger o diezmar la biodiversidad
6 February 2010
El director ejecutivo del Programa de Ambiente de Naciones Unidas (PNUMA), Achim Steiner, afirma que el reto del siglo XXI es que la actividad agrícola se transforme en buena administradora de la biodiversidad y abandone su capacidad destructora, sin limitar su misión de alimentar a una población mundial creciente.
Como el dios romano Jano, cuyos dos rostros miran en direcciones opuestas, la agricultura puede proteger la biodiversidad del planeta o, a la vez, seguir diezmándola con el uso irracional de insumos químicos y la reducción de la fecundidad del suelo.
Según la Organización de las Naciones Unidas (ONU), a diario desaparecen unas 150 especies, víctimas de diversas actividades humanas que provocan el cambio climático, incluida la producción rural, y que transforman de forma drástica los diversos ecosistemas.
Tierramérica dialogó con el responsable del PNUMA (Programa de las Naciones Unidas para el Medio Ambiente) en Berlín, en ocasión del lanzamiento del Año Internacional de la Diversidad Biológica, que busca llamar la atención sobre la necesidad vital de proteger y conservar la multiplicidad de flora y fauna del planeta.
TIERRAMÉRICA: La agricultura es indispensable como productora de alimentos, pero potencialmente peligrosa para la biodiversidad…
ACHIM STEINER: Así es. La creciente importancia de la agricultura provocada por el aumento de la población mundial supone que se restrinjan cada vez más los espacios vitales de muchas especies, tanto de flora como de fauna. En este sentido, la agricultura constituye un peligro para la biodiversidad mundial.
Por ejemplo, cada año, se sufren pérdidas de miles de millones de dólares a causa de la agricultura irracional, que destruye la fecundidad de los suelos.
El uso exagerado por parte de algunos países de productos químicos, como pesticidas, herbicidas y similares, contribuye a la eliminación de muchos organismos útiles.
Nosotros podemos detener ese proceso de erosión y de aniquilación de especies si aplicamos otros modelos para aprovechar de manera óptima esos 20 centímetros de la corteza terrestre, necesarios para producir los bienes que precisamos. Con estos modelos alternativos, la agricultura ofrece un gran potencial de protección de plantas y animales.
Los agricultores pueden ser excelentes gerentes de los recursos naturales y de los diferentes ecosistemas.
El reto de este siglo es cómo recompensar a los agricultores para que continúen produciendo los bienes indispensables para la humanidad y, al mismo tiempo, contribuyan a conservar y proteger los ecosistemas, cruciales para nuestra sobrevivencia.
TIERRAMÉRICA: Usted se refiere a la agricultura orgánica.
AS: Es un ejemplo de cómo trabajar la tierra en armonía con la naturaleza. Se intenta, a través del uso de la ciencia y del manejo sostenible de los recursos, aprovechar la fecundidad del suelo sin destruir la naturaleza.
Pero yo no quiero dar la idea de que el reto se reduce a una dicotomía entre agricultura orgánica y tradicional.
Las fronteras entre ambas son porosas y una puede aprender de la otra. Se trata de garantizar la producción de alimentos para un número creciente de habitantes del planeta y, simultáneamente, proteger la naturaleza y la biodiversidad.
TIERRAMÉRICA: Pero el impacto negativo de la agricultura es variado, por ejemplo, las importantes emisiones de gases invernadero que produce, que contribuyen al cambio climático.
AS: Sí, hoy la agricultura es responsable de entre 15 y 18 por ciento de los gases invernadero del mundo. Basta echar un vistazo a un cultivo cualquiera.
Van y vienen los tractores, que consumen combustibles fósiles y emiten dióxido de carbono, al igual que lo hace el transporte de vegetales y de otros productos agrícolas, así como la producción de fertilizantes, pesticidas y herbicidas. Los animales emiten metano.
Por estas razones, como para todo sector de la economía, necesitamos un balance de las emisiones de dióxido de carbono generadas por la agricultura.
A partir de ello podremos comparar qué modelos agrícolas tienen el mejor
resultado en términos ambientales, con el objetivo de estimular a los productores que adopten un sistema alternativo que les permita reducir sus emisiones, o incluso capturar esos gases, a través de otros usos de la tierra, como la plantación de bosques.
TIERRAMÉRICA: Pero, ¿basta con hablar de la necesidad de proteger fauna y flora para convencer a agricultores y líderes nacionales de cambiar sus modelos?
AS: Seguramente conceptos como “biodiversidad” y “ecosistemas” pueden parecer abstractos a mucha gente. Pero están relacionados directamente con beneficios económicos concretos para millones de personas.
Por ejemplo, la multiplicidad de beneficios económicos que generan los corales y la variedad de animales que dependen directamente de ellos para su supervivencia no son aspectos valorados suficientemente por las autoridades económicas, tanto en el plano nacional como internacional.
Pero los corales generan beneficios de hasta 189.000 dólares anuales por hectárea, sólo en forma de protección de litorales y de manejo natural de riesgos.
A ello hay que sumar los ingresos por turismo, pesca y por provisiones de materiales genéticos y otros, que sobrepasan fácilmente el millón de dólares por hectárea al año.
TIERRAMÉRICA: A pesar de todo esto, la biodiversidad continúa decayendo.
Oficialmente está confirmado que no se alcanzará el objetivo, fijado en 2003, de detener este proceso en 2010.
AS: Por eso mismo, yo insto a los gobiernos del mundo a renovar su compromiso y a fijarse objetivos ambiciosos.
La urgencia de la situación exige que la comunidad internacional no sólo detenga la velocidad con la que están desapareciendo las especies, sino también que restituya la infraestructura ambiental destruida en los últimos 100 años.
El reto, que los agricultores conserven los ecosistemas.
Biodiversidad y ecosistemas se relacionan con ganancia.
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Other Environment News
Deutsche Welle (Germany): The catwalk offers hope to dying species
8 February 2010
Eco-fashion is a growing niche market that some designers are cottoning on to. They want you to consider the impact of what you are wearing, but they also know it has to look good if its going to set a trend.
The materialistic world of high fashion may seem inherently at odds with the altruistic fight to save the planet.
Opulence, exclusivity and conspicuous consumption are not exactly the hallmarks of an environmental movement. But for designers like Peter Ingwersen from Denmark, a new trend has been developing in the fashion industry – and he says it's being driven by consumers.
"Ten years ago it was enough to buy the latest 'it' bag – that's not enough anymore," he said at a recent fashion show for ecologically-minded designers in Switzerland.
"When you buy the latest 'it' bag you also want to know how it is produced. That is the biggest change that we've seen in our business since the hem lengths went below the knee."
Conventional cotton cultivation can be damaging to the environment, because of its heavy use of pesticides and fertilizers. For example, the chemical Endosulfan is widely used by cotton growers today, despite evidence of long-term health and environmental damages that have prompted scientists to consider blacklisting the agent as a persistent organic pollutant (POP) under the Stockholm Convention, a 166-member treaty designed to protect human health and the environment from chemicals.
Peter Ingwersen says he entered the business of finding sustainable alternatives for fabrics five years ago when he founded the fashion label Noir. He now claims to be working with some 16,000 farmers in Africa, who grow organic and fair-trade cotton.
He is one of a number of designers who are cashing in on a growing niche. The overall market for organic textiles – for everything from curtains to socks – has exploded. Today it's worth nearly 3.9 billion euros, where it was worth less than 365 million euros a year in 2005.
Indeed, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates the trade in eco-fashion alone to be worth up to 145 million euros a year. "It is an increasingly significant chunk of the market," said Lucas Assuncao, coordinator of UNCTAD's BioTrade initiative.
The wares of 50 like-minded designers were on display at the ecochic fashion show in Geneva in January.
"We need to be sensitive to the environment in everything we do," said Christian Dean, whose environmental charity Green2Greener co-hosted the event alongside UNCTAD to help draw attention to the UN's 2010 year of biodiversity.
Pencil-thin models strutted the catwalks in stylish garments reminiscent of scenes from a fashion week in London or Milan. But the couture was made from fibres ranging from organic cotton to bamboo, pineapple and even paper.
Sarah Ratty has been in the business for 20 years. She is currently the head of a brand called Ciel. Like Ingwersen, her goal is to show that sustainable fashion can be beautiful too.
Lose the granola
Her modern collection uses a diverse range of natural or recycled products. "There are a lot of great green innovations, which are working within natural fabrics as well as synthetics," she said.
Lucas Assuncao from UNCTAD, which co-sponsored the event, said there were many opportunities in the fashion industry to create win-win situations as well, and cited a problem with the overpopulation of a type of reptile in Bolivia, called the yacare.
"It so happens that in some parts of Bolivia this over population of yacares is detrimental to human life. So there is a real claim there to sustainably manage the yacare population, which means killing them. It so happens that the skin is very valuable for the shoe industry in Italy, for example. So there is a win-win opportunity," Assuncao said.
Despite the can-do attitude, eco-designers like Ingwersen and Ratty are battling perceptions that 'sustainable' spells 'granola.'
Ingwersen warns that the industry as a whole will have to take the concept seriously if it isn't to go the way of last year's season.
"If we don't inspire our fellow designers and the end user and the fashion media, then this is going to die within the next two or three years and it will just have been a really, really fast fashion fad."
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Jakarta Post (Indonesia): Is it really possible to save our biodiversity?
9 February 2010
By declaring 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity, the United Nations has demonstrated its strong commitment to saving threatened biodiversity around the world.
The fact that the most diverse ecosystem on Earth is the tropics should those us who live tropical countries more aware about threats to biodiversity.
Tropical forests contribute to large portions of nature’s rich diversity, just as coral reefs are a major component of marine biodiversity. The massive destruction of these species’ rich ecosystems will lead to a global species extinction crisis.
The question is then could we really save our biodiversity? I am pessimistic. An ecosystem is an integrated living system. The loss of one species does not only mean that we just lose that species, but also means it is a decline for the ecosystem.
Since humans are part of nature’s system, the loss will also affect human survival. The lost biodiversity may have medical importance or act as a biological control.
Habitat degradation is the major driver of extinctions of many tropical species. In many tropical countries, including Indonesia, deforestation is the major form of habitat loss.
It is predicted that about 2 million hectares of Indonesian forest have vanished every year. As a consequence, thousands of plants and animals have disappeared. Some probably have not been identified yet.
It has been long recognized that the main factor of deforestation human population pressures. Brown and Pearce (1994), for example, in their book The Causes of Tropical Deforestation noted that deforestation rates are strongly linked to population growth.
High population density means smaller areas of remaining forest in the tropics. The problem is not only high growth rates, but also badly distributed inhabitants.
Human population growth indeed affects biodiversity. However, over-exploitation of natural resources speeds up the disaster. Mining activities, timber extractions and land clearing for other purposes are main examples of direct impact of human economic activities.
Unfortunately, this condition is not only due to the economic needs of local people, but it is much more related to the greed of industrialization. In fact, mining activities, for example, do not contribute significantly to local economies. They usually just cause environmental problems for the locals.
As the magnitude of human influence continues to grow, most tropical forests are predicted to become secondary forests (see 2006 article by Wright and Muller-Landau in Biotropica, “The Future of Tropical Forest Species”). Secondary forests are forests regenerating after clearing; hence, the species composition is not the original ones. Primary forests in the tropics, which contain original compositions of plants and animals, are projected to be more restricted to low population density areas, relatively low value agricultural lands and protected areas.
Consequently, we are going to lose more and more biodiversity.
The increase in human density may not be avoided. However, more controlled population growth as well as managing its distribution is needed in order to save our ecosystems and biodiversity.
Ecosystem degradation means more than just a biodiversity loss, but again this will directly affect human survival on Earth. We need to make extraordinary efforts to save nature’s rich diversity.
Biodiversity plays an important role in human life. It is the source of food and medicine. Nature’s diversity also has intrinsic values that provide services for our souls.
Natural relaxation sometimes could provide us with unlimited energy. This is known as natural healing. Therefore, there should be strong connections between people and nature. Biodiversity is our life. The failure to acknowledge the important of nature biodiversity, or destroying them, is a failure to appreciate life itself.
However, more conservation areas do not always mean more protected species. There is still illegal hunting and trading of protected species. We need law enforcement for this. Besides, it is the time to educate people in order to appreciate biodiversity. We could start at schools. Children and teenagers should be taught that biodiversity is important part of life.
I sometimes wonder why we, as Indonesians, lack appreciation for other creatures. My own experience living in one city in Australia shows me how interesting it is to live together with wild animals. Birds play in our yards and on the parks.
We just need to sit outside our home to hear them sing and to watch them play. There are more than dozens of species on our yards. When the turtle-breeding season comes, we play on the beach, while watching small turtles make their way to the sea.
School kids come and watch and make sure that no predators catch the little turtles. These are activities that I never experienced even in my village on the Bukit Barisan Range, Sumatra.
Therefore, educating people about the importance of biodiversity is a very important step to saving our remaining biodiversity. It has to be taught since early years. We need to keep campaigning about this to the public.
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AFP: Climate change impact of soil underestimated: study
8 February 2010
Finnish researchers called for a revision of climate change estimates Monday after their findings showed emissions from soil would contribute more to climate warming than previously thought.
"A Finnish research group has proved that the present standard measurements underestimate the effect of climate warming on emissions from the soil," the Finnish Environment Institute said in a statement.
"The error is serious enough to require revisions in climate change estimates," it said, adding that all climate models used soil emission estimates based on measurements received using an erroneous method.
The institute said that while emissions from soil were known to have a significant influence on climate warming, previous studies took into account short-term measurements which gave "systematically biased estimates on the effects of climate change on the emissions."
The Finnish scientists' experiments in boreal forests used radiocarbon measurements and showed that the more abundant, slowly decomposing compounds in soil were more sensitive to rises in temperature, the statement said.
This showed "carbon dioxide emissions from the soil will be up to 50 percent higher than those suggested by the present mainstream method," if the mean global temperature rose by the previously forecasted five degrees Celsius before the end of the century, and if the carbon flow to soil did not increase.
The institute said a 100 to 200 percent increase of forest biomass was needed to offset the increasing carbon emissions from soil, whereas previous estimates called for a 70 to 80 percent increase.
The research was carried out by the Finnish Environment Institute, the Finnish Forest Research Institute and the Dating Laboratory of the Finnish Museum of Natural History at the University of Helsinki.
The results are published in the February issue of the journal Ecology, the statement said.
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NY Times (US):U.N. Climate Panel and Chief Face Credibility Siege
8 February 2010
Just over two years ago, Rajendra K. Pachauri seemed destined for a scientist’s version of sainthood: A vegetarian economist-engineer who leads the United Nations’ climate change panel, he accepted the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the panel, sharing the honor with former Vice President Al Gore.
But Dr. Pachauri and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are now under intense scrutiny, facing accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest from climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, called for Dr. Pachauri’s resignation last week.
Critics, writing in Britain’s Sunday Telegraph and elsewhere, have accused Dr. Pachauri of profiting from his work as an adviser to businesses, including Deutsche Bank and Pegasus Capital Advisors, a New York investment firm — a claim he denies.
They have also unearthed and publicized problems with the intergovernmental panel’s landmark 2007 report on climate change, which concluded that the planet was warming and that humans were likely to blame.
The report, they contend, misrepresents the state of scientific knowledge about diverse topics — including the rate of melting of Himalayan glaciers and the rise in severe storms — in a way that exaggerates the evidence for climate change.
With a global climate treaty under negotiation and legislation pending in the United States, the climate panel has found itself in the political cross hairs, its judgments provoking passions normally reserved for issues like abortion and guns. The panel is charged by the United Nations with reviewing research to create periodic reports on climate risks, documents that are often used by governments to guide decisions, and its every conclusion is being dissected under a microscope.
Several of the recent accusations have proved to be half-truths: While Dr. Pachauri does act as a paid consultant and adviser to many companies, he makes no money from these activities, he said.
The payments go to the Energy and Resources Institute, the prestigious nonprofit research center based in Delhi that he founded in 1982 and still leads, where the money finances charitable projects like Lighting a Billion Lives, which provides solar lanterns in rural India.
“My conscience is clear,” Dr. Pachauri said in a lengthy telephone interview.
The panel, in reviewing complaints about possible errors in its report, has so far found that one was justified and another was “baseless.” The general consensus among mainstream scientists is that the errors are in any case minor and do not undermine the report’s conclusions.
Still, the escalating controversy has led even many of them to conclude that the Nobel-winning panel needs improved scientific standards as well as a policy about what kinds of other work its officers may pursue.
“When I look at Dr. Pachauri’s case I see obvious and egregious problems,” said Dr. Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist and professor of environmental science at the University of Colorado. He said that serving as an adviser to financial companies was inappropriate for the chairman of the United Nations’ panel, whether Dr. Pachauri received payment directly or not.
Dr. Pachauri bristles at the accusations, which he says are “lies” or “distortions” promulgated by groups hoping to undermine climate legislation and a treaty.
“These people want to distort the picture for their own ends,” Dr. Pachauri said, noting that the report was released two years ago and that the criticisms were only now coming into the limelight. “What we’re doing is not only above-board, but laudable,” he said. “These guys want me to resign, but I won’t.”
Dr. Pachauri, 69, said the only work income he received was a salary from the Energy and Resources Institute: about $49,000, according to his 2009 Indian tax return, which he provided to The New York Times. The return also lists $16,000 in other income, most of it interest on accounts in Indian banks.
Dr. Pachauri acknowledged his role as an adviser and consultant to businesses, but he said that it was his responsibility as the panel’s chairman to disseminate its findings to industry.
Nonetheless, Christopher Monckton, a leading climate skeptic, called the panel corrupt, adding: “The chair is an Indian railroad engineer with very substantial direct and indirect financial vested interests in the matters covered in the climate panel’s report. What on earth is he doing there?”
A former adviser to Margaret Thatcher who also assailed Dr. Pachauri in a critique in Copenhagen that has since been widely circulated, Lord Monckton is now the chief policy adviser to the Science and Public Policy Institute, a Washington-based research and education institute that states on its Web site: “Proved: There is no climate crisis.”
As the accusations have snowballed in the last six weeks, Dr. Pachauri remains widely admired for his work on the intergovernmental panel, which relies on the collaborative work of hundreds of volunteer scientists to sift through current scientific evidence for its reports.
He has served in an elected, unpaid position as chairman of the panel, often known by its initials, I.P.C.C., since 2002.
“There is no evidence that outside interests affected Pachauri’s leadership of the I.P.C.C. at all,” said Hal Harvey, chief executive of ClimateWorks, a foundation based in San Francisco that focuses on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The panel’s process is so “robust and transparent” that it could not be undercut by “personalities or errors,” he said.
He added, “Anyone who is qualified to chair the I.P.C.C. will have interests in academics, science, politics or business; there are thousands of scientists on the I.P.C.C., and you need their expertise and they all have to come from somewhere.”
Many government panels in the United States tolerate overt conflicts of interest in order to get expert advice, Mr. Harvey said, noting that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase on its board.
But most scientific agencies have explicit conflict-of-interest policies to ensure that expert advice is impartial. The Food and Drug Administration, for example, asks doctors who serve on drug advisory panels to disclose payments from pharmaceutical companies and can disqualify those whose financial involvement is too great.
Dr. Pielke, the University of Colorado professor, said the United Nations panel, which has no explicit conflict policy, should do the same, adding, “You need to make sure that advice is advice and not stealth advocacy.”
Some critics have said that the intergovernmental panel’s chairman should be employed full time by the United Nations while in office, and should eschew outside commitments.
The accusations of errors in the panel’s report — most originating from two right-leaning British papers, The Sunday Telegraph and The Times of London — have sullied the group’s reputation. They follow a controversy that erupted late last year over e-mail messages and documents released without authorization from a climate research center in Britain.
In one case, the report included a sentence that said the Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. The sentence was based on a decade-old interview with a glaciologist in a popular magazine; the scientist now says he was misquoted. The panel recently expressed “regret” for the error.
The panel was also criticized for citing a study about financial losses after extreme weather events that found an increase in such losses of 2 percent a year from 1970 to 2005. That study had not been peer reviewed at the time, although it was later on.
The panel has called the complaint “baseless,” noting that the study was cited appropriately and that other scientific data pointed to a recent rise in severe storms.
Lord Monckton said the incidents reflected a pattern of willful misrepresentation by scientists with financial and professional interests that render them unsuitable to give neutral advice.
In response to the recent criticisms, Dr. Pachauri provided an accounting of some of his outside consulting fees paid to the Energy and Resources Institute.
Those include about $140,000 from Deutsche Bank, $25,000 from Credit Suisse, $80,000 from Toyota and $48,750 from Yale.
He has recently begun work as a strategic adviser for Pegasus, the investment firm, but has not yet attended a meeting, and no money has yet been paid to the Energy and Resources Institute. He has also provided advice free of charge to groups like the Chicago Climate Exchange.
The energy institute has financial interests in a number of companies. For example, it was awarded stock by the founders of GloriOil, a start-up based in Houston, in exchange for permission to use a method developed at the institute to extract residual oil from older wells.
“We thought about it long and hard, and decided to get involved in this because the U.S. has the largest number of these wells and it is better than drilling offshore or in Alaska,” Dr. Pachauri said.
The institute also provides paid consulting. For example, engineers at the institute are designing two Indian solar parks for the Clinton Climate Initiative.
Dr. Pachauri added that research institutes in poorer countries like India could not depend on government largess, as those in the United States did. The institute gets its money from a variety of sources, including the European Union, foundations and private companies.
“We have to generate our own resources from our work,” he said. “This is an institute that has pulled itself up by its bootstraps.”
But even some academics who accept that climate change is a problem are concerned about such activities.
“This is not about whether this is a good person or a good cause; it’s about the integrity of the scientific process,” Dr. Pielke said, adding: “This has become so polarized, it’s like you must be in cahoots with the bad guys if you are at all negative about Pachauri.”
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Guardian (UK): The case for climate action must be remade from the ground upwards
8 February 2010
What a difference three months makes. Back in November, the world broadly agreed that emissions of carbon dioxide were heating up the planet and that we needed to do something about it, even if we couldn't agree exactly what.
And though we'd had the usual pre-summit rollercoaster ride of dire predictions and naive exhortations (yes, I plead guilty to some of those), even hardheaded types dared to hope that Copenhagen might produce the basis of a global climate treaty.
As late as 7 December, 56 newspapers around the world could declare in a common, Guardian-led editorial: "The politicians in Copenhagen have the power to shape history's judgment on this generation: one that saw a challenge and rose to it, or one so stupid that we saw calamity coming but did nothing to avert it."
Now, with climate science under siege and climate politics in disarray, that sounds like the rhetoric of another age. The American commentator Walter Russell Mead recently captured the mood: "The global warming movement as we have known it is dead … basically, Sarah Palin 1, Al Gore zip." A senior British diplomat compares those trying to secure global action on climate change post-Copenhagen to "small groups wandering in different directions around the battlefield like a beaten army". A leading scientist offers an equally pithy assessment: "Everybody is completely clueless."
Not depressed yet? This weekend a BBC poll showed a dramatic fall in the number of people who believe warming is happening; carbon markets have tumbled; a Guardian survey of over 30 leading figures involved in climate negotiations found almost none who believed a global deal was possible this year; in Australia a man who described climate change as "absolute crap" could soon be prime minister.
What went wrong? How long have you got: the leak of the "climategate" emails that showed scientists behaving just as tribally as their detractors, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's great glacier meltdown (enough "gates" for now), the abject failure of Copenhagen, Obama's Massachusetts disaster and a bitterly cold winter in much of Europe and the US. If you doubt the effect of the last of these, take a look at stories like "The mini-ice age starts here" in the Daily Mail, or the website entitled If Global Warming Is Real Then Why Is It Cold?. Add to that lot a mildly hysterical binary culture in which the case for action on climate change is either unanswerable or in tatters, and the perfect storm is complete.
It's worth considering a few of these setbacks in a bit more detail. What Fred Pearce's brilliant investigation of the East Anglia emails, published last week in the Guardian, showed was embattled scientists doing some pretty shabby things: conspiring to keep sceptics out of journals, using every trick they could to avoid handing over data to their critics and, in at least one case, apparently trying to hide weaknesses in a major piece of research.
The apparent abuse of the peer review process is perhaps the most worrying aspect because it is meant to be the gold standard that allows us to distinguish credible science from pseudoscience.
It is hard to see how Phil Jones, the director of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit and some of his colleagues will escape censure for the behaviour Pearce exposed.
But it is also worth pointing out what neither he nor any other journalist has so far found: any evidence of scientists fiddling their results, or indeed anything that calls into question the scientific case that man is causing dangerous climate change.
Given that, some, particularly in the climate science community, have wondered why the Guardian devoted so much energy and space to excavating the affair. Myles Allen, a distinguished Oxford physicist, suggested on these pages that the Guardian was "hoping against hope to turn up a genuine error which fundamentally alters conclusions".
The truth couldn't be further away, but only by looking thoroughly under every rock can those of us pressing for action on climate change maintain with confidence that the scientific case remains sound.
Which brings us to the dismal case of the IPCC and the Himalayan glaciers. Many scientists are still bemused at how the expert panel could have made quite such an eye-watering howler: the prediction that the glaciers would melt by 2035 was not just wrong but wrong by a factor of 10. One scientist tells me that glaciologists had spotted the error and notified the IPCC about it as early as last September, but no effort was made to correct it.
One-off mistakes happen, of course, even in the most scrupulous organisations, but the glaciers affair seems to point to some wider problems.
The first is that not all IPCC-cited science is quite what the public imagined it to be. Landing with a thud every five years or so, the panel's vast "assessment reports" have been treated as scientific tablets of stone: Here is What We Know About Climate Change Now.
But many of us have been shocked to discover that some claims are based on research conducted by pressure groups, or even journalists.
Whereas so-called Working Group I, which deals with the pure science, is based almost exclusively on peer-reviewed work, Working Group II, on the impact of warming, leans heavily on "grey literature". Researchers argue that is necessary because peer review studies simply aren't available for many of the remote areas the report seeks to cover, but the result is a fat target for critics: In recent weeks there have been a string of stories about apparently flaky assertions in the report.
The IPCC's problems have been compounded by an approach to crisis management best characterised as "aim at foot, fire".
Having failed for months to correct the glacier error, the panel's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, then managed to come across as haughty and unapologetic.
The posse of journalists and bloggers now hounding him with (unfair, I think) allegations of venality and hypocrisy, will not stop till he has been cast into the rising sea.
The consequences (and causes) of the Copenhagen lash-up may take a little longer to divine. Certainly it showed that China was not ready to accept the constraints on its growth that a legally binding carbon settlement would entail. And that Europe was not prepared to lead the way to a low carbon world by cutting deeper in the hope that others would follow.
But whatever the full postmortem reveals, it is clear that the energy has drained from the push for a global deal. Before Copenhagen a senior British negotiator told me it was crucial that the politicians at least agreed a clear timetable to a legal deal: "We can go into extra time but we can't afford a replay." In his analogy the crowd have left the stadium and there is no scheduled replay.
Back then Gordon Brown warned that the world needed to seal a deal within the first six months of 2010. In the runup to a dangerous mid-term election, President Obama would not risk trying to push a controversial cap and trade bill through the US Congress.
And that was before the Democrats' shock defeat in Massachussets. Since then only the most relentless optimists – climate change secretary Ed Miliband among them – suggest this year might see the US climate bill many regard as the necessary prerequisite for a global deal.
So far, so grim, but what can be done? First, climate scientists must make a public commitment to greater openness.
They should acknowledge that the huge implications and importance of what they do mean the public expect and are entitled to a greater degree of scrutiny of their work.
They should repudiate the laager mentality and evasions of the East Anglia researchers. Instead of grudgingly yielding to Freedom of Information requests, they should publish their data and workings online wherever possible.
In the longer term more open ways of reviewing science should be explored. Royal Society president Martin Rees talks about an Amazon-style system where reviewers can openly rate papers online.
It is in this spirit that the Guardian will today publish Pearce's full 28,000 word account of the East Anglia emails affair online and invite anyone involved to tell us if we've got it right.
Then, the case for action must be remade from the ground up. It's no good politicians and scientists going on TV and insisting that the overwhelming body of climate science has not been touched by the scandals.
They need to go back to first principles and explain how we know that CO2 causes warming, how we know CO2 levels are rising, how we know it's our fault, and how we can predict what is likely to happen if we don't act.
Next, the credibility of the IPCC – or some form of scientific high court – must be restored. In the short term that means appointing independent experts to review any alleged errors in the panel's reports.
At the same time the IPCC should renounce, or at least severely restrict the use of, grey literature. "If that means you can't be comprehensive then don't be," says a senior scientist advocating this course. There is a strong case for more radical reforms: the panel should arguably be replaced by a body controlled by national scientific academies rather than governments.
Those who want action on climate change will meanwhile have to accept a more incremental approach.
Mead describes the effort to secure a global deal as "like asking a jellyfish to climb a flight of stairs; you can poke and prod all you want, you can cajole and you can threaten. But you are asking for something that you just can't get".
Even the head of an NGO who has argued passionately for a binding, comprehensive deal tells me: "Maybe you've got to unpick the uber-deal and work out which bits are possible to do now, and build confidence."
Finally, anyone who cares about this issue must fight to keep it alive. With Barack Obama embroiled in a domestic political battle, powerful advocates like Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown likely soon to exit the stage and European leaders notably reticent in Copenhagen, it is hard to see where the political leadership for a global deal will come from. So it may fall to civil society – to individuals, organisations and businesses – to pick up the baton. The choice remains the one described in that global editorial, only now the answer is likely to be decided by us.
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Telegraph (UK): Climate change research bungle
6 February 2010
The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), of which Dr Rajendra Pachauri is the director-general, has given corporate awards to companies such as Pepsi and Honda, as well as Indian businesses.
Those same companies have given financial backing to Teri through grants or paid-for consultancy work.
According to Teri’s own website, Dr Pachauri and his wife are on the jury panel for the 2010 awards. Dr Pachauri has been on the jury panel for the awards in previous years.
The disclosure will lead to further questions over possible conflict of interest against Dr Pachauri, whose position as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is already under threat over errors in its reports.
The Department for International Development (DfID) has pledged to give Teri up to £10 million in grants over five years but will subject the institute to an “institutional assessment”, expected to take at least five months, before handing over any of the money.
Among the companies that have received Teri corporate awards is Hero Honda, a joint venture between the Japanese car company and an Indian firm that manufactures millions of motorbikes every year.
It is described on the institute’s website as a major sponsor and was joint second in Teri’s Environmental Excellence Award in 2008.
Another major sponsor, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, won the Corporate Social Responsibility Award in 2004.
PepsiCo India, which received first prize in 2009 for its business response to Aids, pays Teri for a project studying water quality in a local community.
It has also emerged that Teri’s biggest single sponsor, BP India, which has provided £6 million, paid for dinner and drinks at an event publicising Dr Pachauri’s debut novel. A BP spokesman said it was entirely legitimate to fund the dinner, the company having enjoyed a “long association with Dr Pachauri”.
He confirmed that the firm gave Teri $9.5 million (£6.1 million) between 2006 and 2009 for planting 8,000 hectares of jatropha, a type of bush, as part of a bio-diesel research project.
Dr Pachauri has repeatedly denied any conflict of interest between his work for the IPCC and his work for Teri. In a recent letter to The Sunday Telegraph, he said there was “no question” of either himself, the IPCC or Teri being influenced by associations with organisations.
Supporters of Dr Pachauri point to a series of projects that have had huge benefits across India. Coca-Cola, another Teri sponsor, was praised in 2008 when it agreed to close its bottling plant in Rajasthan after Teri informed the company that its operation was reducing groundwater levels at an alarming rate.
A former employee who spent two years at Teri said Dr Pachauri was continually concerned about funding.
“At every single meeting I attended in two years, the only topic was funding,” she said.
The ex-employee gave a fascinating insight into the workings of the institute. When Dr Pachauri, who is described on his personal website as “an international statesman promoting climate change awareness”, marked his birthday a few years ago, the staff were shown a homemade video of their boss’s life story.
“I was appalled when they showed a 10-minute film on Pachauri,” said the
ex-employee. “It showed Pachauri as an infant, Pachauri as a toddler, Pachauri at school, Pachauri playing cricket, Pachauri getting married. It was all about ‘Pachauri the Great’ and his achievements.”
There was a large cake and a birthday card “as big as a wall” dutifully signed by
Teri-ers, as staff at the institute call themselves.
The man who effectively shapes world policy on climate change was born in 1940 in a hill station in northern India.
Dr Pachauri’s father studied for a doctorate in educational psychology at the University of London while his mother, according to Dr Pachauri’s home page, “educated and provided her son with the high standards that have enabled him to cope with his ever-increasing workload”.
He went to La Martiniere, a boarding school for the Indian upper middle classes. Cricket is an obsession and his website devotes a whole section to his achievements, detailing such landmarks as his 300th wicket.
The website declares: “Apart from being a professional medium pace bowler, Dr Pachauri is also a good top-order batsman and a fielder with a sharp catching arm.
“Batsmanship comes naturally to Dr Pachauri, who can be compared to the very best as a natural striker of the ball.”
Dr Pachauri graduated as a mechanical engineer and was chief engineer with the Diesel Locomotive Works before studying engineering and then economics in the US.
Returning in India in the late 1970s, he became director of the Tata Energy Research Institute.
Later, Dr Pachauri would unilaterally drop Tata from the title and now, according to sources, Tata, one of India’s largest conglomerates, wants little to do with him.
Teri brought him to worldwide attention and he was a lead author with the IPCC before becoming chairman in 2002.
Since his election and subsequent re-election, Dr Pachauri has opened himself up to accusations of hypocrisy, urging the population to follow in his footsteps and become vegetarians to cut down on methane while at the same time travelling the world, clocking up environmentally unfriendly air miles.
Last Monday he first gave an interview to The Economist where he declared he had no idea the size of his salary but later that day he told The Guardian he earned £30,000 a year. He lives in an inherited house reported to be worth millions in Delhi’s most expensive neighbourhood.
A DfID spokesman described Teri as a “globally respected institution”.
“Their accounts are externally audited and annually submitted to the government of India,” he said.
“As is routine, DfID is undertaking a full institutional assessment of Teri as part of our due diligence process.”
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Telagraph (UK): Climate makes money move in mysterious ways
6 February 2010
In all the coverage lately given to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and its embattled chairman, Dr Rajendra Pachauri, one rather important part of the story has largely been missed.
This is the way in which, in its obsession with climate change, different branches of the UK Government have in recent years been pouring hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers' money into a bewildering array of "climate-related" projects, often throwing a veil of mystery over how much is being paid, to whom and why.
To begin with a small example. Everyone has now heard of "Glaciergate", the inclusion in the IPCC's 2007 report of a wild claim it was recently forced to disown, that by 2035 all Himalayan glaciers will have melted. In 2001 the Department for International Development (DfID) spent £315,277 commissioning a team of British scientists to investigate this prediction.
After co-opting its Indian originator, Dr Syed Hasnain, they reported in 2004 that his claim was just a scare story. Some glaciers were retreating, others were not.
There was no way they could disappear in a time-span shorter than many centuries.
Three years later, however, when the IPCC produced its 2007 report, it endorsed Dr Hasnain's claim without any mention of the careful UK-funded study which had shown it to be false.
What made this particularly shocking was that in 2008 another British ministry, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) announced that it had paid £1,436,000 to fund all the support needed to run the same IPCC working group which, as we now know from a senior IPCC author, had included the bogus claim in its report.
But the story did not stop there. In a report to Parliament the same year, Defra stated that its funding of the IPCC working group had been not £1.4 million but only £543,816. It was also in 2008 that Dr Hasnain was recruited by Dr Pachauri to work in his Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (Teri), where his spurious claim was used to win Teri a share in two lucrative studies of the effects of the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers.
The trail into this tangled undergrowth began last December, when Dr Richard North and I were trying to track down 11 payments made by four separate government departments for projects involving Teri Europe, the London-based branch of Dr Pachauri's institute.
We were struck by how reluctant the ministries often seemed to be to reveal how much they had paid under these contracts. What's more, why was UK taxpayers' money being used to fund these projects in the first place?
Why in 2005, for instance, did Defra pay Teri for a study designed to help the Indian insurance industry make money out of the risks of global warming?
Why was the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) sponsoring a study into how Indian industry could make billions out of "carbon credits", paid by Western firms under the bizarre UN scheme known as the Clean Development Mechanism?
Typical of this curiously opaque world was a payment by Defra to fund the work of an unnamed "head of unit" on something called the IPCC Synthesis Report, of which Dr Pachauri was co-editor.
This money was paid to Cambridge University (department unnamed), to be forwarded to Teri Europe, then sent on to the anonymous recipient in Delhi, whose email address was Teri India.
On one part of the Defra website this payment was given as £30,417. However, the same Defra report to Parliament which had under-declared the payment to the IPCC's working group now gave this payment as only £5,800. (The IPCC itself meanwhile paid Teri a further £400,000 for its work on the Synthesis Report, although it was only 52 pages.)
The same Defra report to Parliament includes a whole string of other climate-change-related projects, covering three pages, many just as mysterious.
Why, for instance, have UK taxpayers shelled out £239,538 to unnamed recipients for a study of "Climate change impacts on Chinese agriculture"? Or £230,895 for a "research programme on climate change impacts in India"? Or £57,500 on the "Brazilian proposal support group"?
The largest single payment on Defra's list, and almost the only recipient identified, was
£13,315,168 given to the Hadley Centre itself for its Climate Predictions Programme. This is just a tiny part of the money UK taxpayers have been contributing for years to assist the work of the IPCC: the Hadley Centre alone has been handed £179 million.
A key player in the setting up of the IPCC in 1988 was Dr John Houghton, then head of the Met Office. He persuaded Mrs Thatcher to fund him in launching the Hadley Centre in 1990, which has played a central role in the IPCC ever since. Part of the price we pay for Hadley exercising such disproportionate influence in the IPCC is that Britain has made a similarly disproportionate contribution to the cost of running the panel's operations.
Then why should DfID have paid £30 million to assist "climate change adaptation in Africa"; or £2.5 million for the same in China? Why in 2002 should UK taxpayers have given £200,000 to pay for delegates from developing nations to attend a "Rio Earth Summit" conference in Johannesburg, and another £120,000 for green activists to attend the same shindig – let alone £10,000 for a "workshop on women as 'sacred custodians' of the Earth", to "explore the spiritual, religious and philosophical views concerning women and ecology and the policy implications of these belief systems"?
Only rarely do the government departments funding all these shadowy activities shout pubiicly about how they are spending our money – as when last September DfID's Douglas Alexander was happy to get publicity for flying to Delhi to give Dr Pachauri £10 million to pay for his institute to examine how India's poverty could be reduced by "sustainable development".
Similarly, in 2008, our then energy minister Malcolm Wicks flew to Japan to boast that the UK was "the world's largest donor" to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, pledging another £2.5 million of taxpayers' money, on top of £9 million Britain had already paid into this scheme since its launch in 2003.
Again, more than one ministry is responsible for funding this programme, as when DfID pays for a "research agenda on climate change and development", while the FCO sponsors yet another study into "clean development mechanisms".
Contemplating the impenetrable maze of payments made by various ministries to the UN, the EU, banks, research institutes, teams of academics, NGOs, environmental and industrial lobby groups and "charitable foundations" – often through chains of "funding vehicles" which may give only the most nebulous idea of their purpose – we can get little idea what is the total amount of taxpayers' money flooding out from all our different branches of officialdom.
The ministries involved have not seemed exactly keen to help sort out all these mysteries and confusions. What does seem clear is that our Government doesn't really want us to know all the sums involved, who many of the recipients are or why most of these payments are being made in the first place.
Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs publishes an interesting note on the Money Laundering Regulations.
This lists 26 "suspicious indications" which should attract attention to the possibility that a financial transaction might need investigating. These range from "checking identity is proving difficult" or "reluctance to provide information requested" to "unnecessary routing of funds through third parties" and "transactions having no purpose" or "which seem to involve unnecessary complexity".
Any such "suspicious indications", we are told, should prompt the filling in of a "101 form" to report dubious financial dealings to the authorities.
But a good many of them would seem to apply only too neatly to the veil of obscurity our Government draws over the astronomical sums it is paying out in support of its religious belief in "climate change".
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AFP: Global warming an Olympic worry, says Rogge
8 February 2010
Global warming is starting to worry the International Olympic Committee, with concern mounting over how it might affect future Games.
IOC president Jacques Rogge said it was an issue discussed in meetings on Monday ahead of the Winter Olympics here, with the issue of Cypress Mountain, just outside of Vancouver, highlighting the problem.
The mountain is the site for the freestyle and snowboard events but has been plagued by a drastic lack of snow caused by the warm temperatures which have seen Vancouver enjoying unseasonal highs of around 10C (50F).
Lorry loads of snow have been carted in to the venue and media banned from visiting in an effort to get it ready in time.
"Global warming of course is a worry, it is a worry for the entire world," Rogge said.
"It might affect, in the long-term, the staging of Winter Games but I can tell you that today in the evaluation committee meeting we asked for statistics.
"It is very clear that we want to know what the snow conditions are in a particular resort. Of course, this is not a guarantee for the future.
"But we are doing good research on this. There is also the improvement in artifical snow machines and everything that has been put in place in Cypress Mountain, for example, to alleviate changes in meteorology."
Rogge said global warming would be a key issue examined in awarding any future Winter Olympics.
"Global warming is definitely a factor that must be taken into account in Olympic preparations," he said.
"In awarding the event to a host city, we must look at the climate and snow conditions and geography, as well as ways to alleviate any lack of snow."
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AFP: US government plans new climate service
8 February 2010
US President Barack Obama's administration announced plans Monday for a new office handling climate change, aiming to help businesses chart future plans as the nation shifts to a greener economy.
The first practical effect was the creation of a website, www.climate.gov, which came online Monday and brings together government resources on climate change for business, scholars and the general public.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that the new Climate Service would help businesses on subjects such as wind power by providing data on wind patterns which they would need to expand.
"The bottom line is this -- the better climate information that alternative energy companies have, the more profitable they can be, the more jobs they can create and the more they can actually meet the energy demands of our country and indeed the world," he told reporters.
Locke compared the initiative to the National Weather Service, which he said had spurred a private industry of forecasters who benefit from the government data.
The Climate Service would bring together resources now spread throughout the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency that falls under the Commerce Department. It will also have six regional offices across the country.
Locke said he expected that the Climate Service would be running before the start of the 2011 fiscal year. He said the administration would first consult with Congress, although he did not believe any new legislation was needed.
The Climate Service marks the latest effort by the Obama administration to act on climate change despite an uncertain political terrain.
The House of Representatives last year approved a landmark plan to impose the first US nationwide caps on emissions of carbon dioxide, which scientists say is causing a dangerous heating of the planet.
But the legislation is stalled in the Senate, where Obama's Democratic Party last month lost a seat to a critic of the climate bill.
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Guardian (UK): Climate scientists hit out at 'sloppy' melting glaciers error
8 February 2010
Climate scientists who worked on the UN panel on global warming have hit out at "sloppy" colleagues from other disciplines who introduced a mistake about melting glaciers into the landmark 2007 report.
The experts, who worked on the section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that considered the physical science of global warming, say the error by "social and biological scientists" has unfairly maligned their work. Some said that Rajendra Pachauri, the panel's chair, should resign, though others supported him.
The IPCC report combined the output from three independent working groups, which separately considered the science, impacts and human response to climate change, and published their findings several months apart.
The report from working group two, on impacts, included a false claim that Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035, which was sourced to a report from campaign group WWF. The IPCC was forced to issue a statement of regret, though Pachauri and senior figures on the panel have refused to apologise for the mistake.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, several lead authors of the working group one (WG1) report, which produced the high-profile scientific conclusions that global warming was unequivocal and very likely down to human activity, told the Guardian they were dismayed by the actions of their colleagues.
"Naturally the public and policy makers link all three reports together," one said. "And the blunder over the glaciers detracts from the very carefully peer-reviewed science used exclusively in the WG1 report."
Another author said: "There is no doubt that the inclusion of the glacier statement was sloppy. I find it embarrassing that working group two (WG2) would have the Himalaya statement referred to in the way it was."
Another said: "I am annoyed about this and I do think that WG1, the physical basis for climate change, should be distinguished from WG2 and WG3. The latter deal with impacts, mitigation and socioeconomics and it seems to me they might be better placed in another arm of the United Nations, or another organisation altogether."
The scientists were particularly unhappy that the flawed glacier prediction contradicted statements already published in their own report. "WG1 made a proper assessment of the state of glaciers and this should have been the source cited by the impacts people in WG2," one said. "In the final stages of finishing our own report, we as WG1 authors simply had no time to also start double-checking WG2 draft chapters."
Another said the mistake was made "not by climate scientists, but rather the social and biological scientists in WG2 ... Clearly that WWF report was an inappropriate source, [as] any glaciologist would have stumbled over that number."
The discovery of the glaciers mistake has focused attention on the IPCC's use of so-called grey literature: reports that do not appear in conventional scientific journals, and are instead drawn from sources such as campaign groups, companies and student theses. The IPCC's rules allow such grey literature, but many people have been surprised at the scale of its inclusion.
The report from WG2 cited the erroneous WWF report again, though not the glacier claim, in a separate section on human health, and also referenced reports from Greenpeace, the World Resources Institute, wildlife trade group Traffic as well as insurance companies Swiss Re and Axa. Working group three draws extensively on grey literature, including a newspaper article from the Asia Times.
Most WG1 scientists contacted by the Guardian defended the use of grey literature. "In many cases these reports have to use grey literature and anecdotal evidence because there is nothing else available, for example reports of sea level rise on small island states."
Another author said: "Part of the problem is that WG2 largely involves the social science community. They are more used to referring to a diversity of sources, in fact, expert opinion is also an important analysis tool in the social sciences."
Several authors defended Pachauri and the IPCC process. "The IPCC is not a hierarchical, top-down organisation. The chapter authors have great freedom in writing their assessment without interference from the top, and so it should be."
The IPCC correction combined with the release of private emails from global warming scientists at the University of East Anglia has raised suggestions of a crisis in climate science.
"This is a transient and manufactured crisis and will likely go away with time," one IPCC author said. "What the science community needs is a few huge donors to throw millions of dollars behind PR campaigns to counter the propaganda out there. We are being attacked through baseless smear campaigns and we are not PR experts."
They added: "The sad reality is this whole manufactured climate controversy is like arguing over the dinner menu on the Titanic as it sinks. The fact is, the climate is warming. Do we want to deal with this problem or not? Do we owe anything to future generations who are not here today to be part of the decision-making process. Science and the IPCC cannot answer these questions."
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Shidi (China): 澳门两部门合作保育红树林 改良湿地生态功能
9 February 2010
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ROA MEDIA UPDATE
THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Tuesday, 09 February, 2010
General environment news