Dutch agency admits error in UN climate reportIndia
TOI - The Times of India
CLIM calentamiento global
A leading Dutch environment agency reported Monday that the seminal 2007 UN scientific report on climate change is too generalized and has even more errors than discovered so far - including one contributed by the agency itself.
But the review by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency claimed the errors had no effect on the fundamental conclusion by UN panel of scientists: that global warming caused by humans already is happening.
Glaring mistakes discovered in the 3,000-page report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change last year fed into an atmosphere of skepticism over the reliability of climate scientists who have been warning for many years that human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases could have catastrophic consequences, including rising sea levels, drought and the extinction of nearly one-third of the Earth's species.
The errors put scientists on the defensive just as a major conference on climate change in Copenhagen, attended by some 120 world leaders, met with limited success to agree on how to limit carbon emissions and contain the worst effects of global warming.
The Dutch agency acknowledged responsibility for one mistake by the IPCC when it reported in 2005 that 55 per cent of the Netherlands is below sea level, when only 26 per cent is. The report should have said 55 per cent is prone to flooding, including river flooding.
"The incorrect wording in the IPCC report does not affect the message of the conclusion," that the Netherlands is highly susceptible to sea level rise, it said. "The lesson to be learned for an assessment agency such as ours is that quality control is needed at the primary level."
The second previously reported error claimed the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035, which the Dutch agency partly traced to a report on the likely shrinking of glaciers by the year 2350.
The review, which lasted six months, also found several other errors in the IPCC report on regional impacts of climate change - one of four separate IPCC reports in 2007 - although it said they were inconsequential.
The original report said global warming will put 75 million to 250 million Africans at risk of severe water shortages in the next 10 years, but a recalculation showed that range should be 90 million to 220 million, the agency said.
Another error it found involved the effect of wind turbulence on anchovy fisheries on Africa's west coast.
The Dutch agency said it examined 32 conclusions in the summary that the IPCC produced as a guideline for policy makers on the impact of climate change in eight regions.
Some conclusions were based on "insufficiently founded generalizations," and it found instances where the scientific references were unclear.
"Our findings do not contradict the main conclusions of the IPCC," the report said. "There is ample observational evidence of natural systems being influenced by climate change ... (that) pose substantial risks to most parts of the world."
It said future IPCC reports should have a more robust review process and should look more closely at where information comes from. It also recommended more investment in monitoring global warming in developing countries.
The IPCC, in a statement from its Geneva headquarters, welcomed the Dutch agency's findings that confirmed the IPCC's conclusion that "continued climate change will pose serious challenges to human well-being and sustainable development."
It said it will "pay close attention" to the agency's recommendations.
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