We all recall Phil Jones saying
Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !
It seems he wasn’t the only one playing hard and fast with peer-review. Following hot on the heels of GlacierGate, we have another IPCC scandal on our hands. GlacierGate revealed that the IPCC would copy anything off the internet and pass it off as peer-reviewed research. Well they have been caught out doing it again.
What attracted our attention most, however, was this claim
According to the IPCC, climate change could halve yields from rain-fed crops in parts of Africa as early as 2020, and put 50 million more people worldwide at risk of hunger. [Pg. 2]
We looked to see if it was true. All we could find in the IPCC report was this.
In other [African] countries, additional risks that could be exacerbated by climate change include greater erosion, deficiencies in yields from rain-fed agriculture of up to 50% during the 2000-2020 period, and reductions in crop growth period (Agoumi, 2003). [IPCC WGII, Page 448. 9.4.4]
Oxfam cite the IPCC, but the citation belongs to Agoumi. The IPCC reference his study properly:
Agoumi, A., 2003: Vulnerability of North African countries to climatic changes: adaptation and implementation strategies for climatic change. Developing Perspectives on Climate Change: Issues and Analysis from Developing Countries and Countries with Economies in Transition. IISD/Climate Change Knowledge Network, 14 pp. (PDF).
There is only limited discussion of “deficiencies in yields from rain-fed agriculture” in that paper, and its focus is not ‘some’ African countries, but just three: Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria. It is not climate research. It is a discussion about the possible effects of climate change. All that the report actually says in relation to the IPCC quote, is that,
Studies on the future of vital agriculture in the region have shown the following risks, which are linked to climate change:
• greater erosion, leading to widespread soil degradation;
• deficient yields from rain-based agriculture of up to 50 per cent during the 2000–2020 period;
• reduced crop growth period;
Most interestingly, the study was not simply produced by some academic working in some academic department, for publication in some peer-reviewed journal. Instead, it was published by The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
This is the fundamental problem
That the IPCC is citing non-peer-reviewed, non-scientific research from quasi governmental semi-independent sustainability advocacy organisations must say something about the dearth of scientific or empirical research. The paper in question barely provides any references for its own claims, yet by virtue of merely appearing in the IPCC’s 2007 AR4 report, a single study, put together by a single researcher, becomes “consensus science”.
This is not about Oxfam and this is not about the IISD – they are lobby groups who undertake research and advocacy work and so on. The IPCC have again been caught quoting second hand unrefereed sources to make their case. Generally there is nothing wrong with that, but the IPCC have set higher standards for themselves and we can plainly see that they are failing to maintain those standards.
In the comments at Pielke’s blog we see this gem by Richard Tol
This story must be wrong. The IPCC has just told us that there was only one error in the whole the Fourth Assessment Report.
Indeed. How much longer before people start referring to the ‘now discredited’ 2007 IPCC report.