Amazongate : Why Investigate ?

The Climate Change “sceptics” are calling it “Amazongate”. I’d rather like to rename it “Investigate”, because of the appalling lack of investigative journalism that surrounds latest news of the Science of the Amazon basin.

Why is it that so many mainstream newspapers repeat the same lazy accusation that somebody has uncovered “yet another error” in the IPCC report ? This looks like a flawed attempt to create a narrative of scandal, where there is actually nothing to find.

Many expert commentators have tried to explain that, yes, the IPCC had a couple of problems, where they have used information that was not peer-reviewed Science, and findings that other experts disagree with. But no, the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report still stands, and is still the best statement that Sciencekind can give on the subject of Climate Change.

There is no evidence of the kind of wrongdoing in the work of the IPCC that the Climate Change “sceptics” claim. So why do the journalists carry on with the narrative of doubt ? Could it have something to do with the fact that they don’t check the facts ?

And why do most of the mainsteam news organisations take the same line, with the same sloppy thinking and poor arguments replicated in article after article ? Could it be that there is no investigative journalism left these days ?

Why does it have to fall to the independent web loggers to point out the facts ? Why can’t the newspapers at least hire Environment writers who have studied Climate Change Science ?

If today’s crop of independent commentation on Amazongate is anything to go by, critiquing the poverty of the coverage by the mainstream Media; moguls the length and breadth of the globe should really start to pay attention to the appalling quality of their Environmental journalism :-

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/03/up-is-down-brown-is-green-with-apologies-to-orwell/

“Up is Down, Brown is Green (with apologies to Orwell) : Filed under: Climate Science — eric @ 15 March 2010 : In the alternate universe of Fox News, Anthony Watts, and many others, up is down. Now, it appears, brown is green. Following the total confusion over the retraction of a paper on sea level, claims of another “mistake” by the IPCC are making the rounds of the blogosphere. This time, the issue is the impact of rainfall changes on the Amazon rainforest. A study in 2007 showed that the forest gets greener when it rains less. A new study, by Samanta et al. in Geophysical Research Letters shows that the earlier work was flawed. Aided by an apparently rather careless press release, this is being used as evidence that the Amazon is less sensitive to rainfall changes than the IPCC claimed. But the Samanta et al. paper actually does not address the central questions at all. It only addresses whether a single anomalous rainfall year had an impact that is measureable and interpretable from a satellite sensor. The conclusion is that they could not detect a change. As noted in a commentary from Simon Lewis, University of Leeds, “the critical question is how these forests respond to repeated droughts, not merely single-year droughts.”…”

http://www.desmogblog.com/it-takes-more-dead-trees-make-credible-newspaper

“15 March 10 : It Takes More than Dead Trees to Make a Credible Newspaper : An article in last week’s British paper, The Telegraph, claimed that the IPCC had made yet another significant mistake – this time overstating the sensitivity of the Amazon rainforest to drought. It turns out that the article severely misrepresented the state of the science. While that one very dry year did not produce the kind of vegetation changes detectible by satellite imagery, it did, in fact, kill a number of trees, turning the rainforest from a “sink” that absorbed 2 billion tons of CO2, to a “source” of even more CO2 from the resulting number of dead trees. The culpa for an initial post to Desmogblog, taking the IPCC to task, is exclusively mea…”

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/03/its_always_bad_news_for_the_ip.php

“DELTOID : IT’S ALWAYS BAD NEWS FOR THE IPCC : NO MATTER WHAT THE RESULT OF NEW SCIENTIFIC STUDIES ARE, BIASED MEDIA PRESENTS THEM AS PROVING THAT THE IPCC IS WRONG. : It’s always bad news for the IPCC : Posted on: March 14, 2010 2:54 AM, by Tim Lambert : Back in 2007 a paper, Amazon Forests Green-Up During 2005 Drought, was published in Science: “Coupled climate-carbon cycle models suggest that Amazon forests are vulnerable to both long- and short-term droughts, but satellite observations showed a large-scale photosynthetic green-up in intact evergreen forests of the Amazon in response to a short, intense drought in 2005. These findings suggest that Amazon forests, although threatened by human-caused deforestation and fire and possibly by more severe long-term droughts, may be more resilient to climate changes than ecosystem models assume.” This finding that the Amazon was more resilient than previously thought was reported in the London Times and the New York Times. Now a new paper contradicting the previous paper, Amazon forests did not green-up during the 2005 drought has been published: “We find no evidence of large-scale greening of intact Amazon forests during the 2005 drought – approximately 11%-12% of these drought-stricken forests display greening, while, 28%-29% show browning or no-change, and for the rest, the data are not of sufficient quality to characterize any changes. These changes are also not unique – approximately similar changes are observed in non-drought years as well.” So how does this get reported? Here’s Terence Corcoran in the National Post: “But this week new research supports the original Amazongate version of the science. The Amazon may not be at risk from climate change. Researchers at Boston University, headed by Ranga B. Myneni, professor of geography and environment, found that satellite readings used by other scientists were based on contaminated data. In a paper published by Geophysical Research Letters, Prof. Myneni and associates say they found no evidence that the Amazon suffers extreme tree mortality, excessive forest greening or other trauma under extreme climate conditions. The Myneni paper examined the impact on the Amazon of a major 2005 drought. Some scientists have argued that the 2005 drought caused significant rainforest disturbances. But Prof. Myneni says that science is based on satellite data that cannot be reproduced because much of it is “atmosphere corrupted.”” Don’t you love the way Corcoran describes greening as “significant disturbances” and implies that the earlier study found “extreme tree mortality” rather than geening? But while Corcoran is being deceitful, you can’t blame this all on him…”

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