Hodjanernes Blog

18 december 2009

Den ubekvemme sandhed om malaria

Al Gore has made bold claims that climate change is aiding the spread of insect-borne diseases.

The science does not support him, says Paul Reiter.

I am a scientist, not a climatologist, so I don’t dabble in climatology. My speciality is the epidemiology of mosquito-borne diseases. As the film began, I knew Mr Gore would get to mosquitoes: they’re a favourite with climate-change activists. When he got to them, it was all I feared.

[…]

In 2004, nine of us published an appeal in the Lancet: ‘Malaria and climate change: a call for accuracy’. Clearly, Mr Gore didn’t read it. In 2000, I protested when Scientific American published a major article loaded with the usual misrepresentations. And when I watched his animated mosquitoes, his snow-capped mountain was oddly familiar. It took a few moments to click: the images were virtually identical to those in the magazine. The author of the article, Dr Paul Epstein, features high in Gore’s credits.

Dr Epstein is a member of a small band dedicated to a cause. And their work gains legitimacy, not by scholarship, but by repetition. While they publish their work in highly regarded journals, they don’t write research papers but opinion pieces and reviews, with little or no reference to the mainstream of science. The same claims, the same names; only the order of authors change. I have counted 48 separate pieces by just eight activists. They are myth-makers. And all have been lead authors and/or contributory authors of the prestigious IPCC assessment reports.

[…]

When the Bush government nominated me as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), I knew I hadn’t a snowball’s chance of being accepted. The IPCC, supposedly formed of thousands of the world’s top scientists, is an ‘Intergovernmental’ panel. Governments nominate the authors, governments make their selections from those nominations, and governments must approve of all reports, line by line, before they are published. Moreover, the IPCC is a UN organisation, so its ‘top scientists’ are drawn from the 192 member countries of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Each chapter must include two authors from developing countries and at least one from an emerging economy. Clearly, the people of the Maldives are not going to nominate a scientist like me, but if they did, I doubt the project would get very far: the IPCC Working Group II, based in Exeter, somehow happened to lose my nomination from their database. 

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