The IPCC's chairman wants us to forget all those scandals about hockey sticks and HImalayan glaciers.
One of the more bizarre episodes of the week was the arrival in London of Dr Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, as part of what appears to be a concerted bid to rehabilitate the IPCC after the deluge of scandals that assailed it last year. The line he took in several cosy interviews, with the BBC and others, was that the IPCC’s 2007 report made only “a single mistake” – its prediction that the Himlayan glaciers might all have disappeared by 2035. Otherwise, we are asked to believe, the IPCC’s reputation as a fount of utterly reliable, “peer-reviewed” science survives unscathed.
What this campaign is trying to erase, of course, is the memory of just why those scandals so damaged the IPCC’s authority that it can never be recovered. The absurd claim about the Himalayan glaciers, derived via the WWF and deliberately inserted over protests from one of the IPCC’s own senior scientists, was only one of the report’s alarmist predictions which turned out to have no scientific basis at all. Other scary claims, such as that global warming threatened to halve African crop yields or to destroy 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest, were shown to have been simply the inventions of activists. All this took place under the chairmanship of Dr Pachauri, who continues to insist that the IPCC based its report solely on “peer-reviewed science”. Yet an exhaustive study has shown that some 30 per cent of its 18,531 sources were drawn – in flagrant breach of the IPCC’s own rules – not from peer-reviewed science, but from press clippings, student theses and propaganda by environmental pressure groups.
These revelations – along with the further shameless breaches of the rules involved in the IPCC’s tortuous attempts to defend its famous “hockey stick” temperature graph – were so damaging that, last August, even the world’s leading scientific academies hinted in a report that perhaps Dr Pachauri should step down. Yet still, a year on, here is the old railway engineer popping up to assure deferential interviewers that the IPCC purveys only the finest, peer-reviewed science. And on such snake oil much of the world’s economic future may depend.
For all these 'cuts', we still have to borrow one pound in every five
With its fixation on government “cuts”, the BBC was quick to headline, on our local BBC West website, the noble gesture of Amanda Deeks, chief executive of South Gloucestershire council, in agreeing to take a “5 per cent” pay cut, thus reducing her salary to a mere £155,000. This is only £14,000 more than that of the Prime Minister. Admittedly the BBC failed to notice, on page 28 of the council’s accounts, that Ms Deeks also receives, courtesy of the taxpayer, a further £25,000 a year towards her pension.
What the BBC seems reluctant ever to tell us is that, to fund the shortfall in our public spending of £700 billion, we are still having to borrow £140 billion a year. This means that the Government is still having to borrow 20 per cent, or one pound in every five, of all it spends.
Although Ms Deeks may miss that 5 per cent of her salary, we must still borrow another 15 per cent of it, to keep her in the style to which she is accustomed. But of course we cannot expect the BBC to tell us anything so subversive.