One interesting Lead Author in chapter 4 ‘Ecosystems, their properties goods and services’ from working group 2 of the IPCC is Jeff Price.
The birdwatcher and filmmaker is now WWF-Managing director for climate adaptation in the US, and responsible for several examples of questionable citing with an alarmist twist, all from WWF-literature and grey reports.
In box 4.5 on page 239 of the IPCC-report working group 2, we even find a form of miraculous bird evolution, where one species of goose can change into another by 2.9 degrees of warming, and suddenly represent 76 percent decline of all arctic waterfowl.
In Box 4.5 on page 239 IPCC claims:
– One review of 300 migrant bird species found that 84% face some threat from climate change, almost half because of changes in water regime (lowered watertables and drought), and this was equal to the summed threats due to all other anthropogenic causes (Robinson et al., 2005).’
This is exactly what Robinson et al state in the executive summary of this Defra-contractresearch. Now what i call a ‘mistake’ is the fact that IPCC states this report has 414 pages, while 414 is the contractnumber. It is this type of mistakes in a 1000 page report that you can put off as an ‘incident that does not harm the credibility of the IPCC as a whole’.
Wetlands are projected deadlands
However, when assessing the Robinson et al methods one can easily see that the used method is in conflict with the IPCC-standard of quality control. The 84 prct ‘threat’is derived by calculating how many of the 300 Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)-birds are in habitats that are naturally rich in birds (coast and wetland). And surprise surprise: there are many migratory birds that have been seen in this habitattypes. This happens to be 84 prct of all birds on the list (together with mountain and arctic areas)
The authors derive this number by counting all birds from the Handbook of the Birds of the World that live in this habitats (together with mountain areas and arctic areas). So the birds are under threat, simply because they live in a habitat, that the authors assume ‘could be’impacted, but with no reference to serious studies: Is this science?
– In the same box 4.5 we find
“the red knot could potentially lose 15%-37%of its tundra breeding habitat by 2100 (HadCM2a1, UKMO).The breeding areas of many Arctic breeding shorebirds and waterfowl are projected to decline by up to 45% and 50%, respectively (Folkestad et al., 2005) for global temperature increases of 2°C above pre-industrial. A temperature increase of 2.9°C above pre-industrial would cause larger declines of up to 76% for waterfowl and up to 56% for shorebirds
Now the first reference is to two climatemodels. The second reference to Tonje Folkestad of WWF-Norway in his paper in the cited book ‘Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change’. Folkestad mentions FOUR birds in this paper (which to my humble opinion is not ‘many’). Folkestad does not present new research on this birds here, he just mentions the numbers.
And even in Folkestad’s paper the 50 prct number does only refer to ONE goose-species as Folkestad does some sloppy citing on his part here: all the numbers are derived from one Zockler (WWF and World Conservation Monitoring Centre) et al study ‘waterbirds on the edge’ in 2000.
Christoph Zockler and Igor Lysenko here use the HadCm2 climate model and UKMO- climatemodel to assess projected impacts on vegetation in arctic regions by temperature. The authors assume there, that when vegetation changes in CURRENT birddistribution, this change is the amount of habitatdecline to be expected for the specific species. So the birds have to stay where they are now. He analyses the projected impacts on 25 species in total, both waders and waterfowl.
In a table in the Zockler et al study we find all the mentioned numbers. Pe, the 56 prct is from the spoonbilled sandpiper, and is the highest number of decline in the table for waders. Here 50 prct is from the white-fronted goose. While the 76 prct-number is from the projected tundra loss in the area where tundra bean goose currently lives (the hadcm2 part of the table) And how surprising, the tundra bean goose seems to be the most talented in the art of decline of all geese in the study. Pe, the snow goose looses only 1,3 prct of it’s CURRENT habitat.
One bird is all waterfowl
So according to Price’s citation one goose-species (white fronted goose) changes into another species at 2.9 degrees warming, so that it’s habitat can decline in range from 50 to 76 percent. And by writing ‘waterfowl’, he suggests that all or at least most will loose this number of habitat. While this number only refers to ONE species, and many species hardly confront any change.
Warming correlates with breeding succes
In the Zockler et al study we find also the red knot with the referred numbers, the 37 prct derived from using the UKMO-model, which according to Zockler is too coarse. (comparable with the Canadian model that Jeff Price uses in most of his research) What we also find in Zockler et al is an assessment where the authors find that breeding succes has been shown to be enhanced by increasing temperatures. So up till now, warming has mostly been good for the birds in the arctic.
Should birdwatchers use climatemodels or stick to their binky’s?
So the problem here is not the citing of grey literature, where the WWF uses one climatemodel to project the demise of arctic habitat, although the quality of such study has it’s scientific limits. It is the fact that even this study is interpreted over-alarmist.
Price has been devoting most of his career by putting global warming on the birdconservationagenda since his phd-study on the projected demise of American prairy birds, and especially in his Birdwatchers Guide to Global Warming. It is this advocacybrochure that IPCC also cites in this chapter.
Now we all love birds, and no doubt Price has a heart for birds, doing much for the cause. We all want birds to stay around with us. But maybe that’s why Price has found a better position in his current function as WWF-climatedirector than in a position as IPCC-lead author. But please correct me if i’m wrong.