More IPCC advocacy, not science — Africa

“What attracted our attention most, however, was this claim [by the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief (Oxfam)]

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.  …

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).  …

Oxfam takes its authority from the IPCC. The IPCC report seemingly takes its authority from a bullet point in a paper published by an organisation with a declared political interest in the sustainability agenda

That the IPCC is citing non-peer-reviewed, non-scientific research from … 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”.”  “More laundered literature:  a guest post by Ben Pile


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