Perusing my morning read, I read an editorial and a news story about a British report on 'climategate' - the so-called scandal that attracted considerable media attention after the Copenhagen conference.
The Globe editorial sums up the 'scandal' pretty well:
"Climate skeptics should not be emboldened. Nothing was found that cast the peer-reviewed papers produced by the unit into doubt.
That said, there was 'a consistent pattern of failing to display the proper degree of openness.'"
Turning to the news story in the Globe of the British investigation, picked up from the New York Times, I find a most curious jump in the penultimate paragraph:
"However, small errors in the 2007 report keep coming to light. The Netherlands agency found that the climate change panel had tended to emphasize the negative effects of global warming while playing down positive ones, like greater tree growth in northern climates. It recommended better balance and a greater emphasis on fact-checking."
Flipping to the New York Times, I read about a report issued this week by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency - which comes as news to me. In the on-line version of the New York Times, a link is provided to the actual report, which went largely unreported in our media.
Like the British investigation, it appears that the Dutch environmental agency "found no errors that would undermine the main conclusions in the 2007 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on possible future regional impacts of climate change." However, the Dutch agency also concluded:
"the summaries in the IPCC Working Group II Report put an emphasis on projections of the more serious, negative impacts of climate change. This selection was an obvious choice, and also had been approved by the governments that constitute the IPCC. However, this meant that the less severe impacts and any positive effects did not make it into the summaries for policymakers, which made the overall tenor of the summaries more negative than that of the underlying chapters. For example, the possibly positive consequences for forestry in North Asia are named in one of the chapters, but they are not named in the summaries.
In addition, the investigated 32 summary conclusions on regional impacts do not mention other factors that play an important role, such as the influence of population growth on water shortages. The PBL recommends to present a broader representation of projected developments in the summaries for policy makers in the Fifth Assessment Reports in 2013 and 2014."
The climate-gate e-mails had only a marginal influence at the Copenhagen conference: of the participating governments, only Saudi Arabia sought to give the 'scandal' any credence. The report of the Dutch agency, on the other hand, is something that all governments will have to mull over as they consider their next steps on the issue of climate change.