The story of the Geography Major's Dissertation

31 Jan

Dario-Andri Schwörer

A big story in climate science right now is the fact that the IPCC relied on a mountain magazine and a graduate student’s dissertation as their citations for a specific claim in their Fourth Assessment Report. However there are few details, so I decided to do some digging. I found out a bit about the dissertation.

I believe this is the dissertation. It is written by this man, Dario-Andri Schwörer, also here. He was a student at the Geographical Institute of the Universities of Berne and Zurich, which is where he wrote his dissertation in or before 1997. He is now an avid outdoors-men, and a self-described ‘well known expert on the impact of climate change in the Alps’. Right now he is engaged in the TOPtoTOP program to promote climate protection.

The dissertation itself is titled:

An Inquiry into Possible Effects of Climatic Change on the Mountain Guide Trade in the Bernina Region


Geography Major Dissertation



carried out at the Geographical Institute of the Universities of Berne and Zurich


The dissertation itself is not entirely about climate change. In fact, he mentions the number one reason that mountain guides give for decreased climbs is not climate change, but:

“They attribute this decrease in the first place to the recession and the high exchange rate of the Swiss franc in relation to the German mark. In the second place they mention changes of the natural environment.”

That wasn’t mentioned in the AR4. The ambiguity continues:

For about half of the mountain guides it was not clear, whether extreme wheather conditions which affect the demand for mountain guides negatively, have been occuring more often in the last few years.”

Half weren’t even sure if the weather has gotten worse. Again, that was not my misspelling of ‘wheather’ or ‘occuring’. He references the IPCC twice:

Based on the climate scenarios of the IPCC, permafrost and glacier shrinkage scenarios suggest that these changes will continue and probably even accelerate in the future.”

“For the mountain guide these questions are less important compared to the fact that a trend towards increased risks and difficulties can be detected and that changes in this direction are taking place. On the basis of the climate scenarios of the IPCC one has to at least expect a progression of these changes, since the CO2 emissions will increase in the future with great probability.”

The very best quotes come from the conclusion:

“In how far the changes observed indicate a global change of climate can only be guessed and will show in the future.”

“Especially mountain guides should have recognized that nothing lasts and everything flows on the glaciers in the high mountain regions….This should not make us sad, but encourage us to accept new challenges and to meet them with new innovations. The way is the end!”

The IPCC used this as a citation? He doesn’t even claim the changes are due to climate, he simply says it can only be guessed ! It is now official: The IPCC is citing self-acknowledged guesswork from non-scientific sources.


Posted by on January 31, 2010 in Uncategorized



10 responses to “The story of the Geography Major's Dissertation

  1. Obelix

    January 31, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I am stunned. It is getting worse every day. There is one key sentence. The very reason for him to expect that there may be a future shrinkage in glaciers is that the IPCC has said so in the first place. And even so, he is not convinced. He can only guess.

  2. Robert Wood

    January 31, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Looks like they are having a lot of good clean fun, but thats about it.

  3. hro001

    January 31, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Indeed. But perhaps some further insight can be gained from Bagla’s extended interview with Pachauri in Science Magazine (Jan. 29/10) which contains the following:

    “[…]I mean, let’s face it, that the whole subject of climate change having become so important is largely driven by the work of the IPCC. If the IPCC wasn’t there, why would anyone be worried about climate change?[…]“

  4. CarlNC

    January 31, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    More circular logic. The IPCC likes to cite documents that are supported by previous IPCC reports. Not real smart of them to do something so blatantly unscientific. In this case, they even made up a new conclusion to fit their needs.
    This would seem to meet the definition of fraud. It also reveals how desperate they were to bolster their findings. Did they really think no one would notice?

    The quote from Pachauri is a classic. You can’t make this stuff up.

  5. jorgekafkazar

    January 31, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I find no fault with the Schwörer thesis itself. It very much seems that the IPCC referred to it because of this quote and this alone: “…permafrost and glacier shrinkage scenarios suggest that these changes will continue and probably even accelerate in the future.” Which, of course, is preceded by “Based on the climate scenarios of the IPCC…”

    The applicable formulae are:
    r² = x² + y² and d³x/dt³

  6. David

    February 1, 2010 at 5:37 am

    So – its all circular logic…

  7. Edbhoy

    February 1, 2010 at 10:51 am

    circular logic indeed.
    Glaciers are shrinking because the IPCC say they are. the IPCC say they are because they didn’t read the thesis or choose to cherry pick its politically convenient sentences (in this case fragment of sentence).
    The IPCCs claim to “rigour” in their review processes are a joke. If climate change is so severe why do they resort to misquoting third parties to make their case?


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