I was looking through the AR4 recently in order to look at the recent Bangladeshi scientist’s claim that the AR4 exaggerated how much sea level rise would affect their country. That may be another post, because I found another false claim related to Bangladesh.
In WGII, Chapter 10.2.4.3 Oceans and coastal zones, the following claim appears (bold mine):
Evidence of the impacts of climate-related factors on mangroves remain limited to the severe destruction of mangroves due to reduction of freshwater flows and salt-water intrusion in the Indus delta and Bangladesh (IUCN, 2003a).
Notice the “and Bangladesh” on the end. The claim is that the climate-related factors of reduced freshwater flow and salt-water intrusion are causing severe destruction of mangroves in both Pakistan’s Indus Delta and in Bangladesh. The Bangladesh claim is what I am focusing on in this post.
Their source for the claim is IUCN 2003a. This is referenced as such:
IUCN (The World Conservation Union), 2003a: Indus Delta, Pakistan: economic costs of reduction in freshwater flows. Case Studies in Wetland Valuation No. 5, Pakistan Country Office, Karachi, 6 pp. Accessed 24.01.07: http://www.waterandnature.org/econ/CaseStudy05Indus.pdf.
That link is bad, the article is available here.
The article talks about what you would expect it to talk about: the Indus Delta, in Pakistan. There is something very obvious missing. There is no talk about Bangladesh. In fact, the word ‘Bangladesh’ doesn’t appear once, and neither does the Ganges Delta or anything at all pertaining to Bangladesh.
I thought maybe they made a mistake in their citation (I’ve already found this before), so I took a look at IUCN 2003b also. This is referenced as:
IUCN (The World Conservation Union), 2003b: The lower Indus river: balancing development and maintenance of wetland ecosystems and dependent livelihoods. Water and Nature Initiative, 5 pp. Accessed 24.01.07: http://www.iucn.org/themes/?wani/flow/cases/Indus.pdf.
That link is also bad. The article is here.
Same story as first. No Bangladesh, no Ganges, only about Pakistan.
So where did the “and Bangladesh” come from? I looked back at the drafts and reviewers comments and found……..nothing. Here is the Second Draft, same section:
There are also reports on destruction of mangroves due to climatic factors such as reduction of freshwater flows and related processes like salt water intrusion in Indus Delta (IUCN, 2003; Tablez et al., 2003).
No Bangladesh. I tried to find Tablez, et al., 2003, but didn’t have any success. Since it wasn’t used in the final report it doesn’t show up in the reference list. If anyone can find it, let me know.
Since it wasn’t in the first or second draft, I looked at the reviewer and government comments. There is no mention at all of Bangladesh in this section. It simply appeared out of the blue, with a citation that doesn’t support the claim.
The claim itself is suspect. According to this FAO report (from 2002, slightly outdated), the largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh, the Sunderbans Forest Reserve, is not facing “severe destruction of mangroves”. Here is a chart from the report showing mangrove extent:
That looks more like a slightly positive trend than “severe destruction”.
That source was from 2002, so just to be sure that the mangroves hadn’t been devastated by climate change from 2002 to 2007, I looked for more information. I found this recent article from thenews.com:
‘Bangladesh forest model can be adopted to save Indus Delta’
Thursday, April 01, 2010
By Jan Khaskheli
The World Wildlife Fund-Pakistan is planning to initiate consultation with all the stakeholders, including the government and local communities, for the rehabilitation of the Indus Delta that has lost a wide area due to sea erosion for the last three decades. In this regard, the WWF-Pakistan organised a field trip for its staff, government officials and journalists to a forest in Bangladesh called Sundarban — the largest mangroves forest in the world and a natural wildlife sanctuary — to observe the forest’s model which might be helpful to save the Indus Delta.
Wow! This appears to contradict the IPCC’s claim completely. The Bangladesh mangroves aren’t facing “severe destruction”, they are actually a model of how a good mangrove forest should look. Just to verify this article, I found the story on WWF Pakistan’s site as well.
Where does this leave us? The IPCC claim of Indus Delta mangroves being destroyed stood alone in the first and second drafts, no reviewers mentioned anything about Bangladesh, yet out of the blue in the final report the words “and Bangladesh” appeared. The source cited does not mention Bangladesh once, and it appears that Bangladesh’s mangrove forests are the largest and best preserved in the world.
Perhaps salt water intrusion and the reduction of fresh water flows are harming Bangladesh’s mangroves. If this is true, it is on a very limited scale, and to claim “severe destruction of mangroves” is completely false. More scare tactics.