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Yet another lead author falsely cited; tourism mistake in the AR4

28 Apr

Barry Smit

You might recall an earlier false claim in the AR4 about tourism, about Canada and wildfires. There is another mistake in the AR4 regarding tourism, this time it is in WGII, Chapter 9.4.7 Tourism. The following claim appears:

Although scientific evidence is still lacking, it is probable that flood risks and water-pollution-related diseases in low-lying regions (coastal areas), as well as coral reef bleaching as a result of climate change, could impact negatively on tourism (McLeman and Smit, 2004).

First of all, this claim is so uncertain it probably shouldn’t even be in the report. Let’s read it again with all the uncertain words in bold:

Although scientific evidence is still lacking, it is probable that flood risks and water-pollution-related diseases in low-lying regions (coastal areas), as well as coral reef bleaching as a result of climate change, could impact negatively on tourism (McLeman and Smit, 2004).

In any event, they support this claim with McLeman and Smit, 2004. This is referenced as:

McLeman, R. and B. Smit, 2004: Climate change, migration and security. Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Commentary No. 86. http://www.csis-scrs.gc.ca/en/publications/commentary/com86.asp.

That link is no good. The article is available here. So, for this claim to be true, the article must make at least one of the following claims:

1. It is probable that flood risks and water-pollution-related diseases in low-lying regions could negatively affect tourism.

2. It is probable that coral reef bleaching as a result of climate change could negatively affect tourism.

Actually, for the IPCC standards, if it simply mentions tourism and coral bleaching at all anywhere in the article, it could be used as a source. But since I’m writing an article on this, you know that isn’t true.

Coral bleaching is not mentioned once in the article.

Water-pollution-related diseases are not mentioned once in the article.

Flooding is mentioned once, in relation to Pakistan. Nothing to do with the IPCC claim.

Actually, tourism itself is not mentioned once in the article.

Since this claim and citation appear in the Tourism section of the Africa chapter, and the claim itself is about potential reduced tourism, citing an article without even a single reference to tourism is dumbfounding. Perhaps they made a typo, and meant to cite McLeman and Smit, 2005 instead of 2004. I looked at that possibility. Here is the article, here is the citation:

McLeman, R. and B. Smit, 2005: Assessing the security implications of climate change-related migration. Preprint, Human Security and Climate Change: An International Workshop, Oslo, 20 pp.

I look at the article shows nothing about tourism, and nothing about coral bleaching. It mentions both disease and floods only briefly and not related to Africa or tourism (it talks about Honduras):

These groups were then obliged to seek shelter in crowded conditions at relief shelters, conditions which facilitated outbreaks of water-borne diseases that ensued as a result of storm damage to drinking water supplies and sewage systems. Years of occupation and clearance of hillsides served to increase the devastation of the storm by exacerbating the occurrence of landslides and flooding.

I have no idea why (McLeman and Smit, 2004) was used. A look into the drafts and reviewer’s comments shows one interesting thing. The claim did not appear in the First Order, but did appear in the Second Order, slightly different than in the final report. Here it is:

Although scientific evidence is still lacking, it is probable that flood risks and water-pollution-related diseases in low-lying regions (coastal areas) and coral bleaching could impact negatively on tourism (Barry and McLeman, 2004)

Notice the “coral reef bleaching as a result of climate change” was inserted into the final report. Also, the citation is Barry and McLeman, 2004. A look at the reference list shows this:

Barry and McLeman, 2004

No details, and this isn’t standard procedure for the Second Draft. Most if not all all other citations have details. Look for yourself. This prompted comment E-9-281:

No reference for ‘Barry and McLeman 2004’ is provided.
(Daniel Scott, University of Waterloo)

The writing team responded:

Had noted this to check.

So maybe this ‘Barry and McLeman 2004’ actually contains the basis for the tourism claim. Except, there is no Barry and McLeman 2004 (at least not that I can find). Barry is the first name of Smit. So it is actually McLeman and Smit 2004.

Why would the draft cite a paper by the author’s first name? Because, according to Barry Smit’s biography:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): Third Assessment Report, 1998-2001, Convening Lead Author; Fourth Assessment Report, Lead Author, 2003-2006; Co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2007

He’s a lead author (Chapter 17). This makes sense. They didn’t need the details to use it as a citation, they just called it “Barry’s paper” and threw it in there. This may also explain why the claim isn’t supported by the article. This isn’t the first time a lead author used his own paper inacurately.

Once again I need to point out that I am not attacking the claim itself, it may be true. It probably shouldn’t be in the report at all considering the ‘probable’ and ‘could’, and also the fact that is doesn’t have anything to do with Africa specifically (a point that several reviewers mentioned). I am pointing out that the claim doesn’t match the citation => This is a mistake => The AR4 has many of these mistakes => This casts doubt on the credibility of the report itself.

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10 Comments

Posted by on April 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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10 responses to “Yet another lead author falsely cited; tourism mistake in the AR4

  1. Baa Humbug

    April 28, 2010 at 11:31 am

    “…they just called it “Barry’s paper” and threw it in there.”

    I can’t stop laughing, what a classic 🙂

    Great sleuthing, well done.

     
  2. Donna Laframboise

    April 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    OMG

    It would be hard to make this stuff up, wouldn’t it?

     
  3. hro001

    April 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Incredible!

    But then again, we do need to take into account that these poor ‘conservative’ scientists – no doubt under “flabbergastingly” tremendous pressure from the “incredibly intense peer review process” – were working “off the side of their desks”.

     
  4. Tim Hulsey

    April 28, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Is there a pattern here? Maybe that was the Tourism Hockey Stick!

     
  5. JP

    April 29, 2010 at 12:45 am

    Bit by bit, we are starting to see the future of science, where every article that takes on notoriety will be subject to peer review from multiple angles in public.

     
  6. Richard Tol

    April 29, 2010 at 5:11 am

    In fact, the claim is probably false. Most tourists would not be able to tell bleached from healthy coral, and tourists rarely share the flood plain or the drinking water with the locals.

     
  7. Richard Tol

    April 29, 2010 at 5:18 am

    Note that Daniel Scott is a leading expert on the impacts of climate change on tourism. He knows very well that his fellow Ontarian Barry Smit does not research tourism. Scott’s “no reference provided” is a euphemism for “this can’t be right”.

     
  8. Sam

    April 29, 2010 at 10:43 am

    Good points. I was unaware Dr. Scott was another Ontarian, that is very interesting. I appreciate you taking the time to point these things out.

     
  9. Addison Knapp

    July 23, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Heya neat web page!
    Other text message marketing 12stores.com users at California? My store is changing to it. I know they only cost nine dollars / 30 days, unfortunately… I’ve like to point out other local users of it 4 my boss. 😎

     

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