I was surprised to see this comment on one of my TEEB articles recently:
Dear Sam, Thank you for your feedback on Chapter 1 references in TEEB’s “Interim Report” of May, 2008. It is heartening to note your in-depth study of this report. You raised some valid points, which have now been addressed in a note appended to this Interim Report (see : ‘Corrigendum and Additional References’, TEEB Interim Report, http://www.teebweb.org ). Kind Regards, TEEB Scientific Coordination, email@example.com
This seems legit, considering they link to the TEEB site which now does in fact have a Corrigendum (pages 67 and 68) attached to the original. I saved the original report, which has no Corrigendum whatsoever.
When I found multiple mistakes in the AR4, I contacted the IPCC authors to inform them. Initially I received responses, and my corrections were included in their erratum. However, as I continued reporting more and more errors they eventually replied with form letters then not at all. So I didn’t even bother contacting the TEEB folks, figuring they were of the same UN mindset. This response was a pleasant surprise, especially surprising because I don’t know how the TEEB folks even heard about my criticism. I suppose since my TEEB articles were linked at Climate Depot a few times word reached them somehow.
However it happened, they took my criticism seriously and responded to (some of) my points with this corrigendum (a word I honestly had not heard before). More interesting than their response to my findings was their response to…well, their own findings. In their response they list twenty corrections altogether, only two of which I raised. I only looked at the first chapter, they corrected mistakes in all four of the chapters. Perhaps having a few errors in just the first chapter prompted some navel-gazing on their part?
Here are the corrections for chapter 1:
Page 12 left column first bullet: data for forest loss
was drawn from Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
(2005) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Current
State and Trends. Island Press Washington D.C.
Page 12 right column first bullet: the numbers for the
loss of wetlands since 1900 are estimated by OECD –
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development and IUCN – International Union for
Conservation of Nature (1996) Guidelines for aid
agencies for improved conservation and sustainable
use of tropical and sub-tropical wetlands. OECD,
Page 12 right column second bullet: Wilkinson (2004)
estimates that 20% of the world’s coral reefs have
been effectively destroyed and show no immediate
prospects of recovery. Furthermore, his report
predicts that 24% of the world’s reefs are under
imminent risk of collapse through human pressures;
and a further 26% are under a longer term threat of
In the corrigendum they correct two of the three errors I raised. The first mistake was the report making a forest loss claim based on the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment of 2000 or 2005. The claim actually came from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment report of 2005. However, I pointed out that this claim only exists in the summary and is not supported by the findings of the report, and there is no citation for the claim at all. This issue was not addressed in the corrigendum. The second mistake they corrected was the wetland loss claim based on Mosher 1996. The claim actually came from an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and International Union for Conservation of Nature 1996 report. They correctly note that this was an estimate, something missing from the original report.
I raised one more mistake previously, of the 1,000X extinction claim. They did not address this at all. However, they did address a mistake which I didn’t. They correct the point about coral reefs. The report claims 30% of reefs are ‘seriously damaged’, but the correction gives a few different figures, all under 30%. Interesting.
I’ve hardly looked at all the other corrections yet, a quick skim seems to show them as minor. I’m actually impressed by this correction, this was a very pro-active move to respond to some very low-profile criticism. I give credit where credit is due, and I applaud the ‘TEEB Scientific Coordination’ for their response. I’ve sent them an e-mail saying as much. I will wait to see the quality of the final report before I make any more claims about the credibility of these reports.