Time for another admission of error by climate scientists

In a background note – released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last night – the UN group said its 2007 report wrongly stated that 55% of the Netherlands lies below sea level. In fact, only 26% of the country does. The figure used by the IPCC included all areas in the country that are prone to flooding, including land along rivers above sea level. This accounts for 29% of the Dutch countryside.

“The sea-level statistic was used for background information only, and the updated information remains consistent with the overall conclusions,” the IPCC note states. Nevertheless, the admission is likely to intensify claims by sceptics that the IPCC work is riddled with sloppiness.

The disclosure will intensify divisions between scientists and sceptics over the interpretation of statistics and the use of sources for writing climate change reports, disagreements that have led to apologies being made by both sides of the debate. Last week a key climate-change sceptic apologised for alleging that one of the world’s leading meteorologists had deliberately exaggerated the dangers of global warming.