22 February 2010

Mojib Latif on ZDF: "A Fraud to the Public"

The German public television station ZDF has put together a nice segment (in German, available here) on the substantive problems in the IPCC, including the issue of catastrophe losses. In it Mojib Latif, a prominent German climate scientist, comments on the misrepresentation of the science of disasters and climate change in very strong terms:
"This is clearly a fraud to the public and to the colleague. Everybody has to reject such a behaviour. We have to take care, those things won't happen again."
UPDATE: In the comments Richard Tol offers some helpful details on the translation (original above by a native German speaker, FYI):
Latif uses the word "Betrug", which can mean fraud, but also deceit, deception, cheating, fooling, swindle, fiddle, or scam.

I would think that "Betrug" is somewhat softer than "fraud", but then English is my second language and German my third.
FURTHER UPDATE: From the comments:
German is my first language,too, and I would translate Mojib Latif's sentence like this:

"This is a very obvious fraud, on the public and on the colleague in question. One has to categorically reject such a thing and we must now try, should such things really have happened, to make sure they don't happen again next time."

On a sliding scale of words refering to matters of dishonesty, "Betrug" is the strongest and most serious accusation, used in the sense of criminal deception. As even in Germany libel cases are no longer quite so rare, using this word can be quite risky. Note that the ZDF itself calls this "dubious goings on" ("unsauberes Handeln") and does not itself accuse the IPCC of fraud. Mojib Latif, who is entirely apologetic about the other mistakes pointed out in the ZDF report, uses "Betrug" very deliberately, when referring to the IPCC's misrepresentation of Roger's work, but covers himself when he adds "wenn sie [solche Dinge] tatsaechlich vorgekommen sind" - "wenn" could be translated even stronger as "if" and not just "should have" but it's unclear from his words how much doubt he meant to throw in there.