Will the UN's scenario for AIDS repeat for global warming reports?

A new report from the United Nations acknowledges the agency has routinely overstated both the size and growth rate of the AIDS epidemic.  The new figures reduce the number of worldwide AIDS cases from 40 to 33 million, cuts the number of new cases by 40%, and reveal that the rate of new cases has been, contrary to past reports, slowing for many years. 

The pattern of exaggeration may date back as far as 1995, the year UNAIDS was founded.  Just last year, the UN reported infections were rising faster than "even our worst estimates," and warned of the "dangers of inaction."  

Critics have long maintained the U.N. overstated cases to gain political and financial support.  "There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda" said author and AIDS expert Helen Epstein.  James Chin, a former AIDS researcher for the World Heath Organiztion, says even these revisions are higher than the actual number of worlwide cases, which he estimates at 25 million.

In the past ten years, spending on AIDS has grown by 3,000 percent, topping $10B a year, much of that funding going to the UN itself.  But reports commissioned by private governments continued to contradict the official UN stance.  One study in India revealed cases less than half the official figure, and a another China study showed growth of new cases may have been overstated by as much as a factor of 10.

The scandal is eerily similar to the current state of the UN IPCC climate reports, where outside researchers (and even some IPCC panel members) have criticized the official reports as exaggerated and unrealistic. 

Climatologist and IPCC expert reviewer Vincent Gray has called the IPCC process "fundamentally corrupt" and its predictions a fraud.  Dr. Madhav Khandekar, another IPCC expert reviewer, has called the review process scientifically unsound, and notes the latest report fails to acknowledge a growing number of scientists now question the theory of greenhouse gas-based climate change.

Is there a linkage between the UN's handling of AIDS and global warming? According to journalist Claudia Rosett, the UN routinely overstates crises to generate funding, then uses it to fund a massive system of kickbacks, payoffs, and lavish expense accounts.   According to Rosett, IPCC climate pronouncements are just part of this long-standing pattern.

Rosett says the world should take a long, hard look at what the UN has become. 

UN officials in Geneva declined comment.

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