In itself, the issue can be viewed as minor but its meaning is actually far bigger. The factoid under discussion has become imbedded in government policy documents in at least three countries and it has been cited extensively. In short, it has become an axiomatic construct. But its meaning and its origins are ambiguous at best.
As a sidebar, read also about the authors (futile) attempts to have his questioning published. It highlights the value of blogs and the difficulties facing anyone who questions the emperor's new clothes.
Lest anyone think that this is an isolated instance, think how often you have read about the impending levels of species extinction in the next century and then ask yourself: 'just where and when did that number originate, and with whom?'
(Hint, the number is a random guestimate with no mathematical basis nor relationship to empirical data).