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Published 17th January 2010 - 5 comments - 2183 views -

One of the most disquieting predictions of the IPCC, the scientific panel considered by many to be the world's most authoritative source of information on global warming, is a complete fraud, according to today's Times.

The IPCC prediction that the Himalayan glaciers, the prime source of water for hundreds of millions of people in South Asia, would disappear by 2035 have underpinned the case for urgent action on climate change. Environmental activists have made the prediction a centrepiece of their campaigns, with the full weight of the IPCC behind them, and the prediction has received huge media play, but here's what The Times has to say:

 "A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.

 Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world’s glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

 In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

 It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi."

If the Times report is correct, this could be bigger than "Climategate" as it displays a stunning lack of judgment and total scientific incompetence. Not to mention a staggering disregard for the basics of fact checking before making the wildest predictions of horrific catastrophe.

Serious scientists, of course,  have real concerns that the Himalayan glaciers are shrinking, although at a much, much slower rate than the IPCC claims.   

Category: Fresh Water, | Tags: ipcc, fraud, glaciers, himalayas, india, pakistan, china,


Dave McK on 17th January 2010:

So Inuit villages are being overrun by polar bears, the Himalayan glaciers will still be there tomorrow after all, and the temperature data was rigged at CRU, NASA and NOAA.
I guess the only thing left to debunk is the sinking of Vanutu and there’s nothing left.
The silence is settled.

Best name I’ve heard suggested for the movie on this:
Origin of the Specious and the Descent of Mann.

Benno Hansen on 18th January 2010:


BBC was on this Dec 5: Himalayan glaciers melting deadline ‘a mistake’. But of course… if one only gets one’s news from like minded blogs….

I suppose now the competition is over it’s OK to copy/paste articles!? Or perhaps “The American Interest Online” is your interest, Eamon?

What you seem to comment is Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability - 10.6.2 The Himalayan glaciers which says “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).”

Two “if"s, no “will”. And they refer to a table of measured melt.

That being said: You skeptic-denier-whatever people do have a point about this being much worse than the so called “climategate”. Because the “climategate” was entirely fabricated.

I like the sober take on the story by New Scientist - Debate heats up over IPCC melting glaciers claim - better than the one you copy/pasted. (If you actually wrote both: sorry for accusing you of c/p.)

Actually, the Himalayas melting by 2035 sounds wild by common sense, I suppose? But we’ll see how this story evolves. And then there is the rest of the meteor size reports... you want to discard the rest because of one number, one source?

Mike on 18th January 2010:

Hahahaha. No.

All of those ifs, what’s and buts are irrelevant, because they applied those hilarious qualifiers TO THE WRONG FUCKING NUMBER.

2035 -> 2350


I predict that tomorrow there is a 95% chance that hell will freeze over. If hell freezes over, I was right. If hell doesn’t freeze over, I was also right. It just fell within my 5% margin of error.

Hahaha. You fool.

LB Hagen on 23rd January 2010:

ClimateGate Heats Up Into GlacierGate
- .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Roger on 23rd January 2010:

@Benno Hansen:
This is not the same story the BBC covered back in December. Back then, glaciologists had spotted the improbable figure and were questioning it. One hypothesis for the bad figure was a transposition error in reporting a Russian scientist’s estimate of 2350.

At the time, the IPCC chairman responded by savagely attacking critics, describing their criticisms as “voodoo science.”

However since then—breaking on the 11th, in fact—we have the story reported here: the true source of the error was been discovered, and the IPCC has admitted that this analysis of the cause of the error is correct.

This admission was a much bigger story than the realisation back in December that their number was probably wrong. An error in the number is no big deal: it is, after all, just one of tens of thousands of numbers that they use. However this wrong number got into the report because it was copy-and-pasted from an activist brochure.

The factoid in the brochure originally came from a 1999 “New Scientist” article that was itself based on speculation, but that part is irrelevant. What matters here is that the unknown person who inserted this into the IPCC report knew that its source was a brochure from an activist group.

Think about that for a moment. You are supposed to be compiling serious research from peer reviewed journals, in order to create an immensely important scientific document, an instrument that will guide the leaders of many of the world’s nation, an instrument whose scientific importance and integrity earned you a collective Nobel Prize.

Under those circumstances what, exactly, would compel you to crib unreviewed text from such a highly unreliable source, to knowingly and dishonestly present it as being scientific research of the highest quality? Text notable both for its highly alarming character, and for the fact that every expert in the field who saw it immediately thought “that can’t be right”?

Chairman Pachauri’s dismissal of this as an “error” is absurd. There is no conceivable way that a person could mistake a brochure for a scientific journal! Undoubtedly, the action was deliberate. But the most obvious explanation is also the most disturbing: that the person who did this inserted the text *because* it was alarming, and they wanted readers to be alarmed, to take action.

That is disturbing because it indicates that at least some authors of IPCC reports are interested not in scientific accuracy but in effective polemic, and that undermines the whole process. Not undermines as in “the denialists will have a field day”, but undermines as in: the process really has lost credibility until the persons responsible are found out and expelled.

But it seems that such a remedy will not happen. Chairman Pachauri’s response seem to indicate that his only response to critics, however accurate, is to try to marginalise them and that he is “closing ranks” to protect staff and the existing culture rather than protecting the integrity of the process.

So this is much, much worse than a simple error in one statement. This is proof positive in support of one of the denialists’ strongest claims: that the IPCC has bad apples who happily tell lies, and a highly defective culture that at least winks at such behaviour.

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