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A Glacier Meltdown – The Himalayas and climate science.

An excellent opinion in the Wall Street Journal. It is absolutely amazing that there are so few media companies that try to get the story straight.

Last November, U.N. climate chief Rajendra Pachauri delivered a blistering rebuke to India’s environment minister for casting doubt on the notion that global warming was causing the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers.

“We have a very clear idea of what is happening,” the chairman of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told the Guardian newspaper. “I don’t know why the minister is supporting this unsubstantiated research. It is an extremely arrogant statement.”

Then again, when it comes to unsubstantiated research it’s hard to beat the IPCC, whose 2007 report insisted that the glacierswhich feed the rivers that in turn feed much of South Asiawere very likely to nearly disappear by the year 2035. “The receding and thinning of Himalayan glaciers,” it wrote in its supposedly definitive report, “can be attributed primarily to the [sic] global warming due to increase in anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases.”

It turns out that this widely publicized prediction was taken from a 2005 report from the World Wildlife Fund, which based it on a comment by Indian glacier expert Syed Hasnain from 1999. Mr. Hasnian now says he was “misquoted.” Even more interesting is that the IPCC was warned in 2006 by leading glaciologist Georg Kaser that the 2035 forecast was baseless. “This number is not just a little bit wrong, but far out of any order of magnitude,” Mr. Kaser told the Agence France-Presse. “It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing.”

On Wednesday, the IPCC got around to acknowledging that the claim was “poorly substantiated,” though Mr. Pachauri also suggested it amounted to little more than a scientific typo. Yet the error is of a piece with other glib, and now debunked, global warming alarms.

Among them: that 1998 was the warmest year on record in the United States (it was 1934); that sea levels could soon rise by up to 20 feet and put Florida underwater (an 18-inch rise by the year 2100 is the more authoritative estimate); that polar bears are critically endangered by global warming (most polar bear populations appear to be stable or increasing); thatwell, we could go on without even mentioning the climategate emails.

For the record, most Himalayan glaciers do seem to be retreating, and they have been “since the earliest recordings began around the middle of the nineteenth century,” according to a report from India’s ministry of environment and forests. The reasons are complex and still poorly understood, and we’re glad to see responsible scientists acknowledge as much. If more of them could help the IPCC get its facts straight, we might put more stock in its reports.

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6 Responses to “A Glacier Meltdown – The Himalayas and climate science.”

  1. “An excellent opinion in the Wall Street Journal. It is absolutely amazing that there are so few media companies that try to get the story straight.”

    Sean,

    If it was just global warming–or whatever it’s being called this month–that so few media companies try to get straight I would find it much less disturbing than the situation as it is. And many of the print media outlets are seemingly oblivious to the idea that the fact that more and more of their readers no longer believe they can be trusted to ‘get it right’ may be contributing to the decline in their circulation and the number of their readers.

    “Knowing” something about a particular topic that is not really true can be more dangerous than not knowing anything about that topic.

    It seems to me as if being on the “right” (politically correct?) side of a story has become of greater importance than getting the story right for a large part of the media–print as well as broadcast.

    It is as if ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ have become interpretive variables that gain or lose validity as the number of “true believers” increases or decreases.

    The truth is the fulcrum upon which incidental untruths and downright lies can be balanced.

  2. Tom – I believe that you are correct. There is no reward for mainstream media to discuss a story that doesn’t incite their readers to get worked up.

  3. […] accepted science. These same winners include those involved in the CRU ClimateGate scandal, the shrinking glaciers of the Himalayas, and the Netherlands being below sea level. A similar body of Nobel prize awarders also awarded a […]

  4. It’s a good thing that prehistoric geology always points to a regulation of earth’s temperatures.

    A volcano eruption puts more in the atmosphere than all the calls that ever existed combined. Yet, we’re still able to regulate. Thank you Earth, you know what is going on and will fix this yourself once again.

    However, I do think we should be responsible stewards. I just think this is all overblown.

  5. Actually, a volcano doesn’t do that much. Do a search on this site for “volcano” and read the posts.

  6. So you would agree that if a volcano occurs that was not assuming and incorporated into the IPCC models, we could be in deeper trouble that we think. When normal people face risks like this, they buy insurance. Deniers don’t even want to do that. It is 2010. The clock is ticking. Greenhouse gas emissions have to be stabilized by 2015. http://www.global-warming-forecasts.com/2015-climate-change-global-warming-2015.php The earth is warming faster than previously predicted. We are way behind schedule on this. What can you do to stop global warming? Write, phone and email:

    Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
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