UN report that said Himalayan glaciers would melt within 25 years was all hot air
By David Derbyshire | Daily Mail | 18th January 2010
Claims by the world’s leading climate scientists that most of the Himalayan glaciers will vanish within 25 years were last night exposed as nonsense.
The alarmist warning appeared two years ago in a highly influential report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
At the time the IPCC insisted that its report contained the latest and most detailed evidence yet of the risks of man-made climate change to the planet.
But the experts behind the warning have now admitted their claim was not based on hard science – but a news story that appeared in the magazine New Scientist in the late 1990s.
That story was itself based on a telephone conversation with an Indian scientist who has since admitted it was little more than speculation.
The revelation is a major blow to the credibility of the IPCC which was set up to provide political leaders with clear, independent advice on climate change.
It follows the ‘Climategate’ email row in which scientists at the University of East Anglia appeared to have manipulated data to strengthen the case for man-made climate change.
Dr Benny Peiser, of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said: ‘The IPCC review process has been shown on numerous occasions to lack transparency and due diligence.
‘Its work is controlled by a tightly knit group of individuals who are completely convinced that they are right. As a result, conflicting data and evidence, even if published in peer reviewed journals, are regularly ignored, while exaggerated claims, even if contentious or not peer-reviewed, are often highlighted in IPCC reports.
‘Not surprisingly, the IPCC has lost a lot of credibility in recent years. It is also losing the trust of more and more governments who are no longer following its advice – as the Copenhagen summit showed.’
The flawed claim appeared in chapter ten of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, which stated: ‘Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world 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.’
Rather than being based on a peer-reviewed, published scientific study, the claim was borrowed from a 2005 report by the campaigning green charity WWF.
The WWF, in turn, took the claim from a 1999 report in New Scientist. The magazine based its story on a phone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.
Dr Hasnain now says the comment was ‘pure speculation’.
The gaffe is a major embarrassment for the IPCC.
Yesterday Prof Murari Lal, who edited the section on glaciers in the IPCC report, told a Sunday newspaper: ‘If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments.’
Glacier experts are astonished it has taken so long to expose the blunder. Most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt within 25 years. The quickest melting are shrinking at a rate of two to three feet of thickness a year.
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