One of the most alarming predictions of the IPCC, the scientific panel that is considered the world’s most authoritative source of information on global warming, turns out to be a total fraud, according to this story in The London Times. The prediction that the Himalayan glaciers, the prime source of water for hundreds of millions of people in South Asia, would disappear by 2035 have been a keystone in the case for urgent action on climate change.This is much, much worse than hungry polar bears; three nuclear weapons states depend on Himalayan runoff for vital water supplies: India, Pakistan and China.Environmental activists have made this prediction a centerpiece of the campaign for urgent action and with the full authority of the IPCC behind it, the prediction has received massive publicity; yet it now appears that this dramatic and highly publicized prediction never had any scientific backing.Here’s what The London 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.
The IPCC, in what will surely be remembered as one of the most idiotic and irresponsible predictions ever made, assessed the probability of a glacial meltdown by 2035 as “very high” — a probability of over 90%.As Emily Litella, Gilda Radner’s ditzy television commentator from the earliest days of Saturday Night Live would say, “Never mind.”Again, read the whole thing here. If the London Times report is correct, this is some ways bigger than ‘Climategate.’ If evidence this slender was sufficient to convince the IPCC that this threat was real, it’s clear that the panel is more like Chicken Little than a serious source of scientific information. The lack of judgment is staggering; the careless disregard for the truth, the intellectual incompetence and the cavalier disregard for basic fact checking before making the wildest predictions of horrifically impending catastrophe are quite simply breathtaking. The IPCC chairman, meanwhile, with an arrogant ineptitude that would be comic if the subject weren’t so important, has dismissed critics of the prediction as practitioners of “voodoo science.”The scientific case for global warming is in no way affected by this news and serious scientists have real concerns that the Himalayan glaciers are shrinking, albeit at a much, much slower rate than the IPCC claims. But if the Times story holds up, the reputation of the IPCC and its leadership may never and perhaps should never recover from a gross and careless error of this kind. Heads should roll.