1/27/10

Living On The Edge: The Controversy Over 'Himalayan Glacier'. Part - II

. 1/27/10

The IPCC, which boasted about its research prowess, now finds itself in the eye of the storm.

"The IPCC doesn't do any research itself. We only develop our assessments on the basis of peer-reviewed literature. So this is really hundreds and thousands of years of research efforts that go into the distinct material that comes into the report," R K Pachauri had said in an interview with rediff.com in 2007.

"You know there may be someone who knows a lot about glaciers. We will get him to write something on glaciers and send it to the writing team. So if you look at all these inputs, you have well over 3,000 people who participate in this process. The IPCC doesn't do any research itself. We only develop our assessments on the basis of peer-reviewed literature. So this is really hundreds and thousands of years of research efforts that go into the distinct material that comes into the report," he said in the interview.

"I can't think of a better process. There is not a parallel on this planet in any field of endeavour as you have in the case of the IPCC," he added.

The IPCC has now said it regretted "the poor application of well-established IPCC procedures in this instance".

"It has recently come to our attention that a paragraph in the 938 page Working Group II contribution to the underlying assessment refers to poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers," an IPCC statement said in Geneva.

"The Chair, Vice Chair and Co-Chairs of the IPCC regret the poor application of well-established procedures in this instance," it added.

IPCC said the broader assessment remained correct that warming of the earth would lead to widespread losses from the glaciers. The concluding document of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report stated: "Climate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation".

Meanwhile, leading glaciologist and senior fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute, Syed Iqbal Hasnain, who was quoted in New Scientist and Down to Earth magazines as saying Himalayan glaciers were likely to disappear by 2035, defended himself, saying, "I must stress that a journalistic substitution of the year 2035 was made -- without my knowledge and approval -- that was markedly contrary to my research supported finding of the likelihood of the central and eastern Himalayan glaciers disappearing in 40-50 years."

Hasnain had made a presentation at the Centre for Science and Environment in February 1999, where he had talked about the controversial 2035 deadline. The CSE published the details in its magazine Down to Earth.

He said IPCC experts had never approached him for his research papers on Himalayan glaciers.

Hasnain also said that technology had improved in recent years and results could be better. "Now we have more sophisticated and accurate instruments and techniques, as compared to those 10 years back. So, precision has increased and the new results are coming out," he added.

He said, he was "a scientist with years of painstaking study, collation and analyses of field experience who relies more on facts and figures, and not an astrologer who may give any date on the demise of glaciers."

Interestingly, the IPCC study is reported to have taken the deadline on the melting of the Himalayas from a Russian study, which predicted the melting of the glaciers by 2350. IPCC changed it to 2035, making it a 'Himalayan' blunder.

The IPCC also took references from a study done by World Wildlife Fund, which carried a report based on an article in a magazine called New Scientist in 1999. The magazine had attributed the report to statements from Prof Syed Iqbal Hasnain.

Now the WWF admitted that its 2005 report 'contained erroneous information'. "Although scientists remain deeply concerned about glacier retreat in that region, this particular prediction has subsequently proved to be incorrect," the WWF said in a statement.

The IPCC study on Himalayas distorts facts and gives a misrepresentation of the state of glaciers.

In the picture Machoi Glacier in 1967 and 2007.





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