Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Earth News Science

Claims of Himalayan Glacier Disaster Melt Away 561

Hugh Pickens writes "VOA News reports that leaders of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have apologized for making a 'poorly substantiated' claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. Scientists who identified the mistake say the IPCC report relied on news accounts that appear to have misquoted a scientific paper — which estimated that the glaciers could disappear by 2350, not 2035. Jeffrey Kargel, an adjunct professor at the University of Arizona who helped expose the IPCC's errors, said the botched projections were extremely embarrassing and damaging. 'The damage was that IPCC had, or I think still has, such a stellar reputation that people view it as an authority — as indeed they should — and so they see a bullet that says Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035 and they take that as a fact.' Experts who follow climate science and policy say they believe the IPCC should re-examine how it vets information when compiling its reports. 'These errors could have been avoided had the norms of scientific publication including peer review and concentration upon peer-reviewed work, been respected,' write the researchers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Claims of Himalayan Glacier Disaster Melt Away

Comments Filter:
  • Re:Take home point (Score:3, Interesting)

    by berashith ( 222128 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @08:46PM (#30874166)

    Unfortunately, some of the scientists that originally noticed this issue were afraid to bring it up because of the politically charged nature of this group. Shocking as it may sound, there are global warming scientists who denounce anyone who disagrees with them, and have the power to effect the funding of anyone who is not in lock step with the agenda.

  • Re:A typo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by berashith ( 222128 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @08:51PM (#30874198)


    The chairman of the IPCC panel, Rajendra Pachauri, on Saturday called the forecast "a regrettable error," and says it arose because established procedures were not diligently followed. "The whole paragraph, I mean that entire section is wrong. That was a mistake," said Pachauri..

    You may have to dig in a bit more than the summary, but this as not just a typo.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2010 @09:00PM (#30874258)

    JoshuaZ, I agree with much of what you write, but while the science may be good, the evidence points to the IPCC and Pachauri being bad.

    The IPCC and Pachauri stated for a long time there were no errors made and the 2035 number was accurate. Even now I've seen apologies that state this simple shift of 300+ years is meaningless and ignorable.

    But the kicker is here at climate audit: []

    This error was used for fundraising the same as Microsoft uses FUD to keep people from looking into linux. And worse, the funds were funneled into what many are saying seems to be a Rajendra Pachauri laundering scheme. That is, the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri seems to have a terrible conflict of interest. Scare people about glaciers and global warming. Contract out TERI to look into them and fix them. Pachauri collects directly from TERI.

    This is not a good background for good science to be proliferating.

  • by HanzoSpam ( 713251 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @09:04PM (#30874288)

    I'm sure this won't stop some people from claiming the mistake undermines everything.

    One mistake wouldn't. But the rate at which "mistakes" are piling up is becoming troubling, to say the least.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 23, 2010 @09:54PM (#30874598)

    It's sad that the same people who were so skeptical of the "war on terror" and the "war on drugs" are such strong believers in the "war on climate change".

    Guess the Government just needed to find the right buttons to press...

    Posting as AC to avoid connecting crimespeak to my read ID.

  • Re:A typo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by omb ( 759389 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:04PM (#30874642)
    First rate, and 100 % correct, it was, is and always will be a scam.

    The absolute killer is that HAD-CRU (Jones) and NASA Cherry picked there data so hard that the do not have enough outliers, so when I re-ran some of the data myself there is nowhere near enough noise in their data, so I suggest that this is the quick way to evaluate a data-set, Compute the Variance of the Test data set, normalized; compare to the average of the Variances of a good number of randomly chosen station-single-series datasets, if the Variance is far too small suspect fraud; they were not thinking clearly and did not expect to be challenged. But forget the manipulated proxies.
  • Re:Four YEARS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cyberax ( 705495 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @10:41PM (#30874912)

    But in reality:

    climateaudit: Hey guys, I noticed something a bit weird about your figures - here's what's weird...

    Scientists: Sorry, but your model uses incorrect parameters. Use , and to adjust your model correctly, then it'll give another result.

    climateaudit: You are suppressing the free thought! CO2 doesn't cause warming, it's the Sun! You have predicted Global Cooling in 70-s! The science is all wrong!

  • Re:Four YEARS? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NeoTron ( 6020 ) <> on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:10PM (#30875116) Homepage

    But in reality:

    Well, I have cited the link to [], where anyone

    can browse to and should read the history of what they did.

    Your claim that Steve McIntyre went on to say:

    "You are suppressing the free thought! CO2 doesn't cause warming, it's the Sun! You have predicted Global Cooling in 70-s! The science is all wrong!"

    .. is an outright lie - one which can be disproven by reading up on the site - where

    you will see that McIntyre insists that replies to his posts about the science, be

    kept to the subject at hand. On such posts, anything off-topic, or which goes into

    the realm of politics gets snipped, and the reason given.

    However, nice try - it'll only work on those who don't bother to see for themselves if what you or I are saying is true or not.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday January 23, 2010 @11:48PM (#30875364)

    There were a number of people who caught the error and questioned the figure as obviously false (anyone who knew anything about glaciers would know it could not possibly be true). It was the flood of reports like this one [] that led them to look into where the source originally came from.

    But again, the scientists that caught the error were absolutely not the IPCC and many of them do not support AGW. Indeed, the IPCC was all to happy to initially label anyone questioning the figure as a "crackpot" regardless of scientific background.

  • Re:Peer review? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by smidget2k4 ( 847334 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @12:43AM (#30875696)
    I was unaware of any scientific "bashing" of Behe, just that he had been throughly debunked by scientists in the field, but yet never updated his evidence, provided insight into the design process, or did anything except to pose some interesting (and later properly debunked in peer reviewed literature) thought problems and write books/tour the country/give talks that said "Ok, so, God did it because biology can't explain all of this crap yet."
  • Re:Shhhh! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:12AM (#30875910) Journal
    OK, I'm going to ask you, how on earth can you say this is no more than a typo when it is clear they were looking at the WWF report for their information? Why were they looking at a non-peer-reviewed journal to begin with? It doesn't matter that it was just a typo, they should have gone to a real source. This is evidence of horrid behavior on the part of these scientists.

    On the other hand, it IS in WGII, whereas the scientific case for global warming is laid out in WGI, so this doesn't affect that part directly, but really how can you explain away what this guy has said []:

    We knew the WWF report with the 2035 date was "grey literature" [material not published in a peer-reviewed journal].......It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."

    The guy basically said he knew it might not be true, but he put it in anyway because he thought it might influence policy-makers. How can you not be annoyed by that?

    At very least when I read the IPCC report now, I'm going to have to check their references, until now I was willing to accept it as fairly accurate.

  • Re:Shhhh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Reservoir Penguin ( 611789 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @01:18AM (#30875948)
    Can't find it at the moment, but there was a report on BBC that found at least 5 different mistakes in one paragraph of IPCC report on Himalayan glaciers, and on top of it the data came from WWF, a lobbyist group, not a peer-reviews source.
  • Re:Shhhh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @02:14AM (#30876230) Journal
    Come on man, you dodged the point and you know it. I don't have much respect for the daily mail either, but unless you're going to accuse them of deliberately misquoting the guy in their interview, then you are just committing an ad hominem fallacy.

    Either way, you can't deny that the IPCC used a sorry old reference as one of their sources, that never should have made it into the report.
  • In the same report (Score:3, Interesting)

    by symbolset ( 646467 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @02:59AM (#30876408) Journal

    I do not agree that this was more than a dyslexic typo that went unchallenged for far too long.

    It's a good thing the correlation between global warming and extreme weather disasters like hurricanes and floods in the same report is still on a sound foundation then. Oh, wait... []

    When the paper was eventually published, in 2008, it had a new caveat. It said: "We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses."


    The climate is warming. The climate has been warming from 10,000-15,000 years, and we should be glad of that. It's hard to grow crops on a glacier. 15,000 years ago much of the US was under immense glaciers, as was much of Europe. Now they are not in our current Holocene epoch, which is why this is called an "inter-glacial [] period." There's are various natural cycles going on here, with spans of twenty and eighty thousand years roughly. My minivan's emissions did not cause the end of the Wisconsin Glacial epoch. After a few more thousand years the cycle will once again reverse - and the glaciers will return. When they do we're all going to have to try to fit into North Africa, Eastern China, and equatorial South America. I suspect the locals will have a problem with that when the time comes. And yeah, I know you know all this.

    I am also aware that nobody has a good understanding of the dynamics of large chunks of melting ice, this is obvious if you look at how woefully the 2007 IPCC reports underestimated the loss of Artic sea ice .

    I'm pretty sure that the dynamics of melting ice in large chunks and small are that if the ice gets too warm, it melts. The loss of arctic ice is attributed by NASA not to warming but to winds [] pushing the ice onto currents that conveyed it out of the arctic.

    Nghiem said the rapid decline in winter perennial ice the past two years was caused by unusual winds. "Unusual atmospheric conditions set up wind patterns that compressed the sea ice, loaded it into the Transpolar Drift Stream and then sped its flow out of the Arctic," he said. When that sea ice reached lower latitudes, it rapidly melted in the warmer waters.

    Quit scaring people with your pseudo-scientific dendro-science. We're on to your game. The sky is not falling. Well, the sky is falling, but it's falling far more slowly than you say it is, and in the opposite direction. Let us sit under the magic warm-monger tree [] and contemplate understanding natural cycles a bit more thoroughly before we deliberately attempt to manipulate them.

  • Re:Shhhh! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pitterpatter ( 1397479 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @03:45AM (#30876618) Journal

    I like to tell people that I'm not going to believe this country (US) is serious about energy conservation until Democrats can see the Milky Way. Then it's fun to let people sputter for a while before explaining: If you compare a satellite image of the US at night, to a political map showing red/blue counties in a fairly close national race, you see that the lighted areas are mostly blue, and the blue areas are mostly lighted.

    When we stop throwing megawatts into production of photons that will never be intercepted by a human retina, then a typical Democrat will be able to step outside on a clear night, look up, and see the Milky Way. Until then, there's just too much light pollution for the typical Democrat to see the night sky clearly, and IMO the country is not serious about conserving energy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:25AM (#30878030)

    "Cities and islands are not flooding. The Maldives had a sea level fall in the 1970s followed by stasis since. Tuvalu's sea levels have remained stable during that time."

    Yes, there are plenty of places where sea level is falling. Want something more dramatic? The area around Hudson's Bay is experiencing quite rapid sea level fall, and that has been the case for thousands of years (you can see the stranded beaches along the coast for many kilometres inland). Why? Because the land is rising faster than the global sea level is, and the mechanism in this case is the removal of the weight of the glaciers that used to exist around Hudson's Bay. This sort of effect is true of all sorts of places in the world: the land moves up and down due to local and regional tectonics. All you've discovered is that if you cherry pick appropriate places, you can find contrary examples to the global trend. It's the same thing for glacier advance and retreat. But if you look at the average trend, it's flagrantly obvious which way sea level is going: up.

    Measuring global sea level change is very tricky [] because of the land changing elevation too, and as a result there are arguments about exactly what rate the rise is (1-2mm/yr), but it is very clear that it is rising, and there are plenty of places in the world where the rise since the 19th century has had a significant effect on human habitation, and where the continued rise at that rate is expected to make a greater impact in the future.

    "What will it take? Perhaps you should spend time cracking a book on science instead of believing every alarmist prediction of the end of the world."

    It's not the end of the world. But I'm sure that's not much consolation to people living in, say, Holland.

    It would be nice to have some citations to your other claims.

  • Re:Shhhh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rockoon ( 1252108 ) on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:27AM (#30878044)

    Your wonderful description of the scientific method describes elegantly why I trust it so much.

    What does the scientific method have to do with the IPCC?

    The IPCC is not a scientific authority, so when YOU say that 'your wonderful description of the scientific method describes elegantly why I trust it so much' I've just got to laugh my ass off at how naive you are.

    If you were talking about the NOAA, or NASA GISS, or some other organization involved in the actual performance of the scientific method... then you might have a leg to stand on.. but what you've just said is that you trust the IPCC because you trust the scientific method. The IPCC is a panel of politicians in the United Nations and has NEVER done any scientific research, E-V-E-R, nor would or should you trust a bunch of politicians to do that sort of thing.

  • Re:Shhhh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sweatyboatman ( 457800 ) <> on Sunday January 24, 2010 @10:44AM (#30878156) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me that you are setting an impossible standard here.

    If they can't do their jobs properly why should their possibly invalid conclusions be used to affect the lives of billions of people in the world?

    The same could be said for the US Congress (or the british Parliament). Basically any collection of humans given authority could be said to be completely unworthy of our trust. Police make mistakes all the time, why trust them with law enforcement? Food companies make mistakes all the time, why trust them with food? Airports make mistakes all the time, why trust them with flying?

    You have a right to be skeptical, sure. But at some point each one of us has to decide for him/herself whether reality is more that what we personally observe and whether we want to grow our own food, provide our own security, fly our own airplanes (to our own airports) and perform our own climate research.

    Because, like law enforcement, food production, and flying airplanes, doing climate research is difficult. It's scientific research. So unless you want to set up your own lab and publish your own papers, you kinda need institutions like the IPCC.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!