A whole new climate scandal is now erupting, and this one has nothing to do with the leaked emails from the Hadley CRU. Last December, a climate scientist named Madhav Khandekar raised issues with the 2007 IPCC report’s prediction regarding the Himalayan glaciers. Writing on the blog of Roger Pielke (another climate scientist who might be described as a moderate skeptic), he pointed out that there was no support in peer-reviewed literature for the claim that the Himalayan glaciers would be entirely gone by 2035. In fact, the only paper on the subject predicted that the glaciers would survive until 2350. He speculated that the 2035 date was nothing but a typo, and added:
In summary, the glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating, but NOT any faster than other glaciers in the Arctic and elsewhere. The two large and most important glaciers of the Himalayas show very little retreat at this point in time. . . It is premature at this stage to link global warming to the deteriorating state of Himalayan glaciers at this time.
The IPCC’s 2035 prediction was a huge deal. As Telegraph columnist Christopher Booker explains:
To understand why the future of Himalayan glaciers should arouse such peculiar passion, one must recall why they have long been a central icon in global warming campaigners’ propaganda. Everything that polar bears have been to the West, the ice of the Himalayas has been – and more – to the East. This is because, as Mr Gore emphasised in his Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth, the vast Himalayan ice sheet feeds seven of the world’s major river systems, thus helping to provide water to 40 per cent of the world’s population.
The IPCC’s shock prediction in its 2007 report that the likelihood of the glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high” thus had huge impact in India and other Asian countries.
At first, the IPCC tried to defend the prediction. Rajendra Pachauri, head of the IPCC, mocked a contrary report from the Indian government, calling it “voodoo science”. Ultimately, however, the IPCC was forced to admit the mistake:
One of the most alarming conclusions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a widely respected organization established by the United Nations, is that glaciers in the Himalayas could be gone 25 years from now, eliminating a primary source of water for hundreds of millions of people. But a number of glaciologists have argued that this conclusion is wrong, and now the IPCC admits that the conclusion is largely unsubstantiated, based on news reports rather than published, peer-reviewed scientific studies.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the IPCC admitted that the Working Group II report, “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” published in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report (2007), contains a claim that “refers to poorly substantiated estimates. ” The statement also said “the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedure, were not applied properly.” . . .
The error has been traced to the fact that the IPCC permits the citation of non-peer-reviewed sources, called “grey literature,” in cases where peer-reviewed data is not available. It requires that these sources be carefully scrutinized, but that didn’t happen in this case.
In fact, the literature that supported the 2035 prediction was very grey indeed:
The claim that Himalayan glaciers are set to disappear by 2035 rests on two 1999 magazine interviews with glaciologist Syed Hasnain, which were then recycled without any further investigation in a 2005 report by the environmental campaign group WWF.
This brings us to the latest development. So far, this could be written off as a bad case of scientific malpractice, but now it is revealed as a deliberate fraud:
The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.
Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.
In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: ‘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.
‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’
One misrepresentation in the IPCC report could be written off as an isolated incident. Combine it with this fraud, and the whole report now must be questioned.