One wonders just how many of these kinds of stories we’ll hear before it’s all said and done. Perhaps we’ve turned a corner, though. Prior to Climategate, truth-seekers and anti-exaggerationists (usually referred to as “skeptics” and “deniers”) would see stories like this get no comment or traction outside a small blogosphere community. But now a few more people have had their ears pricked, and maybe these things will finally reach a point where a response and good scientific research is required. In the past, wild claims based on flimsy anecdotal evidence or research could be made almost without question. Now, perhaps, more care needs to be taken. We shall see.
The article in question today is found at the Timesonline, “World Misled Over Himalayan Glacier Meltdown.”
It’s almost difficult to believe this “research” ever gained the traction it did, except that with the given topic, almost nothing is difficult to believe:
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.
Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was “speculation” and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.
Professor Murari Lal, who oversaw the chapter on glaciers in the IPCC report, said he would recommend that the claim about glaciers be dropped: “If Hasnain says officially that he never asserted this, or that it is a wrong presumption, than(sic) I will recommend that the assertion about Himalayan glaciers be removed from future IPCC assessments.”