IPCC Credibility Could Vanish By 2035

Maybe a lot sooner.  A brief review of some recent developments in climate science politics is in order:

  • In 2007, the UN IPCC’s fourth assessment report (AR4) published the statement that "Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world."  It predicted that all of the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could vanish by 2035, and stated its confidence as "very likely"—meaning more than 90 percent certain.
  • In November a paper published by the Indian government said there are no signs of "abnormal" retreat in Himalayan glaciers, and accused the IPCC of being alarmist.
  • The IPCC’s chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, responded by denouncing the Indian government report as "voodoo science" lacking peer review.
  • Last week, it was revealed that the 2035 claim, based on a 2005 report by the World Wildlife Fund… was in turn based on two 1999 magazine interviews with glaciologist Syed Hasnain… who in turn now says they were based not on peer reviewed science but on “speculation.”
  • On Tuesday, the IPCC retracted the glacier claim, calling it a mistake.
  • On Saturday, Dr Murari Lal, who put the claim into the IPCC report to begin with, told the Daily Mail he was aware at the time that the statement did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research, but included it to put political pressure on world leaders.  “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.”
  • Also yesterday, Pachauri admitted to four more mistakes in the glacier section of the AR4 report.  (Seriously, did anybody read this thing until just now?)
  • Today, the Daily Mail reports that yet another claim in the 4th assessment report—that the world had “suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s" was based on an unpublished paper that had not been peer reviewed.  That paper’s author later withdrew the claim because he felt the evidence was not strong enough, and he has now criticized the IPCC report for being "completely misleading."
  • Also today, the Sunday Times reported that Pachauri "used bogus claims that Himalayan glaciers were melting to win grants worth hundreds of thousands of pounds."  More than a half million US dollars, in fact.

So you may want to update your copy of the 4th AR to bring it up to date with recent developments.  Simply search and replace the phrases, "this is highly likely" or "this is more than 90 percent likely" with the phrase "this may be speculative nonsense, not science, and might even turn out to be a deliberate fraud calculated to apply political pressure or land a research grant." 

What’s important here isn’t the scope of the individual errors so far discovered.  It’s that these claims were deliberately included despite their lack of sound foundation for political reasons when they shouldn’t have been, extensively reported, and used to justify the diversion of huge sums of money to climate scientists.  Like the CRU data breach from late last year, this incident says a lot about the trustworthiness and integrity of the processes and institutions behind climate politics. 

Always remember that while the Earth might actually turn out to be warming due to human activity, the insistence of those who say it is can originate in political and financial interests instead of scientific ones.  To paraphrase Voltaire, if manmade global warming did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it.  Good science is skeptical.  Question everything.

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