U.N. Glacial Melt Prediction Based on Decade-Old “Misquoted” Interview with One Scientist

In an earlier entry, evidence was quoted suggesting that many Himalayan glaciers are growing, rather than contracting as is widely claimed. Now The New York Times reveals that a “much-publicized” U.N. prediction of Himalayan glacier disappearance by 2035, was based on an old misquoted interview with a single scientist who now repudiates the prediction.

(p. A8) A much-publicized estimate from a United Nations panel about the rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers from climate change is coming under fire as a gross exaggeration.

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in 2007 — the same year it shared the Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore — that it was “very likely” that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 if current warming trends continued.
That date has been much quoted and a cause for enormous consternation, since hundreds of millions of people in Asia rely on ice and snow melt from these glaciers for their water supply.
The panel, the United Nations’ scientific advisory body on climate change, ranks its conclusions using a probability scale in which “very likely” means there is greater than 90 percent chance that an event will occur.
But it now appears that the estimate about Himalayan glacial melt was based on a decade-old interview of one climate scientist in a science magazine, The New Scientist, and that hard scientific evidence to support that figure is lacking. The scientist, Dr. Syed Hasnain, a glacier specialist with the government of the Indian state of Sikkim and currently a fellow at the TERI research institute in Delhi, said in an e-mail message that he was “misquoted” about the 2035 estimate in The New Scientist article. He has more recently said that his research suggests that only small glaciers could disappear entirely.

For the full story, see:
ELISABETH ROSENTHAL. “U.N. Panel’s Glacier Warning Is Criticized as Exaggerated.” The New York Times (Tues., January 19, 2010): A8.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated January 18, 2010.)

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