tibetan plateau

Mon, 2012-07-16 06:58Chris Mooney
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After All That, The Himalayan Glaciers are Indeed Shrinking

Remember the Himalayan glaciers?

They were at the root of the most deserved black-eye to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change during the intensely politicized period of 2009-2010. In so-called “GlacierGate,” it was revealed that the IPCC had published, in one of its reports, a truly bogus assertion that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone by the year 2035. As I reported at the time:

Not only is this business about 2035 an exceedingly dubious assertion, but part of the error seems traceable to a simple typo—an original source made predictions for the year 2350, not 2035.  When doubts were raised about the passage, however, the IPCC failed to respond either quickly or well. IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri even reportedly referred to a November Indian government report that questioned the IPCC’s findings about the glaciers’ vulnerability as “voodoo science.” Actually, the voodoo was all the IPCC’s, but the U.N. body only acknowledged its error several months after questions were first raised in the Indian report. “In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly,” the IPCC coughed out on January 20.

Climate skeptics and deniers of course seized on “GlacierGate” to try to discredit the IPCC. In reality, while the group did indeed make an error, a little perspective is required–this is one mistake in a vast 938 page report! What would be truly amazing would be for the IPCC not to make any mistakes when dealing with such a vast volume of scientific material.

And anyways, while the IPCC did itself no credit with how it handled “GlacierGate,” the fact remains that the error was acknowledged, period. The story is over.

In fact—and most important—most Himalayan glaciers are indeed retreating in a manner consistent with climate change (although certainly not at a rate suggesting they’ll be gone by 2035).

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