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Questions arise about U.N. climate panel’s glacier retreat claims

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 8:06am MDT
This image from the IPCCs AR4 report was included with claims of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035.  That claim has now been disproven.  The image also shows that glacial retreat was occuring long before the industrial age. (IPCC)

This image from the IPCC's AR4 report was included with claims of Himalayan glaciers disappearing by 2035. That claim has now been disproven. The image also shows that glacial retreat was occuring long before the industrial age. (IPCC)

Just three years ago, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made the stark claim that it was “very likely” that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035. In a blow to its credibility, the IPCC was forced to acknowledge this week that the assertion was incorrect despite being oft repeated by its leaders.

The claim was contained in the IPCC’s seminal “AR4” report that was issued in 2007, the same year the panel and Al Gore won Nobel Peace Prizes for their work combating anthropogenic global warming. The document has served as a guide to policymakers in their efforts to force heavy regulation of carbon dioxide emissions.

The passage in question said, “Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.”

Concerns of glacial retreat have been used to provide an exclamation point on the claims that action must be taken immediately to stem man’s purported influence on the climate. According to the IPCC’s methodology, “very likely” is meant to have a 90% or greater chance of occurring. With millions of people in Asia relying on glacial ice for their water supply, the threat was considered to be great.

The claim was said to reference a study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), a global environmental advocacy group performed in 2005. The WWF’s study in turn cited a 1999 story in New Scientist that contained the claim.

New Scientist had interviewed Dr. Syed Hasnain who was working at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi at the time. No quote is attributed to Hasnain where he mentioned the 2035 date although it appears in the narrative of the story. Earlier this month, Hasnain said that the statement was pure “speculation” and not based in scientific fact.

There's more to this story on Examiner.com!For the rest of this story including the response from the head of the IPCC, please visit the Climate Change Examiner.

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