About a month ago I received from James Hansen a paper that he co-authored entitled “Black Soot and the Survival of Tibetan Glaciers”. In it he describes how the Tibetan Glaciers were melting at an increasing rate, not only due to CO2 induced global warming-a given according to him- but also from soot originating in China and India. At the time I found it curious but did not think it was overly noteworthy. What I didn’t realize at the time was there were other developments that would impact this discussion.
Yesterday I received a memo from Will Alexander, of South Africa regarding the Claim by the IPCC that the glaciers would melt by 2035. The headline in the Tuesday UK Times read,”The IPCC’s claim that climate change will result in massive melting of the Himalayan glaciers is false”. That is pretty significant but the history is even more curious. From his memo, here is the sequence of events over the past 14 years that brings us to this point:
1996. A member of the Russian Academy of Sciences predicted significant Himalayan glacier melting by 2350. Somewhere along the line this was fraudulently transformed to 2035.
1999. An Indian glaciologist Sayed Hasnain speculated in a short telephone interview with the New Scientist that all the glaciers in the central and western Himalayas could soon start disappearing. He did not mention the year of 2035 in his interview.
2005. The environmental group WWF published a report in which it described the New Scientist report as disturbing.
2007. The IPCC published its fourth assessment report. One of the report’s central claims was that the world’s glaciers are melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035. It sourced this prediction to the WWF report.
2009. The Indian government reported that there was no substance in claims of large scale melting of the glaciers. The chairman of the IPCC described his government’s report as voodoo science. He has since been widely criticized for his statement.
2010. Hasnain revealed in an interview with the New Scientist that he had never repeated the prediction in a peer-reviewed journal as it was speculative.
So how is that for a fine kettle of rotten fish? When you get to the bottom of the stories relating to claims by AGW supporters it is always interesting what you find. Digging deeper is even more fun.
In November 2009, when the Indian government complained about Pachuari’s committee, the IPCC, they not only questioned the 2035 predicted near elimination of the Himalayan/Tibetan glaciers. They also cited observational evidence to the contrary. “Nothing abnormal is happening to Indian glaciers,” said V.K. Raina, a former deputy director general of the Geological Survey of India, who wrote the paper, Himalayan Glaciers. “They’re retreating because of negative mass balance. There’s no evidence of climate change.” In the paper there were photographs taken in 1957 and 2007 illustrating a negligible difference in the glacial retreat.
“Our studies of glaciers in Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim over 10 years have shown that temperature rise (caused by climate change) is a big reason for the melting of glaciers,” said Delhi-based glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain. Hasnain? Haven’t we seen him someplace before? Yes, he’s the guy that denied ever saying the glaciers would be gone in 2035. He just said “Soon” whenever that is. His comment on that prediction was that is was purely “speculative”.
“Our prediction [in 2007] was based on government data, and a peer review was done by all countries before our report was released,” IPCC chief R.K. Pachuari, said. “I disagree that there’s no evidence of impact of global warming, but agree there’s a need to do more research on Himalayan glaciers.” More research is needed indeed and apparently will happen in part due to the “speculative” forecast by Hasnain who is now head of Pachuari’s TERI (The Energy Resource Institute) Glaciology Team which will be spending a $500,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation. So Pachuari and Hasnain are benefiting from the phony prediction published by Pachauri’s committee.
Regarding the peer review of the report, there were several comments made. One reviewer noted the “500,000 sq Kms being reduced to 100,000 Sq Kms” but then saw that the glaciers would disappear. “100,000 Sq Kms?, disappear?” Can’t say as I blame him but more curious is that there were only 33,000 Sq Kms to begin with. Oops! That went un-noticed.
How does Hansen’s paper fit into the whole scenario? Unless he does climate work pro bono, he also is benefiting from this scare. To answer this question would be entirely speculative but it would certainly seem logical that the IPCC, finding they are lacking any peer reviewed prediction of Tibetan glacial melt, might want something they could hang their hat on. Hansen’s paper accomplishes that but what is curious is that China and India would be exempt from any impacts of any climate treaty and would be allowed to continue to spew black soot unabated. This, despite readily available scrubber technology that could easily resolve the problem. The issue is and has been to dismantle the industrial economies of developed countries. The environmental consequences are of trivial concern to these folks as is evidenced by the output of the Copenhagen Conference.
So the IPCC is not taking this new threat from soot very seriously plus they have a PR problem after claiming authoritatively the glacial demise when it was a series of speculations and deceptions. Or maybe it was a mistake. If Pachuari had listened to the Indian government back in 2009 this problem would have been avoided. How much better it would have been for the IPCC to bring this to the attention of the world. A scientist should have questioned the work for which he was responsible but perhaps not a train engineer. No offense to train engineers intended. And kudos to the Indian government.
Chelly’s cartoon is in reference to Al Gore’s suggestion to paint roofs white. Maybe we could do the same for glaciers. Right?