Himalayan glacier meltdown: gospel truth?

January 19, 2010

Kashmiri horsemen walk over a glacier near Sheshnag, 130 km southeast of Srinagar, June 12, 2006. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw/FilesTwenty-five years from now, the Himalayan glaciers would have almost disappeared. Almost.

Perhaps that foreboding has been stifled. The U.N. body which issued an alarmist warning that the Himalayan glaciers might vanish by 2035 due to climate change is re-examining its report.

Some experts say the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) led by Rajendra Pachauri based the conclusion on the findings of one report.

Controversy surrounding climate scientists and their reports is nothing new. Not too long ago, a team of hackers exposed a conspiracy by prominent American and British scientists trying to put global warming in the spotlight with the help of statistical “tricks”.

But is the latest controversy over the Himalayan glaciers just a case of foot-in-mouth or are there more skeletons hiding in the cupboard?

Media reports say mystery surrounds the financial affairs of The Energy and Resources Institute, which is headed by Pachauri, known for his “$1,000 suits”.

Does this raise questions about the merit of scientific reports?

At the moment though, it’s not just the critics who feel the 2007 IPCC report may have exaggerated.

India’s environment ministry, which was criticised for snubbing the IPCC report, feels the government stands vindicated.

Last year, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had disputed the Pachauri-led team’s findings while releasing another report, one that said there was no evidence climate change had caused abnormal shrinking of Himalayan glaciers.

Should an independent team of glaciologists try and find out who’s right?

11 comments

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Perhaps, but how would we ensure the “independence” of the team?

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive

Yes, I am worried over the Himalayan glaciers as such but I am more concerned about the reports of corruption in the U.N. Is nothing sacrosanct any more?

Posted by ToeKnee | Report as abusive

Pachauri may be trying too hard now to qualify this controversy as a foot in mouth case. But a report that till now was being so well endorsed by the unerring IPCC cannot have such a glaring mistake made inadvertently.

As if the report was being written as a leisurely Sunday blog. And, all of the world would conveniently accept it and then inconveniently grope imagining the Himalayan glaciers melt down.

Not many people know about Pachauri’s chequered past. This man is such a wimp that he’s afraid of using IPCC email account to correspond with scientists across the globe. Most of his business deals for funding has been facilitated through TERI email accounts whih is quite absurd. Certainly, nothing short of unprofessional, callous and unscruplous way of heading a panel that deals with such a sensitive issue.

Posted by IPCC_Bete_noir | Report as abusive

I second the tirade launched against the gentleman in the ongoing debate. His credentials must be checked and verified.

There must be an inquiry launched by setting up a commission to verify, validate and oversee the functioning of this autonomously run institute TERI.

Many people are already mooting an idea to move court against IPCC head for misleading the people of India. A PIL be filed against errants like Pachauri for conniving with carbon companies and trading his nation for $1000 suits.

Posted by Sudhir1 | Report as abusive

One may even visit TERI website to check their fundings.

Posted by Sudhir1 | Report as abusive

Well Pachauri was right about the Himalayan Glaciers melting being voodoo science. As it is now documented the IPCC published untrue, voodoo science based on one mans telephone interview with the World Wildlife Fund.
If the IPCC had any interrity they would be shamed,however, they will continue to lie and publish their voodoo science.

Posted by ugaby7 | Report as abusive

climate change is for real. so whether the report is true or false. we must act to save the glaciers. it hardly matters whether glaciers take 25 or 26 years to melt.
we are short of water now and we need to conserve it now…
anubhav

Posted by anubhav12345 | Report as abusive

I am a visiting faculty at the Dept of Aracheology in Delhi University. Himalayan glaciers is one of the subjects I am writing upon along with a group of 3 people, this entire controvesy has really disturbed me. today when mr pachauri put up a bold unfazed look admitting the mistake of the report, it came as a rude shock. As a research scholar, i would request mr Pachauri to refer this book Wanderings in the Himalayas by Swami Tapovan Maharaj. There is also a translated version by T.N. Kesava Pillai, the book talks about the history and the eternal, never ending and relentlessly withsthanding Himalayas

Posted by Karthikp | Report as abusive

Ridiculous! Outrageous! Preposterous! These were the words that came to my mind as I read that the findings on the Himalayan glaciers were not based on any concrete scientific study. If any news publication has had a similar goof-up, it would have been sued for it. Were the people at IPCC writing the script of a fictional movie?

I remember someone telling me about his mathematics teacher who would scowl at any student who used guesswork in replying orally to his questions and say, “Andaaz se bataa rahe ho babu (You are replying by making guesses)” and then with a grimace add “Andaaz se mujhe sakhth nafrat hai (I hate guesses)”.

I would like to say the same to Pachauri.

Posted by Anuambrish | Report as abusive

Who cares about the suits he wears…..
Define what you are fighting for, is it the IPCC, the government or for your future and the generation that follows and the next……WHAT ARE YOU DOING ABOUT IT? ARE YOU DOING YOUR PART OR JUST TAKING JABS AT PEOPLE WHO ARE?
Glaciers or simply ice melts at 0 degrees… which makes the glaciers at the height of 3200m to 5000m the relevant points of discussion. They are melting differently according to their climatic setting (in Western , Eastern and Central Himalaya)and whether they are north facing or south and so on and so forth.
Himalan glaciers are in trouble and people who have never been to a glacier or seen how it affects the environment around it will never understand their worth.
HAVE ANYONE OF YOU WHO HAVE MADE YOUR COMMENTS EVER BEEN TO ONE?????????
(I dont mean gangotri and the other large glaciers of which millions have visited and thrown their thrash around it dirtied it….I mean smaller glaciers which are under more serious threat)
In Kashmir, Kolahoi glacier is retreating and loosing depth of around 2-5m/yr and has so far lost around 15% of its mass since 1962. Locals have noticed that the snout has retreated, lesser snowfall and new diseases like malaria (mind you mosquitoes have been foun in out tents at 12,oooft).
In Sikkim, East Rathong glacier, the case is extremely sad. With a melting of around 3-7m in depth (April 2009- Dec 2009)and losing more than 85% of its mass since 1964.
THE CASE HERE IS GLACIERS ARE MELTING…MAYBE ALL THE HIMALAYAN GLACIERS MAY NOT BE GONE IN THE NEXT 10,000yrs BUT THERE WILL BE SOME GLACIERS THAT WILL DISSAPPEAR VERY SOON…AT THE RATE AT WHICH THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD IS TREATING THIS PROBLEM….THEY CANT BE SAVED…
EVENTUALLY YOUR GRAND CHILDREN WILL SUFFER BECAUSE YOU WERE BUSY WITH CRITISISING OTHERS.
THE TIME, THE WORK, THE BLOOD, THE SWEAT, THE MONEY, THE RISKS…OTHERS HAVE GIVEN TO TRY TO CONVINCE THAT WE HAVE A PROBLEM IN THE HIMALAYA IS BEING UNDONE BY A FEW WHO UNDERESTIMATE THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE SUITUATION.

Posted by Bhakupar | Report as abusive

The prediction that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 has now been shown to be unfounded but the date may be wrong the outcome will be the same.

Posted by Bhakupar | Report as abusive