UN IPCC: Rotting from the Head down


(Apologies to Stahler)

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is stinking like a dead fish, rotting from the head down. In what has been dubbed ‘Glaciergate’, the IPCC has been exposed as conspiring to present a tissue of lies about the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, claiming with greater than 90% confidence that they would disappear by 2035 or sooner. There was never any scientific basis whatsoever for such claims, and the ‘source’ quoted was WWF, an avowed advocacy group. Both the IPCC and WWF have recently admitted that the claims were false, long after these claims have become embedded in countless papers, books and presentations and caused alarmism about the fate of hundreds of millions of people who rely on the rivers that run from the Himalayas. But the damage this has done goes very deep: not only were the claims in the IPCC Fourth Assessment report (AR4) based on lies, but the lies have for years been peddled by the head of the IPCC himself, who sought to belittle those who drew attention to the problem.

This post deals briefly with the extraordinarily arrogant, unprofessional and dishonest nature of Rajendra K Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, but goes on to show in detail that the UN and the scientific community were well aware from 2004, as demonstrated in a work by a Himalayan expert, which was described in 2006 by the editor of the peer-reviewed Himalayan Journal of Sciences (HJS) as “probably the single most influential monograph ever published on Himalayan environmental issues”, and from an article that appeared in the HJS in 2005, that the claim of the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 or within 40 years was a lie propagated by advocacy groups and vested interests, and yet the IPCC deliberately incorporated the lie into the AR4 report in 2007. We show how the falsehood was embroidered stage by stage by advocacy groups, politicians and bent ‘scientists’ to appear as one of the most outrageous scientific claims in modern times.

The passage in question reads as follows in AR4

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) 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. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km² by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).

We will show that such claims as these were known to be arrant nonsense as far back in 2004. But first we fast forward to the end of 2009 when the Indian Government Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) put out a discussion paper written by V.K. Raina, former Deputy Director General of the Geological Survey of India, looking at 150 years’ worth of data gathered from the Geological Survey from 25 glaciers. Entitled Himalayan Glaciers: A State-of-Art Review of Glacial Studies, Glacial Retreat and Climate Change, the report described the claims made by the IPCC as “imaginative”, and gave a comprehensive picture of what was actually occurring with the Himalayan glaciers.

R.K. Pachauri blasted the report, saying it was “extremely arrogant”, “schoolboy science”, “totally unsubstantiated” and “Voodoo science”. Such outbursts betray the desperate notes of someone who has something to hide – an agenda that is starting to unravel. As it now turns out, all these epithets look much more appropriate for the IPCC AR4 report, except for the “schoolboy science” remark, since even a schoolboy wouldn’t make as many foolish errors as the IPCC report has.

Of course, this was all very inconvenient for the IPCC, coming as it was shortly before the Copenhagen summit, and, as we shall see, when Pachauri was trying to secure huge amounts of cash for TERI, his research institute, based on these false claims. Other academics started to weigh in, saying that the IPCC report was grossly erroneous on the Himalayan glaciers, and brought this to the attention of Pachauri. For example, even the BBC correspondent, Pallava Bagla in Delhi, reported on December 5, 2009 before the summit:

The UN panel on climate change warning that Himalayan glaciers could melt to a fifth of current levels by 2035 is wildly inaccurate, an academic says…When asked how this “error” could have happened, RK Pachauri, the Indian scientist who heads the IPCC, said: “I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.”

In other words, no comment. Eventually, the IPCC had to back down and admit that the claims were untrue, but not before Pachauri had added his own dissembling (exposed as a lie in the quote above) about when he first heard of the problem. The London Times reported on January 23:

Dr Pachauri also said he did not learn about the mistakes until they were reported in the media about 10 days ago, at which time he contacted other IPCC members. He denied keeping quiet about the errors to avoid disrupting the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen, or discouraging funding for TERI’s own glacier programme.

We will see later that he must have known about it long before Copenhagen, and the previous day he had adopted the grossly unscientific and very silly position reported in the Hindu, New Delhi, January 22, 2010

Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on Friday said the chances of the U.N. panel having made more errors in its benchmark 2007 report were “minimal if not non-existent”, while again admitting the “regrettable error” that has raised questions about its credibility.

Several other egregious ‘errors’ were then pointed out, and the following day it was reported in the London Times

The Indian head of the UN climate change panel defended his position yesterday even as further errors were identified in the panel’s assessment of Himalayan glaciers.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri dismissed calls for him to resign over the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change’s retraction of a prediction that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.
But he admitted that there may have been other errors in the same section of the report, and said that he was considering whether to take action against those responsible.

The deception about the glacial melt was very useful in securing US$500,000 from the Carnegie Corporation and the lion’s share of around US$4million of EU funds into Dr Pachauri’s Energy Research Institute (TERI), to which he had appointed Syed Hasnain a Distinguished Fellow, whom we will see below was the one cited as the source of the nonsense about the imminent disappearance of the glaciers, and who (by his own subsequent admission) knew that what was in the AR4 report was fraudulent. From TERI’s own press release of January 15, where they acknowledge getting their hands on the cash, even though by then the scientific community knew the claims were untrue, and Pachauri and Hasnain had known long before, we read (emphasis added)

…changes in weather patterns and the climate are bound to cause profound changes in the Himalaya. Of particular consequence will be changes of the glaciers. According to predictions of scientific merit they may indeed melt away in several decades. This, in turn, will have implications for the entire water system of the sub-continent, with immediate effect on soil, water management, and the possibilities of food production…
Present on the occasion was… Dr R K Pachauri, Director-General TERI…and the TERI Glaciology team, headed by Prof Syed Iqbal Hasnain…
Elaborating on the collaboration, Dr R K Pachauri, said, “…Scientific data assimilated by IPCC is very robust and it is universally acknowledged that glaciers are melting because of climate change.”

Predictions of scientific merit…very robust…universally acknowledged, my foot. Pachauri knew enough then to know that those statements were untrue. Let us see how the web of lies in IPCC AR4 was spun. I will emphasize certain text in italics.

The UNESCO report of the International Hydrological Programme of 1996, Variations of Snow and Ice in the past and at present on a Global and Regional Scale, was the source of some of the numbers, perhaps correctly stated, but as we shall see, misquoted and manipulated for nefarious ends. In this report, the paper by V. M. Kotlyakov, The Future of Glaciers under the Expected Climate Warming, stated

With the further progress of warming or stabilization of the present climate…The degradation of the extrapolar glaciation of the Earth will be apparent in rising ocean level already by the year 2050, and there will be a drastic rise of the ocean thereafter caused by the deglaciation-derived runoff (see Table 11 ). This period will last from 200 to 300 years. The extrapolar glaciation of the Earth will be decaying at rapid, catastrophic rates—its total area will shrink from 500,000 to 100,000 km² by the year 2350. Glaciers will survive only in the mountains of inner Alaska, on some Arctic archipelagos, within Patagonian ice sheets, in the Karakoram Mountains, in the Himalayas, in some regions of Tibet and on the highest mountain peaks in the temperature [temperate?] latitudes.

Note that 500, 000 km² is the total area of ALL extrapolar glaciers throughout the world. With unabated global warming, shrinkage to 100,000 km² takes place by 2350 (not 2035), and even then glaciers will survive in the Himalayas.

By 2005, this had been grossly manipulated by WWF to read something completely different in its report An Overview of Glaciers, Glacier Retreat, and Subsequent Impacts in Nepal, India and China:

In 1999, a report by the Working Group on Himalayan Glaciology (WGHG) of the International Commission for Snow and Ice (ICSI) stated: “glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the livelihood [sic] of them disappearing by the year 2035 is very high”.

Further embellishment and alarmism beyond even the ridiculous WWF remarks leads to the absurd statements in the UN IPCC report:

Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) 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. Its [sic] total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).

In the IPCC report, a likelihood of “very high” is defined as greater than 90% confidence. It is here that Syed Hasnain, the Indian scientist comes into the picture. He is said to have suggested that the Himalayan glaciers could be gone within 40 years – quoted by Fred Pearce of New Scientist in 1999. Even WWF picked up on that:

The prediction that “glaciers in the region will vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming” and that the flow of Himalayan rivers will “eventually diminish, resulting in widespread water shortages” (New Scientist 1999; 1999, 2003) is equally disturbing.

It was reported that Syed Hasnain had also said something in 2003 to the effect of the Himalayan glaciers vanishing within 40 years, and affirming that they would be gone by 2035, though this claim is never found in any published work by Hasnain. As reported in the peer-reviewed Himalayan Journal of Sciences in 2005:

The Times of London (21 July 2003), reporting on an international meeting held at the University of Birmingham, noted that ‘Himalayan glaciers could vanish within 40 years because of global warming . . . 500 million people in countries like India could also be at increased risk of drought and starvation.’ Syed Hasnain is quoted as affirming that ‘the glaciers of the region [Central Indian Himalaya] could be gone by 2035’.

However, most interestingly, the above quote comes from a withering attack and exposure by Professor Jack D. Ives of the false claims attributed to Hasnain about the Himalayan glaciers.

Who is Jack Ives? Jack Ives is a foremost expert on mountains, especially the Himalayas. As Professor Emeritus, Environmental Science, University of California and Davis Honorary Research Professor, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ives is no obscure scientist, but a towering figure in the field. No-one researching Himalayan mountains could fail to know of Jack Ives, his extensive research, and exceptional achievements. Here are a few details to fill in the picture.

Ives has over 180 publications, scientific papers, and books to his credit, and was Founder and Editor (1968-1980) of Arctic and Alpine Research journal, and Founder and Editor (1980-2000) of Mountain Research and Development journal. Very many photos of the Himalayas in the literature trace their origin to Jack Ives.

Jack Ives’ earliest interests involved glaciology and the physical aspects of mountains and the Arctic. In 1973, UNESCO invited him under the Man and the Biosphere programme to work with an international team of academics. In 1978, he was appointed coordinator of United Nations University’s mountain research project.

In 2002, Ives was awarded the King Albert I Memorial Foundation Award, an award “to honor persons or institutions that have distinguished themselves through exceptional and lasting achievements in the Mountain World.” In 2006, he was awarded the Patron’s Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for his mountain and arctic research, extensive publishing, teaching, and especially “for his role internationally in establishing the global importance of mountain regions.”

Ives worked with several international organizations, including the United Nations University (UNU), UNESCO, and the International Geographical Union. His 30-year work with UNU was regarded as of particular importance as it played a critical role in the designation of 2002 as The International Year of Mountains by the United Nations Organization. As Mountain Research and Development noted:

Jack Ives’ numerous scholarly papers and books, in particular his founding editorship of the journal Mountain Research and Development (1981–2000) reveal his impressive expertise and tireless efforts to enhance the knowledge and vision of students, scientists, and political leaders. The book Mountains of the World: A Global Priority, edited by Bruno Messerli and Jack Ives and intended for the eyes of the UN General Assembly, met with world-wide approval. Jack Ives notes that his award is virtually identical to that received by Bruno Messerli—a reflection of their 25-year collaboration as codirectors of the United Nations University’s Mountain Programme, and of their contribution to the initiation of Mountain Agenda and Chapter 13 of Agenda 21 at the Rio Earth Summit.

Then in 2004, Ives authored a seminal work entitled Himalayan perceptions: environmental change and the well-being of mountain peoples, which inter alia exposed the myths being propounded about the Himalayan glaciers. In the preface to the second edition (2006) Ives himself wrote:

…During the last five years the news media have begun to propagate this catastrophic scenario, aided by the United Nations Environment Programme and several other vested interests…even this narrative is already being superseded with the posited threat that, after all the glaciers have melted and the floods have done their worst, the Ganges will be reduced to a trickle and hundreds of millions will die of thirst…

The work Himalayan Perceptions was described by Kumar Mainali, Editor of the Himalayan Journal of Sciences, as “probably the single most influential monograph ever published on Himalayan environmental issues” (INASP Newsletter, Spring 2006). The section in both editions entitled Some current myths on a Himalayan scale was largely reproduced in the paper published in the peer-reviewed Himalayan Journal of Sciences 2005, and because of its relevance will be quoted at length below.

The title of the paper is Himalayan misconceptions and distortions: What are the facts? Himalayan Delusions: Who’s kidding who and why — Science at the service of media, politics and the development agencies.

This whole paper is well worth a read. It is a devastating exposure.

Some current myths on a Himalayan scale

…the following examples are offered because the degree of misinformation appears to be both extensive, widespread, and continuing…Reporting on global warming, the world economy, international terrorism, or almost any disaster has become comparable to the campaign speeches politicians tend to make at election time. It has also been understood for several decades now that ‘green’ movements have felt compelled to exaggerate in order to compete for attention with the possible bias of well-financed campaigns of big business and industry. Regardless, the examples of ‘latter-day myths’ are set forth because their pervasiveness tends to clutter the sustainable development landscape and perpetuate the Himalayan scale of uncertainty…

The Times of London (21 July 2003), reporting on an international meeting held at the University of Birmingham, noted that ‘Himalayan glaciers could vanish within 40 years because of global warming . . . 500 million people in countries like India could also be at increased risk of drought and starvation.’ Syed Hasnain is quoted as affirming that ‘the glaciers of the region [Central Indian Himalaya] could be gone by 2035’.

According to Barry (1992: 45) the average temperature decrease with height (environmental lapse rate) is about 6ºC/km in the free atmosphere. The dry adiabatic lapse rate (DALR) is 9.8ºC/km. If it is assumed that the equilibrium line altitude (comparable with the ‘snow line’) in the Central Himalaya is about 5,000 masl and it will need to rise above 7,000 m if all the glaciers are to be eliminated, then the mean temperature increase needed to effect this change would be about 12–18ºC. Given that degree of global warming, summers in Calcutta would be a little uncomfortable.

As indicated earlier, myths tend to be self-perpetuating. In practice their longevity is often encouraged by vested interests of one form or another.

This, by one of the most well-known experts in the field, is a direct attack on the lies being propagated, and the prostitution and corruption of science in “the service of media, politics and the development agencies”. It is simply not possible after 2004 to suggest that the UN and those studying the Himalayas were unaware of the exposure of the myth and scam by such a prominent person as Jack Ives. Moreover, WWF were fully cognizant of Ives and his works – after all, in 2005 they quoted from four of his works in their paper: Ives, J. and Barry, R.(eds.), Arctic and Alpine Environments; Ives, J. D. (1986). Glacial lake outburst floods and risk engineering in the Himalaya; Ives, J. D., and Messerli, B. (1989). “The Himalayan Dilemma” and Messerli, B. and Ives, J.D. (Eds.), (1997). Mountains of the World – A Global Priority. A contribution to Chapter 13 of Agenda 21.

Jack Ives, in a comment to the author of this post, added:

The silliness of writing that all the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 should be self-evident: it would likely cause an undergraduate in physical geography or geology to laugh.

Additionally, the foreword to his 2004 book was written by none other than Prof. Dr. Hans J.A. van Ginkel, Rector of the United Nations University (a UN agency and think tank for the UN), whom Jack Ives represented at UN headquarters in New York in November 2001 when the International Year of Mountains (2002) was announced:

In writing this book, Jack Ives has…succeeded in laying to rest, once and for all, the regrettable misrepresentations that have been made about the Himalayan environmental situation…This volume is of immense value in bringing light to a long-standing area of misunderstanding and misrepresentation. Its findings will contribute to a rethinking of the policies and approaches of decision-makers and government agencies concerned with the Himalayan region…

Well, that was 2004. It was to be expected, of course, that exposure of the lies and myths would scotch them, except perhaps among advocacy groups. In spite of Ives’ superb work, he and the United Nations University could not have expected that any respectable scientific body would deliberately perpetuate and embellish the myths he had slain and foist them onto an unsuspecting, and generally trusting public. In embodying these lies, the IPCC has behaved in a disgracefully cynical and evil manner with a public who could reasonably expect better.

But of course, Ives pointed out how the longevity of myths “is often encouraged by vested interests”, and that brings us right back to Rajendra Pachauri. It was none other than R.K. Pachauri who continued to spread the lies after their exposure by Ives, as reported in Hindustan Times (New Delhi), 22 July 2006

R.K. Pachauri, who heads the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says: “In the next 25 years half of Himalayan glaciers will be lost to warming, affecting adversely crops and people of the region.”

So there you have it. This dead fish rotting from the head ensured that the lie was propagated and cemented into AR4 in 2007, years after it had been exposed in the relevant peer-reviewed literature as a lie.

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14 Responses to “UN IPCC: Rotting from the Head down”

  1. 1 MrXYZ January 26, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Glaciergate–A relatively tame Hitler parody video

    “As chief operating officer for the cabal of Billionaires who control the global warming scam, Hitler quickly realizes the long range implications of “Glaciergate”.”

  2. 2 omnologos January 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    I think we are on the verge of discovering a “Himalayagate 2″.

    Have you noticed…Ives is mentioned by the IPCC only once, in the TAR WG2 Chapter 11, at page 553 for a 1989 book titled “The Himalayan Dilemma”

    This is the IPCC text:

    In recent decades,
    the hydrological characteristics of watersheds in this region seem to have undergone substantial change as a result of extensive land-use change—leading to more frequent hydrological disasters, enhanced variability in rainfall and runoff, extensive reservoir sedimentation, and pollution of lakes (Ives and Messerli, 1989).

    The book has a wholly different tone. Read the preface by Maurice Strong (of all people!):

    This book challenges the assumptions arising from these alarmist reports that the Himalayan region is in an advanced stage of irreversible environmental destruction. The authors, Jack Ives and Bruno Messerli, bring to this subject the insights and experience of two of the world’s leading experts on mountain environments and have an intimate knowledge of the Himalayan region. They have analysed its problems with the disciplined objectivity of science and demonstrated that their roots are basically socio-economic and political rather than narrowly environmental.

    [...] Their excellence as scientists lends to this book an authority and credibility that is unique in its field. Its value is multiplied immeasurably by the thoughtful and incisive manner in which the authors have translated their findings into a set of guidelines for the politicians, officials and practitioners on which the future of the region so largely depends.

    All those who love the Himalayan region and are concerned about its future owe a great debt of gratitude to Jack Ives and Bruno Messerli. Not only have they produced a book that is thoroughly engaging, brilliantly written and enjoyable to read, but in it they present the most up to date, comprehensive and thoroughly researched analysis available today of the complex forces that are shaping the future of the Himalaya. The conclusions and recommendations that result from this provide the basis for the new attitudes, policies and practices which can produce a new era of hope for that unique, beautiful and imperiled region, and its wonderful people.

    And yet…there is nothing about that book in the FAR (1990), SAR (2001) or 4AR (2007) and just a short sentence or two in the TAR (1995).

    Back to the book. Chapter 13:

    Much of Lauterburg’s study of erosion records of test plots and small catchments parallels the discussion in Chapter 5. He concludes that, at the local (micro) level, soil erosion is highly influenced by human impact and that corrective measures could reduce this dramatically. We also wish to reemphasize the positive aspects of certain forms of human intervention. Lauterburg also supports our earlier contention that the conversion of mountain lands under natural vegetation to an agricultural landscape does not automatically result in an increase in soil erosion (accelerated erosion) since soil loss is not dependent upon natural versus domesticated soil cover but on a conservation factor; an extreme case, for instance, is the positive influence of carefully tended agricultural terraces


    In terms of reservoir sedimentation it also follows from the foregoing discussion of the micro-watershed that soil-conservation measures can be extremely valuable in correcting a damaging situation for reservoirs in small catchments. However, the next sections will demonstrate that for meso-scale and macro-scale watersheds high reservoir sedimentation rates probably must be considered as an inevitable natural phenomenon.

    This last quote appears to contradict the text of the IPCC TAR mentioned above.

    Is this another case of gross misrepresentation of the Literature, thereafter conveniently disregarded as not playing the party line?

  3. 3 Keith January 29, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks for this. It is far greater level of evil to wilfully ignore previous scientific refutation than it is to include speculative advocacy without proper peer review. This claim re glaciers became a signature claim for warmanistas, an emotional touchstone if you will, and so trying to say, as they have, that it was a simple error on one page of 1600,is a total collapse of any last shred of integrity. Add the lies about the Amazon ( “40% at risk of small decrease in precipitation”) and about a proven link between warming and extreme events, to all the other stuff and they should be hanging their heads in shame!

  4. 4 hro001 January 30, 2010 at 12:30 am

    I suspect that the veracity of any IPCC claim is inversely proportionate to the extent to which it is defended by its proponents.

    Whether by accident, or by design, this Pachauri polluted process – aided and abetted by co-opted (so-called) science journalists – has, until now, resulted in the creation of a horrendous myth of infallibility surrounding the IPCC.

    In light of your excellent exposé on this particular issue, it is quite telling that the gist of the “Copenhagen Diagnosis” [introduced with much - perhaps now forgotten! - fanfare as an "update" to the Fourth Assessment Report] is that “everything’s happening much faster than we previously thought … so we must act now”.

    Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Executive Summary:

    “Acceleration of melting of ice-sheets, glaciers and ice-caps: A wide array of satellite and ice measurements now demonstrate
    beyond doubt that both the Greenland and Antarctic ice-sheets are losing mass at an increasing rate. Melting of glaciers and
    ice-caps in other parts of the world has also accelerated since 1990.”

    Interestingly, there’s no specific mention of the Himalayas in this (Nov 24. 2009) update. This would tend to confirm that they knew that the Himalayas claim would not withstand any scrutiny – not that they’ve ever been particularly open to scrutiny (and in fact, as we now know, they’ve made it very difficult to do so!)

    There were 2 press releases on this Nov. 24 “Diagnosis”. The first (Nov. 14) has the lead of:

    “Climate change accelerating beyond expectations, urgent emissions reductions required, say leading scientists”

    Followed on Dec. 15 by:

    “Emissions cut of 40% below 1990 levels by 2020 needed for industrial countries for 2 degree C limit”

    Source: http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.org/default.html

    If you’re interested in seeing how this ethically-challenged organization conducts its “rigorous” review process, you might be interested in taking a look at an analysis I did of one Lead Author’s responses to the Reviewer comments in Chapter 6 of the Fourth Assessment Report … in particular, responses to the paragraph on the infamous “hockey stick”.

    “The climate change game … Monopoly: the IPCC version”

  5. 5 twawki January 30, 2010 at 3:53 am

    Aaah these indiscretions by the UNIPCC are just the tip of the iceberg. The whole global warming scare is melting faster than kool aid!

  6. 6 Sam January 31, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Dynamite – thankyou! A link to this has been cross-posted to WUTW

    A quote from Hitler:
    “The great masses of the people will more easily fall victinm to a great lie than to a small one” [also attributed to his propagandist Goebbels]

  7. 7 Jack D. Ives February 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    A RESPONSE BY JACK D. IVES to “The Other Side of the Story” as posted on the Skeptic’s Corner on February 1, 2010

    “It is more from carelessness about truth than from intentional lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.” Samuel Johnson, 1778

    The latter part of the discourse “UN IPCC Rotting from the Head down” devotes a surprising amount of text to my supposedly being “a towering figure in the field.” My response is prompted by the need for some explanation and correction.

    I cannot agree that either Dr. Hasnain or Dr. Pachauri must NECESSARILY have had access to my earlier publications. My primary contention in writing the sections that were quoted was that scholars, such as Dr. Hasnain, WERE REPORTED to have made doomsday-like predictions. It appears that he has denied responsibility for such remarks, claiming that he was misquoted.

    There are several similar and related remarks in the news media. For instance, Fred Pearce quoted Dr. John Reynolds (New Scientist, 2002 –MELTDOWN) to the effect that “ . . . the 21st century could see hundreds of millions dead. . .” due to the outbreak of glacial lakes in the Himalaya and Andes. I understand that Dr. Reynolds claimed that he had been misquoted. Another example should suffice. I came across two inflammatory reports as far back as 1999 that threatened “… an enormous disaster waiting to happen … Five million people could die …” when Lake Sarez in the Tajikistan Pamir Mountains breaks through its landslide dam and “… blast[s] a trail of destruction a thousand miles…” downstream (Pearce, 19th June, 1999, NEW SCIENTIST; Burke, 20th June, 1999, THE OBSERVER). These reports were published a few days before the investigating team of geophysicists, engineers, geologists, and geographers returned from Lake Sarez and held a press conference in Geneva. The 20-plus journalists who attended all accepted the team’s findings – that the risk of catastrophic outburst was minimal.

    The operative phrases in the above blog are surely: so-and-so WAS REPORTED to have said or, so-and-so WAS QUOTED as …”

    The silliness of writing that all the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035 should be self-evident: it would likely cause an undergraduate in physical geography or geology to laugh. Do not journalists have an obligation to check their STORIES, especially when they may have an impact on the lives of a large number of innocent people? Today, many journalists appear to have unlimited license.

    One small correction. I was NOT the UN’s chief spokesperson on the occasion (November 2001) when the International Year of Mountains (2002) was announced at UN headquarters in New York. The chief spokesperson was the Secretary-General of UNESCO. I had been asked to represent Prof. Dr. Hans van Ginkel, Rector of United Nations University, who was unable to attend.

    While I deplore the inclusion of the infamous prediction, 2035, and related errors in the IPCC (2007) report, it is regrettable that they have been used in an attempt to damage so much outstanding work. For the record, I have never been a member of an IPCC panel; I have not even known the names of any panel members until recently. Nor is it surprising to me that I was not invited to participate. The “paper trail”, however, remains incompletely traced.

    But we must also be cautious of the dangers of mischievous journalism.

    Jack D. Ives, Ottawa, Canada

    ScientistForTruth responds

    Many thanks for your insightful comments. I have emended the post accordingly.

    With respect to Pachauri and Hasnain’s foreknowledge that the 2035 date in the IPCC AR4 report was grossly inaccurate we need to make the following comments. Hasnain himself has admitted that he was aware of the 2035 date being attributed to him on several occasions, but he never sought to correct the error, if indeed his comments were misreported. Moreover, Hasnain was hand picked by Pachauri to head up his Glaciology team at TERI. If Hasnain knew that the 2035 date or the suggestions that the glaciers would disappear in a few decades were wrong, why did they appear in TERI’s applications for grant funding which Hasnain must have had a hand in? As we pointed out in the post above, the lie even appeared in a TERI press release of January 15, 2010 about a meeting that both Hasnain and Pachauri attended AFTER the myth of the imminent disappearance of the glaciers had been widely scotched. It suited Hasnain and Pachauri to perpetuate a lie in order to obtain funding.

  8. 8 Bernie February 24, 2010 at 4:47 am

    Thank you for starting this discussion and for enabling Prof Ives to add to this discussion.

    I was sufficiently intrigued by the odd statements of Prof. Boulton – now a member of the CRU review panel – on the topic of the disappearing Himalayan glaciers in a presentation at a conference in November 2009. (see http://www.envirosecurity.org/news/single.php?id=296) These slides apparently came from an earlier presentation that fortunately included a transcript of Prof. Boulton’s talk, (found here: http://www.gcph.co.uk/content/view/119/155/) wherein he notes:

    “The impacts are there already. These are representative images from Central Ladakh from ‘69, ‘79, ’89; they show the cover of snow and, in fact, glacier ice. The reason why that’s important is that during the dry season something like 80% of the flow of the rivers of the great north Indian plain, the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, about eighty per cent of that dry season flow comes from snow and melting glaciers. Already in the last fifteen years we’ve seen dramatic reductions in dry season flow. Calculations by glaciologists now suggest that by 2050 most of the Himalayan glaciers will have gone and the impact on dry season flow of those great rivers will be dramatic in the extreme. They could be reduced between twenty and thirty per cent of their current dry season flow with devastating impacts on agriculture in both India and Pakistan and indeed, in Western China. ” (emphasis added)

    As a numbers guy, something struck me as being very odd. Clearly there is an internal contradiction in Boulton’s numbers. The 80% seems very outlandish given the actual catchment areas for these great rivers compared to the size of the glaciers that feed them. (By my rough calculation it is a factor of 30.) So I went looking for data on the actual seasonal discharge rates of the main Himalayan fed rivers. I have yet to find them in usable form so as to verify Boulton’s scary calculations, but I did come across this report http://na.unep.net/publications/Himalayas.pdf

    You can read it for yourself, but in my opinion it looks like something put together by some rather weak undergraduates rather than the product of 28 presentations from experts in Himalayan glaciers and precipitation. It is full of inconsistencies. It acknowledges that the original statements concerning the melting of the glaciers were grossly inaccurate but then proceeds to a set of conclusions that only make sense if the original statements were in fact true. The bibliography is even more troubling with book reviews being cited as evidence, along with unpublished and unreferenced studies. Prof. Ives work is not cited.

    It would be interesting to get Prof Ives expert opinion on both the UNEP report and Prof. Boulton’s comments concerning the Himalayan glaciers.

    In the mean time I am still looking for some reliable data on discharge rates.

  9. 9 Seth Sicroff March 18, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    See my article on this topic at WanderingEducators.com:


    ScientistForTruth remarks

    Seth Sicroff’s post includes the following, which supports this post:

    One of the recurrent themes in this controversy, also featured in the EPA suit, is that the IPCC must have known all along that there was well-founded scientific argument against the Himalayan meltdown forecast because of the work of Jack D. Ives. Jack Ives was my thesis advisor at the University of California, Davis, and is my mentor, friend, and collaborator. The article most cited in this connection, “Himalayan misconceptions and distortions: What are the facts?” appeared in the peer-reviewed Himalayan Journal of Sciences, for which I happen to be an editor. [HJS Vol 3, No. 5, p. 15-25; available at


    For years, Ives has been warning that the habit of distortion and exaggeration was undermining both science and development. In Himalayan Dilemma: Reconciling Development and Conservation (1989) Ives took aim at the so-called Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation, a popular construct that supported projections of catastrophic deforestation. More recently, particularly in Himalayan Perceptions: Environmental Change and the Well-being of Mountain Peoples (2004), he has urged caution on the subject of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). Ives has not denied that deforestation, GLOFs, and glacial thinning are problems. He has simply argued that in many cases there is insufficient evidence to establish causalities and projections, and that the misidentification of a crisis or a pseudo-crisis as a supercrisis not only wastes limited resources but also undermines the credibility of science in general. And, coincidentally, Ives has repeatedly singled out Fred Pearce of the New Scientist as a purveyor of unsubstantiated mega-disaster scenarios.

    Well, those chickens have come home to roost.

    However, less satisfactory are the following unworthy comments:

    There have been numerous articles on the subject, both in mainstream media (including BBC and The Times), as well as the blogosphere (notably, right-wing hatcheteers such as Buy The Truth and Skeptics Corner)…while it is flattering to have a lot of bloggers fluffing up the reputation of our little journal and of our friend Jack Ives, we’ve got to keep in mind that the fluffers are basically the same crew as the tea-baggers, creationists, and corporate tools.

    Oh, there are a few more epithets you missed: how about ‘flat-earther’ or ‘bigot’? There is nothing in this post that deals with anything other than Pachauri’s misbehaviour and the fact that the IPCC claim, based on WWF, Fred Pearce, and Hasnain’s 2035 date, was known to be nonsense by the scientific community itself years ago. I provided the author and journal reference as proof, rather than make unsubstantiated allegations. With this Seth Sicroff, the editor, concurs – nearly two months after my post that was first to reveal the same. He says,

    “One of the recurrent themes in this controversy, also featured in the EPA suit, is that the IPCC must have known all along that there was well-founded scientific argument against the Himalayan meltdown forecast because of the work of Jack D. Ives.”

    Indeed, and I’m glad to be the one that brought it to the attention of the interested public, and that there are now lawsuits against the EPA. That’s because, as a scientist myself, I’m interested in truthfulness and openness, not the occult and cabals.

    Since Seth Sicroff knew about the error in the IPCC AR4 report, why did he not expose it years ago? Why did it have to wait until a supposedly nasty right wing, fundamentalist, oil shill fascist investigated the truth and exposed it? How many more years would have gone by if I hadn’t exposed this, and some of the other issues on this blog?

  10. 10 Bernie March 19, 2010 at 12:55 pm

    I think you meant Venice not Florence.

    ScientistForTruth remarks

    I hope Seth does mean Venice. His post states

    Ironically, the scale of change that would cause glacial meltdown in the Himalayas would most likely be great enough to bring on a cascade of unpleasant intermediary developments well before the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers. Ocean waters would rise enough to wipe out Bangladesh, for instance. Of course, UNESCO would have other fish to fry at that point: Florence, the Everglades, and quite a few other World Heritage Sites would be in the drink.

    Although Florence has been flooded by the river Arno, it is 100km inland and at 50m elevation, so that would be some sea level rise to put Florence in the drink.

  11. 11 Seth Sicroff March 21, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    yes, of course, I meant Venice rather than Florence. I’ve changed the text at WanderingEducators.com.
    Thanks for the heads-up.

  12. 12 1personofdifference May 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Interesting stuff. The only thing I really have to add is that it is a mockery of scientists and science itself to call Pachauri a scientist. referring to the article in which Pachauri refuses to answer the reporters question.

    “When asked how this “error” could have happened, RK Pachauri, the “Indian scientist” who heads the IPCC, said: ‘I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.’”

    Pachauri is no scientist. He is a former railroad engineer who was handpicked for this position because of his political ties and his PHD was an honorary one, not deserved or worked for.

  13. 13 thisisgettingtiresome June 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Josh done me a cool  T- shirt with his priceless ‘Greenpeace in our time’ cartoon.
    Now I’m thinking of getting more done, to give to all my environmentalist friends.

    It’s great how that image can be read both ways.  On the face of it supporting an Eco friendly world, which I’m all in favour off btw. , but with the  underlying message that only those with a deeper historical perspective will get. 

    I don’t know where Josh gets his talent from , but I think this piece is worthy of even that great Czech tradition, for cartooning under oppression.  Indeed it’s frightening to think, that in the Czechoslovakia of those times , one would have been  thrown in jail for less than this.


  14. 14 Malcolm December 10, 2011 at 6:00 am

    I have been stating many of the observations as quoted above for several years . It is quite infuriating to listen and read of the many lies being spread by self professed scientists . The belching chimneys of coal burning and nuclear factories lead those who have been brainwashed into the global warming religeon that these factories belch carbon dioxide is entirely false . Over 90% of what you see is water vapour . You have been lied to and misled . There is no global warming ! We have a natural variation taking place which many , otherwise sensible people have mistaken for an aberation . the only aberation is in their minds .

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