February 1, 2010

"The Other Side Of The Story"

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UN IPCC: Rotting from the Head down

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 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 as far back as 2004, and from an article in the peer-reviewed literature in 2005, that the claim of the imminent disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers was a lie propagated by advocacy groups and vested interests, and yet they 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 lies, 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).

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 appears 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 being made by Hasnain about the Himalayan glaciers. 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.

On the occasion of the International Year of Mountains (2002), Ives was the UN’s chief spokesperson. 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 section in both editions entitled Some current myths on a Himalayan scale is 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.

Additionally, the foreword to his 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:

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.

1 comment:

  1. 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