This week’s sign of the non-apocalypse

Remember that claim by the United Nations’ climate authority that the Himalayan glaciers were likely to disappear by 2035? If not, don’t worry — you weren’t really missing anything.

It turns out, the Times of London reports, that this “scientific” conclusion was based a World Wildlife Fund (WWF) campaign report, which in turn took its “scientific” information from an interview in a magazine in which one — yes, just one — Indian scientist made the claim. Now, that scientist says the whole thing was just speculation on his part.

All of which would be bad enough if that’s where the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) left it. But, the Times reports:

When finally published, the IPCC report did give its source as the WWF study but went further, suggesting the likelihood of the glaciers melting was “very high”. The IPCC defines this as having a probability of greater than 90%.

(snip)

However, glaciologists find such figures inherently ludicrous, pointing out that most Himalayan glaciers are hundreds of feet thick and could not melt fast enough to vanish by 2035 unless there was a huge global temperature rise. The maximum rate of decline in thickness seen in glaciers at the moment is 2-3 feet a year and most are far lower. (emphasis added)

So, based on the observed evidence, it would take far more than a quarter-century for the glaciers to disappear. Even this initially alarming report from Indian scientists, saying the Himalayan glaciers have retreated by 1.5 kilometers (almost a mile) in the past 30 years, acknowledges that the glaciers, which measure 30 kilometers in some cases, would take centuries to disappear without a dramatic acceleration of global warming. And as all the temperature data of the past decade show, that isn’t happening.

Now, why might the IPCC have gotten this so wrong? Perhaps it’s because the man who oversaw the chapter of glaciers, Murari Lal, himself told the Times that he is “not an expert on glaciers and [has] not visited the region….The comments in the WWF report were made by a respected Indian scientist and it was reasonable to assume he knew what he was talking about.” Notice that word “assume,” as one basis for governments across the world reworking a huge chunk of their economies.

The IPCC chairman, Rajenda Pachauri, who shared in Al Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize for work on climate change, has dismissed previous criticism of the U.N.’s work on glaciers as “voodoo science.” Looks like he had it backward.

This story once again points out the fundamental disconnect among scientific theory, observed changes and — the one that gets most of the attention — the overwrought predictions about what will come next. If anything is accelerating, it is our awareness of this disconnect and why we should act far more cautiously than the doomsayers want.

It was just last week that the U.K. Met Office, the country’s weather authority and one of the leading sources of climate change hysteria, knocked down a prominent report from researchers in Germany claiming that sea levels could rise by 6 feet in the next 100 years. The real change — which, again, is still based on imperfect forecasting models — will probably be much smaller, the Met Office said.

Add all of this to the Climategate scandal, and the question is: When will we recognize the apocalyptic scenarios for the gross exaggerations that they are, and demand a more sober approach?

16 comments Add your comment

Joan

January 18th, 2010
10:54 am

Scientists will continue to say there is global warming so long as governments continue to fund their research efforts. I mean, if there wasn’t a problem, their grants and aid would dry up. I wish people would accept that science is biased because researchers have a conflict of interest. It is in their best interests to scream the sky is falling.

Jess

January 18th, 2010
11:11 am

Has anybody heard a word out of Al Gore lately? He seems to have dropped off the edge of a cliff.

Having lived through the threats of nuclear winter, Shrinking ozone layers, global cooling, and the coming ice age, I have never once worried about global warming, or should I say global climate change.

I have also lived through acid rain. This caused damage I could see happening in the higher mountains of the southeast, and in the fishless glacial lakes of southern Norway where I lived for two years. The cause was somehting I could understand, and I was 100% on board with the movement to reduce the industrial pollutants which caused it. If our government really wants to clean up the environment, they do not need to create a planetary crisis. they ned to focus on issues people can relate to and tackle problems one at a time.

Of course this assumes that our government is really interested in cleaning up the environment rather than redistributing wealth.

Saw Andy Rooney on 60 minutes last night. He took a tounge in cheek swipe at global warming which probably escaped CBS. He referred to “climate controlled” buildings. He went on to say that man could no more control climate in buildings than they can in nature. He spoke of the arrogance of those who claim they can ruin or fix the climate.

Shawny

January 18th, 2010
11:18 am

Show me the money. That is all it is about. There is no crisis.
Same as the buyouts of Landrieu and Nelson of Lousiana and Nebraska on the healthcare bill. Same as the favor to big labor as well.

Jefferson

January 18th, 2010
12:33 pm

Funny last week when it was cold, the woman repuplican logic was questioning global warming, today it will be 63 in the middle of winter but the same logic won’t be used. That’s the trouble with have baked repulican woman logic.

The earth is getting hotter. Why — the sun.

BULLSEYE

January 18th, 2010
12:34 pm

Right on!! Now tell us about the fact that our President isn’t even an American!!!

John F.Borowski

January 18th, 2010
1:00 pm

So, if a scientific fact is update or changed (that is science) all the other data is now worthless. I think not. Climate is complex…and global warming due to CO2 and methane is occurring. Some on you people who respond love soundbytes…but, ignore hard science. Science is not easy and facts don’t exist because they are ignored. If you think thousands of scientists are trying to create a planetary crisis…you must be listening to too much Fox news and the other PR put out by the fossil fuel industry. Yes, it is about money…why do you think the public knows so little about many environmental issues? CBS, ABC, CNN, NBC…they are made rich by corporate commercials. It is not in their interest to educate the public. Give the public fluff and lots of soundbytes. How many folks know about the current extinction rate (no faulty data there)? How many folks know about mountaintop removal to get to coal?

I live in Oregon…our forests are being decimated. Our salmon runs are declining. Our weather has been very strange….our snowpack is low again this year. Time to think about science..not self serving soundbytes.

Jess

January 18th, 2010
2:05 pm

John F.

Science is complex. That’s why it’s all the more important to reveal that one of the UN’s main soundbytes was the opinion of one scientist, and none of his work was even reviewed by the chief glacial writer. The science of global warming has become so politicized and dependant on getting the right answer, that it is not really science anymore. And even if they could produce the most pure, non biased science available, the state of the dicipline is not such that they can predict what’s going to happen during the next 100 years.

If they want to curb CO2 then make that an objective. Don’t try to scare people to death with fairytales of impending doom.

But once again, all this depends on whether or not the govenrment really wants to clean up the environment. I think not. The government wants more control over business and industry, period.

TGT

January 18th, 2010
2:13 pm

Liberals commenting here illustrate perfectly the current claim by many that “Global Warming” (anthropogenic global warming) has become a religion. I would call it more of a cult.

Allen

January 18th, 2010
3:21 pm

I’m all for non-hysterics, and Kyle is right to eviscerate sloppy science. Still, any “sober” analysis of the preponderance of the scientific evidence should cause serious concern. It may be equally hysterical to obscure the facts by claiming “a fundamental disconnect among scientific theory and observed changes.” Very few scientists would take this claim seriously.

Chris Broe

January 18th, 2010
3:32 pm

Look, if it weren’t for global warming, they would have never found Piltdown Man in that melting glacier thing.

I don’t mind you guys being against science, but do you have to ruin con games for grifters too?

F-105 Thunderchief

January 18th, 2010
3:53 pm

The ice on my neighbor’s lake was finally gone this morning, but was there all day yesterday. Also, the ground was finally thawed and rather mucky.

Kyle Wingfield

January 18th, 2010
4:28 pm

Allen, you left out the part about the overwrought predictions, and there are plenty of scientists who have a problem with those.

Allen

January 18th, 2010
5:39 pm

Kyle, I don’t want to mischaracterize your position, and many thanks for the clarification. But if there is not a fundamental disconnect between scientific theory and observed changes, that could have perhaps been made clear in the first place.

Michael H. Smith

January 18th, 2010
8:32 pm

Politics first, science second

Apocalypse? NO!

http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/monckton_2009.pdf

Lord Christopher Monckton speaks on October 14th, 2009 at a climate skeptic event sponsored by the Minnesota Free Market Institute.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stij8sUybx0&feature=related

Aaron Huertas

January 19th, 2010
5:52 pm

This was a reference buried in the report, which covered all the science available. It’s not the IPCC’s actual conclusion. The report’s conclusion says, “”If current warming rates are maintained, Himalayan glaciers could decay at very rapid rates”

That’s it. More here: http://www.ucsusa.org/news/press_release/factcheck-ipcc-glaciers-pauchari-0336.html

Alex

January 21st, 2010
12:23 am

- PENTAGON: GLOBAL WARMING might suddenly trigger a massive GLOBAL COOLING… THE PENTAGON WARNS CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BRING GLOBAL CATASTROPHE… Now the PENTAGON TELLS BUSH (Guardian.co.uk., 22 February 2004): climate change will destroy us… BRITAIN WILL BE ‘SIBERIAN’ in less than 20 years…
– National Geographic (December 24, 2009): North Magnetic Pole Moving East Due to Core Flux:
http://cristiannegureanu.blogspot.com/2010/01/foxnews-think-antarctica-is-cold-try.html