Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "The Haiti quake," Feb. 13, 2010

Ice capades

In 2007, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made a shocking prediction: Himalayan glaciers may disappear by 2035 because of global warming. Some scientists who study glaciers were suspicious of the claim, and last year the Indian government published a paper stating that India's 9,500 Himalayan glaciers showed no evidence of abnormal retreat; environmental minister Jairam Ramesh called the IPCC claim "alarmist." IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri shot back that the report was based on "voodoo science."

As experts dug into the controversy, it became clear last month that Pachauri himself was the voodoo scientist. It turns out that the IPCC prediction on glaciers was based on a single comment that Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain made in a 1999 interview with the journal New Scientist, a comment that Hasnain now says was speculative. The IPCC was forced to admit the mistake, even as the IPCC's Murari Lal admitted the political motivation behind it: to "impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action," he told Britain's Sunday Mail.

The Sunday Times of London on Jan. 24 reported that the same 2007 IPCC report also included another claim that was based on unpublished and non-peer-reviewed research: that the world had "suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s." In 2007, the same year of the IPCC's bogus claims, the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for its work involving global warming.

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