Two weeks ago, the Times of London rocked the global-warming movement by revealing that one of their pet claims — that the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 — was not only based on nothing but speculation, but also lifted incorrectly by the IPCC. The UN body has a bigger problem today, as the Times now reports that the head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, knew about the error for months, and never bothered to mention it at the Copenhagen summit:
The chairman of the leading climate change watchdog was informed that claims about melting Himalayan glaciers were false before the Copenhagen summit, The Times has learnt.
Rajendra Pachauri was told that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment that the glaciers would disappear by 2035 was wrong, but he waited two months to correct it. He failed to act despite learning that the claim had been refuted by several leading glaciologists.
The IPCC’s report underpinned the proposals at Copenhagen for drastic cuts in global emissions.
Dr Pachauri, who played a leading role at the summit, corrected the error last week after coming under media pressure. He told The Times on January 22 that he had only known about the error for a few days. He said: “I became aware of this when it was reported in the media about ten days ago. Before that, it was really not made known. Nobody brought it to my attention. There were statements, but we never looked at this 2035 number.”
Asked whether he had deliberately kept silent about the error to avoid embarrassment at Copenhagen, he said: “That’s ridiculous. It never came to my attention before the Copenhagen summit. It wasn’t in the public sphere.”
However, a prominent science journalist said that he had asked Dr Pachauri about the 2035 error last November. Pallava Bagla, who writes for Science journal, said he had asked Dr Pachauri about the error. He said that Dr Pachauri had replied: “I don’t have anything to add on glaciers.”
Pachauri’s excuse? The IPCC was “terribly occupied” with Copenhagen arrangements and couldn’t be bothered with issues like incorrect data in the reports they planned to present there. They finally decided weeks after their convention to look at the questions that had arisen (in places like the Times) and then moved “very fast” to correct their reports.
I think Bagla could be forgiven if he sees Pachauri’s idea of “very fast” as, well, glacial. Pachauri and the IPCC only moved “very fast” after the Times exposed them. Had that not happened, that wildly incorrect speculation about Himalayan glaciers would have remained in the report.