Wednesday, 27 January 2010

IPCC Chairman Pachauri Resists Calls for Resignation

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Advocates of the global warming theory, still reeling from the “Climategate” revelations, and what they would perceive as the disastrous conclusion of December’s UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, are now confronted by revelations that threaten to unseat the current head of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The latest scandal involves claims by IPCC that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 — a vital element of the “doomsday” climate scenarios pushed by advocates of the theory of manmade climate change. The only problem is that Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, has been forced to admit that this claim is not substantiated by the science. According to VOANews.com:

The chairman of the IPCC panel, Rajendra Pachauri, on Saturday called the forecast "a regrettable error," and says it arose because established procedures were not diligently followed. "The whole paragraph, I mean that entire section is wrong. That was a mistake," said Pachauri.

However, the implications of the IPCC misinformation extend far beyond a “regrettable error” — it constituted a very significant element of the Fourth Assessment Report (or AR4) of the IPCC, which was released in 2007 and served as one of the most important ideological bulwarks of the theory of anthropogenic global warming. (It is also worth noting that 2007 was the year that the IPCC—represented by Pachauri—was joint recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore.

Keeping in mind the fact that Pachauri now admits that “the entire section is wrong,” it is worth considering what the AR4 claimed concerning the impact of melting glaciers. According to the Synthesis Report of AR4:

Climate change is expected to exacerbate current stresses on water resources from population growth and economic and land-use change, including urbanisation. On a regional scale, mountain snow pack, glaciers and small ice caps play a crucial role in freshwater availability. Widespread mass losses from glaciers and reductions in snow cover over recent decades are projected to accelerate throughout the 21st century, reducing water availability, hydropower potential, and changing seasonality of flows in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges (e.g. Hindu-Kush, Himalaya, Andes), where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives. {WGI 4.1, 4.5; WGII 3.3, 3.4, 3.5}

Again:

Adaptation will be ineffective for some cases such as natural ecosystems (e.g. loss of Arctic sea ice and marine ecosystem viability), the disappearance of mountain glaciers that play vital roles in water storage and supply, or adaptation to sea level rise of several metres27. It will be less feasible or very costly in many cases for the projected climate change beyond the next several decades (such as deltaic regions and estuaries). There is high confidence that the ability of many ecosystems to adapt naturally will be exceeded this century. In addition, multiple barriers and constraints to effective adaptation exist in human systems (see Topic 4.2). {SYR 4.2; WGII 17.4.2, 19.2, 19.4.1}

It is not hard to see that the notion of an apocalyptic melting of the glaciers is central to a major tenet of the Copenhagen Conference — and the push for “cap and trade” legislation in the United States: That the glaciers will melt, causing a substantial rise in sea levels, which will, in turn, lead to catastrophic results for several nations, including Bangladesh (which had demanded 15 percent of any funds which might have been raised by the recent conference).

And now, a mere month after over 190 nations wasted their time and money gathering in Copenhagen, the head of the IPCC is admitting that the talk about a catastrophic meltdown was all a “mistake.”

Of course, it was also a very profitable mistake, since the claim was also the basis for several rather substantial financial grants to the IPCC. But Pachauri isn't resigning. According to a report at FOXNews.com:

   Perhaps it is not all that surprising that there is now substantial pressure for Pachauri to resign. The chief of the U.N.'s climate science panel says he isn't going anywhere, despite calls for his head amid allegations that he is a sloppy scientist who presided over a report that contained intentionally misleading statements.
    "I know a lot of climate skeptics are after my blood, but I'm in no mood to oblige them," Rajendra Pachauri, head of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told The Times of London.
    Pachauri spoke following revelations that an oft-cited "fact" in his panel's 2008 climate change report — that the Himalayas were on track to melt by 2035 — was sloppily copied from a magazine interview with a single glaciologist in 1999.
    Like water flowing downhill from a melting glacier, other errors have since emerged from the report, simply titled AR4.
    The panel now faces fresh controversy for wrongly linking global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters, including hurricanes and floods, and for a separate section of the report that warned that the world had "suffered rapidly rising costs due to extreme weather-related events since the 1970s."

On one level, Pachauri’s refusal to resign is understandable: Given the mounting evidence of shoddy science throughout the AR4 report, one can understand his unwillingness to accept sole responsibility for the scandal. Still, the chairman bears a particular responsibility for what is done on under his authority.

The “Glaciergate” revelations are simply the latest round of scandal which calls into doubt the credibility of the theory which is the stock-in-trade of the IPCC. As the theory loses its credibility, so does the institution which owes its existence to that theory.

Photo of Rajendra Pachauri: AP Images

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