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Glaciers and more climate skepticism

By Juliet Eilperin

The controversy over the melting of Himalayan glaciers continues, with one of the lead authors of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Asia chapter for its 2007 report telling Britain's Daily Mail that political motivations influenced the report's findings.

Climate skeptics are also scrutinizing newly released e-mails written by NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies' James E. Hansen and Gavin Schmidt obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act request.

How you interpret the e-mails depends on one's political perspective: they show the two scientists worked to defend their scientific findings through blogs, which skeptics see as a questionable use of their taxpayer-funded day jobs. On the other hand, the two researchers would have come under attack if they refused to answer their critics.

In either case, it shows the politicization of the climate debate continues in full force.


Juliet Eilperin

 |  January 25, 2010; 11:36 AM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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What the Washington Post has NOT reported and is at the heart of this issue is how the IPCC glacier "mistake" has led to the enrichment of key climate change advocates. We now know that this "mistake" projecting the total loss of Himalayan glaciers by year 2035 was used to back up solicitation of research funds. The bulk of those funds in the amount of $4M provided by EU taxpayers - went to none other than the IPCC Chair's own research group TERI - to study loss of glaciers in the Indian Himalayas. The remaining portion of funds went to the UK Met Office - the weather prediction center that failed to predict this devastating winter in England.

Why do we readers of this newspaper have to do the homework for its journalists?

Posted by: Thotful | January 27, 2010 8:42 PM
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Ms. Eilperin:

The issue is not strictly about the egregious error the IPCC made when reporting the imminent demise of the Himalayan glaciers. The issue is about the lack of accuracy and the lack of fact checking in the 2007 report. There are other, similar lapses. Here is a link that describes the sloppy process by which IPCC concluded that there is a causal relationship between rising temperatures and disaster-caused property loss.

By the way, another gaffe is at least as bad as the glacier fiasco. Apparently, IPCC concluded that a paper by the World Wildlife Fund that claimed, without basis, that increasing warmth will soon destroy the Amazon Rain Forest. The IPCC report cited only this article by an activist organization; it cited no peer-reviewed or any other kind of scientific literature.

Claims made by activist groups do not qualify as science. You made a similar error in judgment (in the Science and Health section yesterday) when you called upon the Union of Concerned Scientists to rebut those who point out that these errors in what is supposed to be a carefully crafted IPCC document raise serious questions about its accuracy. A claim by the UCS does not constitute demonstration of anything.

Posted by: snorbertzangox | January 27, 2010 5:35 PM
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Ms. Eilperin:

Please read the review and description of the Climategate emails at It is fully annotated and provides links to each of the emails that it mentions, so you can read them for yourself. This is more than a trivial complaint about poor manners and unfortunate language. It is an attempt to corrupt the scientific process.

It might give you pause for thought.

Posted by: snorbertzangox | January 27, 2010 4:53 PM
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