Notes From a Quasi-Scandal: IPCC Chair Says He Won't Step Down + Glacier Error Not Politically Motivated


Dr. Rajendra Pachauri speaking with reporters during COP15. Photo: Matthew McDermott.

Repercussions from the recent news that an incorrect non-peer reviewed statement about Himalayan glaciers melting made it into the last IPCC report continue. 1) BBC News reports that IPCC chair Dr Rajendra Pachauri has adamantly stated he will not step down; and 2) Climate Progress debunks some bad reporting alleging that the inclusion of the 2035 melt date was included to pressure politicians:Daily Mail Misrepresents Scientist's Statements
The UK's Daily Mail reported that Dr. Murari Lal admitted the claim about Himalayan glaciers all melting by 2035 was "included to purely to put political pressure on world leaders."

Except that it wasn't the case, as one call to Dr. Lal from Climate Progress clarified.

Dr. Lal refuted that Daily Mail piece, calling what it contained the "most vilest allegations" [sic]. He also told CP that at the time he had never seen and challenges to the glacier data. "Our role was to bring out the factual science...The fact is the IPCC has been very conservative."

Grey Literature Stance Needs Revision
On the subject of including so-called 'grey literature' into the IPCC's fourth assessment report, Dr. Lal said that it was something that was allowed to be cited "provided that it looked to us to be good science."

Undoubtedly that will have to change, especially, as Climate Progress rightly asserts, when it comes to quantitative matters.

Pachauri Says He Will Produce Next Report Faithfully
Meanwhile, IPCC chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri said that he will not step down from the position. "I am now charged with producing the fifth assessment report, which I will do faithfully and the best of my abilities."

Dr. Pachauri described the sequence of events leading up to last week's IPCC statement admitting their error. After becoming aware of the issue on the 16th or 17th of January, "I go the entire team of the IPCC to go through the details of the case, and we decided that this was an error but we also that this did not in any way move away from the reality that these glaciers are melting."

Glaciers Still Melting, Regardless of Discredited Date
As Dr. Pachauri told the BBC, and as many other scientists have also similarly stated, "Let me emphasize that this does not in any way detract from the fact that the glaciers are melting, and this is a problem we need to be deeply concerned about."

No doubt those not convinced by the state of climate change science today will scoff at both Drs. Pachauri and Lal's statements. Frankly, no amount of convincing, no amount of evidence, seems likely to sway the opinion of some people. In this case the distinction between one date being incorrect--and acknowledged as such after review--and the entire report being not being suspect seems too much to comprehend.

Were mistakes made? No doubt about that. Does it change the underlying situation. No. Is it a scandal? Only for people eager to find one.

Glacier Melting
Himalayan Glaciers Entirely Gone by 2035?!? Probably Not.
IPCC 'Regrets' Himalayan Glacier Melting Statement in 2007 Report
Confirmed: America's Glaciers Shrinking Over Past 50 Years, Warming Climate to Blame

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Science

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