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UN Rethinks Link Between Climate Change, Natural Disaster

January 26, 2010

A UN climate panel is reconsidering its claim that there is a connection between global warming and a flux of natural disasters, a British newspaper reported on Sunday.

This is not the first mistake to be made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Just last week, it acknowledged mistakes in a forecast about melting Himalayan glaciers in a 2007 landmark report, reported AFP.

That Nobel Peace Prize winning report has become the standard in climate science, but doubts have been raised as to the validity of its claims included in the report that rapidly rising costs from events such as floods and hurricanes were linked to climate change.

The Sunday Times said the claim was founded on an unpublished study that had yet to go through the normal process of scientific scrutiny.

The study, published in 2008, included a note saying, “We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and catastrophe losses.”

Though at least two scientific reviewers had raised doubts, the IPCC proceeded with the claim. It also did not clarify the matter after the study was published, according to the Sunday Times.

Professor Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a climatologist at the Universite Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and the vice-chairman of the IPCC, told the newspaper that he would be reviewing the evidence.

“We are reassessing the evidence and will publish a report on natural disasters and extreme weather with the latest findings. Despite recent events the IPCC process is still very rigorous and scientific,” he said.

The Fourth Assessment Report, a 938-page report issued by the IPCC in 2007, warned that climate change was on the rise and urged politicians across the globe to commit to do something about it.

Last week’s mistake, however, resulted in the panel admitting that a previous forecast indicating that the Himalaya glaciers would likely be gone by 2035, was “poorly substantiated.”

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