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UN Head Defends Climate Change Error

May 14, 2010

The head of the United Nation’s climate change panel defended its case against an academic council charged with reviewing its research methods after a string of challenges to its findings.

Rajendra Pachauri, a chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said there was an error made when warning that the Himalayan glaciers could melt by 2035.  However, he said there was some value to the findings.

“Alright, there was this error, but there is a whole lot of valid information and assessment related to the glaciers which we can only ignore at our own peril and the peril of generations yet to come,” he told a public meeting in Amsterdam of the InterAcademy Council (IAC).

“Even if the Himalayan glaciers do not melt (by 2035), this is what is happening to the glaciers around the world.”

Pachauri said that melting glaciers have “already contributed around 28 percent of sea level rise since 1993…. This is something that should cause concern.”

The IPCC has come under scrutiny from several quarters over its 2007 report.  The panel is made up of several thousand scientists tasked with vetting scientific knowledge about climate change.

Its reputation was damaged by its warning over melting Himalayan glaciers, a claim that has been discredited and fueled skepticism about climate change altogether.

The panel has more recently been criticized for a finding that a three-foot rise in sea levels would flood 17 percent of Bangladesh and create 20 million refugees by 2050.

Critics said this ignored the role of about one billion tons of sediment carried by rivers in Bangladesh each year, in countering sea level rises.

However, Pachauri credited the silt argument to “non-peer reviewed research.”

“You really can’t take one single study like that into account,” he told the review panel.

“There are several questions that have to be answered: will that level of siltation we see today continue in the future? Is that silt strong enough to withstand the threat of sea level rise?”

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