Tabloid Climate Science

The supposed news that the Himalayan glaciers are not, in fact, retreating has given climate-change skeptics yet another weapon with which to impugn an entire body of important science. What the sensationalist media coverage has missed, however, is that, while many Himalayan glaciers have all but stopped retreating, the vast majority are still shrinking.

NEW DELHI – The scientists whose research has revealed the extent of global climate change are now getting the tabloid treatment. First came the scandal of leaked (actually hacked) e-mails at the climate institute of Britain’s East Anglia University. Now comes the supposed news that the Himalayan glaciers are not, in fact, retreating, and will therefore not disappear by 2035.

The first story was timed to appear just before December’s COP15 climate-change summit in Copenhagen. The second is designed to bury whatever hopes still exist for signing a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol. Coming one after the other, these inflated scandals have, at least for now, dealt a massive blow to the credibility of the evidence that underpins the battle against global warming.

But how justified are these attacks, particularly the attacks on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body that has set the gold standard for analyzing global climate change? One tell-tale sign is the climate skeptics’ contempt for the actual data in the Indian government’s study, which is being used to undermine the IPCC report and the impeccable credentials of the scientist Syed Iqbal Hasnain, the source of the IPCC’s alarming quote on the Himalayas. There is also the unholy glee with which they have set about destroying an icon of the anti-global warming movement, the Nobel Laureate R.K Pachauri, by attributing financial motives to his research.

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