SINCE the subject of climate change has often occupied this space of late, some comment is necessary on the latest allegations that those crying wolf on this subject have got it wrong. UN apology after flawed climate study was the lead headline in a serious UK newspaper yesterday over the prediction contained in a 2007 report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that the Himalayan glaciers were very likely to disappear by 2035. The UN admitted that the claim was incorrect and had not been subjected to the clear and well-established standards of evidence required by IPCC procedures.
This inaccurate claim was contained in a single sentence on page 493 of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report but was not included in the summary document prepared for policy-makers at the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December last year. It had been spotted by Professor George Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck who, however, said that overall the evidence in the Fourth Assessment Report made an incontrovertible case for the existence of global warming and climate change. Professor Kaser added that he made this point because he did not want people to engage in IPCC-bashing, which would be wrong because of this error. But, of course, people in newspapers, who should have a better perspective, have indeed immediately engaged in IPCC-bashing without concern for the wider issues that still need to be debated responsibly.