Commentary Magazine


UN Panel Admits the Glaciers Won’t Disappear

Earlier this week, we noted in Contentions the revelation that another one of the standard scare stories of the global-warming “consensus” had been debunked when it was revealed that the assertion that the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2030, made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, was completely unfounded. Today comes news that the panel (which shared a bogus Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2007) has itself admitted that its widely quoted assertion was not substantiated. MIT’s Technology Review reports that in the face of evidence that shows there was no data to back up the claim, the UN group has now backed down and publicly admitted that they were at fault.

According to Technology Review, “The disappearance of the glaciers would require temperatures far higher than those predicted in even the most dire global warming scenarios, says Georg Kaser, professor at the Institut für Geographie der Universität, Innsbruck. The Himalayas would have to heat up by 18 degrees Celsius and stay there for the highest glaciers to melt—most climate change scenarios expect only a few degrees of warming over the next century. The mistake has called into question the credibility of the IPCC, which has been considered an authoritative source for information about climate change.”

Like the equally embattled Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia that produced the “Climategate” e-mail scandal, the reputation of the UN panel was supposedly impeccable because of its devotion to the practice of peer-reviewed studies. But in this case, the notorious assertion about the glaciers was based not on critical research but on what the panel now says is “grey literature,” a theory that is not based on peer-reviewed sources.

The point here is not just that another instance of global-warming hysteria has been debunked. It is that the sources of the now widely accepted theory that the planet is “melting” and that this is the result of human activity are themselves deeply compromised. As the Climategate e-mails illustrated, the scientists involved in these assertions are so blinded by their ideological fervor that they are willing to falsify information, dissemble about their research, and suppress informed dissent. Under these circumstances, the refrain that the “science” behind global warming is settled is nothing more than an attempt to stifle the growing chorus of skepticism about this “scientific consensus.”

As it happens, Technology Review admits that they had also publicized the now discredited claim about the glaciers in their own pages in an article about efforts to combat climate change. The article about the panel’s admission of error includes a link to their own correction.