EXCLUSIVE: UN scientist refutes Daily Mail claim he said Himalayan glacier error was politically motivated

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"EXCLUSIVE: UN scientist refutes Daily Mail claim he said Himalayan glacier error was politically motivated"

“We reported the facts about science as we knew them…. We were not trying to oversell the science…. The fact is the IPCC has been very conservative.”

MEMO TO MEDIA:  Please start doing some damn journalism — like placing a simple phone call to a primary source.   A great many “newspapers” like the Daily Mail are no more reliable than the websites of the anti-science disinformers, like the thoroughly discredited ClimateDepot of Marc Morano.

In an exclusive interview  — “exclusive” in the sense that many of the people smearing Dr. Murari Lal haven’t bothered to ask him whether the original story was accurate — Dr. Lal asserts that the “most vilest allegations” in the Daily Mail story are utterly false.

Sunday, the Daily Mail‘s David Rose wrote a sensational piece supposedly based on direct quotes from Dr. Lal:

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said: “It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”

As you’d expect, this was immediately trumpeted by Morano (a spreader of uber-disinformation since the days he helped launch the shameful Swift Boat smear against John Kerry).  You’d think that science reporters and major media would know enough to treat claims from such sources with a grain of salt (see “FoxNews pushes falsehood-filled Daily Mail article on global cooling that utterly misquotes, misrepresents work of Mojib Latif and NSIDC“). But of course they don’t (see “Exclusive interview with Dr. Latif, the man who confused the NY Times and New Scientist, the man who moved George Will and Morano to extreme disinformation“).

At the very least, anyone who was going to repeat this inflammatory charge — let alone draw any conclusions from it — ought to have made a simple phone call to Dr. Lal, don’t you think?  But not Science News and US News & World Report.

Science News has been viewed with a lot of credibility, and their stuff is widely reprinted (even at CP).  But this piece of theirs is just not right:

Science & the Public:  IPCC’s Himalayan glacier ‘mistake’ not an accident

Newspaper reports that unsubstantiated numbers were used intentionally.

A London newspaper reports today that the unsubstantiated Himalayan-glacier melt figures contained in a supposedly authoritative 2007 report on climate warming were used intentionally, despite the report’s lead author knowing there were no data to back them up.

Until now, the organization that published the report – the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – had argued the exaggerated figures in that report were an accident: due to insufficient fact checking of the source material.

Uh, no. It now appears the incident wasn’t quite that innocent.

The Sunday Mail‘s David Rose reached Murari Lal, the coordinating lead author of the 2007 IPCC report’s chapter on Asia. Lal told Rose that he knew there were no solid data to support the report’s claim that Himalayan glaciers – the source of drinking and irrigation water for downstream areas throughout Asia – could dry up by 2035. Said Lal: “We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.” In other words, Rose says, Lal “last night admitted [the scary figure] was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”

A noble motive, perhaps, but totally inexcusable.

Yes, this is “only” a blog entry by one Janet Raloff, but it almost immediately was reposted by US News & World Report Science with their logo

and that of Science News:

Makes everything look very official and credible, when really the US News piece is just a reposting of an unverified blog post on an erroneous story!  Yes, how ironic that the media is guilty of precisely what it has accused the IPCC of — running an unverified story!

If the piece contains a bombshell charge against an individual scientist, somebody has to confirm the original story.  Instead, the piece merely states:

If Lal knowingly perpetuated unsubstantiated speculation in a purportedly authoritative document, that would constitute what we in journalism refer to as a “hanging offense” – the kind of action that gets you fired or at least heavily sanctioned….

The Rose article also charges that Lal’s committee didn’t investigate challenges to glacier data in its chapter — challenges made by climate scientists prior to the IPCC report’s publication.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge that I don’t know for certain what Lal and his team did or didn’t do. Journalism is not peer review. But our reporting can help policy makers and scientists know where further investigation is warranted. And it’s warranted here.

If further investigation confirms that what Rose reported today is true, then Lal – and, through him, the IPCC – would have abrograted the public trust. And stupidly given ammunition to those who have made a sport of challenging solid climate science.

Totally inexcusable.

“Journalism is not peer review.”  Apparently journalism isn’t much more than the children’s game of telephone these days.  Certainly it doesn’t seem to involve the use of a real telephone.

Lal’s phone number is easy to find online, and I called him myself, even though it was after midnight in India (I hoped he was on travel), but he answered it immediately.

He said these were “the most vilest allegations” and denied that he ever made such assertions.  He said “I didn’t put it [the 2035 claim] in to impress policymakers….  We reported the facts about science as we knew them and as was available in the literature.”

He told me:

Our role was to bring out the factual science.  The fact is the IPCC has been very conservative.

Note that Science News repeats the charge “that Lal’s committee didn’t investigate challenges to glacier data” but does not bother to repeat Lal’s assertion in the Daily Mail piece — which he made again to me — that he never saw any challenges to the glacier data.  Certainly enough charges and counter charges have been made on this specific point that it should be looked into, but simply asserting it doesn’t make it true.

One top climate scientist associated with the IPCC speaking to me off the record today said, “I know Murari Lal to be a straight-shooter.  I take him at his word.”

Lal said to me, “I was a lead author for the second assessment, third assessment, and fourth assessment and this is the first time in my life that I’ve been attacked like this.”

Science News asserts:

The IPCC report was supposed to reflect only peer-reviewed science. Not the speculation of scientists, which the initial source of that 2035 figure (Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain) recently acknowledged it was. Nor should magazine articles or gray literature reports – like the World Wildlife Fund document that repeated the speculative 2035 figure – become the foundation for IPCC conclusions. Which is why IPCC specifically prohibits reliance on such documents.

Interestingly, I thought that was true, too, but I decided to check with two top IPCC scientists, and they both confirmed to me that in fact, the IPCC does allow gray literature reports.  And the IPCC explains this here (see Annex 2).

Lal told me:

We were allowed to cite gray literature provided that it looked to us to be good science.

One leading climate scientist said he had thought that in the Fourth Assessment, the IPCC was going to clamp down more on this.

To me, the peer-reviewed science contains more than enough to write reports on — see my summary of the literature in 2009, “The year climate science caught up with what top scientists have been saying privately for years.”  I think the IPCC needs to stop this practice of using gray literature, especially for quantitative matters.

In any case, the 2035 figure was wrong — you can find the origin of the mistake here.  And you can find the IPCC’s retraction here.  And here’s what I think the IPCC should have done — “Memo to IPCC: Please reanalyze ALL of your conclusions about melting ice and sea level rise.”  The IPCC messed this up big time, and I’ll have more to say on that Tuesday.

The bottom line here:  Reporters and major media outlets must stop parroting everything they read.  If that’s all you’re going to do, you deserve to continue losing readers.

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63 Responses to EXCLUSIVE: UN scientist refutes Daily Mail claim he said Himalayan glacier error was politically motivated

  1. Molnar says:

    Aw, c’mon, you’re being too harsh. Reporters and major media outlets don’t parrot everything they read. They only parrot right-wing slurs and propaganda.

  2. J Bowers says:

    Proof of grey literature being allowed by the IPCC:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-appendix-a.pdf

    Appendix A to the Principles Governing IPCC Work
    PROCEDURES FOR THE PREPARATION, REVIEW, ACCEPTANCE, ADOPTION, APPROVAL AND PUBLICATION OF IPCC REPORTS.
    ANNEX 2
    PROCEDURE FOR USING NON-PUBLISHED/NON-PEER-REVIEWED SOURCES IN IPCC REPORTS

    [JR: Yes, I put that link into the post. It is a carefully guarded non-secret.]

  3. “Proof of grey literature being allowed by the IPCC”

    The have appendices! ITS A CONSPIRACY! LOOK! MY ALL CAPS PROVES IT!!!

    (Sorry, but really, what is the point of even trying to argue with someone who is too lazy to provide actual citations?)

  4. Lou Grinzo says:

    This mess once again raises the question: Where is the dividing line between “blindingly incompetent” and “just plain evil”?

    I suspect US News and Science News were just plain sloppy and/or lazy, but the Daily Fail is certainly starting to assemble quite the track record.

    How utterly sad.

    Time to start writing to the publications Joe mentions and insisting–firmly but politely–on a retraction or correction.

  5. J Bowers says:

    “Time to start writing to the publications Joe mentions and insisting–firmly but politely–on a retraction or correction.”

    Good luck with that. I’ve posted on both of David Rose’s articles in the Mail comments sections on these stories (and big whoppers they are), and have yet to see them published. Note the plethora of anti-AGW rants and none defending the scientists (the people who actually know what they’re talking about).

    Hatchet jobs all ’round, getting copy space and sales. It really is digusting.

  6. PeterW says:

    So what’s your point J Bowers, Joe already posted a link to that.

    As for the sloppy reporting and I’m being generous, have you ever noticed how journalists rarely treat their fellow journalists the way they treat the rest of us. Where are the screaming headlines about journalistic incompetence. You never see journalists challenged in this way. It’s a nice little club.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    Yawn.

  8. anniversary says:

    Many IPCC predictions are rendered already out of date. So a great opportunity to update the IPCC scenarios in the process aswell, while correcting the typo.

  9. Richard Brenne says:

    I thought the Science News article was credible but once again you’ve out-journalized all other journalists about this, Joe. Again I credit your journalist mother (and was your father a journalist too?)!

    Good call calling Lal! (All other jounalists on this should quote Simpson: “D-OH! Why didn’t I think of calling the primary source?”)

    But I think in our overall campaign to win the hearts and minds of as many as we can, we might need to admit that even if Lal didn’t insert it intentionally, it is still the worst case of overstated conjecture found in the 2007 IPCC Report. Saying so is likely to add to our credibility, if not with the frothing-at-the-mouth deniers, then with more open-minded skeptics we need to convince.

    When trying to convince someone of something, if you slightly understate your case you’re more likely to convince them than if you slightly overstate the case. I don’t think the IPCC scientists intentionally understate, conservatism is just the nature of that (scientists from 130 nations needing unanimity) beast. (And thus grossly understating, especially from 2007 to the current science.)

    I’ve spent a good deal of time on and around many Himalayan and other glaciers, and even with a lot to report and communicate about climate change I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t more rigorously question this figure myself and alert any IPCC Report Group Leaders or Lead Authors.

    Taking a moment to really think about it, with the incredible mass of the largest Himalayan glaciers and their high altitudes that can mean increased snowfall due to warming (as cold places warm closer to freezing they can get more snow), often shaded and often covered with rocks and earth, there’s no way Himalayan glaciers could melt into nothing by 2035 or any decadal time-frame.

    Glaciers can be stubborn to completely disappear, retreating up to the steepest and most shaded headwalls at the highest elevations where they begin. For sea level rise and many other factors glaciers completely disappearing is not as important as the percentage loss of mass balance of all glaciers in a region like the Himalayas or globally.

    It is the mass balance that glaciologists and sea level rise experts are worried about and rightly so. This needs to be communicated clearly and often to as many people as possible. But unfortunately the 2035 remark, left unedited, has temporarily done more harm than good. Whatever Lal’s motives, he and every appropriate person in the IPCC hierarchy needs to immediately acknowledge and apologize for the error, taking the wind out of the deniers sails and not providing them with accurate ammunition (since most of their ammunition is inaccurate).

    Also, examining my above sentence, on any timescale mixed metaphors might not be retreating.

  10. Richard Brenne says:

    Once again you’ve out-journalized all other journalists about this, Joe. Again I credit your journalist mother (and was your father a journalist too?)!

    Good call calling Lal! (All other jounalists on this should quote Simpson: “D-OH! Why didn’t I think of calling the primary source?”)

    But I think in our overall campaign to win the hearts and minds of as many as we can, we might need to admit that even if Lal didn’t insert it intentionally, it is still the worst case of overstated conjecture found in the 2007 IPCC Report. Saying so is likely to add to our credibility, if not with the frothing-at-the-mouth deniers, then with more open-minded skeptics we need to convince.

    When trying to convince someone of something, if you slightly understate your case you’re more likely to convince them than if you slightly overstate the case. I don’t think the IPCC scientists intentionally understate, conservatism is just the nature of that (scientists from 130 nations needing unanimity) beast. (And thus grossly understating, especially from 2007 to the current science.)

    I’ve spent a good deal of time on and around many Himalayan and other glaciers, and even with a lot to report and communicate about climate change I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t more rigorously question this figure myself and alert any IPCC Report Group Leaders or Lead Authors.

    Taking a moment to really think about it, with the incredible mass of the largest Himalayan glaciers and their high altitudes that can mean increased snowfall due to warming (as cold places warm closer to freezing they can get more snow), often shaded and often covered with rocks and earth, there’s no way Himalayan glaciers could melt into nothing by 2035 or any decadal time-frame.

    Glaciers can be stubborn to completely disappear, retreating up to the steepest and most shaded headwalls at the highest elevations where they begin. For sea level rise and many other factors glaciers completely disappearing is not as important as the percentage loss of mass balance of all glaciers in a region like the Himalayas or globally.

    It is the mass balance that glaciologists and sea level rise experts are worried about and rightly so. This needs to be communicated clearly and often to as many people as possible. But unfortunately the 2035 remark, left unedited, has temporarily done more harm than good. Whatever Lal’s motives, he and every appropriate person in the IPCC hierarchy needs to immediately acknowledge and apologize for the error, taking the wind out of the deniers sails and not providing them with accurate ammunition (since most of their ammunition is inaccurate).

    Also, examining my above sentence, on any timescale mixed metaphors might not be retreating.

    [JR: Oh, I agree. This was a big-time screwup on a small-time issue by the IPCC. I would have blogged on it today, but once I had the phone call, I had to defer that post.]

  11. Wit's End says:

    That nonsense about the mistake being deliberate and politically motivated actually made its way into my email today, and I was astonished. This thorough refutation is a terrific example of The Romm’s vorpal sword going snicker-snack. Brilliant!

  12. Jeff Huggins says:

    Yoo hoo! Hello!! White House! Over here!

    Wow am I confused.

    When Rachel Maddow is confused by, and distinctly in disagreement with, Jared Someone (Biden’s economic advisor) about the spending freeze announcement as it relates to the present economic situation, you can bet the vast majority of the public (including your base) is highly confused.

    When I graduated from Berkeley, and later from Harvard, I thought that I could understand many (not all) things pretty well, or at least “OK”. But I must admit — you’ve largely “lost me” (in the sense of “confused and frustrated me”) regarding your latest moves, proposals, and tactics.

    As far as I can tell, you have confused and fragmented your base, and I’m losing track of what you stand for, really. I mean, I know you don’t stand for the really dumb stuff, and I know you aren’t a “just say no” type, but it’s not clear to me what you DO stand for, these days. It’s all wishy-washy, or ineffective.

    I still have (some) “hope”, but it seems to me that you need to re-clarify what you stand for, communicate it clearly to the public, until we actually understand, commit to it, and then do it. On Rachel Maddow just now, Jared (and thus the administration) was not able to explain, clearly, just how a broad spending freeze will contribute to economic recovery.

    And I must say, I don’t understand it — at all.

    Jeff

  13. Nick says:

    The conservative UK media has been conducting a very cynical campaign against all AGW targets for some time. Their methods are breathtaking.

    Back in December,I realized what TimesOnline reporter Jonathan Leake was up to over the stolen emails.

    In an article entitled “Climate Change Data Dumped”,published 11/29/09, Leake began with reportage (without attribution) from the NYT article “Scientists Return Fire at Climate Skeptics in ‘Destroyed Data’ Dispute” of 10/14/09, stitching it into his own article to mendaciously claim comments reported in the NYT piece were made AFTER the CRUHack and in response TO media investigation into the CRUHack.

    The earlier piece dealt with the vexatious CEI moves to re-open the public comment period on the EPA’s ‘endangerment finding’ in which the CEI accused scientists of destroying /losing data. Phil Jones,Tom Karl and Ben Santer make comments concerning the data in refutation of the CEI claims. Jones’ comments are edited and paraphrased by Leake to generate the false notion that Jones is responding defensively and explicitly to events that had not yet transpired!!

  14. jyyh says:

    Yawn. Which version of the bible is currently the correct one?

  15. Whatsizname says:

    This is old news but worth repeating. Back in the 1990’s and early 2000’s a small site called “Media Whores Online” (MWO) began to flex surprising influence by building a contact list for news propagandists or any reporter (and their boss) who needed correcting. Their contact list included both e-mail and physical addresses. They were always mindful to include the contact information with each disputed article, and readers responded. It wasn’t long before many of the targets of reader responses contacted MWO to make peace in exchange for calling off the dogs.
    BTW — Do not underestimate the power of a handwritten letter. These days it is the easiest way to get an opinion to someone’s desk. And address the envelope by hand. It’s irresistible.

  16. Stephen Watson says:

    “MEMO TO MEDIA: Please start doing some damn journalism” Oh frabjous day! But don’t hold your breath …

  17. ken levenson says:

    Lazy journalists used to be accused of “not leaving the building”… and so the bar drops lower…now they can’t even seem to be bothered to pick up the phone!

    Joe, great work – give them no quarter.

  18. Nick says:

    I think I should clarify my earlier comment regarding The TimesOnline journalist Jonathan Leake’s suspect handling of sources. I can’t be sure he has lifted his material from the NYT article- he may have been fed it directly from the CEI petition or lifted it directly from trawling the UEA CRU website. Whatever his route to the “admission” material,he’s been very naughty..

    What Leake has done is use content from the UEA CRU webpage on data availability (which the CEI date as mid-August and cite in their petition linked from the NYTR article) and claim that content was an “admission by UEA scientists” made AFTER the CRU Hack emails were publicised in late November. So Leake has used website backgrounding information at least three months old, and represented it as press-release or interview material made under media pressure over the email theft in November.

    Quality journalism.

  19. Mason Inman says:

    I completely agree with Joe, that journalists should call a person to get their take before trashing them. (I’m a journalist—a science journalist, even—and I think Science News shouldn’t have done this—and should have treated the Daily Mail more skeptically.)

    In reading the coverage on the Himalayan glaciers, I’ve been irked that it has focused almost exclusively on the mistakes, and hasn’t put much effort into presenting what the best evidence is, to date.

    To collect this info, and also examples of references in the scientific literature to the mistaken IPCC info, I started a site Not in 2035 (http://notin2035.com ).

    If you have papers to suggest that I cover there, please make a comment or contact me through the site’s contact form. Thanks!

  20. Neven says:

    “In reading the coverage on the Himalayan glaciers, I’ve been irked that it has focused almost exclusively on the mistakes, and hasn’t put much effort into presenting what the best evidence is, to date.”

    Yes, this has bothered me a lot also. How are the Himalayan glaciers doing? What’s going on with those glacial lakes expanding so rapidly that they will eventually burst?

    I’ll be reading through Not in 2035 a lot the coming days. Thanks for setting up that site, Mason!

  21. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi Wit’s End-

    Oh an Alice in Wonderland reference, how cool.

    Did you know vorpal might be a combination of verbal and gospel, meaning “the sword of truth”?

    Seriously, though, the Himalayan glaciers do appear to be losing mass, according to the NASA GRACE gravity measuring satellites:

    http://www.sci.hokudai.ac.jp/~kouji-matsuo/pdf/Tibet_EPSL_distr.pdf

    Substantial amount of glacial ice is considered to be melting in the Asian high mountains. Gravimetry by GRACE satellite during 2003-2009 suggests the average ice loss rate in this region of 47 ± 12 Gigaton (Gt) yr−1, equivalent to ~0.13 ± 0.04 mm yr−1 sea level rise. This is twice as fast as the average rate over ~40 years before the studied period, and agrees with the global tendency of accelerating glacial loss. Such ice loss rate varies both in time and space; mass loss in Himalaya is slightly decelerating while those in northwestern glaciers show clear acceleration. Uncertainty still remains in the groundwater decline in northern India, and proportion of almost isostatic (e.g. tectonic uplift) and non-isostatic (e.g. glacial isostatic adjustment) portions in the current uplift rate of the Tibetan Plateau. If gravity increase associated with ongoing glacial isostatic adjustment partially canceled the negative gravity trend, the corrected ice loss rate could reach 61 Gt yr−1.

    So, call it 50 billion tons per year decline. A billion tons of ice is about a cubic kilometer. Googling around, it appears that the Himalayan glaciers contain about 5000 cubic kilometers of ice. So if the rate of melting remains constant, they would be gone or mostly gone in about a hundred years.

    But melting rates will likely accelerate as time goes on. If we get 50 billion tons per year from one degree C of warming, what would we get from 2 degrees C?
    Would we get 200 billion tons per year? And what would we get from 3 degrees of global warming? Would we get 450 billion tons per year of melting?

    I’m not so sure the 2035 time estimate is wrong. It seems to be in the right ballpark, if you figure all of it going in 100 years, at the current rate, and figure on accelerated rates of melting with higher temperatures.

    What’s happening with Greenland and West Antarctica is a huge acceleration of glacial movement. Will that happen in the Himalayas? Similar acceleration has already been seen in Alaska, I think.

  22. mauri pelto says:

    Leland Himalayan glaciers are different from ice sheet glaciers. There is plenty of meltwater and more meltwater will not accelerate them. In addition as these type of glaciers retreat they slow. A glacier disappears only if it loses its accumulation zone and many Himalayan glaciers, the larger ones mainly, have very high altitude accumulation zones, that do not ever lose their snowpack.
    http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2009/12/09/khumbu-glacier-decay/
    Thus, we cannot extrapolate to their loss. Having monitored glaciers that disappeared I can tell you that it does take awhile to get rid of even small glaciers as Richard Brenne points out.
    http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/milk-lake-glacier-loss/
    They are retreating and this does alter runoff, but not as much as other areas because the main melt season for glaciers is the main precipitation season for the Himalaya due to the summer monsoon.
    http://glacierchange.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/gangotri-glacier-retreat-and-hydropower/

  23. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi mauri pelto-

    A table at the end of the reference given above shows mass loss for Alaskan glaciers of about 200 cubic kilometers per year.

    It estimates mass loss from Himalayan glaciers at roughly 50 cubic kilometers per year.

    Warming in Alaska is proceeding much faster than warming in the Himalayas region, and so the Alaskan glaciers might give us a window on the future, for glaciers at similar altitudes.

    I’m sure we will all find out more about this in the coming weeks, and the controversy does focus public attention on the subject, which is an opportunity for communication.

    Still, the 2035 estimate might be in the right ballpark, maybe, perhaps a bit accelerated but not too bad. I need to find out more about Alaska.

    The table at the end of the link I gave above seems to give a good list of available glacier mass loss data and sources of it.

    Here’e the link again:

    Time-variable ice loss in Asian high mountains from satellite gravimetry

    http://www.sci.hokudai.ac.jp/~kouji-matsuo/pdf/Tibet_EPSL_distr.pdf

  24. Leland Palmer says:

    Whoops, misread the table.

    GRACE supports mass loss from Alaska of about 100 cubic kilometers per year, not 200.

  25. dhogaza says:

    Leland Palmer: please note that mauri pelto is a professional glaciologist (chase the page his name links to).

  26. Ihatedeniers says:

    Whats with the Daily Mail lately? What do they get out of misinforming people? Did they hire Anthony Watts or Lindzen?

  27. Ihatedeniers says:

    Leland Palmer states that Alaska’s glaciers are melting faster than the Himalayas. Correct me if I’m wrong Joe but my guess is that Alaska has warmed more due to loss of sea ice(positive feedback) and maybe soot from China.

  28. On the fence says:

    It’ll take at least five years to fix but can be done…In the mean time – let’s blog.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,673944,00.html

  29. Hank Roberts says:

    Tidbit:

    http://iahs.info/redbooks/a218/iahs_218_0309.pdf
    Snow and Glacier Hydrology (Proceedings of the Kathmandu Symposium, November 1992). IAHS Publ. no. 218,1993. 309

    —excerpt follows—

    In some Himalayan glaciers, the microbial production on the glacier surface is so large during the monsoon season that the surface of the ablation area is covered with a dark coloured mud-like material which mainly consists of algae and bacteria. This material reduces the surface albedo of the glacier and accelerates glacier melting. …. In the ablation area, especially, melting rates at the control plots were about 3 times larger than those at the experimental plots. The heat balance, calculated from the meteorological data recorded on the glacier, suggests that most of the ablation (about 90%) is attributed to net radiation. These results suggest that the biotic albedo reduction considerably affects the heat balance and mass balance in this type of glacier

  30. Andy Revkin says:

    “One” Janet Raloff has been writing about science for the public far longer than you, Joe, and probably deserves a bit more consideration than you provide. (As for Dr. Lal, he hasn’t been returning messages, at least mine.)

    And there are plenty of people, including senior contributors to the IPCC (including lead authors of the Working Group 2 report that contained the non peer-reviewed conclusion on Asian glaciers) who are concerned about this situation.

    Read Michael Oppenheimer here: http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/from-inside-and-out-climate-panel-pushed-to-change/

  31. Richard Brenne says:

    This is perfect, with Joe as our host and then his minions like Leland and myself questioning and commenting we then get Mauri, a professional glaciologist, giving us the most authoritative sources from peer-reviewed literature. This is a blog made in heaven.

    Mauri, with many other scientists in many disciplines I’ll state stuff and then have them correct what I said for accuracy.

    I’m also always trying to get the big picture and consensus to then communicate that to the public. So please correct what I’m saying here, and anyone else can too, especially with peer-reviewed examples.

    What are the implications of the loss of Himalayan and other glaciers?

    First, compared to Greenland and Antarctica (first the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, then over many more centuries and probably millenia the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which has 90 per cent of Antarctica’s ice) the third and fourth largest locations of glaciers in Alaska and the Himalayas will comprise a very small percentage of sea level rise – I’m guessing a few centimeters at most compared to about 7 meters or around 23 feet each for both Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. (I’d love someone like Leland to substantiate my approximations.)

    One factor that is stated by Jim Hansen in his book is that one additonal factor accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica (mostly the East Antarctic Ice Sheet) is that the ice can be up to two miles thick in places with averages over a mile and as this melts down the elevation drops and temperatures are of course warmer at lower elevations. (I’m wondering, Mauri, if this is offset by greatly compacted ice under more weight melting more slowly than less compacted ice above.)

    What’s important about the Himalayan glaciers melting is that they provide a baseline of run-off to the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Ganges, Indus and other large river systems. At their lowest flows, which are at different times of year from the Karakoram in Pakistan that has the heaviest concentration of glaciers because most of their precipitation comes in the Winter (like we’re used to in North American and European snowpacks), in the Southern Himalayas of India, Nepal and Bhutan most snowfall comes during summer monsoons as Mauri pointed out.

    Either way, the glaciers provide a baseline of melt to keep streams and rivers from becoming too low. In the Canadian Rockies the icefield and glaciers feeding rivers like the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, this baseline has already peaked – there will never be as much flow from glaciers as there has been in the past. I would like to know where the various Himalayan regions are in baseline melt.

    But of course more run-off and stream flow in all the river systems comes from rain and snowpack. It will always rain, of course, although there is evidence that soot from India and China (and China’s heavy cloud-seeding) as well as monsoonal patterns could be changing rainfall, and since so many people in Asia are living on the margins as it is, this needs extremely close monitoring.

    The snow lines are rising with warming and snowpack in many (especially low) places is diminishing and run-off is often coming earlier, and this combined with the glacial melt and changes in precipitation patterns could mean not enough water for irrigation of crops that feed many hundreds of millions, fresh drinking water, water for hyrdo power, fish health and even navigation in places.

    It isn’t difficult to imagine scenarios where China wants the arable land and water available to their north in Russia, or India and Pakistan fighting over water on the Indus and Ganges Rivers. Since all four nations are nuclear powers this is scary for us all, because as nuclear winter expert Brian Toon has told me, a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could create conflagrations of their cities and thus particulates that could lead to a smaller-scale nuclear winter that could kill off a billion of the world’s poorest subsistence farmers all around the world.

    Because Alaska has less than a thousandth of the population reliant on Himalayan water the implications there might be slightly less serious, like maybe someday from her helicopter Sarah Palin shoots a somewhat more emaciated wolf.

  32. Richard Brenne says:

    This is perfect (I wrote this before Andy’s comment will send us back to the horse race and “She said, he said” when I’d argue the points being made below about the fate of at least a billion might be more important), with Joe as our host and then his minions like Leland and myself questioning and commenting we then get Mauri, a professional glaciologist, giving us the most authoritative sources from peer-reviewed literature. This is a blog made in heaven.

    Mauri, with many other scientists in many disciplines I’ll state stuff and then have them correct what I said for accuracy.

    I’m also always trying to get the big picture and consensus to then communicate that to the public. So please correct what I’m saying here, and anyone else can too, especially with peer-reviewed examples.

    What are the implications of the loss of Himalayan and other glaciers?

    First, compared to Greenland and Antarctica (first the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, then over many more centuries and probably millenia the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, which has 90 per cent of Antarctica’s ice) the third and fourth largest locations of glaciers in Alaska and the Himalayas will comprise a very small percentage of sea level rise – I’m guessing a few centimeters at most compared to about 7 meters or around 23 feet each for both Greenland and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. (I’d love someone like Leland to substantiate my approximations.)

    One factor that is stated by Jim Hansen in his book is that one additonal factor accelerating melting in Greenland and Antarctica (mostly the East Antarctic Ice Sheet) is that the ice can be up to two miles thick in places with averages over a mile and as this melts down the elevation drops and temperatures are of course warmer at lower elevations. (I’m wondering, Mauri, if this is offset by greatly compacted ice under more weight melting more slowly than less compacted ice above.)

    What’s important about the Himalayan glaciers melting is that they provide a baseline of run-off to the Yellow, Yangtze, Mekong, Ganges, Indus and other large river systems. At their lowest flows, which are at different times of year from the Karakoram in Pakistan that has the heaviest concentration of glaciers because most of their precipitation comes in the Winter (like we’re used to in North American and European snowpacks), in the Southern Himalayas of India, Nepal and Bhutan most snowfall comes during summer monsoons as Mauri pointed out.

    Either way, the glaciers provide a baseline of melt to keep streams and rivers from becoming too low. In the Canadian Rockies the icefield and glaciers feeding rivers like the North and South Saskatchewan Rivers, this baseline has already peaked – there will never be as much flow from glaciers as there has been in the past. I would like to know where the various Himalayan regions are in baseline melt.

    But of course more run-off and stream flow in all the river systems comes from rain and snowpack. It will always rain, of course, although there is evidence that soot from India and China (and China’s heavy cloud-seeding) as well as monsoonal patterns could be changing rainfall, and since so many people in Asia are living on the margins as it is, this needs extremely close monitoring.

    The snow lines are rising with warming and snowpack in many (especially low) places is diminishing and run-off is often coming earlier, and this combined with the glacial melt and changes in precipitation patterns could mean not enough water for irrigation that feeds many hundreds of millions, fresh drinking water, water for hyrdo power, fish health and even navigation in places.

    It isn’t difficult to imagine scenarios where China wants the arable land and water available to their north in Russia, or India and Pakistan fighting over water on the Indus and Ganges Rivers. Since all four nations are nuclear powers this is scary for us all, because as nuclear winter expert Brian Toon has told me, a nuclear war between India and Pakistan could create conflagrations of their cities and thus particulates that could lead to a smaller-scale nuclear winter that could kill off a billion of the world’s poorest subsistence farmers all around the world.

    Because Alaska has less than a thousandth of the population reliant on Himalayan water the implications there might be slightly less serious, like maybe someday from her helicopter Sarah Palin shoots a somewhat more emaciated wolf.

  33. Lou Grinzo says:

    Richard: The way I’ve been stating it for some time on my own site is: The primary vector for climate change impacts on human beings will be water.

    Lack of fresh water for consumption, hygiene, agriculture, and hydropower, and too much salt water threatening coastal cities and low-lying farmland, adds up to one heck of a problem.

    BTW, did you ever get the e-mails I sent? Pls. drop me a line at lougrinzo [dopey little at-sign] rochester.rr.com.

  34. RyanT says:

    If I’m not mistaken, purposely mis-quoting someone can be considered libel, and in this case it also seems like a form of defamation (at least in the U.S.). So maybe Latif and/or Lal should get with a British lawyer and try handing the Daily Nail yet another libel judgment :-)

    http://bit.ly/aRgF6V

  35. Richard Brenne says:

    Will do Lou (#31), I’ve been remiss with the e-mails to you, Leif and Jeff Hughes – my three favorite of Romm’s minions! Prepare yourself for a thorough response and multiple proposals, many of them platonic.
    – Richard

    PS: Great explanations about water. I’m gonna go splash into your website. I’ve gotta run deliver a talk on this stuff now but you’ll be hearing from me soon – and Leif and Jeff as well.

  36. Dan B says:

    Proposals and splashing.

    Priceless mixed metaphors.

    I’m feeling buoyed up (excuse my metaphor, or was it a pun?) by the way the best communicators are coming together.

    I’ve been concerned about global warming and the fossil fuel “fossils” for more than 20 years. On a trip to visit British gardens in 1984 members of the Royal Horticultural Society expressed concern to our group. Dedicated gardeners had been collecting data in the British Isles and in the Commonwealth for centuries on bloom time, leaf out, leaf drop, first and last frosts, high and low annual temperatures, etc. The data was consistent. They demonstrated a hockey stick by the early 80’s. A few years later 300 gardeners filled an auditorium in the western USA to hear about the scientific understanding of global warming and climate change. There were no disagreements among the assembled bunch except on whether or not there was anything for us to do.

    The message is persuasive if you like the messenger and have a personal connection to the message.

    I’ll be chuckling about “proposals” and “splashing” – very likable.

  37. riverat says:

    Leland, I don’t think it’s that easy to compare the Himalayan glaciers with Alaska in general. A number of Alaskan glaciers end in the Pacific Ocean which has effects on them that aren’t present in the Himalayas.

  38. Deep Climate says:

    “One” David Rose has been writing about climate science for about a month or so. His first piece parroted various fatuous claims from McIntyre/McKitrick about paleoclimatology in IPCC TAR and his second spouted nonsense about global cooling.

    Citing anything from this fount of misinformation is indefensible. If anything, responsible journalists should be speaking out against the tidal wave of falsehoods in the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, Wall Street Journal and the National Post. Not to mention Fox News.

    The continued silence of mainstream journalists on the issue of irresponsible and mendacious science reporting is shameful.

  39. Leland Palmer says:

    Hi riverat, mauri pelto, and everyone-

    Finally got a chance to look at some of the links from mauri pelto, and they are very interesting and somewhat convincing.

    The NASA GRACE satellites measure ice loss directly from changes in gravity. But this is the first generation of gravimetric satellites, and their spatial resolution is low. So, it’s a little hard for them to distinguish between groundwater loss in northern India and ice loss in the surrounding mountains.

    Still, at least so far, they do appear to show an ice mass loss of about 50 cubic kilometers per year.

    Here are some probably better figures for total ice volume in the area:

    In the whole of the Himalayan range, independent geologists claim that there are 18,065 small and big glaciers with a total area of 34,659.62 km2 and a total ice volume of 3,734.4796 km3. The major clusters of glaciers are around the 10Himalayan peaks and massifs: Nanga Parbat (Gilgit), the Nanda Devi group in Garhwal, the Dhaulagiri massif, the Everest-Makalu group, the Kanchenjunga, the Kula Kangri area, and Namche Bazaar.

    The Indian Himalayan glaciers are broadly divided into three-river basins of the Indus, Ganga and Barahmaputra. The Indus basin has the largest number of glaciers (3,538), followed by the Ganga basin (1,020) and the Barahmaputra (662).

    The principal glaciers are: Siachen 72 km; Gangotri 26 km; Zemu 26 km; Milam 19 km and Kedarnath 14.5 km. The Gangotri glacier has retreated by about 850 m.

    3734 cubic kilometers divided by 50 cubic kilometers of ice loss per year gives about 75 years worth of ice, at current melt rates. That would have 90% of the ice gone by 2075 or so.

    So far, ice mass loss does appear to be increasing. Will this accelerate, will this accelerate for a while, and then decelerate, and a sort of “S” shaped logistic curve result?

    With respect to mauri pelto and other professional glaciologists, I’m not sure there are any real experts in what we are facing. Will the future resemble the past? Will precipitation in the Himalayas always be snow, or will it start to rain at higher and higher elevations, during the summer, for example? Will there be some sudden “phase change” transition in 20 years? Nobody knows, so far as I know.

    Suppose we do get three degrees of global temperature increase by 2035. Suppose we do get a curve, in which ice mass loss increases to 250 km3 per year in 2030 and then declines due to lack of ice. In that case we could have 90% of all the Himalayan ice gone by 2035.

  40. Richard Brenne says:

    Leland (#36) – great comment, impressive homework. Have you or has anyone calculated the mass balance of the glaciers in the three drainages?

    You make a compelling argument and show your math well, but I’m still thinking 90 per cent loss by 2035 sounds a little extreme. I’d love to know what Mauri or any of the rest of you think about Leland’s conclusion.

    Also if anyone wants to refer back to my comment (#30 – sorry it’s a little long), I’d enjoy any answers to the few questions I raise there.

  41. J Bowers says:

    PeterW says: January 25, 2010 at 9:12 pm
    “So what’s your point J Bowers, Joe already posted a link to that.”

    Complain to the UK’s Press Complaints Commission. Here’s an example of a complaint against Christopher Booker’s article claiming sea levels not rising:
    Adjudication – Mr Bob Ward v The Sunday Telegraph
    http://www.pcc.org.uk/news/index.html?article=NjE4OQ==

    Bob Ward was not named in the Telegraph’s article, but he still managed to get a partial result:
    “Mr Bob Ward of the LSE’s Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article headlined “Rise of sea levels is ‘the greatest lie ever told'” published in The Sunday Telegraph on 29 March 2009 was inaccurate and misleading in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.”

    The PCC’s guidelines for editorial content:
    http://www.pcc.org.uk/cop/practice.html

  42. Dano says:

    How the general public can contribute to a scientific assessment nonsense notwithstanding, surely competent leadership can make lemonade out of this situation by getting the melting and danger to ~1/6 – 1//7 of the planet’s human population into people’s minds.

    Best,

    D

  43. John N-G says:

    An extract from my new blog posting on Atmo.Sphere at http://tinyurl.com/ykfy8aa (the rest of the posting does not directly relate to Lal):

    On a related matter, Joe Romm is very critical of a Daily Mail article by David Rose in which he quotes the author of the WG2 section, Murari Lal, as saying that he knew the estimate was from the gray literature rather than peer-reviewed and that it was put in because it might encourage policy-makers to take action. Romm reports on other amplifications of the article by Science News, which said “he knew there were no solid data to support the report’s claim”, and a US News blog, which said “If Lal knowingly perpetuated unsubstantiated speculation…” Romm then reports that he contacted Lal with the charges, and Lal called them “the most vilest allegations”.

    There’s a world of difference from believing that the gray literature source was reliable (and therefore using it) and believing that the gray literature source was based on “unsubstantiated speculation” with “no solid data” (and using it anyway)! Perhaps this is the vile allegation that Lal is responding to, and I agree that it would be vile. But as Romm himself goes on to note (and I was mistaken about this myself), gray literature citations are allowed by the IPCC, especially in WG2 and WG3 reports.

    I didn’t know David Rose from the Queen of Sheba when he called me last Friday to talk about my blog postings on the Himalayan glaciers. During the conversation, he told me he had just had an “extraordinary” conversation with Lal, and Rose then conveyed to me the substance of Lal’s remarks as he later reported them. So I have no doubt that Rose heard Lal say what he later reported. I also have no reason to believe that Lal thought that the projection was wrong or faulty. Where he went wrong, in my opinion, was in settling for an apparently reliable gray literature source rather than going to the WG1 experts who could have corrected him. And where Science News and US News went wrong was not in failing to check sources, but failing to carefully read and failthfully report the sources they had.

    [JR: Rose is not reliable. The Daily Mail is not reliable — they (unnamed reporter) did the same thing to Latif. What’s vile is the claim the Latif put this in for political purposes AND the claim that he knew it wasn’t true when he put it in.]

  44. David Rose says:

    I did not misquote Dr Lal, and I have verbatim, contemporaneous notes of our conversation. I did not, however, accuse him of knowingly publishing false information, as others have implied. I only stated that he published the bogus 2035 glacier melting date despite being aware it did not rest on peer-reviewed literature.

    I am surprised that in attacking me so volubly for what you claim was poor journalistic practice, you made no effort to put your false and frankly actionable allegations to me. I repeat: Dr Lal said what I reported.

    [JR: You have done this twice now. First misrepresenting Latif, now Lal. YOUR paper’s intentionally misleading headline — “Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified” — caused ALL of the confusion about whether you accused him of knowingly publishing false information. And now Lal has issued a statement asserting he did not say what you reported, so your threat is baseless. Sorry, but he is much more credible than you or your paper.]

  45. Steve Bloom says:

    Deltoid has the complete scoop on Rosegate. It turns out our David has a bit of prior form, having fallen for the fictional Iraq-Al Qaeda connection in the run-up to the war in addition to the more recent misrepresentation of Mojib Latif. Worse than that, though, in the course of the current kerfuffle he felt free to openly “salute” Steve McIntyre on the latter’s blog. Color me gobsmacked. Simply put, any “journalist” who does something like that is no longer a journalist.

    John N-G, your presumption that Lal must have in fact said the things Rose reported indicates considerable naivete on your part. People with a strong bias often hear what they want to hear, and Rose has demonstrated just such a bias.

    Andy Revkin, Janet Raloff’s assumption that Rose’s Lal quotes were accurate is a screw-up. Don’t they teach people in j-school to get confirmation before going with stories like that?

  46. J Bowers says:

    David Rose says:
    January 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm “…I repeat: Dr Lal said what I reported…”

    Please scan your notes and publish them here , or a linkeable place, as either a PDF or jpeg. That’s a very simple thing to do.

  47. J Bowers says:

    David Rose says:
    January 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm
    “…despite being aware it did not rest on peer-reviewed literature.”

    Annex2:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-appendix-a.pdf

    What’s the issue? Sounds like something you should take up with the United Nations and every member state. In the meantime, Dr. Lal et al can only work within their remit.

  48. Andy says:

    Mr. Revkin re: Ms. Raloff: I guess what you’re saying is that journalist’s blogs are apt to contain information gathered without checking original sources due to time constraints (Dr. Lal’s not returning my calls).

    Then why should I subscribe to a newspaper if print journalism is no better than what I see on the nightly news?

    Journalists are killing their own profession.

  49. andrew adams says:

    The fact that Rose may have reported Dr Lal’s words correctly does not mean that his views were not misreprsented when they are viewed in the context of the wider article.

  50. andrew adams says:

    I mean look at the “climategate” emails. No one is claiming that the people involved didn’t write what people are saying they wrote but that doesn’t mean that their words have not been misrepresented (Rose is certainly guilty in this respect).

  51. Marion Delgado says:

    Mr. Revkin:

    One Janet Raloff has been writing badly about science, at least lately, and did so by sourcing the Daily Mail, which, frankly, no one actually writing to inform the public about science would do. You quote sources like that on issues of fact only to show the right-wing noise machine you’ll print paid liars as balance to facts.

    Would you have said the same about criticisms of “one” Judith Miller? That she was an award-winning journalist who’d been writing about Iraq for the public longer than, say, the people who pointed out that she’d been writing mostly fraudulent stories about Iraq all those years? Shouldn’t the accuracy also matter at all?

    Bad “science” journalism has indeed contributed – unfairly, but successfully – to tarnishing the reputation of science and scientists, which is what the original sources are paid to do.

    But as a former working reporter who has written about controversial issues in science, I can assure you that it’s lowered the reputation of journalism – completely fairly, even further.

    Journalism is completely un-self-policing. It’s good to bear in mind that unlike real professions – where peer associations have power, and the practicioner takes on or rejects clients – journalism is a job and the people doing it are simply employees. If newspapers and reporters got most of their money from grants, and if they were peer reviewed, we’d see their accuracy shoot up by orders of magnitude, I believe.

  52. David Rose says:

    I realise that making ad hominem attacks on me – and indeed Fred Pearce, who has been accused of misquoting Syed Hasnain in his New Scientist article back in 1999 – is a convenient way of diverting attention from the real issue here, namely the damage done to the IPCC by its publication of the false 2035 glacier melting claim, and the fact that this evaded the IPCC’s vaunted review process. But in the end, such attacks will not get us far, and believe me, outside the charmed circle of people who read blogs such as this, the damage has been considerable.

    As for Dr Latif: please note the letter from myself published in yesterday’s Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/27/challenging-times-climate-science

    You report (Cold snap does not undermine climate case – scientist, 12 January) that Professor Mojib Latif of Kiel University, a leading member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, has attacked as “misleading” my article in the Mail on Sunday (10 January), stating that I wrongly claimed that his work “undermines the scientific case for manmade global warming”.

    At no point in my piece did I say that it does. I merely quoted him, accurately, saying that his team’s work suggests that up to half the global warming observed in recent decades was due not to greenhouse gases but long-term ocean temperature cycles. These, he went on, have now entered a “cold” mode, and that as a result, we can expect more cold winters and a slight, though temporary, cooling. Prof Latif told me: “Global warming has paused,” adding that the extreme glacial retreats and icecap melting seen recently would for the time being cease.

    Such predictions, I wrote, “challenge some of global warming orthodoxy’s most cherished beliefs”, including the assertion that the north pole will be ice-free in summer by 2013. Latif told me that this is most unlikely to be realised. His work may not undermine the science of manmade warming, but it does challenge standard media representations of its imminent consequences.

    David Rose

    Oxford

  53. andrew adams says:

    David Rose,

    Re Latif, do you not think that for the sake of clarity you should have stressed Latif’s view that global warming caused by human CO2 emissions is still very likely to be a serious problem in the longer term. Or that his predictions for temperatures in the current decade have been proved to be underestimates.
    Similarly when mentioning the increase in Arctic summer sea ice since 2007 do you not think it would have been fair to mention that this follows a massive fall in sea-ice levels in 2007 and that we are still below the 2006 level?
    Without mentioning these things you are only giving half the story and are clearly misleading your readers. Especially when you say things like

    This challenge to the widespread view that the planet is on the brink of an irreversible catastrophe is all the greater because the scientists could never be described as global warming ‘deniers’ or sceptics.
    However, both main British political parties continue to insist that the world is facing imminent disaster without drastic cuts in CO2.

    This clearly gives the impression that drastic cuts in CO2 may not be neccessary, but Latif has not said anything of the kind.

    I could go on but I will just mention one more patently false statement.

    The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise.

    They most certainly do not assert this. For example the warming in the early part of the 20th century was largely due to high solar activity and low volcanic activity. Nothing Latif has said in any way contradicts the climate models.

  54. dhogaza says:

    I realise that making ad hominem attacks on me …

    Rose still doesn’t know what an ad hom attack is. Hint: my previous statement’s not an ad hom attack, it’s a statement of fact.

    I’ll make an ad hom attack, so perhaps he can get some idea as to the difference: David Rose is a liar.

  55. David Rose says:

    Thanks, dhogaza, whoever you really are. You (and Mr Romm, who is happy to publish such abuse) just relieved me of any need to continue this. I’ve always felt that when people resort to insults, they’re probably not on firm ground, but hey, what does my view matter, since you won’t believe anything I say? Goodnight and good luck.

    [JR: I let you post your misstatements, so it’s only fair to let dhogaza post his comments. I’ll have much more to say on this soon!]

  56. Neven says:

    “(and Mr Romm, who is happy to publish such abuse)”

    Mr Rose, I have to ask: Have you ever read the comments on your articles?

    These guys are actually being quite patient for the most part. I hope you realize the Global Warming PR war didn’t start last week. There’s a history of at least 20 years to it and you cannot expect people to keep up decorum indefinitely.

    Personally, I’d also like to see some evidence that points to you not having tweaked Dr Lal’s statements with a pre-determined goal.

    Last point: ‘Rosegate’ would seem to me to be meant ironically, as the skeptic/inactivist side of the Global Warming PR war tends to attach the affix -Gate to everything lately, no matter how trivial.

    [JR: Maybe DailyMailGate.]

  57. andrew adams says:

    So he objects to ad hominem comments but doesn’t respond to mine which actually address the substance of his article.

  58. Ian Forrester says:

    Funny thing is dhogaza’s comment was not an ad hom since speaking the truth is not considered to be an ad hominem attack. So, David Rose, start telling the truth in your articles and people will stop calling you a liar. Simple isn’t it? And if your editor followed baseball rules you would be looking for a new job since in baseball “three strikes and you are out”. Anyone have a copy of baseball rules they can send to the editor of the fishwrap known as the Daily Mail?

  59. Neven says:

    [JR: Maybe DailyMailGate.]

    How about ‘PR War of the Roses’?

  60. Donald Oats says:

    The last scientific report that I am aware of that has the 2350 date correctly reported is the UNESCO report from 1996 (second last paragraph, page 66):Variations of snow and ice in the past and present on a global and regional scale. The bibliography refers to the original peer-reviewed and published source article, but it is only accessible by library AFAIK, so this is as far back as I can track. BTW, there are a number of news articles around that do correctly attribute this report as the likely source of the correct date, ie 2350, rather than Fred Pearce’s 1999 New Scientist article.

    From that report, someone copying (part of) it made a transcription error (at least one claim is that this first happened on an Indian website, which was quoting from the above-mentioned report). Then it went viral and here we are.

  61. Andy says:

    Re: Janet Raloff’s blog entry and Andy Revkin’s response. I think journalists shouldn’t use their blogs, at least those embedded within or linked to their news organization, as a way to get out breaking news. In this case Ms. Raloff used the blog to publish an unchecked story (e.g. didn’t independently verify Dr. Lal’s quotes or intent). Most readers won’t distinguish between the blog entry and actual news stories.

    A better fire wall needs to be built between reporter’s blogs and their newspapers.

  62. I’m not very knowledgeable on British libel law, but I’ve heard that it’s quite strict.
    Is is possible for Dr. Lal (from India) to file a libel case against the reporter and/or newspaper for printing what Lal told was not an accurate representation of his statement? If so, I would approve of him doing so and will donate money for his attorney’s fees.