Good news: The Himalayan glaciers will probably endure past 2035. Bad news: If we don’t reverse our emissions trend soon, their disappearance is likely to become irreversible before then.
MEMO TO IPCC: If you are going to review the apparently mistaken claim in your 2007 report that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035 — please review all of the latest scientific literature and observations on that subject AND please update your equally outdated sea level rise projections.
MEMO TO MEDIA: It isn’t news that the 2007 projections by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are not accurate. The real news is that the 99% of their “mistakes” are UNDERestimates of likely impacts. Indeed, they lowballed the sea level rise projections so badly that even the Bush administration rejected them within a year (see “US Geological Survey stunner: Sea-level rise in 2100 will likely “substantially exceed” IPCC projections).
Back to the news of the day. Predictably, the anti-science crowd is crowing about what looks to be an inconsequential mistake in the 2007 IPCC report. In a piece absurdly headlined, “World misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown,” the UK’s Times online writes:
A WARNING that climate change will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 is likely to be retracted after a series of scientific blunders by the United Nations body that issued it.
Note to Times Online, you might want to read your own story from two months ago, “Vanishing glaciers jolt smokestack China” (discussed below), the source of the above photo.
The UK Express screed, “The New Climate Change Scandal,” claims “FRESH doubts were cast over controversial global warming theories yesterday after a major climate change argument was discredited.”
It does look like the IPCC used some out-of-date projections for a pretty minor piece of the report, but of course the IPCC basically froze all scientific inputs to its Fourth Assessment Report around 2005, so they missed the dramatic acceleration in melting of the Arctic sea ice, the inland glaciers, and the great ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. Thus it is absolutely crucial that — if the IPCC re-examines the issue of glacial melt in the Himalayans — that it re-examine the entire issue based on the staggering new observational data in the scientific literature: