Sunday, December 06, 2009

Reference: Himalayan glacier melts to hit billions of poor, Bangkok Post, December 7, 2009

In 2007, the IPCC issued a report citing data on the retreating Gangotri glacier in the Himalayan mountains that showed that the rate of retreat had accelerated from 19 m/yr in 1971 to 34 m/yr in 2001. They extrapolated the observed acceleration forward and wrote that global warming devastation due to carbon dioxide was only a decade away for people who depend on the Ganges and other rivers with headwaters in the Himalayas.

This scenario continues to be widely disseminated in the media (Himalayan glacier melts to hit billions of poor, Bangkok Post, December 7, 2009) in spite of more recent data that show that the predicted acceleration has not occurred; with the IPCC going so far as to vilify Indian scientists who who published the data as climate change deniers.

In any case, the idea that glacial retreat in the Himalayas will cause the Ganges river to dry up is inconsistent with the observation that the river derives less than 5% of its water from glacial melt. Also of note is that a gradual decline in overall glacial mass worldwide began in 1850, well before fossil fuel consumption and atmospheric carbon dioxide rose to levels that the IPCC has identified with man-made global warming. Therefore it is not a carbon dioxide issue.

Cha-am Jamal

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