21 Jan 2010:
IPCC Apologizes for
"Poorly Substantiated" Himalayan Claim
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has apologized for a “poorly substantiated” claim
in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035. The UN body was forced to review the claim after reports that it was based not on peer-reviewed studies but on a media interview with an Indian scientist. “In drafting the paragraph in question, the clear and well-established standards of
View from a Himalayan glacier
evidence, required by the IPCC procedures, were not applied properly,” IPCC leaders said in a statement. The latest controversy, which comes weeks after e-mails pirated from a UK climate institute stoked furor among climate change skeptics
, has attracted more scrutiny to research into the human effects on climate. But Lonnie Thompson, a glaciologist from Ohio State University, told reporters that the controversy should not undermine the credibility of the IPCC report or cast doubt on the reality that the world’s glaciers are melting. From Alaska to the Alps to the Tibetan Plateau, Thompson said that 95 to 100 percent of glaciers under observance are retreating. Of the 800 glaciers in the Himalayas being monitored, 95 percent are in retreat, he said. “We’re good at what we do, but we’re still human beings, and some errors can always get through the cracks,” he said. “[But] these issues are very specific, and they do not detract from the overall findings.”
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Photographer Robert Wintner documents the exquisite beauty and biodiversity of Cuba’s coral reefs, which are largely intact thanks to stifled coastal development in the communist nation. View the gallery.
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The Warriors of Qiugang
, a Yale Environment 360
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A three-part series Tainted Harvest
looks at the soil pollution crisis in China, the threat it poses to the food supply, and the complexity of any cleanup. Read the series.