Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shock: world misled over Himalayan glacier meltdown

In the latest fracture in the scientific consensus surrounding climate change, the U.N. is expected to retract its warning that most of the Himalayan glaciers will melt by 2035.  From the London Times (UK):
Two years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a benchmark report that was claimed to incorporate the latest and most detailed research into the impact of global warming. A central claim was the world's glaciers were melting so fast that those in the Himalayas could vanish by 2035.

In the past few days the scientists behind the warning have admitted that it was based on a news story in the New Scientist, a popular science journal, published eight years before the IPCC's 2007 report.

It has also emerged that the New Scientist report was itself based on a short telephone interview with Syed Hasnain, a little-known Indian scientist then based at Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

Hasnain has since admitted that the claim was "speculation" and was not supported by any formal research. If confirmed it would be one of the most serious failures yet seen in climate research. The IPCC was set up precisely to ensure that world leaders had the best possible scientific advice on climate change.
This follows a report last week in which the Met Office (the UK's national weather service) denounced research from the Copenhagen summit which suggested that global warming could raise sea levels by 6ft by 2100.

The Climategate scandal which rocked the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December reared its head again on Friday when the Wall Steet Journal revealed that Michael Mann, an American scientist at the center of the controversy had received more than half a million dollars in stimulus money to conduct climate change research.  The National Center for Public Policy Research issued a press release Thursday asking that these funds be returned:
In the face of rising unemployment and record-breaking deficits, policy experts at the National Center for Public Policy Research are criticizing the Obama Administration for awarding a half million dollar grant from the economic stimulus package to Penn State Professor Michael Mann, a key figure in the Climategate controversy.

"It's outrageous that economic stimulus money is being used to support research conducted by Michael Mann at the very time he's under investigation by Penn State and is one of the key figures in the international Climategate scandal. Penn State should immediately return these funds to the U.S. Treasury," said Tom Borelli, Ph.D., director of the National Center's Free Enterprise Project.

Professor Mann is currently under investigation by Penn State University because of activities related to a closed circle of climate scientists who appear to have been engaged in agenda-driven science. Emails and documents mysteriously released from the previously-prestigious Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom revealed discussions of manipulation and destruction of research data, as well as efforts to interfere with the peer review process to stifle opposing views. The motivation underlying these efforts appears to be a coordinated strategy to support the belief that mankind's activities are causing global warming.
Even more astonishing is the revelation that Penn State received an additional $1.9 million stimulus grant just last week:
A nearly $1.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation is enabling a Penn State-led group of researchers to continue studies on the potential effects of climate change on the spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue. The grant is part of federal stimulus funding authorized under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Noel Sheppard at the Wall Street Journal pointedly questions the rationale for this latest award:
This grant appears to have nothing to do with Mann's department. However, given the high-profile the university is currently under as a result of his involvement in ClimateGate, it seems absurd that any federal funds involving climate change would be going to this school while it is investigating its chief proponent of this myth.
Maybe more importantly, why are economic stimulus funds being given to a university for scientific research in the first place, especially one with such political overtones?
I guess it would be pointless to ask how many jobs Penn State will create with this $1.9 million.

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