Climate science mired in politics: Ramesh

Declaring that "science is politics in climate change; climate science is politics",Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has urged Indian scientists to undertake more and more studies

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published:June 9, 2011 3:27 am

Minister urges Indian scientists to undertake more studies and publish them vigorously

Declaring that “science is politics in climate change; climate science is politics”,Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has urged Indian scientists to undertake more and more studies and publish them vigorously to prevent India and other developing countries from being “led by our noses by Western (climate) scientists who have less of a scientific agenda and more of a political agenda”.

The minister’s remarks evoked loud applause from over 100 Indian scientists who had gathered on the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) premises in Ahmedabad,where a study of 2,190 Himalayan glaciers undertaken by 15 institutes and organisations in India was released.

Ramesh also again took on the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),chaired by Nobel Peace Prize winner R K Pachauri,and the retracted projections that said the Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035.

The ISRO study shows the glaciers will be there “for the next 400 years”,he joked,adding “400 years is as bogus a number as 2035.”

The study team that drew up the report titled “Snow and Glaciers of the Himalayas” was headed by Ajai,Group Director of Marine,Geo and Planetary Science Group at ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC),located in Ahmedabad.

The studies were carried out using satellite imagery and spot visits to further verify findings. It comprises a detailed inventory of the Himalayan glaciers in the Indus,Ganga and Brahmaputra basins on a 1:50,000 scale. Snow cover was also monitored every ten days,ISRO said.

The inventory revealed that there are 32,392 glaciers in the region,covering an area of 71,182 square km. Out of these,the advance and retreat of 2190 glaciers distributed over 14 basins were monitored using satellite images of a 15 year period between 1989-91 and 2004-05.

The data showed that the average loss in area of the glaciers is 3.75 per cent. Interestingly,while 75 per cent of the glaciers retreated,8 per cent have advanced and 17 per cent have shown no changes.

“My position has always been that the behaviour of the Himalayn glaciers is very complex. The bahaviour of the European glaciers and the behaviour of the Himalayan glaciers are fundamentally different,” the minister said.

Reiterating his stand on climate science being mired in politics,Ramesh said that “we need our own scientific effort” and the best way to do this is to “publish in the public domain”.

“Unfortunately,we produce excellent scientific reports and mark it controversial. Or we publish reports that are known to 100 scientists or less than that. The name of the game now is publication,the free flow of information,” he said,seeking to make matters more urgent since the 5th IPCC assessemnt is to be published in 2014.