January 20, 2010 2:30:44 am
Under attack from all sides,Syed Iqbal Hasnain the man at the centre of the latest controversy over global warming-induced glacial melting in the Himalayas on Tuesday blamed New Scientist magazine,which had published his interview in 1999,for creating confusion on the issue and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for propagating it.
Hasnain denied having ever said the Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035 if current warming trends continued,as quoted by New Scientist in the interview.
All that I said then was that considering the rate at which Himalayan glaciers were receding,the mass of the glaciers was likely to decline dramatically in about 45-50 years. The 2035 date and the reference to the entire glaciers melting away was the journalists own speculation. I do not have any control over what a journalist writes after talking to me, he said,adding that he continued to stand by what he had said then.
Asked why he did not issue a clarification after the publication of the interview,Hasnain claimed that he had never seen the interview.
In those days,these magazines were not readily available. Besides,with time one tends to forget these things, he said.
The 2035 date for glacial meting attributed to Hasnain,who was then chairman of a working group on Himalayan Glaciology constituted by the International Commission for Snow and Ice,was picked up by WWF for a report on glaciers in 2005 from where it found its way into the IPCCs fourth assessment report which is the most widely cited scientific evidence on the impact of climate change.
That date is now being described as wildly inaccurate by many glacier experts and raises serious doubts over the credibility of science propagated by the IPCC. WWF has already admitted that its 2005 report contained erroneous information. IPCC chairman R K Pachauri incidentally also the head of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) where Hasnain is employed since last year said the UN body would check all facts and come out with a statement in the next couple of days.
Hasnain,a former vice-chancellor of Calicut University who was honoured by the government with a Padma Shri last year,attacked the IPCC for not cross-checking facts before including them in its report.
The biggest question is that why did the authors of the IPCC report rely on a news report and not go through other peer-reviewed studies on glaciers. There are plenty of studies on glaciers readily available, he said.
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