by Eli Kintisch
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has always had a highly polished reputation, but it’s facing an unprecedented amount of criticism now. Here’s a roundup of recent criticism and commentary on Climategate and the IPCC, organized by five issues: 1) "glaciergate," 2) African crops, 3) disaster losses, 4) whether panel head Rajendra Pachauri has too many conflicts of interest to run the IPCC, and 5) the future of the panel.
The section of the 2007 IPCC report that deals with climate impacts, called Working Group II, included a statement in its chapter on Asia (see p. 493) that Himalayan glaciers are receding faster than any other glaciers on Earth and “the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate.” That statement was challenged by an Indian government report released late last year that suggested, qualitatively, that “many” Himalayan glaciers were instead growing in size and that others were stable. (The report’s conclusions were first widely publicized in a November story in Science, and the flimsy basis for the “very high” statement in the 2007 report is detailed here, in a letter to Science by a Canadian expert on glaciers.
IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri at first defended IPCC, calling the Indian government report “voodoo science,” opening up a row with scientists in his country’s government.