Scientist blamed for glacier row

“How can a person like Hasnain, who researched on Himalayan glaciers for 10 years, widely supported by the Department of Science and Technology, now claim that it was only a speculation,” said Murari Lal, lead author of the Asia chapter in UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) fourth assessment report.

“The IPCC cannot be blamed for the mistakes. We sent three drafts of the report to 187 governments, including India. Nobody said anything at that time,” Lal, a former professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, told Deccan Herald on Monday. In the fourth assessment report, the IPCC claimed, a substantial part of the Himalayan glaciers will disappear by 2035, thanks to global warming.

However, a series of recent revelations discovered that this astounding claim was based on media reports rather than relying on information available in peer-reviewed scientific literature. It appears that the 2035 time line was merely “speculated” by Hasnain – then a professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi – in an interview to “New Scientist” magazine.

The JNU scientist admitted last month that it was only a speculation.
Lal said he took the “New Scientist” report into account only after it was cited by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature in its report on glaciers. “The report came in 1999. I was lead author of the Asia chapter of IPCC third assessment report as well that came in 2001. I did not include the ‘New Scientist’ report in the third assessment report,” said Lal.

On Monday R K Pachauri, IPCC chairman, distanced himself from Hasnain. “I have absolutely no responsibility on what Hasnain did when he was in JNU. We are assessing the facts and can say something after 2-3 days,” said. Incidentally, after his retirement from the government, Hasnain currently works as a senior fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute, headed by Pachauri.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said the IPCC report was alarmist. He, however, admitted that the health of Himalayan glaciers are not good.  

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