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Pachauri wont resign over erroneous IPCC report

Last updated on: January 23, 2010 17:02 IST
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman R K Pachauri termed as a "human error" the findings in its report about melting of Himalayan glaciers, but ruled out his resignation on the issue.

Pachauri, who is under attack from various quarters over the IPCC's 2007 report that said the glaciers in the Himalayas will disappear by 2035 due to global warming, said the mistake was "unfortunate". "I have no intention to of resigning from my position. I have a task. I am going to complete the Fifth Assessment Report," he told media-persons in New Delhi.

Pachauri said the IPCC is a body of hundreds of eminent scientists selected and nominated by different governments. "There are huge problems on climate change. Climate change is not limited to Himalayan glaciers. Rational people will continue to repose faith in IPCC," he said. The IPCC chief said the Fourth Assessment Report of the Panel was a "robust report" but the error with regard to the conclusion on Himalayan glaciers was "unfortunate". "This was a human error. We will do everything to see that such mistakes are not repeated," he said.

Pachauri said the IPCC will not take action against any of the authors of the report. "We have no right to take any action against any author. They are not employees of IPCC," he said. The IPCC is under fire for having included in its 2007 report -- without proper peer review -- an assertion that glaciers in the Himalayas will disappear by 2035 due to global warming. It had retracted the statement just three days back.

Researcher Murari Lal was in-charge of editing the chapter on glaciers in the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC and had based the controversial finding on a media interview of glaciologist S I Hasnain. Pachauri said IPCC is utilising the Noble Peace Prize money for starting a cadre of scientists in different developing countries who would assess the problem of climate change in their respective regions.

Earlier, experts behind the report had admitted that the IPCC warning -- that global warming will melt most of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035 -- was based on a 'speculative' article published in New Scientist."I know a lot of climate skeptics are after my blood, but I'm in no mood to oblige them. It was a collective failure by a number of people. I need to consider what action to take, but that will take several weeks. It's best to think with a cool head, rather than shoot from the hip," The Times quoted Dr Pachauri as saying.

Dr Pachauri said that the IPCC's report was the responsibility of the panel's former co-chairs, British scientist Dr Martin Parry and Argentine meteorologist Dr Osvaldo Canziani.

"I don't want to blame them, but typically the working group reports are managed by the co-chairs. Of course, the chair is there to facilitate things, but we have substantial amounts of delegation," Dr Pachauri said.

"Frankly, it was a stupid error. But no one brought it to my attention," he added.

He also declined to blame the 25 authors and editors of the erroneous part of the report.

But Syed Hasnain, the Indian glaciologist erroneously quoted as making the 2035 prediction, said that responsibility had to lie with them. He and other leading glaciologists pointed out at least five glaring errors in the relevant section.

It says the total area of Himalyan glaciers "will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 square kilometers by the year 2035". There are only 33,000 square kilometers of glaciers in the Himalayas.

A table below says that between 1845 and 1965, the Pindari Glacier shrank by 2,840 m -- a rate of 135.2 m a year. The actual rate is only 23.5m a year.

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