Environment and Forest minister Jairam Ramesh, the first to challenge the IPCC claim on Himalayan glaciers in November his stand vindicated. He spoke to HT exclusively on the issue.
What do you say now that the IPCC has been proven wrong on Himalayan glaciers?
I was right on dismissing IPCC’s claim on Himalayan glaciers in November 2009. Then they (IPCC) termed it a voodoo science but now my position has been vindicated. The IPCC claim that glaciers will vanish by 2035 was not based on iota of scientific evidence. IPCC has to do a lot of answering on how it reached the 2035 figure, which created such a scare.
What about the glaciers’ health?
Most glaciers are in a poor state, which is precarious. Some of them are receding but the rate of retreat like that of the Gangotri glacier has slowed down. A few glaciers are also advancing. But saying when all would melt is difficult as glacial science is complex and we need to study it in detail. We have set up a National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology in Dehradun to model, monitor and measure glaciers.
Most studies on the glaciers are from the West. Why?
It is true. Our scientific input on glaciology has eroded in recent years. It is for the second time, western studies have been proven wrong. In 1990, US Environment Protection Agency reported that 39 million tonnes of methane emitted each year was from wet paddy cultivation (mostly from India). We then found that it was actually 2 to 6 million tonnes. It emphasises that we need to improve our scientific capabilities on climate science.