R.K. Pachauri, in the hot seat over an erroneous estimate by the panel he heads that most Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035, may be in greater trouble.
The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), who on Saturday refused to resign over the mistake, admitted to four more mistakes in the panel’s report. He attributed these to “human error” but expressed inability to take action against the scientists responsible, saying they were not IPCC employees.
The Himalayan blunder was first reported by HT on January 18.
According to the report, the present area of the Himalayan glaciers is 500,000 sq km, when in reality it is 33,000 sq km.
The report also says there are 15,000 Himalayan glaciers, whereas the actual figure is between 9,000 and 12,000.
Furthermore, the IPCC says the Pindari glacier in Uttarakhand is melting at a rate of 135.2 metres a year, when the factual position is 25.3 metres.
It also predicts that the Ganga, Indus and Brahmaputra will become seasonal rivers in the “near future” — based on the research of Indian glaciologist Syed Iqbal Hasnain, who also made the 2035 meltdown claim.
“Without considering the glacial sources of the Indus and Brahmaputra in China, one can’t reach such a conclusion,” said D.P. Dabral of the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology.
“We admit to the unfortunate mistakes,” Pachauri told a press conference on Saturday, adding that no Indian glaciologist pointed out the mistakes since the report came out in 2007.
The IPCC — the UN’s Nobel prize-winning body on climate change — has launched an investigation into the errors a month after the environment ministry published a paper questioning its claim.