January 19, 2010

Getting shit wrong does not in any way undermine your credibility.

For example, if I were to say, "An asteroid is going to smash into the earth tomorrow, and all life on the planet will be wiped out," and, subsequently, no asteroid hit the earth and life on the planet continued as normal, as long as I said, "Woah, when I said tomorrow, I meant in 300 years," it'd be cool.

Right?

Well, such logic may not apply to us peons, but it abso-fucking-lutely applies to climate scientists.  Why is that, you ask?  You shut your fucking mouth, that's why!

The vice-chairman of the UN's climate science panel has admitted it made a mistake in asserting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included the date in its 2007 assessment of climate impacts.

A number of scientists have recently disputed the 2035 figure, and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele told BBC News that it was an error and would be reviewed.

But he said it did not change the broad picture of man-made climate change.

The issue, which BBC News first reported on 05 December, has reverberated around climate websites in recent days.

Some commentators maintain that taken together with the contents of e-mails stolen last year from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit, it undermines the credibility of climate science.

Dr van Ypersele said this was not the case.

"I don't see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report," he said.

"Some people will attempt to use it to damage the credibility of the IPCC; but if we can uncover it, and explain it and change it, it should strengthen the IPCC's credibility, showing that we are ready to learn from our mistakes."

The claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 appears to have originated in a 1999 interview with Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain, published in New Scientist magazine.

The figure then surfaced in a 2005 report by environmental group WWF - a report that is cited in the IPCC's 2007 assessment, known as AR4.

An alternative genesis lies in the misreading of a 1996 study that gave the date as 2350.

AR 4 asserted: "Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world... the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high."

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