Despite errors, there is no question that climate science is fundamentally sound

by Mike Gaworecki

February 23, 2010

Vinuta Gopal, a climate campaigner at Greenpeace India, just sent the following out in an email. I think it lays out the issue quite well, and figured I’d share it here.

The media has been buzzing about the IPCC’s Himalayan glacier controversy.

The international climate panel headed by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for a ground-breaking report on climate change. Several small errors have now surfaced in the 3,000-page report.

If you’re wondering what the news reports mean for climate change, here are some answers. Please spread the word to your family, friends, and co-workers.

1. Do the U.N. climate panel’s errors mean there is no threat from climate change?

No, the dire threat from climate change is not in question. The panel’s errors were only related to the intensity of climate change. There are in fact only two real mistakes that have been found so far and neither necessitate any change to the basic premise of human-induced climate change.

For over two decades, scientists have consistently found that climate change is happening, and it’s caused by human activity.

2. Why is there so much furor about these errors?

Over the past 20 years, the U.N. climate panel has been attacked again and again by the fossil fuel industry and by politicians who are determined to discredit climate change science and continue on an unsustainable development pathway which would ensure dire consequences for this earth.

3. Are the Himalayan glaciers melting or not?

In 2007, the U.N. climate panel reported that Himalayan glaciers might vanish by 2035. The specific year turned out to be based on a flawed study, and the panel has corrected the error.

The Himalayan glaciers are retreating, but the exact rate of retreat is still uncertain. India’s Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was one of the first to argue that the 2035 forecast was "not based on an iota of scientific evidence," but he confirms the Himalayan glaciers "are indeed receding and the rate is cause for great concern."

4. Who will be impacted by climate change?

Everyone. Lesser developed countries and small island states will be hit hardest and fastest.

But rich nations are not immune to the violent weather, drought, disease, famine, mass migrations, and wars that will be caused if we don’t stop climate change.

5. What is Greenpeace’s call on climate change?

The science is clear. Climate change is real, is happening now and is caused by people. The solution is clean energy, smart use of our power and forest protection.

Since lots of people are wondering about the media stories, please forward this mail to your family, friends and co-workers.

Thanks a billion!

Vinuta Gopal
Climate Campaigner
Greenpeace India

P.S. If you want more details, check out this thorough analysis at RealClimate.org.

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