back to article Indian climate boffins: Himalayan glaciers are OK, thanks

Top Indian physicists have concluded Himalayan glaciers show little sign of retreat – in one of the largest studies of its type ever carried out. I. M. Bahuguna et al, publishing in Current Science [PDF, issue index], studied changes to 2,000 glaciers in various Himalayan regions between 2001 to 2011. They conclude that 1,700 …

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  1. knarf

    Gravy train

    Someday the gravy train of climate warning will come to an end.

    I am skeptic of warming NO!

    I am believer of the bad science and doom mongering to generate research funds... YES!!!

    1. Phil Lord

      Re: Gravy train

      Probably it will, sometime after the gravy train of cheap energy from fossil carbon comes to an end as well.

      Any suitably politicised field of study has difficulties with bad science; it's a problem, especially as, increasingly, scientists are actually required to politicise their work to get funding. This is made worse with climate change science because it is difficult to do, and intrinsically open to question. But, consider that the band-wagon of climate change has actually managed to make head-way against the main line express of oil. The argument is a serious one. That scientists also have other motivations is not a clear argument against.

      1. Stuart 22

        Re: Gravy train

        I've yet to see some scientific research on the climate science gravy train. Now working from first principles - there must be three major markets for research:

        1) Green governments/NGOs wanting doom fast - not very rich

        2) Capitalist/Low Tax governments not wanting doom - a bit more money

        3) Fossil fuelled Corporations who desperately don't want AGW - more money

        Now as a marketing man for a group of obedient researchers I think I know which markets I would go for. The remarkable result is at least two of these are not getting clear cut results their money has paid for. I wonder why?

        I guess there may be a market for people who just want the best objective information they find. You know academics who just want to discover stuff rather than a higher paid job in politics, industry and the media.

        Not everybody wants gravy, just the unadulterated me^H^H truth.

        1. Squander Two

          Re: Gravy train

          > 1) Green governments/NGOs wanting doom fast - not very rich

          Can we stop this silly nonsense that the likes of Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace and the WWF are poor little cash-strapped organisations run from a basement on a shoestring, please? They started that way, decades ago. They are now extremely rich.

          > 2) Capitalist/Low Tax governments not wanting doom - a bit more money

          Are you kidding? Once a politician has poured money into "green" intitiatives, the last thing they want is for it to come out that that expenditure was unnecessary. Imagine for a moment that AGW was revealed to be totally incorrect. Would our political class breathe a big sigh of relief? No, the witchhunts would start: demands to know who knew what and when.

          > 3) Fossil fuelled Corporations who desperately don't want AGW - more money

          Well, largely, probably, yes, though it does push up the price of their product, so it's not as clear-cut as you imply.

          1. Chris Miller

            Re: Gravy train

            The major fossil fuel producers have all diversified into 'alternative' energy sources - e.g. BP is now branded as 'beyond petroleum'. They're not stupid, and can smell taxpayers' money from a huge distance (and also understand that their primary product cannot continue to be produced indefinitely).

          2. Stuart 22

            Re: Gravy train

            "Can we stop this silly nonsense that the likes of Friends Of The Earth and Greenpeace and the WWF are poor little cash-strapped organisations"

            Presuming the payment may be lightly correlated with what they pay their CEO - then how would you compare that with the income of G8 leaders and those of leading multinational CEOs?

            I just think I might be a bit smarter than you in picking the guy/guyess with the fatter wallet.

            "Are you kidding? Once a politician has poured money into "green" intitiatives, the last thing they want is for it to come out that that expenditure was unnecessary."

            You missed the point. Certain politicians of a certain hue do not want to spend tax they do not want to pay for green initiatives. They look for any straw to undermine AGW. They become energy ministers and Nigel Lawson and his interesting perspective on science is their friend.

            Little is clear cut. Its how you measure and balance the risks that is the point.

            1. Squander Two

              Re: Gravy train

              > Presuming the payment may be lightly correlated with what they pay their CEO

              Why on Earth would you presume that? They're not comparable types of organisation. Unless you're claiming that Greenpeace consistently hire CEOs who are motivated largely by personal profit.

              Besides, you said they're "not very rich", not "very rich but not as rich as some other people". My wife works for a genuinely cash-strapped charity: I know what they look like. They don't get to behave like Friends Of The Earth, because they can't afford it. Very few organisations can.

              > You missed the point. Certain politicians of a certain hue do not want to spend tax they do not want to pay for green initiatives. They look for any straw to undermine AGW. They become energy ministers and Nigel Lawson and his interesting perspective on science is their friend.

              You didn't say "politicians"; you said "governments". Nigel Lawson is fighting against the prevailing direction of policy. The British Government (under all three parties) heavily subsidises wind turbines, believing that is so important that it's worth risking the stability of our electricity infrastructure for. The US Government (under both parties) enforces a minimum quota for the proportion of fuel that must be biofuel, believing that is so important that it's worth pushing the world price of grain through the roof for. Sure, governments may not go as far as environmentalist activists want, but that's partly the nature of politics and partly because they want the Moon on a stick. The fact is that environmentalists have won a major propaganda war over the last thirty years, moving "green" politics from fringe nutter territory to something every major party needs to incorporate if they want to be electable. There is not a government in the developed world that hasn't sunk a fortune into combatting AGW. If it turns out to be a boondoggle, heads will roll -- and yes, politicians like Nigel Lawson will be able to say "Told you so" and will have a great career opportunity to move into government, but, right now, they're not the ones holding the purse strings.

        2. proud2bgrumpy

          Re: Gravy train

          "1) Green governments/NGOs wanting doom fast - not very rich"

          - But consistently supportive of any project that supports eco-doom-mongering - so an easy means of gaining research funds. Plenty rich enough for most eco-research. Everyone wins but the consumer

          "2) Capitalist/Low Tax governments not wanting doom - a bit more money"

          - Therefore taking the opportunity to enforce new environmental taxes on businesses that in turn increase retail prices and in turn increase VAT - actually, very rich. Everyone wins except the consumer again.

          "3) Fossil fuelled Corporations who desperately don't want AGW - more money"

          - Great opportunity to increase the value of fossil fuels and ample opportunity to blame government initiated Tax increases while taking much of that Tax back again for state-sponsored environmental energy initiatives by private concerns (wind farms / solar) that in the long term may/may not return their development costs (totally de-risked by govt sponsorship). Guess what? Everyone wins except the consumer

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gravy train

        "Probably it will, sometime after the gravy train of cheap energy from fossil carbon comes to an end as well."

        Not any time soon then

      3. Mi Tasol

        Re: Gravy train

        In October 1997 the headlines in my local News Ltd newspaper were that the world would run out of oil by 1997.

        Now the same sort of fear mongering "scientists" are saying that glaciers and ice caps melting now will cause the sea to rise at some distant time in the future, but can not say where all this water will hide in the mean time.

        They also conveniently forget that when ice melts it shrinks and ignore the fact that during the Northern winter there is snow and ice on the ground that can be similar in volume to the Antarctic ice yet the sea level changes not one mm.

        Similar "scientists" are now claiming that during the massive Australian floods of 2010 the sea level went down. Those of us who live in coastal Australia know there were actually record peak tides.

        Man definitely causes local warming as shown so graphically by landsat heat photos but global warming is a farce.

        Recently Sydney broke a 150 year old hgh temperature record. Alarmists say proof of global warming. Realists say heat island effect is proven to locally increase temperatures up to 6 degrees and having Sydney's thermometer close to the exhaust from an underground carpark makes the readings unreliable anyway.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gravy train

      "Someday the gravy train of climate warning will come to an end."

      When it sinks beneath the rising oceans presumably.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Grey Literature

      or Andrex science.

    4. brainbone

      Re: Gravy train

      Please review before posting:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/IPCC-Himalayan-glacier-2035-prediction.htm

  2. Panicnow

    Is 0.2pc "NOT MELTING?

    At 0.2% (linear) the glaciers disappear in 500 years,

    Can I have 0.2% of your salary Andrew? Its nothing!

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Is 0.2pc "NOT MELTING?

      ‘Is 0.2pc "NOT MELTING?"’

      You missed the part about the 1,700 stable glaciers. What would you prefer?

      Indian climate boffins: Majority of glaciers we looked at are not melting, a few are and so overall, it's a 0.2% decline, or about 2.1m over a vast, vast area.

      Cripes, the detail is in the article. The headline is there to get your attention. You know that bit in the Simpsons when Homer makes election posters with the words "SEX - now I've go your attention..."?

      Same as it ever was :-)

      C.

      1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re not melting vs net loss of glacier area

        I understand the need for a catchy headline but I feel this one was rather poorly worded.

        The detail is in the article - good, that spares me the need to read the original paper. Unfortunately, I'm not much into glaciology and don't know much more than they are cold and mainly made of water and hence the article is not very conclusive. Is 0.2% decline within the usual up and downs of glaciers? Or is it a small but steady decline and should we still but to a far lesser degree be worried about rising sea levels etc?

        ...expected to advance again... No worries then, but is it before or after large parts of our civilised world drowned?

        I'm highly sceptical, not only towards climate alarmists but also articles. And this one, while on a very interesting topic, was probably not Andrew Orlowski's best. Though criticising this article seems a bit unfair as I hardly ever spoke out when Andrew's articles were good, and as far as I remember, they mostly were good.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Re: Re not melting vs net loss of glacier area

          "I feel this one was rather poorly worded"

          We'll have to agree to disagree.

          C.

          1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Re not melting vs net loss of glacier area

            I agree on that. Then again, I have to correct myself: the headline was indeed brilliantly worded.

            Just didn't go very well with the article.

      2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

        Re: Is 0.2pc "NOT MELTING?

        Papers today tell us that the Antarctic ice is receding.

        Yesterday was told that ther inner bit is getting colder.

        don't fancy the Himalayas warming up -- them bodies will get a bit ripe.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is 0.2pc "NOT MELTING?

        "You missed the part about the 1,700 stable glaciers."

        For now - how about at the end of the century when temperatures are 2-4 degrees higher?

  3. silent_count

    Well, to be fair to the IPCC people, this whole business of fact checking is tedious, time consuming and diverts resources away from the important task of manufacturing alarming-sounding nonsense.

  4. Charles Manning

    Alarmists, get in line!

    Don't jump the queue with this Global Warming scare.

    We first need to have:

    Big Brother (1940s)

    Peak oil (1950s)

    Nuclear winter (1960s)

    Another ice age (1970s).

    SARS (2002)

    Bird Flu (2003)

    ...

    1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Alarmists, get in line!

      Good news for the alarmists as they are getting one step closer. You could cross out the first entry in your list.

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Alarmists, get in line!

      Oi, you missed out

      Cold War part 2 - Ukraine not be serious!

      1. Scott 1

        Re: Alarmists, get in line!

        If the IPCC is correct, it might not be a particularly "cold" war this time.

    3. Watashi

      Re: Alarmists, get in line!

      Don't forget other alarmist conspiracies such as...

      Hitler invading mainland Europe (1938).

      Deregulation of The City leading to an unstable economy (1980s through 2000s).

      Overuse of Antibiotics leading to the return of once-treatable killer diseases (now).

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      tinfoil hat time ... Re: Alarmists, get in line!

      big brother - my mobile already has a microphone and a camera, and runs software I can't audit and can't trust; as do most of those of any people who might be in the same room as me; and by the time I buy a new tv it may well also have a webcam and microphone, software I can't audit or trust, and wireless networking (and even if I stop it talking to my router, it might borrow a neighbours). I may not be campaigning against government actions, corruption, or this or that politician now ... but that may change in the future, given some trigger event or other.

      peak oil - might not be soon, but will happen sometime (mind you, I'm not especially alarmed about that, I think we'll cope)

      nuclear winter - very definitely can happen (and according to more recent scientific literature, can have even more extreme than thought back in the 80/90's). Perhaps the odds of a us/russian nuclear exchange are lower but what about regional wars? Perhaps involving iran/pakistan/india or similar? (even regional wars can now have non-trivial global "winterish" consequences, apparently - old models didn't take into account secondary fires properly, iirc)

      ice age - ok, that'll be even slower than peak oil, so I'm relaxed, Unless it's nuclear-winter triggered, I suppose)

      sars/bird flu - very real threats - just because we were lucky recently doesn't mean there's no threat. Especially since that last set of precautions are now being widely trailed as an "overreaction", so that next time a viral threat comes along, I expect fewer precautions will be taken.

      /departs scene in state of alarmed, paranoid distress ... :-)

      1. breakfast

        Re: tinfoil hat time ... Alarmists, get in line!

        I think fracking puts peak fossil a long way off, which is a shame because no matter how much Mr O stamps his foot and screams and throws his toys and tells us the data he didn't cherrypick is not real science, climate change is happening and peak oil might have been about the only thing short of working fusion that could mitigate it somewhat.

    5. NumptyScrub

      Re: Alarmists, get in line!

      quote: "Nuclear winter (1960s)"

      Guys, I've found the fix for global warming, and we already have all the kit to implement it!

      Panic over :)

      1. Scott 1
        Coat

        Re: Alarmists, get in line!

        I guess we'll need to get away from the "global climate change" and back to the "global warming" moniker, first. Nothing too terribly difficult. I'm sure we could have it sorted within a week or so.

  5. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
    Coat

    "Yes it is!"

    "No it isn't"

    "Yes it is!"

    "No it isn't"

    "Yes it is!"

    "No it isn't"

    "Yes it is!"

    "This is not an argument, this is plain contradiction"

    "No it isn't"

    "Yes it is!"

    .....

    Sorry, couldn't resist

    Mine is the one with Monty's Encylco Pythonia in the pocket

  6. Paul Kinsler

    Here's at cut&paste of the conclusion of the article...

    ... because how something is said is also useful:

    The results of the present study indicate that most of the glaciers were in a steady state compared to the results of other studies carried out for the period prior to 2001. This period of monitoring almost corresponds to hiatus in global warming in the last decade[32] . It may happen that an interval of one decade could be smaller than the response time of glaciers to be reflected in terms of any significant change with 23.5 m spatial resolution of data. This point requires further studies using high-resolution data for a longer interval of time.

    ~

    So, should we trust these results now, even though the authors themselves worry about the data resolution on which they are based? Or should we wait for a more solid confirmation before using them to inform our actions?

    1. PlacidCasual

      Re: Here's at cut&paste of the conclusion of the article...

      Your point and the point made in the conclusion are entirely valid, equally it's unsuprising that a few weasle words effectively saying " you should give me some money to do this for a bit longer" weren't added.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here's at cut&paste of the conclusion of the article...

      It is right and proper for scientific literature to qualify its significance and specify its limitations.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: Here's at cut&paste of the conclusion of the article...

      Doesn't need to be an either/or. Yes we trust the results (assuming they've posted both raw data and methodology so they can be independently verified) while looking for more funding for a more extensive study.

    4. Fluffy Bunny
      Childcatcher

      Re: Here's at cut&paste of the conclusion of the article...

      "period of monitoring almost corresponds to hiatus in global warming in the last decade"

      There's your problem. You think the current level graph is just a hiatus before it start to go up again. The likelihood is just as great that it actually marks the turning point before it goes down. I think you're going to feel really foolish telling everybody about global warming while you're hunkered down in 4 feet of doonas and the polar bear is at the door.

      Yes, a new ice age is due. Past due even. If you don't believe me, well I have just as much evidence on my side as you have on yours.

      1. NomNomNom

        Re: Here's at cut&paste of the conclusion of the article...

        "Yes, a new ice age is due. Past due even."

        No, we've skipped it.

  7. codejunky Silver badge

    Yey

    I have no idea where Lewis is but thank you Andrew for adding some balance to the climate discussion. I do wonder how long the IPCC can continue but as this is still analysing the 2007 IPCC report it shows an amount of drag between the claim and the science.

    Obviously it could turn out that these scientists are wrong but as long as the actual science is being conducted we will get real answers.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Well done for more field observations, bigger data sets.

    And not cutting and pasting a WWF report as fact

    Yes the situation should be be watched.

    Yes action should be taken if it worsens, because quite a lot of people get their drinking water this way.

  9. Nifty

    It may be science but is it stats?

    In any other field 0.2% would be inside the margin of statistical error, ergo =0.

    But no so in this report - why?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It may be science but is it stats?

      Why? Because it is made by Scientists and not climate 'scientists'.

      1. Maverick

        Re: It may be science but is it stats?

        small point, there is no such thing as a 'climate scientist', just scientists from other fields who see grant money in it

        1. Fluffy Bunny
          Childcatcher

          Re: It may be science but is it stats?

          There is no such thing as a climate scientist. Climatology is just a half science at best. Nobody does any experiments. The most dodgy theories are supported against all the evidence.

          1. NomNomNom

            Re: It may be science but is it stats?

            Science deniers can't even accept climate science exists.

            It's like the creationists arguing that evolution isn't a proper science because scientists can't prove "monkeys turning into men" in an experiment.

    2. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      Re: It may be science but is it stats?

      I'm pretty sure I read something like "0.2% +/- 2.5%" or something similar, which is experimental noise as you point out. So, yes, it is in this report...

    3. Grikath Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: It may be science but is it stats?

      That is because the result is insignificant. The publication states that a full measurement has failed to show (scientifically) significant of glacier melt as opposed to what was previously claimed.

      Sometimes a "nope, isn't there/doesn't work/can't find it" result is just as important and worth publishing as a fat positive or negative. Especially when the original positive result proves to be dodgy indeed.

    4. DougS Silver badge

      Re: It may be science but is it stats?

      Well, it was definitely within the margin of error, which was showing as 2.5%, or more than 10x higher!

      But if they publish that there is no statistically significant decrease in glacier melt, the alarmists will claim they're deniers and try to link them to being funded by big oil. While simultaneously seizing on the margin of error and claiming that Himalayan glaciers could be gone in a little over 40 years in the worst case scenario of losing 2.3% of their ice each year (with some hand waving about how that will probably accelerate so the discredited 2035 date may have been right after all)

  10. g e

    Interglacial Period

    Suggests coldness ahead. That's not gonna fit in.

    No climate quango has 'reimagined' this as Interwarming Anomaly yet?

  11. Arachnoid
    Holmes

    But,but,but........

    The White House issued an edict announcing global warming was a threat to American communities

    1. Mpeler
      Black Helicopters

      Re: But,but,but........

      The White House issued an edict announcing it is a threat to American communities....

      FTFY :)

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