Pachauri rubbishes report on glaciers

Rubbishing the claim by a government-backed study that melting of glaciers was not due to climate change, leading environmentalist R K Pachauri on Sunday dubbed it as "totally unsubstantiated scientific opinion" and flayed Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh for endorsing it.

Pachauri, head of the Nobel prize winner Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said it was universally acknowledged that glaciers were melting because of climate change and the same applied to Indian glaciers.

"Everywhere in the world, glaciers are melting due to climate change, the Arctic is melting because of climate change. What is so special about Indian glaciers?" Pachauri said.

The study by former deputy director general of the Geological Survey of India V K Raina has claimed that while most glaciers are in the process of retreat, some Himalayan glaciers, such as the Siachen glacier, are actually advancing and some others, such as the Gangotri glacier, are retreating at a rate lower than before.

The study, which was released by Ramesh last week, also claimed that climate change can't be cited as a reason for melting of glaciers in the absence of conclusive scientific evidence, a view that contradicts that of IPCC.

Questioning the basis of the study, Pachauri asked, "How can you come to the conclusion that it is not climate change and something else? You give the reasons first. I don't know why the minister is supporting this one-man research."

Mincing no words in criticising the author of the report, Pachauri said, "it is the observation of the entire scientific community that glaciers are melting". He alleged that the study has no references, no citations and is a totally unsubstantiated scientific opinion.

IPCC is world's leading body for assessing climate change and in its fourth assessment report in 2007, it said Himalayan glaciers are retreating faster than in any other part of the world, and if this continues, they are likely to disappear by 2035, or perhaps sooner.

He, however, welcomed Environment Ministry's move to conduct more scientific research and study on glaciers.

"We do need more extensive measurement of the Himalayan range and there are only two-three glaciologists in India. We need to strengthen this area," Pachauri said.

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