Scientific consensus - except for those other scientists

"Scientific consensus!" chants the mainstream media in America when it comes to global warming. Not so long ago, that would have been the end of the story for nearly everyone.


One of the pleasures of the Internet is coming across first-class publications - newspapers, magazines, and the like - that might never have been available to ordinary people in the pre-wired world. Newspapers like The Scotsman and the Sydney Morning Herald, far superior to their equivalents here in the U.S., open windows to other points of view and often contain information impossible to find in the domestic media. The Hindustan Times is not quite on that level. But here too we have a source of information that - to put it kindly - we might never otherwise have come across

"Experts Question Theory on Global Warming" from the February 11th edition may not be the most gracefully written or edited piece you'll ever read (e.g., the use of "cosmatic", which is not a word in standard English and which I believe is supposed to be "cosmetic"), but it's essential reading all the same, focusing as it does on the Indian scientific community's attitude toward climate change.

Dr. V.K. Raina is a leading Indian glaciologist, a scientist who has devoted half a century to the glaciers of the Himalayas, the man to see concerning South Asian glacier studies. Which raises the question of why no one has come around to see him.

Dr. Raina undercuts contentions by the UN's International Panel on Climate Change that Himalayan glaciers have retreated due to global warming.
"Claims of global warming causing glacial melt in the Himalayas are based on wrong assumptions," he says.
These include the fact that American and European glaciers are situated at much lower altitudes, and are less dusty, which, if my truncated scientific education isn't leading me wrong, suggests that they would melt much less quickly than Himalayan glaciers. Raina's statements imply that observations at only a handful of sites are being applied worldwide without any kind of local confirmation, a serious lapse of scientific procedure, if true.

Like any scientist anywhere, Raina spends much of the interview bemoaning levels of funding. But he has a point - of the 9,575 glaciers in India, only fifty, or a little over half of one percent, are currently under study. One somehow expects more, particularly considering all the rhetoric about glaciers being a key element in the case for global warming.

Dr. Raina is backed up by at least two other glaciologists, Dr. R.K. Ganjoo, director of a glacial study center, and geologist M.N. Koul. Neither sees any evidence of glacial retreat in any of the sites they've studied.

It's difficult to tell exactly what the IPCC's sources are for their glacial data. The recent "report" - actually only a twenty-one page summary - is a little sparse when it comes to citations. Presumably these will be included when the full report is at last published. But the Hindustan Times makes it clear that they did not talk to the leading Indian glaciologists, a country with a billion people, notable for scientific accomplishments, and bordering the mightiest mountains on earth.  To whom did they talk?

What's that? The debate's over, you say? It seems to depend on which scientists you talk to. It's easy to achieve "consensus" if you only consult people who agree with you.
"Scientific consensus!" chants the mainstream media in America when it comes to global warming. Not so long ago, that would have been the end of the story for nearly everyone.


One of the pleasures of the Internet is coming across first-class publications - newspapers, magazines, and the like - that might never have been available to ordinary people in the pre-wired world. Newspapers like The Scotsman and the Sydney Morning Herald, far superior to their equivalents here in the U.S., open windows to other points of view and often contain information impossible to find in the domestic media. The Hindustan Times is not quite on that level. But here too we have a source of information that - to put it kindly - we might never otherwise have come across

"Experts Question Theory on Global Warming" from the February 11th edition may not be the most gracefully written or edited piece you'll ever read (e.g., the use of "cosmatic", which is not a word in standard English and which I believe is supposed to be "cosmetic"), but it's essential reading all the same, focusing as it does on the Indian scientific community's attitude toward climate change.

Dr. V.K. Raina is a leading Indian glaciologist, a scientist who has devoted half a century to the glaciers of the Himalayas, the man to see concerning South Asian glacier studies. Which raises the question of why no one has come around to see him.

Dr. Raina undercuts contentions by the UN's International Panel on Climate Change that Himalayan glaciers have retreated due to global warming.
"Claims of global warming causing glacial melt in the Himalayas are based on wrong assumptions," he says.
These include the fact that American and European glaciers are situated at much lower altitudes, and are less dusty, which, if my truncated scientific education isn't leading me wrong, suggests that they would melt much less quickly than Himalayan glaciers. Raina's statements imply that observations at only a handful of sites are being applied worldwide without any kind of local confirmation, a serious lapse of scientific procedure, if true.

Like any scientist anywhere, Raina spends much of the interview bemoaning levels of funding. But he has a point - of the 9,575 glaciers in India, only fifty, or a little over half of one percent, are currently under study. One somehow expects more, particularly considering all the rhetoric about glaciers being a key element in the case for global warming.

Dr. Raina is backed up by at least two other glaciologists, Dr. R.K. Ganjoo, director of a glacial study center, and geologist M.N. Koul. Neither sees any evidence of glacial retreat in any of the sites they've studied.

It's difficult to tell exactly what the IPCC's sources are for their glacial data. The recent "report" - actually only a twenty-one page summary - is a little sparse when it comes to citations. Presumably these will be included when the full report is at last published. But the Hindustan Times makes it clear that they did not talk to the leading Indian glaciologists, a country with a billion people, notable for scientific accomplishments, and bordering the mightiest mountains on earth.  To whom did they talk?

What's that? The debate's over, you say? It seems to depend on which scientists you talk to. It's easy to achieve "consensus" if you only consult people who agree with you.