Thongchai Thailand

Himalayan glaciers melting again

Posted on: July 22, 2010

Reference: Our beaker is on the boil, Bangkok Post, July 21, 2010

In its 2007 assessment of climate change, the IPCC had warned that global warming is causing Himalayan glaciers to melt and recede and that this process, unchecked by their prescribed intervention of carbon emission reduction, would dry up Asia’s great rivers including the Yellow, the Yangtze, the Mekong, and the Ganges and leave more than a billion people without water (Himalayan glacier melts to hit billions of poor, Bangkok Post, December 7, 2009).

Skeptics were quick to point out that glacial meltwater plays a very minor role in feeding these rivers and that therefore the loss of glaciers would not affect these rivers in the way postulated by the IPCC. The IPCC was forced to make a full retraction of this assessment.

Soon thereafter climate scientists started looking for rivers in the region that do depend on meltwater from Himalayan glaciers in order to resurrect their glacial-melt agenda. They came up with the Indus and Brahmaputra rivers as possible candidates on the  basis of their dependence on glaciers (Our beaker is on the boil, Bangkok Post, July 21, 2010).

The Brahmaputra does receive a greater portion of its water from glacial melt than the Ganges, but at about 8% or so it is still too small a fraction to cause the river to “dry up” without glacial meltwater. The Indus, however, is a different story for there the complete loss of glacial meltwater would cause a 24% decline in flow and that would indeed be a catastrophic impact.

There is a small problem with geography, however. The source of these rivers is not in the region where the receding glacier is identified. In particular, the source of the Indus is in the Karakoram range where most glaciers – including the Siachen glacier that feeds the Indus – are growing and advancing and certainly not receding.

The assertion that global warming will cause the Indus and Brahmaputra to run dry is based on data from the wrong glacier and is therefore not valid. It is yet another example where climate science has attempted to generalize local data when such generalization is not possible. All glaciers in the Himalayas are not receding. Many are advancing and many more are at steady state – neither advancing nor retreating; but you won’t hear about them from climate scientists because they cannot be used to evoke fear and loathing of carbon dioxide. This kind of fear based activism appears to be an integral and important part of the science of climate science.

Cha-am Jamal


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