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BBC: Charting unknown Climate Scandal waters

January 27, 2010

Todays little propaganda piece is this from  By Navin Singh Khadka, BBC
Environment reporter:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8481856.stm

It is basically saying that the UN IPCC’s “error” in putting the potential year for total Himalayan glacial melt at 2035 is not the main story.

The reporter comes to the astonishing (sarcasm) conclusion that the major source of water feeding the rivers that run from the Himalaya’s is precipitation.  Well you would never have guessed it would you, rain and snow being the main sources of water for a river.

That first sentence is basically it with regard to the IPCC, there is nothing addressing it beyond the opening sentence.  No mention that Dr  Lal said:

“It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”

….which clearly contradicts their mandate, and increases sustantially the possibility that the 2035 date was a DELIBERATE typo for 2350, in order to further “impact policy-makers”.

Lets face it, if they had not had the typo, how much influencing would it have done? 2350 – 340 years – or 2035 – 25 years – which is more likely to ruffle feathers?

Ok, lets discuss the problems in this article.

“The broad consensus is glaciers themselves are indeed retreating, although the rate of the recession may be debatable.”

Is it a broad concensus?  Well apparently it’s not, as later in the piece it is said:

“But, Kenneth Hewitt, a glaciologist from Canada who has been doing field studies in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains, told BBC News last October that he had seen at least half a dozen glaciers there advancing since he saw them five years ago.”

So some on the spot reckon its not, and others on the spot reckon it is, so “broad consensus” is not the term I would use.

.

We are also told:

“We are seeing some changes in the monsoon,” Dr Eriksson said of the seasonal precipitation system that shapes the climate in this part of the region.

“Last year, for example, the monsoon arrived one month late in Nepal and then some places saw 80mm of water in a day during the delayed rainy season.”

So nothing much to note then basically.  Rainfall is still, as always in Nepal, unpredictable and has huge levels of variation.

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It then says:

“But there has been no consistent measurement of precipitation and temperature and there is a lack of proper studies.”

Ahh, so it’s all speculation then, thanks for clarifying that.

.

We are then told by William Lau that aerosols are making regional temperature rise much faster than expected (apparently Mr Lau does not think that the just mentioned lack of consistent study is an issue in reaching such conclusions).

“But Dr Armstrong said a warming climate could also mean a stronger monsoon bringing more precipitation that could increase stream flows.

“Having said that, it should be noted that future precipitation patterns predicted by climate models are highly variable and there is a very little regional agreement among the models,” he said.”

So the models are incomplete.  Where have we learned that before?

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Then we are told:

“High variability is also an issue with the flow of rivers in the western Himalayas that do not fall within the monsoon regime.

“There is no clear-cut signal as there is a large variation between average annual flows,” said Arshad Muhammad Khan, a physicist who heads the Global Change Impact Studies Centre in Pakistan.

“For example, in the Indus River, the maximum flow is twice of that of the minimum.”

Unlike the Ganges, rivers like the Indus in the western part of the Himalayas are heavily dependent on glaciers, as this region does not get monsoon rains.

But even here, glacial status is not reported to be uniform…..”

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So in layman’s terms, “We do not actually know much about the subject”.

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Finally we are told:

“With glaciers offering such complex pictures, combined with precipitation and temperature patterns becoming increasingly complicated, the region’s river systems that depend on all these factors cannot be simpler.

Politics and geography, experts say, have made understanding the situation even more difficult.

“Some countries in the region are not willing to share water-related data because they regard it as confidential,” said Dr Eriksson of ICIMOD.

“Since it is difficult to access them, proper studies on water availability remain a major challenge.”

So the upshot of all this is, that the BBC have produced another piece that allows them to say they are “covering” the IPCC story, without directly addressing it in detail.

If you think the BBC has a fear of contradiction or speculation,which is stopping them, then this article demonstrates that not to be the case – it is full of it!

The conclusion of the article is that there is no conclusion.  Nobody knows for certain what is actually happening to the water systems linked to the glaciers, or the glaciers themselves.  On top of that, the underlying, and unaddressed issue, is the one we SHOULD be focussing our efforts on, but that this obsession with potential climate change is deflecting attention from:

POPULATION RISE.

The bottom line is that monsoon’s experience natural variability and always have done.  People have prospered or died in monsoon regions since time began, depending on the cycles they live through.  This is nothing new.

What is new is the huge amounts of people crammed along river basins who are at risk from even the slightest change, simply due to the sheer numbers of people we are creating.

Increased variability, some sources saying precipitation will increase, other that it will grow weaker, nobody able to tie any of this to a long term trend to find if there are long term cycles, some saying the overall level of precipitation has not changed but the places that used to receive heavy/light rain are swapping, oh and some reckon El Nino.

So nobody knows.  Clear as mud.

The science is, however, still settled though.

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From → BBC Climate Bias

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