Posted by: shipbright | February 9, 2010

Special Post: Know the facts…Climate change, skeptics, the IPCC, and the Tibetan Plateau

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”–Darwin      

The IPCC–Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change- is the global consortium of the world’s climatologists organized under the umbrella of the United Nations.  These are the people we need to pay attention and listen to.  There are many people out there espousing views on climate change under the general label of “scientist”.  If you want to understand climate change you need to look to a climatologist-just like if you have a heart attack you see a cardiologist not a ophthalmologist.  Both are medical doctors but one has expertise in the medical science of the heart and one has expertise in eyes.  Just recently the IPCC pulled its estimate that the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau will be gone by 2035.  They pulled that statement because the data had not been subjected to rigorous intellectual review.  It had not been “Peer Reviewed” as part of the process that the IPCC adheres to.  Skeptics, nay-sayers, and political purveyors of denialism have seized on this issue to attack the entire climate change debate because data was pulled and estimates retracted–for now…      

It doesn’t mean the data is wrong.  It means that the data did not fulfill the IPCC’s standard for being included in their reports.      

Just recently meteorologists were saying that the earth was showing signs of getting colder and many of the climate change skeptics used that as their banner to deny trend, attribution or impact.  Here is the problem with meteorologists espousing that data as proof there is no climate change:  meteorologists were looking at a 10 year trend;  the IPCC does not consider any data that is not AT LEAST 25 years in trend.  Still skeptical?  Well it turns out that from 1998-2008 that trend would have been correct BUT it’s because 2008 was a particularly warm El Nino year so the following years looked “colder” than the base year of 1998.  The 10 year trend data from 1999 to 2009 shows that the earth was indeed warming up and even more rapidly!  Why?  Because 1999 was a particularly cold year as a base year and the trend then showed a rapidly warming planet.      

Bottom Line: Don’t pay attention to 10 year trends…IPCC has been looking at data from the last 150 years and the last decade has been the warmest on record.  The data shows the long-term trend definitively.      

So when the IPCC pulls data and retracts estimates look at the reason why they did this.  They are a rigorous body of global climate scientists who are dispassionately looking at all the information and teasing out trends, attributions and impacts.  Unlike some climate change skeptics these scientists have NO political agenda or economic self interests to protect for themselves or their small group of shareholders.  The world is their shareholders and we owe them a debt of gratitude for the intelligence and passion for the truth that they bring to bear on this issue for our collective benefit.      

The breaking story now is that the IPCC Chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri [picture left] is being accused of economic interest in skewing climate change data…The nay-sayers allege that his payments from his consulting work are influencing his quest to have the facts fit the theory …well it turns out the payments he receives goes to Energy and Resources Institute where that nonprofit engages in projects like “Lighting a Billion Lives” which provides solar lanterns to poor people in India.   Dr. Pachauri does indeed receive a salary from the Energy and Resources Institute–all $49,000 a year according to income tax returns.  Any reasonable person would dismiss such allegations of impropriety and can see that this is blatant character assassination of someone who is doing us all a great service.  Do people in places of great power and influence need to be transparent for all to see?  YES, these people wield and influence great power in our lives and their credibility is the Keystone in our listening to them, believing them and taking collective actions as a result of our faith and trust in their integrity.      

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York has a Chief Executive of JPMorgan/Chase on their Board.  Is that a conflict of interest?  Maybe, but this person is well schooled and wise in the ways of the free market and adds value to the board for their insight, experience, and wisdom.  As long as it’s a transparent relationship and we can see for ourselves that this person is not reaping personal and unjust enrichment from this position I’m grateful for that person being on the board.  Thank you for your service!  I imagine this executive makes a LOT more than $49,000 a year… not to mention the bonuses.       

What I find most upsetting is the character assassination that some people engage in when they disagree with or are still ignorant on an issue.  When I look at the most vocal and mean-spirited of them I find they have a political and/or economic agenda to protect or push down the throats of others.  We need international statesmanship and not provincial politicians out to “get their’s” at the expense of everyone else.   We are dealing with an enormously critical issue to all life on this planet…we are all in the same boat…we need to adapt.      

Here’s a good article on this controversy from the Times of India.  As a country downstream from the Tibetan Plateau and with so much of their freshwater dependent upon the seasonal runoff from the Plateau’s glaciers India is paying very close attention to these issues…more so than the rest of us, “One slip does not change the Big Picture”:      

The New York Times has also just ran a story on this issue to help you wade through the fluff, spin, hype of the nay-sayers who would rather strike up the band on the deck of the Titanic and distract you instead of helping to solve the problem:      


U.N. Climate Panel and Chief Face Credibility Siege, By ELISABETH ROSENTHAL, Published: February 9, 2010      

Rajendra K. Pachauri and the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change face accusations of scientific sloppiness and potential financial conflicts of interest.       

If a picture is worth a thousand words then watch the photographic evidence of deglaciation in the Tibetan Plateau.  Early adventurers to Mt. Everest photographically documented the Third Goddess and her glaciers, specifically the Main, East and West Rongbuk glaciers.  In recent years technology has allowed photos from space to document what is happening on the Yarlung and Helong glaciers around the Plateau.   This documentary is from the Asia Society and their “On Thinner Ice” project has documented the deglaciation of the Tibetan Plateau.  They also interview the local herdsmen and farmers whose knowledge, learned and passed down from countless generations of those who have lived and died in the shadows of the great mountains, is a treasure trove of traditional knowledge.      


Here is a second video that David Breashears did for the society:      


After viewing these videos I recommend you explore their other videos at:      

Lastly, I believe in God and I believe in Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory.  It’s not an either/or paradigm as some would have us believe.  Having gone to religious schools, with religion classes all the way through High School, I do believe that God helps those who help themselves.  If your faith, no matter what faith that is-even if it is not part of any organized religion, is strong then resist those who would hold us back from doing our duty to be good stewards of our planet.      

So, with a last note of humor, put on your Rapture Helmets if you choose but lend a hand in helping to solve our planet’s problems as well because the Rapture isn’t a public policy option and it’s not going to get us out of this mess…      


[courtesy of Stephen Colbert… ]


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