Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is becoming its own worst enemy, providing more fodder for climate skeptics.
The UN's top climate authority issued an apology yesterday for what it now says was a flawed "prediction" regarding the disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035.
New Scientist magazine broke the story last week about the quote attributed to Indian scientist Syed Hasnain, who claimed that he was misquoted in a media interview that was later used in the 2007 IPCC Fourth Assessment report.
New Scientist reported the comment in 1999 as part of what it says was an email interview with India's leading glaciologist. There were no other sources for the claim, other than a 2005 WWF report (PDF, see Correction on page 2) cited the New Scientist article, but it still found its way into the IPCC report.
"I have not made any prediction on date as I am not an astrologer but I did say they were shrinking fast," Hasnain has said, according to an article in TimesOnline. "I have never written 2035 in any of my research papers or reports."
At the time of the original interview, Professor Hasnain worked for Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi and was chairman of the International Commission on Snow and Ice's working group on Himalayan glacialology. He now works for The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in Delhi, which is headed by Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN climate change panel.
This is the latest in a series of attacks on the "consensus" around the theory of global climate change and may further erode public sentiment on the issue. The IPCC chairman has recently come under fire for allegations of conflict of interest and the credibility of some of the computer modeling used in the report was called into question when emails between climate scientists were hacked late last year.