Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which came under fire for an error in predicting that the Himalayan glaciers would melt by 2035, said on Tuesday that the contentions of snowfall discrediting the meltdown were incorrect and there was no ambiguity that the glaciers were melting.
He was speaking at a conference on Eco-Housing held here. “People may say that our Himalayan glaciers are not melting. That is incorrect. There is no doubt that the glaciers are melting at a rapid rate. Unfortunately, there has been very little research done on this in our country. Not enough measurements have been taken. This could cause the rivers in north India to flood. There is a huge possibility that floods and droughts could rise. [We have seen] floods in Rajasthan which never experienced flooding,” he said, driving home the problem of water scarcity.
In a veiled defence of his position in the aftermath of the controversy, Mr. Pachauri said: “There are still some people who think outside the ambit of science and disbelieve the phenomenon of global warming. Some powerful vested interests don’t wish to bring about a change in their lifestyles. When I raise my voice on the ill-effects [of climate change] on the poor, they don’t like [that view].”
Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s backing, Mr. Pachauri said: “This country has nurtured me and I hope the Indian citizens will support me. Some days ago our Prime Minister gave me his blessings at a summit on sustainable development in Delhi. I am saying all this [on global warming and climate change] because the Indian people are a wise lot. If we see the signs, we can adopt measures and give a better future to our children.”
Mr. Pachauri warned that Mumbai faced a risk of rising sea-levels. “The IPCC has predicted that the precipitation patterns like rainfall and snowfall are changing. The Mumbai floods of 2005 were an example of that. Such incidents are happening all over the world. ”
Mr. Pachauri also spoke of the 2003 heatwave in Andhra Pradesh. “There were 4,000 recorded deaths. Victims did not know of oral rehydration therapy. Since mobiles were not much in use, we had no means of warning people.”
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan vowed that Maharashtra would be an aggressor in achieving the goals of sustainable development.