Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh announced that the Indian government will establish a separate National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology to monitor the effects of climate change on the world's "third ice cap," to use "climate science" to assess the impact of global warming throughout the country.
"There is a fine line between climate science and climate evangelism. I am for climate science. I think people misused the IPCC report ... that report doesn't do the original research which is one of the weaknesses ... they just take published literature and then they derive assessments, so we had goof-ups on the Amazon forests, glaciers, and snow peaks."
"I respect the IPCC, but India is a very large country and cannot depend only on the IPCC, and so we have launched the Indian Network on Comprehensive Climate Change Assessment (INCCA)," he said. It will bring together 125 research institutions throughout India, work with international bodies and operate as a "sort of Indian IPCC," he added. The body will publish its own climate assessment in November 2010, with reports on the Himalayas, India's long coastline, the Western Ghat highlands, and the north-eastern region close to the borders with Bangladesh, Burma, China and Nepal.
"Through these we will demonstrate our commitment to climate science," he said. The UN panel's claims of glacial meltdown by 2035 "was clearly out of place and didn't have any scientific basis," he said, while stressing that the government remained concerned about the health of the Himalayan ice flows.
"Most glaciers are melting, they are retreating; some glaciers, like the Siachen glacier, are advancing. But overall one can say incontrovertibly that the debris on our glaciers is very high, the snow balance is very low. We have to be very cautious because of the water security, particularly in north India, which depends on the health of the Himalayan glaciers," he added.
The new National Institute of Himalayan Glaciology will be based in Dehradun, in Uttarkhand, and will monitor glacial changes and compare results with those from glaciers in Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.
© PROMETHEUS 152/2010
PROMETHEUS, Internet Bulletin - News, Politics, Art and Science. Nr. 152, February 2010