Gordon Brown claimed glaciers could 'disappear entirely' in 25 years

27 Jan

Gordon Brown made the false claim in October 2009 at the Major Economies Forum in London. He said:

“…in just twenty-five years the glaciers in the Himalayas which provide water for three quarters of a billion people could disappear entirely.”Other Brown quotes

Here’s the video:

While this is no surprise, I haven’t yet seen others highlight this error. Scaring three quarters of a billion people sounds pretty serious to me. Do you think he will bother to correct his alarmist error?


Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Uncategorized


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3 responses to “Gordon Brown claimed glaciers could 'disappear entirely' in 25 years

  1. Charlie A

    January 27, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    His claim is supported in the peer-reviewed literature. Mass loss on Himalayan glacier endangers water resources, Kehrwald, eta, Geophysical Research Letters Vol 35.
    doi:10.1029/2008GL035556 and available freely as pdf at

    “The surface area of glaciers across the TP is
    projected to decrease from 500,000 km2 measured in 1995
    to 100,000 km2 in 2030 [Cruz et al., 2007],”

    and “TP ice fields are a critical resource for one sixth of the
    world’s population because they provide dry season runoff
    for major rivers [Cruz et al., 2007].”

    This is by a distinguished group of glacier research scientists at the Byrd Polar Research Center of Ohio State University — so it must be correct, right?


    Cruz et al, 2007 turns out to be Chap 10 of WG2 of IPCC AR4 — the section with the various unsupported, bogus claims about Himalayan glaciers.

    What has happened is that the bogus claims have no moved over into scientific peer reviewed literature, meaning the the IPCC will be able to quote them in the upcoming 5th Assessment Report.

    People has misplaced faith in the quality of “peer reviewed science”.

    I have e-mailed one of the authors asking if he still stands behind the above statement as published in the GRL paper, but have not received a response.

  2. ClimateQuoter

    January 27, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    I like the reference to Cruz et al, it sounds so scientific!

    I would point out that even if Brown were to claim this paper as his support, the paper says:

    “If Naimona’nyi is characteristic of other glaciers in the region, alpine glacier meltwater surpluses are likely to shrink much faster than currently predicted with substantial consequences for approximately half a billion people.”

    Brown says three quarters of a billion. Where do those extra 250 million people come from?

  3. Charlie A

    January 27, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Obviously, there are multiple parallel universes as far as climate change goes.

    The AR5 described Himalayan Glaciers as 500k sq km, going down to 100k sq km by 2035.

    Kehrwald, et al. 2008 says Tibetan plateau (which includes Himalayas) is 500k sq km, going down to 100k sq km in 2030 (Note the region change and the date change).

    The World Glacier Monitoring Service says there are about 33k sq km of glaciers in Himalaya, around 100k sq km in all of Central Asia (of which Tibetan plateau is a subregion), and about 500k sq km for all glaciers and icecaps excluding the Arctic and Antarctic icecaps.

    So it looks like the guys at Ohio State recognized that 500k sq km of glacier in Himalaya was a gross error, but didn’t follow through and figure out what the 500k sq km actually corresponds to.

    I have no idea how they changed the date from 2035 to 2030.

    What is really strange, the oldest reference I can find that includes 500,0000 sq km and 100,000 sq km number is a 1996 report that says the reduction to 100,000 sq km was expected to take place by 2350.


    If the same lead authors are used for AR5, then there is a good chance that they will look to Kehrwald, et al. 2008 as a source, to the exclusion of the many other papers that have radically different numbers and dates.


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