Himalayan Glaciers Are Growing … and Confounding Global Warming Alarmists

Published November 1, 2006

Glaciers are growing in the Himalayan Mountains, confounding global warming alarmists who have recently claimed the glaciers were shrinking and that global warming was to blame.

A new study of the Karakoram, Hindu Kush, and Western Himalaya mountain ranges by researchers at England’s Newcastle University shows consistent recent growth among the region’s glaciers.

Researchers found cooler summers are failing to melt winter snows, which are themselves becoming more frequent, resulting in advancing ice sheets.

The study was published in the September 2006 issue of the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate.

Warming Scares Debunked

The study puts another nail in the coffin of recent claims by global warming alarmists that global warming is causing dramatic shrinkage of Himalayan glaciers. A March 14, 2005 report from the activist group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) claimed, “Himalayan glaciers are among the fastest retreating glaciers globally due to effects of global warming.”

The WWF said its report “reveals the rate of retreat of Himalayan glaciers accelerating as global warming increases.”

Importantly, noted WWF, the reported glacier retreat “will eventually result in water shortages for hundreds of millions of people who rely on glacier-dependent rivers in China, India, and Nepal.”

CNN, Reuters, ABC News, and National Geographic, among others, unquestioningly and uncritically reported the WWF assertions, despite WWF’s clear status as an advocacy group.

The uncritical coverage surprised many analysts, because objective evidence indicated Himalayan glaciers were not melting at all. A March 13, 2005 article in Insurance Digest released one day before the WWF report reported Himalayan glaciers had fully recovered from prior retreats.

Despite the objective evidence to the contrary, Himalayan glacier-melting stories continued through the spring of 2006.

National Geographic, for example, reported on March 10 that glaciers were shrinking throughout the Himalayas and that “these water supplies could eventually dry up as the glaciers melt due to global warming.”

Warming Still to Blame?

With the Newcastle University study now validating the Insurance Digest report, National Geographic and others are doing an about-face, reporting the glaciers are growing rather than shrinking … and blaming global warming for the growth of the glaciers.

“Some glaciers in Pakistan’s Upper Indus River Basin appear to be growing, and a new study suggests that global warming is the cause,” reported National Geographic News on September 11.

And just as the media had previously reported shrinking glaciers would threaten the water supplies of hundreds of millions of people, they now claim the water supplies of millions of people are threatened by growing glaciers.

In an August 24 article titled “Global warming boost to glaciers,” BBC News reported, “the findings are significant, because temperature and rain and snow trends in the area impact on water availability for more than 50 million Pakistanis.”

Alarmist Claims Doubted

“These claims are incredible for many reasons,” said Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Marlo Lewis. “First, the water supply doesn’t come from the glaciers. It is not glacial melt that feeds local water supplies, but the melt from annual snowfall. Annual snowfall is increasing in the region.

“Second, it seems that no matter what happens in the world, it is always claimed that global warming is to blame and that the change will be for the worse,” Lewis added. “That speaks to an agenda that will be asserted regardless of what happens in the real world.”

Lewis concluded, “Third, if shrinking glaciers create water shortages, as the global warming alarmists claimed last year, then how can growing glaciers create water shortages, as they claim now? The alarmists need to pick a story line and stick with it. Saying that anything that ever changes in the world is bad and is caused by global warming is scientifically suspect on its face.

“That is not how science operates, it is how propaganda operates,” Lewis added.

James M. Taylor ([email protected]) is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.