Climate evangelism is an apt description of what the IPCC has been up to, for it has exaggerated some of the ramifications of climate change in order to make politicians take note. Murari Lal, the coordinating lead author of the section of the IPCC report that contained the Himalayan error, admitted that he and his colleagues knew that the dramatic glacier prediction was not based on any peer-reviewed science. Nonetheless, he explained, “we thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.”
The concrete action that they had in mind was getting governments to mandate drastic cuts in carbon-dioxide emissions. Activists have been pursuing this approach to tackling global warming without success for nearly 20 years, most recently at last December’s failed climate summit in Copenhagen. The problem is that it is too expensive a solution for politicians and the public to swallow easily – which is why many well-meaning climate scientists have apparently concluded that instead of relying on reasoned discussion, they might as well try to scare us witless.