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Netherlands adds to UN climate report controversy

by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) Feb 5, 2010
The Netherlands has asked the UN climate change panel to explain an inaccurate claim in a landmark 2007 report that more than half the country was below sea level, the Dutch government said Friday.

According to the Dutch authorities, only 26 percent of the country is below sea level, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will be asked to account for its figures, environment ministry spokesman Trimo Vallaart told AFP.

The incident could cause further embarrassment for the IPCC, which recently admitted a claim in the same report that global warming could melt Himalayan glaciers by 2035 was wrong.

IPCC experts calculated that 55 percent of the Netherlands was below sea level by adding the area below sea level -- 26 percent -- to the area threatened by river flooding -- 29 percent -- Vallaart said.

"They should have been clearer," Vallaart said, adding that the Dutch office for environmental planning, an IPCC partner, had exact figures.

Correcting the error had been "on the agenda several times" but had never actually happened, Vallaart said.

The spokesman said he regretted the fact that proper procedure was not followed and said it should not be left to politicians to check the IPCC's numbers.

The Dutch environment ministry will order a review of the report to see if it contains any more errors, Vallaart said.

The IPCC's 938-page Fourth Assessment Report spurred politicians around the world to vow action with its warning that climate change was on the march, but the body has faced fierce criticism over the glacier mistake.

Glaciologists have discredited the Himalaya claim, which is being withdrawn, and the controversy has given fresh ammunition to climate sceptics.

No evidence could be found to show the claim had been published in a peer-reviewed journal and reports in Britain have said the reference came from green group the WWF, who in turn sourced it to the New Scientist magazine.

UN climate chief raises the temperature with racy novel
New Delhi (AFP) Feb 7, 2010 - The UN's top climate official, who is at the heart of a controversy over incorrect global warming data, has penned a racy novel which dishes up sex, reincarnation and a real-life Hollywood actress.

The debut fiction work is in contrast to the dry academic tomes that 69-year-old Rajendra Pachauri, head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has previously written.

"Return to Almora," which has recently hit bookshops, is laced with steamy references to the sexual urges of the protagonist Sanjay Nath who, like Pachauri, studied engineering.

The book also weaves in lectures on the environment and the fate of Himalayan glaciers -- the issue which has triggered calls for Pachauri's resignation.

Pachauri has refused to step down over an error in which an IPCC report forecast Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

His novel charts the life of Sanjay who, as a young child in India, stuns his parents with the news he was a merchant in a past life and that his wife is still alive.

The 402-page tale takes Sanjay through his university days during which loses his virginity, breathlessly describing how he was "overcome by a lust that he had never known before."

Several passages from the book may interest the judges of London's Bad Sex awards, an annual celebration of the worst bedroom scenes in literature.

After university, Sanjay travels to the United States, has dinner with Oscar-winning actress Shirley MacLaine and teaches meditation -- when he finds himself distracted by the "heaving breasts" of his students.

"You are absolutely superb after meditation," Sanjay's girlfriend tells him. "Why don't we make love every time immediately after you have meditated?"

The author, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 on behalf of the IPCC, has hinted parts of the book are autobiographical.

"Sometimes I'd be so overwhelmed trying to capture an incident of my life for the book that I would be moved to tears," the father-of-three told the Indian Express.

Pachauri, whose previous 20 books include titles such as "Business unusual: championing corporate social responsibility", says he wrote the romp while on international business flights.




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