Hot on the heels of Climategate - the leaking of thousands of emails and computer files that show many of the world's leading climate scientists fudging the results of their global warming research and contriving to keep skeptics from being published in academic journals - comes what could be called Glaciergate.

Prominent among the claims of impending environmental disaster in the UN's fourth report on climate change, published in 2007, was the prediction that all of the 15,000 glaciers in the Himalayas could melt away by 2035. That's just 25 years away. Now the Times of London has discovered that this claim was not based on scientific enquiry, but rather on speculation. And old speculation at that.

In 1999 the magazine The New Scientist interviewed an Indian climatologist named Syed Hasnain. He told reporter Fred Pearce that it was his "speculation" that the Himalayan glaciers would "vanish within 40 years as a result of global warming." Dr. Hasnain cautioned that the data on which his speculation was based had neither been published nor peer reviewed, Mr. Pearce noted his in his article.

The Hasnain interview, according to the Times on Sunday, remained largely dormant until 2005 when the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) cited it in a report it prepared as a lobbying and fundraising tool. The WWF report was not peer-reviewed either (nor need it have been since it was produced by a special interest group to advance its cause). Nonetheless, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - the UN's official climate research branch - picked up on the WWF's untested claim and, apparently without doing any further checking of its own, stated in its 2007 report that "glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and ... the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high," above 90%.

This is the report that helped secure the IPCC its Nobel Prize. It is the report that stated categorically that man-made emissions were the main cause of global warming and climate change. Interestingly, it is also the report over which the Climategate scientists sent one another emails urging the destruction of any communication they had about data given to the IPCC, so freedom of information requests could not force them to turn over files showing how they may have manipulated the outcomes of their research.

Also, interestingly, Dr. Hasnain, the scientist whose initial speculation wound up being cited as unequivocal scientific fact by the IPCC, is now head of the glacier research team at an Indian environmental think-tank run by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC.

Indian government scientists helping to assemble the IPCC's 2007 report warned the Himalayan glacier claim was shaky. They told the UN their own research showed comparatively little glacial retreat. But the IPCC ignored them. Zealots never want to be confused by the facts.

The IPCC's previous report, issued in 2001, displayed a hockey-stick graph in five separate locations. It was the centrepiece of the findings.

The graph, developed by then-University of Virginia researcher Michael Mann, purported to show a millennium of relatively stable global-average temperatures followed by a sharp upward spike in the 20th century. The IPCC insisted this proved industrialization was dangerously altering the climate.

But two Canadian researchers, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, showed the graph was meaningless. Prof. Mann had manipulated over 80% of his data sets to ensure the climate numbers produced a hockey stick with ominous 20th-century temperature gains. Nearly any series of numbers plugged into Prof. Mann's formula produced the same graph.

That's two IPCC reports in a row that have featured later-discredited "proofs" of manmade global warming.

Add to that the fact that many of the emails released in Climategate reveal discussions by leading IPCC scientists about how to exclude dissidents and skeptics from the body's report-writing processes and you begin to get a glimpse of how contrived and one-sided the UN's climate investigations have been.

You also get to see how the "settled" science behind climate change alarmism was arrived at - not by scientific consensus, but rather by manipulation, misrepresentation and strong-arming.