Jun 062011


We don’t seem to hear much from that teflon-coated IPCC supremo Rajendra Pachauri these days, which is rather strange. Not very long ago he seemed to be so keen to strut on the world stage that one could hardly pick up a paper or watch a news bulletin without being assailed by yet another pronouncement from the media’s favourite prophet of doom. Perhaps he’s just turned all shy and modest over the last eighteen months. Or maybe there are other, far less creditable, reasons for his apparent invisibility, like giving the public time to forget the appalling failings of the organisation he heads which have been inescapably laid at his door.

Anyway, while continuing the seemingly endless process of indexing and filing the mountains of documents in my workroom, I came across a report on the Watts Up With That blog from November 2008, and fell to thinking about the strange tricks that the chronological march of history can play. This was the title:

Below the headline, Michael Duffy, a retired Australian politician (if politicians ever do retire), refers to a talk given by Dr Pachauri at the University of New South Wales that he had attended during the previous month. This occasion was to mark the award of an honorary science degree to the IPCC chairman, so one might expect that he would be particularly careful about anything he might say that related to scientific research. Indeed, being a railway engineer by trade and not a scientist, that he would be very, very cautious.

Apparently, Dr Pachauri’s message to the audience that ‘warming is taking place at a faster rate’ was made as commentary on a graph he was showing as the highpoint of his talk. According to Michael Duff’s eye witness account the graph did indeed show average temperatures rising. He says that he was shocked by this apparently cynical and cold-blooded piece of misrepresentation, and who could blame him. Of course anyone who might claim that temperatures are presently rising rapidly should expect it to be greeted with howls of derision, although that does not prevent this canard escaping the lips of some of the more unreliable advocates of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) from time to time. But even back in 2008 the standstill in temperatures was clear to anyone who was familiar with the data. Is it possible that the chairman of the IPCC did not know something so crucial to any pronouncement about AGW? Is it possible that he did know and nevertheless chose to mislead his audience in order to sex-up his presentation.

All this took place about a year before the fury of the combined storms of Climategate, Himalayagate and a few other gates where to break over Dr Pachuari’s head, and Michael Duffy’s report seems to have been completely forgotten by then. Had it not been, then the effect would have been immensely damaging as it shows that the IPCC chairman is, at best, ignorant of crucial scientific observations,  or at worst, prepared to misinform an audience for the sake of dramatic effect.

Such is the way in which the rich pageant of history marches ever onwards, with important precursors of events being subsumed in the wealth of trivia that is an essential part of an endlessly fascinating chronology.

5 Responses to “Rajendra Pachauri and an experiment with time”

  1. This article turns out to be rather prescient, given recent events. I’m halfway through a transcript of Dr Pachauri’s lecture at UNSW; no new revelations, probably, but I had to smile at this moment:

    Dr Pachauri: “It’s important to understand the manner in which the IPCC functions. We function on a very transparent basis.”

  2. Alex:

    This seems to be the operative paragraph from your excellent transcript, but does the source you used include the graphics that Pachauri used?

    However, if you look at the last 50 years, then you get a line which is much steeper, which is almost twice as steep as the total hundred-year period. So it would be appropriate to conclude that we are now at a stage where warming is taking place much faster, and if we want further evidence of this, we know that eleven of the last twelve years rank among the twelve warmest years since instrumental records of global service temperatures have been maintained.

    And could you possibly set up a subscription box on your site so that we can get email notification of new posts? I’ve just been doing this for HS using FeedBurner and it’s not too much of a problem. You are building up a quite remarkable archive there.

  3. Thanks, TonyN and I’ll see about setting up a subscription on the transcript site. Re the Pachauri lecture, this UNSW site has an embedded link to the video on YouTube, where it’s possible to see the slides, and the slide in question is at the 17:38 mark. They are very low-resolution; however, the same slideshow (or an updated version of it for Copenhagen?) can be found here.

  4. Alex:

    Looks rather like the 2008 update of Brohan:

  5. Wondering if this slide is still being used in 2011, and with its steep purple line unchanged – wouldn’t be totally surprised if it was!

    I’ve managed to get a subscription box up and running on the transcript site, and it’s here (hoping it works…)

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