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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pachauri taking heat for outside interests from denialists

Excerpt from George Monbiot's blog, February 2, 2010

Pachauri is also taking a lot of heat for his outside interests, though he insists that the allegations made against him are flat wrong. It's worth remembering that he was appointed to run the IPCC after the Bush administration had his predecessor, Bob Watson, booted out at the behest of ExxonMobil. On 6 February 2001, 17 days after George W. Bush was sworn in, A. G. (Randy) Randol, ExxonMobil's senior environmental adviser, sent a fax to John Howard, an environmental official at the White House. He asked,
"Can Watson be replaced now at the request of the US?"

The US government immediately complied. Once it had extracted Watson, it accepted Pachauri as his replacement. The very qualities which made him acceptable to the climate change deniers in the White House – he wasn't a climate scientist, he had friendly relations with business – are now being used by climate change deniers as a stick with which to beat him.

Damaging as some of this material is, at least people on this side of the climate science fence are able to confront the problem. Both stories – the glacier error and the revelations about the Chinese weather stations – were broken by reporter Fred Pearce, who is possibly the world's longest serving environmental journalist, and has spent decades explaining and championing climate science. The IPCC's glacier claim was actually drawn from an article of Fred's, published in New Scientist in 1999. But it was he who exposed the mistake the panel had made.

On the other side of the debate, people are in denial not only about the science of climate change but also about manipulation and deception by other climate change deniers. They stoutly ignore far graver evidence of falsification and fabrication by their own side, even when there is smoking gun evidence that their champions have secretly taken money from fossil fuel companies to make false claims. They make no attempt to hold each other to account or to sustain any standards of truth at all.

In fact, as Fred Pearce has shown, even their claims about the material in the hacked emails are almost all false.

The vast body of climate science still shows that manmade climate change is real and that it presents a massive challenge to human survival. But those of us who seek to explain its implications and call for action must demand the highest possible standards from the people whose work we promote, and condemn any failures to release data or admit and rectify mistakes. We do no one any favours – least of all ourselves – by wasting our time promoting false claims.


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