Rajendra Pachauri: Ever the Activist

December 23, 2011 at 12:33 pm

A few weeks ago I wrote about Rajendra Pachauri, who has been the chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for the past nine years.

I observed that it is impossible to take seriously claims that the IPCC is a neutral, objective, scientific body because Pachauri’s behaviour isn’t remotely like that. In fact, his conduct is indistinguishable from a green activist.

The example on that occasion involved TERI University in India. Pachauri is both the Director-General and the Chancellor of that institution. It issued a press release regarding an event organized for MBA students which included these lines:

Dr. RK Pachauri, Chancellor, TERI University had a special video-recorded message for the participants encouraging them to be the torch bearers of the green campaign. [bold in the original, italics added]

That release was dated December 3rd. Yesterday the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) – which Pachauri also happens to be the Director-General of – issued its own press release about a contest involving schools and young people (backup link here). The release contains this gem:

While distributing awards, Dr. R K Pachauri, Director-General, TERI, said, “It is the youth of this world and their understanding of environmental protection that can help meet the challenges ahead in protecting mother earth. TerraQuiz is an important step to inform and mobilize the youth of the world in this crucial mission. In their role as ‘Environment Ambassadors’, they can be major agents of change for a sustainable future.” [bold and italics in the original]

So less than three weeks ago an organization headed by Pachauri made it clear he thinks business students should be the torch bearers of the green campaign. Now another organization he heads is announcing to the world that he thinks young people need to be mobilized. They have a crucial mission, you see. The head of the IPCC expects them to be nothing less than major agents of change.

Sometimes I feel like I’m Alice in Wonderland. Clearly I’ve been transported into an alternate reality where things don’t make the slightest bit of sense.

Does it really need to be said that science and activism are two very different things? Is there something I’m missing here – something that makes it OK for the head of a scientific body to be a full-blown activist?

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Entry filed under: activist scientists, ethical & philosophical, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri. Tags: , , , .

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