The IPCC’s Political Chairman
It may not be wise to judge a book by its cover, but it’s entirely appropriate to judge an organization by its leader.
The Australian news site, MercatorNet, has just published a piece by yours truly titled The UN’s Climate Change Chief Puts Politics First.
That Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is primarily a political operative is an easy accusation to make. When I began researching the climate debate in early 2009, this was a common meme among the comments that climate skeptics left beneath news articles and in discussion forums.
But I’m not in the habit of taking anyone’s word for it – especially in highly contested, emotionally charged contexts. So I began a careful examination of the evidence. Over the years, I made a point of having lots of conversations with third parties about whether equally persuasive, alternative conclusions made sense. I’ve tried hard to understand what has been going on.
Today, as the author of two books on the IPCC, I now think the politics conclusion is inescapable. The IPCC is, first and foremost, a UN bureaucracy. Since it is the nature of bureaucracies to pursue their own agendas, science has never been the driving force at the IPCC.
Many of the individuals who’ve helped that organization produce its large and small reports over the past 25 years have been sincere. Many have been naive. Some have been genuinely unconscious of the biases inherent in the IPCC process and, indeed, of the biases in their own analyses. (What seems obvious to person A will strike person B as dependent on a mountain of highly-questionable assumptions.)
History will not be kind to this organization. The IPCC is a case study in how a UN body took a particular set of political and philosophical beliefs about humanity’s interaction with the environment – and dressed them up as science.
Read my MercatorNet piece here. Comments are welcomed on that site. [oops! link now corrected, Sept. 25/13]
Entry filed under: activist scientists, ethical & philosophical, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri. Tags: activist scientists, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, United Nations.