Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
Invited to deliver a lecture in memory of a talented, successful, decidedly feminist judge, Pachauri didn’t think her half of humanity was worth mentioning.
The late Sunanda Bhandare sounds like a remarkable woman. At one time the youngest female judge on the Delhi High Court, she is remembered for statements such as: “A woman’s place in society marks the level of civilization.”
The website of the foundation established in her memory after her death from cancer at age 52, tells us that Bhandare “believed passionately in the dignity of individuals and the right to equality.”
How unfortunate that, in December 2008, Rajendra Pachauri delivered the foundation’s 14th memorial lecture. It has been published in a book titled Struggle for Gender Justice.
Pachauri’s lecture was called “Ethics and the Challenge of Climate Change.” If you go to this page on the foundation’s website and click the Read more link toward the bottom left, you can scan all 4,200 words of it.
There Pachauri makes a number of statements that bear re-examining given recent allegations that he is a serial sexual harasser of young women (see here and here).
Pachauri declares that “the issue of ethics” is “at the core” of the climate change challenge. He maintains that climate change “has been caused by the process of industrialization.” In his view, humanity was “so drunk with this desire to produce and consume more and more” we unethically and deliberately chose to ignore scientific knowledge.
This is a good time to remind ourselves that, prior to the industrial revolution, 50 percent of European children didn’t make it past their eighth birthday. One perspective on the last few hundred years is that we humans have worked hard to make the world a safer and healthier place for our offspring.
But that isn’t Pachauri’s view. His is the comic book version: humans are short-sighted, self-centered morons who ignore good advice because it’s “in the interest of companies” to do so. He is also of the opinion that the rich world has sinned and that the poor world will pay the price. Here’s one such quote:
the world has not taken [climate change] seriously and particularly those who should have felt morally bound to take action, still want to continue with their life style and their levels of prosperity and in fact they are not worried what they are doing [to] the rest of the world. [bold added]
Pachauri ends his speech by saying we need “a new ethic” nationally, internationally and “at the level of human beings and the individual.” Otherwise, generations yet unborn “will blame us for being totally irresponsible, if not criminal.”
What’s missing from this speech is one word about women or gender equality. The topic simply doesn’t come up. When offered the opportunity to deliver a lecture in memory of a talented, successful, decidedly feminist woman Pachauri didn’t think her half of humanity was worth the slightest mention.
Over the years, Pachauri has talked rather a lot about ethics and morality. He has shaken his sanctimonious finger at people who see the world differently than he does, insisting that they’re morally deficient, irresponsible, perhaps even criminal.
And yet, a mere six years after he delivered this lecture, it now appears that it is his moral compass that’s broken.
It’s worth noting that, according to a press clipping on the Justice Sunanda Bhandare Foundation website, the function at which Pachauri delivered the above address “was presided over by Delhi High Court Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah. Supreme Court Judge Justice Arijit Pasayat was the chief guest.”
The former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a well-connected individual in the jurisdiction in which he is under police investigation.
Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. See Amazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.