Monday, March 2, 2015

Longtime Chief of UN Climate Panel Resigns, Faces Criminal Sexual Harassment Charges

The Guardian reports:
The chair of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri, resigned on Tuesday, following allegations of sexual harassment from a female employee at his research institute in Delhi.
Pachauri, 74, is accused of sexually harassing a 29-year-old female researcher shortly 
after she joined The Energy and Resources Institute. Lawyers for the woman, who cannot be named, said the harassment by Pachauri included unwanted emails, text messages and WhatsApp messages.
Rajendra Pachauri appearing with former Vice President Al Gore
Pachauri, one of the UN’s top climate change officials, has denied the charges and his spokesman said: “[He] is committed to provide all assistance and cooperation to the authorities in their ongoing investigations.” His lawyers claimed in the court documents that his emails, mobile phone and WhatsApp messages were hacked and that criminals accessed his computer and phone to send the messages in an attempt to malign him.  
Although it is not clear from the quoted passage, Pachuari is actually facing criminal charges for the alleged harassment.  He was awarded interim bail and a court has delayed his arrest until March 27th.  Like anyone so accused, Pachuari deserves the presumption of innocence.  But what he said in his resignation letter, that his leadership of the IPCC was driven by a religious mission to protect Mother Earth, deserves condemnation. 

The Washington Post offers an excellent editorial on the subject:
In a two-page letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mr. Pachauri gave himself a fulsome pat on the back, saying the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “has always scaled new heights of excellence” during his years as chairman. Citing “current circumstances” for preventing his exercise in providing “strong leadership and dedication of time,” he said he had decided to step down. He also unbosomed his ardor for the pseudo-religion of environmentalism: “For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion and my dharma.”  
Affection for the place humanity calls home is commendable, and who would argue for the destruction of the planet and all its creatures great and small? His statement, however, confirms what many have suspected, that Mr. Pachauri took a faith-based approach to a fact-based assignment, making him unfit to lead an assessment of the impact of human activity, or the lack thereof, on the climate of the globe. The post demands a passion for science, not religion.   
For those who reject traditional faiths, reverence for Mother Earth is a cool, hip substitute. Unlike a religious faith that instructs believers to love and serve their fellow man, environmentalism teaches that followers can turn up their noses at neighbors in distress so long as they cherish enough rocks, trees and mountains. Though carbon-based fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas are part of the natural environment, too, they must be regarded as a blot on the natural world.   
A scientific investigation into the planet’s climate must be guided by the clear-eyed who are able to master those impulses and maintain a dispassionate gift for separating fact from fiction. With climate activists pressing for $100 billion a year by 2020 to fight global warming, faked conclusions could be costly. Mr. Pachauri may ultimately get an opportunity to pursue his dharma (but not his employees) in a different venue, but the job of judging whether human-caused climate change is real should be given to someone who can put aside his religious ardor.
Although often billed as a "climate scientist," Pachauri's degree is actually in railroad engineering.  He later earned a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Economics.   Despite a complete lack of academic qualifications relating to climate science, he rose to be the leading proponent of the global warming agenda.  Along the way, Pachauri discarded the objectivity of science for the subjectivity of politics.

Science must be about the objective search for the truth, with a willingness to consider all facts and tolerate questioning of the theories developed from those facts.  Science today though has become a politicized venture, with too many scientists becoming activists, selectively using data to develop and promote a political agenda. Pachauri's political zealotry became so extreme that he admits it had risen to the level of being a religion.  He was unfit to head the IPCC.


Nicolas Martin said...

It is unseemly to use a sexual harassment charge as a way of attacking his professional views.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I agree totally, Nicolas. Don't know people are doing that though.