At the center of the policy push is the
IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri. Mr. Pachauri has no formal
education in climatology, yet was appointed in 2002 to lead arguably
the world's most influential climatology panel. Since, he has
stirred up much controversy, suggesting that people internationally
up meat to fight climate change and supervising the publication
of alarming climate change predictions.
Pachauri's days as IPCC Chairman may be nearing an end. Mr.
Pachauri has been forced to retract
an alarming publication in which he claimed Himalayan Glaciers
would melt by 2035. Many in the general public and research
community are calling for his resignation in the retraction's
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice chairman of the IPCC, is
doing his best to defend his boss's controversial remarks. He
calls them a "human mistake" and comments, "Aren't
mistakes human? Even the IPCC is a human institution and I do not
know of any human institution that does not make mistakes, so of
course it is a regrettable incident that we published that wrong
description of the Himalayan glacier."
publication was made more controversial by his harsh criticism of
those who questioned it. He said that climate skeptics used
"voodoo science" and urged the climate research community
and international governments to ignore their concerns.
Ypersele, professor of climatology and environmental sciences at the
Catholic University of Louvain defends these remarks. He states, "I would personally
not have used the voodoo science wording. I think humans can
sometimes use words that are a bit too strong but it is certainly not
a reason to ask for the resignation of a chairman who has done an
excellent job. We are trying to do our best, we are going to
reinforce the review procedures so the probability in the next report
of such incidents happening is even lower. But to guarantee a zero
fault product is probably not possible for any human
Perhaps the more troublesome topic, however,
is the report itself. The IPCC 2007 report contained both the
questionable glacier reference and highly questionable conclusions
about global warming creating a bevy of natural disasters.
Before its recent retraction, the report was driving international
climate legislation, including pending legislation in the U.S. that
is estimate to leave
Americans $9.4 trillion USD poorer.
The report was
supposedly reviewed by the IPCC's 2,000 members. Argues Mr. van
Ypsersele, "We are trying to do the best job we can in assessing
the quality information about climate change issues in all its
dimensions and some do not like the conclusions of our work. Now it
is true we made a mistake around the glacier issue, it is one mistake
on one issue in a 3,000 page report. We are going to reinforce the
procedures to try this does not happen again."
the retraction will not impact the publication's credibility and
stands behind the report's other controversial claims, including the
prediction of natural catastrophe. He states, "I would
like to submit that this could increase the credibility of the IPCC
not decrease it. Why is that? Would you trust someone who has
admitted an error and is ready to learn from his or her mistake or
someone who claims to be unassailable? The IPCC does not claim to be
unassailable, when there is a good reason to admit a mistake we do
it, but for the rest of IPCC conclusions we stand by it very
Mr. Pachauri, who holds advanced degrees in
industrial engineering and economics, has blasted Westerners for
leading an "unsustainable" lifestyle. Curiously,
to the British newspaper, The Telegraph, "[Pachauri]
enjoys a lavish personal lifestyle; his Delhi home is in the Golf
Links area, the most expensive stretch of residential real estate in
India, and he is famous for his '$1,000 suits'."
and Mr. Pachauri were joint recipients of the 2007
Nobel Peace Prize for their warming work.