Friday, October 15, 2010

Pachauri is Making a Mistake

Rajendra Pachauri is going to stay as chair of the IPCC, and I think that’s a mistake.

It’s not that he’s been a particularly bad chair. He hasn’t. But neither has he been a particularly good chair. He’s just….been. Besides the 4AR, the IPCC hasn’t achieved much special under his watch, and right now it needs dynamic leadership. He didn’t provide it, and he won’t in the next few years.

It’s time for him to move on. The world cannot afford mediocre leadership on this most important of issues.

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This isn’t about the failure to prevent the claim that Himalyan glaciers will melt by 2035. That’s just one mistake in a very large, dense set of science, and it says nothing about the fundamental case for climate change.

It’s like claiming a 90-year old smoker is going to die of lung cancer, when in fact he might well die from lung cancer, esaphogal cancer, cancer of the throat or COPD. Or he might even get hit by a bus.

This was a third-order mistake and such mistakes always crop up. You can be sure climate change deniers will find one in the Nth AR, where N ~10 or even ~100.

That hardly undercuts the very real and very fundamental case for climate change – CO2=GHG=a warmer planet -- and Pachuari, if he can be faulted for anything, hasn’t made that clear enough. I don’t think he’s been enough of a spokesman, or enough of a leader.

I’ve talked to scientists who’ve worked on the individual assessment reports, and it takes a very solid, multi-year effort on their part. They do it voluntarily, and they work hard at it. Then they pass it on to the next generation.

Like them, Pachauri should admit that he’s done his best, and that it’s time to hand it over to someone else. In a field this important, and this contentious, that’s important for everyone.

2 comments:

Michael Tobis said...

Ordinarily, I would agree. But the bastards have been calling for his head. Do you want to give hiring/firing power to Marc Morano?

Pachauri, as you say, hasn't been a spectacular failure. So it would do far more damage to replace him than to let him stay.

David Appell, PhD said...

No, I certainly don't want to give firing power to any skeptic/denier.

But I do think, for independent reasons, that it's time for RP to go. I know there's a risk of looking like that's giving in.

But even if RP stays, just so as not to give in, he will be just as big a target. Better to have someone fresh.