The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change acknowledges it has been a rough few months for his organization. But, he argues, no amount of obfuscation and attacks by conspiracy theorists will alter the basic facts — global warming is real and intensifying.
By Rajendra K. Pachauri
Science thrives on debate. Only by challenging scientific findings do we expose weak arguments and substantiate strong ones. But the process relies on the debate being devoid of political taint and grounded in sound scientific knowledge. Sadly, that has not been the case in the recent barrage of criticism leveled against climate science.
The readers of Yale Environment 360 are by now familiar with recent questioning by some of the validity of the widely accepted science of climate change. The release of emails stolen from the University of East Anglia was used just prior to the Copenhagen Climate Summit to project an unflattering portrayal of climate scientists in general and to voice allegations that climate science was deeply flawed. (It is significant that the U.K. House of Commons Science and Technology Committee last month issued a report essentially exonerating the researchers involved of any ill intent or wrongdoing, as did an independent panel established by the university.) This episode was followed by accusations that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which I chair, had exaggerated the severity of climate change.
Though some of the criticism has been thoughtful and was welcomed by the IPCC, much of it relied on unsubstantiated conspiracy theories and gross mischaracterizations that would be laughable were they not intended to create a bias in public perceptions on this critical issue. Certainly, in any human endeavor there is always room for improvement, and that is particularly true of enhancing the level of thoroughness in searching for new knowledge. In this context, the IPCC has listened and learned from the more reasoned criticism voiced recently. As I will explain later in this article, the panel is also taking action to refine its procedures in response to fair and objective criticism. But to call climate science a “hoax,” as some fringe critics have done, amounts to a tremendous disservice to science and to humanity as a whole. FULL ARTICLE>>>>
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rajendra K. Pachauri is chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for which he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. Since 2001, he has served as director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an India-based research organization focused on issues related to energy, environment and sustainable development. He is the author of more than 100 academic articles and 23 books and is director of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute.
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