Guest post by Alex Cull
She’s done it again. Two years ago, Donna Laframboise gave us “The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World’s Top Climate Expert”, shining an uncomfortably bright light onto the doings of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and revealing some rather inconvenient truths about that organisation.
And here’s a steady continuation of her thesis – “Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize”, in which Donna focusses on the extremely well connected and high-profile IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, head of a United Nations body that is meant to be “policy-neutral, never policy-prescriptive”, yet preaching CO2 mitigation and an ascetic lifestyle whilst enjoying the very opulence and fossil-fuelled ease that he professes to despise. Although not a climate scientist himself, as best-known representative of the IPCC Pachauri is able to exert no small influence on the world stage, whenever he speaks ex cathedra.
What he says matters. Whether he is exhorting young activists to help fast-track changes in global consumption behaviour, warning Green Cross International that we have “five minutes before midnight” or jokingly encouraging Richard Branson to send sceptics on a one-way journey to outer space, to his listeners he is the voice of the IPCC. The average politician might not have read all, or indeed any, of that organisation’s voluminous reports, but may well have heard – and heeded – Dr. Pachauri’s frequent sound bites. When he informs an audience that the role of “the best scientists, thousands of them” is to tell the world, as a labour of love, that the impacts of climate change will get progressively worse “if we don’t do something”, who will gainsay him?
As the saying goes, the fish stinks from the head, and as chapter follows chapter an unedifying picture continues to emerge, of an institution that is dominated by environmentalists, uses dubious “grey literature” when it says it doesn’t, breaks its own ostensibly strict rules when it suits, is secretive and slow to respond to criticism and which allows activist organisations to bestow on some of their members the unwarranted title of Nobel Laureate, aided by a compliant and lazy media. Much of this material will be already familiar to you, if you have read “The Delinquent Teenager” or followed Donna’s blog – which I recommend – and in this respect, the new book is not so much a standalone work as it is Part II of a work in progress.
And on that note, very good though it is, if I have given “Into the Dustbin” less than full marks the reason is that I am confident a future Part III will be even better, matching the sheer punch of “Delinquent Teenager” and completing a series in which “Into the Dustbin” will have been, as it were, a worthy bridging episode. I am writing this review in September 2013, on the eve of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) and as global warming has languished for well over a decade in what some are referring to as “the great hiatus”. Crucially, this will be the last report of its kind before the UNFCCC attempts, in Paris, in 2015, to pull off what it tried and failed to do in Copenhagen, in 2009 – secure a binding global treaty on climate change, a successor to Kyoto.
It remains to be seen how the Intergovernmental Panel and Dr. Pachauri will handle – or mishandle – the unwelcome fact of the “hiatus” and the news that global temperatures now seem to be at the lower bounds of earlier projections by computer models. We appear to be approaching a crunch point for the IPCC, when the uncertainties of climate science loom larger than ever, and yet when the temptation to over-egg the pudding must be almost unbearable. Whatever the fallout from AR5 – and fallout of some sort there will be – I am sure that Donna Laframboise will have plenty to write about, in her trademark acerbic, hard-hitting style, and that it, like her existing books, will be well worth reading.