More trouble in climate land

Dr Rajendra K Pachauri has been the chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) since 2002. The IPCC is a United Nations body charged with summarising the academic literature on climate change. The IPCC is not allowed to give policy advice. Dr Pachauri has freely advised all and sundry about climate policy, as is his right as the citizen of a democratic country. The media has often reported Pachauri’s personal views as the scientific findings of the IPCC. Pachauri has done too little against that.

Pachauri made a fool of himself in the wake of climategate, first saying that nothing is wrong, then announcing an investigation, and then returning to the original line: Nothing is wrong.

The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC reported a number on glaciers on the Himalayas that was wrong. This has now come to light. Instead of admitting error (and a minor one), Pachauri again declared that the IPCC is infallible and even denounced (in no uncertain terms) a recent study on Himalayan glaciers for disagreeing with the IPCC. UPDATE: OUCH

Such blunders reveal why the Bush administration so keenly supported Pachauri. It does not stop there.

Since he was appointed IPCC chair, Pachauri has taken up a raft of advisory positions, almost exclusively with companies that stand to benefit from climate policy. This is against the conflict of interest policies of the two mother organisations of the IPCC (which, astonishingly, does not have such a policy itself). Pachauri’s mother organisation, TERI, also appears to have benefitted from Pachauri’s side jobs. [UPDATE: Forgot to include this link, which suggests that Pachauri has made a habit of these things.]

To top it all off, Pachauri is a director of a charity, TERI Europe, whose accounts are being revisited after Richard North uncovered irregularities.

All this is blowing another major hole in the credibility of climate research.

Adding this to the failed negotations at Copenhagen, I doubt that Europe will strenghten its emissions targets. As the Netherlands has now joined the queue of countries that report difficulties in meeting the renewables target, we may even see less stringent climate policy.

UPDATE: The Irish Times was quick to publish my op-ed on this and related matters.

83 replies on “More trouble in climate land”

Well I don’t know why I came here tonight,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I’m so scared in case I fall off my chair,
And I’m wondering how I’ll get down the stairs,
Clowns to the left of me,
Jokers to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the middle with you.

(Steelers Wheel)

I accept the science of global warming & Pachauri may be an absolute clown (or a joker) … BUT there is nothing in his behaviour, or anything in the CRU stolen emails, that disproves the science of global warming. I think that topic is a busted flush.

Also, Copenhagen is not necessarily the catastrophe Richard makes it out to be so maybe he should stop dancing on that particular grave.

David Doniger, the policy director of NRDC ( ):

“The Copenhagen climate deal that President Obama hammered out Friday night with the leaders of China, India, Brazil and South Africa broke through years of negotiating gridlock to achieve three critical goals. First, it provides for real cuts in heat-trapping carbon pollution by all of the world’s big emitters. Second, it establishes a transparent framework for evaluating countries’ performance against their commitments. And third, it will start an unprecedented flow of resources to help poor and vulnerable nations cope with climate impacts, protect their forests, and adopt clean energy technologies.”

So who has the clout/right to get rid of the guy? Is it so difficult to sack people in this day and age?

And why is it being run from within the UN? Nothing ever gets accomplished going down that route. Who’s bright idea was that?

People (countries) won’t do things unless it’s made law and there are penalties/real consequences for not going along with the law. Time to get tough or we’ll all be left hanging out to dry.

We are all far too soft and will continue to be so until we are starting to die from the problem here in the west (or heaven forbid, elites start losing money) ……. then we’ll look for someone to blame and demand an inquiry.

On the subject of saving things…. I see aid agencies are complaining that their flights couldn’t land in Haiti today because some American woman called Hilary was taking up the airspace and had priority. There will no doubt be a few more planes diverted when the head of the UN rides into town later today. I still can’t figure out why someone with a brain didn’t think of doing simple mass parachute drops of water/food/basic medical supplies in the interim/immediate aftermath while aid and supplies were taking their time to get there and are mostly stuck in the airport (mainly because aid agency workers are too frightened to take it out to distribute it). The other thing I observed was that the first rescue team to arrive (French) went straight to a hotel occupied by tourists (some lives worth more than others I guess).

I digress and am going off topic….. though back to the UN again…. I see they are asking for the public to cough up $550 million to get aid to Haiti. How many days profit was that for just one investment bank, J P Morgan, in Q4 2009 again? Have they, or any other of their kind, offered a substantial sum to help their fellow human beings yet?

“I still can’t figure out why someone with a brain didn’t think of doing simple mass parachute drops of water/food/basic medical supplies in the interim/immediate aftermath while aid and supplies were taking their time to get there and are mostly stuck in the airport (mainly because aid agency workers are too frightened to take it out to distribute it).”
You’re right, 9 mn people scrambling for a small number of aid parachutes would swiftly reduce the number of people in need of aid down to a manageable number.

The clear answer is to employ owls to deliver targeted aid… course, that would mean dealing with their union first…

Easy. Just plant a tree as offset.

You hit the nail on the head, though. I looked at the evidence to convince myself that climate change is real and a problem. These guys are increasingly behaving as if it is religion, not science.

To the best of my knowledge the IPCC is an intergovernmental panel appointed by various countries, no more, no less. And in that sense it is highly political. How it is even remotely qualified to be an authority on science is beyond me…

Someone should examine Al Gore’s conflicts of interest in this area too.

What has this got to do with the Irish Economy blog? Other than allowing you another platform to express your well-rehearsed views on anthropogenic climate change.

Your polemic would be best shared with Baron Blaby and your colleagues on the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

Even your recent piece on the Dublin bike scheme was more relevant to the Irish Economy blog than this entry.


P.S. GISS have announced that 2009 was the second warmest year (after 2005) since 130 years of global instrumental temperature records. That graph may soon need changing on the homepage of


You seem to have selectively ignored my use of the word ‘mass’. All that war machine expertise in carpet bombing must have a positive use somewhere – turning tanks into ploughs and all that kind of stuff.

The alternative of course is that you just do nothing until you’ve conducted all your risk management and cost/benefit scenarios etc. Then, by the time you get there, they are all dead and you get a load of well meaning white people going round wringing their hands saying “Well, we did our best. You would have thought they might have tried to stay alive until we got here.”


Haiti is a source of illegal migration to the USA. USA meddling in these islands is legendary. Katrina and New Orleans and FEMA made it clear that US priorities are that they be seen to be doing something and actually accomplishing little. Not that the USA is racist or anything. It is simply in their “national interest” that these things be done in this way.


This is really shocking stuff, Richard.

If AGW is real, this guy is the world’s worst enemy.

If it is not real, and the voodoo science is a result of avalanche consensus, corruption and politics, then he is just another shaman selling phony medecine.

Either way, this guy has to go.

From the news: UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon urges Haitians still waiting for humanitarian aid to “be more patient”.

This guy is having a larf right? They can fly him and Hillary in (and Bill Clinton is going today so that’s the airport closed again for ‘security reasons’ this afternoon) but they are unable to get even drinking water to desperate people? It’s Katrina all over again. The needy don’t get helped but they’ll privatise the education system and police force in the meantime. The shock therapy goons must be rubbing their hands in glee. We’ll see celebs flying in next for photo-opps. Maybe even our own dear St. Bono and sir Bob.

Back to the post – is the UN telling us to “be more patient” over their handling of climate change too?

Ireland has the toughest emission targets in the EU, and the mix of sources make it harder to reduce emissions here than elsewhere in Europe. International climate policy is thus relevant to the Irish economy.


Having just read Christopher Booker’s book ‘The Real Global Warming Disaster’ (in which he praises your won work), I am very struck by your post.

I found Booker’s book fascinating in providing background on the politicisation of knowledge.

I have little or no expertise in climatology, but I have been greatly concerned about how the debate on ‘global warming’ has been conducted.

@Mark – you’re not the only one who’s more than a little cheesed off with the Global Warming Policy Foundation hijacking this board to push it’s undermining of efforts to try to avert the worst effects of climate change and at the same time attain a degree of energy sustainability in the face of peak oil.

I’ll take Mr. Tol’s good intentions regarding climate change policy seriously when the GWPF publishes details of it’s funders instead of hiding behind a privacy plea.

A quick look at their web site will demonstrate that, far from their stated purpose of being in existence

“to help restore balance and trust in the climate debate that is frequently distorted by prejudice and exaggeration”

, they are in the business of FUD, which is more effective than outright denialism.

They could also try updating the mendacious temperature graph on their banner to include the real figures and extend the x-axis back into the 20th century.

Do the sums. I’ll give you a clue to start you off. A litre of water weighs a kilo. You should expect parachute apparatus to come to at least 10% of this weight. A person requires up to 2 litres a day just for survival in humid environments. There are 9 million people in Haiti.


Many thanks for endeavouring to secure some basis of rationality in this debate. As I see it, politicians and policy-makers need simple, quantifiable targets. Climate change, however, is real, complex and far from being fully understood. Therefore the science of climate change doesn’t provide the kind of simple – even simplistic – targets beloved of the politicos. As a result the cry goes up “Give us something we can sell to the masses” and those ostensibly overseeing the science feel compelled to deliver.

In the Irish context it is regrettable that the continued existence of the Government relies on the support of the Green Party that is pursuing a climate change policy agenda most likely at odds with the views of a plurality of the electorate. Since, as you point out, Ireland has the toughest emission targets in the EU, this is likely to impose additional, unnecessary costs on a weakened Irish economy. Just another reason to remove this Government.

Seamus Grimes,

My advice is to balance Booker’s screed with a book that makes the scientific case for climate change.

It is my own experience is that I went through a long period of doubt until I realised that most skeptics were reviving old arguments that had already been refuted – they have not developed any new arguments in about ten years. They have not even got an independent field of study – all they can do is pick over the publications of the real scientists. On the other hand, climate science is an exciting, burgeoning field with many questions still be answered. It is not monolithic, there are many voices within in, but there is a solid consenus on the fact of global warming & climate change.

Tim Lambert’s Deltoid blog is one of the best for taking on the sceptics – few scientsts bother with them any more. See for one of his many takedowns of Booker, Monckton, Plimer, Spencer, Lindzer, McIntyre & Co. the supposed “stars” of climate scepticism.

The book that clinched the science for me is “The Long Thaw” by Dave Archer, a professor at the University of Chicago who also blogs (with others) at

There are those like Richard Tol and Bjorn Lomborg who now seem to be coming on board with the fact of climate change (though Richard dislikes being bracketed with Lomborg). These reserve their scepticism for the economic and political steps that need to be taken after recognising the threat. Let me suggest that the debate be confined to those topics.


I have not read Booker’s book.

“Richard Tol […] who now seem[s] to be coming on board with the fact of climate change” What does “now” mean in this sentence? 1990?


We are all tired of pious cant from manifestly innumerate climate “activists”. Your piece in the IT will resonate with many people.

“The same characters that see a nice summer day as a harbinger of impending climate catastrophe were quick to point out that the cold spell was just weather. In their definition, it’s climate when it’s hot and weather when it’s cold. Such blatant inconsistency means a further loss of credibility. ”

You mention that

“..There may now be an opportunity to reduce the overly generous but not very effective subsidies on renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

It would be good to know how the optimum level and mechanism of renewable energy is to be arrived at. Might zero be the correct answer?

Many suspect that current policy is simply a device which transfers wealth from consumers to a new breed of renewable energy millionaire.

it should read

“It would be good to know how the optimum level and mechanism of renewable energy SUBSIDY is to be arrived at. “


Your name appears in this publication as a climate change denier (scroll down the page after you reach the link).

I wonder who many of these “world renowned deniers” or the author are clear about your position. Perhaps you should make it clear for the purposes of this blog.

From what I see myself, I would define you (like Lomborg) as a “political” opponent rather than a denier. CRU, hacked emails etc. have no relevance to your position – I thought your piece today in the IT was rather silly. You seem to want to benefit from your credentials as a “sceptic”, grudgingly admit the science, while making points that are more economic or political than scientific.

You should make your position on the science clear up front, then give us your perscriptions.

There should be no climate change subsidy for renewable energy, because we have a carbon tax and tradable permits already. Subsidising renewables for climate change is double regulation, therefore.

Renewables may need to be subsidised for reasons of energy security (as peat is today, but implicitly), but I find “energy security” an elusive concept.

@yoganmahew – “Do the sums. I’ll give you a clue to start you off.”

That kind of immature/BS/patronising attitude doesn’t deserve a considered reply.

“That kind of immature/BS/patronising attitude doesn’t deserve a considered reply.”

And this does?:
“I still can’t figure out why someone with a brain didn’t think of doing simple mass parachute drops of water/food/basic medical supplies in the interim/immediate aftermath while aid and supplies were taking their time to get there and are mostly stuck in the airport (mainly because aid agency workers are too frightened to take it out to distribute it).”

Oh yeah, it must, I replied to it…

Aid agencies can do sums. They cannot work miracles. If they were frightened, they wouldn’t be there. You may keep your political prejudices and your bogus anti-americanism to yourself. Your hysteria, if it has stopped a single donation to one of the established aid agencies, has done harm to the relief effort.

Richard wrote

“People write and say all sorts of things about me”

Here something else I am going to write about you: You can’t give a straight answer.

Strikes me you are a bit like those Muslim clerics who alter their message depending on the audience.


Here’s a straight answer for you.

I disagree. There is no reason why I should reiterate anything that is not directly related.

If you want to know what I have written earlier on this blog, there is an overview if you click on my name on the opening page.

If you want to know what I’ve written in other fora, try

And here’s another straight answer:
If you want to understand what I say, you should read what I write. You should ignore things that others have written about me.

@ bg

“We are all tired of …..”

Speak for yourself.

@ toby

If Prof Tol denies climate change you should have a link to him saying so, not someone else.

@toby re @Richard “You can’t give a straight answer.” That’s my impression also.

Mr. Tol and his colleagues in the Global Warming Policy Foundation generally come from a political background ranging from libertarianism, through standard neo-liberalism to retired British Tory and Labour grandees.

I think the substance of their agenda is:

a) Whatever is done about climate change, we should slow down in our responses.
b) Whatever is done, solutions should be firmly ‘market based’.

The physics of the positive feedbacks of permafrost melting and methane out-gassing along with the loss of arctic albedo, suggests that a) is, to say the least, risky.

On b) I suggest is that it is ‘religious’ (in the sense that sceptics and denialists claim that AGW is a religion) to believe that the market is either rational on these matters or has an event horizon stretching much further into the future than next year’s bonus for the company board or shareholder dividend.

To make rational decisions on events that are where risk-reduction is needed now to try to ameliorate catastrophic consequences over decades requires state and international intervention and an agreed long-term strategy.

Presumably, the undermining of the IPCC is part of the GWPF agenda. Whatever about the personal attack on Dr. Pachauri, the conclusions of the IPCC’s last report were conservative, especially on the issue of sea level rises.

59cms sea rise by 2100 due simply to thermal expansion now seems to be absurdly optimistic. and raises major economic and planning issues for our cities and towns built around ports. See Kopp et al in Nature.


OT – fair enough, sorry about that.

“Renewables may need to be subsidised for reasons of energy security (as peat is today, but implicitly), but I find “energy security” an elusive concept.”
I can see some logic on the basis that:
– most homes are heated by oil or gas
– we do not produce enough to satisfy domestic demand
– it can get cold here
So consistency of supply needs to be ensured.

But I don’t see that ‘standard’ renewables supply that? Wind, as we saw over the recent cold period, was producing well below potential. Wave may be constant, but will not scale up to peaks?

So we are back to thermal electric generation? What would be less damaging than peat? Biomass perhaps? Smaller scale CHP, to increase the energy gain and reduce transmission losses?

On the subject of the post:
I’m not sure it is blowing a hole in the credibility of climate research, per se, but it is damaging (as the CRU thing was) to the presentation of aggregate findings. This is not something new, really. Surveys of studies have come in for a hard time as selection bias, an inability to come up with decent inclusion criteria (i.e. how do you exclude the nuts without excluding the raisons aswell), and the tyranny of the aggregation process (removal of doubt/side effects/adversity in some areas leading to suspicion of widescale removal of doubt).

One reason, I think, that many ‘new’ studies, either for or against, are publicised so heavily is because of this doubt about the ability of involved parties to aggregate data.

@Richard, @ManusOC,

If Richard denies he was ever a climate change denier, than that is good enough for me.

However, Richard began this note with an ad-hominem attack on Dr. Pachauri, the head of IPCC. Strikes me that has no relevance as to whether climate change is good science or not. I am also puzzled with Richard’s hyping of the CRU email thefts, which are also of 0 relevance & also did not dent the science of climate change a whit.

According to his Wikipedia biography, Richard also served on the IPCC, so I presume he accepts its scientific reports, though he does not mention or claim any credit in his ESRI bio. This is a good example of Richard straddling the fence, like the jocular tone “More trouble in climate land”. Ha, ha, those silly people who accept climate change science are in trouble – not me, no sir!

Similar, attacking the media’s unfortunate tendency to lump every example of extreme weather in with aggregate climate change is ripping up a straw man. Richard does that in today’s Irish Times, but reports not a single instance of a climate scientist who made such a fallacious statement. Why an economist should be concerning himself with what is “in fashion” intellectually defeats me, or why he should be expected to have some priveleged information on that. Besides, the assertion “scepticism is in fashion” was not accompanied by any evidence (except Richard’s gleeful assertion that it was so).

Richard, as I said before, you are like Bjorn Lomborg, however much you displike him. You have moved on from the science to making debating points in favour of your political-economic position. Scientists tend to avoid ad-hominem attacks, straw men or intellectual fashions, so when they appear in supposed discussion on “climate change”, you are really using them to score debating points in favour of your own preferences. Something which you actually accuse Dr. Pachauri of doing.

You are reading the above as if it were the only thing I have ever written on climate change.

My opinions are clear to all who can google.

But for your benefit:
Climate change is real. Climate change is human-made. (Hey, I even wrote one of the first papers to make that claim). Climate change is a problem. (Hey, I even wrote one of the most-cited papers to show that.) Greenhouse gas emissions should be taxed. (Hey, I even help(ed) design climate policy in a number of countries.) At the same time, climate change is not the biggest environmental problem in the world. European climate policy is ineffective and too expensive, and the targets are too ambitious.

For you information, I like Lomborg and Pachauri as people.

@ toby

Did you make it to the second paragraph of the IT piece?

Climate change is as real now as it was before climategate

Toby, if you really are concerned about Prof Tol’s work, why not read it? You can access most of it for free. If you have a problem with the way he has discussed Pachauri, then by all means express yourself (incidentally, I also think this piece is a bit much). However, adding in demands that he reaffirm his faith in all things climate change for daring to insult the prophet Pachauri is clearly unnecessary.

This issue is highly relevant to the economy, especially given that the government has imposed a carbon tax that is going to hurt an awful lot of people at a time of economic depression. Good to know they have their priorities right! …and it’s not even like this money is going into some energy efficiency investment project.


I have no particular brief to defend Pachauri. I think Richard’s swipe at him was gratuitous and unworthy in what was supposed to be a serious piece about climate change. I note you seem to agree with that.

My own opinion is that if global warming has to be explained to a wider public, then I would like to see Richard Tol get with the programme, and eschew his brand of smart double talk.

A typical example of his ambiguity:

“I looked at the evidence to convince myself that climate change is real and a problem. These guys are increasingly behaving as if it is religion, not science”

Will, I (Richard) looked at the evidence !… but “these guys” (presumably every climate scientist) are looney religious nuts.


– who are “these guys” you mean?
– what scientist did the most to convince you of the reality of global warming? I think a lot of readers of this blog would like to follow in your wake.

@Pope Epopt

You are right, Richard’s membership of the GWPF with its dodgy funding & its misleading graph is another good indicator of Richard Tol running with the hare and hunting with the hounds at the same time.

Richard is entitled to whatever opinions please him. Maybe he is just poor at explaining where he stands. All I know is that if I was on the platform defending the science of climate change, I would not rely on him to get my back. My advice to him is to argue unambiguously in favour of his policy choices, and leave off attacking personalities or organisations ostensibly on the same side.


I had no intention to write about climate science or climate policy. I have done that many times. I will do so again.

This piece is about conflicts of interest at the top of the IPCC.

The scientist who shaped my opinion on climate change is Richard Tol.

“All I know is that if I was on the platform defending the science of climate change, I would not rely on him to get my back. My advice to him is to argue unambiguously in favour of his policy choices, and leave off attacking personalities or organisations ostensibly on the same side.”
Ah, you want the Catholic Church approach?

That seems to be what we are getting and what Mr. Tol and others are objecting to – not the science, but the simplifications, the distortions and the certainty in the uncertain.


“science of climate change”

Do you know of anybody you suggests that the climate does not change?

Indeed. Hushing up bad behaviour for the good cause is neither moral nor wise.

Pachauri has damaged the IPCC, and should now go to prevent further damage.

I see no mention in the article of what Dr. Pachauri had to say, which is… curious. In the spirit of helping out:

“Reacting to the report, Pachauri told TOI: ‘‘These are a pack of lies from people who are getting desperate. They want to go after the guy whose voice is being heard. I haven’t pocketed a single penny from my association with companies and institutes. All honoraria that I get goes to TERI and to its Light a Billion Lives campaign for reaching solar power to people without electricity. All my dealings are totally above board.’’

Pachauri pointed out that the previous IPCC chairman was in the World Bank and the one before that was a professor. ‘‘Can you then say the university benefsited from his association with IPCC? The people who have flung these charges are part of the same vested interest group which hacked the server of UK’s East Anglia University. They are getting desperate because the world is now serious about moving away from fossil fuels. I want to ask them how much money they spent in the operation? Hacking a server is a costly exercise,’’ he said.

On TERI’s links with the Tata group, Pachauri said, ‘‘Our ties ended when Darbari Seth, who was on our board, died in 1999. We haven’t received a single penny from Tatas for years and have no ties with them.’’ He added that TERI submits its yearly accounts to the government under Section 12 of the income tax law. ‘‘We fully comply with all government laws,’’ he said.

Pachauri, who recently took up the post of the head of the Climate and Energy Institute at Yale University, said the appointment was held up for a while because he had insisted that his salary be credited to TERI. ‘‘My conscience is clear and that is why I am cool towards these allegations.’’

On whether he intends to take legal action against the report, Pachauri said he hadn’t made up his mind. ‘‘Action against these people only gives dignity to these guys,’’ he added. ”


“SIR – I have been reading with growing indignation what appears to be a sustained vendetta against me in The Sunday Telegraph (Christopher Booker, December 26) and on your blogs. As chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, I do not receive any payment, honoraria or compensation for work done for the IPCC – only travel and daily subsistence for attending IPCC meetings. All allegations and insinuations that IPCC money was used to benefit either me personally or TERI are contrary to the facts.
While TERI was established in 1974 with seed money from Tata Chemicals and a few other companies, the organisation has always functioned as an independent non-profit organisation dedicated to research, development and training, according to a charter focused on sustainable development, and operates according to Indian government regulations.
I am proud of my association with various organisations, but such associations are limited to my providing them with advice essentially on clean technologies and sustainable practices. There is no question of their influencing the functioning of TERI, the IPCC or myself.
There is no conflict between these roles and my position as chairman of the IPCC. I advise several organisations on sustainable energy and related subjects, and any remuneration due to me from this is paid to TERI, not to me. This is to keep within the practices of TERI, of which I am a full-time, salaried employee and which I, as chief executive, have established and followed strictly. No part of these payments is received by me from TERI either directly or indirectly.
Dr Rajendra Pachauri
The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi, India”

Booker – the Telegraph writer who has been keeping this non-story alive – is the partner of the same North who tried with Monckton to use this malicious gossip to derail the Copenhagen talks. And guess which Irish Times commentator has needed a newspaper (outside of the Telegraph’s campaign) as a ‘cite’ on this, to add it to Dr. Pachauri’s Wikipedia page?

(Search on ‘rtol’ and ‘richard tol’)

Having said that, I believe Richard Tol of course when he says that he’s not a sceptic in sheep’s clothes. He’s just suffering from what I’ll term the ‘Ganley Effect’, in which a constant stream of unfortunate coincidences are conspiring to make his opinions look otherwise than what he tells us they are.

It is regrettable that this important matter has become personalised in this manner. It also runs the risk of being portrayed as the old colonial powers villifying a distinguished scientist from one of the BRICs. Perhaps Dr. Pachauri could do climate change science a great service by accompanying his departure with a ringing declaration that scientists cannot give politicians and policy-makers the simplicity and certainty they desire. Politicians cannot hide behind the science and expect results to be presented in a way that absolves them from taking hard decisions. That damages and distorts the science and runs the risk of scuppering the entire exercise. Climate change scientists are being put in an impossible position.

Politicians want the usual cop out: “We don’t want to do this, but the scientists warns us that if we don’t the future will be terrible.”

How many times have we seen Irish politicians being compelled to transpose sensible provisions from EU primary legislation that that did not have the courage to introduce themselves. “We don’t want to do this, but we have to as it’s part of being in the EU”.

@Richard Tol

Ok, so we can all congraulate ourselves on our intellectual probity. Kicking Pachauri in the ass is all for the greater good. Let’s spend our time ensuring that climate change is the province only of the the good and the virtuous, and purge it of those villains and time-servers.

Only I don’t see that. Pachauri is only one name dropped into a vague soup of accusation. Like “those guys” who are not like Richard, no sir, they are religious nuts & freaks. Like those recalcitrant writers who persist in linking extreme weather to climate change, mentioned in Richard’s IT article. No names, but this group seems to consist of the entire climate science world, except for Richard Tol & his gallant band.

[Incidentally, Richard claimed it was ok to criticise him by this own statements. He still has not told us who “those guys” are. and who exactly are those misrepresenters of climate change worthy of criticism in the Irish Times?]

These are the tactics of Pope’s Atticus:

Willing to wound, but afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault and hesitate dislike.

Meanwhile, climate science is being maligned and misrepresented by organisations like Fox News & the Murdoch Press, aided by a motley crew of geologists & economists. But lets not bother trying to convince the public of the facts of the matter. Playing out relatively minor discontents with the climate change scientists in public seems to be much more fun.

Despite the robust evidence from Climategate and Patchygate that the climate ‘scientists’ have fiddled the data, and that AGW is a cult and political movement, most commentators here , though skeptical in most other analyses, seem reluctant to face the facts. Why is that?

@ Richard

I thought that this site was supposedly devoted to serious analysis of economic issues, not gossip mongering and scandal, a la hello magazine for intellectuals.

First, this is old news and was reported in early december here:

I know it’s not the Telegraph so may not have caught the attention of some.

The error on glaciers is contained on in IPCC 4 appeared once in tech summary, p493, Chapter 10. It was not repeated in the summary for policy makers, the synthesis report, or the technical summary.

The summary for policy makers contains the far more reasonable claim that: Asia
• By the 2050s, freshwater availability in Central, South, East and South-EastAsia, particularly in large river basins, is projected to decrease.

Making a mountain out of a mole hill?

What should be of more interest to you Richard is these predictions:

Includes the following:

The total mass left in the glaciers is now thought to be at the lowest level for “thousands of years”.

Even under moderate predictions of global warming, the small glaciers, which make up the majority by number, will not recover, said Prof Wilfried Haeberli, the organisation’s director.

The warning will raise concern among those who say that glacier melting is one of the greatest threats of climate change because it raises the risk of sudden avalanches of rocks and soil released from the ice, threatening the livelihoods of more than 2 billion people who depend on melt-water to feed rivers in summer. Glacier melting will also add to rising global sea levels.

“If the climate is not really cooling dramatically, they’ll retreat and disintegrate,” said Haeberli. “This means many will simply be lost in the next decades – 10, 20, 30, 40 years.

“If you have a realistic, mid-warming scenario, then there’s no hope for the small glaciers – in the Pyrenees, in Africa, in the Andes or Rocky mountains. The large glaciers in Alaska and the Himalayas will take longer, but even those very large glaciers will change completely; they will be much, much smaller, and many of them will disintegrate, forming lakes in many cases.”

Why not write on the constant revisions of the science in the opposite direction, that things are getting worse, not better?

I know…doesn’t suit your agenda, and will prove that for those 20 years of urging inaction (or carbon tax of $4 dollar a tonne??) you were absolutely wrong. Fiddle away while Rome burns Richard.

“… scientists cannot give politicians and policy-makers the simplicity and certainty they desire. Politicians cannot hide behind the science and expect results to be presented in a way that absolves them from taking hard decisions. […] Climate change scientists are being put in an impossible position. […]”

On what basis are politicians to (a) decide what action to take and (b) sell it to their publics, assuming that they won’t have the time to read all the scientific papers themselves?


Like Pachauri, you do not seem to understand the concept “conflict of interest”. There is no evidence that Pachauri has pocketed any money. However, as head of the IPCC, he is supposed to be neutral and objective. Yet, by his own admission, he exclusively advises companies that seek to gain from climate policy.

This is a breach of WMO rule 21 to […] avoid any conflict of interest, or appearance of conflict of interest, in the performance of their duties [… and to r]efrain from acting in the course of their duties with respect to a matter in which they or someone with whom they have a close relationship, or from whom they are seeking employment or other benefit or favour, has a special interest.”

This also breaches UN rule 21: “Conflict of interest includes circumstances in which international civil servants, directly or indirectly, would appear to benefit improperly, or allow a third party to benefit improperly, from their association in the management or the holding of a financial interest in an enterprise that engages in any business or transaction with the organization.”

And rule 22: “There can be no question but that international civil servants should avoid assisting private bodies or persons in their dealings with their organization where this might lead to actual or perceived preferential treatment.”

As the IPCC does not have a policy on conflicts of interest, it inherited the rules of its mother organizations. Pachauri violated the rules of both WMO and UN.

He should go.

@Brian J,

“On what basis are politicians to (a) decide what action to take and (b) sell it to their publics, assuming that they won’t have the time to read all the scientific papers themselves?”

In addition to the impact on the climate, there are a number of good reasons for reducing reliance on fossil fuels, but the additional benefits vary from country to country (and in some cases are seen as disbenefits). Therefore politicians seek to avoid the difficult, but not impossible, task of addressing this variation in additional benefits, and require science to back up the case for saying CO2 emissions must be reduced by x to prevent global temperature increasing by y. In my view that is an impossible position for scientists.

People delegate responsibility to politcians to inform themselves and to make difficult decisions.

This is just a further example of politcians seeking to evade what they’re hired to do.

@paul hunt,

I agree. People have to learn to accept that this is about decision making under uncertainty. That is scary and the answer for some people is to simply pretend that the uncertainty does not exist.

There was tv discussion between Minister Gormley and Oisin Coughlan of Friends of the Earth around the time of Copenhagen. Minister Gormley wanted to keep AGW to 2C, while Coughlan wanted 1.5C. All very well-meaning, but this is a how-many-angels-on-the-head-of-a-needle type debate.

IMO constant attacks by climate jihadis on richard tol’s well-reasoned opinions are a more sinister symptom of the same delusion.

Interesting op-ed, if confusing,

Sceptics accept that climate change is occurring, but it is just part of the natural cycle, therefore the statement below says nothing in relation to AGW,

“Climate change is as real now as it was before climategate.”

Is this trying to sow deliberate confusion?

When a flood or hurricane happens that could possibly be related to man made global warming we get statements along these lines,

“November brought rain and floods. Climate change will bring more winter rain in Ireland. The floods, however, were quickly blamed on bad planning and on faults in the response to the emergency. What could have been a rallying cry for emissions reduction became a call for reform in flood management policy.”

However, when we get an exceptionally cold winter, we get the standard line that you can’t link one weather event to climate change, so why not above? Which is it?

Confusion was unintended.

Climategate is about data manipulation, that is, “climate change” rather than “anthropogenic climate change”. I think that climategate only marginally weakened the case for both climate change and anthropogenic climate change.

I discuss weather v climate lower down in the op-ed.

Both the floods and the big freeze were just weather, but the former is consistent with climate projections while the latter is not. (So, we learned little about the reality of climate change.) In both cases, improved foresight and a better response could have prevented a lot of the damage.

There are silly people (e.g., John Gibbons) who say that the floods were a sign of climate change while the big freeze was just weather. There are equally silly people (e.g., Richard North) who say that the floods were just weather while the big freeze was a sign that climate change is not real.

The case for Human climate change has not weakened,The recent flooding was made worse by Building on flood plains by idiots paid by Banker fools egged on by the worst Government in Modern Irish history.The recent cold snap was rare ,But you are going to get one every so often,Winters have been mild in the Noughties as regards hard frosts and the like,Back in the seventies we experienced cold winters but we have been spoiled in relative terms in the the two decades or so,”But what goes around” Climate change research is based on a different timescale going back centuries AND MILLENIA and looking at overall temperatures .If Richard Tol can produce a real scientific and comprehensive paper to disprove Man Made climate change based on his real science he should send it to Nature and contact Martin Rees of Cambridge Univ and not the irish times In this way he will become the toast of Science and another Darwin or Newton will have appeared among us,Good luck to him! But I wouldnt hold my breath, and yes it IS GETTING WARMER


I notice Rajenda Pachauri’s resignation has been called for on may denialist sites.

Richard Tol, as we know (because he said so), is not a denialist. He, coincidentally, just happens to occasionally parrot their propaganda, like the slur that climate change scientists are religious nuts (see the “these fellows” coments by Richard above).

To attack Dr Pachauri in a blog he does not read and where he cannot defend himself is pretty mean-spirited. I certainly never heard of him until I saw his name in this blog entry. Now I gather he is just a bit ahead of being a crook. This is not exactly “speaking truth to power” is it, Richard?

As you noticed, anyone can comment here. Pachauri is certainly welcome to defend himself. This blog is high up on Google, so there is no reason why he could not find this.

@ toby,

Please Sir. What’s a denialist?

Is it anything to do with that very bad man Hitler?

Or it’s just a load of Goebbels.


I think it’s fair to say toby is fully signed up to the religion regardless of what the science says.

Here’s an interesting exchange for you:

JC: I believe this because of A.
Tol: But A is not true.
JC: Fine, A is not true. I believe this because of B.
Tol: But B is not true.
JC: Fine, B is not true. I believe this because of C.
Tol: But C is not true.
JC: Fine, C is not true. I believe this nonetheless.

I respect faith. I don’t think it should dress up as reason.

No. I do not think that people who research climate change are all religious zealots. Neither do I think that everyone who is concerned about climate change is a religious zealot. However, I do think that there is a number of people out there who mistake climate science for a religion, academics for priests, emissions for sins, and climate change for the apocalypse.

No, I do not face east four times a day & intone prayers to the Goddess Gaia.

What I have learned is that Richard Tol thinks “these fellows” (nameless) are religious zealots. Well, thanks for that. He should have a blog. Some people might even perceive a meaning in its oracular utterances.

@ toby

” Well, thanks for that. He should have a blog.”

Do you have a blog?

Oh Great Master teach me, for I am ignorant of the way of your God.

If it is not east four times a day then tell me Master, is it West, North, South?

Master, I crave your wisdom.

Maybe it is all of those. North, South, East and West.

Help me Master.

Please answer my question.

“@ toby,

Please Sir. What’s a denialist?

Is it anything to do with that very bad man Hitler?

Or it’s just a load of Goebbels.”

Maybe your God doesn’t have the balls to answer a question.

Do you?

@ Richard

Your take on our exchange is humorous. Of course a 2 degree target becomes more expensive and intractable for every year of business as usual emissions continue – it doesn’t take Steve Schnieder to work that one out (yet you produce this obvious fact like a magician pulling a rabbit from the hat and await the applause of your adoring audience). Concurrently our scientific understanding of impacts, eg: sea level rise, glacier melt etc hardens making urgent action more and more pressing. It is therefore a useful political target as was evidenced through its inclusion in the Copenhagen Accord.

Sorry for reminding people about your logical abilities. Was it the same JC that suggested that I fathered a child with Michael Crichton?

Two degrees will not become more intractable over time. It is infeasible already. As any self-help book will tell you, if you want to achieve something, you should set yourself realistic goals.

@ Richard

“Was it the same JC that suggested that I fathered a child with Michael Crichton?”

LOL. This is a very bizarre accusation – I genuinely have no idea what you are talking about.

Note that Greg did not start the reductio at Hitlerum. Pope Epopt did, and Toby reinforced it. The terms “denier” and “denialist” are a deliberate reference to the Holocaust.


Nonsense. ‘Denialism’ has not solely been used in reference to Holocaust denial for years. ‘Denialism’ has long since evolved to refer to the denial by proponents of whackjob conspiracy theories of established consensus knowledge and opinion.

Greg was the first to refer to fascism and in Brendan Walsh’s ‘Cool Dublin’ post and is the first to explicitly reference Hitler in this thread. Ergo he proves Godwin’s Law

@ Richard

LOL. It wasn’t me I promise, never heard of or been on that site in my life – you should be honored that Johan Cruff takes such an interest in you. Or maybe Jesus Christ?

Greg, for those at your level, I think you should stick with with Bertie Ahern … continue to believe denial is a river in Egypt.

BTW, there are far more religious freaks who are climate change deniers/ denialists than there are among climate scientists or environmentalists. And their grounds are very much the same claptrap as Creationists/ Intelligent Designerists/ Holocaust deniers/ Aids denialists.-whateverists .. the science does not fit in with their preconcieved “faith” so they must jump through all sorts of hoops usually circling back to something already refuted years ago … & so the process starts again. As an example, consult the ramblings of Sarah Palin, ex-governor turned celebrity, who believes God is too good to put such a nasty trick as climate change so lets drill burn merrily away.

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