University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


Pachauri talks climate for beginners

When chairman of a Nobel Prize winning institution talks about climate change, you expect it to be inspiring. Unfortunately, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri of the IPCC, speaking at the University of Copenhagen Tuesday, failed to deliver

Much attention, hope and trust have been placed in IPCC (Intergovernmental Panels of Climate Change), particularly in the past few weeks. Their report has been the scientific basis for almost everything discussed and debated during the gargantuan climate conference in Bella Center.

It is not surprising then, that the University’s Ceremonial Hall is full of people expecting words of inspiration, when IPCC chairman Dr. Rajendra Kumar Pachauri gives his lecture on this chilly Tuesday evening.

As it turns out, the expected does not really come about. Perhaps the immense coverage of the events in Bella Centre has made us jaded, but, really, Pachuari has nothing new to add. As consolation, there is an entertaining and somewhat stuccato debate after the speech.

No surprises

To cut a long story short, Pachauri basically presents a resumé of IPCC’s 4th assessment report which was issued in 2007.

It was about the raising global surface temperature and its consequences that has already caused some damages for millions of peoples in some places in the worlds, predicted surface warming and the consequences, and the urgent need for mitigations.

Not to belittle this immense and pressing issue, but there are really no surprises here.

Practical solution

He ends the presentation speaking about a solar lantern as one of the clean technology solutions that has helped many people without electricity in India.

For those who attended the University’s climate seminar on Monday last week, it is hard to really find something novel in the presentation except this final practical element. Besides, if in doubt you can always download the IPCC report on the internet.

The heated discussion that follows makes the trip out in the snow worthwhile, at least. The audiences members are enthusiastic and outspoken.

One angry Brit

One of them is Christopher Monckton, who served as advisor in Margareth Thatcher’s policy unit in the 1980′, and is an opponent of mainstream in scientific consensus in climate change. He accuses Pachauri (or IPCC) of using a faulty statistical technique that has resulted in the exaggeration of the temperature increase in one of the graphs used in presentation.

Pachauri, who seems to have a previous aquaintace with Monckton, refutes the accusation by arguing that everything he says is based on IPCC’s scientific experts reviews.

»How can all the 2500 scientific reviewers lie? I should have been more angry with the words you have put on this,« he thunders, glowering.

Keeping it simple

Unfortunately time limits mean the discussion is cut off, leaving the rest of raised hands in the audience disappointed.

Although the talk was rather plain, some audience members think that was worth hearing. One of them is Beata Johannesen, a medical student at the University of Copenhagen.

»I think he (Pacahuri) has tried to keep his message simple. Besides the truth needs to be repeated,« she says.