Secular Right | Reality & Reason

Jan/10

31

The Church of Climate Change: Whitewashed Sepulchure Watch

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One of the features of a good number of religions is their tendency to urge asceticism /simplicity/don’t bother with all those material things on their followers. Another no less striking feature of those same religions is the way that such hair shirt commandments are so often broken by their priests and, for that matter, high priests.

If this report by Mail on Sunday is correct, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the UN’s IPCC, and a man notorious for urging the simple life on the rest of us, has yet to do the same thing himself:

He is the climate change chief whose research body produced a report warning that the glaciers in the Himalayas might melt by 2035 and earned a Nobel Prize for his work – so you might expect Dr Rajendra Pachauri to be doing everything he can to reduce his own carbon footprint. But as controversy continued to simmer last week over the bogus ‘Glaciergate’ claims in a report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – which he heads – Dr Pachauri showed no apparent inclination to cut global warming in his own back yard. On Friday, for the one-mile journey from home to his Delhi office, Dr Pachauri could have walked, or cycled, or used the eco-friendly electric car provided for him…But instead, he had his personal chauffeur collect him from his £4.5million home – in a 1.8-litre Toyota Corolla…

As he waited outside the institute office for Dr Pachauri, the chauffeur said: ‘Dr Pachauri does use the electric car sometimes but most of the time he uses the Toyota.’ The electric car might be kinder to the environment and more suitable for short trips, explained the chauffeur – who has worked for the environmentalist for 19 years – but it was simply too small for Dr Pachauri and a driver to share. ‘When he uses it, he has to use it by himself,’ he said.

More knockabout stuff here.

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10 comments

  • Elroy · January 31, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Well we’ve all heard how wasteful it is to take trips with one person in the car. He is just following his own rules.

  • Susan · January 31, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Well, I certainly wouldn’t want Dr. P. to have to drive himself to work, or Gaia forbid, walk a mile to work. If I unplugged my refrigerator, would that balance things out?

  • ronbailey · January 31, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Wait – I’m all for calling out hypocrisy, but you’re wanting to give some one grief for driving a >$16,000 dollar sub-compact that gets better than 30 MPG? FFS, that Corolla is cleaner by far than ANY electric car ever made, when you consider the fact that the electricity was generated by a coal-fired power plant.

    Blog Fail.

  • Susan · January 31, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Good point about the environmental advantages of the Corolla, but I think the hypocrisy factor has more to do with the fact that the guy can’t walk a mile to work, or carpool, or take whatever is available in the way of public transportation, given that he’s pushing all three alternatives at others.

  • Author comment by Andrew Stuttaford · January 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Ron, the Corolla (a rather expensive car for most Indians, I’d add) might be cleaner than “any electric car ever made” on the (not unreasonable) basis you suggest (even if it’s not an argument that the eco-crowd have usually chosen to make) but then you need to explain why it appears that Pachauri has also chosen to make a point of driving electric cars. He can’t have it both ways. There’s also the tricky question of that “older Ambassador-style car”.

    Susan’s angle point is well made and, I think, telling. There is also, I believe, a new-fangled contraption known as a bicycle that Pachauri might also like to consider should he choose to lead by example.

    More generally, it is surely difficult to deny that there is something unseemly about the spectacle of a man busy proclaiming the need for dramatic changes in the ‘unsustainable’ western lifestyle from what looks to be the vantage point of a very comfortable existence indeed. And when I refer to “very comfortable” I am referring to rather more than one Toyota.

  • Susan · January 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Are there ANY prominent spokespeople for “sustainable” living who don’t lead extremely luxurious lives in comparison to most of us? Don’t the Gores have a 10,000 square foot house in Tennessee and a 4000 square foot apartment in D.C.? Surely two empty-nesters in late middle age don’t require all this space, do they?

    When they all live in four-room apartments, haul their laundry to the laundromat (or to the nearest riverbank), give up their cars and ride the bus or walk, give up air-conditioning, etc., then I’ll consider taking them seriously. I have a feeling it will be a long time before I take them seriously.

  • Graham Shevlin · February 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    @Susan
    There is a lot of fallacious reasoning in these comments…whether or not climate change adherents are hypocrites should be irrelevant. The main issue to be discussing is whether their pronouncements are correct, well-argued and supported by evidence. Complaining about perceived hypocrisy is merely a variant of the ad hominem fallacy, and forces me to respond: very interesting, but where is YOUR argument?

  • Norton · February 2, 2010 at 5:49 am

    It’s always wasteful to take trips alone in a car. There’s so many better and cleaner alternatives out there. Why don’t people get on a bicycle every once in a while?? Instead of messing around with issues like this: http://lawblog.legalmatch.com/2010/01/29/citizens-united-v-fec-whats-a-legislature-to-do/

    We can start getting some global cleanliness going on.

  • Susan · February 2, 2010 at 6:51 am

    @Graham Shevlin

    Of course it’s relevant. If the major proponents of AGW don’t practice what they preach, why should anyone else? And the “settled science” seems to have become a bit unsettled in recent weeks.

  • Derek Scruggs · February 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    He’s simutaneously creating employment and halving the number of average person-miles travelled. :)

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