Mazzuca: The human element | VailDaily.com

Mazzuca: The human element

Several years ago I attended a lecture given by perhaps the greatest theoretical physicist of our time, Stephen Hawking.  During the question and answer period, a member of the audience asked Dr. Hawking if he or his colleagues researched time travel.

Hawking had a wonderfully wry sense of humor and related how when applying for grants, time travel was considered science fiction so he and his fellow scientists routinely stated on their applications they were researching “relativistic physics” and “Einstein-Rosen bridges.”

Then with perfect timing, Hawking revealed that relativistic physics and Einstein-Rosen bridges were scientific terms relating to space-time, which by definition includes the study of “time travel”— the audience roared its approval. The most prominent scientist of our generation had just freely admitted to telling funding entities what they wanted to hear in order to obtain grants and endowments.

I cite this example to illustrate that scientists are human with human motivations and human foibles, and that science is about more than just experiments. Humans are a part of the equation too, and human passions extend all the way to the United Nationa’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And the person, who’s had the greatest influence on the IPCC, and the man most responsible for creating its culture, was its longest-serving director, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri.

Pachauri reigned supreme atop the world’s climate change/global-warming pyramid from 2002 to 2015. And we should find it interesting that in 2007, at the pinnacle of his influence, two things occurred that shaped today’s climate debate. 

First, Pachauri shared the Nobel Prize with former Vice President Al Gore for “…disseminating greater knowledge about man-made climate change,” beating out Poland’s Irene Sendler, the woman credited with saving more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto in World War II.

And secondly, Nancy Pelosi established the first iteration of her House Climate Crisis Committee. And where do you suppose the Speaker got her information to make the claim “the science is settled?”

The interesting thing about Pachauri is that similar to our former vice president, he had no background in climate science; his formal training was in, “Economics of Railway Engineering.” Meanwhile, it’s also important to understand the IPCC does not conduct its own research. Rather, it’s charged with reviewing research and creating periodic reports on climate risks, documents that are used by governments to guide decisions.

We know the culture of any organization begins at the top; and the culture Pachauri fostered as director of the IPCC has led to a less than honest portrayal of the issue. Once, after a sham report predicting the Himalayan Glaciers would melt by 2035, Pachauri refused responsibility saying, “You can’t expect me to be personally responsible for every word in a 3,000 page report.” Then in a  “you can’t make this up” moment; he hired the charlatan who conducted the bogus research as the UN’s chief glacier expert.

The scientific community has had numerous issues with Pachauri and I encourage readers to Google him. But consider this: For 13 years every piece of research, every report, every analysis and every prediction regarding climate emanating from the world’s premier authority on climate occurred under the auspices of a man with no climate science credentials who refuses to take responsibility for flawed analyses and who once told a reporter he recruited only climatologists who agreed with the existing UN position that carbon dioxide was the chief cause of climate change to the exclusion of all other causes.

Yes, you read that last bullet correctly — “the world’s greatest climate scientist” as the UN referred to him, would brook no opinions other than his own.

One would have to be obtuse not to recognize the incestuous relationship between climate science and politics. But the truly unfortunate aspect of Pachauri’s unwillingness to entertain dissenting opinions on the causes of climate change, and the IPCC’s complicity in manipulating data, has made honest and reasoned discussion virtually impossible.

Few disagree that the climate is changing; the primary disagreement arises regarding its causes. Consequently, moving forward with costly measures such as the Green New Deal, measures that are predicated on questionable data, is not just premature, it’s foolhardy because there’s a minefield of unintended consequences just waiting out there.

Doubt that?  Remember when we rushed to “save the forests” by switching from paper to plastic at the checkout counter? And look how well that worked out for the world’s oceans and waterways.

Quote of the day: “It’s déjà vu all over again.” — Yogi Berra

Butch Mazzuca, of Edwards, writes biweekly for the Vail Daily. Follow him on his blog at butchmazzuca.com.