Pachauri defends shoddy shades of gray

Dr. Rajendra K. Pachauri is a well-connected man of many hats, the weight of which has, perhaps, imbued him with a very short memory for his very own words.

Writer of a “smutty” romance novel, Director of the Yale Climate and Energy Institute, Director-General of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), an India-based research organization, founding member (circa 2002) of the Advisory Board of the Chicago Carbon Exchange (CCX), and current member of the External Advisory Board of the CCX. Quite impressive, eh?

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention (well, no not really!) the very big hat he wears as the public voice and face of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

As Donna Laframboise noted in the recent Citizen Audit Report, Pachauri’s past pronouncements include many in which he insisted that the IPCC’s Assessment Reports are all based on peer-reviewed literature. Here are a few examples [all emphases added -hro]:

In June 2008, he assured the New Zealand Herald that:

Business should be thinking about the response to climate change not as a threat but as an opportunity.

Pachauri was obviously talking through his CCX hat; but later in the same article he switched hats, so to speak, and with his IPCC voice declared:

“The [IPCC] process is so robust – almost to a fault – that I’m not sure there is too much scope for error. Where there are gaps we are very candid in admitting we don’t know enough about this subject,” he said.

“Given that it is all on the basis of peer-reviewed literature. I’m not sure there is any better process that anyone could have followed.”

On November 10, 2009, The Times of India reported on a discussion paper authored by Dr. V.K. Raina, retired deputy director-general of the Geological Survey of India, and published by the Indian environment ministry. Raina had indicated that (contra the findings of the IPCC) “None of [India’s] glaciers under monitoring are recording abnormal retreat”. The article notes Pachauri’s response:

Dr Pachauri, when contacted by TOI for a response to the discussion paper, said, “I’d like to find out the secret source of this divine intervention… I don’t understand the logic of this… I am puzzled where this magical science has come from… This is something indefensible.”

When asked if the discussion paper could be taken into consideration in the on-going round of scientific review by IPCC, he said, “IPCC studies only peer-review science. Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.”

Fast-forward to April 20, 2010 – the day after FoxNews.com reported on our Audit Findings which were released on April 14. As I had noted, Pachauri began singing a slightly different tune during the course of an opinion piece he wrote (with the assistance of one of his TERI research associates) for Yale’s prestigious environment 360 (an apparently heavily moderated – if not outright censoring) blog. Included in this self-serving creative writing exercise was the following interesting sentence:

AR4 cited approximately 18,000 peer-reviewed publications. It also included a limited amount of gray (or non-peer-reviewed) literature.[emphasis added -hro]

Hold that bold gray thought for a moment, dear reader, while I digress … Apart from the fact that 5,600 is considerably more than “a limited amount”, it is worth noting that if you were to Google Pachauri +18000, you will find the rather conspicuous absence of “18000” in conjunction with “peer-reviewed” prior to the above April 20th quote. This suggests very strongly that – even if he (or his research associate) failed to read our Audit Report (except perhaps to cherry-pick without attribution) – prior to the release of our Audit, Pachauri probably wasn’t even aware of how many references there actually are in the 4th Assessment Report.

He’s also decided to use the “18,000” (in a somewhat dishonest fashion, IMHO) in his otherwise lacklustre and unprofessional copy ‘n paste powerpoint presentation to the May 14 hearing of the InterAcademy Council (IAC), which is conducting a (so-called) independent review of the processes and procedures of the IPCC.

You might recall seeing the following juxtaposition of images:

Citizen Audit Graphic

IPCC Graphic

Now take a look at Pachauri’s, uh … power-play … and compare with the above right:

Pachauri finds 18000 peer-reviewed publications cited

According to the U.K. Telegraph‘s May 14 report of his presentation:

Climate body chief defends use of ‘grey literature’

The head of the UN’s climate change panel has defended the use of unproven science to justify climate change by saying the “grey literature” cannot be ignored.
[…]
But the IPCC’s chairman said there was a need to use information which was not from peer-reviewed scientific journals, because in some places that was the only research that had been done.

He said the media and other sections of society had misunderstood the role of such information, labelling it grey literature, “as if it was some form of grey muddied water flowing down the drains”.

Dr Pachauri said academic work being done by bodies including the International Energy Agency, the World Bank, national governments and charities “cannot be ignored”, but had to be closely examined to make sure it was robust.

Wait a minute! The media and other sections of society had “misunderstood”?! Pachauri has taken non-peer-reviewed material from his “dustbin” to someone else’s “drain” – with a brief stop at neutral en route.

Let’s retrace his path and watch his mouth – as his feet march right into it:

Nov. 9, 2009:

“Let someone publish the data in a decent credible publication. I am sure IPCC would then accept it, otherwise we can just throw it into the dustbin.”

Apr. 20, 2010 (remember that bold gray thought, you’re holding?!) The words from his keyboard to your eyes:

AR4 cited approximately 18,000 peer-reviewed publications. It also included a limited amount of gray (or non-peer-reviewed) literature

May 14, 2010:

He said the media and other sections of society had misunderstood the role of such information, labelling it grey literature, “as if it was some form of grey muddied water flowing down the drains”.

Was he lying then, or is he lying now? Or perhaps more to the point, does Pachauri even possess a hat which permits him to be truthful – or consistent?

Can’t help wondering how Pachauri determined that the work of the former deputy director-general of the Geological Survey of India is ‘indefensible magical science’ while that of “the International Energy Agency, the World Bank, national governments and charities” has suddenly acquired the status of “academic work”.

He’s certainly created quite a conundrum for the CRU crew: they want to rewrite the definition of “peer-reviewed” to keep material they don’t like out of the IPCC reports, while – at least this month – Pachauri wants to rewrite the definition to get material in.

Amazing. Simply amazing.

2 thoughts on “Pachauri defends shoddy shades of gray

  1. Pingback: We Trusted Too Completely « NoFrakkingConsensus

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