Donna Laframboise: Rajendra Pachauri, Pessimist-In-Chief

  • Date: 18/01/13
  • Donna Laframboise, No Frakking Consensus

The head of the IPCC thinks “a large part of the human species” is endangered by climate change. Apparently that makes him an optimist.



The “world’s humanitarian news site” (a Thomson Reuters property) ran a story yesterday that made me laugh out loud. It featured Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, telling a reporter:

I suppose I am one of those incurable optimists who would never take a pessimistic view on anything. [bold added; backed up here]

Excuse me? At its core, the climate debate is a philosophical struggle between pessimists and optimists. Pachauri is a pessimist-in-chief.

This man spends his life selling doom and gloom. He’s the drama queen who insists the sky is falling, the seas are rising, that we’re over-eating and traveling too much and therefore bad things are just around the corner. It’s the man’s schtick, the message that defines him.

The ‘optimist’ label actually belongs to those of us on the other side of the debate – the calm, cool, and collected souls who know that the glass is half full. We’re the folks reminding everyone else that a long list of similarly predicted environmental apocalypses have failed to materialize, that humanity is good at solving problems, and that our grandchildren will have ingenuity and creativity on their side. We’re the ones who think the future will take care of itself.

How can Pachauri’s claim that he “would never take a pessimistic view on anything” be reconciled with this quote, which appeared in an Australian publication two days ago:

From the looks of it, Australia is very very vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, you have droughts, you have heat waves. Sea level rise could be a serious problem in some parts of the country. So Australia undoubtedly is very vulnerable… [bold added]

Or how about this one, which appeared in the New York Times in 2007:

If there’s no [international emissions reduction] action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. [bold added; backed up here]

It’s tough to beat that cheery optimism.

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