The conflicted environmentalist

(c) OurHikingBlog

About 10 days ago, George Monbiot responded to our post on his blog. While we are indeed delighted that he replied, a few clarifications are in order.

According to Monbiot, we ‘allege’ that he had comments  from his Guardian article removed. However a careful reading of our post would have made things clear – we make no such allegation. On the contrary, we make the entirely reasonable assumption that since he posted multiple times in the comments section of his own post and specifically requested information, he must have been aware that information relevant to his request was posted and then deleted.

At the very beginning, Monbiot writes:

A blog post at the Bishop Hill site, now being copied widely around the web, accuses me of “covering up” evidence against Dr Pachauri by having comments deleted from a Guardian web page

In our conclusion, we expressed a desire that Monbiot should be “asking questions” – something that indeed happened in the comments of his post, and releasing evidence so obtained “instead of covering it up” – something that transpired as well, at his Guardian post, despite having initially solicited such information. Contrary to what he states, we never wrote that such evidence is “against Pachauri”.  What was presented was relevant to and directed at Monbiot’s position on this issue, rather than RK Pachauri the IPCC chairman.  Monbiot alters this meaning, something we do not approve of.

One organization of which RK Pachauri is a trustee openly admitted to “anomalies” in its accounts; this became apparent only following journalists inquiring for details, and not of its own accord. As much as we applaud this positive step, it remains that differences between the revised accounts and previous statements from TERI-Europe are substantial. No clarifications have appeared at the time of this writing. Therefore as things stand, placing faith on TERI-Europe on the subject of their financial records is easier said than done. That TERI-Europe’s trustees failed to keep its books in order, perhaps much to the dismay of Monbiot, becomes sufficient grounds for doubts about the accuracy of accounts of their other organizations as well.

In his article on Sep 1, Monbiot claimed there were no financial records showing RK Pachauri was making money running into “millions of dollars”. Indeed we are prepared to go along with him when he says there is no evidence available [that Pachauri] has been making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies and no evidence available of highly lucrative commercial jobs. Monbiot however appears to have overlooked that we never set out to address these claims. This is despite invitations to do so, that he continues to extend.

What we did on the other hand, was to provide information publicly available that questions the basic premise of these claims by Monbiot. Consequently, we do not believe it necessary to address their substance. The current state of available financial records discourages us as they should anyone from drawing any conclusions, as unflattering they are to this organization of which Pachauri is a head. This is the rather limited point we make.

By contrast Monbiot’s approach appears to us to be the exact opposite – one that examines slender evidence and makes fanciful deductions.  He seems to have scrutinized a limited review by KPMG to absolve the IPCC chairman of all ‘conflicts of interest’. Only thus can we try to explain, how credible experts in climate change policy arrived at diametrically opposite conclusions – that Pachauri’s handling of the Himalayan Glacier error in the IPCC report was representative of “a classic and unambiguous case of financial conflict of interest”.

What is even more puzzling to us is that, while from being egged on by Monbiot, certain inexplicable ‘errors’ have been identified in the KPMG report—these errors to the best of our knowledge never caught Monbiot’s eye, although he has penned about four articles based on the selfsame report.

Lastly, we hardly understand the term “deniers” by which Monbiot refers to us, and only hope (dimly) it was not intended offensively. Nor do we deny that the climate is changing. Our expectation is that public officials be held to same standards of probity by observers like Monbiot, whether or not they are supportive of certain popular scientific theories.

-SN, JW

Related:

George Monbiot: Scrubbing the record clean

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2 comments

  1. geoffchambers

    Interesting reply from Monbiot. His comment that “the deleted messages .. still fail to provide any evidence of the false charges against Pachauri that my posts refuted” seems to suggest that Guardian writers have access to deleted messages. How does that work, I wonder?
    I believe him when he says that he doesn’t get comments deleted. Guardian moderation can be savage, but it seems fair (I got a comment by a Guardian environment writer deleted yesterday).
    What’s amusing in his reply is his insistence that he wants to respond to criticism. See my article at
    http://ccgi.newbery1.plus.com/blog/?p=357

  2. Shub Niggurath

    Of course Goeff, these people at the Guardian are not going to “delete-delete” their comments. I would surely imagine so.

    If there are any claims about the factual matter in any comment, the original comment and its timestamp are the only piece of ‘evidence’ a blog owner’s got.