excerpts from Dr. Pachauri’s talk

maybe it’s because the conference he is addressing tomorrow is about ‘green economy’, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the Chairperson of IPCC, decided to wear a green tie to the knowledge forum at ICIMOD this evening. :-P well, that’s besides the point anyways. but it was a nice tie and went with his white strip of beard. just kidding.

i left home at 3 pm with the target of reaching khumaltar to listen to Pachauri’s talk at icimod by 5 pm. the program was stated to start at 5:30 pm and seating was limited, so i had to be there to grab a spot. as anticipated, i was stuck in the traffic jam at several locations. i had a book with me, but i got so hungry around 4 pm that i couldn’t read anymore. i got dizzy. as soon as i got off at satdobato, i hopped into a chiya pasal and had a bowl of wai wai and tea of course. then i walked to icimod. it was a pleasant walk even though it was drizzling. taking in the smell of fresh air and the paddy fields…but also taking in the sights of construction sites!

maybe i should have picked a seat a little closer to the podium because i couldn’t see parts of the slide show, but most of what Dr. Pachauri was talking about were points from the Fourth Assessment Report of IPCC…increased carbon emission, temperature rise, sea level rise, changes in climate being induced by human activities in the last half century, with data and graphs. the impacts of climate change on nature and human civilizations…droughts, flash floods, heat waves, food scarcity, water scarcity, conflict for resources, health problems….extinction of species, displacement, loss of life and property, extreme events…there’s too many things at risk and the list goes on and on….’climate change is a threat multiplier’ in Pachauri’s words and we need adaptation and mitigation…changes in policies, our lifestyles and behaviors…small changes like turning off the Air conditioner or switching out the lights…i liked his example of how people tend to use the AC to cool their rooms in hotels and then use two blankets, instead of one, to stay warm….we humans are really stupid sometimes. it only takes common sense to change our lifestyles and it isn’t a ‘sacrifice’, like he pointed out.

research has been done and there’s a lot of reports on what countries should do to mitigate and adapt to climate change but it is not easy…most of the questions from the audience and media revolved around what should we do, what should the south asian region do…and the gap of data in the Himalayan region. it’s always a question of why should the developing countries forgo industrialization and reduce fossil fuel use, etc. etc. when it is the developed nations who are producing majority of the carbon emissions. about our right to develop.

dr pachauri’s answer was that it isn’t about not developing but about energy use changes…using innovation and technology in building green buildings…if countries were to take this step to reducing carbon emissions, the ‘level of prosperity will only be postponed by a year’ when we reach 2030…a year, seriously, is not a big thing…pachauri also emphasized on education and awareness…on ‘the inter-generational responsibility’ we have…the youth he said are the ‘fountains of hope’…and that ‘education is a powerful tool to ensure cultural changes’. for most of the answers, he started with ‘i am optimistic…although it is difficult to say’….

most likely, very likely, high possibility — the number of times the IPCC reports use these phrases…you couldn’t possibly count them in their 3000 page report…hahahahah..a lot of things are most likely and usually they are italicized. while, they’re derivations come from sophisticated climate models done by super computers but the results when outlined are safely written as ‘most likely’…well, good thing Dr. Pachauri mentioned that it means 90% sure. although, he didn’t use it as much in his talk, the reports have plenty of ‘most likely’ and ‘high possibility’s….i didn’t read the entire report…just so you know. hahahahahahaha. my glasses ko power would have tripled hola. hahahah…i’ve read the summary of the fourth assessment report. IPCC is coming out with a report on climate change and extreme events at the end of the year, but the fifth assessment report is only due in 2014. 831 experts are working on the latter report and 600 plus are new members in the team, that is gender and geographically balanced.

i do agree to pachauri stating that ‘scientists are often not the best communicators’…gosh, the IPCC reports will get you dizzy and the gazillion acronyms and references too…. and so what i liked about his presentation was that it definitely was easy to understand…it wasn’t heavily scientific. like The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis published by the Global Humanitarian Forum, he described things in layman terms but also backed his points by data and graphs.  you can go to the link to download the pdf of the report…the introductory by kofi annan is quite powerful and scary, at the same time. it wakes you up in many ways. having read the Silent Crisis report and the Fourth Assessment Summaries for policy makers, the talk didn’t carry a whole lot of extra information but it was informative, nonetheless…more so for people who don’t know the impacts and how much risk the world faces….how much risk we face.


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