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Nobel-Winning IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri To Obama: “Listen to Science” on Global Warming

December 7, 2011

One of the world’s most prominent experts on climate science, Rajendra Pachauri, is criticizing negotiators at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban for not paying enough attention to science. Pachauri is chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along with Al Gore. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman sat down with Pachauri at the conference center in Durban.

“What we have done is we’ve increased the concentration of these greenhouse gases in the atmosphere far beyond what has taken place over the last 650,000 years,” Pachauri says. “As a result, during the 20th century, we had average warming of about 0.74 degrees Celsius, sea level rise of about 17 centimeters, and a whole range of impacts — as I mentioned on human health, on agriculture, on ecosystems. … The IPCC fourth assessment report had clearly brought out that if we want to limit temperature increase to 2 degrees, or thereabouts (2 to 2.4 degrees Celsius) and if we want to do it at least cost, then emissions will have to peak no later than 2015. And we’re now talking about 2020. That means the world will incur a much larger expense in reducing emissions, and in the meantime we’ll also suffer far more serious impacts of climate change.” When asked about the position of the United States in the negotiation, Pachauri says, “I would also ask President Obama to listen to the voice of science. And he has an absolutely outstanding science advisor in John Holdren. Maybe he should get John to organize a meeting of the scientists, soon after he is reelected — if he’s reelected — and then determine U.S. policy, as should be the case with every country in the world, based on the scientific evidence that’s available.” Pachauri continued, saying “Actually, to be honest, nobody over here [at COP 17] is paying any attention to science.”

To watch the complete daily, independent news hour, read the transcript, download the podcast, and for more reports from the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban, visit

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