Professor Jeffrey Sachs, the outspoken Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has accused the News Corporation media empire of conducting a year-long campaign of vilification against the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Speaking in defence of Dr Rajendra Pachauri at a sustainable development conference in New Delhi, Sachs claimed that, “not an honest thing has been said in a year” by Rupert Murdoch’s “relentless propaganda machine…..the most amoral people on the planet.”
Professor Sachs was clearly angry that media attacks on climate science have “got academics running around in circles.” He alleged that the US political system is “profoundly corrupted” by big oil and coal interests.
Rajendra Pachauri has been the favoured target of climate change skeptics since predictions of melting Himalayan glaciers in the 2007 IPCC report were exposed as exaggerated.
But the scientific community has settled for procedural rather than personnel changes in the compilation of the next IPCC report. Dr Pachauri remains in his position as Chair of the organisation.
Pachauri is also Director-General of The Earth and Resources Institute, the Delhi-based group which organises the annual World Sustainable Development Forum. The Forum was opened earlier today with a speech by the Indian prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.
Having been confined to the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos last week, Professor Sachs was in belligerent mood on the Delhi platform. He reserved his strongest language for an attack on the US political system, hobbled by its fossil fuel paymasters and their media lackeys.
“The face of this propaganda is Rupert Murdoch,” Sachs insisted. He named Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the tabloids in UK and Australia as organs capable of bringing down governments.
“The US has failed to take one single measure in nineteen years since signing the Kyoto Protocol,” asserted Sachs. The consequence today is the most extraordinary climate year on record, with one major disaster after another, from Brazil to Australia.
“Don’t let the US break the overwhelming will of humanity to save itself,” he advised the Indian delegates.
Sharing the platform with Professor Sachs was Lord Desai, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the London School of Economics. Lord Desai warmed to the conference theme, “Tapping Local Initiatives and Tackling Global Inertia,” by questioning whether it is feasible to arrive at a single answer to global warming through formal UN negotiations.
Lord Desai said that different people experience climate change differently and that local solutions might prove more effective than the search for an over-arching global agreement.
Professor Sachs poured scorn on such notions. Only a rapid and fundamental revolution in the technology of the world’s infrastructure – energy, buildings and transport – will save the planet, he said. This cannot happen without global leadership.
The prime minister’s speech was content to explore the middle ground. “We require collective action at both levels so that local good and global good can be aligned and can reinforce each other,” said Dr Singh.
Despite his position as special adviser to the UN Secretary-General, Sachs is far from satisfied with the current UN climate change negotiations. He criticised the reliance on market mechanisms such as “cap and trade” to deliver financial convergence between rich and poor countries.
“Please keep Wall Street away,” he said, advocating instead a simple system of payments determined by the quantity of each country’s greenhouse gas emissions. A price of $3.30 per ton would suffice to raise the target of $100 billion per annum.
The speech painted a picture of a world out of control, recklessly ignoring environmental limits. The current robust rate of world economic growth of 4% presents an acute dilemma as to whether it represents good or bad news – a boost for the poor in many countries but acutely symbolic of “our capacity to wreck the planet.”
this article was first published in the OneWorld section of Yahoo World News