Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weiner and IPCC's Pachauri: both pursued by ankle-biters, both possibly ineffective

(UnAmericans may be unaware of our sexting Congressperson, so here's context.)

Congressman Weiner and the IPCC head Pachauri have both been 1. attacked by people of ill intention 2. for reasons that are only tangentially related to their office, but that doesn't mean that 3. we should root for them to stay in office.

Weiner has displayed astounding stupidity and unethical behavior outside of his political office, but whether that makes him a bad Representative is a different matter. I suppose astounding stupidity could be a disqualifier, but if it hasn't been shown in his work then maybe it doesn't matter. His political ethics should be more important to outsiders than the fact that he's a terrible husband/father-to-be. He burned a lot of friends by lying to them to them and sending them out as media surrogates, but that's not the reason he's being called to resign.

It's a little unfair to group Pachauri with a turdbucket like Weiner, but the conflict of interest charges made against Pachauri and the IPCC by ankle-biters are at least somewhat related to his work and somewhat true. The anklers ignore the fact that Pachauri and all the participating IPCC authors work for free and that Pachauri's home institution paid him 45,000 pounds annually - certainly less than that made by many of the anklers. The IPCC's institutional problem is that it does far too important work to rely on people on top with other jobs. They need to be salaried and cut free from conflicts (or downscale the IPCC, but I think we lose a policy tool that way).

One reason to group Weiner and Pachauri together is on the basis of possibly being ineffective for reasons unrelated to the criticism they've received. Weiner has a reputation of being an ineffective legislator who's used by the Dems to beat up the right in the media (link, June 9 podcast). I disagree that being a lightning rod means he can't do legislating. Ted Kennedy for one thing could do both jobs, and Weiner could've done work behind the scenes and left negotiating to others. If he's not good, then get rid of him.

Pachauri has two jobs at the IPCC: coordinate its internal work, and be its outward face. I know nothing about the former job (probably the more important one), but he's not good at the latter. Lately he's been quiet, which is probably for the best, but someone who can better play the competent scientist role would be an improvement.


sylas said...

Pachauri replaced Robert Watson as head of the IPCC. Watson is a scientist, in atmospheric science.

The great irony is that the USA was particularly strong in pressing for Watson to be replaced. Pachauri was (apparently) seen as being a more industry friendly option.

That didn't work out as they hoped; but yes. A working scientist in that role would be good, I think.

John said...

Anthony Weiner provides a much-needed boost to a crucial industry, namely stand-up comedians, who have effortlessly come up with lines like:

Weiner's support becoming limp

Weiner's weenie roasted

Weiner shriveled

Weiner case moves to small claims court

and so on and so on.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

And of course, since Weiner's package appears to have been fairly large:

Weiner is a big dick!

Anonymous said...

Brian, this seems a little behind the times re the IPCC. Check out the reforms described on their site.

Steve Bloom

(I still can't post as anything other than anonymous. This is not a problem at other Blogger blogs; the difference seems to be the wv.)

Brian said...

Lots of stuff at their website, Steve. Can you give a link or more specifics?

Pinko Punko said...

Steve, it is a Firefox problem. If you temporarily accept 3rd party cookies, you can comment without it going down the Rabett hole.

Thomas Palm said...

Weiner claiming that the West Bank isn't occupied by Israel, that there are no Israeli troops there, seems lika a more significant error:

amoeba said...

Further to sylas' comment (for newcomers to the skulduggery),

Watson's removal resulted from a request from Randy Randol, at ExxonMobil.

See page 52 in

Sou said...

There are so many criteria that have to be met for the IPCC Chair to be credible to everyone and functional in the role.

A scientist but preferably not a climate scientist (tainted) but if not a climate scientist how can she speak about climate science (you can't win that game).

Not from any nation that could be seen to have a vested interest (or be viewed as favouring the dreaded 'One World Government') - rules out any OECD nation, any poor island state about to be submerged, any developing country (only in it for a handout) etc etc.

Must have excellent PR skills and personal charisma (rules out most scientists - lol), but not too much or will be viewed as being attention-seeking and only in it for the fame and money.

Proven leadership and organisational ability. But not previously associated with any entity that could be viewed in any way as having any 'vested interest' in climate or government or private sector activity or not for profit association!!

Able to handle death threats on a daily and hourly basis.

No hidden scandals - ie no extra-marital affairs, not an author of salacious novels, not receiving payment for any other activity at all (and happy to work for free or risk people accusing them of just saying what their paymasters pay them to say) and no personal wealth (or guilty by association of wanting to create a One World Government).

Any volunteers who fit the above criteria?

Brian Schmidt said...

Sou - I thought about making nominations in the post. If we're sticking with engineers, then I suggest Bill Gates. If we're going with a scientist, and the skeptics accept physicists as relevant, then I suggest astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

Less famous people with more direct experience could bring a lot of advantages, but these guys could do well as the public face of the IPCC.

Anonymous said...

Brian, over on the right under "Decisions taken with respect to the review of IPCC processes."

Thanks, Pinko, but I have Explorer. :(

Steve Bloom

Brian Schmidt said...

Thanks Steve, it was pretty obvious in hindsight. Policy seems fine for most of the people it applies to. I still think the Chair and maybe a few others should be on salary and not paid elsewhere, though, and that Pachauri hasn't been a strong PR person for the IPCC.