Peace Prize winner talks about climate change

June 27, 2008 7:56:29 PM PDT
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, is in San Francisco, speaking to the Commonwealth Club on Friday night about California leading the way in the fight against climate change. Dr. Pachauri is leading the United Nation's effort to mitigate climate change.

It seemed appropriate that when Dr. Rajendra Pachauri Ph.D. arrived at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, he did so in a hybrid. His name may be familiar, but he seems a modest man.

"One of those people with unseen influence," said Dr. Pachauri.

He is unseen and unknown, if you've never heard of the Nobel Prize or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, of which he is the chairman.

"Well frankly, what I am worried about is the inability of human society not being able to accept any change in established patterns and habits," said Dr. Pachauri.

What he is talking about is a decision for change, rather than have nature impose it. Not dooms saying, but truth in a time where humanity and the environment seem to be at a tipping point.

"People by and large know there is something wrong with the climate," said Dr. Pachauri.

A slow realization, as he describes it. People may take note of the cyclone in Burma that killed 150,000 people, or the heavy rains in the Midwest which are leading to unprecedented flooding. People may also see predictions come true like the one that, this year, arctic ice may completely melt.

"One can accommodate the melting of the arctic melting in physical terms. But in Greenland, and western arctic ice sheets, if either of them were to melt and collapse into the oceans, that's what I'm calling a catastrophe. And that would cause several meters of sea level rise," said Dr. Pachauri.

As frightening and daunting as this crisis sounds, scientists say the human race has no choice. It has maybe five to six years to begin reducing carbon emissions. Pay now, they say, or pay more later.

"What I foresee is you don't have to take giant leaps immediately. But you certainly do need to take some really determined steps," said Dr. Pachauri.

Friday night, the Dr. Pachuauri will describe California's carbon reduction efforts as a good start, but not enough. Not even if the rest of the world adopted such policies. It seems old habits and comforts die hard, even on the brink of a climate catastrophe.

"As a member of homo sapiens you would want to do what is right," said Dr. Pachauri.


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