Pachauri – "that" graph used in the UNSW lecture

Here is a screen grab from the YouTube video of Rajendra Pachauri’s address to the University of New South Wales on 28th October 2008, and which has caused such a furore following an article in The Sydney Morning Herald (see here).

It is difficult to read the horizontal scale, but it appears that each tick is 20 years, commencing in 1860, with the last tick being “2000”.

What he says is as follows (transcribed from YouTube):

“I’ll just give you this diagram which gives you data and observations in global average surface temperature going back to the beginning of industrialisation, and you notice that there are ups and downs in this set of observations, and that’s essentially because we are dealing with a number of natural factors that bring about changes in the climate. Climate has changed over the ages and there are a whole range of natural factors, solar activity, volcanic activity and so on that can bring about changes in climate.

But what you also would observe from this diagram is that in recent decades this graph has become much steeper and therefore if you draw a line through the last 100 years of observations, you will get something like this as a fit, which gives you a total increase in 100 years of 0.74 degrees Celsius. This is the increase that you might say took place in the twentieth century. However, if you look at the last 50 years, then you get a line which is much steeper, which is almost twice as steep as the total 100 year period. So it will be appropriate to conclude that we are now at a stage where warming is taking place much faster, and if we want further evidence of this we know that eleven of the last twelve years rank among the twelve warmest years since instrumental records of global surface temperature have been maintained.

So I’d like to emphasise the fact that we are at a stage where warming is taking place at a much faster rate and clearly if we don’t bring about some changes we would have much faster changes in the future…”

The climatologists amongst you will be able to deduce which surface temperature record this is (and, being surface temperature, is encumbered with all the usual baggage concerning Urban Heat Island effects). Whatever it is, Dr Pachauri has been incredibly selective with his data, and the way in which it has been presented. We are in 2008, but the graph ends in 2000 – why? Even so, there appears to be no evidence of the El Niño spike of 1998, unless the whole graph has been helpfully transposed horizontally by a couple of years, so that the El Niño peak is where the graph ends.

By ending the graph in 2000, he has conveniently and disingenuously ignored the fact that global temperatures have been steady or falling since at least 2000.

Also, he wheels out the old chestnut about “eleven of the last twelve years being amongst the twelve warmest years since instrumental records began” which, as any fule kno, is almost meaningless, since it ignores recent warmings, such as the Medieval Warm Period, which occurred prior to the instrumental records (which have only been in existence for a period equivalent to the blink of an eye), and the fact that temperatures are currently recovering from the Little Ice Age. But since the IPCC don’t even acknowledge the possible existence of the MWP or the LIA (think hockey sticks), it’s not particularly surprising.

The overwhelming impression that would have been gained by his audience is that temperatures are rising faster than ever, which is very far from the truth, and such a misrepresentation must call into question the integrity of the IPCC and Dr Pachauri himself.

It makes his award of an honorary doctorate of Science all the more inappropriate.

The video can be watched here, and the section above is at around 17 – 18 minutes.


  1. Don Taylor says:

    You’re accusing Pachuri of intellectual dishonesty (“By ending the graph in 2000, he has conveniently and disingenuously ignored the fact that global temperatures have been steady or falling since at least 2000.”). You should at least read the graph YOU link. The first horizonal tickmark is indeed 1860, but the data preceeds it. The last horzontal tickmark is 2000, but there are several years worth of data to the RIGHT of that tickmark. So your blog post is factually incorrect-pretty bad when you’re accusing someone of deliberate dihonesty. The “high outlier” year is 1998. That’s the warmest year ever recorded. Note that 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 are all warmer (higher) than every other year save 1998.

  2. Simon from Sydney says:

    Yes, the data point you refer to appears to be the 1998 peak. However, temperatures fell from that peak, and yet Pachauri’s smoothed curve continues up, falsely indicating (at least to an audience at a presentation who do not have the opportunity to inspect the data closely) that global temperatures continued to rise after 1998 and into the 2000s. I stand by my accusation – this graph is misleading as it fails to include significant data after about 2003/4, during which the most obvious cooling has taken place, and which would have tended the smoothed curve downwards. Why would he fail to include such, unless it was simply inconvenient to do so?Surface temperature recordings in the late 20th, early 21st century, measure urbanisation, not climate. Check the satellite records since 1979 to see the reality. In any event, temperatures have been rising gently since the end of the Little Ice Age, so it’s hardly surprising that this century is warmer than last.

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