Brad Keyes and Marcus Toynboyalé
Former climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri yesterday provided the first public clues as to why he stepped down as the moral voice of the global warming movement in February. His sudden resignation blindsided the pro-climate world, which has been waiting for an explanation ever since. Until now, even the most religious reader of the UK Guardian, Skeptical Science and Live From Golgafrincham—a demographic that prides itself on its up-to-date command of all issues climate—could only speculate.
Pachauri began by describing his abrupt exit as “an intensely personal decision,” adding somewhat cryptically that he’d retired “to spend more time with [his] attorneys.”
Held yesterday, the press conference was intended to calm months of uninformed conjecture—and growing concern—on the part of the evidence-based community, now leaderless. And, perhaps because he was flanked at the podium by both his wife and his girlfriend, Pachauri (who has long been admired in the West for his support for the plight of Indian women) quickly earned the twittersphere’s seal of approval. Feminist tweeters were first off the mark, noting the eco-guru’s relaxed, unthreatened demeanour in the presence of the two strong women.
“A company might not be safe in P[achauri]’s hands,” twote a popular professor of gender studies, paraphrasing a 1996 Indian court ruling against the visionary environmentalist, “but women clearly r!”
Her 503,000 followers overwhelmingly seemed to agree.
A third female in the Pachauri entourage, seen hovering to the right of frame, has been identified as either a granddaughter or someone up with whom the longevous ladies’ man had hooked at TERI, the Delhi-based environmental think tank of which he was director general for 30 years. He also resigned from that post in February.
Expanding on his decision process, Pachauri said: “When a man reaches a certain age he starts to think about his legacy. He asks himself: what sort of criminal record will I leave behind? What will my kids read about their father?
“I’ve been lucky. My parents may not have left me the biggest house on [Delhi’s coveted Golf Links], but they did give me excellent genes. My andrologist never ceases to be amazed, telling me: Sanjay, you have the maximum scrotal volume of a boy half your age!
“But as I always say to squash partners in the shower-room of The [Imperial] Gymkhana [Club], there’s no need to be envious. Trust me, it’s a double-edged spade [sic].”
This last was likely a reference to a 1996 incident in which Pachauri swore a false affidavit. The youthful indiscretion was later stricken from the record when an Indian Appeals Court judge agreed that Pachauri, still in his fifties, had probably been distracted by raging hormones.
“But I won’t be vigorous forever. Juggle a harem of carbon gumars for decades on end—while satisfying my wife, respected physician Saroj Pachauri MD, PhD, DPH—and it’ll catch up with you eventually. Seriously, try it.
“So I wanted to leave at what NYT’s Andy Revkin called ‘the top of [my] game.’
(Apologising for his frequent adjustments to the crotch of his elegantly-tailored pants, Pachauri explained that a recent trip to hospital for a UTI had left him with a catheter. It was only temporary, however, and in the meantime he’d resigned himself to “suppressing my human feelings and living with a sad restraint on my natural thoughts and actions.”)
“A man cannot service two mistresses,” added the spiritually promiscuous polymath, quoting the holy text The Bible, “when he’s pushing eighty, 85.”
Although Pachauri was raised as a Hindu, The Bible (Gk. τὰ βιβλία) is the sacred book of Christians.
“Did you actually imagine for a moment that the shivalingam stands for virility alone, the cosmogonic impulse in a pure, unmixed state? Don’t be fools,” he admonished the local TV news crews and international press in attendance.
“The phallus is the memento mori par excellence; metonym of creator and destroyer of worlds alike,” he declaimed, in a thinly-veiled pwning of the schoolboy logic and denier logic of a superficial, soundbite-driven McMedia age. He briefly covered the marriage of Eros and Thanatos, and their messy divorce, as an alternative allegory for Western print markets.
Pachauri closed with an anecdote about former US President Clinton.
“William once gave me some advice I think is relevant to all climate politicians.
“Sanjay, he said”—they are reported to be close friends—“you’re just like me, only younger and without an obstructionist congress and the next election cycle to get in the way of higher thoughts of glory. And all that matters to men like us is the next sinecure, the next lever of political power, the next vanity doctorate, the next [lady] straight out of Vassar you’re going to [not share anything that is not supremely beautiful with] on the HMS Resolute desk.
“But you of all people should be thinking about this from a spiritual perspective. The whiff of 29-year-old [yoni, or female generative principle] will fade; the fascination of voluptuous breasts you can’t stop touching will wear off; and one day you may regret making these things your religion, your dharma.
“No CEO on his death bed ever looks back and wishes he’d spent more time in prison,” he ended, in another trademark allusion to nothing in particular.
Speaking after the event Alan Rusbridger, ex-editor of The Guardian’s climate news department, said he had “no idea what all the legal and forensic imagery was about.”
But even if the Pachauri presser ultimately raised as many questions as it answered, that’s fine by Rusbridger, who was just relieved to see the climate advocate alive and well.
“What matters is that he isn’t sick. That’s the real story, the only story.
“For a while there,” Rusbridger confided, “I had a horrible feeling there might be something wrong with him.”