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Oh The Humanity: Yale Closes Its Climate & Energy Institute

Yale University is to close its Climate & Energy Institute.

With sweet serendipity, the heartbreaking announcement on the university’s website coincides with the news that the institute’s founding head Rajendra Pachauri has been formally charged with sexual harrassment.

How different things were in 2009 when the Institute was launched, with great pride and fanfare, by Yale University president Richard C Levin.

YCEI will provide seed grants, support postgraduate study, sponsor conferences and workshops, and foster interdisciplinary research spanning from basic atmospheric science to public policy. Nearly 100 Yale scientists, engineers, physicians, social scientists and policy experts have joined together to launch the enterprise.

In those days, man-made global warming was still very much the fashionable cause of the moment and Pachauri – a former railway engineer, novelist, vegetarian and tantric sex guru – was at the peak of his influence as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Yale is being rather coy about the reasons for the closure which, unsurprisingly, has caused much consternation among beneficiaries of  the Climate & Energy Institute’s largesse.

“It can’t be a budget thing. It can’t be. I don’t want to say that Yale doesn’t support [the YCEI], but … I think it’s the administration’s lack of interest,” said YCEI New Haven Energy Scholar Intern Matthew Goldklang ’16. “I had no idea we were going to be completely cut. It’s really sad.”

He added that he has received emails from YCEI alumni who were furious with the announcement, and he said there are many undergraduates who are also upset.

The YCEI had an extensive budget under Levin’s administration, Goldklang said. Although Goldklang did not provide specific figures, he said the YCEI had enough money to pay its student fellows, fund research and create new classes in the Energy Studies Program.

The institute was one of the few groups on campus that regularly engaged with Yale administrators to solve issues of climate change, Goldklang said.

But one possibility is that no one in their right mind gives a damn about “climate change” in a world where there has been no “global warming” for nearly 19 years – and can certainly think of better ways to spend their money than funding research into a non-existent problem.

The announcement comes only a month after Australia’s leading scientific bureau – the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) – decided to abandon its research into “climate change” with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

CSIRO’s head Larry Marshall said the backlash – which included protests from the IPCC and the World Meteorological Organisation – made him realise how early climate scientists must have felt in the 1970s fighting the oil lobby.

“I guess I had the realisation that the climate lobby is perhaps more powerful than the energy lobby was back in the ’70s – and the politics of climate I think there’s a lot of emotion in this debate.”

“In fact it almost sounds more like religion than science to me. I’ve been told by some extreme elements that they’ve put me at the top of the climate deniers list and what perplexes me is how saying that we’re going to shift more resources to mitigation – i.e. doing something to address climate change versus just measuring and modelling it – I don’t see how that makes me a climate denier.”

Make no mistake, these are dark and terrible times for the climate change industry. If you have a son or a daughter studying at university in a field like ecology, environmental studies or similar, do be sure to encourage them to polish up their burger-flipping or lap-dancing skills.

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