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Controversy over head of climate panel's steamy book (continued)

By Steven Mufson

Reviews and news continue to pour in about "Return to Almora," the new racy novel - mixing sex scenes and climate commentary - by Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Some of the articles note the similarities between Pachauri and Sanjay, the protagonist of the hot and heavy novel, while others say Pachauri should be more grounded in the real world issues surrounding the book.

On Monday, Feb. 8, the Times of London reports that "the Indian head of the UN climate change panel, already under fire over errors in a key 2007 report, is raising eyebrows again after publishing a raunchy novel and accepting help in promoting it from BP and the head of India's biggest gas producer."

The London Times reports that the book "was released in Mumbai by Mukesh Ambani -- India's richest man and the head of the oil and gas conglomerate Reliance Industries, the largest private Indian company." The London paper said that "Reliance has close links to Dr Pachauri's The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and has received environmental awards from it, including one for its work on HIV/Aids in 2007. Mr Ambani has also been on the steering committee of TERI's Centre for Research on Energy Security."

Moreover, it added, "For the Delhi launch of the book dinner and drinks were paid for by BP India, a big TERI sponsor."

The conservative-leaning Telegraph of London said "In the acknowledgement of his novel, Dr Pachauri admits to writing the book while flying around the world between meetings as IPCC chairman or else in his capacity as head of a research institute in Delhi. But with calls for him to resign over academic blunders in the reports he presides over, some critics will question whether he should have devoted more time to scrutinising the science behind the reports."

The Telegraph adds that, "The book, which makes reference to the Kama Sutra, starts promisingly enough as it tells the story of a climate expert with a lament for the denuded mountain slopes of Nainital, in northern India, where deforestation by the timber mafia and politicians has 'endangered the fragile ecosystem'. But talk of 'denuding' is a clue of what is to come."

The Times of India calls it "a spiritual potboiler." It says that, "throughout the novel, an intrusive and not particularly charming narrator alternates lectures on the destruction of the environment, and the value of the spiritual, with apparently trivial details." Among them, the main character's sex life, which the paper says, "provides rich and frequent diversion."


Mike Shepard

 |  February 8, 2010; 3:29 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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