Claude Allègre

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Claude Allègre
Claude Allègre.jpg
French Minister of Education
In office
1997–2000
President Jacques Chirac
Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
Preceded by François Bayrou
Succeeded by Jack Lang
Personal details
Born (1937-03-31) 31 March 1937 (age 79)
Paris, France
Nationality French
Political party Socialist Party

Claude (Jean) Allègre (French pronunciation: ​[klodaˈlɛɡʁ]; born 31 March 1937, Paris) is a French politician and scientist.

Scientific work[edit]

The main scientific area of Claude Allègre was geochemistry.[1] Allègre co-authored an Introduction to geochemistry in 1974.[2] Since the 1980s, he mainly publishes popular science and political books.

In 1976, Allègre and volcanologist Haroun Tazieff had an intense, very public quarrel about whether inhabitants should evacuate the surroundings of the erupting la Soufrière volcano in Guadeloupe. Allègre, who was speaking outside his area of immediate expertise, held that inhabitants should be evacuated, while Tazieff held that the Soufrière was harmless because all analyses pointed to a purely phreatic eruption with no sign of fresh magma. In part out of caution, the authorities decided to follow Allègre's advice and evacuate. The eruption did not result in any significant damage, except for the very significant disruption caused by the evacuation itself. Allègre, as the director of Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, subsequently expelled Tazieff from that institute. The controversy dragged on for many years after the end of the eruption, and ended up in court.[3]

Claude Allègre is an ISI highly cited researcher.[4] He is retired, but retains an emeritus status at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (Institute of Geophysics in Paris).[5]

Political career[edit]

A former member of the French Socialist Party, Allègre is better known to the general public for his past political responsibilities, which include serving as Minister of Education of France in the Jospin cabinet from 4 June 1997 to March 2000, when he was replaced by Jack Lang. His outpourings of often unjustified critiques against teaching personnel, as well as his reforms, made him increasingly unpopular in the teaching world. In 1996, Allegre published La Défaite de Platon, ("The defeat of Plato"), described by mathematician Pierre Schapira in the Spring 1997 edition of Mathematical Intelligencer as "one of the most savage broadsides against conceptual thought (or just against thought?)"

In the run-up to the 2007 French presidential election, he endorsed Lionel Jospin, then Dominique Strauss-Kahn, for the Socialist nomination, and finally sided with the ex-Socialist Jean-Pierre Chevènement, against Ségolène Royal. When Chevènement decided not to run, he publicly, and controversially, declined to support Royal's bid for the presidency, citing differences over nuclear energy, GMOs and stem-cell research. He later became close to conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy.

Controversies[edit]

Global warming[edit]

Allègre states that the causes of climate change are unknown. This represents a change of mind, since he wrote in 1987 that "By burning fossil fuels, man increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which, for example, has raised the global mean temperature by half a degree in the last century".[6]

In an article entitled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in l'Express, a French weekly, Allègre cited evidence that Antarctica's gaining ice and that Kilimanjaro's retreating snow caps, among other global-warming concerns, can come from natural causes. He said that "[t]he cause of this climate change is unknown".[7]

Allègre has accused those agreeing with the mainstream scientific view of global warming of being motivated by money, saying that “the ecology of helpless protesting has become a very lucrative business for some people!”[8] On the flip side, his Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris receives significant funding from the oil industry.

In 2009, when it was suggested that Claude Allègre might be offered a position as minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy's government, TV presenter and environmental activist Nicolas Hulot stated:

"He doesn't think the same as the 2,500 scientists of the IPCC, who are warning the world about a disaster; that's his right. But if he were to be recruited in government, it would become policy, and it would be a bras d'honneur to those scientists. [...] [It] would be a tragic signal, six months before the Copenhagen Conference, and something incomprehensible coming from France, which has been a leading country for years in the fight against climate change!"[9]

In a 2010 petition, more than 500 French researchers asked Science Minister Valérie Pécresse to dismiss Allègre’s book L’imposture climatique, claiming the book was "full of factual mistakes, distortions of data, and plain lies". [10] [11]Allègre described the petition as "useless and stupid".[12]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Allègre’1996 Geochemical Society Fellowship on the Society’s website
  2. ^ Allègre-Michard’s Introduction to chemistry on Googlebooks.
  3. ^ (French) Timeline of the Tazieff-Allègre controversy about La Soufrière.
  4. ^ "ISI Highly Cited: Claude Allègre". Institute for Scientific Information. Retrieved July 23, 2010. 
  5. ^ (French) Biography on L’Étudiant.fr
  6. ^ C. Allègre : 12 Clés pour la géologie, Belin/France Culture, 1987. Original quote in French : En brûlant des combustibles fossiles, l’homme a augmenté le taux de gaz carbonique dans l’atmosphère, ce qui fait, par exemple, que depuis un siècle la température moyenne du globe a augmenté d’un demi-degré.; also quoted in (French) Le Monde, October, 3 2006.
  7. ^ Neiges du Kilimandjaro – La cause de la modification climatique reste inconnue. Donc, prudence, L'Express, 2006
  8. ^ US Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee Archived April 5, 2010, at WebCite
  9. ^ "Pour Nicolas Hulot, Claude Allègre au gouvernement 'serait un signal tragique'", AFP, May 24, 2009 Archived April 8, 2010, at WebCite
  10. ^ (French) Håkan Grudd’s statement on Libération.fr (March 2010)
  11. ^ "Plus de 400 climatologues en appellent à la ministre". Le Monde.fr (in French). Retrieved 2016-11-10. 
  12. ^ Science, vol 328, 9 April 2010
  13. ^ "Allegre, Claude J.". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  14. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "Médailles d'or". Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (in French). Retrieved 15 April 2011. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
François Bayrou
Minister of Education
1997–2000
Succeeded by
Jack Lang