Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline

Warns Richard Black at the BBC.

The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.

In a new report, they warn that ocean life is “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.

They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.

The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.

The panel was convened by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), and brought together experts from different disciplines, including coral reef ecologists, toxicologists, and fisheries scientists.

Call me a cynic, but I no longer take claims about ‘expert panel of scientists’ at face value. Sadly, Richard Black of the BBC does.

Who are the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) anyway? A visit to their website barely gives any information about itself at all. It doesn’t appear even to have an email address, let alone a postal address. There is no mention of who is running it, or what organisations are involved. Isn’t that a bit odd, for ‘an expert panel of scientists’.

Looking at the final report [PDF] produced by IPSO, there is similarly little mention of the organisation’s relationship to the rest of the world, such that we can see for ourselves what kind of a panel of experts they really are. However, at the top of the report is the following text:

The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition (DSCC) is a coalition of over 60 organizations worldwide promoting fisheries conservation and the protection of biodiversity on the high seas. The DSCC has been actively involved in the international debate and negotiations concerning the adverse impacts on deep-sea biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction from bottom trawling and other methods of bottom fishing on the high seas since 2003/2004.

Ok. So who the hell are the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition?

Surprise, surprise…

A coordination team works together with a Steering Group that currently consists of the Ecology Action Centre, Greenpeace International, Marine Conservation Biology Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Environment Group and Seas at Risk. The DSCC has developed a formidable international team of scientists, policy and communication experts, lawyers and political activists who on behalf of the deep sea have established a strong reputation and profile on the issue at the UN and in other fora.

The ‘panel of experts’ — IPSO — may well be expert. But, look, again, we see Greenpeace’s name up there, steering the research — in its own words — alongside the Pew group, and Friends of the Earth.

I don’t believe a word of it. This is not scientific research, it’s ‘grey literature’, put out by yet another grey institution, the true nature of which is concealed from first appearances. Not far behind, the agenda is revealed.

UPDATE.

I’ve been browsing the IPSO site, which is very poorly designed. The most charitable thing I can say about IPSO is that it is a project by Dr Alex Rogers, to pass himself off as an international research programme. Here he is, talking about the end of the world, like all good zoologists should.

I made a bit of a mistake above. I thought that the front page would list its most recent research. It turns out that the research I was looking at, which was sponsored by DSCC was last year’s. This year’s project was sponsored by The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). So who are the IUCN?

[The IUCN] helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. It supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world and brings governments, non-government organizations, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities together to develop and implement policy, laws and best practice.

IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network – a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists in more than 160 countries.

IUCN’s work is supported by more than 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. The Union’s headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, Switzerland.

So, yeah, another NGO lobbying outfit, in cahoots with government and businesses, blurring the lines between activism, scientific research, and so on.

Back to IPSO. Here’s the web-page that relates to the new report. It describes the background to the report:

The 3 day workshop, co-sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), looked at the latest science across different disciplines.

The 27 participants from 18 organisations in 6 countries produced a grave assessment of current threats — and a stark conclusion about future risks to marine and human life if the current trajectory of damage continues: that the world’s ocean is at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history.

So it turns out that this report took the scientists just three days of chin-wagging. Says the report:

The workshop provided a rare opportunity to interact with other disciplines to determine the net effect of what is already happening to the ocean and is projected to do so in the future.  Over the  three days 27 participants from 18 organisations in 6 countries (Annex 1) assessed the latest information on impacts and stresses, and the synergistic effects these are having on the global ocean.

Through presentations, discussions and recommendations the workshop documented and described the cumulative effects of such impacts, how these commonly act in a negatively synergistic way, and why therefore concerted action is now needed to address the consequences set out in this report.

Now, this is being presented as the product of a scientific process. But it turns out that it’s a little conference of self-selecting individuals, clearly given to a particular agenda.

The scientific outcomes from this workshop will be used first and foremost to strengthen the case for greater action to reduce anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide related to climate change and ocean acidification while also reducing other stressors.  The findings underscore the need for more effective management of fisheries and pollution and for strengthening protection of the 64% of the ocean that lies beyond the zones of national jurisdiction. They thereby form a major contribution to implementation of the major IPSO report on the Global State of the Ocean. This event follows on from the IPSO/Royal Society event in 2009 that focussed on the future for coral reefs.

But in what way is the product of the 3-day gloom-fest a ‘scientific outcome’? No doubt, with a fancy name like ‘International Programme on the State of the Ocean’, citations to the report it produces will impress people. Indeed, it sounds like an expensive, exhaustive survey of the world. But it was just a couple of dozen eco-warriors in a single room, chatting about their fears.

UPDATE #2

Barry Woods has emailed me with a bit more on the profiles of some of the attendees of this ‘expert panel’ — the 27 people behind the “World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline” report.

The attendees are listed on page 10 of the report. [PDF]

Barry Gardiner is Labour MP for Brent North, and Vice President Globe UK, the Global Legislators Organisation. Globe’s about pages say,

there exists a strategic opportunity to coordinate a legislative response to key global environmental challenges in advance of Rio +20. This response recognises and seeks to strengthen the central role of legislators and parliaments in tackling the major global environmental challenges, as well as placing a much greater emphasis on the role of legislators in holding governments more effectively to account for the implementation of international commitments.

I wonder what Barry Gardiner knows about marine ecology. He has a degree in philosophy, apparently, so not much then. So much for this panel of experts…

Dan Laffoley is Marine Vice Chair of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which seems to be the current sponsor, and is discussed above. Joining him is his colleague Aurelie Spadone.

Kelly Rigg - Executive Director, Global Campaign for Climate Action. No obvious expertise in marine biology, it says here,

Kelly Rigg is the Executive Director of the GCCA, a global alliance of 250 organizations cooperating under the banner of the tcktcktck campaign. She has been leading international campaigns for nearly 30 years on climate, energy, oceans, Antarctica and other issues. She was a senior campaign director for Greenpeace International during 20 years with the organization. After leaving Greenpeace she went on to found the Varda Group consultancy providing campaign and strategic advice to a wide range of NGOs, and led the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition’s campaign to protect the high seas from destructive bottom fishing.

Josh Reichert is Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group. They say of themselves,

In 1998, the Trusts established the Pew Center on Global Climate Change for the purpose of providing credible information, straight answers and innovative solutions to address global climate change. At the inception, the Business Environmental Leadership Council was created to engage the businesses community in the climate debate. The council included 46 companies, mainly Fortune 500 firms with combined revenue of more than $2 trillion and over 4 million employees. In 2007, the Pew Center played a major role in launching the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, an unprecedented alliance of nonprofit organizations and leading businesses—including General Electric and all three major U.S. automobile manufacturers—in support of federal emissions-reduction legislation

Although Reichart “he has written more than 60 publications and co-produced films on the plight of fisheries and marine ecosystems“, it’s hard to see what expertise he has in marine ecology… “Mr. Reichert holds an undergraduate degree in applied behavioral sciences from the University of California, Davis, and master’s and doctoral degrees in social anthropology from Princeton University”.

Conn Nugent is Executive Director of the JM Kaplan Fund

The Environment Program concentrates on marine conservation, especially in ocean waters that lie beyond the jurisdiction of a single national government. The program currently supports grantees working to: create international protections for species and ecoregions of the High Seas; educate scientists and the public about the value and vulnerability of the ocean as a world system; and foment civil society movements to protect Arctic waters and Arctic coastal communities.

Conn Nugent’s blog profile gives no indication of his or her qualifications in marine science:

Highlights: • Exec Dir, JM Kaplan Fund (2000-present). Programs in environment, historic preservation, immigration: US, Mexico, Cuba, worldwide. • Exec Dir, Intl Physicians for Prevention Nuclear War. 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. • Founder/editor, LibertyTree.org, GothamGazette.org, WeLoveTheIraqiInformationMinister.org. • Freelance writer, editor, graphic designer. Harvard College, Harvard Law School. Peace Corps. Teacher. Exec Dir: Planned Parenthood California; Bay State Charitable Trust; New Alchemy Inst; Five Colleges; Citizens Union. Prog Dir, Nathan Cummings Foundation. Articles on land use, architecture, defense, fiscal policy, medicine, sports.

So, not much evidence of the scientific expertise that is being claimed of this team. Yet there are a number of agendas at the table. And some well-funded agendas, at that.

51 Responses to A Deep Sea Mystery

  • Kudos to you. I tried a while back to see who was behind IPSO and found the institution to be more opaque than most institutions. That they have enviro groups with agendas is disappointing but sadly, not surprising.

  • IPSO’s scientific director is Alex Rogers, Professor of Conservation Biology at Oxford University. According to his web page at Oxford University’s Dept of Zoology, he has also worked for Greenpeace and WWF, and in addition, currently holds a position with GLOBE International.
    http://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/staff/academics/rogers_ad.htm

  • Thanks Alex.

    Doesn’t it just look like an attempt to wrap political environmental ideas in an impressive and neutral-sounding acronym, give it some institutional respectability, and associate it with plausible scientists.

    Let’s call it ‘performance science’.

  • They are a registered UK company, HQ in someone’s home in Surry, I believe. It’s on their web site, somewhere I managed to come across it. Also, http://www.companiesintheuk.co.uk/ltd/international-programme-on-the-state-of-the-ocean offers it’s public accounts for 5.99 (remember it is a public company). I tried to get a copy but that web site is very slow and I timed out.

    They also have the same PR company as the usual suspects: communicationsinc.co.uk/clients.cfm

  • Performace Science … I like it. A combination of Performance Art and Agitprop and Pseudo-Science.

  • Sorry, I meant Sussex

    9 SAVILL ROAD
    LINDFIELD
    HAYWARDS HEATH
    SUSSEX
    RH16 2NY

  • “expert panel of scientists”

    “expert panel”

    “scientists”

    Ben, you’ve shown that none of Black’s characterizations has any basis in fact. Does he respond to challenges to his pieces?

  • You talk of the labourites’ problems: what about the three independants? I cannot imagine a vote for more taxation is a winning strategy for someone with no party money behind them. I advocate targeting the Indies. I am astonished that the Indies continue to support Juliar. How much money are they receiving for this support, for there is no other explanation as they are supporting their own political death.

  • One can only wonder if there is any alarmist claim so shallow, so biased, so devoid of any credibility, or so obviously at odds with observations, that the MSM won’t swallow it whole and regurgitate it as indisputable scientific truth to show its worse than we thought.

    Congratulations on finding yet another example. Keep those coffin nails coming!

  • You should also note that the only other person identified on the IPSO team was the former head of media for Greenpeace – she is doing a good job as Richard’s innocent little article has been re-Tweeted and shared in their network over 14.000 times in four hours. See http://risk-monger.blogactiv.eu/2011/06/20/ipso-%E2%80%93-facto-%E2%80%93-the-decline-of-the-bbc%E2%80%99s-media-integrity/.

  • “I don’t believe a word of it.” Which just makes you an idiot.

    Now that you have publicly announced your idiocy, why don’t you do some REAL research yourself, instead of spouting off about things you obviously know nothing about?

    I really, really wonder about all you anti-science, anti-evidence, anti-fact people. What in hell are you going to do when reality finally slaps you upside your thick heads?

    Maybe YOU won’t starve, but others will. Or maybe YOU won’t see your fishing decline, but others will (and are). Maybe YOU won’t experience climate change effects first hand, sitting on your butts in your air conditioned offices, but others will (and are).

    I’m basically SICK TO DEATH of morons and fools who think that they can outguess the world’s leading experts, using nothing more then their (unqualified) opinions as their ‘evidence’ (or straw arguments).

    You people are IDIOTS. Truly STUPID beyond belief. The science data is there and it has been analyzed and reanalyzed again and again by the world’s leading experts and STILL you don’t accept any of it as fact.

    Which must makes you quite simply, STUPID.

    Willfully stupid in fact, which makes you dangerous. You’re all guilty of helping the decline, believe it or not, because a lot of other people will accept your unqualified opinions and agree with you.

    Now we’ve got tons more STUPID PEOPLE DOING STUPID THINGS like continuing to contribute to the decline, with overfishing, dumping pollutants, increasing their own greenhouse gas contribution and overall just ‘going about their business with nary a care in the world’.

    I hope you FOOLS LIKE JELLYFISH BURGERS.

    GO READ SOME REAL SCIENCE WEBSITES to read about the ocean’s declines. And if you won’t do that, but prefer to hide in your ignorant cubby holes with your pampered lifestyles, then you are all guilty of biocide through deliberate IGNORANCE AND DENIAL.

  • I smell troll.

    No-one is that STUPID. No-one has ZERO ability to read a document before commenting.

    (And what is “biocide”? I think I might be guilty because I’m certainly not vegetarian.)

  • Great study! That’s the kind of analysis we need…

    Show what’s behind the medieval science consensus illusion.

    PS. “Reader” above. You say “increasing their own greenhouse gas contribution”

    Why do you hate trees? And food for everyone?

    You know, studies show that trees grow much faster recently due to the extra CO2. So do crops.

    So if you love trees, man, you have to find a way to help them with more CO2…

  • IPSO – modest bunch – see mission statement (front page website)

    http://www.stateoftheocean.org/

    “The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) was established by scientists with the aim of saving the Earth and all life on it.”

    Straight out of a science fiction B-movie:
    scientists; “saving the Earth and ALL LIFE ON IT”

  • Thats interesting. I heard this on the radio yesterday and beng the cynic I am just instinctively dismissed it when I heard the phrase “worse than previously expected”. Why are we supposed to be impressed by scientists always finding their expectations incorrect? And why are we supposed to be impressed by alarmist scientists being “shocked” and “surprised” by what they see?

    For example Rogers seems prone to OTT alarmist announcements

    http://current.com/groups/earth-and-science/90360009_reefs-could-perish-by-the-end-of-the-century.htm

    “The kitchen is on fire and it’s spreading around the house,” Alex Rogers of the Zoological Society of London and the International Program on the State of the Ocean, said in a statement.

    “If we act quickly and decisively we may be able to put it out before the damage becomes irreversible.”

    The “longer version” of this latest report is linked here.

    http://www.stateoftheocean.org/pdfs/1906_IPSO-LONG.pdf

    Reading through it basically looks a lot of like minded alarmists who fancy being important in a moralistic way got together to whip themselves up into a tizzy. They reference a lot of papers dealing with each individual issue, climate, overfishing, nutrient runoff, but the more interesting overall key thesis, i.e. that this group of people have discovered some sort of unique “negatively synergistic” effect that is only now giving us a few years to act, seems a bit muddily presented and unclear to me. Maybe they will present a stunning paper outlining their concluision but who’s holding their breath now we see the headline?

    Two key quotes stick out that undermine the whole honesty of the excersise in my opinion.

    It is clear that the traditional economic and consumer values that formerly served society well, when coupled with current rates of population increase, are not sustainable.

    This has to be part of a wider re-evaluation of the core values of human society and its relationship to the natural world and the resources on which we all rely.

    My emphasis above.

    These scientist have passed over into moral lecturing on human nature and politics.

    Normally this kind of niche political/religious country retreat get together would be ignored by the mainstream but luckily they have a mainline into the non too bright environmental reporter world.

  • This is extremely valuable work, thank you.

    Its also an excellent example of Post-Normal Science, especially the way it has been communicated and is now proliferating amongst the true believers with an assumed cloak of authority.

    Plus – “If the ocean goes down, it’s game over.”? “super-dangers”? This is like scientific baby-talk….

  • I’m glad you’ve picked up on this, because I read Richard Black’s risible blog article about this earlier on – and my eyes rolled in the usual way they do when you read his garbage on the BBC.

    I’m also very glad that you’ve managed to pull the skirts up on who’s behind this latest agit-prop nonsense. It’s amazing how many pies Greenpiss have managed to thrust their fingers into!

  • Biocide… that’s a catchy name… Sound like a cure for greenies… I can see the ad now

    If you’ve got a Greenie infestation in your country try Biocide!!!

    Posts like Reader’s show that sanity is winning… I’m feeling much better about the world… Oh Reader you forgot one thing…

    LEAVE BRITNEY ALONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • More squeakkin wheel stuff, the contriving of content to increase the volume and dominate the discussion.

    The conceit in the press release is truly awesome.

    Give the lazy gits in the MSM something to copy ‘n paste after the pub…

    It’s interesting to note a mild change in Greenpeace’s strategy = move in on reputable real estate so that you can use an impressive address…

  • @Reader June 21, 2011 at 4:32 am

    You forgot the prairie dogs. THE PRAIRIE DOGS! THEY WANT TO KILL ALL THE PRAIRIE DOGS!!!

  • So you reckon there’s nothing wrong with the environment then? Good for you.

  • Reading between the lines says:
    June 21, 2011 at 5:49 pm (Edit)
    So you reckon there’s nothing wrong with the environment then? Good for you.

    Who said ‘there’s nothing wrong with the environment’?

    Not I.

    I’ve always said that environmental problems exist. What I’ve argued is that we don’t need special environmental politics and special political institutions to deal with those problems.

    I would add that we definitely don’t need the kind of project that IPSO is, either.

  • Is there a downside for nature to human expansion? Of couse. Do we overfish to kill off the species or to feed an expanding population? Common sense provides the answer. Unfortunately until the media reports both sides of an issue instead of sensationalizing the “tree hugger” opinion only there will never be any serious dialogue and rational solutions.

  • Harpo:
    Absolutely perfect way to kick trolls with googlies in the goolies – superb text.
    I haven’t stopped giggling with appreciation!
    Ben:
    Yet another super piece of dismantling. Did you know sewage is ejected off Yarmouth? That is why it is good fishing! And people still swim in the North sea during their summer hols.

  • These AGW idiots are just about finished! These outrageous “reports of doom” have come so often and are so exaggerated that literally the only people listening to this “tripe” are the employees of these ENGO’s hoping that their alarmism will guarantee a never ending flow of $$$$$ from the “biased” Government officials who are in “cahoots” with them!

  • Ben gets a link at Alex Jones, who is equally not impressed.
    http://www.prisonplanet.com/saving-the-world-and-the-ocean-one-activist-opinion-at-a-time-–-another-ngo-flap-this-one-duped-global-media.html

    For more on IUCN check out http://sovereignty.net/p/ngo/ngotut.htm

    For more on Pew and the massive amounts of money flowing into this whole thing,
    check out “UN Agenda 21 Will Rule The US Waves”
    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/originals/un_agenda_21_will_rule_us_waves.html

    This is what I posted at the Guardian and Indy
    The actual IPSOS report from which the article contents come, is not so much a report as “We need to ramp up the ante because we still haven’t got a global tax on carbon dioxide.”

    There is no new science, no new research, these are all fellow travellers and they have been trawling through what they have and looking for the best bits.

    The trouble is, a lot of what they quote has been rubbished elsewhere. For example Rignot’s claims about the melting Antarctic were destroyed by Steve McIntyre, Rahmstorf’s claims about sea level rise have been shown to be false and actual observations demonstrate no significant sea level rise at all. Equally there is no current warming of the oceans. Ove Hugh-Guldberg, Greenpeace associate, has also been de-bunked on many occasions.

    The oceans are not acid, they are not becoming so, atmospheric CO2 rose as high as 2500 ppm between 60 and 40 Ma and there is no evidence for a greater than 0.6 decrease in pH in the last 300 Ma, so even with CO2 levels six and a half times greater than today, the oceans were still not acid.

    This is science by press release and the political nature of it is shown by the fact that the release was embargoed, so that it could hit the press and the net at the same time time, with the report not released until the headlines were out.

    This is not how science should work, it is blatantly political and dishonest and claims a scientific authority which simply does not exist.

  • In the early 1970’s I was a US Air Force Budget Officer (money man) at RAF Bentwaters and Woodbridge in Suffolk, UK. At the end of each fiscal year we would get a large and welcome addition of funds we called “fallout” – money left unspent from other programs. After the first such year, our Headquarters in Germany put out the word: “There really won’t be any fallout next year.” But there was. The following year they said there “really, really” won’t be any fallout. We got even more. Each year they added a “really,” each year we got more than before. So it is with the climate alarmists. Each pronouncement is more apocalyptic than the previous, yet is not supported by observational science and flies in the face of climatic history. So they double the alarmism, and project it into an echo chamber of credulous pseudo-journalists. It is a “tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.”

  • haven’t we heard all this nonsense 1001 times before….acid rain…no more forests…ozone layer depletion …everyone dying from cancer…jes** ch***…can’t these crackpots give it a rest…

  • We may be mocking the fear and concern of ‘warmists’ and ‘conservationists’ but the world is somewhat in a mess. The problem is where to obtain reliable information rather than propaganda? As a skeptic I’ve been working on this since 1990, and my conclusion is that only reliable education can help us ‘do the right thing for the right reasons at the right time’. So spend some time informing yourself about the world’s foremost problems relating to land, sea and air. Some effort on your part will be needed, because this is pure science after all. Are you up to it? Then tell others. Let the skeptical snowball roll.
    http://www.seafriends.org.nz/issues/global/climate.htm
    With over 4000 printed pages and over 5000 images it has been a labour of love and is still not completed.

  • I find it curious why you neglected to mention the other aspects of the Pew Center on the Environment, and instead focusing on what amounts to an ad hominem attack on Reichert? Did I miss something, or are the members of the Business Environmental Leadership Council somehow analogous to Greenpeace?

    Also, I might ask if in penning this litany of ad hominem attacks, if you really have any tangible scientific evidence to back up your own position? Is ocean life fine and dandy? As though you’ve never stooped to referring to “…lobby groups in cahoots with businesses, blurring the lines between activism, scientific research, and so on…”?

    In contrast and whether you happen to like it or not, a recently published National Science Foundation report says much the same thing, but I think you’ll have a harder time resorting to character assassination to debunk their report.

  • I’m relieved to hear that JB is against ‘character asassination’ and ‘ad hominem attacks’.

  • They are organizing the organized

  • Gee Ben, I’m glad that you’re glad that you openly welcome someone would dare to scrutinize and be skeptical of what you’ve penned to the same extent that you obviously hold of IPSO’s report…although it’s fairly easy to determine you’re dripping with sarcasm. Even so, you’ve clearly highlighted select individuals to make what seems a rather a hasty generalization that avoids addressing the arguments presented in any one of the scientific studies in any meaningful fashion.

    Specifically, I note that you conveniently skipped over any similar level of scrutiny of the arguments presented by Professor Chris Reid, Professor Charles Sheppard, Dr William Cheung, Professor Tom Hutchinson, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg and Professor Jelle Bijma. Forgive me for being skeptical, but I rather wonder what stopped you? Or am I correct in understanding that you are simply relying on a charge of “guilt by association” to make up for that?

    I’m all for skepticism within science, which by it’s very nature is skeptical, but I’m also equally in favor of objectivity and ethics. Are you? If so, then are you in fact prepared to step up to the plate and address the arguments directly?

  • JB, there is no scientific study. The IPSO report is not a scientific study.

    I think you’re confused about what you’re trying to defend, and the criticism against it.

  • Ben, am I “confused”? Did I state that IPSO’s report was in an of itself a “study”? No, but I did say that there are arguments presented on the part of the scientists involved, and those arguments are in fact backed up by their own studies, which you conveniently avoided addressing in any meaningful fashion. I mean, you’ve been to the site, so you must have seen their presentations, did you not? At least that is where I suspect you found the video of Dr. Rogers that you embedded, n’est pas?

    Take for example, Case Study 1: The potentially deadly trio of factors — warming, acidification and anoxia — affecting today’s oceans, by Professor Jelle Bijma, Marine Biogeosciences, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research. Professor Jelle Bijma clearly presented a report that was based on several published studies, namely:

    Kump, L. R., T. J. Bralower, et al. (2009). “OCEAN ACIDIFICATION IN DEEP TIME.” Oceanography 22(4): 94-­‐107.

    Ridgwell, A. and J. C. Hargreaves (2007). “Regulation of atmospheric CO2 by deep-­‐sea sediments in an Earth system model.” Global Biogeochemical Cycles 21(2): 14.

    Veron, J.E.N. 2008b Mass extinctions and ocean acidification: biological constraints on geological dilemmas. Coral Reefs 27: 459–472

    Zeebe, R. E., J. C. Zachos, et al. (2009). “Carbon dioxide forcing alone insufficient to explain Palaeocene-­ Eocene Thermal Maximum warming.” Nature Geoscience 2(8): 576-­‐580.

    …and that is just the first such “Case Study”.

    Furthermore, there are in fact several further studies that reinforce what they are saying. I provided you with a link to the one recently published by the National Academy of Sciences. So, would you like to consider addressing these points in an honest, objective, and ethical fashion? Or no? The choice is clearly yours… or could it be that the nuances expressed in these various scientific studies make you ‘confused’?

  • JB – Ben, am I “confused”? Did I state that IPSO’s report was in an of itself a “study”? No,

    You nonetheless seem confused. The post above (and the one that follows it) makes the point that the report is being presented across the world as new, independent, scientific research, produced by a panel of experts.

    There may well be expertise on the panel, but the rest is palpable PR: IPSO is not independent, it’s not scientific, it doesn’t do research, and its experts are activists.

    That is my criticism.

    I’m not interested in the individual items of research, other than to point out that the IPSO stunt is clearly intended to given them credibility and momentum, where perhaps they might not survive the conventional scientific process on their own terms otherwise. This really is a case of politics colonising science.

    If you want to debate the science of ocean acidification and so on, then I suggest you try elsewhere. I’m not interested, and your comments do not alter my criticism whatsoever.

  • I think JB’s point is the one we’re all familiar with: the ‘science’ exempts the scientists from criticism, scrutiny or fault.

    Thus every eco-warrior’s argument is ‘about the science’ — a kind of capture-the-flag game — as though the ‘science’ existed apart from the institutions that produce it.

  • No Ben, The science should be scrutinized, especially by those who claim “skepticism” much less insinuate “foul play”; so, what’s stopping you? Are you prepared to address any of the points made by the above-mentioned professors- or even the National Academy of Sciences- report in any meaningful fashion? Or are you just going to avoid engaging in an honest, objective, and above all ethical discussion at all costs? But do keep whining about “eco warriors” if it makes you feel better… but it’s your loss. Just don’t be surprised if it fails to persuade mature adults, who can in fact be capable of debating a topic in a congenial fashion.

    You nonetheless seem confused. The post above (and the one that follows it) makes the point that the report is being presented across the world as new, independent, scientific research, produced by a panel of experts.

    Nothing of the sort, Ben, but do keep posing your straw men. I never said it was new: I merely said you avoided addressing any of it… It appears from your rather responses that you have no intention of doing so.

    Are the experts I referred to, whom you avoided making any mention of in your piece “activists”? That depends on how you define it, which you also conveniently avoided doing. Any expert in any given field has a tendency to promote their field, do they not? Why should any respectable marine biologist who has studied the impact on sit idly by? They don’t, and were you to participate in scientific congresses devoted to field, you would readily observe that.

    The fact is, criticizing their “activism”, while simultaneously claiming to be “disinterested” in the actually scientific research, is more than a little disingenuous, Mr. “Climate Resistance”. Your rhetorical posturing strikes me as a form of avoidance mechanism, designed to evade addressing the rationales that those professor are speaking upon. In other words, claiming to be “disinterested” is little more than a cute cop-out on your part.

    I’m not interested, and your comments do not alter my criticism whatsoever.

    Sure, but you only neglected to mention any criticism of the professors I mentioned. What’s the term for that again? Oh that’s right, it’s generally referred to as “cherry picking”…

  • JB – The science should be scrutinized, especially by those who claim “skepticism” much less insinuate “foul play”; so, what’s stopping you?

    Well, I don’t claim to be a ‘sceptic'; that’s not my interest. There are plenty of blogs about climate and environmental science. My argument is that environmentalism can be understood as a political phenomenon. It’s no coincidence that a bunch of environmentalists get together and decide that ‘it is worse than we thought': their politics precedes the science. We can see environmentalism in the constitution of the ‘expert panel’ of scientists: it was a political organisation before it even set out to read the literature. Before the review had even taken place, the organisation set out to influence the policy agenda. Before they even opened up the journals, they had decided that the oceans were in terminal decline. With such overtly political ambitions, there’s no need to look at ‘the science’.

    Are you prepared to address any of the points made by the above-mentioned professors- or even the National Academy of Sciences- report in any meaningful fashion?

    I don’t need to. I’ve established the point I want to make: IPSO are not an independent scientific research organisation. They are a lobbying organisation, comprised almost exclusively of environmental activists.

    Are the experts I referred to, whom you avoided making any mention of in your piece “activists”? That depends on how you define it, which you also conveniently avoided doing.

    I don’t know whether or not they are activist. I don’t care right now. They weren’t on the IPSO panel.

    In other words, claiming to be “disinterested” is little more than a cute cop-out on your part.

    The argument I make here is that the politics and ethics of environmentalism hide behind ‘science’ – science is environmentalism’s fig leaf. It hides its shame – naked authoritarianism, bad faith, elitism, and so on. The thrust of your argument is that I’m not allowed to criticise environmentalism or its activists unless I’ve ‘done the science’. ‘Science’ is environmentalism’s cop out.

    you only neglected to mention any criticism of the professors I mentioned. What’s the term for that again? Oh that’s right, it’s generally referred to as “cherry picking”…

    Yes, but in the case of criticising IPSO — which is what I do — I pick ALL of the cherries in the IPSO bowl in this and the following post. So your bringing new researchers into the picture is what’s known as ‘moving the goal posts’.

  • Well, I don’t claim to be a ‘sceptic’; that’s not my interest.

    Really? You might like to revise your “About page” to reflect that, then, for one can easily construe that is in fact your agenda from the points you’ve posted.

    I’ve established the point I want to make: IPSO are not an independent scientific research organisation.

    Yes, but that is factually disingenuous, for they are in fact relying on independently conducted studies, which you conveniently avoided mentioning.

    I don’t know whether or not they are activist. I don’t care right now.</blockquote

    So in other words, are you abandoning your previous hasty generalization fallacy and sticking with your genetic fallacy instead?

    They weren’t on the IPSO panel.

    I think your reading comprehension skills may be a tad too selective, if you even exercised them in this case. Did you even bother to read page 10 of the report that you mention in your “Update #2″ from Barry Woods? Had you in fact read it (you know, “trust, but verify”), you would know that it span both pages 10 and 11, and those above-mentioned scientists are all very much included.

    The fact is, that there were 27 participants, and you criticize just five. All of the scientists referred to are in fact part of the panel as well, but you just conveniently avoided mentioning that, or criticizing them. Hence a rational observer can conclude that your comments are in fact a form of hasty generalization fallacy.

    It might be possible for you to fathom that it is because of this chosen tactic of yours, that precisely why I’ve been posting these comments. If you want to persuade rational adults, then your criticisms would necessarily include all of the participants and their respective positions. The fact is, you didn’t, but still went ahead to draw certain rather biased conclusions about the organization.

    The argument I make here is that the politics and ethics of environmentalism hide behind ‘science’ – science is environmentalism’s fig leaf.

    I see, so you merely want to pose genetic fallacies and hasty generalizations about “environmentalism”, but aren’t actually prepared to ethically cover the scientific information on which these positions are in fact based. It’s not a “fig leaf”, which implies it’s just a cover for an ulterior agenda regardless of the science; these scientists have arrived at their conclusions as a result of their research. If you were to argue your point in a truly ethical fashion, you would necessarily have to tackle the fact that the science does in fact inform these positions, and ethically speaking, you cannot exclude the science from this issue. Yet that it what you’ve done, even to the point that you’ve denied that the scientists in question actually participated.

    As such, your “argument” has a net result of a combination of genetic, guilt by association, straw man, and ad hominem fallacies.

    Yes, but in the case of criticising IPSO — which is what I do — I pick ALL of the cherries in the IPSO bowl in this and the following post.

    Only you refuse to address the scientists, who are in fact members of the workshop panel.
    So as I observed before, you’re being more than a little disingenuous.

  • Correction: the participants are listed on pp. 10-12.

  • Really? You might like to revise your “About page” to reflect that, then, for one can easily construe that is in fact your agenda from the points you’ve posted.

    That’s your preconception you’re bringing to the discussion — it’s you who has divided the debate into ‘scientists’ and ‘sceptics’ before you’ve even read the argument. Thus, you put the contents of the ‘about’ page into the sceptic category, and then argue with the content of your own prejudices, rather than the substance of the arguments on this site. This is the symptom of environmentalism, and it’s discussed a lot on these pages alongside the maxim that ‘environmental politics precede the science’. You should make more careful arguments.

    I’ve established the point I want to make: IPSO are not an independent scientific research organisation.

    Yes, but that is factually disingenuous, for they are in fact relying on independently conducted studies, which you conveniently avoided mentioning.

    The fact that IPSO lists provenance does not vouch for the soundness of the process that seemingly follows from it. Sceptics often do the same, as do Environmental NGOs. As do policy documents from political parties. As anybody who has written an essay in an academic institution knows, referencing is a necessary but not sufficient condition of a distinction.

    Again, it seems I need to repeat the point… Right here, right now, I’m not taking issue with the provenance; I’m taking issue with IPSO project. I’m saying it’s not independent, it’s not doing research, it’s not a panel of experts, and it is a panel of activists fulfilling a PR need.

    So in other words, are you abandoning your previous hasty generalization fallacy and sticking with your genetic fallacy instead?

    The thing I always notice about people who need to use the technical terms for logical errors is that they almost always don’t understand the argument they’re engaged in, and they even less often have an understanding of the logical problem that the fallacy describes. And so it is here. My argument, again, is that IPSO are not what they appear to be, in spite of that impressive list of references.

    The fact is, that there were 27 participants, and you criticize just five. All of the scientists referred to are in fact part of the panel as well, but you just conveniently avoided mentioning that, or criticizing them. Hence a rational observer can conclude that your comments are in fact a form of hasty generalization fallacy.

    And if you were as sharp as you think you are, you will notice two things. First, there are not 27 participants listed, but just 26. Second, you will notice on the post that followed the above by just 20 hours, that I indeed go through each of the 26 participants, as I pointed out to you previously. From only a cursory search of their profiles, I find that only 8 seem to be remotely independent of environmental activism, i.e. not given to a political form of ecology. And, frankly, I have my doubts about the rest, but I think I make a sufficient point with just pointing out that much.

    If you want to persuade rational adults, then your criticisms would necessarily include all of the participants and their respective positions. The fact is, you didn’t, but still went ahead to draw certain rather biased conclusions about the organization.

    The fact is that I did. My starting point was the discovery that the two leads on the project were Greenpeace activists, one a scientist of sorts, the other a PR agent, working for environmental NGOs. This issue, JB, is about science as PR, and science by press release. My conclusion is that, if we want to exclude from the debate about climate and the environment, the opinions from interested parties — to wit, PR agencies and scientists who have been employed by oil companies — then by the same measure, we must also exclude those of a green bent, who similarly, intend to use science as PR and propaganda, rather than to inform the process.

    The argument I make here is that the politics and ethics of environmentalism hide behind ‘science’ – science is environmentalism’s fig leaf.

    I see, so you merely want to pose genetic fallacies and hasty generalizations about “environmentalism”, but aren’t actually prepared to ethically cover the scientific information on which these positions are in fact based.

    There are hundreds of posts on this blog. In very many of them, I do precisely as you demand. It wasn’t necessary in this instance, because the face value facts are so easily exposed. If you want to discuss the principle in more depth, I can direct you to posts where it discussed in minute detail.

    If you were to argue your point in a truly ethical fashion, you would necessarily have to tackle the fact that the science does in fact inform these positions, and ethically speaking, you cannot exclude the science from this issue.

    No, if I want to demonstrate that the politics is prior, I necessarily have to show that the politics is prior. Working from the science onwards would be to get the point the wrong way round. IPSO’s conclusion is its premise, and this is made materially evident by the fact of it being an assembly of people with a particular agenda. There is no more visible an example of the politics is prior than this. At least with processes such as the IPCC, there’s an attempt to make it look like a transparent process, in which actual independent expertise is asked to review the existing literature from a policy-neutral perspective (though the reality is somewhat different, of course). None of that can be said about IPSO, though it was presented as independent, scientific, objective research.

  • From Mr Black:

    Dear Mr Nunn,

    Thanks for your email. I’m aware of the discussion that there has been
    around this project. However, as to credibility, I do not think there is
    a problem. As to journalists’ qualifications – many have no formal
    qualifications in the areas in which they practice, and yet do
    outstanding jobs.

    Best regards,
    Richard Black

    –Make it up as you go along then Mr Black.

  • Check out one of the pingbacks above, logged on 5th July. There’s been a discussion on a website called theseamonster.net about the IPSO announcement; Climate Resistance gets a mention, although it’s not particularly complimentary, but what is interesting is that there are scientists speaking up who are not entirely overjoyed at the way IPSO has proceeded.
    http://theseamonster.net/2011/07/forum-on-the-future-of-the-oceans/

    In particular, read the comments of Manuel Barange, Director of Science, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, who attended the IPSO workshop but withdrew, and explains why he did so:

    “While many of the threats and challenges mentioned in the report are real, they are often presented in overly simplistic ways. The report disregards scientific uncertainty (especially with respect to climate change impacts) and does not acknowledge the diversity of views on specific facts. When in doubt, the worse reading is the one highlighted. Assessments that could be considered positive, and human actions in the right direction, are disregarded (and there are large communities working very hard on the latter).”

    Also:

    Professor Terry Hughes (coral reef ecologist, James Cook University):
    ” It’s not good science to overstate poorly understood trajectories of coral reefs (“they’ll all be dead in 20 years”), and it’s terrible politics because it turns people off and undermines our credibility. As scientists, we need to offer solutions.”

    Don Boesch (Professor of Marine Science, University of Maryland):
    “The heavy participation by environmental activists—don’t get me wrong, I respect the work these folks do and am grateful they are doing it—opens the report to the kind of criticism of agenda-driven bias that the Climate Resistance blogger leveled. Indeed, if we are honest—now don’t shoot the messenger—the blogger is probably correct that the participants were indeed a preselected group who shared beliefs and assembled, not to assess the evidence critically, but assemble it in a way to make their case for a call to action (“the scientific outcomes . . . will be used first and foremost to strengthen the case for greater action”). Now this is a fine and noble thing to do, but it does reduce the authority founded on inclusive, objective appraisal by scientists. As a result, although the IPSO workshop report enjoyed a press splash and thus may have affected public opinion on scope and urgency of ocean stresses, I suspect it will have limited staying power and long-term impact on policymaking.”

    Also see the comments by Trevor Branch (Assistant Professor, Aquatic & Fishery Sciences, University of Washington):
    “In my opinion, both the report and this SeaMonster discussion of the report, are utterly and completely biased by the vast majority of participants being conservationists with an obvious agenda. It is easy to come to consensus about an upcoming extinction of marine life if you primarily invite people who have publicly stated they believe this to be true.

    Kudos to Manuel Barrange for having the integrity to withdraw and publicly state his reasons for withdrawing when it became obvious that the meeting intended to ignore the actual scientific evidence in order to make as bold of a media splash as possible.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Post archive
  • 2014
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • 2006
  • 2002