The list of the 26 contributors to the IPSO panel of expert scientists is on page 10 of the report of the three day conference. The previous posts here seem to have attracted a lot of interest, so I thought I’d have a yet deeper look at this panel for those following the story.
Let’s get the easy bit over with. Of the 26 contributors, we can immediately exclude half of them as non-experts:
Kelly Rigg is Executive Director of the Global Campaign for Climate Action.
Charlotte Smith is a Senior Accounts Director at Communications INC.
Mirella Von Lindenfels is Director of the The International Programme on the State of the Ocean, but alslo works at Communications INC, alongside Charlotte Smith.
Matt Gianni is a Policy Advisor at Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
Barry Gardiner is a British Member of Parliament, and Vice President GLOBE UK Global Legislators Organisation
Aurelie Spadone is a Marine Programme Officer at the International Union for Conservation of Nature
James Oliver is a Project Officer at the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Kristina M Gjerde is High Seas Policy Advisor at the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Patricio Bernal is Project Coordinator at the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Dan Laffoley is a Senior Advisor at the International Union for Conservation of Nature
Conn Nugent is the Executive Director of the JM Kaplan Fund
Josh Reichert is Managing Director of the Pew Environment Group
Karen Sack is Director of international ocean conservation at the Pew Environment Group
Remember, IPSO are selling this as
A high-level international workshop convened by IPSO met at the University of Oxford earlier this year. It was the first inter-disciplinary international meeting of marine scientists of its kind and was designed to consider the cumulative impact of multiple stressors on the ocean, including warming, acidification, and overfishing.
I have excluded most of the above names on the basis that they are palpably not marine scientists. There are a few who may once have been such experts, but are not involved in research, but in issue-advocacy for a coalition of ENGOs — the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
There are 13 names remaining.
Jelle Bijma http://www.awi.de/People/show?jbijma seems to have a sufficiently solid scientific background, even if his research interests — Ocean Warming and Acidification; Proxy Development and Innovation; The Earth System on Long Time Scales — are ones we see too much confidence about in the broader debate.
Phil Tranthan also seems like a reasonable bet. http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/about_bas/contact/staff/profile/PhilTrathan/
It’s not clear what Prof. Tom Hutchinson does, or specialises in .But he works at the Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), a division of the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). http://www.cefas.defra.gov.uk/about-us/our-purpose.aspx
Our work directly supports delivery of the aquatic-related aspects of Defra’s key priorities and strategic objectives. As an executive agency, we play a vital role in securing healthy marine and freshwater environments for everyone’s well-being, health and prosperity. This is achieved by providing evidence-based scientific advice, managing related data and information, conducting scientific research, and facilitating collaborative action through wide-ranging international relationships.
Which brings us to Ove Hoeghk-Guldberg, a professor and director of the Global Change Institute, University of Queensland.
Unfortunately for Prof. Hoeghk-Guldberg, he’s let his reputation get spoiled by his ownblurring of science and activism during Anthony Watts tour of Australia:
The Tuesday night meeting in Brisbane on the WUWT Australian tour had a bit of unexpected fireworks courtesy of Aussie reef scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. The meeting started off with some protestors outside holding placards with the tired old messages claiming “funding by big oil”…etc. Professor Ove actually incited this on his blog, saying that “The Climate Shifts crew and other scientists will be there en masse to record and debunk the lies that will be told.”
Then there’s Alex Rogers, the organiser of the IPSO thing… whatever it is. Is he a scientist, or an activist? As Alex Cull pointed out in the comments on the previous post, sadly, Dr Roger’s also blurs the lines between science and activism:
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
It would be harder to come to this conclusion had the event he has organised had been the thing it was advertised as being. But when you make claims such as ‘run by Scientists for the world’, you start to look somewhat messianic.
Chris Yesson, a Postdoctoral Research Assistant at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London looks like a fairly sensible chap. Shame he go involved in this nonsense.
Kirsty Kemp is a colleague of Chris Yesson.
Derek Tittensor is a research scientists at the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) and the Computational Ecology and Environmental Science group at Microsoft Research. Fair enough, though I have my doubts about the UNEP and its WCMC.
Philip Chris Reid is a senior research fellow at the Sir Alasdair Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, University of Plymouth. This press release from December ’09 says,
A new report looking at the relationship between the world’s oceans and global warming is set to fire a stark warning shot across the bows ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen. [...] The study, led by Professor Chris Reid, from the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS), the University of Plymouth and the Marine Biological Association (MBA), has found that both rising sea temperatures and a reducing ability of the oceans to absorb the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO2) may be leading to an acceleration of climate change. Drawing upon the research of over 100 of the leading oceanographers and scientists around the world, the work is co-authored by more than thirty experts from organizations in ten countries, such as the British Antarctic Survey and the Alfred Wegener Institute, Germany. The 150-page report has taken 18 months to produce and was initially commissioned by the WWF. It is unprecedented in its scale and scope, and examines evidence of changes in ocean temperature and ecosystems, rising acidification and methane levels, and massive shrinkage of the polar ice caps.
Sorry, Chris. By the standards set by environmentalists, you can’t claim to be engaged in scientific research free from some agenda.
Daniel Pauly is Professor of Fisheries at the University of British Columbia. According to his CV he was a Board Member of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature, Canada, 2004 to 2006.
Tony Pitcher is a colleague of Daniel Pauly’s at the University of British Columbia. http://www.zoology.ubc.ca/person/pitcher
William Cheung is a Lecturer in Marine Ecosystem Services at the University of East Anglia. According to his profile page at the UEA website, he has “been a member of the IUCN Groupers and Wrasses Species Specialist Group since 2005″.
Sorry, Dr Cheung, but imagine if you had worked for a network of oil industry research organisations… Do you think you’d be regarded as a source of impartial comment on climate change?
Charles Sheppard is a professor at the University of Warwick. According to his profile page,
I hold a half-time position of Professor in the Department. The remainder of my time I work for a range of UN , governmental and aid agencies in tropical marine and coastal development issues.
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
FINAL SCORE: 18-8.
But wait a minute. Haven’t all the members of this panel — never mind the 8 who don’t seem so confused about the difference between activism and science — merely been invited to this event simply because they have emphasised things like ‘sustainability’ and ‘ocean acidification’, and ‘climate change’? And isn’t that why they have been invited? Isn’t the point of IPSO simply to ask researchers of a similar mind to take part, and then present their ‘findings’ as the result of a scientific enquiry?
I could do the same thing tomorrow. I could email my academic friends — the ones I know to be broadly sceptical of climate change politics, if not the science — and invite them to my house for coffee. ‘Are you really worried about the end of the World’, I could ask. ‘Not really’, they would say. I could write up their non-concern in an expensive brochure. I could then pitch it to the world as convincing evidence that ‘things are not as bad as previously thought’. And the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, the Telegraph, and the Daily Mail would report the findings, verbatim, without questioning it, wouldn’t they? Just as they have done here:
Oceans on brink of catastrophe
Marine life facing mass extinction ‘within one human generation’ / State of seas ‘much worse than we thought’, says global panel of scientists
World’s oceans move into ‘extinction phase’
The next generation may lose the opportunity to swim over coral reefs or eat certain species of fish, scientists have warned, as the world’s oceans move into a ‘phase of extinction’ due to human impacts such as over-fishing and climate change.
Panel: Problems With Oceans Multiplying, Worsening
The health of the world’s oceans is declining much faster than originally thought — under siege from pollution, overfishing and other man-made problems all at once — scientists say in a new report.
‘Shocking’ state of seas threatens mass extinction, say marine experts
Overfishing and pollution putting fish, sharks and whales in extreme danger – with extinction ‘inevitable’, study finds.
World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ decline
The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.
World’s oceans in ‘shocking’ state say scientists as they warn of marine extinction
The world’s oceans are facing an extinction crisis as the result of a range of human impacts from over-fishing to climate change, scientists warned today.
And it’s the same everywhere. A little club of eco-warriors –many, if not most, of whom are not scientists — is presented, across newspapers in every single country, as a panel of experts. The headlines have found their way into hundreds of thousands of twitter feeds.
Why didn’t journalists think to ask: what is IPSO; who are its members; and why should we regard their say as the final word?
A commenter at Watts Up With That makes the following observation:
June 21, 2011 at 6:10 am
Hmm, the owner of “Communications Inc Limited”, Mirella von Lindenfels, was also “director” at IPSO and “head of Media” at Greenpeace (see http://www.linkedin.com/pub/mirella-von-lindenfels/14/407/455 ). And her current clients include (not very surprising) IPSO and Greenpeace: http://communicationsinc.co.uk/clients.cfm
It was Greenpeace all along, after all.
Mirella von Lindenfels’s Experience
Communications Inc Limited
Public Relations and Communications industry
2003 – Present (8 years)
International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO)
Nonprofit Organization Management industry
2007 – 2010 (3 years)
Not for profit marine conservation organisation designed to build a greater understanding of the role of the global ocean in maintaining life on earth and the measures necessary to preserve it.
Director of Media and Audio Visual
Nonprofit; Nonprofit Organization Management industry
1999 – 2003 (4 years)
head of Media
Nonprofit; Nonprofit Organization Management industry
1996 – 1999 (3 years)