Posts Tagged ‘advocacy groups’

Plastic in the oceans grossly exaggerated: How the UN spreads bad science

April 30, 2015

It is widely assumed that about 10% of annual plastic production ends up in the oceans. That would mean that about 30 million tonnes end up in our seas every year. But this is just a myth and has been spread by a UN mistake as reported by Nordic Science. The actual number is 2 – 4%. The UN knows it is a mistake but it serves their “political” goals to go slow with any correction. I would go so far as to say that the UN mistake (by a consultant – of course) was quite deliberate. Which advocacy group did that consultant come from – I wonder?

It is tempting to beat our largest drums when fighting pollution. … One of science’s cardinal virtues is accuracy. Despite that, scientists are contributing to the dissemination of numbers with rather nebulous sources.

When ScienceNordic’s Norwegian partner forskning.no recently wrote about new calculations quantifying the plastic debris in the sea, we wondered why the new figures were so much lower than previous findings.

A number of researchers stated that the new calculation methods were the best they had seen to date. So we tried to find out how other scientists had ended up with a much higher figure –ten percent of the world’s plastic output. This was no easy task. The one-tenth figure cropped up ubiquitously, but no one could say what research it was based on. Apparently it didn’t come from research at all.

Some still claim that ten percent of the plastic produced annually ends up in marine environments. In 2013 alone that would equate to 30 million tonnes. This is a staggering amount of plastic for the oceans of the world and the marine life in these seas to cope with.

The latest calculations decrease this share of plastic debris to two to four percent of annual output.

We started searching for the source of the ten-percent figure.

Each reference pointed to another, which in turn referred to another article or paper in an apparent endless chain. Where was the original source?

A UN document for a workshop of international experts on marine debris also referred to a scientific paper. But when we checked that paper there we found no trace of this ten percent estimate.

We contacted the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which had commissioned the document from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). They would not put us in touch with the author of the document, but Jihyun Lee in the Secretariat sent us an e-mail:

“Our consultant quoted the reference in good faith as it was cited in a peer-reviewed paper as being the source of the information. A robust review of this paper by the consultant when he quoted this information could have avoided this mistake. Unfortunately he did not go back to the source reference in this case to double-check the original source.”

The UN document was a draft. The mistake had already been pointed out by a scientist at the workshop and checked out. Jihyun Lee explains that the number will now be deleted from the final report.

But the number had already spread internationally, including to Norway, where the expert on plastics Geir Wing Gabrielsen of the Norwegian Polar Institute quoted it in the media.

“When I read a scientific article or a UN report, I expect the references made to be correct and they should be possible to confirm. It is unfortunate when, as in this case, numbers are impossible to track down,” he writes in an e-mail.

Read the whole article

Forskning.no finally traced the 10% number through many a false citation to a non-peer-reviewed conference presentation by a Professor Richard Thompson of Plymouth University who now admits he had no basis for the number but says it was based on “grey” literature. Which advocacy group did his “respected source” come from?

“ It was from a respected source, it seemed credible and I believed it as did others,” he writes in an e-mail to forskning.no. But he doesn’t answer the question of why he neglected to investigate the reference which the number comes from.

Thompson writes that he relied on grey literature, in other words, information from the authorities, organisations or academics who have not been peer reviewed through formal scientific publications. Typically, this could be a report, a work note or a presentation. 

“On further digging there is no substance to them – they were guesses and I should not have used them. I have not used the quote again,” he writes.

No doubt the consultant and the grey literature were from some advocacy group, such as Greenpeace, who have no qualms about making up information when it suits their purpose. Lies are justified as necessary because their “ends are good”. I note that the UN bureaucracy believe that the end justifies the means and their means include disseminating “grey information” as if it was gospel. It is not so surprising then that the UN IPCC reports on climate are full of highly dubious grey literature.

The UN’s scientific panels are little better than advocacy groups. Accuracy and truth have just become collateral damage in the furthering of their political goals. And the IPCC leads all the rest.

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Now IPCC becomes just a lobby for Greenpeace!

June 16, 2011

There seems to be an incestuous relationship between the IPCC and a number of advocacy groups with the parties lobbying for each other. In the latest episode the IPCC has become the vehicle for publishing conclusions from a Greenpeace advocacy report on renewables:

The Independent:

Climate change panel in hot water again over ‘biased’ energy report 

The world’s foremost authority on climate change used a Greenpeace campaigner to help write one of its key reports, which critics say made misleading claims about renewable energy, The Independent has learnt. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set up by the UN in 1988 to advise governments on the science behind global warming, issued a report last month suggesting renewable sources could provide 77 per cent of the world’s energy supply by 2050. But in supporting documents released this week, it emerged that the claim was based on a real-terms decline in worldwide energy consumption over the next 40 years – and that the lead author of the section concerned was an employee of Greenpeace. Not only that, but the modelling scenario used was the most optimistic of the 164 investigated by the IPCC.

Critics said the decision to highlight the 77 per cent figure showed a bias within the IPCC against promoting potentially carbon-neutral energies such as nuclear fuel. One climate change sceptic said it showed the body was not truly independent and relied too heavily on green groups for its evidence. 

Yesterday, after the full report was released, the sceptical climate change blog Climate Audit reported that the 77 per cent figure had been derived from a joint study by Sven Teske, a climate change expert employed by Greenpeace, which opposes the use of nuclear power to cut carbon emissions.

Last night, the IPCC said it had been made clear that the 77 per cent figure was only one of the estimates made from the models and that Mr Teske was just one of 120 researchers who had worked on the report. John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace UK, said: “Exxon, Chevron and the French nuclear operator EDF also contribute to the IPCC, so to paint this expert UN body as a wing of Greenpeace is preposterous.” But Mark Lynas, a climate change writer in favour of using nuclear and renewables to combat global warming, said: “It is stretching credibility for the IPCC to suggest that a richer world with two billion more people will use less energy in 2050. Campaigners should not be employed as lead authors in IPCC reports.”

The IPCC must urgently review its policies for hiring lead authors – and I would have thought that not only should biased ‘grey literature’ be rejected, but campaigners from NGOs should not be allowed to join the lead author group and thereby review their own work. There is even a commercial conflict of interest here given that the renewables industry stands to be the main beneficiary of any change in government policies based on the IPCC report’s conclusions. Had it been an oil industry intervention which led the IPCC to a particular conclusion, Greenpeace et al would have course have been screaming blue murder.

Climate Audit: IPCC WG3 and the Greenpeace Karaoke

The basis for this claim is a Greenpeace scenario. The Lead Author of the IPCC assessment of the Greenpeace scenario was the same Greenpeace employee who had prepared the Greenpeace scenarios, the introduction to which was written by IPCC chair Pachauri.

The public and policy-makers are starving for independent and authoritative analysis of precisely how much weight can be placed on renewables in the energy future. It expects more from IPCC WG3 than a karaoke version of Greenpeace scenario.

It is totally unacceptable that IPCC should have had a Greenpeace employee as a Lead Author of the critical Chapter 10, that the Greenpeace employee, as an IPCC Lead Author, should (like Michael Mann and Keith Briffa in comparable situations) have been responsible for assessing his own work and that, with such inadequate and non-independent ‘due diligence’, IPCC should have featured the Greenpeace scenario in its press release on renewables.

Everyone in IPCC WG3 should be terminated and, if the institution is to continue, it should be re-structured from scratch.

Greenpeace ruled to be a political advocacy group not a charity

May 11, 2011

It has been obvious for years that many environmental groups such as Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and even the World Wildlife Fund have been hijacked by “activists” to become political advocacy groups. They have all done some good in the past in the name of protecting the environment, and some of their individual projects are still admirable but for the most part they have lost sight of humans within the environment. They have all generally crossed the line and gone over to trying to impose their world view onto others. Alarmism and prohibition and “authoritarianism” rather than persuasion have become their main tools. Good science has often been replaced by scare-mongering.

But in New Zealand there is a small glimpse of sanity returning and for these political  advocacy groups being seen for what they are. The New Zealand Herald reports:

Greenpeace loses charity status case

Greenpeace New Zealand’s political activities mean it cannot register as a charity, the High Court has decided.

Greenpeace appealed against a 2010 ruling by the Charities Commission which found its promotion of “disarmament and peace” was political rather than educational and while it did not directly advocate illegal acts, Greenpeace members had acted illegally.

In his judgment Justice Paul Heath found the commission was correct in its judgment and turned down the Greenpeace appeal.

“Non-violent, but potentially illegal activities (such as trespass), designed to put (in the eyes of Greenpeace) objectionable activities into the public spotlight were an independent object disqualifying it from registration as a charitable entity,” the judge said.

Greenpeace’s pleas for disarmament and peace could be seen as an independent purpose and its political activities were not necessary to educate members of the public on the key issues of Greenpeace, Justice Heath said. Greenpeace’s lawyer Davey Salmon argued all of the organisation’s primary purposes were charitable and the engagement of charities in political advocacy was more acceptable now in 21st century New Zealand.

johnosullivan.livejournal.com comments:

In a story making headlines in the New Zealand Herald (May 10, 2011) climate skeptics around the world will now be consulting lawyers in their respective countries to assess whether similar legal challenges may be made against the disgraced former charity.

In the U.S and Britain environmentalist activists have for decades sought to influence policymakers by a swath of unlawful protests often involving criminal damage and trespass. Several prominent UN climatologists have long aligned themselves with and been apologists for the radical and unlawful acts of these environmentalists. 

As a consequence of the shock New Zealand ruling Greenpeace’s political activities mean it will be de-registered as a charity and thus lose the prestige and tax advantages associated with that status. 

NASA’s problematic climatologist, James Hansen, flew to London to be an ‘expert witness’ to testify in the defense of climate activists prosecuted for such crimes. Hansen flew to the UK in the case of the “Kingsnorth Six”, who had climbed up E.ON’s coal plant. The six had used Greenpeace’s climate change defence – that their actions were designed to prevent immediate harm to human life and property from climate change – and were acquitted.


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