This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
Oh dear, this is getting tedious. Another day another Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) author with ties to Greenpeace. This time the gent in the spotlight is an Australian marine biologist named Ove Hoegh-Guldberg.
After serving as a contributing author to the 2007 climate bible, Hoegh-Guldberg received a big promotion. In the upcoming edition, currently underway and expected to be completed in 2013, he is now a coordinating lead author – the most senior of the IPCC’s three author designations (click the image for the source document, see page 19).
In 2007, Hoegh-Guldberg testified as an expert witness before an Australian tribunal. His written submission ran to 57 pages – the last 15 of which are comprised of his CV. Pages 53 and 54 are of particular interest since they list his 10 major research reports. Four of these were published by Greenpeace and a fifth was published by the World Wildlife Fund. (Four others were written for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.)
This means that Hoegh-Guldberg has been cashing paycheques from activist organizations for the past 17 years.
In 1996 he wrote a follow-up study. Ka-ching! Cheque number two. By 1999 he and Greenpeace had expanded their scope. They weren’t just talking about a particular corner of the world anymore – they’d gone global. This new study was titled Climate change, coral bleaching and the future of the world’s coral reefs. Ka-ching! Cheque number three. A year later Hoegh-Guldberg authored still another Greenpeace report, Coral Bleaching: Pacific in Peril. (The full 72-page PDF is here.) Ka-ching!
Fast forward a few years and Hoegh-Guldberg has a new patron – the World Wildlife Fund. The 2004 report he wrote at its behest was titled: Implications of climate change for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. According to the WWF press release that introduced it to the world, this report not only examined things that live in the water it apparently performed some fancy atmospheric science calculations that spewed forth a magical number:
Only if global average temperature change is kept to below two degrees Celsius can the Reef have any chance of recovering from the predicted damage. [italics and bold added]
Let’s keep in mind that this was published a full three years before the IPCC’s 2007 climate bible. Clearly, neither the “world-renowned reef expert” nor the WWF felt the need to wait around for that body to decide whether a clear connection between human actions and global warming could even be established. They already knew the answer. In any event, ka-ching! Cheque number five.
In 2009 Hoegh-Guldberg was the lead author of a second WWF report. This one was titled: The Coral Triangle and Climate Change: Ecosystems, People, and Societies at Risk. That entire 229-page document is available here in PDF format. The Preface contains no shortage of drama queen language:
The world is currently facing the greatest challenge of all time…Humanity is at the crossroads. The message is quite simple and the choice stark: act now or face an uncertain, potentially catastrophic future…World leaders can change the history of the planet and directly influence the survival of millions upon millions of people…Basically, the future is looking very gloomy unless we act immediately and decisively.
Ka-ching! Cheque number six.
Hoegh-Guldberg is entitled to work for whomever he pleases. But someone who has spent the past 17 years taking cash from two of the world’s most influential activist organizations is thoroughly tainted. By no stretch of the imagination can he be considered a disinterested party who will carefully weigh the pros and cons and then write a scrupulously objective section of the IPCC report.
If his findings were purely a matter of science the 2000 Pacific in Peril document would not tell us, on page six, that it:
…was reviewed by and received crucial input from B Hare (Greenpeace International)… [bold added]
Remember Bill Hare? He’s the Greenpeace legend who’s also one of the IPCC’s most senior personnel. He, too, is currently hard at work preparing the upcoming edition of the climate bible. This time he’s serving as a lead author (see page 8).
UPDATE April 22nd, 2011: No less than nine chapters of the 2007 edition of the climate bible based their conclusions partly on Hoegh-Guldberg’s work. All these chapters were part of the Working Group 2 report: Chapter 1, Chapter 4, Chapter 6, Chapter 10, Chapter 11, Chapter 14, Chapter 15, Chapter 16, and Chapter 17.