Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

IPCC Summary: The Real Story

Media outlets remain oblivious to the IPCC’s tainted-by-activism personnel.


Over the weekend, mainstream media outlets published news stories regarding the recent leak of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) summary document.

After reading this document, the New York Times declared that “scientists have found” that climate change “will pose sharp risks to the world’s food supply.”

In Germany, Der Spiegel also emphasized the food angle. The Associated Press, meanwhile, advised that a “scientific report forecasts” that “starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts, war and disease” will be exacerbated by climate change.

When I looked at this summary, however, it wasn’t the IPCC’s prose that caught my attention. It was the less obvious, subterranean story beneath the surface.

Hundreds of people helped write the 30 chapters in the Working Group 2 section of the IPCC’s new report. From those hundreds of people, 71 individuals were selected to work on this summary. Their job was to distil 30 chapters into 29 pages.

One would expect a body that says it’s conducting a scientific assessment to choose people who are clean as a whistle for such a task. People who exemplify science at its best – neutral, dispassionate, disinterested scholars.

But that’s not what happened. Among those who helped write this summary we find astrophysicist Michael Oppenheimer. He spent more than two decades on the payroll of the wealthy American activist organization, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). According to his online biography at Princeton University, he continues to advise the EDF to this day.

In other words, Oppenheimer is tainted by his activist past and his activist present. If an anti-junk-food crusader was asked to summarize a report on childhood obesity would they be likely to produce a carefully balanced précis – or one slanted in a particular direction?


Click to enlarge. IPCC chapter head Ove Hoegh-Guldberg has a long history of activist employment. This is from p. 12 of a WWF report (2002).

Another summary author is Australian marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. He, too, has activist ties stretching back 20 years. When Greenpeace wasn’t paying his mortgage, it appears the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) was, instead. Hoegh-Guldburg authored all of these reports:

Then there’s Alistair Woodward, a New Zealand medical doctor whose specialty is public health. In recent years Woodward has published articles that could be mistaken for political manifestos. In 2009, for example, he co-authored one that urges doctors to “Educate and encourage patients…in climate change action” and to “Make Green Prescriptions.”

Another Woodward article declares, in the climate change context, that “we need to move beyond dissent and denial.” It includes a subheading that reads: “The science demands action.” How likely is it that someone who holds such opinions is going to approach his IPCC duties with an open mind?

Back in 2010, the IPCC placed each of the above-named gentlemen in charge of one of its chapters. Oppenheimer leads Chapter 19 (Emergent Risks and Key Vulnerabilities). Hoegh-Guldberg leads Chapter 30 (Open Oceans). And Woodward leads Chapter 11 (Human Health).

But that wasn’t scandalous enough. Of all the people the IPCC might have chosen to work on the summary document, these three were selected once again. They were given an additional layer of responsibility.

Despite there being good evidence that Oppenheimer, Hoegh-Guldberg, and Woodward are the furthest thing from neutral, disinterested parties, the IPCC has accorded them influence over two different stages of its new report.

That’s the real story – the one the mainstream media totally missed.



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