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Mark Lynas : Mutant Ninja

Mark Lynas may call himself a “green”, and be a clean-shaven, respectable, politely-spoken Oxford academic type but he appears to be mutating into something very unappealing indeed. He’s written some good books on climate change – every schoolroom and university module should have one – but on energy, he is deep in the political woods, without even a wind-up flashlight.

His latest stunt is to join in with accusations from Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit that the IPCC’s report on Renewable Energy has been partly crafted by people without appropriate independence or expertise. Here, from Andrew Revkin :-

“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.”

And who is this nefarious untalented Non-Governmental Organisation ? Greenpeace, it appears, according to Mark Lynas, is not capable of writing about the future of energy (or even the current situation).

Daniel Kammen has weighed in and The Revkin has updated his post :-

“There is no Himalaya-gate here at all. While there are some issues with individual chapters, there is no ‘Greenpeace Scenario.’ The 77% carbon free by 2050 is actually more conservative than some cases. The European Climate Foundation, for example has a 100% carbon neutral scenario and Price Waterhouse has a very low carbon one for North Africa. Further, while the IPCC works from published cases, the scenarios are evaluated and assessed by a team.”

There have been a number of reports written in the last year that back the viability of Renewable Energy technologies in replacing the world’s fossil fuel and nuclear energy systems. Not all of them were crafted by Greenpeace researchers. In fact, virtually none of them. Nuclear…yes…maybe it’s that little word “nuclear” that’s the root cause of Mark Lynas’ problem with Greenpeace.

In the Guardian, he is quoted as saying :-

“Many ‘green’ campaigns, like those against nuclear power and GM crops, are not actually scientifically defensible…”

And that’s where you are so wrong, Mark Lynas with the book coming out soon that you seem so desperate to publicise by saying things you know people will find annoying. Nuclear power is a TECHNOLOGY, not a SCIENCE. This is the same basic category error made by Dick Taverne and a number of other public commentators who don’t appear to have an engineering background.

TECHNOLOGY is where people decide that their designs to make something look like they’ll work, build them and don’t foresee flaws with them. SCIENCE is where people study the technology that they’ve built and research the flaws that appear and report on them. Science is what has shown the limitations with the original boasts about genetically modified crops. It turns out that GMOs are a ruse to sell chemicals. And on nuclear fission – the science is in and on the front of your daily newspaper : nuclear power plants pose a number of risks. The advice of the reputable scientists and engineers – old fission nuclear power plants should be withdrawn.

But returning to Renewable Energy, a number of organisations now believe that the demise of fossil fuels needn’t stop humanity from accessing abundant energy. Here is just a very short compilation :-

The Two Marks : Mark A. Delucchi and Mark Z. Jacobson :-

PriceWaterhouseCooper :-

CAT Zero Carbon Britain 2030 :-

Roadmap 2050 :-

European Renewable Energy Council R[e]volution :-

But oh, no, we can’t quote the last one because Greenpeace researchers were involved, and Mark Lynas wouldn’t approve of that. Mark Lynas appears to be living in a world where Greenpeace people can’t have engineering research skills because they have ideals, working for a world that uses safe, clean energy.

The IPCC report on Renewable Energy is here :-

Much as I respect turtles, I have to say it – Mark Lynas, you’re a turtle – slow-moving and easy to catch out and turn into soup. You should know by now not to get sucked in by spurious non-arguments from Steve McIntyre. The “cleantech” industry that’s ramping up to provide the world with green energy is worth billions, soon to be trillions of dollars worldwide, and this fact appears to have completely passed you by. The only future for energy is sustainable, renewable, non-nuclear, clean, quiet and safe. There is no other viable, liveable, option.

[ UPDATE : In the Independent newspaper, Mark Lynas is quoted as remarking “Campaigners should not be employed as lead authors in IPCC reports”. So, Mark, it’s really fine for employees of the major oil, gas and mining companies to take a leading role on major IPCC reports; but it’s not fine, according to you, that somebody working for much less money and much higher principles than mere corporate profit should contribute ? Denigrating somebody for being a “campaigner” is a stereotypical insult. Everybody’s got an agenda, campaigners included. What’s your agenda, Mark ? Selling your new book ? Don’t be dismissive about Greenpeace researchers. They may have ideals, but they’re not naive – they also have brains – and with their declared position on getting at the truth they can be trusted to be direct, decent and honest. Where’s your ethical compass, Mark ? ]

Viva Italia !

3 replies on “Mark Lynas : Mutant Ninja”

“Don’t be dismissive about Greenpeace researchers. They may have ideals, but they’re not naive – they also have brains – and with their declared position on getting at the truth they can be trusted to be direct, decent and honest”

Do not confuse having ideals with words like honesty, decency and truth. Greenpeace has no interest in the truth if it should conflict with their campaign agenda.

I agree that Greenpeace researchers are not naive but I suspect you maybe,


It seems to me you have it all topsy turvy – the clue should be in the name of the NGO organisation – “Greenpeace” – that’s green and peace. And peace means a lot of things, and none of those things include lying or fabricating.

It seems to me that most people and organisations have an agenda, whether explicit or hidden. Companies and corporations have a prime directive to make profit as a healthy return to their investors. Since money is their goal, they are sometimes easy on the accuracy, and we need to have regulations and auditors to keep them on track. While it’s true that NGOs often raise funds, they are entirely transparent about why they want it and what they’ll do with it. And they’re not beholden to shareholders, so there’s no incentive to massage figures.

You are invited to give an audited account of Greenpeace’s “campaign” agenda and tease out anything that you think may indicate dishonesty, if you like, but I’m certain you won’t find anything to hang your critique on. Personally, I can’t think of anything I know about the organisation and its aims, objectives, research, reports, projects and actions that contains even a hint of inaccuracy.

Unfounded and baseless slurs and smears are unfortunately effective in forming negative opinions of “campaign” organisations, but it’s best not to be put off by bad press and investigate for yourself.

I have never worked for or with Greenpeace, as I find their “corporate” culture somewhat insistent and pressurising, but that doesn’t stop me having a healthy respect for their research, dialogues and messaging.

I’m not sure why I am replying since I can be pretty sure that you have a closed mind on the issue. Just because their name includes Green and Peace doesn’t mean they actually follow either. Ask the farmer in Totnes, Devon who nearly died of a heart attack after a “non-violent protest by Greenpeace”

Now, how far do you want me to go back? In the 1970’s a UK House of Lords Select Committee Report concluded that Greenpeace representatives had deliberately lied to them when giving evidence on nuclear power. This predates the web, but I will endeavour to get you the reference.

In the 1990’s they lied about the materials supposedly present in the Brent Spar oil platform.

Apple is convinced that they

In 2009, they were forced to admit deliberately using incorrect information as a campaign strategy.

“Although he admitted Greenpeace had released inaccurate but alarming information, Leipold defended the organization’s practice of “emotionalizing issues” in order to bring the public around to its way of thinking and alter public opinion.”

They also continue to mislead about their science unit: “Furthermore, all of our science is vetted through our Science Unit, which is based at the very respectable Exeter University in the UK.”

Yes their science unit is based on the University of Exeter campus and the University of Exeter is well respected. However there is NO connection between the two bodies, Greenpeace merely rents space in a university building. Nevertheless it always states its address in a way which implies, falsely, that their “science unit” is based at a leading university.

There is much much more but I suspect that you will ignore it since your mind is already made up.

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