Background on Greenpeace/IPCC Author Sven Teske

The news was recently broken, by Steve McIntyre, that the IPCC’s recent renewable energy report’s most notable conclusion was based on a Greenpeace report. Not only that, but the same person who authored the Greenpeace report was also an IPCC author of the renewable energy report, unacceptable by any standard.

The author in question was Sven Teske. I had planned on doing an in-depth biography of him for curious readers following the story. After a few minutes of research, I realized my job was mostly already done for me by another blogger Donna Laframboise, who has the excellent blog NoFrakkingConsensus. I helped Donna as a citizen reviewer for the IPCC citizen’s audit. I can say with near certainty that no one has looked into the IPCC more thoroughly than she has.

So I e-mailed Donna and asked if I could re-post Teske’s background here. She agreed (thanks Donna!), and here it is. It’s from this article written way back in Jan 2010 about Greenpeace’s links to the IPCC. She wrote about two other Greenpeace IPCC reviewers before, and Teske is the third and last. Donna warned that some links may be outdated. Everything in between the following headings is from her post here.

Sven Teske’s background

The third Greenpeace representative given official standing as an IPCC reviewer is Sven Teske. When a Greenpeace protest vessel shut down Europe’s largest coal port in 2005, Teske was on board. Described as a renewable energy expert, he declared:

Climate change is now the single biggest threat facing our planet…Greenpeace is here today to expose Europe’s dangerous addiction to coal.

Elsewhere, he insists that: “Renewable energy is the true answer” to coal’s shortcomings [italics added]. According to this bio, Teske has a BSc in engineering and a masters in “wind energy technology.” Curiously, a 1995 Greenpeace press release described him as a “nuclear expert[screengrab here].

In April 2009, Teske was one of two speakers at a “Public Forum on Climate Justice” held in Ottawa, Canada. Although he resides in Amsterdam, a month later he was quoted in a Greenpeace press release calling for Canadian “political leadership” on green issues. A month after that, he called Australia “a global climate change pariah.”

Teske is a co-author of a Greenpeace publication titled “New Zealand Energy Revolution: How to Prevent Climate Chaos. It features a forward by (and photograph of) Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC’s chairman.

In 2006, Greenpeace released another report in conjunction with the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (a solar power lobby group). Teske is described as the “Greenpeace Co-ordinator and scenario analyst” in its credits and his name is one of two appearing at the end of that document’s forward.

This attractive, 50-page publication is an extended brochure of the sort distributed by solar energy marketing departments. Although it is data and graph-intensive, it contains a grand total of four footnotes. Although it mentions external documents in passing, no list of full citations is provided.

Thus, we read on page 14 that, “According to a WHO study, as many as 160,000 people are dying each year as a result of climate change.” Should we care to double-check this claim, we’re on our own.[a critique of the WHO study]

As incredible as it sounds, this publication/brochure is itself cited in the Nobel-winning IPCC report as evidence that a particular statement is true. Appearing in the list below as Greenpeace 2006, it is one of two references mentioned in a single sentence, as discussed above.

Which begs an important question: how did it get into the same room with serious scholars? Why would it even be under consideration by a scientific body tasked with producing an assessment of the latest scientific research?

There appears to be an interesting chronology here. First Teske is granted “scientific expert reviewer” status by the IPCC. Second, a non-academic, non-peer-reviewed document in which he was closely involved gets added to the climate change research canon by virtue of it being cited by the Nobel-winning report.

Third, Teske co-authors a new Greenpeace report that receives an extra measure of prestige when it features a forward authored by the high-profile IPCC chairman. Fourth, in a final flourish, Teske – like his Greenpeace colleauge von Goerne – gets elevated to lead author status of yet another IPCC special report (on renewable energy) due to be published this year.

Where does Greenpeace stop and the IPCC begin? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell.

[Well said, and recent events have made that even more true today.]

Environmental activist, renewable energy advocate, and IPCC author

Should Sven Teske have been an IPCC author on the renewable energy report? Well, he clearly has been involved with Greenpeace for a long time. That alone might be enough to disqualify him. Why? The IPCC is supposed to provide policymakers with the unbiased information they need to make decisions, not to prescribe certain policies themselves. Greenpeace is a campaigning organization to advocate for certain policy positions.

Sven Teske is Greenpeace International’s renewables director. Can we expect the director of Greenpeace’s renewable energy program to simply play an informative role and not be unbiased? No, and Sven Teske shows that. He is blatantly an advocate for renewable energy, especially solar.

For example, read this interview with Teske about solar power. Or read an article he penned himself entitled The Energy Revolution has Begun. In both he is advocating a massive effort towards renewable energy, including a massive amount of money.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to him in remarks made to a group of Argentinians before Copenhagen fell apart:

Developing countries paying $100 billion a year. I can’t believe anyone every thought that was viable.

Sven Teske has every right to advocate for renewable energy. He can even try to get governments to take our money and give it to other countries. But we must be clear what he is: a biased advocate for renewable energy. This disqualifies him from taking part in the IPCC report, if the IPCC wants to be unbiased. Quoting a Greenpeace/solar energy industry report and inviting the author on board is not unbiased. In fact, they even issued a press release with the primary claim (80% renewables by 2050) taken from that Greenpeace/solar energy industry report.

I think this is a crossroads for the IPCC. In the past, they have reacted very poorly to negative criticism. They circled the wagons and pretended there was nothing wrong. If they try that again, I can’t imagine anyone who would take them seriously. Who could ever repeat the “gold standard of science” claim with a straight face again?


Posted by on June 19, 2011 in IPCC, UN, Uncategorized


Biochemist Climate Skeptic in a Laundromat

I just moved states, one reason I haven’t posted here very much recently. We moved from a home to an apartment, which means we now have to do laundry at a laundromat. I went with my wife and two young girls, bringing along a book with the silly goal in mind of actually reading it. Instead, I herded children around for a couple hours. However, as my youngest finally fell asleep in my arms (in such a position that I couldn’t attempt reading anyways) an elderly man approached and struck up a conversation.

He noticed my wife’s shirt which mentioned a state from which he had previously lived. We talked briefly about where we had lived, and why we had moved, which led to a discussion about my new job. Breaking the conventional rules of social conversation, I started talking politics. I mentioned that I was a libertarian, and he said he was a conservative. We talked a bit about politics in general.

At some point he told me his age – 85 this year – and I asked where he had worked previously. He said he was a biochemist who did research at Michigan State and other universities. It isn’t everyday you meet a biochemist (particularly in laundromats), so I began plying him with questions about various things. For an 85 year old man, his mind was very sharp.

Of course, I’d already broached politics, so I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask about climate change. I thought he might have a unique perspective on the issue, belonging to a sort of older generation of scientists (think Freeman Dyson). I was right. He had some fairly conventional skeptical views on the science behind climate change, believing they have vastly overstated their case and assigned far too much confidence to their knowledge of the future. But it was his view of the chemistry that was interesting.

Now, his statements here are from memory, after all, this was an offhand discussion in a laundromat. So I’m paraphrasing here. And, I asked for his e-mail address, hoping he might write up some remarks and let me post them. But he doesn’t have e-mail. You’ll get the gist of it though.

He was indignant that CO2 was labelled pollution. He told me that carbon is the entire basis for his field, organic chemistry. He said that the carbon which is present in every living thing comes (directly or indirectly) from CO2. In other words, Carbon dioxide allows for carbon-based life, or even more simply, CO2=life. To call this pollution is unthinkable.

While I’m sure many rational people believe this, it is nice to hear a knowledgeable scientist reaffirm it. The next time you hear someone say “carbon pollution”, remember this equation:



Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Uncategorized


An excellent article from William Happer

I’ve never heard of William Happer before yesterday. I saw a post on WUWT about an article he wrote, and I checked it out, but it was quite long so I put it aside. Then today, I saw Morano headline the article. Figuring there must be something of interest in there, I sat down to read the entire piece.

It is excellent, and I highly recommend reading it. It is here.

For one of the best and most concise synopsis of the issues, read this paragraph:

Let me summarize how the key issues appear to me, a working scientist with a better background than most in the physics of climate. CO2 really is a greenhouse gas and other things being equal, adding the gas to the atmosphere by burning coal, oil, and natural gas will modestly increase the surface temperature of the earth. Other things being equal, doubling the CO2 concentration, from our current 390 ppm to 780 ppm will directly cause about 1 degree Celsius in warming. At the current rate of CO2 increase in the atmosphere—about 2 ppm per year—it would take about 195 years to achieve this doubling. The combination of a slightly warmer earth and more CO2 will greatly increase the production of food, wood, fiber, and other products by green plants, so the increase will be good for the planet, and will easily outweigh any negative effects. Supposed calamities like the accelerated rise of sea level, ocean acidification, more extreme climate, tropical diseases near the poles, and so on are greatly exaggerated.

That is practically my exact same position, except I might put a line in there emphasizing just how little we actually know about the climate, and how “other things being equal” isn’t likely to happen.

Go read it.


Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Uncategorized


Fear of climate change is harming children

[Note: I take quite some time to get to the subject of climate change. Please bear with me, I think it is important to lay the proper foundations first.]

Children are impressionable. They don’t have much previous experience or knowledge stored away in their little brains, so they aren’t able to judge the accuracy of factual information very easily.

This isn’t a knock against children. In fact, it is one of the delightful things about them. I have two young girls, and watching them learn about the world around them is incredibly fascinating. They don’t have preconceptions about how things work. They simply don’t know yet. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


IPCC: Half of Renewable Energy is Wood, Charcoal, and Animal Dung

The IPCC recently released the Summary of a report about renewable energy. Both Pielke Jr. and Donna Laframboise have mentioned it, and once the final report comes out at the end of the month I’m sure we’ll hear more about it. However, in looking over the report I was stunned to find out what the IPCC considers as renewable energy (RE). Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on May 11, 2011 in Uncategorized


Debunking debunking

I don’t like the words “debunked” or “debunking”. They seem to be invoked often, and by simply stating them you have somehow disproved your opponent and won the argument. What does debunking mean?

Here is an example. There are two bloggers, Joe and Roger. Roger has made a claim. Joe disagrees with that claim. Now, Joe is presented with two choices:

1. Joe can point out how Roger is wrong, opening a dialogue with Roger and discussing the issue. This is called discourse, discussion, or communication. It might get heated but both sides have a say and readers can decide for themselves whether or not Roger’s claim was false.

2. Joe can point out how Roger is wrong, call his claim “debunked”, and never discuss the issue again. Or, if Joe decides to discuss Roger’s claim, he’ll simply refer to it as “debunked” and dismiss it. This is called debunking. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether or not Roger’s claim was accurate based solely on Joe’s debunking.

Claims of ‘debunked’ or ‘debunking’ are an attempt to claim that your opponent’s position is utterly and hopelessly wrong, with no value whatsoever. End of story.

It’s childish. Simply pointing out the errors in someone’s position does not automatically dismiss it. What if those errors aren’t really errors, and the debunker has made a mistake? You need to get a response from the person you are criticizing before you settle the issue! And even if you do find an error, does that error necessarily make then entire claim/paper/study worthless?

To be sure I wasn’t being hypocritical, I searched back through my blog for the term “debunked”. As far as I can tell, I’ve never used it. I have pointed out errors in studies before, but I don’t pretend that now these reports are “debunked”. I personally wouldn’t rely on those studies, and I suggest that others don’t, but I don’t throw on that label as if my word is the final arbiter of accuracy.

However, other bloggers have no problem with using that label. You might have already guessed, but the Joe vs. Roger example above is based in reality. Joe Romm of Climate Progress has gone debunk-crazy over some of Roger Pielke Jr.’s claims. I won’t get into details (it really seems like quite a boring contention), but Romm’s use of the debunking terminology has reached dizzying heights. Here is the article. All from that article (links not included):

Roger Pielke, Jr. has repeated on his website several false accusations against Al Gore from 2 years ago, which I debunked here and here.

Pielke remains one of the most debunked people in the blogosphere:
[List of his debunkings]

One of Pielke’s most famous false claims in 2009 concerns one slide Gore used in his famous PowerPoint presentation. That false claim led to NYT reporter Andy Revkin falsely equating George Will with Al Gore in an infamous article, “In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall,” which I debunked at the time.

I am amazed that Pielke would repeat his false claims now — and quote Gore’s office in his defense. He knows that Gore’s office utterly debunked those charges two years ago, and I assume he must know that I would call Gore’s office to confirm once again that Pielke’s entire characterization is false. And I did.

The breakthrough bunch — which includes Pielke and Matt Nisbet — have a very specific false narrative about Gore that is essential to their “blame the victim” attacks on environmentalists and scientists. They want to convince people that environmentalists in general and Gore in particular have knowingly exaggerated the science and purposefully pursued a polarizing message. It isn’t true, and that’s why I’m going to debunk it again. I will deal with Nisbet’s false narrative on this later, though it bears repeating that 2 of the 5 original expert reviewers Nisbet chose disputed his attack on Gore.

There is no way to explain just how utterly false this all is in a short post. That’s because three separate things that need debunking:

Pielke’s original false accusation on his blog about what Gore said (debunked here)
Revkin’s spinning it up into a major NY Times article accusing Gore of “exaggeration” (debunked here)
Pielke’s counterfactual history of events, which you just read

There you have it. It is so easy to see why Joe is right. Look how many times Romm has debunked Pielke! It is obvious that Pielke has no leg to stand on any longer after that vicious round of debunking.

I can’t pick on Romm though. A quick google search reveals that in the online climate change discussion, Romm is far from alone in his use of the term. It is everywhere. What does this mean?

I think it is proof that much of the discussion is really just talking past each other. When someone debunks another, they aren’t looking for a discussion. They are looking to end the discussion on their own favorable terms.

Pointing out errors is essential if we want to know the truth about climate change, but only if coupled with discussion of those errors. Without discussion, we look only at how valid the entirely of the claim/paper/study is, and we don’t even attempt to understand the particular issues being discussed.

A good real world example is the Nisbet paper. Romm came out immediately and “debunked” it. Then the discussion became about the validity of the paper as a whole, instead of having a discussion about the actual details of the paper. If we only debunk instead of discuss, we are ignoring any potentially beneficial information within.

Shutting down discussion by debunking might be the goal of those who use the term. If not, I think they should reconsider the impact it has on the discussion. It boils down to this:

Person A: Hey did you see that new report by X? He brought up the interesting issue of Y. I think that if you look at the numbers….

Person B: …No, that was debunked by C.

Person A: Oh. Nevermind.


Posted by on May 9, 2011 in Uncategorized


Power Shift participant: Join our fad because it is AWESOME!

Yesterday there was a guest post in The Wonk Room, a product of Think Progress. The guest author was Bonnie Frye Hemphill, who runs her own climate nonprofit. The article was based on Power Shift 2011, and Bonnie’s excitement at how awesome the movement is.

Here’s the gist of the article, from the opening statement:

Hey climate movement, you know what I missed about us that Power Shift pumped right back into me last week?

The awesome.

Yeah, flashmobs, pranks, swiftly organized warroom tweetups, late-night dance parties of 15,000. Remember that rebellious side of us, that “we won’t take the past for an answer” side of us? Remember that “join us because this is awesome and you’re invited” side of us?

I’ve often felt that “being green” was a fad. I’m going to take this article as evidence to support that belief.

Bonnie believes that flashmobs are awesome. She provides a link, so let’s look.

Wow, they shut down a BP gas station. Don’t they know that those are franchises, locally owned? They have nothing to do with the BP oil spill. Hmm…..shutting down a local business because of their logo? Not awesome.

Warrooms, tweeting, dancing….these are awesome? You certainly don’t need to be in a climate movement to tweet or dance. I’ve never created a “swiftly organized warroom” so I wouldn’t know how awesome that it.

Pranks are awesome? I’d say normally they are pretty stupid. So far this all seems like a typical college campus on the weekend. Is there anything else in her article to make this look like anything more than a college-aged fad?

We’re also proud to define ourselves as what we’re not: we are cooler than the fossil forces of the past. They rail on chalkboards; we rally with giant puppets in the streets. They are talking heads for septuagenarians; we are sneaking into shareholder meetings and embarrassing giant fossil fuel companies. They are snarking about crosshairs on Facebook from defensive compounds in Wasilla. We are 10,000 lithe young people fighting for our future while a crotchety old pitbull like Tom Donohue screams to get off of his front yard at the US Chamber of Commerce. We are in the West Wing interrupting the President of the United States of America to remind him that energy shouldn’t kill.

Wow. If this isn’t disdain for older folks I don’t know what it.

Giant puppets? Man, is there any reason to take these sophomoric activists seriously?

Other American generations have staked their identities on propositions equally grand – rebelling from tyranny, beating back fascism, defending the world from communism. Our generation is staking its identity as the people responsible enough to face climate science for what it means, and political corruption for what it is. To build a cleaner, leaner, more durable and more prosperous way of life on our full tide of vibrant energy. The people smart enough to put our moral muscle to work.

I wonder what Bonnie thinks “rebelling from tyranny” means. Our nation fought against the British because of taxation. What is Bonnie fighting for? I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but my guess is she supports something that rhymes with tarbon caxes.

Her generation is staking its identity as people responsible for dealing with climate change? But wait….I’m a part of her generation! So are some of my friends and family. They don’t get their identity from fighting climate change. They do things like, work, or raise their children.

We mustn’t abandon tried-and-true organizing tactics, nor our hard-earned insider game. And if we do rebel our way into a better world, we do so on the shoulders of giants: after all, we’re now defending the Clean Air Act that our foremothers first passed, celebrating Earth Day last week because our forefathers founded the first four decades ago. And we need the scientific white papers still, because after all, we’re fighting for a political reality that keeps pace with the chemical reality of the atmosphere. This is a movement of the young and young at heart – if you are awesome, you are in.

Not surprisingly, those scientific white papers are a link to the IPCC.

A movement for the young and young at heart. Oh, and the awesome. Well sign me up! I’m awesome and young!

But I can’t sign up. Why not? Bonnie didn’t mention it, but there is one more requirement. A disregard for reason and critical thinking. That’s what she really means when she admires pranks, puppets, and youth. I actually employ critical thinking when considering the issues I consider worth fighting for, and that automatically disqualifies me from being a part of this lithe, young, and awesome group.



Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Uncategorized