By Phelim McAleer & Ann McElhinney
The outgoing leader of Greenpeace has admitted his organization’s recent claim that the Arctic Ice will disappear by 2030 was “a mistake.” Greenpeace made the claim in a July 15 press release entitled “Urgent Action Needed As Arctic Ice Melts,” which said there will be an ice-free Arctic by 2030 because of global warming. Under close questioning by BBC reporter Stephen Sackur on the “Hardtalk” program, Gerd Leipold, the retiring leader of Greenpeace, said the claim was wrong. “I don’t think it will be melting by 2030. … That may have been a mistake,” he said.
Sackur said the claim was inaccurate on two fronts, pointing out that the Arctic ice is a mass of 1.6 million square kilometers with a thickness of 3 km in the middle, and that it had survived much warmer periods in history than the present. The BBC reporter accused Leipold and Greenpeace of releasing “misleading information” and using “exaggeration and alarmism.” Leipold’s admission that Greenpeace issued misleading information is a major embarrassment to the organization, which often has been accused of alarmism but has always insisted that it applies full scientific rigor in its global-warming pronouncements. 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. Leipold said later in the BBC interview that there is an urgent need for the suppression of economic growth in the United States and around the world. He said annual growth rates of 3 percent to 8 percent cannot continue without serious consequences for the climate. “We will definitely have to move to a different concept of growth. … The lifestyle of the rich in the world is not a sustainable model,” Leipold said. “If you take the lifestyle, its cost on the environment, and you multiply it with the billions of people and an increasing world population, you come up with numbers which are truly scary.” (Watch the full BBC interview with Leipold here.)