Don’t believe what you read in the Daily Mail

It goes without saying doesn’t it? But judging by the comments on a couple of recent climate change articles by Daily Mail journalist David Rose here and here, people will believe anything.

Last week, David Rose wrote an article telling us all that the we are headed for global cooling. This week, he has an article telling us that global warming will be half as much as previously thought. Which one is it? Neither. Both articles are wrong but unfortunately both articles have been echoed all over the web by denier blogs and Rupert Murdoch-owned news media. A number of scientists and bloggers have pointed out the mistakes but so far there is no acknowledgement or correction by anyone and the scientists correcting the errors have no hope of competing with Rupert Murdoch’s massive reach. So I will add my tiny and insignificant voice to those who have already addressed the mistakes even though it will have little effect on the damage already wreaked by these fools. I guess this means you win, Rupert.

The headline for the first article is And now it’s global COOLING! Record return of Arctic ice cap as it grows by 60% in a year. The scientific journalist Peter Hadfield has made an entertaining youtube video about this misleading article. Watch it. It’s very good and only about 4 mintues.

 

Rupert Murdoch even tweeted about this apparent recovery of Arctic sea ice and he has almost half a million followers (I’ve included a reply by Bob Ward from the Grantham Research Institute) :

The second David Rose article suggests that global warming is only half what the IPCC predicted in 2007. It claims the IPCC predicted global warming of 0.2C per decade. Is this correct? No. Oxford physicist Myles Allen corrects this mistake in one of the comments – there are 500 of them so this one gets lost in all the mess – of the David Rose article.

Since I am quoted in this article, I think it is important to point out that the IPCC in 2007 said that the “warming trend over the last 50 years was 0.13 degrees C per decade.” Neither the IPCC in 2007 nor the current crop of climate models ever suggested that the world has been, or should have been, warming at 0.2 degrees per decade since 1951 — a full degree of warming between the 1950s and 2000s? So the headline should have been “Global warming is just 92% of what we said it was”, on an apples-for-apples comparison.

I want to credit Phil Plait who has a fabulous article about misleading Daily Mail articles at slate.com for finding Allen’s comment. It’s also possible to go to the previous IPCC report to verify what they did say which is not what David Rose is claiming:

The linear warming trend over the 50 years from 1956 to 2005 (0.13 [0.10 to 0.16]°C per decade) is nearly twice that for the 100 years from 1906 to 2005.

If I make a mistake, I feel embarrassed. Maybe a little stupid. I would correct it and apologise but I have yet to see this from David Rose, Andrew Bolt, Rupert Murdoch and all the others. Why not? Do they really believe what they’ve written? The first mistake involving Arctic sea ice is quite extraordinary and one that only a moron would make but I don’t think these people are morons which suggests to me that it is not a mistake. It is my view that they are deliberately misleading the public.

Wikipedia has a page on journalism ethics and standards. The first four principles they list are truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity and impartiality. I do not see any of these qualities in Rose’s articles at the Daily Mail nor in the carbon-copied versions it spawned on the world wide web.

17 thoughts on “Don’t believe what you read in the Daily Mail

    1. It is hard for me to understand why these people are deliberately lying since in the end, we will all lose but most of them are old men who will be dead and gone before the real chaos begins. They are short-sighted, greedy and stingy.

      1. They are a sensationalist rag under the cloak of a newspaper that is higher than the red tops. The Daily Fail is, in my view, far more damaging than the reds and without question has several other agendas within its institution, watching them wade into global warming reporting without having a grain of fact is comical. Seeing readers take it as gospel and adapting, as the rag tells them to, a stance which leaves them feeling somebody must be blamed is scary. The headline is perfect, dont believe what you read in the the Daily M**l.

  1. The problem is at least in part with the educational system. Many people have never been exposed to the intellectual principles underlying the scientific method. Even if they had a bit of physics and chemistry at school, they may remember science only as stuff about Motions & Potions (and perhaps intellectually similar to the High Church’s Bells & Smells).

    From such a background it follows that scientific principles should be decided in the same way as in law and politics: by who has the argument that sways the jury, or the electorate.

    In such a mind set, it makes sense to argue that the climate is cooling, or if it isn’t, then it’s not warming as scientists said that it would. This is like arguing “M’Lud, my client did not commit the offence complained of, or if he did, he did not know it was wrong”. One possibility may convince some members of the jury and the other may convince the rest.

    Considering that the foundations of science as we know it were laid in the 17th and 18th centuries, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment, it is sobering to realise that some politicians (and some commentors on this blog) are positioned 300 years behind.the current frontier of human knowledge.

    1. Do you think it’s the way science is taught in schools that is the problem? i.e. we throw facts at students rather than fostering an inquiring mind for them to discover stuff for themselves?

      I quite enjoyed high school science and I can remember learning about the scientific method and even global warming (this was the late 80s/early 90s). But there was quite a focus on rote learning of facts rather than developing understanding.

      It’s ironic that the Tony Abbott’s of this world are so afraid of this mythical conspiracy to deindustrialise the world that they don’t realise that by hindering scientific progress, they are essentially doing this themselves.

    1. And Ed Hawkins, a contributing author of the next report clarifies what is meant by the terminology as the article mistakenly says there is no scientific definition of for the words, “very” and “extremely” but this is wrong. The words are explicitly defined in the report.

  2. Richard Betts is recommending, via twitter, this article as correction to the Daily Mail article and all of it’s carbon copies – http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2013/09/scientists-take-the-mail-on-sunday-to-task-over-claim-that-warming-is-half-what-ipcc-expected/

    I notice the Daily Mail has made some changes to the original article including to the headline. The Telegraph article has also made some changes which is nice to see. They now write: ” states that the world is warming at a rate of 0.12C per decade since 1951, compared to a prediction of 0.13C per decade in their last assessment published in 2007.”

    I went and checked out Andrew Bolt’s repeat of the nonsense and he hasn’t changed a thing nor has his published my comment. I don’t read The Australian but do you know whether they’ve corrected the article? It’s behind a paywall.

    1. There are other points not needing correction in The Daily Mail on Sunday and Daily Express articles. Haven’t read The Oz article yet.

  3. Rachel,
    I note you have been alerted to the recent Daily Mail news article on the Mora et al 2013 paper
    http://dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2451604/Apocalypse-Now-Unstoppable-man-climate-change-reality-end-decade-make-New-York-London-Paris-uninhabitable-45-years-says-new-study.html
    How do you view this report? It states-
    Apocalypse Now: Unstoppable man-made climate change will become reality by the end of the decade and could make New York,London and Paris uninhabitable within 45 years, claims new study, etc.
    And your view of Mora et al?

    1. I think the Daily Mail article is hyperbole and as always, I don’t think anyone should believe what is written in that publication and this article is no exception.

      I’m not sure about the Mora paper but I have yet to read any credible criticism of it. Even Judith Curry seems to have accepted it although I notice that she doesn’t think it is anything to worry about. It certainly looks rather alarming to me.

      I did ask Michael Mann about it on Twitter yesterday and he seems to think it might be a bit on the conservative side.

      The news article he refers me to quotes Judith Curry on the topic as well.

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