© Matthias Graben/Corbis
In its online edition on Friday, the
Express claimed that the discovery of a new "natural
coolant" by scientists has thrown "previous estimates of rising
temperatures into doubt".
The story followed in the footsteps of similar
articles on the
Breitbart, two websites which have a history of publishing
climate sceptic articles. The Register said the new research meant
"there isn't as much urgency about the matter [climate change] as
had been thought". While a Breibart article by James Delingpole
claimed it presents "further proof" that "the reason that all that
predicted 'global warming' has failed to materialise is that it has
been countered by the planet's natural cooling effects."
The Express and Breitbart quoted Benny Peiser,
director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a climate sceptic
lobby group, as saying: "Here is more evidence...that climate
models...should never have been trusted in the first place."
But a co-author of the study tells Carbon Brief the
researchers "completely disagree" with the way their study has been
reported, and that these articles are a "misuse of our
The Express, online edition, Friday 2 October.
The new study, published last week in the
Science & Technology, concerns natural emissions of a
compound called "isoprene". Despite sounding like a material a
keen cyclist would wear, isoprene is actually a gas that helps
aerosols form in our atmosphere.
Aerosols are tiny liquid or
solid particles in the air. They have a
direct effect on temperature by scattering sunlight, and an
indirect effect by stimulating clouds to form, affecting how much
sunlight reaches the Earth's surface. Overall, they generally cool
the Earth's surface, counteracting - but not offsetting - the
warming impact of rising levels of greenhouse gases in the
Aerosols have natural sources, such as
volcanic emissions and
plant vapours, and manmade sources, such as car exhausts,
factories and power plants.
Isoprene isn't an aerosol in its own right, but
combines with other chemicals in the atmosphere,
such as oxygen, to create them. These particles are big
enough for water vapour to condense onto, allowing clouds to
Scientists know that isoprene is produced by plants
and trees on land and by plankton in the oceans. But the new study
finds that it is also produced by the interaction of sunlight with
chemicals in the top tenth of a millimetre of the ocean