Guardian yesterday, Bob Ward, of the Grantham Institute for
Climate Change, criticised Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre for the
Mail's recent coverage of climate change and energy prices. He
pointed out that as the chair of the editor's code of practice
committee Mr Dacre really ought to be upholding the code of
practice, particularly the first rule:
"The press must take care not to publish
inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including
Ward also wrote that
"...the Mail's recent coverage of
climate change and energy issues offers a clear demonstration of
how an unaccountable newspaper editor can simply ignore the PCC
[Press Complaint Commission]'s rules when he chooses to promote its
own ideological views over the best interest of his readers."
Since the middle of summer the Mail has run a campaign against
'green stealth taxes'. As the Carbon Brief has documented, many of
the figures used in this campaign have been based on dubious
to verify. In August the Mail printed a correction to
their claim (sourced to the Global Warming Policy Foundation) that
green measures are adding £200 to energy bills, following a PCC
complaint from the Carbon Brief.
According to the journal ENDS, the Mail's anti-green energy
campaign kicked off as a result of a lunch between Lord Lawson and
Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre.
Along with the dodgy energy bill numbers, the Mail has been
carefully casting aspersions on the science behind climate change.
For example, from a
Mail editorial back in August:
"Experts say that our targets for
reducing greenhouse gases - the toughest in the world - will cost
Britain £13 billion in economic growth. And all at a time when the
science of climate change remains shrouded in doubt."
And in an
"...the science of climate change
The fundamentals behind the science of climate change are not in
doubt. We know that greenhouse gases warm the Earth - in fact
scientists consider the greenhouse effect to be "as real as
gravity" (in the
words of Richard Somerville, climate scientist and
distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of
It is also
known that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are rising, that
global temperatures have risen by close to 0.75 °C over the last
century, and that this temperature rise
cannot be explained without the influence of manmade greenhouse
gas emissions. Thus far there is no doubt.
It is the specific effects of climate change that are not yet
'settled'. For example, whilst we know that pumping greenhouse
gases into the atmosphere will cause warming, we cannot quantify
precisely how much warming - projections from the range from
nearly 2 °C to 4 °C over the coming century. Projections of
future temperature depend on the extent of future emissions and on
how well the climate models can capture the climate under the
future emissions scenarios.
It should be noted also that although
various commentators seek to underplay the potential impacts of
climate change even a 2 °C rise could have potentially serious
impacts on society, the environment and the economy.
Perhaps when the Mail refer to climate science as "questionable"
and "shrouded in doubt" they simply mean to refer to the questions
that still remain within the discipline. However, they do not make
this clear, and to the average reader it must seem that the whole
science of climate change is not to be trusted.
The specific questions that remain in climate science do not
make the fundamentals any less robust. Using these questions to
cast doubt about the whole science of climate change in support of
the Mail's anti-green energy campaign is both misleading and