David Rose destroys his credibility and the Daily Mail’s with error-riddled climate science reporting

George Monbiot eviscerates the Daily Mail’s David Rose — “with the help of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team” — in this Guardian re-post.

David Rose’s climate science writing shows he has not learned from previous mistakes

Articles in the Daily Mail show the same uncritical reliance on dodgy sources that caused David Rose’s catastrophic mistakes about Iraq.

You can divide people into two categories: those who learn from their mistakes and those who don’t. There is no third category: we all mess up from time to time.

Journalism is a mistake waiting to happen. With tight deadlines, big rewards for shock and awe and small rewards for methodical, less spectacular work, with an inverse relationship between volume and truth in public life, reporters tend to stumble from one accident to another.

The only hope journalists have of retaining any kind of self-respect is to question themselves repeatedly, ask whether they are being manipulated and whether they are seeing the whole story. So where does this leave David Rose?

I don’t want to credit the media with more power than it has, but from time to time it is pivotal to public policy. One such moment was the build-up to the Iraq war. The UK might not have joined Bush’s war if it didn’t have broad support from the press, and particularly from sections of the liberal press.

The Observer was more influential in the build-up to the war than any other outlet, as the position it took – strongly in favour – was so unexpected. Its editorial line caused huge ructions within the paper and plenty of conflict with journalists at its sister-paper the Guardian (I’m painfully aware of this, having had a shouting match with the Observer’s then political editor, Kamal Ahmed, in the building’s stairwell). It also emboldened some wavering Labour MPs and helped Tony Blair make his case.

The Observer’s position was strongly influenced by Rose’s reporting. Though others warned that his sources should not be trusted, Rose’s articles for the paper uncritically reported the claims made by Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress about Saddam Hussein’s alleged weapons of mass destruction. Chalabi later admitted that they were incorrect.

The chain of causality is a long one, and I don’t want to pull on it too hard, but it is arguable that the Observer could not have sustained its position were it not for Rose’s reporting; that Blair could not have contained the Labour revolt were it not for the Observer; and that Bush could not have gone to war were it not for Blair’s support.

In May 2004, over a year after the war began, Rose, to his credit, admitted that he’d got it wrong. By then, of course, it was far too late to undo the damage. He wrote a partial apology in an article titled: “Iraqi defectors tricked us with WMD lies, but we must not be fooled again”.

A vain hope. Admitting it, it seems, is one thing; learning from it quite another.

Since the Iraq debacle, Rose has latterly been writing articles attacking climate science for the Daily Mail. He has distinguished himself by the same uncritical reliance on dodgy sources that caused his catastrophic mistakes about Iraq. He has made a long series of basic errors and – far worse – has kept making them even after they’ve been exposed. Here are just a few examples:

“¢ Rosegate

“¢ Rosegate scandal still growing: David Rose admits that he has no credibility

“¢ Rosegate: David Rose caught misrepresenting another scientist

“¢ RoseGate becomes DailyMailGate: Error-riddled articles and false statements destroy Daily Mail’s credibility

“¢ Mojib Latif slams Daily Mail

But now he has published his longest list of errors yet, in an article in Monday’s Daily Mail. Every one of them would have been easy to check and disprove, had he been inclined to do so. But the Mail pays well for this crap, and checking, under these circumstances, is likely to be an expensive pastime.

I don’t have time to deal with every one of the mistakes his article contains – it takes 100 times as long to show why a claim is wrong as it does to make it – but here’s a quick breakdown, beginning with the first sentence: (I’ve been able to pull this together with the help of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team, which put me in touch with the relevant scientists and pointed me to the primary datasets.)


“A year ago tomorrow, just before the opening of the UN Copenhagen world climate summit, the British Meteorological Office issued a confident prediction. The mean world temperature for 2010, it announced, ‘is expected to be 14.58C, the warmest on record’ – a deeply worrying 0.58C above the 1961-1990 average.”

“A year ago tomorrow” would have been 7 December. The Met Office issued its forecast (not a “prediction”) on 10 December.

And there was nothing “confident” about it. The press release said that a record warm year “is not a certainty, especially if the current El Ni±o was to unexpectedly decline rapidly near the start of 2010, or if there was a large volcanic eruption.” As it happened, El Ni±o did decline rapidly, and was replaced by a very strong La Ni±a.


“Met Office officials openly boasted that they hoped by their statements to persuade the Copenhagen gathering to impose new and stringent carbon emission limits – an ambition that was not to be met.”

Rose provides no source for this claim (or for any of the claims here). The Met Office tells me it was not trying to influence policy, simply to report the facts.


“Climate science orthodoxy, as promulgated by bodies such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU), says that temperatures have risen and will continue to rise in step with increasing CO2 in the atmosphere”

I challenge Rose to find a single occasion on which these bodies have said that temperatures will rise “in step” with CO2. As Professor Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research tells me: “One should not be misled by seizing on an individual value or year and citing trends for that, because natural variability such as from El Ni±o creates ups and downs all the time.”

Does Rose expect warming to proceed along a straight line?


“Last week at Cancºn, in an attempt to influence richer countries to agree to give £20bn immediately to poorer ones to offset the results of warming, the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute warned that global temperatures would be 6.5C higher by 2100, leading to rocketing food prices and a decline in production.”

I can find no evidence at all for this. The Institute did release a report last week, but it doesn’t even mention 6.5C, let alone predict that temperatures would climb to that point. In fact it makes no predictions whatever about global warming: it simply explains what is likely to happen to agriculture at different temperature scenarios, none of which extend as far as 6.5C. It is not easy to see how Rose could have got this so wrong.


“Actually, with the exception of 1998 – a ‘blip’ year when temperatures spiked because of a strong El Ni±o effect (the cyclical warming of the southern Pacific that affects weather around the world) – the data on the Met Office’s and CRU’s own websites show that global temperatures have been flat, not for 10, but for the past 15 years.”

All the datasets, including the Met Office/CRU figures show that the current decade is the warmest in the instrumental record.


“They go up a bit, then down a bit, but those small rises and falls amount to less than their measuring system’s acknowledged margin of error. They have no statistical significance and reveal no evidence of any trend at all.”

Professor Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia (yes, the Phil Jones), tells me: “The error of estimate of global averages or the forecasts for subsequent years is completely unrelated to the trend of warming. This is comparing apples with oranges.”


“Last year it predicted that the 2010 average would be 14.58C. Last week, this had been reduced to 14.52C. That may not sound like much. But when one considers that by the Met Office’s own account, the total rise in world temperatures since the 1850s has been less than 0.8C, it is quite a big deal. Above all, it means the trend stays flat.”

In fact 14.52C (which means 0.52C above the long-term average) is equal to the record set in 1998. The Met Office figures show that – for January-October – 2010 is the equal warmest year on record. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Nasa databases, which record anomalies of 0.54C and 0.58C respectively, suggest that so far it’s the warmest year on record.

Phil Jones tells me:

“The forecast of 14.58 for 2010 was well within the error range if the final number was 14.52. The difference is 0.06 and the error range is +/- 0.10 approx”.


“Meanwhile, according to an analysis yesterday by David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, 2010 had only two unusually warm months, March and April, when El Ni±o was at its peak.”

This, again, is utter nonsense, and goes to show what happens when you rely on untrustworthy sources. As you can see from all three global datasets (CRU, NOAA and Nasa) all the months this year for which the data has so far been collated (January-October) were anomalously warm.

Phil Jones points out: “Looking at these, it is clear that they have used the land-only values!!!!!!”

Amazing. I can’t imagine what the fuss would have been like if climate scientists had made the same mistake as the Global Warming Policy Foundation has done.


“The data from October to the end of the year suggests that when the final figure is computed, 2010 will not be the warmest year at all, but at most the third warmest, behind both 1998 and 2005.”

Perhaps Rose could explain how he has obtained the data from October to the end of the year. Is he employing Mystic Meg as his researcher?


“Earlier this year, a paper by Michael Mann – for years a leading light in the IPCC, and the author of the infamous ‘hockey stick graph’ showing flat temperatures for 2,000 years until the recent dizzying increase – made an extraordinary admission: that, as his critics had always claimed, there had indeed been a ‘ medieval warm period’ around 1,000AD, when the world may well have been hotter than it is now.”

Rose, as usual, provides no reference for this paper, and none of the scientists I’ve contacted, including Mann, has any idea what he’s talking about. But Mann points out that neither “we, nor any other researchers, have ever denied there was a period of relative warmth sometime during medieval for many regions. What we – and other competent researchers – have all found is that the warmth was far more regional than modern warmth, with some large regions, like the tropical Pacific, having been unusually *cold* at the time, and when you average over the globe, the warmth of the medieval warm period/medieval climate anomaly simply doesn’t reach modern warmth. Every peer-reviewed scientific study of the matter comes to the same conclusions.”


“Other research is beginning to show that cyclical changes in water vapour – a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – may account for much of the 20th-century warming.”

Andrew Dessler of Texas A&M University says: “I have no idea what “research” they are talking about.” Dessler recently analysed of all the data and showed that there is no evidence for such claims.

Dessler continues: “This is really a classic “sceptic” argument. When it was originally brought up in the early 1990s, it was a legitimate uncertainty in our understanding. Scientists, however, view uncertainty like a starving wolf views red meat, and so the problem was thoroughly attacked over the next 15 years. In particular, about eight years ago, Nasa launched the atmospheric infrared sounder on board the Aqua satellite, which measures water vapour distribution with great accuracy. These data have really settled the question. However, just like the monster in a horror movie, this argument just won’t die.”

Anthony del Genio of Nasa also tells me: “I know of no evidence for the statement that cyclical changes in water vapour are responsible for much of the 20th-century warming, unless there is a new paper of which I am not aware that makes such a claim.”

He continues: “The important thing is that the inter-annual changes of water vapour and everything else associated with El Ni±o are not systematic long-term variations, rather they go up and down every two to five years or so. So they don’t cause a long-term trend. CO2 changes, however, do cause long-term changes in CO2. Because CO2 is itself a greenhouse gas, it warms the atmosphere and surface of the planet, which causes more water to evaporate from the oceans and build up in the atmosphere. The resulting warming due to the water vapour is in fact larger than the initial warming due to the CO2 that forced it to happen, and this is the point of the Lacis paper – yes, water vapour is a more important greenhouse gas than CO2, but water vapour doesn’t change systematically with time UNLESS CO2 is changing and initiating a warming that sets into motion the surface and atmospheric processes that allow water vapour to systematically increase. So CO2 changes are the root cause of whatever water vapour feedback winds up occurring.”


“Even Phil Jones, the CRU director at the centre of last year’s ‘Climategate’ leaked email scandal, was forced to admit in a little-noticed BBC online interview that there has been ‘no statistically significant warming’ since 1995.”

Phil Jones replies: “The key statement here is ‘not statistically significant’. It wasn’t for these years at the 95% level, but it would have been at the 90% level. If you add the value of 0.52 in for 2010 and look at 1995 to 2010 then the warming is statistically significant at the 95% level.” [What this means is that the warming trend for the past few years previously met a lower test of statistical significance. With addition of the results so far for 2010, it now means the higher test.]


“One of those leaked emails, dated October 2009, was from Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the US government’s National Centre for Atmospheric Research and the IPCC’s lead author on climate change science in its monumental 2002 and 2007 reports. He wrote: ‘The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t.'”

Here’s what Trenberth says on his website:

It is amazing to see this particular quote lambasted so often. It stems from a paper I published this year bemoaning our inability to effectively monitor the energy flows associated with short- term climate variability. It is quite clear from the paper that I was not questioning the link between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and warming, or even suggesting that recent temperatures are unusual in the context of short-term natural variability.”

It is hard to believe that Rose was unaware of this explanation.


“The question now emerging for climate scientists and policymakers alike is very simple. Just how long does a pause have to be before the thesis that the world is getting hotter because of human activity starts to collapse?”

The question now emerging for Rose is very simple. Just how many mistakes does he have to make before the thesis that these are innocent errors starts to collapse?

George Monbiot is a columnist for the Guardian newspaper and author of several best selling books including “Heat: how to stop the planet burning”; “The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order” and “Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain.”

JR:  Note also that Rose completely ignores the Met Office’s ongoing reevaluation of their data — see “The deniers were half right: The Met Office Hadley Centre had flawed data “” but it led them to UNDERestimate the rate of recent global warming.”

24 Responses to David Rose destroys his credibility and the Daily Mail’s with error-riddled climate science reporting

  1. 350 Now says:

    “UPDATE: In a double blow to the Tea Party, Upton was selected to lead the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Rogers was picked as chairman of the Appropriations Committee”

    – Think Progress 12/7/10 at

  2. MapleLeaf says:

    For those with the time and patience. Please go over there and set the record straight in the comments section. It is once again being dominated by misinformers and conspiracy theorists.

  3. Sou says:

    Rose’s article seems so dated and old hat, denialist-wise. It’s hard to believe it was written so recently.

    And I wasn’t aware that the Daily Mail or David Rose had any credibility to lose.

    The first article by him listed in a Google search had the headline: “The mini-ice age starts here” and claims this is stated by “some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists”. He published it earlier this year. Rose is arguably just another lying denier who wants to hasten our demise.

    It’s good that Monbiot called him on it though. These people need to be shown up for what they are.

  4. Ed Hummel says:

    George Monbiot is what a jounalist should be!!!

  5. Tim Lambert says:

    The headline is inaccurate: Rose already destroyed his credibility.

    [JR: You and I know that. Still, like the basics of climate science and the threat posed by unrestricted emissions of greenhouse gases, some things bear repeating many times.]

  6. John Mason says:

    I don’t have a lot to do with journalism, but even I can see the man’s an embarrassment to it!

  7. Mike says:

    The U.S. news media has its problems, especially the blurring of news, commentary and entertainment on cable news, but our major newspapers are far better than the U.K.’s newspapers in objectify and depth. Why are their news papers so bad? Do most people in the U.K. know to ignore them the why we ignore celebrity tabloids?

    I few years ago I did an informal study on stories that seemed to exaggerate the dangers of depleted uranium. Often the sources went back to the U.K. press. See:

    Ever since then I have wondered about why the U.K. press is so bad.

  8. Colorado Bob says:

    This little gem is being hailed as some sort of proof that all is right with the world –

    ‘Greener’ Climate Prediction Shows Plants Slow Warming

    A new NASA modeling effort found that in a doubled-carbon dioxide world plant growth could lessen global warming by about 0.3 degrees C globally. The same model found that the world would warm by 1.94 degrees C without this cooling feedback factored in.

    [JR: Left out drought and wildfires!]

  9. Mike Roddy says:

    Kudos to Monbiot and the Rapid Response team.

    Bullshit like Rose’s article appears every day in the US press and on television. Will the Rapid Response Team be able to develop the staff to take on bad articles in a systematic and comprehensive way? CP and Monbiot do great work in this regard, but the media is getting away with way more than people are currently able to track and refute.

  10. DavidCOG says:

    The Daily Mail heads further subterranean in the credibility stakes.

    The range of apologies that the paper has been forced to print over the years are amazing and often hilarious, e.g.:

    * “…we gave the impression that Mr Gest had contracted a sexually transmitted infection and alleged that he had Liza Minnelli’s dog killed without her knowledge. This was wrong. David Gest has never had a sexually transmitted infection and did not have Ms Minnelli’s dog killed. We apologise to Mr Gest for any embarrassment caused.”

    The Mail – like most British tabloids – is not really a newspaper. It is a gossip rag that pads out the prurient drivel with distorted views that please its small-minded, conservative, ‘Little Britain’ readership.

  11. Colorado Bob says:

    Reg. Required for this :

    JUSTIN WELBERGEN will never forget the day he watched hundreds of animals die. It was January 2002 and he was observing a colony of flying foxes in northern New South Wales, Australia. The temperature had just peaked at 43 °C when the bats started behaving oddly. They usually just dozed or squabbled noisily in the treetops, but this day was different.

    “They were really distressed,” says Welbergen, who was studying the social behaviour of flying foxes for his PhD at the University of Cambridge. “They were fanning themselves and panting frantically. Some were licking their wrists to cool down. And then suddenly they began falling from the trees – it was raining flying foxes. If they weren’t dead when they hit the ground they died soon after. Others expired in the trees. It was gruesome.”

    On that single afternoon, some 2000 bats died in the colony Welbergen was studying, and thousands more perished in colonies nearby.

  12. John Mason says:

    There are some good rags left in the UK – VIZ comic is still close to the top!! (though, as often lamented, not as funny as it used to be)….

    In about 1979 my father (I was 16 at the time) described the Daily Mail as a “Fascist Comic”, and he wasn’t even a Labour-voter!! I have come to regard it as the hard-copy version of WUWT!

    Cheers – John

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    Flood crisis spreads throughout NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria

    But the consequences of the deluge – more than 100mm of rain in less than 24 hours in some regions – will not be realised until today or even tomorrow.

    Read more:

  14. I have to say I can see the general public’s eyes glazing over when the talk turns to uncertainty.

    The basic messages is that when Rose suggests that the rising trend is not proven, he is wrong! Short term weather is not long term climate. Regard,less of his doubts, the climate will continue to warm in coming decades and head for a 4 degree C increased by 2100 even if we do all the things being promised at Cancun.

    If we don’t it will truely be “Hell and high water”.

    See Veron’s article on Corals at Yale Environment

  15. J Bowers says:

    This was pointed out at the Guardian, given the Global Warming Policy Foundation is a charity and supplied David Rose with some of his information: p

    …the Global Warming Policy Foundation is registered with the Charities Commission as an “educational charity” and as a consequence benefits from tax breaks etc. Making such an egregious error (or is it a lie?) is counter to their stated charitable objects:


    If I were donating to a charity I would expect them to demonstrate proper due diligence in sourcing their educational content.

  16. J Bowers says:

    That wasn’t meant to be a “pull tongues” emoticon, by the way. Genuine typo.

  17. Crank says:

    The U.S. news media has its problems, especially the blurring of news, commentary and entertainment on cable news, but our major newspapers are far better than the U.K.’s newspapers in objectify and depth. Why are their news papers so bad? Do most people in the U.K. know to ignore them the why we ignore celebrity tabloids?

    I’m not sure that that is generally true. However, newspapers like the Daily Mail fit into a subcategory of newspapers that really have no direct equivalent in the US. The Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, News of the World and The Sun would typically be decribed as “tabloids” in the UK, but they’re quite different from US tabloids in that they all tend to contain much more in the way of political commentary.

    The UK’s broadsheet newspapers (like the Independent, Telegraph, Times, Guardian…) are typically of a much higher standard, although now always objective (particularly if you’re looking at the Daily Telegraph, which is strongly right leaning) and The Times went downhill in a big way after it got acquired by News Corp.

    I should add, though, that my information is fairly old. I grew up in the UK, but have lived in the US for more than a decade and rarely get to read British newspapers these days…

  18. Some European says:

    Some deniers are doing their homework: repeat, repeat, repeat.
    Some deniers are doing their homework: repeat, repeat, repeat.
    Some deniers are doing their homework: repeat, repeat, repeat.
    Some deniers are doing their homework: repeat, repeat, repeat.

  19. Crank says:

    Just noticed a typo in my post above: “now always objective” should be “not always objective”.

    By the way, I was rather shocked by your headline; it’s not everyday you see the words “Daily Mail” and “credibility” in the same sentence.

  20. Jon Sumby says:

    It seems that Rose may be sourcing from these people as the comments they make are remarkably similar to Rose’s piece:

    HARRIS & LEYLAND: Global warming ideology still on top
    By Tom Harris and Bryan Leyland – The Washington Times
    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    ‘Next, professor Phil Jones of the United Kingdom’s Climatic Research Unit (and lead author of the IPCC chapter on temperatures) admitted that there has been no statistically significant warming for 15 years. Then “hockey stick” promoters finally acknowledged that there indeed was a Medieval Warm Period.’

    ‘Tom Harris is the executive director of the International Climate Science Coalition (ICSC). Bryan Leyland is ICSC’s founding secretary and energy issues adviser.’

  21. MapleLeaf says:

    Jon @20,

    Tom Harris is bad news. More can be found about his antics at DeepClimate.

    So I would not be surprised if he is implicated in this latest bout of misinformation.

    The ICSC is yet another ideological anti-science group, similar to “Friends” of Science.

    Good grief, since when did Canada become such a bad kid on the block? No wonder our international reputation is going down the tubes…

  22. Deep Climate says:

    #20 Excellent catch

    I held off on the latest round of David Rose nonsense, as Monbiot did such a great job, with an able assist from Climate Science Rapid Response Team.

    But I did cover Rose from the beginning of his new career as a gullible climate science reporter.

    See my coverage of David Rose’s coverage of climategate and Mojib Latif’s supposed “global cooling” prediction:

    And his later return to coverage of Steve McIntyre and his “hide the decline” falsehoods, complete with fake graphs from the Daily Mail:

    If this latest tripe turns out to be inspired by ICSC’s Tom Harris, I’ll certainly be returning to the subject of David Rose and asking more uncomfortable questions.

    Rose appears to be no more than a gullible, easy-to-manipulate “investigative” reporter. The only difference between his reporting on Iraq and climate science is that at least in the Iraq case he acknowledged and apologized for his errors, if somewhat incompletely and half-heartedly. He seems to be still at the blissful ignorance stage with regard to climate science. And still in the thrall of thoroughly unreliable and dubious sources.

  23. Deep Climate says:

    It looks like the Guardian article changed since this was posted.

    This sentence is no longer there:

    He has made a long series of basic errors and – far worse – has kept making them even after they’ve been exposed. Here are just a few examples:

    Gone too – poof – are the links to the examples, which include several to Deltoid and one to my first post on Rose. That probably explains the noticeable but short-lived spike to my David Rose/Mojib Latif post.

    The question, of course, is why those links were removed. I have a feeling one or more lawyers may have been involved.

  24. Deep Climate says:

    #20, 22 revisted

    Actually, it looks like the Harris/Leyland article was too late to be an antecedent to Rose.

    And the fact is, “global warming has stopped” is an oft-repeated meme, as is Phil Jones’s so-called “admission” of “no significant warming since 1995”. So the search for Rose’s antecedents will need to focus on the more unique aspects of his exposition.