False Balance Lives At Reuters: Climatologist Slams ‘Absurd’ Use Of ‘Unrelated Climate Skeptics Nonsense’

On Tuesday, we reported that a former Reuters climate change correspondent, David Fogarty, charged the publication was openly hostile to climate coverage.

Turns out Reuters proved Fogarty right in a major climate story this week, “Seas may rise 2.3 metres per degree of global warming-report.”

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research news release for the study from explains:

Greenhouse gases emitted today will cause sea level to rise for centuries to come. Each degree of global warming is likely to raise sea level by more than 2 meters in the future….

“CO2, once emitted by burning fossil fuels, stays an awful long time in the atmosphere,” says Anders Levermann, lead author of the study and research domain co-chair at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “Consequently, the warming it causes also persists.”

So, the study is about the long term impact of warming on sea levels.

Here is what Reuters feels compelled to insert into their piece:

Scientists say global warming is responsible for the melting ice. A U.N. panel of scientists, the IPCC, says heat-trapping gases from burning fossil fuels are nudging up temperatures. A small number of scientists dismiss human-influenced global warming, arguing natural climate fluctuations are responsible.

Who are these hardcore climate science-denying scientists who reject even the most basic physics? We are never told.

Later on Reutuers says:

Climate sceptics, however, say the evidence is unconvincing. Measurements of changing temperatures are unreliable, contradictory and unsupported by solid historic data, they say.

They question the accuracy of computer climate forecasts and point to historic, cyclical changes in the world’s temperature as evidence that global temperature changes are natural. Others say the evidence shows temperatures have stopped rising and that the sun plays a bigger role than human activities.

These are nothing but climate science denier BS talking points that have been thoroughly refuted.

Note that once again we never learn who is in this apparently secret cult of skeptics, we just know “they say” anti-scientific things, while “others say” other anti-scientific things — and Reuters obligingly quotes them anonymously.

Dr. Stefan Rahmstorf, Co-Chair of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute, emailed me this critique:

This stuff has nothing to do with the paper about which the report is; the paper is about long-term sea-level commitment and has nothing to do with whether temperature measurements are unreliable. Simply, a lot of unrelated climate skeptics nonsense has been added to this Reuters piece. In the words of the late Steve Schneider, this is like adding some nonsense from the Flat Earth Society to a report about the latest generation of telecommunication satellites. It is absurd.

One final point on the source of this false balance at Reuters. Fogarty had written that then deputy editor-in-chief Paul Ingrassia “told me he was a climate change sceptic.” Ingrassia is now managing editor in London, which he said “literally puts me at the geographic centre of the Reuters news operation.”


We can’t know for certain who insisted on cramming this absurd and non-germane “climate skeptics nonsense” into the piece, but we have a strong clue. If it had been part of the reporter’s original reporting, you would have expected direct quotes from actual skeptics, because that is journalism 101. The fact that the blather was all inserted without attribution suggests it was added at the insistence of an editor. Go figure!