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

Two top climate scientists and the NSIDC accuse Daily Mail of misquoting and misrepresenting them or their work.

Readers should assume that everything they see in the Daily Mail is untrue and unverified. Scientists should refuse to grant interviews to the paper without a third-party present or an agreement to allow a review of any quotes used.

One of the British newspapers leading the charge to undermine the credibility of climate science has had its own credibility rocked. Two leading scientists, Murari Lal and Mojib Latif, have accused the Daily Mail of misquoting and misrepresenting them. And the National Snow and Ice Data Center has accused the paper of printing “nonsense” and of “very lazy journalism.”

Lending further credibility to the scientists’ charges are a pattern of false and misleading statements in the paper (and by DM reporter David Rose in comments on this very blog).

The latest self-inflicted body blow to the Daily Mail is this outrageously false headline (and subhed) echoing through the right-wing blogosphere:

Climategate U-turn as scientist at centre of row admits: There has been no global warming since 1995

… There has been no global warming since 1995

Not. Here’s the BBC interview with Phil Jones that DM is twisting:

BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming.

Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

Jones ain’t great at answering questions, something I’ll return to in a later post. For instance, he should point out the recent Met Office reanalysis of their data (see Finally, the truth about the Hadley/CRU data: “The global temperature rise calculated by the Met Office’s HadCRUT record is at the lower end of likely warming”).

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Even so, no scientist should have to put up with that kind of gross misrepresentation. And no, the fact that the story itself is (a tad) better on this one point does not excuse the headlines, which is as far as many people read.

Sadly, pushing disinformation has become standard operating procedure for the paper.

DailyMailGate (aka RoseGate) began with two articles that had unjustifiably sensational headlines in early January, “The mini ice age starts here” by David Rose and “Could we be in for 30 years of global COOLING? By [unnamed] Daily Mail Reporter.” Both were based on misrepresenting Latif and NSIDC’s work, as I showed here. Latif went to the UK’s Guardian with his strong charges of misrepresentation against the DM, and they ran this piece:

Leading climate scientist challenges Mail on Sunday’s use of his research

Mojib Latif denies his research supports theory that current cold weather undermines scientific consensus on global warming

A leading scientist has hit out at misleading newspaper reports that linked his research to claims that the current cold weather undermines the scientific case for manmade global warming.

Mojib Latif, a climate expert at the Leibniz Institute at Kiel University in Germany, said he “cannot understand” reports that used his research to question the scientific consensus on climate change.

He told the Guardian: “It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming. I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming.”

He added: “There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases.”

A report in the Mail on Sunday said that Latif’s results “challenge some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs” and “undermine the standard climate computer models”. Monday’s Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph repeated the claims.

In fact, the DM wrote, “some of the global warming orthodoxy’s most deeply cherished beliefs, such as the claim that the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.”

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That was one more patent falsehood. Exceedingly few people have claimed “the North Pole will be free of ice in summer by 2013.” It is nonsense to call that orthodoxy.

Virtually every major model in the IPCC had predicted the Arctic would not be ice free in the summer until the second half of this century, so what’s going on in the Arctic today is a sharp break with “global warming orthodoxy” — since the only “orthodoxy,” if one is going to use that pejorative word, is the IPCC in its periodic literature reviews. Ironically, the DM used the phrase “North Pole” and not “Arctic,” and obviously an ice free North pole by 2013 is a far more likely possibility.

The DM’s reporting in this area was also challenged by NSIDC, which managed to get the Daily Mail to change its utterly false claim that “According to the The National Snow and Ice Data Center, the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases.” Yet, they merely changed it to “According to some scientists, the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases.” Except, of course, those unnamed “some scientists” don’t exist, the article never identifies them, and Latif certainly isn’t one of them, as he explained right here.

DailyMailGate exploded soon after those two error-riddled pieces when the Daily Mail’s David Rose wrote another sensational piece, “Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified.” That piece had explosive charges against Dr. Murari Lal, a lead author on the IPCC chapter on Asia in the 2007 impacts report. I debunked it here: “EXCLUSIVE: UN scientist refutes Daily Mail claim he said Himalayan glacier error was politically motivated.” Subsequently, Lal leveled very serious charges at Rose in an email to the IPCC that Andy Revkin reprinted at DotEarth:

I am not a Glaciologist but a Climatologist and the statement attributed to me in “Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified” By David Rose in UK Daily Mail on 24th January 2010 has been wrongly placed. I never said this story at any time and strongly condemn the writer for attributing this to me.

More specifically, I never said during my conversation with Rose the following statements being attributed to me:

(a) ‘it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.’

(b) ‘It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action.’

(c) ‘It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in.’, and

(d) ‘We as authors followed them to the letter,’ he said. ‘Had we received information that undermined the claim, we would have included it.’.

Contrary to the claim by Rose that “Hayley Fowler of Newcastle University, suggested that their draft did not mention that Himalayan glaciers in the Karakoram range are growing rapidly,” the Asia Chapter does include this finding under section 10.2.4.2 on page 477.

What I said was “As authors, we had to report only the best available science (inclusive of a select few grey literatures as per the rules of procedure) which is “policy-relevant and yet policy-neutral” and that’s what we collectively did while writing the Asia Chapter. None of the authors in Asia Chapter were Glaciologist and we entirely trusted the findings reported in the WWF 2005 Report and the underlying references as scientifically sound and relevant in the context of climate change impacts in the region.

Regards,

Dr. Murari Lal

1006, Osimo Bldg., Mahagun Mansion-II1/4 Vaibhavkhand, IndirapuramGhaziabad — 201014Uttar Pradesh, INDIA]

I have interviewed both Lal and Latif, analyzed Latif’s work at length (and published his op-ed here), and talked to other leading scientists about Lal. Again, they seem credible, whereas the DM does not.

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Others agree. See the various stories on ScienceBlogs, including Deltoid’s Rosegate scandal grows and James Hrynyshyn on Rosegate.

Note that David Rose denies these charges, but he has posted several misleading comments on Climate Progress that further undermine his credibility.

He wrote here:

I merely quoted him [Latif], accurately, saying that his team’s work suggests that up to half the global warming observed in recent decades was due not to greenhouse gases but long-term ocean temperature cycles.

That is a gross misrepresentation of what Latif’s work shows, as I explained here.

According to Latif, over a short time span, say, the period since 1990, it’s hard to determine exactly what fraction of the temperature change is due to what cause, but Latif does not believe nor ever said what the Daily Mail suggests, which is that you can add those periods together. Remember, for Latif, the periods of slow warming are just ocean cycles temporarily negating the impact of warming. The ocean cycles can make some periods appear to warm faster, and some appear to warm slower, but overall, as he told me, “you can’t miss the long-term warming trend” in the temperature record, which is “driven by the evolution of greenhouse gases.” His work simply “does not allow one to make any inferences about global warming.”

Rose continues on CP about what Latif’s work supposedly means:

Such predictions, I wrote, “challenge some of global warming orthodoxy’s most cherished beliefs”, including the assertion that the north pole will be ice-free in summer by 2013.

Again, it is laughable to say “the assertion that the north pole will be ice-free in summer by 2013” is one of “global warming orthodoxy’s most cherished beliefs” — though ironically, as written by Rose, it’s entirely possible that this assertion will still prove true, because he has confused “the north pole” with the entire Arctic!

Finally, Rose asserts here:

I did not misquote Dr Lal, and I have verbatim, contemporaneous notes of our conversation. I did not, however, accuse him of knowingly publishing false information, as others have implied.

Oh that is rich. No, Rose did not accuse him of that — but the Daily Mail’s clever falsehood-pushing headline writers created that misimpression, which is why Lal saw fit to correct the record. Go to the original headline and lede here:

Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn’t been verified

By David Rose Last updated at 12:54 AM on 24th January 2010

The scientist behind the bogus claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 last night admitted it was included purely to put political pressure on world leaders.

Dr Murari Lal also said he was well aware the statement, in the 2007 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), did not rest on peer-reviewed scientific research.

In an interview with The Mail on Sunday, Dr Lal, the co-ordinating lead author of the report’s chapter on Asia, said….

Unless you knew that Lal was not a “glacier scientist,” you would naturally assume that the headline referred to the first person discussed in the piece: Murari Lal. But this headline actually refers to a glaciologist mentioned halfway down the story. But there is almost no possible way a typical reader could know that.

Most people reading the story would assume that the headline referred to Lal and accused him of publishing data that he knew hadn’t been verified, which, after all, seems consistent with the other charges Rose levels in the piece, charges that Lal has made clear our grotesquely false.

The headline is best described as intentionally deceitful in the light of the Daily Mail’s recent deceitful headline on Jones’ interview.

Given all the charges against them, the Daily Mail should undergo a thorough internal review.

Until then, readers should assume that everything they see in the Daily Mail is untrue and unverified. Scientists should refuse to grant interviews to the paper without a third-party present or an agreement to allow a review of any quotes used.