Article on climate change 'inaccurate'

NEW YORK • A self-policing group within the British news industry has forced The Mail on Sunday tabloid to acknowledge that an article it published, asserting that climate researchers in the United States had manipulated data, was inaccurate and misleading.

A statement saying the news organisation "failed to take care over the accuracy of the article" was posted on The Mail on Sunday's website early yesterday and would appear in the print edition.

Publication of the statement was required after the self-regulating group, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, ruled in favour of a complaint that the article, which was published on Feb 5, had misrepresented the comments of a former scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) about a 2015 climate change paper by leading NOAA climate researcher Thomas Karl and others. The Mail on Sunday, the statement said, also failed to correct "significantly misleading statements" in the article, which was written by Mr David Rose and was based on the claims of former NOAA scientist John Bates.

The man who brought the complaint against The Mail on Sunday, Mr Bob Ward, policy and communications director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics, said he had immediate concerns about the article when he read it.

"It was fairly obvious right from the start it was bound to be suspicious because David Rose has a long history of promoting climate change denial," Mr Ward said.

"It was grossly overblown," he added, "and that was clearly what he was trying to do."

Efforts to reach Mr Rose were not successful.

The Mail on Sunday managing editor John Wellington confirmed in an e-mail that the news organisation was going to post what he referred to as an adjudication. Mr Rose's article was published with the print headline "Exposed: How world leaders were duped over global warming" and a similar headline online.

It detailed assertions by Dr Bates about temperature data that had been used in the 2015 paper, which provided evidence against the idea that global warming had slowed in the first decade of this century.

In The Mail on Sunday's article, Mr Rose described Dr Bates as a "high-level whistleblower" and said the latter had told him that NOAA had "breached its own rules on scientific integrity" by using what was described as "unverified" data for the study.

The article also asserted that the study was rushed into print in June 2015 to have "maximum possible impact on world leaders" at the Paris climate talks later that year.

Most of the article's assertions were rejected by scientists in the days after it was published.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2017, with the headline 'Article on climate change 'inaccurate''. Subscribe