Hurrah for the climate deniers: How the Daily Mail swallowed enviroscepticism whole

Tim Holmes reports on the latest Daily Mail scaremongering and misrepresentation of the climate change debate.

Evil: The Daily Fail, sorry, Mail

This article, by Tim Holmes, is based on analysis undertaken for the Carbon Brief

“We must stop pandering to climate scaremongers,” huffs the Daily Mail today. The article follows a write-it-in-your-sleep front-page story headlined:

“Hidden green tax in fuel bills”

The article is built around a series of quotes from ex-head of the civil service Lord Turnbull, who demands that politicians “stop frightening us and our children” about the threat of global warming.

So what is all this based on? A month ago Lord Turnbull produced a 15-page report [pdf] for the climate-sceptic think-tank the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The briefing paper discusses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s assessment of climate science and the UK policy response. But an analysis for the Carbon Brief published immediately after found Turnbull’s report to be riddled with basic errors and misrepresentations of climate science.

The Daily Mail proceeds today to repeat some of these errors, starting with the sweeping comment that “by and large humanity has prospered in the warmer periods”.

It goes on to say:

“There is still ‘huge controversy’ about the role of the of the sun, cosmic rays, clouds and oceans in climate change.”

In reality, models which take into account only natural influences cannot explain the present rise in temperatures. Only when manmade influences are taken into account can we explain why this is happening, as the science evaluated by the IPCC has demonstrated.

Turnbull’s claim that the IPCC makes unfounded “dramatic” claims about the impacts of climate change will sound extremely strange to anyone who has actually read any of the 2,700 pages in the 2007 IPCC report – or a review of the scientific foundations of the IPCC commissioned by the Dutch government, which found:

“Overall the summary conclusions are considered well founded, none have been found to contain any significant errors.”

The full report by Turnbull includes many other oft-repeated misrepresentations of the science made by those who find climate change to be politically inconvenient.

These include allegations there is a scientific conspiracy to cover up the medieval warm period (there isn’t); that the IPCC ignored possible negative feedbacks from water vapour (it hasn’t); or that the IPCC has ignored past variability in the climate (it didn’t).

In the Mail, Turnbull expresses himself “disappointed” that so many of his former colleagues are willing to go “unquestioningly” along with the scientific consensus and argues:

“From our politicians we need open-mindedness, more rationality, less emotion and less religiosity…”

The irony is that Turnbull, and the Mail (and to some extent Sue Cameron at the FT) have swallowed wholesale many claims that back up their preconceived idea that climate change isn’t a problem, with barely a nod to rationality.

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  • Selohesra

    Just because it is in the Mail does not automatically make it wrong – many scientists question how much climate change is man made rather natural. Sensible to be cautious really since the climate has been changing for millions of years and humans have only relatively recently been around to impact things.

  • mr. Sensible

    And I thought that last summer the Daily Fail was coming round to believing that Climate Change was real…

  • yyxhjdsn

    Climate Change is real and nobody denies it. The climate has and will change, it has never not. The question is whether we are heading for a human induced climate catastrophe. We may, we may not. There is no evidence for it.

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  • Claire Barker

    Climate change is a fact and there is scientific evidence from many different and reputable sources that the acceleration in change is in part and probably in very large part due to human activity. It is deeply troubling that so many people are unable to grasp this. There is growing evidence that if we do not address this and do it now that we are bequeathing a bleak inheritance for future generations.

  • Billy Blofeld

    Climate change is BIG BUSINESS for politicians, scientists, environmentalists and firms. All of whom extract a premium whilst maintaining the green cult that lines their pockets.

    Fake science and lies. Nice………

  • Selohesra

    Claire – you need to do more that just asert you are right and climate realists are wrong if you wish to convince them of your case. Use of facts and evidence is usually quite a good technique. Article linked below sets out some of these facts to show you how its done


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  • Hengist

    Selohesra ,
    ‘many scientists question how much climate change is man made rather natural’ – this is true but misleading without the other side as context 97.6 % of publishing climate scientists agree with the IPCC consensus. So your many scientists questioning how much climate change is man made amount to a very small (but highly vocal ) proportion.

  • Hengist


    Your unsupported claim there is no evidence for it is unfortunately wrong. I reccomend you read Elizabeth Kolbert Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change

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  • gyges

    Aren’t there two separate debates? First, climate denial (whatever that means); and second, using the excuse of climate change to transfer wealth from the very poorest in our society to the very richest via the ROC Mechanism.

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