More Mail climate change misreporting

Today, the Mail continues in the same vein. They've published an article talking about the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) being "utterly bonkers and misleading".

As recently reported on Left Foot Forward, the Daily Mail and other right-wing papers are conspicuously failing to observe even minimal standards of journalistic probity in their efforts to mud-sling at climate science and the climate-justice movement.

Today, the Mail continues in the same vein. They’ve published an article describing the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF) as being “utterly bonkers and misleading”, citing a Whitehall report which claims public opinion on manmade climate change hasn’t been changed by the work of this fund.

The first point to make here is that just because public opinion has not dramatically shifted on climate change does not mean that the work of the CCF hasn’t contributed to the current state of public opinion not being worse than it actually is.

Honest journalism on this story would consider the possibility that, if the CCF hadn’t done its work, recent opinion polls on the public’s climate-understanding would be even worse than they actually are. (An analogy in this particular regard is the vast amount of money spent by laundry/detergent sellers on advertising. They do NOT expect to win any improved market share by spending this money – they are just trying to avoid losing market share.)

In any case, the substance of the Mail’s story does not match its headlines. It says:

“The report by consultants Brook Lyndhurst … judged that ‘the aggregate picture is one of neutral or very modest positive shifts’.”

That’s a very far cry from a verdict that the money spent was wasted.

Even if the Brook Lyndhurst study that the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) dug up does say the Climate Challenge projects didn’t succeed in shifting public opinion at all, this would hardly be much of a stunning conclusion – for changing attitudes and behaviour on manmade climate change is notoriously difficult. (For some of the best ways forward on this, see below.)

The TPA have been extremely selective in the CCF projects they highlight. Here is a rather fuller listing of the vast array of projects that the Fund has been engaged in: http://tinyurl.com/ccf-projects

The Mail story opportunistically concludes by saying:

“The Climatic Research Unit [CRU] at the University of East Anglia, which received £16,000 from the Climate Challenge Fund, has come under fire over leaked emails which show scientists attempted to hide data from sceptics.”

I work at UEA, but you don’t need to work here to be aware – any journalist would or should be aware – that the CRU is itself a pretty huge organisation. The money that it received from the CCF was for completely different purposes than the temperature-mapping work which is at the centre of the stolen-emails controversy.

CCF funding is for projects about public understanding of sustainability, etc. – not about the actual business of temperature-measuring. In other words: there is no real connection between this story and that controversy. The Mail has arbitrarily linked the two, to try to jump on a bandwagon.

The Mail’s piece does, however, make one good point:

“Future programmes should ‘avoid sensationalist or shocking imagery in climate change messages, since respondents are likely to find this off-putting’, [the report] said.”

But this is about how most effectively to communicate around manmade climate change, something about which we are still learning. Some of the best thinking on which way to go next with climate communications, away from doom and gloom and toward a better greener future, can be found at:

identity campaigning

SIZZLE

Green Words Workshop

But the Mail, presumably, would rather not let people know about any of this positive thinking about climate-communication.

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