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:

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


Green Words Workshop

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

Like this article? Left Foot Forward relies on support from readers to sustain our progressive journalism. Can you become a supporter for £5 a month?

23 Responses to “More Mail climate change misreporting”

  1. Left Foot Forward

    More Mail climate change misreporting: reports @RupertRead

  2. Mr. Sensible

    Ah The Daily Mail; the New Right Mouthpiece.

    This is the same paper who’s columnist was for some strange reason exhonerated in relation to the insensitive, and lying article she wrote about Stephen Gately.
    Na, I don’t bother reading it; stick to the Guardian.

  3. Societás™

    RT @leftfootfwd: More Mail climate change misreporting: reports @RupertRead

  4. lottery More Mail climate change misreporting | Left Foot Forward

  5. lottery More Mail climate change misreporting | Left Foot Forward

  6. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – “Strange Reason”… free speech perhaps?

  7. Mr. Sensible

    Anon E Mouse, free speach is one thing, but making insensitive and faulse comments is completely another.

  8. Tony Decapreo

    More Mail climate change misreporting | Left Foot Forward: But the Mail, presumably, would rather not let people k…

  9. uberVU - social comments

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by leftfootfwd: More Mail climate change misreporting: reports @RupertRead…

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Mr.Sensible – I agree it was uncalled for, especially the timing but that is one of the aspects of free speech I fear…

  11. fiona adam

    More Mail climate change misreporting | Left Foot Forward: Today, the Mail continues in the same vein. They've pub…

  12. Rupert Read

    Thanks for writing, Matthew.
    But you haven’t laid a finger on my post, here. For instance, your point that “before and after surveys of the people who actually participated in the projects” were used is largely irrelevant: because all those people have been exposed over the period to the same drip drip drip of lies and propaganda from well-funded denialists such as you and the MAIL. So my point still stands: if there has been even a modest improvement in public understanding and concern among those affected by the projects, while on the national level we have been moving backwards, then that suggests that the projects were in many cases reasonably successful.
    None of your other points stand up at all. They are little better than the MAIL’s own reporting of this, and consist of nit-picking and misleading innuendos.

  13. Matthew Sinclair


    I’ll leave aside the ad hominem, and you haven’t responded to most of my post. But on the one point you have addressed, some of those surveys are from directly before and after people participated in the projects, e.g. questionnaires at events.

    I’m not sure your explanation is particularly convincing anyway, these projects took place before the CRU e-mail scandal and other recent stories which might have changed people’s minds, but it doesn’t fit with the kind of evaluation we’re talking about.


  14. Rupert Read

    You say that you will ‘leave aside the ad hominem’. Kindly then take back significant portions of your post, and request the MAIL to do the same with their story. It is a disgrace that you throw around vague (and largely false) allegations about CRU which have no connection whatsoever with the substance of this story. Your kind of mud-slinging exercise is ad hominem from the beginning.
    [And btw, isn’t it time you rebranded yourselves as ‘The non-taxpayers alliance’, given the revelations about your funders’ tax-status?]

  15. Matthew Sinclair


    Surely you can see the clear relevance of what happened at the CRU to this story?

    A scandal, and what appears to be a breach of FOI law (not just my opinion, the ICO has said the same thing), at a climate change research unit in a university supported by the Climate Challenge Fund to promote its research into climate change is about as clear a connection to the story as I can imagine.

    It’s not mudslinging, it’s criticism. Get used to it.

    [One of our directors, a former teacher, retired to France. People who live in France tend to pay French taxes, not British ones. He’s a retired teacher, not a sinister billionaire kingpin]


  16. Shamik Das

    “One of our directors, a former teacher, retired to France. People who live in France tend to pay French taxes, not British ones.”

    Matt – should he then, as someone who isn’t paying UK taxes, have a say on how UK taxes are spent?

    Imagine if someone who lived in France was advocating an increase in spending, would you be happy with that?!

  17. Matthew Sinclair


    He’s an unpaid, non-exec Director. And, people who don’t live here advocate for various positions and causes all the time. Joe Stiglitz was on one of the letters this morning and you guys cite Paul Krugman all the time…


  18. Rupert Read

    Your latest comment has brightened my afternoon, Matthew – thanks! There’s nothing like a good chortle to keep one’s health good and spirits up. . . The point you seem to have missed is that Joe Stiglitz doesn’t fund an organisation called The [UK] Taxpayers’ Alliance!

  19. Rupert Read

    Matthew; you say “…at a climate change research unit in a university supported by the Climate Challenge Fund to promote its research into climate change is about as clear a connection to the story as I can imagine.” That is the purest bs, and you know it. For the simple point is this, as I made clear in my post: the CCF money was NOT for any of the research allegedly (though not actually) put into doubt in the illegally-hacked emails.
    You are bringing this all out now to ride the little wave of anti-climate change feeling, muddy the waters a bit further, cast some aspersions about all this climate stuff purportedly just being wasteful propaganda – but your aspersions lack the virtue of being well-founded or relevant.

  20. Jason Penn

    Hello Rupert.

    Reading through this blog and the comments gives the impression that you are blind to the debate on climate change. The science is far from settled and the evidence if anything suggests nothing much is happening, indeed the only opinion driver forcing the climate change alarmism is government funded propaganda.

    For example:

    “Large grants went to councils, schools and youth groups for ‘attitude modification’ programmes and to assure the public that man-made global warming is an established scientific fact.”

    Attitude modification programs?

    Why on earth are we wasting money on brainwashing kids to believe we are destroying the planet when nothing of the sort is happening?

    This is an absolute disgrace. At least any climate change education should balance the arguments with how the climate models could be flawed, why the temperature data is dodgy due to heat sinks and why the ‘hockey stick’ graph is a fraud.

    I must say, your approach to this is one sided and somewhat of a rant. could it just possibly be that you are indeed wrong and the tiny weenie increase is atmospheric CO2 is completely harmless?

  21. Rupert Read

    Jason, all I can say is: What a sad joke you people are. Sad, because you are standing in the way of action now, when we have such a short window of opportunity before the climate is terminally ruined. And a joke, because you are scientifically illiterate.
    I teach at UEA. Try saying what you have written here to any climate scientist, and they won’t know whether to laugh or cry.
    You people are choosing to exile yourselves into the dustbin of history. You will all have to eat your words, sooner or later. And then your credibility will be terminally shredded.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.