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.

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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