climate change media

Choose your climate headline

Walking past the newsagents yesterday morning, I had to laugh at the contrast in front page headlines:

The Guardian led with ‘Top climate sceptic calls for $100 bn fund to fight global warming.’

On the same day, the Daily Express had ‘Climate change lies are exposed.’

Quite an insight into editorial policy on climate change, I’m sure you’ll agree. The first of those headlines refers to a new book from Bjorn Lomborg, arguably the best known climate sceptic, in which he calls for immediate action on climate change. The article begins: “The world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic is to declare that global warming is “undoubtedly one of the chief concerns facing the world today” and “a challenge humanity must confront”, in an apparent U-turn that will give a huge boost to the embattled environmental lobby.”

Having gloated for six paragraphs, the article also mentions that the Interacademy Council has published it’s investigation into the IPCC’s 2007 report. As a result, there is pressure on IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri to stand down.

The Express, which came out against climate science in a big way last year, leads with the IAC report: “The world’s leading climate change body has been accused of losing credibility after a damning report into its research practices. A high-level inquiry into the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found there was “little evidence” for its claims about global warming.”

The Express is being misleading here, as the report comments on IPCC structure and process, not the evidence for climate change. “The process used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to produce its periodic assessment reports has been successful overall,” begins the IAC’s own press release, but it does recomend that it “fundamentally reform its management structure and strengthen its procedures”.

I mention these stories not to say who’s right and wrong, but as a reminder to read broadly.  If you’re a Guardian reader, chances are you take climate change as a given. If you’re an Express reader, as the comments below the article testify, you may well think it’s all a massive con. It’s easy for us to surround ourselves with voices that we agree with, filling our bookmarks and RSS readers with “all the news you choose”. Let’s keep asking questions of our favourite news sources.

3 comments

  1. Absolutely agree with you on that one, Jeremy; it’s often a case of “caveat lector”. Neither the Express nor the Guardian seem to have got it right, in this case.

    In addition to your point, the Express was also incorrect in stating that the “panel was forced to admit its key claim in support of global warming was lifted from a 1999 magazine article.” The saga of the Himalayan glacier error, which the article appears to be referring to, certainly showcases much of what is wrong with the IPCC, I think, but that claim was surely never its “key claim in support of global warming” – that’s just plain wrong.

    And the Guardian, in calling Bjorn Lomborg the “world’s most high-profile climate change sceptic” and giving the impression that he has done a “U-turn”, is being a little disingenuous, I think. Bjorn Lomborg has, as far as I know, always considered that man-made global warming exists and believed that it would cause problems for humanity in the future (although he has in the past considered it fairly low on the list of the world’s most pressing problems.) Where he has differed from many AGW proponents, however, is that he has argued that spending money and resources on adaptation would be more effective than cutting carbon. His recent change of tack appears to be a new focus on R&D into geoengineering and cheap low-carbon energy, as opposed to drastic carbon rationing (which I think he has always been against.)

    So yes, reading broadly – and reading critically – are important (and must do more of it, myself.) That’s a good reminder.

    1. Yes, both papers are taking a slant on the news that best serves their own interests. The IAC report has nothing to do with climate science itself, and as you say, Lomborg has always said that AGW was a reality.

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