UK press commission rules on “The Great Green Con”

It seems reporter David Rose has been cleared of any press ethics issues related to his publication of “The Great Green Con” in the UK Mail on Sunday. It seems his article upset (as the Press Commission described) “an environmentalist and the author of greenerblog.blogspot.com” and a complaint was lodged about the accuracy of the article.

greatgreencon

Here’s the decision from the Press Commission (emphasis mine):

=================================================================

Dear Mr Wellington

Further to our previous correspondence, the Commission has now considered the complaint from Dr Lawson. The complainant’s concerns were reviewed within the context of the article as a whole, taking into consideration the requirements of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

After assessment the Commission has decided that no matters have been raised which show a breach of the Code. The more detailed reasons for the decision are below.

We are grateful to you for your co-operation in dealing with this matter.

Yours sincerely

Rebecca Hales

rebecca.hales@pcc.org.uk

Commission’s decision in the case of Lawson v The Mail on Sunday

The complainant, an environmentalist and the author of greenerblog.blogspot.com, was concerned that the newspaper had published an article on the subject of climate change – both in print and online – which contained a number of alleged inaccuracies, misleading statements and distortions in breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.

Under the terms of Clause 1, “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information”; “a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected promptly and with due prominence”; and “the press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”.

In this instance, the article under complaint formed part of a “four-page special report” entitled “The Great Green Con”.  The piece was written from the perspective of investigative journalist David Rose and, in the Commission’s view, readers would have recognised the article as one individual’s analysis of the information provided by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  When reporting scientific findings, publications must often present complex information to a general readership; this may involve an element of interpretation.  The newspaper was permitted, under the terms of the Code, to publish such interpretation of scientific data, however strongly disputed.

The Commission considered each of the points raised by the complainant in turn and carefully took note of the supporting material supplied by both parties.

The article was accompanied by a graph showing estimated temperature changes over time alongside the average temperature for the same period.  The complainant said the newspaper had misrepresented the nature of computer model hindcasting (where known or closely estimated inputs for past events are entered into a model to see how well the output matches the known results) when it described the earlier temperature records in the graph as having been “plotted in retrospect”.  The complainant said that if the graph had been accurately “plotted in retrospect” by hand, it would have displayed a post-1998 levelling off of surface temperatures.  The Commission considered that the newspaper was free to rely on a graph produced by computer model hindcasting showing predicted data originating from the IPCC and actual temperatures supplied by the Met Office.  While the complainant’s position was that the newspaper could have better explained to readers the processes behind generating such a graph, the Commission could not conclude that the description of predictions “plotted in retrospect” misrepresented what had been done in this instance.  There was no breach of the Code on this point.

With regard to the article’s claims that “the graph confirms there has been no statistically significant increase in the world’s average temperature since January 1997” and “the awkward fact is that the earth has warmed just 0.5 degrees over the past 50 years”, the complainant argued that this might possibly be true of the world’s average surfacetemperature, but the phrase “world’s average temperature” implied that all temperature measurements were included.  He said that when the continuing increase of ocean temperature is included, a statistically significant increase in the world’s average temperature has continued since 1997.   The Commission could not agree that the phrase “world’s average temperature” would automatically be understood to include ocean temperature.  It considered that the readers would have understood the figures to represent surface temperature, as experienced in their day-to-day lives.  The Commission’s role is to administer the Editors’ Code of Practice and it emphasised that it is not the correct body to test veracity of the scientific data relied upon by the columnist.  However, it was able to conclude that the newspaper had not presented those figures to readers in such a way that would have misled them as to what was being shown by the graph.

The Commission noted that, contrary to the complainant’s assertion, the article did not refer to Dr David Whitehouse as an “expert” in the field of climate change.  Rather, he was given the broader description of “avowed climate sceptic” and author.  In the absence of any complaint from Dr Whitehouse that his position had been misrepresented, the Commission was unable to conclude that the newspaper had breached Clause 1 of the Code on this point.

Although the complainant considered that the newspaper should have explained to readers the background of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the Commission made clear that the Code does not require newspapers to publish exhaustive information on a particular subject.  The omission of details about the political motivations of the Global Warming Policy Foundation did not render the article misleading or significantly inaccurate in such a way that would necessitate subsequent correction under the terms of Clause 1 (ii).  In any case, the Global Warming Policy Foundation was mentioned in the context of the report penned by Dr Whitehouse and, as his position as a sceptic was made clear, the Commission considered that it would have been clear to readers that the organisation was not impartial on the issue of climate change.

The complainant was concerned that the article’s reference to the “global cooling” theories of the 1970s was misleading as the idea was only put out by a very small group of scientists at that time.  The Commission noted his position that just seven scientific papers from the era suggested cooling, while six times that number suggested warming.  He had argued that the prevalence of global warming theories meant that it was wrong for the newspaper to state that “in the Seventies, scientists and policymakers were just as concerned about a looming ‘ice age’ as they have been lately about global warming”.  This was plainly a matter of interpretation of scientific papers (which the complainant did not dispute existed) and the Commission considered that the newspaper was entitled to set out its editorial stance that historical concerns about global cooling are comparable to modern day fears about global warming.

The complainant objected to the article’s assertion that “the forecasts have also forced jobs abroad as manufacturers relocate to places with no emissions targets”.  He asked the newspaper to provide examples of where more than one manufacturer had relocated to places with no emissions targets where the motivation of “no emission targets” was the primary driving factor.  The Commission noted that the during the complaints process the newspaper had supplied material detailing how companies – such as steel manufacturers and oil refineries – have closed or relocated due to carbon constraints.  The complainant had accepted the newspaper’s evidence that energy levies may be a factor in some firms relocating and the Commission was satisfied that there was no breach of the Code on this point.

No breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) was established by the complaint.

Finally, the Commission noted that the complainant had initially expressed concerns about the reporter’s alleged misrepresentation of comments made by Professor Myles Allen in relation to past predictions for temperature change and revisions to those predictions.  In regard to complaints about matters of general fact under Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Code – where there are no obvious first parties cited in the article, who might complain – the Commission emphasised that it can indeed investigate complaints from any concerned reader.  However, in this instance, the disputed comments were clearly attributed to Professor Allen (who had subsequently clarified his position in an article published in The Guardian newspaper).

During the complaints process the complainant had indicated that he was content to leave it to Professor Allen to complain about these issues, rather than pursue the matter himself.  The Commission noted that Professor Allen had written in support of the complainant’s case, but had not submitted his own formal complaint to the PCC.  The Commission explained that it had subsequently written separately to Professor Allen, providing him with the information necessary to allow him to make his own complaint, but no reply had been received. The Commission made clear that should Professor Allen decide to complain separately, then it would be happy consider the matter further.

Reference no. 131408

Rebecca Hales

Complaints Officer

Press Complaints Commission

Halton House

20/23 Holborn

London EC1N 2JD

Tel: 020 7831 0022

Website: www.pcc.org.uk

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the irony…it hurts

So naff off with your cornsorious tendencies Mr Wellington, the PCC has given your complaint the Order of the Boot

Three cheers for the Press Complaints Commission, quite a strong refutation of the complainant who was without doubt “trying it on” as he had nothing to lose.

Andrew Harding

The PCC was just saying what most people in this country are starting to realise; that we are wasting billions of £’s combating a non-existent problem. Even worse these billions of £’s are coming out of the pockets of ordinary people. If people like Wellington wish to buy carbon credits, cycle, not fly, not drive and fit solar panels to their houses, I do not have a problem, it is when they expect me to do the same that I do have the problem!
I read the Mail article when it was originally published and it was an excellent article!

Just Steve

Another shining example of leftist tactics; if you’re losing in the arena of ideas, censor your opponent. It’s almost heartwarming to see a “traditional” media outlet use logic and common sense.
Unfortunately. hell to freeze over in 3, 2, 1……..

philincalifornia

Q ….. and by how much did those billions affect the Keeling curve ?
A As a 12-year old could have told your Government (and the Stern buffoon) before it stole your money – the square root of f*ck all.
Will they be giving the money back one wonders ??

catweazle666

Oh dear, poor Watermelons.
Things just aren’t going their way, are they?

Skiphil

The very notion of a “Press Complaints Commission” is antithetical to freedom.
Good that they made the correct ruling in this case, but such a body should not exist.

James Ard

Press Complaints Commission? Gross. But it’s nice to see it put that whining, lying Wellington in his place.

Gail Combs
mpainter

The complaint served a good purpose- it allowed issues of verity to be examined more thoroughly and the Rose article be conifrmed definitively. This article is the crack of doom for the global warmers. The pendulum is swinging the other way.

Sean

Let’s not forget the Streisand effect. The complaints resolution has not given both legitimacy and publicity to Rose’s original article.

Chuck Nolan

The Commission explained that it had subsequently written separately to Professor Allen, providing him with the information necessary to allow him to make his own complaint, but no reply had been received. The Commission made clear that should Professor Allen decide to complain separately, then it would be happy consider the matter further.
—————————————————-
Happy now that’s putting it mildly.
I’m pretty sure they would love to consider the matter further.
They all but fill out the complaint form and send a private car to bring him to the hearing.
cn

Gail Combs

There are some interesting comments on this article by the Mail over at Delingpole. (It seems BBC is on the hot seat now)

Jon

“The PCC was just saying what most people in this country are starting to realise; that we are wasting billions of £’s combating a non-existent problem. Even worse these billions of £’s are coming out of the pockets of ordinary people. If people like Wellington wish to buy carbon credits, cycle, not fly, not drive and fit solar panels to their houses, I do not have a problem, it is when they expect me to do the same that I do have the problem!
I read the Mail article when it was originally published and it was an excellent article!”
Their main objective is to get the Western World to embrace Marxism. That did not work during WW1. The reason was the Western partly capitalistic ideology and the Western culture. So as the Marxist see it Western capitalism and culture is in the way for international Marxism.
So they want to destroy them both?

pat

The greens have been spouting nonsense and outright lies for years. But no bureaucratic harassment for them. why?

Frederick Davies

So it is official now: CAGW is a con.
FD

Radical Rodent

While it is good to see that crushing of dissent has been averted by the PCC, but: “…the continuing increase of ocean temperature…” Is it increasing? As the measurement of subsurface temperatures is a relatively new thing, and the accuracy of the original instruments taking surface temperatures (as well as the interest and competence of the person taking the reading) has to be in question, how can it be stated with such certainty that ocean temperatures are increasing?
As with so many of the AGWist brigade, the arguments presented are shot full of holes, yet they are still so convinced that they are right that NOTHING will alter their opinions. The words of Voltaire should come to haunt them: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd

The term to use is…..
Result!

Mommy! Mommy! He said mean things to me!!!! He said I was stupid!!!
“Tell your brother you’re sorry, Johnny.”
“Oookayy. I’m sorry you’re stupid!!”
“WAAAAAHHHHH!!!!”
(just a trip down nostalgia lane for me)

Gail Combs

AND even more….
Lord Lawson’s climate-change think tank risks being dismantled after complaint it persistently misled public
So there is another warmist attack against skeptic science outreach that is going to the UK courts. Let’s hope they are honest.

…Regulator the Charity Commission said it is “assessing the concerns to determine whether there is any regulatory action for the Commission to take”. The commission cautioned that the assessment was at an early stage and wouldn’t necessarily lead to a full investigation, or “statutory inquiry”….

A link to the website the Global Warming Policy Foundation No wonder they are going after Lord Lawson!
“First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Looks like we just went through the “ridicule you” stage (Looney Lew and cook the data Cook), and now we have fast forwarded to the “fight you” stage.
Can’t wait for the “then you win”, hopefully BEFORE Hopey Changey changes too much here in the USA.

docrichard

So the PCC has given the all clear to one of its own members, even if it meant that a committee of media types has to redefine the meaning of “plotted in retrospect”, “the world’s average temperature” “Here’s what the experts say” and re-evaluate the significance of a very small number of past scientific papers suggesting global cooling.
You will of course take this as a scientific vindication of Rose’ original article.
But the all clear given to Phil Jones and the East Anglia unit by several committees of scientists is a whitewash in your view, is it not?
Hmmm.
REPLY: Dr. Richard Lawson (docrichard) If the PCC had never even asked the questions you posed, then declared Rose’s article to be OK, wouldn’t that be a whitewash? But they didn’t, they took your questions head-on, as opposed to the UEA investigations, which sidestepped actually asking the pertinent questions.
http://climateaudit.org/2012/07/21/the-questions-that-were-never-asked/
That’s the difference between your PCC complaint and the UEA investigation. For a learned man, it is odd that you are unable to see this difference.
As for “scientific vindication” no that’s in peer review, this is factual reporting vindication. – Anthony

David Ball

David Rose. His eyes wide, his sails unfurled. Rose and Wellington at UK Mail.
Apologies to ST:TNG (episode “Darmok”)

Resourceguy

Sometime around the year 2050 people will ask why there was not a straightforward and open public discussion about model forecast errors and the actual data that led to public policy distortion at a time of economic slowdown and diminished growth horizons. They will look on with curiosity and disgust and then move along to the issues and news makers of 2050. It will be the same bewilderment that we have in touring monuments to ineptitude of emperors today. We need a new poem for “Ozymandias” of policy fraud with its inevitable decline, however mighty in their own time.

M Courtney

docrichard says at July 2, 2013 at 9:58 am…
The point is that the press is allowed to write whatever it wants so long as it is not demonstrably false.
The activists tried to censor the freedom of expression of the press by claiming that the UK Mail was telling untruths.
But it wasn’t telling untruths. It was telling truths that the activists didn’t want to think could be true.
You may not like the Mail’s interpretations either but that’s not the point.
The Mail did not tell untruths (in this case).

Chad Wozniak

Hallelujah.

Reblogged this on Power To The People and commented:
Now there is no need for President Obama to ban coal or Africans from having cars- A/C -nice homes.

If the rules are similar in the US Obama’s climate claims would all be wiped out, and if I could improve on the details would cost him his job, vast sums of money and a very long suspended sentence to stop him doing it again.

docrichard,
I agree with Anthony; the wrong questions were asked. The wrong questions, it seems, are always the only ones ever asked.
This can easily be remedied: submit a list of questions from well known skeptical scientists, such as Drs. Lindzen, Curry, Spencer, and a dozen other skeptical, published climatologists. Such questions would have the result of bringing out the truth regarding the global warming scare.
But that is the specific reason why such questions are never asked: the truth is anathema. These official kangaroo courts are designed for nothing more than to perserve the status quo, in which certain entities and individuals receive an undeserved imprimatur of legitimacy. They are, simply, an official whitewash.
Mr. Rose has shown that the Emperor has no clothes; there no threat of runaway global warming. But there was a threat to the massive tax shift in favor of the elite, who engineered this transfer of wealth based on a fabricated false alarm.
If I am wrong, it is still not too late to formally question people by the opposition — not questions limited only to the cronies of those pushing their self-serving man-made global warming scare — but by those who question whether there is any crisis.
What say you? Would you be willing to sign your name to a letter demanding that both sides of the debate are fairly represented? Or are you just running interference in the hopes of a pat on the head by your betters?

Gary Hladik

Sean says (July 2, 2013 at 9:21 am): “Let’s not forget the Streisand effect.”
Exactly. I missed the article when it was first published. Now I’m off to read it.

Ronald

Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice.
Under the terms of Clause 1, “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information”; “a significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected promptly and with due prominence”; and “the press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”.
Is this not treu for all MSM artikel about global warming? Misleading!

brigittegrisanti

I missed that article to -plan on reading it tonight. Global Warming has been a touchy subject for a long time.
Brigitte Grisanti

KNR

docrichard says:
“the all clear given to Phil Jones and the East Anglia unit by several committees of scientists”
actually, some of them were not scientists at all, as they stated themselves they did not look at the science. doing some basic fact checking before making bold statements is something you should be teaching your own students.

Ryan

So it approved the line about warming ending because it’s just fine to ignore the oceans? While that is technically true I think it’s a lie of omission that didn’t do the readers justice.

mpainter

docrichard, do you youeself give Keith Briffa and the CRU the “all-clear” ?

3x2

The complainant, an environmentalist and the author of greenerblog.blogspot.com […]
So, Big Green and Public funding allows one to sit around all day sending out formal complaints to one oversight body or another.
Given the dozens of Eco Taliban nonsense propaganda pieces published every day, it is a real shame we don’t actually get any funding from ‘Big Oil’. Big funding might actually allow us to reverse the tables and have eg. ‘Grunad journalists’ spend most of their time defending their crap to a committee.
Just who, beyond the taxpayer, was funding “an environmentalist and the author of greenerblog.blogspot.com”? I really don’t mind the cut and thrust of Democracy except when I am forced, by law, to pay for my opposition. That isn’t ‘Democracy’ now is it?

Milwaukee Bob

UK Editors’ Code of Practice … Clause 1, “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information” … etc.
I think the world should have a PCC. Maybe the UN could run it…. no, that would put the UN itself out of business. Maybe the EU could run it…. no, that would be the final nail in the coffin for the EU. Okay, maybe just here in the US, the “what’s his name” administration could run it under – the EPA? the IRS? How about NSA? All right, stop laughing.
You lucky blokes in the UK – you’ve got all the good stuff.
But seriously, IF it’s a con by legal deffinition, (and i believe it is) and it appears the PCC indirectly has said it is, shouldn’t a whole lot of people be brought-up on charges of fraud? Considering the amounts of money involved, the whole AGW “scam” makes Bernie Madoff look like a piker.

“The complainant was concerned that the article’s reference to the “global cooling” theories of the 1970s was misleading as the idea was only put out by a very small group of scientists at that time. The Commission noted his position that just seven scientific papers from the era suggested cooling, while six times that number suggested warming. He had argued that the prevalence of global warming theories meant that it was wrong for the newspaper to state that “in the Seventies, scientists and policymakers were just as concerned about a looming ‘ice age’ as they have been lately about global warming”. This was plainly a matter of interpretation of scientific papers (which the complainant did not dispute existed) and the Commission considered that the newspaper was entitled to set out its editorial stance that historical concerns about global cooling are comparable to modern day fears about global warming.”
This is something that seems to be brought up more these days…that the 70’s Ice Age scare was some sort of minor write up in some obscure journals… When the SMITHSONIAN Institute has a large and prominent display on the 70’s cooling that wasn’t dismantled until the early 2000’s…I think there was something more to it than that…
http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2009/09/08/59698/smithsonian-cooling/
AGWers continue to try to rewrite history and we must be diligent

Also, note the statement “world was abnormally warm from 1895-1945…”

Justthinkin

KNR….excellent. Seeing as I am now retired, after celebrating Canada Day, you have given me something to research, seeing as I am all ready bored….”actually, some of them were not scientists at all, as they stated themselves they did not look at the science. doing some basic fact checking before making bold statements is something you should be teaching your own students”
Will be going through Anthony’s archives, and checking a lot of names on both sides of the debate.
Just who are the true scientists? After all, I can go on the web and get a “Doctor” certificate for less then 10 bucks.

ghost whistler

[snip – read the blog policy – mod]

Re: M Courtney 10:21 am:
The point is that the press is allowed to write whatever it wants so long as it is not demonstrably false. …. But it wasn’t telling untruths. It was telling truths that the activist didn’t want to think could be true.
The crucial element missing is that the press has free reign in publishing the parts of truth that are of interest to the editors. “Half-Truths” are 100% true, they just leave out many other truths that can change the picture. “Half-Truths” do not violate
“An A-380 can fly on one engine.” This is a true statement.
That one engine will fly you all the way to the crash site.
Clause 1: “the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information”;
Obama’s Climate Change speech, Georgetown, June 15, 2013, is an interesting example.
The Press could publish the whole thing with a clear concience. The President of the U.S. did in fact say every word. Any inaccurate, misleading, or distorted information uttered by the President are clearly the President’s problem.
Also from Clause 1: “the press, whilst free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”. The fact is the President said these things. The press, “free to be partisan” can choose what to comment upon.

jorgekafkazar

andrewmharding says “…If people like Wellington wish to buy carbon credits, cycle, not fly, not drive and fit solar panels to their houses, I do not have a problem, it is when they expect me to do the same that I do have the problem!”
In their minds, their cause is so noble they become holy by advancing it. Making others live short, brutish, third-world lives gives them an abundance of “consecration credits,” more than enough to excuse their non-compliance with the abysmal standard of living they intend to impose on everyone else.

Mac the Knife

Oh – can it be? A small beachhead of reason rises from the seas of political correctness? This needs to be nurtured and supported! Suggest we all send a heart-felt note of ‘Thanks’ to the Press Commission, via Rebecca Hale’s email address: rebecca.hales@pcc.org.uk

Russell

[Snip. This poster is persona non grata here. ~mod.]

Re: ‘ghost whistler’s’ snip:
I thought, “Good! Another dope we can set straight.” I was just composing a pointed reply when his comment was snipped.
But I suppose it’s just as well that the genuine wackos aren’t given a forum if they can’t follow the site’s written Policy. He blanket-labeled everyone who disagreed with him as “deniers”.
I’ve noticed that calling someone a ‘denier’ takes the place of thinking. But skeptics know that the climate always changes; we don’t deny that fact. Only Michael Mann’s acolytes deny that the global temperature had never varied until the industrial revolution, thus they are the actual deniers. Of course, that belief is patently silly.
What skeptics deny is that there is any scientific evidence proving that human activity is the cause of changing global temperatures. That is something we can easily argue, using verifiable, testable facts. So I hope ‘ghost whistler’ comes back and gives it a try. I am happy to educate folks like him, using verifiable scientific facts.

DirkH

I notice that the green lunatic has not played his trump card.
A forecast would be a prediction. The IPCC only makes projections, never predictions. CO2AGW science, being a post-normal science, likewise.
Therefore the headline is wrong. The warmunists have never made a forecast of rising temperatures.

Berényi Péter

“He said that when the continuing increase of ocean temperature is included, a statistically significant increase in the world’s average temperature has continued since 1997.”
The complainant’s claim is utterly misleading.
According to NOAA NODC OCL,
annual vertical mean temperature of the upper 2000 m of oceans has increased at a rate of 36.5 mK/decade between 1997 & 2012.
In the same period global average surface temperature had a trend of 48.7 mK/decade, according to HadCRUT 4.2.
That is, if ocean temperature is brought into the average, the trend becomes even smaller, contrary to what was implied.
True, the result depends on the dataset chosen, because RSS lower troposphere temperature, as measured by satellites, shows a -8.5 mK/decade cooling.
However, none of these rates are to be taken seriously, because each one is indistinguishable from zero (less than 0.5 K on a century scale).

Climate Change is Normal.

Billy Liar

docrichard says:
July 2, 2013 at 9:58 am
You’re the loser that made the complaint, aren’t you?