3 Reasons the Mail on Sunday’s Climate Claims Are Bogus
By Kelly Levin and Rhys Gerholdt
The climate denier engine is revving up again. Last weekend an article in the Mail on Sunday attempted to cast doubt on the strength of climate science. It's now been taken up by the U.S. House Science Committee, which has been prone to promoting more climate denial than sound science in recent months. The news article doesn't just misinform; it is not grounded in facts.
Why we should never get over the U.S. House Science Committee's Breitbart tweet: @EcoWatch https://t.co/uhNh24yRCF #climate— climatehawk1 (@climatehawk1)1481054460.0
At issue is a ground-breaking 2015 article in the journal Science by scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that showed the alleged "pause" in global warming during the first years of the 21st century never happened. The peer-reviewed article by NOAA's Thomas Karl and colleagues found the so-called "warming slowdown" was not substantiated by updated data. In fact, temperatures continued to rise after the year 2000 at about the same rate as they had since 1950.
The article in the Mail on Sunday was based on a blog post by retired NOAA researcher John Bates and claimed the Science article was rushed into publication to influence the December 2015 Paris agreement and that it was based on research that had not gone through a proper vetting process. The author of the Mail on Sunday news article, David Rose, has a history of publishing sensationalized articles that respected scientists have found to be false and misleading.
In the following, we summarize three main reasons that the Mail on Sunday article is inaccurate:
1. Multiple Lines of Evidence Confirm There Was No "Pause" in Global Warming
The Science article builds on a large body of research, including many other datasets that validate the main finding that there has been no "pause" in global warming through the latter part of the 20th and early 21st century. Zeke Hausfather and colleagues published an article in Science Advances which verifies the NOAA datasets, comparing them to independently collected records created from high quality instruments (buoys, satellite radiometers and Argo floats). Other researchers have come to the same conclusions.
While the Chairman of the House Science committee cited Bates' blog post as proof that NOAA played "fast and loose with data," Bates flatly refuted that in an interview with E&E, saying this "is not an issue of tampering with data."
2. The News Article Itself Manipulates Data Comparisons
The Mail on Sunday article includes a chart that appears to show a differential in data between NOAA and the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research in the United Kingdom. However, as Hausfather points out, this effect is almost entirely due to using two different baselines to create the appearance of inconsistency. When this discrepancy is corrected, the difference in recent years—the core of Rose's argument—vanishes.
Hilarious screw up by @DavidRoseUK and #FailOnSunday 1st picture is 'evidence' of misconduct, 2nd shows diff when… https://t.co/zDE6EAUT6j— Gavin Schmidt (@Gavin Schmidt)1486265311.0
3. The Science Article Was Not Rushed and the Paris Agreement Was Not Dependent on Any One Study
The article in Science met the publication's rigorous review requirements and the authors made their data available to other researchers. Of course, the scientific community has a long-established process for disputing published findings. If there are really issues with a scientific study, they should be explored through the peer review process. In this case, multiple peer-reviewed studies independently validated the article's findings. The editor-in-chief of Science has made it clear that publication of the study was not rushed and he calls this accusation "baseless and without merit."
Moreover, the Paris agreement on climate change was not based on one study. It was built upon years of negotiations, drawing on a mountain of research from the scientific community. To say that achieving the Paris agreement was due to one scientific article being published months before the negotiations commenced is to discount decades of work by thousands of scientists and policymakers around the globe. By the time negotiators reached Paris, 188 countries had already submitted national climate plans. The idea that this study prompted countries to overcome lingering doubts about the science defies logic. Today the media outlet Climate Home reached out to 10 climate envoys and ministers involved in the Paris climate summit and found that "no one said this report made an iota of difference to its result."
The foundation of climate change science is built on a large body of work and our understanding of the basics of climate change goes back more than 150 years. Climate deniers will continue to spread misinformation, but we cannot run from the fact that the world is warming. Without a sustained response, the impacts will undoubtedly get far worse.
Kelly Levin is a senior associate with the World Resources Institute's major emerging economies objective. Rhys Gerholdt is the communications manager for the Global Climate Program at World Resources Institute.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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