Now it's Timesgate

Leakegate, the scandal about the dishonest reporting of Sunday Times reporter Jonathan Leake has grown into Timesgate. Deltoid can reveal that two more reporters for The Times
have been implicated in another case of fabrication. Look at this story by Ben Webster and Robin Pagnamenta:

UN must investigate warming 'bias', says former climate chief

The UN body that advises world leaders on climate change must investigate an apparent bias in its report that resulted in several exaggerations of the impact of global warming, according to its former chairman.

In an interview with The Times Robert Watson said that all the errors exposed so far in the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) resulted in overstatements of the severity of the problem.

Professor Watson, currently chief scientific adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that if the errors had just been innocent mistakes, as has been claimed by the current chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, some would probably have understated the impact of climate change.

Now that makes no sense. Yes there is bias here, but the bias is in the media that only reports the errors that overstate the problem and also reports as errors things that are not errors at all. This seems pretty obvious and Robert Watson is no fool, so I asked him if The Times had accurately report his views. He replied:

The article distorted my statements - I was interviewed for an hour and it was obvious that the reporter wanted me to say that the authors were biased - I said I did not believe that.

Watson said that the authors were not biased, but The Times reported him as saying that they were. That's outright dishonesty by Webster and Pagnamenta.

More like this

The Times of London! This is a sad day.

By Martin Vermeer (not verified) on 19 Feb 2010 #permalink

> The Times of London! This is a sad day.

I don't know why you're surprised. The Times, just like Faux News and The Australian, are all part of the Murdoch Empire. This isn't the first time the Times has pushed his personal agenda and I daresay it won't be the last.

"Something is rotten in the Fourth Estate", to paraphrase a well-known writer.

Murdoch-gate?

But how would that fit in with the apparent recent change in BBC editorial policy of a return to the "balanced reporting" practice in things climate?

> But how would that fit in with the apparent recent change in BBC editorial policy of a return to the "balanced reporting" practice in things climate?

I think their recent shift in tone just reflects how touchy the subject is right now; the Beeb automatically reverts to a 'tell both sides and caveat everything' policy every time it deals with something even vaguely controversial. While disappointing, it falls far short of the 'twist the facts to fit the story' technique employed by papers like the Times.

Yes, I'm thinking there are two (UK) issues: the print press and the BBC. And I'm wondering whether the BBC have an eye to the upcoming election and a requirement to maintain balance. Given the Tory splits on the climate issue between the shadow front bench and quite a few backbench MPs, Lords and new intake MPs, it could become an election issue. Mind you, given the recent public polling results on AGW, I'm not sure that Labour or the LibDems would want to raise it as an election issue themselves, as it would likely be a vote loser.

Martin Vermeer:

> The Times of London! This is a sad day.

The Times of *Rupert Murdoch*! This is a sad day but totally unsurprising.

I'm not feeling quite the same smugness when I point and laugh at Faux News USA. :/

I know that kind of interview...

Anyone who gets interviewed might consider saying, just before the interview
"I assume it's OK if I record this. A good interview is often a good educational tool, so we often later put up podcasts on our website. We won't scoop you."

By John Mashey (not verified) on 19 Feb 2010 #permalink

Dishonest reporting!?! Say it ain't so! I'm shocked!

Nice to see you guys getting a tiny dose of what firearms enthusiasts have been putting up with for decades.

The Guardian is running a piece by Jeffrey Sachs entitled:

"Climate sceptics are recycled critics of controls on tobacco and acid rain"

"But then I recalled that this line of attack â charging a scientific conspiracy to drum up "business" for science â was almost identical to that used by The Wall Street Journal and others in the past, when they fought controls on tobacco, acid rain, ozone depletion, second-hand smoke, and other dangerous pollutants. In other words, their arguments were systematic and contrived, not at all original to the circumstances."

Professor Watson, currently chief scientific adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said that if the errors had just been innocent mistakes, as has been claimed by the current chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, some would probably have understated the impact of climate change.

So in other words, the Times is reporting that Dr Robert Watson is accusing the IPCC of f r a u d.

That's utterly disgraceful.

Re: Comment #12 and ozone depletion

Via _[The Cost of Energy](http://www.grinzo.com/energy/)_, I came across this [fascinating Weather Underground piece](http://www.wunderground.com/education/ozone_skeptics.asp) on the tactics of groups opposed to reducing CFCs. It's interesting how they compare to the tactics of those opposing reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, in particular such tried-and-true gems from the treasure-chest of FUD tactics as:

  1. Launch a public relations campaign disputing the evidence.
  2. Predict dire economic consequences [if action is taken to reduce the threat], and ignore the cost benefits [of taking action].
  3. Use data from a local area to support your views, and ignore the global evidence [shades of Spangled Drongo].
  4. Use non-peer reviewed scientific publications or industry-funded scientists who don't publish original peer-reviewed scientific work to support your point of view.
  5. Disparage scientists, saying they are playing up uncertain predictions of doom in order to get research funding.
  6. Disparage environmentalists, claiming they are hyping environmental problems in order to further their ideological goals.

Yu Tube has this really good talk by Naomi Oreskes (whose book comes out soon). It shows how the tobacco company tactics have been carried over, and when the "scientific debate" ploy fails, they start on personal smears against the scientists involved. Sound familiar? Well, apparently it is all worthwhile to defend the free market.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio&eurl=http://www.uctv.tv/sear…

Blowing through the blogs, unlikely to be subdued for a month, at least. The public is getting what they want: drama drama drama. Another imaginary hit to the credibility of the IPCC.

Ardi

By Ardi Ramidus (not verified) on 19 Feb 2010 #permalink

Watson complaining would definitely have a case with the press complaints commission. Nothing much would get done, but he might get a weaselly retraction in a week or two.

So far they are not taking my comments. Comments accusing the IPCC of fraud are encouraged.

@Bud #18: I've had the same there, too, and have yet to see a comment make it through since signing up months ago. At least The Guardian allows all comments and only censors them if they break the rules.

> I don't know why you're surprised.

I'm not surprised either, just suddenly the perspective came to me. The Times of London once had a reputation.

And that makes me sad.

By Martin Vermeer (not verified) on 20 Feb 2010 #permalink

As far as we can tell from the post above, Watson didn't deny saying words to the effect that 'if the errors had just been innocent mistakes, as has been claimed by the current chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, some would probably have understated the impact of climate change.'

He may have denied saying the authors were biased, but if he didn't deny making that particular point then that would seem to make you the liar.

Shorter Charlie:

When Watson said that some of the IPCC errors might give a cooling bias, what he really meant to say that all of the IPCC errors give a warming bias. If you disagree with this, then you're a liar.

I don't think it's the case that all IPCC errors overstate the impact of climate change. Sea level rise appears to be a counter-example.

Joseph, 24: Arctic summer sea ice is another.

Let's only get concerned about press errors when they interfere with the collective narrative shall we?

Not that I have any problems with you pointing out Webster's snafus of course.

Joseph, I agree that the IPCC understands sea-level rise. Is it an "error" though?

Here's what Michael Tobis said of it:

AR4 has a smaller sea level rise that AR3 but they are not directly comparable. AR3 includes melting from ice sheets and AR4 explcitly excludes them. There has been an explosion of recent results in ice sheet dynamics, which turn out to be vastly more complicated and interesting than had formerly been understood: the previously unsuspected presence of liquid phase water hydrology at the ice-land interface makes the whole system much more complicated and faster-reacting than the melting-ice-cube model that was prominent previously. This was all new enough that AR4 did not feel comfortable in stating a consensus position. So they quoted a sea level rise exclusive of the ice sheet contribution, which was therefore smaller than the AR3 estimate which had one but based on previous understanding of ice sheets.

They explicitly stated that the term was missing but this was missed by those who felt it convenient to trumpet a much lower risk of sea level rise. In fact exactly the opposite was happening; the risk profile had gotten worse but it was deemed premature to say by how much. AR5 will be more specific.

My own feeling is AR4 WG1 is pretty d@mned conservative overall in what they go out and say. Like many people I think there are QC issues that need to be addressed with WG2, though.

I meant to say "I agree that the IPCC understates sea-level rise." Cheers for robot spell checkers.

Bud:

So in other words, the Times is reporting that Dr Robert Watson is accusing the IPCC of f r a u d.

To be fair, Watson presumably is accusing them of "b i a s," which is not the same thing as "f r a u d."

Has anybody gone back and histogrammed admitted IPCC errors to see whether there is clear bias in them? I doubt there are enough for a statistical analysis to even be conducted.

Has anybody gone back and histogrammed admitted IPCC errors to see whether there is clear bias in them? I doubt there are enough for a statistical analysis to even be conducted.

Good point. I reckon you'd find there's no *statistically significant* bias, which we all know now means there is **no bias whatsoever** ;-)

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 20 Feb 2010 #permalink

Nice one!

By Vince Whirlwind (not verified) on 22 Feb 2010 #permalink

"Global Warming" is nothing but a bloody farce.

Your linked article is full of standard talking points that are misleading or blatantly incorrect. Or to put it in your terms, the linked article is a farce.

Go educate yourself and see if the claims made in that article stand up to scrutiny. Try skepticalscience's list of common arguments if you don't know where to start.

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 23 Feb 2010 #permalink

hANOVER (love the radical use of caps) shares a common feature of the climate 'skeptics' - extreme gullibility.

Michael, Lotharsson, To use just one example, hANOVER's links states:

* "*The Arctic ice caps have recovered from their loss in 2007"*

Yeah its [called winter](http://nsidc.org/images/arcticseaicenews/20100203_Figure2.png)!

I must resist going through this list

Oh, but I can't resist this one:

* "*2008 and 2009 were the coolest two years of the decade*"

2009 is tied for [second hottest year ever recorded](http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/news/20100121/).

What a farce indeed!

hANOVER fIST:

"Global Warming" is nothing but a bloody farce.

Denying reality.

By Chris O'Neill (not verified) on 23 Feb 2010 #permalink

Watson said the IPCC should employ graduate students to check the sources of claims made in its next report, due in 2013.

"Graduate students would love to be involved and they could really dig into the references and see if they really do support what is being said," he said.

Not a bad idea, it may eliminate blatant bias.

>*it may eliminate blatant bias*

el gordo you disappoint, the bit you left out was in making a convincing case for *'blatant bias'*.

It might be a good idea for catching reference errors. Like the one citation error and the single factual IPCC error (2035 botch) found in the many thousands citations in the many thousands of page reports.

Not a bad idea, it may eliminate blatant bias.

No, it's a silly idea. We've already got self-appointed "auditors" and "skeptics" doing that job. Why pay grad students to do it?

;-)

By Lotharsson (not verified) on 26 Feb 2010 #permalink