It’s a Scoop! Tabloids mislead on climate change . . .

 . . . according to the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute

Dr Max Boykoff, a James Martin Research Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute stated that . . .

based on an analysis of nearly 1,000 tabloid articles from the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Express and the Mirror, the researchers found that many readers were being misinformed. The researchers analysed the tone, the context, the terminology, the labelling of those quoted and the relationships between messages.

It’s actually no great surprise that these widely read tabloids have been failing to report accurately on the climate change debate.  Take the Express and the Mail – both newspapers consistently mislead the public on many issues, preferring to sensationalise current affairs according to their own right-wing agenda.  And the Sun and the Mirror both provide the gossip and the scandal to satisfy those who desire an easy and leisurely read.   All four often have little conscience in my view when it comes to responsible news coverage and they value circulation figures above fair and honest reporting. 

Dr Boykoff said while quoting the Sun’s Jeremy Clarkson, that . . .

Commentators like the Sun’s Jeremy Clarkson are contradicting scientific thought with unfounded authority when making statements such as: ‘This confirms what I’ve been saying for years – cars do not cause global warming.  Now we learn that all along it was bloody sheeps and cows.’

Yes, that detestable antagonist Jeremy Clarkson, who thinks he’s so big and so clever because he dares to laugh at political correctness actually prides himself on his controversial anti-environmentalist stance because it gets him the laughs and the publicity he craves.  He does speak with unfounded authority and his readers fall for it . . . and therein lies the danger.  His careless attitude dangerously undermines the climate change debate as does the aforementioned sloppy reporting by the tabloids.

Misreporting on human contributions to climate change can contribute to skewed views among these papers’ many readers. We’re all involved in the fight against climate change and it’s in all of our interest to widen, rather than restrict, the spectrum of possibility for appropriate policy action.’  Dr Boykoff

The tabloids have a huge influence on how their readers understand and interpret the science behind climate change so perhaps now is a good time for these tabloids to drag themselves out of the gutter and use their influence for the greater good rather than be driven by profit at the expense of any journalistic integrity they may have.


13 responses to this post.

  1. You know, what really baffles me is that I cannot find a journalist with a wide sense of the freedom of information, with accuracy and unbiased. All of them – some honourable cases excepted – play the tune their pay envelopes bid.

    It’s understood journalists must have a good education, therefore why don’t they rebel? Why don’t they use the ethics they were taught?

    We cannot blame but those on our same levels, not those high up who run the world, because the latter by themselves could do nothing.



  2. Yes, Jose, you’re right. I’m thinking media tycoons such as the dreadful Rupert Murdoch.


  3. Posted by Matt Munro on April 30, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Oh come on – compared to the tide of “climate change” propaganda coming from the liberal/left dominated media, Clarkson et al are barely on the radar. The BBC churns out a “climate change” story every other day, as if it were an irrefutable matter of fact.
    The whole point about the “climate change” debate is that there is no authority, there are 2 sides arguing over a sea of statistics, the most recent of which (quietly reported on Radio 4 and no where else that I could detect) is that over the past decade global average temperatures have actually FALLEN.
    Is this why global warming became climate change overnight, because the eco fascists can’t actually decide whether its warming/cooling/something in between – but you are determined we should all worry about it anyway ?
    The climate has always changed (it actually changed more before the invention of the internal combustion engine than it has since) and it always will, if you want to sit at home on some guilt trip worrying about changes based on 150 years of data about something thats been happening for millions of years then go ahead, but keep your paranoia to yourself. And who the hell are you decide what the “greater good” is ?


  4. Hello Matt Munro.

    So did you miss the IPCC report that concluded by scientific consensus that there is strong evidence that warming is attributable to human activities?

    Of course none of it is absolute but we can either take the risk of burying our heads and doing nothing and face the dire consequences if we are right and the denialists are wrong. Or we can take take action now for a sustainable future and if we’re wrong and the denialists are right, what will we have lost and what will we stand to gain?

    And any way you choose to look at it (or away from it in your case), even without global warming, there’s no denying that in order to sustain our wasteful, throwaway lifestyles and to keep the corporate giants rich, we are destroying whole eco-systems, we are endangering wildlife, we are trashing our forests and our oceans. Humankind, the Western lifestyle, the industrialised nation – they’ve all had . . and continue to have . . a huge detrimental impact on our environment and this is simply not sustainable, not by any stretch of the imagination.

    compared to the tide of “climate change” propaganda coming from the liberal/left dominated media, Clarkson et al are barely on the radar. The BBC churns out a “climate change” story every other day, as if it were an irrefutable matter of fact.

    We’re not talking about the volume of coverage, we’re taking about the inaccuracy. The BBC is not a tabloid newspaper and tabloid newspapers are what the Oxford researchers are referring to. And yes, the beeb does regularly report on environmental issues (has made some world class nature documentaries too I might add).

    The whole point about the “climate change” debate is that there is no authority, there are 2 sides arguing over a sea of statistics,

    I’d say there’s way more authority from the scientists than there is from the likes of the uninformed and under-researched tabloid journalists, in particular columnists such as Jeremy Clarkson. Trouble is, people would rather read his pathetic gossip column than listen to those who’ve spent their entire adult life studying the science. He doesn’t give a shit whether GW exists or not and he cares even less whether it’s caused by humans. He’s just a publicity-seeking petrol-head who knows jack-nothing about anything that doesn’t have four monster-sized wheels and a huge belching back end that spews out the same crap that comes from his mouth.

    quietly reported on Radio 4 and no where else that I could detect) is that over the past decade global average temperatures have actually FALLEN.

    I’ve read from many sources that the temperatures have fallen over the last twelve months (those sources being liberal-bashing types so it’s hard not to see an agenda) but in any case, twelve months of lower temperatures proves very little. I believe La Nino has something to do with the temporary cooling. Temperatures are still way above average and it’s worth noting that this last decade that you say has been cooler, has actually been the warmest decade on record.

    Who the hell are you to decide what the greater good is

    Well I’d deny that I am actually deciding what the greater good is but I’m sure no-one could argue that trashing the planet and exploiting anything that moves or grows to satisfy our own selfish needs is definitely not for the greater good. And misreporting information to a gullible and easily led readership isn’t good either.


  5. Bravo, Earthpal, well said!

    I wonder whether anyone remembers any time in history when the poles started to de-ice, as the news is that big glaciers are disappearing into the sea, so much so that there are political struggles between countries to control them because of the enormous reserves of oil the Arctic holds, oil which if the ice disappears totally as it seems it’s bound to do, would be immediately exploited.

    The great majority of scientists have agreed that the danger is more immediate than it was presumed.

    Bush and Co. because of their businesses are clearly trying to deny the whole thing.


  6. The news also is that ice will disappear in the poles during summers.

    Isn’t this strange either?


  7. News on the Arctic:

    “According to the Environmental News Network, “Climate change is having a greater and faster impact on the Arctic than previously thought, according to a new study by the global conservation organization WWF.”


  8. Oooohhhh…. Is someone having rant? 😆


  9. Posted by Matt Munro on May 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    You seem to have missed my central point – The data upon which the whole MMGW hypotheis is predicated has been harvested over a period of only 150 years. Out of the x million years the planet has been in existence. It’s like me saying that a 5 minute headache must mean I will inevitably develop a brain tumour.
    Somone has drawn a line on a graph and extrapolated a disaster at some unknown point in the future from historic data, as if current trends will continue at current rates. It’s methodologically flawed science and any real scientist knows that.
    Matter cannot be created or destroyed it can only change form, (the litte I remember from O level chemistry !) so all the carbon being released now, has at some stage been absorbed, ergo it’s a natural cycle.

    I have no issue with preserving the planets resources, I have kids and I’d like them to be able to eat when they grow up, but, if you refute MMGW, there is no real link between that and climate change.


  10. I respect your opinion, Matt Munro, but again it seems even the Rockefeller familly is following the Scientists’ researches very closely and have already made a decision, which they have sent to the Giant Exxon. That there is a climate change seems accepted by everybody, even you in your post implicitly accept it. Why, then, not try to contribute to make life more livable?


  11. I’d say the weather is far more unpredictable, more violent and extreme. All parts of the world have broken weather and precipitation records. Either through a severe lack of water; e.g. China, Australia. Or through too much water; floods in Europe.

    As the ice caps melt we find that huge amount of extra released water thrown up into the atmosphere via the world’s hydrological cycle. It’s got to go somewhere! The cycle is more violent, more unpredictable. It’s in turmoil, out of sync. The recent warming of the planet has caused this. That’s actually no longer in doubt.

    Argue this all you like Mr Munro, it’s happening anyway! Mitigation is now the key policy drive.


  12. Sorry Matt Munro, I thought I’d addressed your point in my first two paragraphs but maybe I should have elaborated.

    I understand what you are saying in that the Earth has always warmed and cooled and also that the science behind the predictions of disaster is flawed.

    I’m just saying that the scientific community has reached a consensus that climate change is enhanced by human activity ie fossil-burning, emmissions and so on. There may be some scientists who deny it. That’s inevitable. I’d be interested to know how many of those scientists are on the payroll of the oil companies and suchlike but yes, I acknowledge that some scientists just don’t accept it but those real scientists you speak of who say the science is flawed are in the minority. There’s no getting away from the consensus however much you don’t want to face it. I would rather trust the scientists than the uninformed tabloid journalists. These journalists, not least Melanie Philips of the Mail, are actually trying to claim they know more about the science than the world’s leading climatologists, just because these journalists believes it is all nothing but left-wing, anti-capitalist propoganda.

    There is a deliberate campaign of distortion and disinformation by the people behind this human-induced climate change denialism. They are usually funded by the likes of ExxonMobil or large tobacco companies or the logging industry or the car industry or aviation. ie people with an agenda of which climate change is a great inconvenience.

    George Monbiot made a good point in one of his articles when he said that there is a small number of scientists who say that lung cancer and smoking have no connection and he asked, would you trust the tobacco industry if they started a media campaign, asking journalists with no medical background to report what these scientists claim and to consistently deny any link between lung cancer and smoking in spite of the medical consensus that there is a link?

    So who’s spewing the propaganda? And who’s falling for it?

    George Monbiot also said this:
    “If you ever you meet one of these people, I suggest you ask them the following questions: 1. Does the atmosphere contain carbon dioxide? 2. Does atmospheric carbon dioxide influence global temperatures? 3. Will that influence be enhanced by the addition of more carbon dioxide? 4. Have human activities led to a net emission of carbon dioxide? It would be interesting to discover at which point they answer no – at which point, in other words, they choose to part company with basic physics.”

    So, simple really.

    Thanks Matt and Jose for your input. Of course I agree with you both. Thanks for the linked article Jose. I hadn’t come across that. Interesting. Hope you are doing well and tolerating your pacemaker btw.


  13. Well my pacemaker is tolerating me I’d say. Thank you, Earthpal.


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