Let’s get the word out:
Well it’s here!
I’ve downloaded it here: WGIAR5-SPM_Approved27Sep2013.
Highlights I can see:
1/ Ocean warming dominates – “Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010..” page SPM-4
2/ Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets losing mass, glaciers continuing to shrink [page SPM-5].
3/ Rate of sea level rise since mid-19th century larger than the mean rate during the previous two millenia [page SPM-6]
4/ Atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide have increased to levels unprecedented in the last 800,00 years [page SPM-7]
Fiona Harvey of The Guardian interviews Nicholas Stern (of the Stern Report fame):
Lord Nicolas Stern told the Guardian: “It is astonishing, irrational and unscientific to suggest the risks are small. How can they say they know the risks are small? The clear conclusion from 200 years of climate science and observations show a strong association between carbon dioxide rises and global surface temperature.
He added: “The science is unequivocal and shows there is serious danger. What is coming from [sceptics] is just noise, and should be treated as noise.”
He said some sceptics were in the pay of hostile industries, with a vested interest in contradicting the science, and were being “deliberately naive” in claiming the world could wait decades to deal with rising emissions.
“It (the sceptic response) looks very well-organised,” he said. “They are deliberately distorting the way we understand risk.”
Stern also correctly points out climate change is a risk management issue:
Stern said: “There is the danger of an abrupt change in the whole [climate] mechanism. We need to approach the issue as one of risk management.”
There has been a rash of articles of late claiming the next IPCC report (AR5) will revise the temperature response to increased levels of atmospheric CO2 downwards. Turns out this is not the case, but more on that soon.
This is what I like to call “The Great Climate Sensitivity Debate of 2013″ in which we all rushed out to understand what this once obscure branch of science was about.
The message from the deniers and some sections of the media was that the silly scientists had gotten it wrong, and that the consensus was shifting towards “Things aren’t as bad as we once thought.”
Perhaps the most notorious example of this “bright siding” was this article from the The Economist.
Silly, silly scientists!
Panicking us for 30 years only to say “Oops sorry guys we waz wrong! So sorry – our bad!”
Seems this whole flap over climate sensitivity was a pointless distraction, as New Scientist notes:
Can we all stop worrying about global warming? According to a recent rash of stories in the media, the “climate sensitivity” – the extent to which temperatures respond to more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – is lower than expected, and thus that the world won’t get as hot as predicted. One story, in The Economist, based on leaked information from a draft of the next assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claims the IPCC will revise its sensitivity estimate downwards when they release their official report this September.
Turns out climate change is still dangerous and something we may wish to prevent:
The bottom line is that there is no new consensus that climate sensitivity is lower than previously thought, says Knutti. The observed trend points to lower values because of the recent slowdown, but other evidence continues to support higher values.
The last IPCC report stated that equilibrium climate sensitivity was between 2 and 4.5 °C, mostly likely 3 °C. The Economist claims the IPCC’s next report will give a figure between 1.5 and 4.5 °C, with no most likely value. The IPCC won’t confirm or deny it, but it’s not a huge change if it is true.
“What matters for avoiding dangerous climate change is the upper end, and that hasn’t changed,” says Knutti. Ward makes the same point. “We can’t afford to gamble on sensitivity definitely being low,” he says.
But will it all be a huge waste if sensitivity does turn out to be low? Far from it. If we don’t cut emissions, Knutti points out, all low sensitivity means is that it will take a decade or two longer for the planet to warm as much as it would if sensitivity was high. “It doesn’t get away from the fact that emissions have to be reduced,” he says.
I’m not going to claim any prescience but some time ago I suggested the denial machine would begin its war on the credibility of the IPCC and its fifth assessment report due to be released in 2013.
In the past few days we’ve just witnessed the opening salvo in the denial machines attempt to undermine public confidence in the IPCC.
For those not up to speed, this is what transpired:
In other words, Rawls claims the IPCC is admitting it’s the sun and not human activities – none of which is true. Journalist and blogger Graham Readfearn provides a good summary of what happened:
There is an irony in this, as the actual conclusions of the draft report confirm that human influence on the climate is undeniable and is deeply concerning (for further commentary I’d also suggest the following article on The Conversation).
Of course all the usual suspects amongst the denial movement are salivating over the leaked documents. Sceptic blogger Anthony Watts is calls it “game changing” while Daily Telegraph blogger James Delingpole claims the IPCC has just admitted the “jigs up”.
None of which is true of course – they’ve merely cherry picked a single paragraph from the leaked document in order to mislead the public.
While it is impossible to know what motivated Rawls to sign up as a reviewer of the latest IPCC report, I’m going to make the assumption he did so with less than honourable intentions.
Weather he acted alone or in concert makes little difference – Rawls abused the process and undermined the IPCCs attempts to make itself more transparent.
All I can say is expect much more of these kind of tactics over the coming months.
Time for bold claims: the war is over.
The International Herald Tribune picks up on what may be an emerging trend: the decline of climate scepticism:
In a blog entry this summer, famed international correspondent Christiane Amanpour opined that the climate change denial club “is actually now shrinking faster than the polar ice caps.”
Opinion surveys suggest she’s right. Two factors that may contribute to the changing attitude about the changing climate — and the melting away of many skeptics — are the extreme weather events that have affected the United States recently and the legions of climate activists who make it their business to convince and motivate an increasingly receptive public.
The post referenced above is titled The climate debate is over:
In the fierce and sometimes ugly fight over global climate change, we finally have an answer coming from the earth itself: the weather is telling us climate change is here and we are causing it. Theoretical physicist Michio Kaku is among the scientist who say the world is giving us signs that climate change is already happening (to see how he explains it, watch the video above).
This summer, there have been relentless droughts, wildfires, melting glaciers and unprecedented storms – all happening at the same time. And around the world people are demanding something be done about it. Even in the United States, ground zero for climate change denial, six in ten Americans say they believe it is indeed happening. But political leaders are missing in action – cowed by a vociferous climate change denial club, which is actually now shrinking faster than the polar ice caps.
In the video physicist Michio Kaku admits he was a sceptic until he looked at the evidence.
War is over…
Personally, I believe the climate change denial movement will splutter and rage on for a few more years as the most prominent voices and their well funded supporters continue to rage against reality.
But already one gets the sense the voices of Andrew Bolt, Jo Nova, David Evans, Anthony Watts, Marc Morano et.al are becoming increasingly marginal. Ironically they are becoming even more shrill in their claims of conspiracy theories and “It’s not happening”.
News Corporation and the think tanks will continue their desperate rearguard action against the public’s acceptance of the science: history’s judgement will be no doubt be unkind.
The deniers will achieve a few more Pyrrhic Victories: maybe they’ll find a flaw or two in the next IPCC report (AR5), publish a few hundred more op-ed pieces in major dailies and delay a carbon tax in the US for an electoral cycle or two.
Sure – public acceptance of the science will swing this and that for a few more years, but the trend is towards majority acceptance of the science. At some point public tolerance for the deniers will shift from a bemused indifference to disgust and exasperation.
Will that greater public acceptance of the science translate into voter demand for action?
The denial machine will attempt to arrest that as well – after all, that is their raison d’etre. They’re skilled at halting progress so they’ll continue to block, obstruct and show the seeds of disinformation.
But that’s all the denial movement has to look forward too: small scale, tactical victories in a war that is over. The funding for their activities will soon begin to dry up: they will retreat to the fringes of internet culture with flat Earth fanatics, UFO enthusiasts and other intellectual fringe dwellers.
How the war was “won”
However we must be honest: the victory was not achieved by activists or science communicators. Too late it was realized it was never about the science, but values and world view; ideology was the crucial driver of those rejecting the science.
We – the journalists, activists, bloggers, politicians, scientists fighting to bring climate to the forefront of public perception - fought the good fight. We did all we could have been asked to do: but the denial machine was more organised, better funded and prepared to engage in suspect and unethical behavior. Ruthlessness tipped the battle in their favor for close to three decades.
But at some point physics and chemistry was going to resolve the debate: brute reality was always the final arbiter.
And so 2012 will be regarded as the year the debate “shifted” against the sceptic movement – the extreme weather events of this year and Sandy ensured that.
But something like Hurricane Sandy was inevitable. Whether a storm of Sandy’s kind arrived this year or next, something of Sandy’s scale was always coming – and with it the profound social and political implications of such a storm.
[Note: upon reflection, I think Tamino is very correct: activists and bloggers fought a valuable holding action, doing their best to hold off the onslaught against science.]
War is over – if you wan’t it
And so – with mock solemnity and virtual trumpets – I declare the end of hostilities in what is merely the opening phases of a longer conflict over containing climate change.
Let’s call it the “First Climate War”, a virtual battle over public perception fought in the opinion pages of newspapers, on blogs and social media and in back rooms across the globe. It was fought in the streets of Copenhagen and influenced the Australian election of 2007.
Participants included global media corporations, NGOs, sovereign nations, transnational bodies such as the UN, the fossil fuel industry, think tanks, scientists, eccentric billionaires, bloggers and politicians.
The First Climate War was a messy and brutal conflict more impenetrable and confusing than the Thirty Years War - and much like the Thirty Years War it was a conflict that drew in major powers, religious fanatics and obscure principalities, off of whom were sucked into its vortex by a mixture of principles and power politics.
But this initial phase of the conflict is coming to a close.
War is over…
Can we can go “home”; can we go back to how things were?
Can we dismantle our blogs; discontinue our Twitter accounts?
Can we can lay down our (metaphorical) arms, and begin to count the cost?
Those of you have been personally involved in this “debate” knows how it can feel: like brutal, bloody trench warfare.
But Like all wars, the cessation of hostilities is merely the prelude to reconstruction and new debates, the emergence of strange new alliances and emergencies.
“A 4°C warmer world can, and must be, avoided – we need to hold warming below 2°C,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “Lack of action on climate change threatens to make the world our children inherit a completely different world than we are living in today. Climate change is one of the single biggest challenges facing development, and we need to assume the moral responsibility to take action on behalf of future generations, especially the poorest.”
As global warming approaches and exceeds 2°C, there is a risk of triggering nonlinear tipping elements. Examples include the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet leading to more rapid sea-level rise, or large-scale Amazon dieback drastically affecting ecosystems, rivers, agriculture, energy production, and livelihoods. This would further add to 21st-century global warming and impact entire continents.
The projected 4°C warming simply must not be allowed to occur—the heat must be turned down. Only early, cooperative, international actions can make that happen.
Via the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Australian government has begun its review of the latest draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, pledging ‘‘an open and comprehensive approach’’ as it taps selected input.
The review will draw on comments from experts, state and territory governments, industry groups and research organisation, the government said in a statement. “IPCC Assessment Reports are a vital reference and evidence base for policy considerations on climate change by governments around the world,” Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said.
The review will run to the end of November and involves a ‘‘second-order draft’’ of one of the three working group reports, examining the physical aspects of the climate system and the changes under way.
These include observations of changes in air, land and ocean temperatures, rainfall, glaciers and ice sheets, and sea level, as well as evaluations of climate models and projections of future conditions.
The first working group’s report is due for public release in September 2013. Draft IPCC reports are typically not made public, with the review process intended to test the data and analysis, and identify any errors.
So what can we expect from the sceptic movement?
Time for some predictions!
Coming soon to a climate sceptic blog: conspiracy theories and cherry picked facts*
As we get closer to the release of the next Assessment Report (AR5) we can look forward to renewed attacks on:
We will no doubt see the deployment of the following tactics:
Since the publication of the last IPCC synthesis report (AR4) the science has become even more settled. Thus in that context it will be interesting to see how the sceptic movement responds to both the report and media coverage.
Will the media allow the sceptics to frame the debate again?
How much the mainstream media will pander to the sceptics and repeat their accusations remains to be seen.
Increasingly we are seeing their views getting less and less airtime in the mainstream press.
It now seems parts of the maintream media are a) bored with the messages of the sceptic movement and b) has twigged to the fact the sceptics are in the business of manufacturing faux scandals and outrage.
“Another typo in the IPCC report? Gosh, how clever of you Mr Climate Sceptic (yawn).”
2013 sceptic response: expect the spectrum of outright denial to luke-warmism
So what to expect?
Parts of the News Corporation will pick up sceptic talking points and quote all the usual climate sceptic suspects on Fox News, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other parts of Murdoch’s empire.
More respectable outlets such as the WSJ may change their tone from outright denial to a form of luke-warmism: “Sure the climate is changing, but it will be fine – or we will adapt – so no need to change!”
The Australian will strive for its usual balanced approach (i.e. war on science) of trotting out professors that have gone emeritus and surrender occasional column space to cranks like David Evans and Joanne Nova.
Lets hope those two start talking about the Rothschild’s and the climate scam on the pages of The Oz.
Andrew Bolt will speak approvingly of cranks on both his show The Bolt Report and on his blog.
Fox News will continue to offer fair and balanced commentary by getting the science wrong and promoting outright falsehoods.
Climate sceptic blogs will run amok with the usual dross – getting especially shrill both prior to and after the release of AR5.
I anticipate Anthony Watts will release another special pre-peer reviewed analysis of temperature data in the later half of 2013 to counter the work of the IPCC (lulz).
Reader predictions welcome
So readers, what are your predictions for the sceptic response?
As we get closer to the release of the first draft I’ll start pointing tactics and sceptic responses.
But to be frank, I think we can condidently predict the sceptic response.
* In other words, nothing will change.
Rajendra Pachauri, the head of the IPCC has been subject to horrendous smear campaign by the denial movement.
In December of last year the UKs Sunday Telegraph published a story that alleged Pachauri was personally profiting from his role. The allegations spread through the denial blog-o-sphere like wild fire, and it become canonical “fact” that Pachauri was “corrupt”.
However, as always the reality is very different…
UK journalist George Monboit explains:
In December, the Sunday Telegraph carried a long and prominent feature written by Christopher Booker and Richard North, titled: Questions over business deals of UN climate change guru Dr Rajendra Pachauri.
The subtitle alleged that Pachauri has been “making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies”. The article maintained that the money made by Pachauri while working for other organisations “must run into millions of dollars”.
It described his outside interests as “highly lucrative commercial jobs”. It proposed that these payments caused a “conflict of interest” with his IPCC role. It also complained that we don’t know “how much we all pay him” as chairman of the IPCC.
It is well known that Pachauri does not receive a salary from the IPCC, a fact that could have been easily checked.
More importantly, the accounting firm KPMG audited Mr. Pachauri’s accounts and found no evidence of fraud:
Based on a review of personal financial records of Dr. Pachauri and other records of TERI provided to us for the period 1 April 2008 to 31 December 2009, we did not come across any evidence that either suggests any unexplained receipts and disbursals in Dr. Pachauri’s personal books of account or inappropriate recording of expenses/incomes pertaining to Dr. Pachauri’s advisory services in the books of account of TERI. No evidence was found that indicated personal fiduciary benefits accruing to Dr. Pachauri from his various advisory roles that would have led to a conflict of interest.
Fortunately, the Sunday Telegraph has printed an apology stating:
On 20 December 2009 we published an article about Dr Pachauri and his business interests. It was not intended to suggest that Dr Pachauri was corrupt or abusing his position as head of the IPCC and we accept KPMG found Dr Pachauri had not made “millions of dollars” in recent years. We apologise to Dr Pachauri for any embarrassment caused.
At this point we can dismiss any claims that Pachauri is a “fraud”.
Another white wash?
Gosh, what an enormously large conspiracy this must be!
Richard North goes off the deep end…
The journalist primarily responsible for this smear campaign is Richard North, a man well known in the UK for his “scepticism” of climate change. He also runs a nasty little blog called EU Referendum where he takes regular swipes at scientists, the IPCC and anyone who would dare suggest climate change is real.
However his response to the Sunday Telegraph apology – the one that retracts his story – is amusing.
North has gone into an apoplectic rage:
As far as the paper goes, however, it is actually a non-apology – as a careful study of the words will reveal to anyone with a modicum of intelligence (a dwindling band, one fears).
Actually, the meaning of the apology is unambiguous. Still, North simply cannot admit any fault:
Booker and I might have intended to do so, and I certainly did on this blog – and more. I called the man a liar, and stand by that. But we are not the paper. And it is the paper that is taking the rap as the publisher.
He then works himself up into a frenzy:
So, the paper ends up making two statements of fact, on which basis it then “apologises” to Pachauri “for any embarrassment caused,” an anodyne phrasing that does not even admit to having caused any embarrassment. This is pure, meaningless bullshit.
Which version of the English language are you speaking Richard? Because to my eyes that looks like very much like an apology.
I can just see North frothing at the mouth, pounding the key board with barely contained rage.
In the end North can’t but help continue to make the same tired, discredited allegations:
In the meantime, Pachauri, his claque and the warmist fellow-travellers will be making hay. But if that is what they need to do to “prove” their case and protect their man, it tells you all you need to know about them. My only regret is that the lawyers are claiming about two hundred times more for stitching up the paper than I was paid for the piece. That should also tell you something.
It is going to become increasingly harder for people like North to make their usual allegations in the mainstream press, given that their recent track record so abysmal.
However, North’s rant demonstrates just how petty, vindictive and angry these people are. They will never admit a mistake, nor back down from their absurd claims.
What small souls they have.
Jo Nova, Perth’s resident science mis-communicator, provides a text book example of how the denial echo chamber works in a recent post.
Her blog breathlessly announces “another” scientist abandoning the “green scare”:
“Another Green soul declares enough is enough. It’s a question of conscience. Physicist Dr. Denis Rancourt is a former professor and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa (as green as they come), and has officially bailed out of the man-made global warming movement…”
Really Jo, another scientist declaring loudly their rejection of climate science?
Gosh that AGW theory must really be in trouble!
The reality is that Nova has simply recycled a story created by notorious spin-doctor, Marc Morano.
DeSmogBlog picked this story up already and informs us that Rancourt has not recently abandoned his belief in global warming, but has been loudly proclaiming his scepticism for years:
Took about 3 minutes on Google searching the name Denis Rancourt, who Morano is referring to in his post, to find that this is nothing even remotely new for Rancourt.
Rancourt has been writing rants against the science of climate change for years.
Morano is trying to spindoctor this into a newsworthy story by making it seem like Rancourt is someone who was completely accepting of the scientific reality of climate change and then just woke up one morning last week and decided to jump ship.
What makes this all the more ridiculous is that Morano himself pushed the exact same story about Rancourt in 2009 when he worked for Senator James Inhofe.
As usual it is the denial machine trying to whip up a story when none exist.
Indeed, I fully expert other denialists such as Andrew Bolt over at the Herald Sun to start repeating this one in the next day or so.
Cut and paste denial
If you go to Senator Inhofe’s US Senate Committe page you’ll note Rancourt is quoted as saying:
Rancourt wrote, “I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized.” “Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middle class,” Rancourt added.
I can see how a conspiracy theorist like Nova would love this kind of craziness. Nova then cut and pasts the same quote into her post:
“I argue that by far the most destructive force on the planet is power-driven financiers and profit-driven corporations and their cartels backed by military might; and that the global warming myth is a red herring that contributes to hiding this truth. In my opinion, activists who, using any justification, feed the global warming myth have effectively been co-opted, or at best neutralized,” Rancourt said. “Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middleclass,” he stated.
Cut, paste, post and voila!
Its a perfect example of the denial echo chamber in action.
Not Richard Courtney again! Nova lies about credentials of so called “expert”
Later in the same post Nova lists other experts that have apparently “jumped ship”:
UK atmospheric scientist Richard Courtney, a left-of-political center socialist, is another dissenter of man-made climate fears. Courtney, a UN IPCC expert reviewer and a UK-based climate and atmospheric science consultant, is a self-described socialist who also happens to reject man-made climate fears. Courtney declared in 2008 that there is “no correlation between the anthropogenic emissions of GHG (greenhouse gases) and global temperature.”
I had to laugh when I read Courtney being cited as an “atmospheric scientist”.
The truth is Courtney is not a scientist, though he likes people to think he is.
I caught Courtney passing himself off as a scientist on Jo Nova’s blog early this year. He has a long history of pretending to be a scientist (or letting others make the claim for him). Eli over at Rabbit Run exposes simular behaviour and even tries to determine his actual qualifications.
Hint, he lacks expertise in climate science.
Richard Courtney is one of the founding members of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF), a think tank that not has not only published materials on climate denial, but studies attempting to discredit any link between second hand smoke and adverse health effects.
According to DeSmogBlog, Courtney’s career has almost been exclusively in communications and PR.
Courtney is a PR and think tank hack, working for groups directly funded by companies like Exxon Mobil.
Expert reviewer for IPCC?
Its been well established that Courtney is not a scientist. However, what about the claim that he was an “expert reviewer” for the IPCC?
Only in the sense that he read a draft version of the IPCC report. As DeSmogBlog notes:
A lot of climate change deniers like to tout the fact that they were an “Expert Reviewer” for the last Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a few DeSmog readers have been asking what exactly if takes to become an “Expert Reviewer.” Well, thanks to our friend Tim Lambert at Deltoid Blog it turns out that an “Expert Reviewer” really isn’t as exciting and not nearly as prestigious as it sounds. Tim writes:
“Expert reviewer for the IPCC” doesn’t mean that they asked him to review material — all it means is that he asked to see the draft report. The only real requirement to be a reviewer is to sign an agreement not to publicly comment on the draft.”
I have confirmed this with one of the authors of the updated IPCC report.
The irony of course is that the denial movement works furiously to trash the reputation of the IPCC: however when it suits them they’ll try to claim its authority.
This is how the echo chamber works.
Take some half-truths and outright fabrications and spin a story.
As I reported back in March, Sunday Times Journalist Jonathan Leake was under fire for misrepresenting the work of scientist Simon Lewis.
Lewis, an expert on rainforsts and the impact of climate change on them, lodged a complaint with the UK’s Press Complaint Council (PCC).
This extract from his >30 page statement sums up how Leake totally misrepresented Lewis as the faux “Amazongate” scandal was breaking:
I spoke to Jonathan Leake on the afternoon of Saturday 30, a few hours before the article went to press, as he wanted to check the quotes he was using by me (checking quotes was agreed between ourselves on Friday 29 January). The entire article was read to me, and quotes by me agreed, including a statement that the science in the IPCC report was and is correct. The article was reasonable, and quotes were not out of context. Indeed I was happy enough that I agreed to assist in checking the facts for the graphic to accompany the article (I can supply the emails if necessary). Yet, following this telephone call the article was entirely and completely re-written with an entirely new focus, new quotes from me included and new (incorrect) assertions of my views. I ask the Sunday Times to disclose the version of article that was read out to me, and provide an explanation as to why the agreed correct, undistorted, un-misleading article, and specifically the quotes from me, was not published, and an entirely new version produced.
I’m not sure if the PCC has issued a ruling (I’ve searched), however the Sunday Times has retracted his article:
The Sunday Times and the IPCC: Correction
The article “UN climate panel shamed by bogus rainforest claim” (News, Jan 31) stated that the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report had included an “unsubstantiated claim” that up to 40% of the Amazon rainforest could be sensitive to future changes in rainfall. The IPCC had referenced the claim to a report prepared for WWF by Andrew Rowell and Peter Moore, whom the article described as “green campaigners” with “little scientific expertise.” The article also stated that the authors’ research had been based on a scientific paper that dealt with the impact of human activity rather than climate change.
In fact, the IPCC’s Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF report, the figure had, in error, not been referenced, but was based on research by the respected Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) which did relate to the impact of climate change. We also understand and accept that Mr Rowell is an experienced environmental journalist and that Dr Moore is an expert in forest management, and apologise for any suggestion to the contrary.
The article also quoted criticism of the IPCC’s use of the WWF report by Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds and leading specialist in tropical forest ecology. We accept that, in his quoted remarks, Dr Lewis was making the general point that both the IPCC and WWF should have cited the appropriate peer-reviewed scientific research literature. As he made clear to us at the time, including by sending us some of the research literature, Dr Lewis does not dispute the scientific basis for both the IPCC and the WWF reports’ statements on the potential vulnerability of the Amazon rainforest to droughts caused by climate change.
In addition, the article stated that Dr Lewis’ concern at the IPCC’s use of reports by environmental campaign groups related to the prospect of those reports being biased in their conclusions. We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view – rather, he was concerned that the use of non-peer-reviewed sources risks creating the perception of bias and unnecessary controversy, which is unhelpful in advancing the public’s understanding of the science of climate change. A version of our article that had been checked with Dr Lewis underwent significant late editing and so did not give a fair or accurate account of his views on these points. We apologise for this.
This is an embarrassment for Leake. He should never be allowed to report on climate issues again. Perhaps he can join the roster of deluded hacks over at “Watts up with that? “
Indeed, when the paper you write for is forced to retract a piece it’s a sure sign you’ve compromised journalistic standards.
“The public’s understanding of science relies on scientists having frank discussions with journalists, who then responsibly report what was said. If reporting is misleading then many scientists will disengage, which will mean that the public get more opinion and less careful scientific assessments. This is extremely dangerous when we face serious environmental problems, like climate change, which require widespread scientific understanding to enable wise political responses to be formulated and enacted.” 
A line in the sand: calling journalists to account
Lewis – and by extension the scientific community – have scored a small victory.
However it is five months after the event, with the damage to the reputation of science and scientists has been enormous.
Nor will it seriously slow down the denial machine. They’ll simply move on to framing the next false scandal. Should we give up?
Traditionally scientists have been reluctant to engage in public debates with anti-science advocates or the messy business of “science communication”, as they’ve left to the journalists. However, science journalism is on the decline as papers cut back on reporting science issues.
The result has been disastrous – a perfect storm of misinformation - with the public left at the mercy of peddlers of misinformation. Society should be debating a response to climate change, genetic engineering and peak oil.
Instead, the media pumps out a steady stream of celebrity “news”, faux scandals such as Climategate and puff pieces on “how to look younger in 10 easy steps”.
Sure, this is what the market wants – but the media help shapes what we want as well.
What can we do about it?
What can we do? Complain, and complain loudly.
Let’s start calling journalists, publishers and broadcasters to account.
Let send the market a strong signal. You may want to boycott publications that provide platforms for deniers. I no longer buy the Herald Sun or The Australian. Their reporting on science is atrocious, and they have done a great deal to mislead the public. 
What can you do?
There are a few other obvious things you can do. If they publish known falsehoods don’t just shake your head in disgust but:
However there may be an even more “radical” approach: a formal complaint with those authorities that are supposed to regulate the media.
Should we be officially complaining?
A more ambitious – or radical approach – may be to make greater use of the existing complaint mechanisms and/or authorities in most countries that regulate the media.
I’m not sure this is a the best approach, however I’m throwing it out there as an idea. No doubt the deniers will call this an attempt at censorship (my response, when you lie, you should be prepared to be called to account).
In the UK the PCC fulfils this role, while in Australia it is the Australian Press Council.
It’s statement on journalistic principles outlines the basis for complaints :
Much of what is climate change denial appears under the the guise of “opinion”, and those provides a loop hole for the likes of Bolt et.al. to make outrageous and false claims (Point 6). Another loop hole is “fair and balanced”, a tactic exploited to great effect by the denial machine (Point 2).
Complicated issue, but worth investigating
By manufacturing a “debate” they confuse the public into thinking there are actually two sides on the issue. Still the question remains: by disparaging scientists and misrepresenting their work, is it a legitimate cause for complaint?
And who should complain: scientists, or the public? No doubt it’s a complicated issue that needs further investigation. Nor should we abuse the system with nuisance complaints. That only bogs down the regulators.
I also imagine the various bodies have a mish-mash of rules, guidelines and processes which makes it difficult to adopt a uniform approach to the issue in Australia, the UK, the States, Canada, NZ and around the world.
However in clear cases of fraudulent and dishonest behaviour I think we should be using bodies such as the PCC and APC as legitimate tools to correct inaccurate and shoddy reporting.
Climate Progress has stated we need more scientists like Lewis to stand up to the deniers – I second that.
It prompts the question: should more scientists take follow the example of Lewis?
 There’s an idea, an organised boycott of the Herald Sun!