Morano sends lies from UK Times and Daily Mail around the world

Get ready. Lies originating in the U.K. over the weekend in newspaper stories by Jonathan Leake of the Times and Jonathan Petre of the Mail on Sunday, are about to hit the contrarian echo chamber. As usual, Marc Morano is on the case, with his Climate Depot science fabrication clearinghouse claiming that “World may not be warming, say scientists” and “Phil Jones admits: There has been no global warming since 1995”.

But a cursory examination of the actual articles shows that not only are both claims false, but the articles themselves are chock full of other misleading statements. And reborn skeptic evangelist Jonathan Leake of the Times has not only selected highly dubious research, but has glossed over the fossil fuel industry ties of the researchers, especially those of economist Ross McKitrick. So, for the benefit of Leake and other journalists, I’ll also go over a few unsavoury facts about McKitrick that I didn’t get to last time.

Not that any of that matters to the contrarian blogosphere and the right-wing U.S. press who will no doubt embrace these latest supposedly fatal blows to climate science in the days to come.

Taking the more obvious fabrication first, the Daily Mail’s Jonathan Petre has rendered a highly slanted summary of an interview given by Phil Jones to the BBC. The Mail ran the false quote as the headline “No global warming since 1995” and repeated it  in a subhead for good measure.

In the article, Petre clarified that Jones actually said that “for the past 15 years there has been no ‘statistically significant’ warming”. That’s technically correct, but highly misleading when you consider the full response:

B. Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?

Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

Jones also said that the period from 1975 to 2009 had a “very similar trend to the period 1975-1998”, implying of course that the long-term trend has not budged over the last 10 years. Climate contrarians are concentrating on meaningless shorter-term trends once again, as has been observed countless times here and elsewhere.

In a real howler, Petre also claimed:

[Jones] also agreed that there had been two periods which experienced similar warming, from 1910 to 1940 and from 1975 to 1998, but said these could be explained by natural phenomena whereas more recent warming could not.

On the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), Petre was also dead wrong:
Professor Jones also conceded the possibility that the world was warmer in medieval times than now – suggesting global warming may not be a man-made phenomenon.
But Jones said nothing of the sort, and explicitly rejected the idea that debate about the MWP could shake the case for anthropogenic global warming:

H – If you agree that there were similar periods of warming since 1850 to the current period, and that the MWP is under debate, what factors convince you that recent warming has been largely man-made?

The fact that we can’t explain the warming from the 1950s by solar and volcanic forcing – see my answer to your question D.

Petre noted reaction from unnamed “skeptics”:

Skeptics said this was the first time a senior scientist working with the IPCC had admitted to the possibility that the Medieval Warming Period could have been global, and therefore the world could have been hotter then than now.

Well at least now we know that Petre is an avid weekend reader of WattsUpWithThat. With his colleague David Rose’s adoration for Steve McIntyre’s ClimateAudit, the Mail clearly has the denialosphere well covered.

Turning to Jonathan Leake’s abominable piece in the Times, we see that the Times headline (“World may not be warming, say scientists”) does accord with the text:

The United Nations climate panel faces a new challenge with scientists casting doubt on its claim that global temperatures are rising inexorably because of human pollution.

But it turns out the researchers cited include only one scientist, John Christy, along with economists Ross McKitrick and Terry Mills, and meteorologists (of the non-PhD variety) Joseph d’Aleo and Anthony Watts. Perhaps a rewrite is in order, although more honest references to ideologically driven economists and ignorant TV weathermen-turned-climate-bloggers would perhaps blunt the point Leake is trying so hard to make.

It would be somewhat tedious to whack all the moles Leake brings up here, so I’ll direct readers to Tim Lambert’s Deltoid piece for quick refutations of the cited research.

I will note, though, that not only did McKitrick’s earlier research purporting to show “contamination” of temperature data by economic factors contain an egregious error (a most unforunate mixup of degrees and radians), but his subsequent paper along the same lines was roundly refuted by climate modeler Gavin Schmidt in his 2009 International Journal of Climate paper, “Spurious correlations between recent warming and indices of local economic activity”.

But Leake’s most grievous offence is omitting or glossing over the dubious history and ties of his sources, particularly in the case of McKitrick.

The IPCC faces similar criticisms from Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph, Canada, who was invited by the panel to review its last report.

The experience turned him into a strong critic and he has since published a research paper questioning its methods.

This is, to put it politely, utter nonsense. As I showed recently, Ross McKitrick has been tied to skeptic think tanks, astroturf groups  and PR firms for years, going back to 2002, just after the previous IPCC Third Assessment Report in 2001. The list is long and includes APCO Worldwide, Friends of Science, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Marshall Institute, and the Fraser Institute. All of these, of course, have enjoyed significant funding from fossil fuel companies and other interests opposed to the regulation of greenhouse gases.

In fact, during the review of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, McKitrick was also co-ordinating the so-called Independent Summary for Policymakers for the Fraser Institute, which was released just afterward. You can get some idea of McKitrick’s woeful climate science credentials by reviewing the ISPM’s impressive catalogue of errors and misleading statements. (You can also be sure I’ll be returning to this another time – it’s a story that deserves its own post).

McKitrick has also managed to parlay his association with Tom Harris (ex-APCO Worldwide) and the Fraser Institute into frequent appearances on the National Post opinion pages.

And on both the scientific and journalistic fronts, McKitrick recently hit new lows. His bogus estimate of tropospheric trend amplification (relative to surface) was used by Klotzbach et al to demonstrate “warm bias” in the surface temperature record on land. But when  corrected amplification factors are used, a similar differential between observed and expected satellite trends are seen over both land and ocean.

McKitrick’s screed in the National Post on the Keith Briffa’s Yamal tree-ring temperature reconstruction was a shameful piece of yellow journalism, containing a litany of misleading half-truths, and at least two outright falsehoods. McKitrick wrote about Briffa and dendroclimatologist Fritz Schweingruber :

Then in 2008 Briffa, Schweingruber and some colleagues published a paper using the Yamal series (again) in a journal called the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society

[Steve McIntyre] quickly found a large set of 34 up-to-date core samples, taken from living trees in Yamal by none other than Schweingruber himself …

That sounds like a damning indictment. Problem is – it’s a fabrication, as Schweingruber was not in fact a co-author on the 2008 paper. It has been several years since the pair collaborated on tree-ring research; their most recent article was in 2004 (a review article at that).
So it should surprise no one that McKitrick also let loose this whopper:
Two expert panels involving the U.S. National Academy of Sciences were asked to investigate, the U.S. Congress held a hearing, and the media followed the story around the world.
Excuse me? Did McKitrick just say the Wegman panel “involved the U.S. National Academy of Sciences”? Perhaps he had in mind Wegman’s three-year term as chairman of the Committee of Applied and Theoretical Statistics (CATS). But that committee is constituted under the National Research Council, a separate body. Not that it matters anyway – the Wegman panel had absolutely nothing to do with the National Academy (or CATS); in fact, as I showed recently, the Academy was resolutely opposed to the Barton-Whitfield investigation.

So any science journalist who wants to trash his own reputation in a hurry, should look no further than Ross McKitrick. If there’s any justice, that’s a lesson Jonathan Leake is learning right now.

Meanwhile, North American media looking for new angles on the old, tired contrarian talking points have a couple to choose from this week.

So let’s see who will be first off the mark in repeating each of the two fabrications described here. And this is where you, dear readers, come in. I’ve got two polls, one for each falsehood – let’s see if we can guess which media outlet will be first to play these particular games of transatlantic telephone. And be sure to let me know about any sightings of these pernicious falsehoods in the mainstream media.

[Update, Feb. 17: I’ve closed the polls below. It was hardly a fair fight, as it appears that FoxNews were on top pf this within hours of my post, if not before. I’ll be looking at mainstream media echoes of these latest variations on the “global warming has stopped” meme in a subsequent post (coming soon). ]






44 responses to “Morano sends lies from UK Times and Daily Mail around the world

  1. Tim Lambert at Deltoid has been hammering the liars in the UK press for a while now. David Rose even made an appearance, but failed to convince anyone that he was any better than we thought.

    I look forward to certain miscreants getting sued.

  2. Outrageous. How can ordinary citizens like me do anything to offset this type of propaganda?

    • Wayne,

      That is the million dollar question. I have lost sleep on that one….

      As Pachauri says “I am absolutely convinced the truth will prevail in the end.”

      That might be true. But, by then it will be much too late and we’ll have one heck of an insurance and disaster bill.

      Start hoping that climate sensitivity is close to +1.5C and not +3C or even +6.0C.

  3. Fox News did run a story on the subject, with the headline

    “Global Warming in Last 15 Years Insignificant, U.K.’s Top Climate Scientist Admits”

    I think we have a winner!

  4. Point of clarification:

    Watts is not a scientist, not a meterologist, nor has any science degree. He is a weather forecaster.

    A meteorologist has a degree and the coursework includes the following:

    1) 4 semesters of Calculus and higher math (Calc I, II, III, and Differential Equations)
    2) 6 semesters of physics courses
    3) 3 semesters of chemistry courses

    Essentially, a meteorologist is a physicist with an emphasis on fluid and gas dynamics.

    A weather forecaster is a weather predictor and I teach my freshman non-science majors how to do this. By the end of one semester they can understand the models and data well enough to provide a pretty accurate three day forecast for any city in the US. They cannot, however, understand the underlying physics behind these models. Watts is in the same camp as my freshman students.

    • Ouch! But very true…

    • Watts is in the same camp as my freshman students.

      He apparently went to Purdue for awhile but didn’t graduate, so I think we’re entitled to take your statement literally.

      Maybe even in the same boat as your flunked freshmen students, though AFAIK he hasn’t said why he didn’t finish his degree.

  5. Follow the money. How much advertising revenue do these newspapers get from car manufacturers and oil companies? We should be told.Tom Harris.

    [DC: I doubt that there is a direct connection between advertisers and falsehoods in the right-wing press. Rather I put it down to strong ideological bias and adroit behind-the-scenes action by sleazy PR operatives like Marc Morano and Tom Harris (to mention just two).

    But certainly advertisers should be told in no uncertain terms that customers take a dim view of media outlets that permit lies – there is no other word – about climate science and climate scientists.

    And I believe it’s time for scientists to fight back. I see two possible courses of action.

    1) Individual scientists who have been maligned or whose views have been grossly misrepresented, should have no compunction about suing these despicable reporters and columnists, as well as the media outlets that print this tripe.

    2) Even more important: The top scientific societies should speak out against the rising tide of disinformation – in particular the reprehensible falsehoods spewed forth almost every day now in the pages of the National Post and the Globe and Mail here in Canada, not to mention right-wing outlets around the world. ]

  6. A local radio host in the San Francisco Bay area claimed, based on Mr. Leake’s article in the Sunday Times, that the science behind anthropogenic global warming was “unraveling.” I requested that he send me the article on which this claim was based, which he had posted on his blog, here:
    Leake’s London Times article deleted

    Before I saw today’s post on DC, I wrote to the blog author/radio host/career counselor and pointed out the numerous errors and dubious reliability of the article’s sources. As you can see from the link above, the article was retracted in short order. Although the author has repeatedly questioned the science of global warming on his radio program and blog, to his credit, he removed the offending piece. I hope that in the future he will more carefully consider the sources of such anti-science propaganda pieces.

  7. Minor edit:
    “So let’s see who will be first OFF the mark”

    [DC: Oops. Fixed. Thanks. ]

  8. Count the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in:

  9. Apologies from the UK.

  10. I have to give jones some real credit here, this may be the first time in years he is being honest. It takes a big man to admit when he is wrong and I am glad he chose life instead of the cowards way out by committing suicide.

    It’s too bad that you don’t seem to be able to live up to the undeniable truth that Jones is now facing, namely that climate science has been highly exagerated.

    [DC: I’m going to stop you right there. Have you no shame?

    No one should have to endure the vicious, baseless attacks that Phil Jones has been subjected to. And that includes your despicable suggestion.

    Let’s get this straight once and for all.

    Despite attempts in the denialosphere to twist and cherrypick Jones’s answers to leading questions into some sort of “confession” or “admission” of various contrarian talking points, the facts are as follows:

    a) Phil Jones has not revised his views on any aspect of climate science, including attribution of recent warming or the Medieval Warm Period.
    b) Phil Jones’s views on these subjects do not differ from the broad findings of the IPCC AR4 WG1 report.

    I have had enough of your reprehensible commentary. You are no longer welcome here, and I apologize to other readers for being too patient with you in the past. Goodbye and good riddance. ]

    • Those despicable words will haunt Mr. MacKay. I could say a lot more, but I’ll leave it at that.

    • Cam MacKay,

      Did you ignore what Jones actually said or did you actually read it?

      Are you are incompetent in English comprehension, are you incompetent in understanding the statistical content of Jones’s statement, or are you a simple liar?

      [DC: All reasonable questions, but Cam MacKay will have to answer them somewhere else. Not that I expect him to. ]

  11. Nice work.
    Your link to “Jonathan Leake’s abominable piece in the Times” leads to a profile of Lomborg from Aug 09.

    Thanks – should be fixed now.

    I was looking up some of Leake’s past work, trying to figure out if his current sympathy for dubious science and the work of contrarian non-scientists was evident in past work. The Lomborg piece suggests that Leake’s embrace of his inner “skeptic” may be quite recent.

    The 44-year-old contrarian, who argues that spending billions on reducing CO2 emissions is a waste of money, has thrown his weight behind a wheeze to create vast clouds that would reflect the sun’s energy back into space …

    “There are several problems,” said Jonathan Leake, science editor of The Sunday Times. “By its experimental nature, we can’t be sure it would work. We would be committing ourselves to the recurring cost of maintaining an enormous fleet of boats in perpetuity.

    “The idea also ignores the second main element of CO2 emissions. It doesn’t combat the problem of ocean acidification – what happens when the CO2 which we emit dissolves in the ocean and makes it more acidic. The oceans are changing so rapidly that in 50 or 60 years’ time there will be parts where shellfish can’t survive.”


  12. The Phil Jones piece about his so called U turn actually made it all the way into Swedens biggest radio news broadcast Ekot (Public service)

    which is nothing less than a major scandal. It made the sceptics day though.

    • did link to you, DC, so you are recognized as one of the voices of reason fighting the smears. Good going. Please keep fighting the good fight.

  13. Morano is the scariest of any of them in a way. He’s too jumpy even for Fox on a regular basis, but the fact that he has a receptive audience at all makes me worried. McIntyre et al are just paid liars, but this guy Morano is a stone cold lunatic.

  14. In the hope that these might be useful to some readers for rebutting the misinformation in the UK and US press, following are the references I used to convince a San Francisco Bay area radio host/blog author to remove from his blog Leake’s Feb. 14, 2010 TimesOnline article, “World may not be warming, say ‘scientists’” [italics added, based on the absence of actual scientific sources to support the headline]:

    1. Leake’s misleading reporting on climate science:
    IPCC re Leake 01 25 2010 and IPCC-errors-facts-and-spin

    2. Leake’s use of unreliable sources, e.g., John Christy: Santer v Douglass Christy et al. 03 Feb 2010

    Item 2 is also interesting because it identifies an on-line magazine, American Thinker, as an emerging popular denialist propaganda source that Dr. Christy prefers to use instead of peer-reviewed journals for defending his shoddy research and launching unsupportable claims of misconduct against reputable scientists like Ben Santer.

    3. Reliability of the instrumental surface temperature record: NOAA on temp rev 21 Dec 2010

    Item 3 specifically responds to false claims about the purported bias of surface temperature measurements raised by non-scientists such as Anthony Watts (who is inaccurately cited as a “meteorologist” in Leake’s TimesOnline article), and shows that such claims are unfounded.

  15. Not sure if this was a “first,” but I heard both the Leake article “World may not be warming” and Petre article “No warming since 1995” propagated on my local (San Francisco Bay area) public radio station on Sunday, Feb. 14, between 11-12 am PST. I wish I could say it will be the last time our public radio station goes astray, but unfortunately that’s not likely. At least it wasn’t an NPR broadcast this time; it was just a susceptible local radio personality who made the error and hopefully, he learned not to repeat it. There is ample evidence, however, that NPR is not immune to such misinformation.

  16. It seems to me that John Christy’s failure to correct a known error in one of his published research papers, and his baseless, apparently retaliatory allegations of misconduct against another scientist, Ben Santer (Santer v Douglass Christy et al. 03 Feb 2010), should in themselves be grounds for an investigation of misconduct on Dr. Christy’s part. Does UAH have any standards in this regard?

    [DC: For those interested,

    Here is Douglass and Christy on Santer and the supposed “conspiracy”.

    Here is Santer’s response.

    I’m not sure that there are any rules covering informal accusations of this sort. But if the allegations and proffered facts are false and defamatory (and it appears that at least some may well have been), then there should be recourse via libel laws. ]

  17. The Phil Jones mis-quoted comment about ‘no statistically-significant global warming’ has also been reported in Australia. In yesterday’s Sydney Telegraph climate sceptic Piers Akerman said that ‘Phil Jones has admitted there has been no statistically significant warming in the past 15 years’. (Looks like he may have done a bit of copying & pasting – as most denialist journalists seem to do).

    What was interesting about the Akerman ‘opinion’ was that he had devoted almost half a page defending himself against the allegation that he was the first to attributed the comment, “Unless we announce disasters no one will listen”, to Sir John Houghton. Sir John has denied ever making such a comment. The opinion piece is worth reading at

  18. Here’s a funny coincidence:Before his current gig, paid for by CFACT, Morano worked for Sen. Inhofe’s EPW.
    By amusing coincidence, his start date was 06/14/06, several days before the Wegman Report came out.

  19. This might make bring a smile, given the UK press’ recent rafts of gibberish:

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

  20. There are still some credible journalists out there who get what is going on here– This by Jeffrey Sachs.

    After reading that I felt better about the world, then I made the mistake of reading some of the comments. OMG. He must have hit the nail on the head b/c those in denial are fuming.

    [DC: Sachs is not a journalist; he’s director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Still I find it enormously encouraging that a major newspaper is willing to run a critique of another newspaper’s role in this ongoing propaganda campaign. ]

    • Thanks DC, as usual me stupid.

      Yes, it is very encouraging that they are openly critiquing another media outlet.

  21. Oops, Morano started about a month before Wegman Report,, sorry. But still interesting. I have so many dates & people flying around right now, I dopr soem bits.

    [DC: That’s right – the Barton hearings were in mid-July, 2006.

    I think it took a while for Morano to set up his PR machine at, but presumably his disinformation email blasts started before that. ]

  22. We’d be remiss not to mention Marc Morano’s involvement with “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth”
    Swift Boat Veterans for Disinformation

  23. Sorry, the link to the Guardian article seems to have got a bit lost after hitting Submit.

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

  24. At least one journalist is beginning to get it:

    Bullying, lies and the rise of right-wing climate denial

    About time.

    • Derech064, something similar happened to me after I wrote a letter to the editor of our (right wing) newspaper. I received an abusive e-mail from one of the local deniers (he cc’d FOS principals) .

      It seems as if some one at the newspaper was leaking e-mail addresses to him since the e-mail had his company address but had been forwarded from one he had received from the paper.

      I also must be on the paper’s black list since I have not had a letter published for some time now. I have one in at the moment concerning a recent op-ed by right winger Susan Martinuk on the Jones interview. I will see if it gets published.

    • Ian, IMO your story is most disturbing. FOS and Tom Harris have also been trying to intimidate others. Hopefully DC will speak to this sometime, especially now that this new piece of evidence has come to light.

      Let me guess, you wrote a letter to the Calgary Herald? Is there any clue as to who at the newspaper leaked your email address? What was the paper’s email address in the offensive email? This to me is a very serious breach of confidentiality on the newspaper’s part, and the newspaper in question is enabling aggressive and threatening behaviour, so it should perhaps be followed up with the police…

      Ian, I’d like to hook up if at all possible. Not sure how that works though. Maybe DC could help if you are interested. No worries if you are not.

    • Thanks for that link. His follow-up should be interesting, too.

    • DC and Maple Leaf, I have no problem with following this up a bit more. I’m sure DC can hook us up.

      Still no sign of my letter re Martinuk’s column.

    • Read Gunter’s latest diatribe, full of deception, libel and lies.

      Actually it is those in denial feeling the heat of late with exposes by DC, John Mashey and Tim Lambert and Rabett.

      John Mashey should probably also be made aware of this incident. If you still have the email Ian (I hope so!), DC and others may have the know how to figure out where the email originated from.

      [DC: A post is in the works on this latest nonsense from Gunter. ]

  25. Thanks for your great diligence and detail, DC.

    I am working on a sequel for my prior piece on deniers, and wonder if you can provide the same kind of evidence about Pielke Jr. and The Breakthrough Institute that you did about McIntyre. Their troughs are all a bit disguised, but they need your kind of flashlight, especially since they are feigning high ground with my editor. If you or anyone else has thoughts on this, I can be reached at

    The latest Newsweek fiasco just made me more determined.

    [DC: Although I haven’t covered RP jr much here, my views on his error-filled climate science blatherings and his despicable attacks on climate scientists are fairly well documented at other blogs (including some bouts of pig-wrestling at RP jr’s own blog).

    However, I haven’t looked much at TBI, and I would say Anna Haynes and Steve Bloom are way ahead of me on this. I don’t know if you caught this thread at Stoat:

    but it has some discussion of TBI funding (well down in the comments).

    Among bloggers, R&R (Rabett and Romm) seem most on top of TBI, but you probably are aware of that.

    Unfortunately I have my hands full with the Canadian scene: M&M, Friends of Science, Fraser Institute etc. etc. etc., so I don’t think I’ll get to TBI any time soon. ]

    • Speaking of the Fraser Institute, can you believe that the Vermont State Climatologist STILL has the Fraser Institute document Understanding Climate Change listed as the first link in her climate change articles & resources section?

      This after my phone calls and emails to her dept. Chair and the president of the American Association of State Climatologists made several months ago.

      Sheesh! Is there no shame and no oversight?

      [DC: I feel your pain. Mind you, it took years to close down the University of Calgary professor Barry Cooper’s bogus “research” fund (actually a conduit for Friends of Science projects run by APCO Workdwide and other PR pros). Much patience is required, apparently. ]

  26. Here is Clive Hamilton’s column today:

    Good stuff, and more promised tomorrow.

    Click on his name to find out about him; he’s not actually a journalist.

    [DC: Columist’s name corrected at commenter’s request.]

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  30. Scott Mandia
    “A weather forecaster is a weather predictor and I teach my freshman non-science majors how to do this.”

    And interesting side note is that any decent mariner can do the same thing, provided he has read his ‘bible of boating’ – “Chapmans Piloting Seamanship and Small Boat Handling” and has access to weather fax and his own observations.

    That would make every mariner a climate change expert, if the denialsphere is to be believed.