A First Step

Scientists are beginning to fight back against inaccurate climate change journalism, and Simon Lewis is taking one of the first steps. He officially complained to the UK Press Complaints Commission about an “inaccurate, misleading and distorted” article by Jonathan Leake in the Sunday Times.

It’s one of Leake’s many “IPCC errors uncovered” – the AR4’s claim that “up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation”. There was a referencing error for this claim, as Daniel Nepstad explains here (citations within), but the statement is correct.

Tim Lambert contacted the scientists that Leake interviewed and discovered that three different people had told him that the claim was correct before the Times article was published – but he went ahead and called it “bogus” anyway.

Hopefully the PCC will do its job and correct the errors that were made in Leake’s article. However, the misinformation has spread beyond that. Newspapers all over the world – even the highly respected Globe and Mail – have repeated Leake’s allegations. There are a lot of ripples here that can’t be undone.

“There is currently a war of disinformation about climate change-related science, and my complaint can hopefully let journalists in the front line of this war know that there are potential repercussions if they publish misleading stories,” says Simon Lewis.

If only it were as simple as that. Still, it’s a first step.

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