Media Matters, clean energy, and progressive orgs tell media to correct false "Climategate" reports

Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

Media Matters is teaming up with a host of clean energy and progressive organizations to call on the media to correct its false "Climategate" reports. According to a press release announcing a letter sent from the groups to the editorial boards of top U.S. newspapers:

Today, Media Matters for America joined 12 clean energy and progressive organizations in strongly urging news outlets that reported on the original "Climategate" controversy over stolen emails and the reliability of climate science to set the record straight. These outlets are urged to highlight recent developments that completely disprove much of the evidence that supported the alleged "Climategate" scandal with the same forcefulness and frequency that they reported the original charges.

Read the letter after the jump.

Dear Editorial Boards and Journalists,

Last winter, newsrooms across the world raced to add the newest layer to the then-controversy over stolen emails, the reliability of climate science, and the legitimacy of the findings of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The journalistic arms race on both sides of the Atlantic, enabled by the lax publishing standards of Europe and fueled by oil industry-funded climate deniers in the U.S., resulted in the mutual destruction of accurate reporting and an informed readership. These false reports had a measurable impact on public opinion.

With the dust finally settling now six months later, it's painfully clear that news outlets across the globe hastily published hundreds of stories -- based on rumors, unsubstantiated claims, and the shoddy reporting of their competitors -- questioning the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities are causing climate change. One by one, the pillars of evidence supporting the alleged "scandals" have shattered, causing the entire storyline to come crashing down.

  • According to The New York Times, the Independent Climate Change E-Mails Review today "cleared climate scientists and administrators at the University of East Anglia of claims of malfeasance rising out of the contents of folders of e-mail messages and files extracted from computers there and posted around the Web last November." The Times further reported that "the committee made it clear that nearly all of the attacks on the scientists and the university were unsubstantiated."
  • After the hacked emails drew criticism, a panel established by the University of East Anglia to investigate the integrity of the research of the Climatic Research Unit wrote: "We saw no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit and had it been there we believe that it is likely that we would have detected it."
  • Responding to allegations that Dr. Michael Mann tampered with scientific evidence, Pennsylvania State University conducted a thorough investigation. It concluded, "The Investigatory Committee, after careful review of all available evidence, determined that there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann, Professor, Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University. More specifically, the Investigatory Committee determined that Dr. Michael E. Mann did not engage in, nor did he participate in, directly or indirectly, any actions t hat seriously deviated from accepted practices within the academic community for proposing, conducting, or reporting research, or other scholarly activities."
  • The British House of Commons Science and Technology Committee investigated the charges and concluded: "The focus on Professor [Phil] Jones and CRU has been largely misplaced. On the accusations relating to Professor Jones's refusal to share raw data and computer codes, we consider that his actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community."
  • London's Sunday Times retracted its story, echoed by dozens of outlets, that the IPCC issued an unsubstantiated report claiming 40 percent of the Amazon rainforest was endangered due to changing rainfall patterns. The Times wrote, "In fact, the IPCC's Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence. In the case of the WWF [World Wildlife Fund] 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."
  • The Sunday Times also admitted it misrepresented the views of Dr. Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds, implying he agreed with the article's false premise and believed the IPCC should not use reports issued by outside organizations. In its retraction, the Times admitted, "Dr Lewis does not dispute the scientific basis for both the IPCC and the WWF reports," and, "We accept that Dr Lewis holds no such view. ... 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."
  • In May of this year, the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering released a report titled Advancing the Science of Climate Change. According to a news release, the report concluded: "Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for -- and in many cases is already affecting -- a broad range of human and natural systems."
  • After analyzing 32 summary conclusions on the regional impacts of climate change in the IPCC's 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency concluded that "no significant errors" had been made.

Every newspaper, magazine, and television show that reported on these bogus scandals owes it to its audience to set the record straight with the same forcefulness and frequency that it reported the original, disproven charges. Failure to publicly correct the record undermines the very heart of journalism -- to report the truth.

Respectfully,

350.org
Alliance for Climate Protection
Center for American Progress Action Fund
Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future (PennFuture)
EarthJustice
League of Conservation Voters
Media Matters for America
Natural Resources Defense Council
Project on Climate Science
Safe Climate Campaign
Sierra Club
United Nations Foundation
World Wildlife Fund

More on "Climategate" from Media Matters can be found here.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
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