I called Ian Marsden, managing editor at the Telegraph Media Group, earlier this week and informed him that I wished to register a complaint about some of their content. Ian told me that in the shiny new world of the Independent Press Standards Organisation the first thing I would need to do is fill in a form. That is what I have just done:
See also the print version of Christopher Booker’s article.
As I mentioned in my telephone conversation with Ian Marsden, this article is so full of scientific inaccuracies that it’s hard to know where to begin, and what actions The Telegraph could take that would be sufficient to correct the incredibly misleading portrayal of the underlying science.
As Ian is well aware, my particular specialisation is the Arctic, so let’s start there. Booker starts off:
“New data shows that the ‘vanishing’ of polar ice is not the result of runaway global warming”
What “new data”? There is none!
He goes on to say “Homewood has now turned his attention to the weather stations across much of the Arctic, between Canada (51 degrees W) and the heart of Siberia (87 degrees E). Again, in nearly every case, the same one-way adjustments have been made, to show warming up to 1 degree C or more higher than was indicated by the data that was actually recorded.”
That’s “old data” and the statement is inaccurate. Have you heard of Steven Mosher? The author of “Climategate – The Crutape Letters”? He tells me:
“Looking at some maps I have of the Arctic It looks to me like we “cool” the Arctic. That is but for our adjustments the raw data would show a warmer arctic. I’ll try to check that in detail.
The Homewood approach (and by extension Delingpole and Booker) is pretty simple. Look for stations that are warmed and complain. Of course, he fails to look at the entire picture, fails to look at the large parts of Africa (20% of the globe) that our algorithm “cools”.
By looking at the whole we know that the scientifically interesting result (the world is getting warmer) STANDS. it stands with adjustments. It stands with no adjustments. Any local detail that may be wrong or questionable is not material to this conclusion.”
Watch it, check the inaccuracy of Booker’s statements for yourself if you so desire, then get back to me. I’ll be more than happy to go through all the other inaccurate and misleading statements in the article once you have attempted to justify this one.
From an email dated 20/02/2015 17:55:
Dear Mr Hunt
The fiddling with temperature data is the biggest science scandal ever, 7 Feb 2015
and The Sunday Telegraph, Feb 8 2015
Thank you for contacting us about this article.
As you are aware, climate change is a complex and controversial topic. A newspaper is not a scientific journal, and is not required to represent all the possible shades of evidence and interpretation that might have a bearing upon any given topic.
This is clearly an opinion article and identifiable as such. Against the background described above, readers can be expected to understand that any evidence offered is almost certainly contestable. It follows that in an opinion article of this nature only the most egregious inaccuracy could be significantly misleading. None of the points you raise qualify as such.
The phrase ‘new data’ is readily understandable, in context, as meaning the new study into existing Arctic weather station data undertaken by Paul Homewood, which is the focus of the article.
You say that Homewood’s analysis is ‘inaccurate’, and seek to prove this by reference to the work of others. The existence of contrary views and interpretations does not negate Christopher Booker’s right to describe Homewood’s findings and comment upon them. There is nothing in the points you raise that would engage the terms of the Editor’s Code of Conduct.
I trust this is of some assistance.
Jess McAree | Head of Editorial Compliance
Jess McAree’s email didn’t include a telephone number, so I called The Telegraph’s switchboard (on the morning of February 24th). They told me “He doesn’t take calls”. I persisted and they put me through to Andy, who assured me that whilst Mr. McAree was currently in a meeting he would tell him that I had called as soon as he emerged. Whilst waiting for a call back I registered another complaint via The Telegraph’s online form, this time checking the “Opportunity to reply” box:
This is a supplementary note to my original complaint of February 13th 2015, a copy of which is available online here:
It is now 11:30 on February 24th 2015. I spoke at length to Ian Marsden yesterday, and for some strange reason he didn’t mention Jess McAree’s email of the 20th inst. to me. Does the left hand at The Telegraph not know what the right hand is doing? I pointed out to Ian that your complaints policy states:
“We aim to acknowledge your complaint within 5 working days of receipt”
Ian reminded me about the “We aim” bit, and assured me that my complaint was being dealt with. Following the recommendation of an IPSO complaints officer I am registering this further complaint about the lack of a timely “right to reply” on what Ian referred to yesterday as The Telegraph’s “audit trail”. I shall also send a more detailed response to his email to Mr. McAree’s personal email address.
We’ll keep you posted!