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We are a worldwide social network of freethinkers, atheists, agnostics and secular humanists.

By Phil Plait | Posted Monday, March 18, 2013, at 8:00 AM

Oh, the The Mail on Sunday. Is there no limit to your denial of climate change?

The Mail on Sunday is a sister publication of the UK tabloid Daily Mail, and has a history of running ridiculously misleading claims downplaying the reality of climate change. Probably the worst offender is David Rose, who has been constantly hammering the idea—despite all the evidence against it—that the Earth has not been getting warmer for the past 16 years. To make this claim he has to egregiously cherry-pick his data, choosing where to look on a graph of temperatures to make it look like warming has slowed.

I’ve shown just how Rose is so fast and loose with reality in previous posts, when he first came to my attention for claiming warming had stopped (and then tried to show that the Sun’s lack of activity would cool the Earth, a claim for which there is essentially no good evidence), and then again when he posted a graph so wrong it would mean getting an F in ninth-grade math. You can also read debunkings of Rose’s ridiculosities from the UK Met Office, the national weather service for the United Kingdom, which regularly has to issue articles debunking the nonsense posted in The Mail.

Unfortunately, because he is so loud and given a venue in the The Mail, people who prefer fiction to reality use Rose’s claims to bolster their own. Big names in climate denial then write fact-free OpEd letters to venues like the Wall Street Journal, which get read by even more people, fooling them into thinking climate change isn’t happening.

But it is happening. So Rose is still denial mode, writing yet another error-laden article for The Mail, again claiming warming has stopped, and again relying on grossly misinterpreting real data. His point this time rests on this graph:

The graph of temperatures versus predictions that is the source of all this misleading woe. Image credit: The Mail On Sunday via IPCC/MET Office (and Ed Hawkins)

The graph shows the temperature anomaly—the difference in temperature from an average temperature—compared to predictions of surface air temperatures made by climate scientists. The graph is actually real; Rose claims it’s from the UK Met Office and the IPCC reports, though it looks very much like it was taken from climatologist Ed Hawkins’ blog. Either way, Rose starts flinging accusations that are remarkable only by how much they miss their marks.

First, the graph is showing air temperatures. These are not the best representation of global warming, since a huge amount of the extra heat is going into the oceans. So right away, you have to be very careful extrapolating this graph to global heat content overall.

Slate

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Replies to This Discussion

Hello Neal.

What I do is say the climate is changing. When they ask how it's changing, I say we will know that as and when it happens.

What I do is answer the question but leave out specific details and deniers find that annoying.

Hi Lester, thanks for the comment. =)

The main reason we have so many denying the science rests squarely on the shoulders of capitalism. Making money is more important than the earth we live on, so they spend their money on twisting the facts and confusing the public so no action will ever be taken.

You're welcome.

They can waste their money twisting the facts, but the Brits in particular, are, as we say "not as green as cabbage looking"

Yep, climate warming denial is way up there with overpopulation and global resources depletion denial on the profiteers's to-do list. Can't have anything that'd hurt their benefits.

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