.Publishing fake news for the climate – The European Perspective

Publishing fake news for the climate

The article about "11 thousand scientists" in The Independent, from 6 .11.2019

“Over 11 thousand scientists” sign a report warning about climate change – according to CBC, CNN, The Independent, The Guardian and many other main stream media outlets.

Really? Well, maybe yes, if all the dentists, veterinarians, librarians, zoo keepers, students, physicians, PhD candidates in theology, students, and even “husband, vicky”, an environmental activist, who signed the report are considered “scientists”.

As it turns out, the “over 11 thousand scientists” claim is based on an online petition type survey, on the web site of an “Alliance of World Scientists”, where people could sign up to support the report which warned about a catastrophic climate change. The report appeared in the journal Bioscience, on 5 November 2019.

Apparently anybody was able to sign up – it seems, without any check.

Luckily, The Independent, The Guardian and the rest are not the only news outlets. Rebel Media, an online news organization, for example, did some fact checking. The following video by Rebel Media reports about the results of this fact checking.

Maybe as a result of reporting by Rebel Media or by Sky News, which also reported about the issue, the authors of the report apparently became concerned about their claim of “over 11 thousand scientists” and now (8 November 2019) they are scrambling to save what they can.

They now have the following on their web site.

Notice how they removed the number of scientists and the number of countries, and replaced it by xxxxx.

However, as of now, the Bioscience article still has the claim of “over 11 thousand scientists”:

Thus, they don’t seem to be in too much of a hurry to correct their publication.

To be fair, many of the signatories did describe their profession as some type of academician – for example as “Professor Emeritus, Biology” or as “Adjunct Professor of Chemistry”. But in many cases their expertise has hardly anything to do with climate science, when, for example, they give their profession as “Professor of Anthropology” or as “Immunology”. In many other cases they describe themselves as “PhD student”, “graduate student” or simply as “student” – often without further qualifying their area of their study.

A number of questions should be asked at this point.

First, how could the authors of the report be so dishonest – or at the very least extremely careless – to talk about “over 11 thousand scientists”, when they knew how these signatures have been collected?

Second, how is it possible that none of the many dentists, librarians, physicians and so on who signed up to support the report did come out and protest, when they heard or read on mainstream media that they are being called “scientists”.

Third, how come huge media outlets like CNN don’t do the elementary thing and do some fact checking, before they trumpet out fake news like this?

The answer to this last question is clear and is always the same: news like this fit so excellently into their ideology and narrative that they happily publish them without asking further.

Let’s see whether the list of signatories will be updated and some of the many non-scientists and fake scientists removed, and if yes, whether the “over 11 thousand scientists” fake news will be corrected by the authors of the climate change report or by the media. Also, if Bioscience has any integrity, it will either remove the report, or it will demand from the authors to update it. It namely contains the claim about the “11 thousand scientists” in its text:

Did the “European Climate Declaration” contain the same fake news?

On 26 September 2019 a declaration with the title “There is no climate emergency” was sent to the UN by a group of mostly European people – the “European Climate Declaration”. Media outlets like The Independent, reported about this declaration, calling the people on their list “climate deniers”. Interestingly, in this case The Independent took the time to do some checking of the signatories – in contrast to their reporting on the “climate emergency” report, making abundantly clear what their narrative is.

What were the professions of these people and how was the group described in the Declaration?

The professions included many academicians, many of whom were related to climate science in some way, e.g. “Professor of Energy Geopolitics” and “Geophysicist”. The relatedness of the professions of many others was not clear or it was weak, e.g. “Environmentalist” or “Doctor of Medicine”.

The people on the list were described as “experts” (on the press release of the group) or “500 scientists and professionals” on the main document.

This describes fairly accurately the professions of the people. In other words, this doesn’t make the declaration a fake news – in contrast to the “climate emergency” article, which still refers to “11,000 scientists” although large numbers on their list are in no way “scientists”.

Update (13 November 2019)

(Note: the link to the list of the ‘11,000 scientists’ mentioned below expires after a while. Thus, if you get an error when clicking on the link, you can go directly to the report on the Bioscience web site. You can find the link there under the heading Supplemental material. The link from there works.)

The authors of the report now removed 34 “invalid names”, as they write in the updated list of signatories. This shows that either they still don’t understand the real issue, which was not “invalid names” (though there were a few, like “Professor Micky Mouse”) but invalid professions: they are still talking about “more than 11,000 scientists”, when many of their signatories are in no way “scientists” – in which case the extreme shoddiness of their method of collecting their signatures, and their insistence on using fake “scientists” is scary.

Or they do know what they are doing but they are committed to continue with their deception.

Anybody who is interested in checking this list can download it, and search for, for example, “husband, vicky”. The list still contains this person, with the profession “environmental activist”.

One can also try, as search term examples, “librarian” (1 hit), “veterinary” (55 hits), “theology” (1 hit), “zoo keeper” (1 hit), “physician” (21 hits), “student” (969 hits) and decide for oneself if the persons found can be called “scientist” with any justification.

And, of course, there is no correction from the same main stream media outlets that trumpeted out the news about the 11,000 “scientists” in the first place. The web site of The Independent still writes:

Eleven thousand scientists in 153 countries have declared a climate emergency and warned that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without huge shifts in the way we live. 

And the web site of the The Guardian writes:

The world’s people face “untold suffering due to the climate crisis” unless there are major transformations to global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists.

Update (13 December)

The authors of the report have now removed 166 names from their newest list. Thus the persons with professions ‘theology’ and ‘zoo keeper’ are not on the list any more. But the 1 librarian, 55 veterinarians, 18 physicians, and 928 students are still there. All the ‘students’ now seem to be PhD or Masters students, thus, with some claim to be ‘scientists’.

Thus, what the authors seem to be doing is trying to limit the list to academicians. Even so, there are many people introducing themselves as ‘researcher’ or as some other ‘sciency’ profession, who don’t even mention the institution they supposedly belong to.

Examples: ‘Morton, Alexandra’, with profession ‘Independent biologist – salmon’. Or: ‘Murcia, Juan’, ‘Marine biologyst’. Or: ‘Naik, Hiral’, ‘Scientist/Conservationist’.

In the new pdf file of the list they now talk of 11,092 ‘signatories’.

But the report’s page on the Bioscience web site still mentions the original number of ‘11,258 scientist signatories from 153 countries’.

A mess.

Here are relevant links regarding the report:

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