Fact checking Climate Feedback
The Climate Feedback website has published an erroneous ‘factcheck’ of a recent Global Warming Policy Foundation report that fails to identify any factual inaccuracies and makes misleading claims of its own. Here, the GWPF responds to some of the misleading claims:
The report in question was written by former US IPCC delegation member, Dr Indur Goklany, (Impacts of Climate Change: Perception and Reality). It compares claims about the impact of climate change to real-world observations from leading scientific authorities and published in peer-reviewed journals.
Climate Feedback wields enormous influence through its role as an official ‘independent’ fact checker on the Facebook social media platform. This means that any article it deems ‘false information’ has its audience restricted, and any organisations sharing that article can also be penalised in a similar way.
* Climate Feedback claims that GWPF is a political advocacy organisation. This is untrue. GWPF is an educational charity and is non-partisan.
* Climate Feedback claims that Goklany’s study is a ‘blog post.’ This is untrue. It is a report which runs to 40 pages and includes more than 100 references to the scientific literature.
* Climate Feedback failed to provide a link to the GWPF report. It meant that readers were unable to verify the claims made for themselves. This was unprofessional and a serious breach of its own code of principles.
* Climate Feedback says it is “misleading to call the GWPF post…a ‘study’, as it does not include any original research nor was it peer-reviewed or published by a reputable scientific organization”. The suggestion that ‘studies’ can only include original research would rule out thousands of review papers and indeed the IPCC assessment reports themselves.
* Climate Feedback claim that the report was not peer reviewed. This is untrue. All GWPF reports are peer-reviewed by members of our Academic Advisory Council and external experts. Our invitation to the UK Met Office to review the draft of Goklany’s report was declined.
* Professor Emanuel Kerry, Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, claims that since the early 1970s there has been a 380% increase in global weather-related damage normalized each year by world domestic product. He seems to have misinterpreted an increase in reporting as an increase in damage in proportion to global GDP. In fact, there is a strong scientific consensus that since 1990 weather and climate-related losses have decreased as proportion of global GDP.
* Professor Jennifer Francis asked for a citation of a paper that showed that land area in coastal areas has been increasing. If she had taken the trouble to look at Goklany’s report, she would have found it.
* Ana Bastos, scientific researcher at Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich, argues that it is misleading to say fewer people are dying from heat and climate-sensitive diseases like malaria and diarrhoea — not because these facts aren’t actually true, but because these trends ‘have multiple confounding factors (e.g. technological, health and economical development) so that these changes cannot be directly linked to CO2.’ This is, however, exactly the point Goklany is making, i.e. economic and technological development means that risks from climate impacts are reduced.
* Ryan Sriver, Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois, claims it was misleading to refer to the observed global expansion of beachy areas, because this was ‘mainly due to human intervention and coastal management, not climate change.’ But Goklany never claimed that climate change was causing these changes. In fact, these arguments only serve to vindicate his core thesis that climate impacts have been moderated by human interventions and development.
We have asked Climate Feedback to publish this rebuttal in order to set the record straight.