Bob Ward debunks yet more false claims on climate change being spread in the UK by certain public figures as they exploit Twitter’s lack of rules against misinformation.

As Christmas approaches, the British public and politicians are facing an avalanche of misinformation about climate change, particularly on Twitter.

The most laughable of these is the daft claim that the recent bout of cold weather and snow disproves climate change – despite the Met Office announcing on 1 December 2022 is likely to be the warmest year on record for the UK, part of an undeniable warming trend. For instance, Richard Tice, leader of the fringe political party Reform UK, tweeted on 12 December: “Coldest day for 12 years…so what happened to global warming?” He added: “Climate zealots a bit quiet today…”

Even though such statements have no credibility, some media outlets, such as Sky News, have sensibly taken the precaution to explain why not to their audiences.

Mr Tice regularly promotes climate change denial, not just on Twitter but also on his show on Talk TV. His party has also been spreading propaganda about UK climate policy, making the false claim that the UK’s current cost of living crisis has been caused by the legal requirement to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050.

Earlier this month, the Reform Party tweeted, “Net Zero means we’ll be Net Poorer and Net Colder this winter”, together with a video falsely implying that suffering this winter should be blamed on the net zero target. The video is blatantly bogus, so I have complained about it to the Advertising Standards Agency.

Politicians are not the only ones exploiting Twitter’s lack of rules against misinformation. Toby Young mixes tweets that promote wild conspiracy theories about COVID-19 with climate change denial. On 15 December, he tweeted: “Arctic summer sea ice stopped declining a decade ago, but scientists have hidden this fact and the mainstream media never report it because it contradicts the official Net Zero narrative.”

This is clearly ridiculous nonsense, as shown by this graph of Arctic sea ice extent in September for the years 1979-2022, produced by the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado.

Not to be outdone, Net Zero Watch, which was set up by the Global Warming Policy Foundation to circumvent Charity Commissions rules, has been promoting on email and social media a blog that misrepresents a recent scientific paper on recent warming.

Written by its so-called ‘science editor’, David Whitehouse, the blog draws attention to the paper ‘Is Anthropogenic Global Warming Accelerating?’ in the Journal on Climate, authored by a group of scientists based at Oxford University. The blog states: “A new study by a team of leading climate scientists suggests that the effect of carbon dioxide this century might be small when compared to natural climate variability.”

I asked one of the paper’s authors, Professor Myles Allen, what he thought of Dr Whitehouse’s representation of their work. He responded by email pointing out that Dr Whitehouse had misunderstood a key sentence in the paper. Professor Allen’s email states: “The sentence is perfectly clear it is the trend change, or the acceleration, that potentially arises from internal variability, not the trend itself. Whitehouse’s ‘global temperature changes since 2000’ are dominated by the trend. So he is straightforwardly muddling speed of warming with acceleration of warming even though the word acceleration is in the title of the paper. Hopeless.”

Don’t hold your breath for a correction by Net Zero Watch.

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