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Tabloid climate change

You don't need a research paper to tell you that tabloid newspapers aren't the best source of scientific information.

Or do you? Maxwell Boykoff and Maria Mansfield from the University of Oxford, UK, seem to think so. In a paper published today in Environmental Research Letters, they have surveyed nearly 1000 articles dating back seven years from the UK's most-read tabloids: the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Express and the Mirror. It seems that around a quarter of the articles have strayed from scientific consensus — that is, that anthropogenic greenhouse gases are "very likely" to be causing the observed global warming over the past half century.

This conclusion is buttressed by interviews with journalists and editors, as well as examples of dodgy environmental reporting. Here's a few to whet your appetite:

"Experts are still arguing over whether [global warming] is a natural phenomenon, or the effect of industrial societies releasing heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere..." (Ivor Key of the Express)

"It seems that the most significant global warming is caused by the hotheads who are anxious to believe their own propaganda." (Commentary in the Mail on Sunday)

"This confirms what I have been saying for years — cars do not cause global warming. Now we learn that all along it was bloody sheep and cows." (Jermey Clarkson, motoring journalist and regular aristarch of environmentalists, commentating in the Sun after learning that methane emissions from cattle are significant in global warming)

There's an interview with Boykoff on our sister website, environmentalresearchweb.


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