Skip to content

Bob Ward Spits His Dummy Out, After Losing Yet Another IPSO Complaint

January 25, 2019
tags:

By Paul Homewood

 

 

 

Bob Ward has thrown his toys out of the pram, after he had yet another complaint rejected by IPSO.

 

 

This time he complained about Booker’s article in the Mail last summer about the heatwave. Below are the segments he complained about:

 

 

image_thumb202

Perhaps it is time, therefore, to start looking at some proper historical evidence in order to gain a more balanced perspective on what is really going on.

For a start, here in the UK we have the longest-running set of temperature data in the world, the Central England Temperature Record (CET), which goes back to 1659. And this shows that June of this year was only the 18th warmest June in more than 350 years — the hottest being as long ago as 1846.

So this kind of summer heat is far from unprecedented. In fact, as people have begun to observe, the nearest parallel to what has been happening this year was the celebrated ‘drought summer’ of 1976.

That was the year when, as older folk vividly recall, the heatwave lasted virtually unbroken for three months, until rain finally came at the end of August. And, according to the CET, those daily temperatures 42 years ago frequently beat this summer’s figures hands down.

But there is another striking parallel between this year and 1976 — as there also is with that other heatwave summer of 2003 when the highest single temperature ever recorded in Britain was set.

In each case the cause of the prolonged heat has been a large area of high pressure that has sucked in hot air from the Sahara (when my next-door neighbour returned to Heathrow this week, she found her car covered in this desert sand).

This in turn has been caused and prolonged by a movement of the jet stream (which dictates much of the northern hemisphere’s weather conditions) because of cooler ocean temperatures in the Atlantic. This movement has kept lower-pressure weather formations containing moister and cooler air parked further out in the Atlantic to the north-west of Britain and Europe.

Sweltering

Although the causes of this cooler Atlantic are an entirely natural cyclical shift, the global warming-obsessed Met Office became so excited by that heatwave in 2003 that the following year it produced a report based on computer models, called Uncertainty, Risk And Climate Change.

This predicted that baking summers would soon be so frequent that by 2040 more than half of Europe’s summers would be hotter than 2003.

But the same 2004 report predicted that by 2014, global temperatures would have risen by 0.3c. In fact, during those ten years, temperatures recorded by weather satellites did not rise at all. Neither, until the past few weeks, have we seen a single summer to compete with the sweltering 2003.

We need to recall such facts, if only to remind ourselves that there are those so convinced of their particular theory of how climate works that they will leap on any evidence which seems to confirm that they and their computer models are correct.

Although there have recently been claims in the U.S. that America is getting hotter than ever before, more than half the temperature records for the 50 U.S. states were set in the baking ‘dustbowl years’ of the Thirties. Another 13 state records are even older. Indeed, only two state records were set in the 21st century, at a time when — we are constantly told — increases in industrial emissions are causing dangerous warming of the planet……

 

We shall continue to have abnormally hot summers from time to time, just as we did in 1976 and 1846, way back before global warming was invented. Meanwhile, we can only keep praying for rain.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-5992913/Yes-scorching-claims-heatwave-climate-change-just-hot-air-says-CHRISTOPHER-BOOKER.html

 

 

Ward has made a habit of making vexatious complaints about articles, which don’t kowtow to his extreme views on climate. His aim is to discourage editors from publishing such views because of the hassle they will face.

I gather that Ward has lost every complaint made against Booker over the years, except for one minor technical point.

I have been fully involved in rebutting the last three, including this latest one. It was only a few months ago that his previous complaint against Booker was thrown out. That was the article which correctly claimed the US had experienced some exceptionally cold winters in recent years.

Following his latest loss, Ward has written this characteristically rambling, incoherent rant, demanding that IPSO change their rules:

image

The Independent Press Standards Organisation has today published details of a decision that exposes a fundamental flaw in its process for dealing with complaints about fake news articles about climate change.

IPSO was set up in 2014 by a group of newspapers in the wake of the UK Government’s failure to implement fully the recommendations of the Leveson Inquiry.

It is funded by its member newspapers, which do not include ‘The Guardian’ or the ‘Financial Times’. It considers complaints that are covered by the Editors’ Code of Practice.

IPSO’s Complaints Committee decided not to uphold my complaint about an article published last summer in the ‘Daily Mail’ which denied that climate change is having any effect on heatwaves in the UK.

The article was written by Christopher Booker, a veteran columnist for ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ who regularly promotes climate change denial and writes occasional propaganda pamphlets for the Global Warming Policy Foundation.

The article appeared under the headline ‘The predictable cry has gone up: climate change is causing the heatwave. Sorry that’s just hot air…’. The final paragraph stated: “We shall continue to have abnormally hot summers from time to time, just as we did in 1976 and 1846, way back before global warming was invented.”

The article made many other demonstrably false claims. For instance, it stated that “this kind of summer heat is far from unprecedented” because the Central England Temperature record showed that June 2018 was only the 18th warmest June since 1659 based on monthly average temperature (TXT) even though it is not an indicator of the occurrence of heatwave conditions.

Mr Booker and the newspaper successfully persuaded IPSO that, because there is no official definition of heatwave, they should be able to make up their own meaning. They ignored the fact that the record of Central England Temperature shows that 2018 had the fourth warmest June since 1878, based on average monthly maximum temperature (TXT).

Mr Booker’s article also stated: “Neither, until the past few weeks, have we seen a single summer to compare with the sweltering 2003”. This was also false. The Met Office’s web page on heatwaves states: “In August 2003, the UK experienced heatwave conditions lasting 10 days and resulting in 2,000 deaths. During this heatwave, a record maximum temperature of 38.5°C was recorded at Faversham in Kent. In July 2006, similar conditions occurred breaking records and resulting in the warmest month on record in the UK.”

Even more importantly, the article also completely ignored analyses showing that the frequency of heatwaves has been increasing in the UK. For instance, a paper by Michael Sanderson and colleagues at the Met Office on ‘Historical trends and variability in heat waves in the United Kingdom’, published in the journal ‘Atmosphere’ in 2017, concluded: “Positive trends in numbers and lengths of longest heat waves were identified at many stations using data from 1961. These results are consistent with the anthropogenic climate warming signal.”

Unfortunately the IPSO Complaints Committee decided that the article did not breach the Editors’ Code of Practice and that Mr Booker was allowed to make up his own definition of heatwave, ignore the results of experts, and present meteorological information in a selective and misleading way.

This decision constitutes an utter failure by IPSO to enforce the Editors’ Code of Practice. It has allowed the ‘Daily Mail’ to escape punishment for the publication of a reckless and irresponsible article that may have endangered the lives of its readers.

Summer 2018 was the warmest on record in England, with two periods of heatwave conditions towards the ends of June and July. Mr Booker’s article was published on 26 July 2018, which turned out to be the hottest day of the summer, with maximum temperatures in many parts of England of more than 30°C that triggered a heat wave warning from the Met Office and Public Health England.

The latest figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that there were hundreds of additional deaths in England and Wales during the heatwave conditions at the end of July 2018.

The Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change has warned many times over the past few years that people are being exposed to additional risks on hot days because they wrongly believe that the incidence of heatwaves is declining and so do not take precautions to prevent their homes from overheating.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee also highlighted, in a report published on the same date as Mr Booker’s article, the importance of the public receiving accurate information about the growing risks of heatwaves.

Since Mr Booker’s article was published, even more evidence has emerged of the impact of climate change on heatwaves in the UK. In December the Met Office released the results of an analysis showing that the intensity of the heatwave during summer 2018 was about 30 times more likely than would have been the case without climate change.

And a study published earlier this week of the Central England Temperature record found an overall twofold to threefold increase in heatwave activity since the late 1800s.

Unfortunately, Mr Booker’s article is still adding to the confusion and misinformation about heatwaves, because IPSO’s failure to hold the ‘Daily Mail’ to account means that the error-filled online version of the article still appears on the newspaper’s website.

While IPSO occasionally takes action after complaints about fake news on climate change, its Complaints Committee too often makes ill-informed decisions about inaccurate and misleading articles and fails to hold its member newspapers to account.

For instance, last year it did not uphold my complaint about another article by Mr Booker in ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ that wrongly claimed that North America is not warming.

The reason for these repeated failures is a fundamental flaw in the way IPSO’s Complaints Committee considers complaints about scientific issues such as climate change: it does not consult experts when making its decisions.

I have now written to Sir Alan Moses (PDF), who chairs both IPSO and its Complaints Committee, to ask him to review and amend the complaints process so that expert advice is sought.

Unless IPSO’s complaints process is improved, climate change deniers like Mr Booker will continue to exploit inadequate fact-checking by newspapers in order to promote misinformation that can harm the lives and livelihoods of the public.

http://www.lse.ac.uk/GranthamInstitute/news/fundamental-flaw-in-press-watchdogs-complaints-process-helps-newspapers-to-promote-climate-change-denial/

 

 

However, Ward’s bluster is itself full of holes.

1) He states that:

The final paragraph stated: “We shall continue to have abnormally hot summers from time to time, just as we did in 1976 and 1846, way back before global warming was invented.”

The article made many other demonstrably false claims.

However, Booker’s facts are demonstrably true. June 1846 was was hotter than last June, as was 1976.

 

2) He complains that Booker referred to monthly average mean temperatures, instead of maximum temperatures, when stating that June 2018 was only the 18th warmest June since 1659, according to CET.

However, CET only introduced data for maximum temperatures in 1878, so Booker used the only data that was available.

 

 

3) Ward complains that IPSO were persuaded that there was no official definition of heatwave.

But that is exactly the view of the Met Office too:

What is a heatwave?

A heatwave refers to a prolonged period of hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity. The World Meteorological Organization guidance around the definition of a heatwave is “A marked unusual hot weather (Max, Min and daily average) over a region persisting at least two consecutive days during the hot period of the year based on local climatological conditions, with thermal conditions recorded above given thresholds.” They are common in the northern and southern hemisphere during summer, but classification and impacts vary globally.

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/temperature/heatwave

 

4) Ward claims that maximum temperatures, rather than means, are a much better reflection of heatwaves, and says that these show June 2018 as being the 4th hottest June since 1878.

What he forgot to tell us though is that the three hottest Junes, in order of rank, were 1976, 1940 and 1970.

Little sign there that heatwaves are getting worse!

 

5) However, Ward’s approach of using monthly averages does not properly address the issue of heatwaves either.

Rather, heatwaves can only be measured by looking at daily maximum temperatures.

When we do that with CET, we find that Booker’s article was perfectly fair. The record clearly shows that heatwaves are not getting more common or intense:

 

image_thumb40

https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/index.html

 

6) Ward wheels out a study by Michael Sanderson, claiming that it shows increasing heatwaves, consistent with AGW.

However, he fails to tell the whole story. This is what the paper actually says:

Positive trends in numbers and lengths of heat waves were identified at some stations. However, for some stations in the south east of England, lengths of very long heat waves (over 10 days) had declined since the 1970s, whereas the lengths of shorter heat waves had increased slightly. Considerable multidecadal variability in heat wave numbers and lengths was apparent at all stations. Logistic regression, using a subset of eight stations with records beginning in the nineteenth century, suggested an association between the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and the variability in heat wave numbers and lengths, with the summertime North Atlantic Oscillation playing a smaller role.

https://www.mdpi.com/2073-4433/8/10/191

 

In other words, the picture is very mixed, and there is considerable multidecadal variability, linked to the AMO, which currently favours hotter summers.

The paper goes on to say that while moderate heatwaves may have increased, there are no trends in the most extreme ones:

None of the trends in the heat wave metrics based on the 98th percentile were significant, whereas many trends based on the 93rd and 95th percentiles were significant. These findings suggest that moderate heat waves have increased in number and length from 1960, but any changes in the most extreme heat waves are unclear.

Interestingly, the paper also says:

One issue is the lack of consistent definitions of heat waves which makes comparisons of different studies difficult,

which rather backs up my earlier point.

 

 

7) Ward totally loses the plot, when he claims that Booker’s article may have endangered people’s lives.

Maybe he feels the same, when the Met Office keep predicting milder winters, which don’t materialise. After all, many more die in winter than summer.

He links to the Excess Winter Mortality report to claim that there were hundreds of extra deaths last summer, but the ONS graph shows that the death rates in June and July were the lowest of the year, and little different to the 5–year average.

 

e27bfa5a

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/deaths/bulletins/excesswintermortalityinenglandandwales/2017to2018provisionaland2016to2017final

 

8) What Ward omits to tell us is also telling. In his complaint, he refers to Booker’s claim that most state temperature records in the US were set in the 1930s or earlier. Ward claimed this was untrue.

Unfortunately, he knows much less about climate than he thinks, because Booker’s claim is factual, and based on NOAA’s own records.

 

 

 

Threat to the press

Ward rambles on about the “error–filled” online version, but he has failed to actually convince IPSO that there were any errors at all. After all that is IPSO’s job, to ensure factual accuracy.

He calls for IPSO to use “expert advice” in future, but which experts? The Met Office, or sceptics like Judith Curry and John Christy? Science is never settled. It would indeed be dangerous if we were to have only the officially approved version of science.

We can, of course, laugh at Bob Ward’s incompetence. But his attempt to interfere with IPSO’s independence has sinister overtones.

What he is proposing is that the press should not be allowed to report the facts, unless they interpret them in the officially approved manner.

Where will this road lead?

Will newspapers be forced to report the government’s version of events, every time a set of economic data is published, rather than being allowed to offer their own analysis?

Will they be forced to limit their reporting of European affairs to the EU’s official line, at the risk of being fined if they dare to offer their own interpretation?

If Bob Ward gets his way, this will be a very slippery slope we find ourselves on.

17 Comments
  1. jack broughton permalink
    January 25, 2019 3:19 pm

    Sadly, the press do not need to be muzzled, they already refuse to publish non – establishment-approved letters. Climate change debate is the true proof of the restrictions that the press impose without instructions. Most technical journals have appointed editors who see themselves as public guardians against critics of the “proven science” that is not climate change. Similar voluntary restrictions occur with any anti-Israeli comments or even worse, pro-Palestinian!

  2. January 25, 2019 3:32 pm

    Well done Paul for yet another extensive analysis and giving us the facts.

    I’m surprised Grantham continues to pay Bob “Fast Fingers” Ward. Has he aver been known to be correct?

  3. Curious George permalink
    January 25, 2019 3:36 pm

    Could you possibly sue Bob Ward?

    • January 25, 2019 4:42 pm

      The rant coming under the imprimatur of LSE/Grantham shown above would certainly not have made it past the legal team.

  4. Bill Berry permalink
    January 25, 2019 4:59 pm

    Paul – I think Sir Alan Moses should be told

  5. Geoffb permalink
    January 25, 2019 5:13 pm

    Good Article Paul. We should also note that the Grantham Institute is “supported” by the Grantham Foundation.

    The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment was founded in 1997 by Jeremy and Hannelore Grantham. Jeremy is Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of GMO, LLC, an investment management firm. Jeremy and Hannelore are both actively involved in setting the strategic direction of the Foundation.
    In other words..Bob Ward does not have a job, if he is shown to be wrong.

  6. Immune to propaganda permalink
    January 25, 2019 5:14 pm

    Bob is a complete k##b.

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    January 25, 2019 5:36 pm

    You evil ‘fact monger’ you! To use the climate change industrial complex’s latest label for ‘deniers’ aka purveyors of inconvenient truths.

  8. Wert permalink
    January 25, 2019 6:07 pm

    We have entered an era where just facts, if they are not scary, are a crime against the climate fearmongers.

    We have entered an era, where facts that counteract fear-mongering, are considered false just because they don’t support fear-mongering.

    Say ‘polar bears not under threat’ – fact-mongering.
    ‘snowcover not going to disappear’ – fact-mongering.
    ‘Greenland ice sheet not in a process of a fast collapse’ – horrible fact-mongering.

    ‘The IPCC only predicts about two feet of sea level rise by 2100. ‘ – oh the horror, AR5 based, criminal fact-mongering! Not true!!

  9. January 25, 2019 6:43 pm

    Ward should have taken a holiday in Iceland last summer…

    ‘So far the summer of 2018 is the worst on record in Reykjavík’
    BY STAFF | JUL 3 2018

    June saw less sunshine than any year since reliable monitoring began by the Icelandic Meteorological Office, more than 100 years ago. May also set a record for the wettest May on record. Unfortunately there is nothing to suggest July will be much better

    https://icelandmag.is/article/so-far-summer-2018-worst-record-reykjavik

    Let blinkered Bob explain that.

  10. IanH permalink
    January 25, 2019 9:17 pm

    You really need to study that last graph carefully, ignore the summer temps initially as there’s no story there, but the graph shows the exact opposite of Ward’s claims, nice of him to share it – the idiot

  11. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 25, 2019 10:42 pm

    My comment is about the following, and I may be way wrong:

    In each case the cause of the prolonged heat has been a large area of high pressure that has sucked in hot air from the Sahara (when my next-door neighbour returned to Heathrow this week, she found her car covered in this desert sand).

    This appears to have been by Mr. Booker.
    Specifically, note this part: . . . sucked in hot air . . .

    The air movements in a High Pressure zone are “in at the top” – “down” – “out at the bottom.”
    What is going on is air is warmed, becomes buoyant, and goes up. Doing so, it expands, and cools. (Moisture may be condensed out in this step.)
    At high altitude it (a) moves away from the source region, and (b) radiates energy to space, becoming cooler. The now dry cold air comes down.
    Coming toward the surface, the air molecules compact, density increases. Pressure increases. Thus, the temperature rises. Near the surface, the air flows outward, taking on an anti-cyclonic (clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere) pattern.
    The rate of increase is determined by an adiabatic rule: 10 C° per 1000 m.
    Thus, if air at -20 C° starts at 5,000 m. and descends to sea level, it will be 30 C° when it gets to London.
    That would seem a bit warm to the English, but is a typical summer for us here in central Washington State.
    Anyway, I doubt that the notion people get in their mind from “being sucked in” from the Sahara fits with this simple atmospheric model of a High Pressure system. But the dust does go along for the ride.

    See:
    (1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saharan_Air_Layer

    The “wind” involved might be this one, but I haven’t investigated much:
    (2) https://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/wind/The-Calima.htm

    If the dust is particularly reddish, it likely comes from the border area of Chad and Libya, near
    19.9768, 23.0546 [Lat/Long from Google Earth]

    Contrast the above with the Sirocco that does move ‘near the surface’ from North Africa into southern European countries.

  12. Timo Soren permalink
    January 26, 2019 1:59 am

    2059: the psychological handbook of diagonsticsl mental disorders (DSM-7) Ward’s syndrome: delusional disorder characterized by denying the reality of a situation and then whines about it, prior to 1984 referred to as a childish temper tantrum.

  13. Athelstan permalink
    January 26, 2019 7:53 am

    to paraphrase Corporal Jones.

    It’s the old cold facts Sir, they don’t like it up ’em!

    “don’t panic bob, don’t panic bob!”

    Man made warming, it’s all in your head mate and lets be frank, your bread and butter depends on you making a monkey of yourself just like the organ grinder tells you to and you do that, expertly.

  14. Gamecock permalink
    January 26, 2019 4:25 pm

    ‘Indeed, only two state records were set in the 21st century, at a time when — we are constantly told — increases in industrial emissions are causing dangerous warming of the planet……’

    And one of them is queer as a three dollar bill.

    The South Carolina “record” was set at the station on the campus of University of South Carolina (GO COCKS!). It is at best a USCRN Class 3 station. Adjacent to railroad tracks and a parking lot and high vegetation. And intensely URBAN.

    I believe the record is political, not meteorological. That it was the record was pushed hard by State Climatologist Dr Hope Mizzell. I remember when we had a State Meteorologist. But we had to get with it. What better credential for joining the climate crowd than a state record?

  15. January 26, 2019 9:20 pm

    Question Paul. In the text of his complaint and in your response #7, there is the ‘daily’ mean deaths listed in the chart by monthly totals (confusing to my itty bitty brain). And there is the reference to hundreds of additional deaths during the heatwaves with a mean of up to 2000 in the ‘heatwaves’. Is there any good statistics that establish heat caused deaths from increased human activity deaths during warmer periods, or other conditions? Or is it just a generic clutch of aggregate causes? I am curious what actual number of heat caused deaths there are.,

    • January 26, 2019 10:32 pm

      With winter excess deaths, they compare the death rate for winter months with the rest of the year.

      I assume with summer that they compare with other summers.

      When you look at weekly deaths, you can see spikes that coincide with hot weather, but over summer as a whole they tend to even out

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: