On Sunday, the British tabloid The Mail on Sunday, was forced to publish an “adverse adjudication” against it by the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO), the independent regulator of the British newspaper and magazine industry, regarding a climate change story it published on February 5, 2017, by controversial reporter David Rose. The article, with the original online headline: Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data, was largely based on an interview with Dr. John Bates, a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist about his criticism of a NOAA climate study. In its published findings, the IPSO concluded that the article was both inaccurate and misleading.
The article in question referred to a twice-peer reviewed scientific study published in June 2015 in the journal Science in which seven NOAA scientists, led by Thomas Karl found that the global warming “hiatus” had not actually occurred and that the planet had continued to warm over the previous 15 years.

Following publication of the Karl study, Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith immediately launched an unsubstantiated attack against NOAA and the scientists involved in the Karl study, claiming the NOAA scientists had manipulated the data in the study for political purposes. Since they began this investigation in July 2015, the Science Committee Republicans have yet to offer a single piece of evidence to support the basis of their claims. For more details on the Majority’s investigation into this issue see the Minority Staff report, “Much Ado About Nothing: A Minority Review of the Majority’s Climate Science Investigation,” released in March 2017.
Science Committee Republicans had seized on the misleading The Mail on Sunday article and published their own press release the same day the article appeared on February 5, 2017 with a headline that also twisted the comments by Dr. Bates, incorrectly asserting that Dr. Bates had said NOAA colleagues “manipulated climate records.” This assertion was false. In truth, Dr. Bates took issue over how the NOAA data used in the Karl study was archived, but never suggested the data was manipulated, as both The Mail on Sunday and the Science Committee Republicans alleged. Dr. Bates, for instance, told E&E News and the Associated Press in stories published on February 6, 2017 and February 7, 2017 that he never suggested the NOAA scientists manipulated data “in any way shape or form.” Despite this, Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith wrote to the Acting Administrator of NOAA on February 14, 2017, citing the now invalidated The Mail on Sunday article and requesting documents related to the Karl Study.
The Mail on Sunday article also formed the immediate impetus for a Science Committee hearing on March 29, 2017, titled: “Climate Science: Assumptions, Policy Implications, and the Scientific Method,” which included climate change skeptics invited by the Majority. One claim Dr. Bates made in The Mail on Sunday article, that the Karl study was “rushed” to publication, is contradicted by documents provided to the Committee by NOAA after the March 2017 hearing. A key e-mail from Dr. Bates actually shows he personally signed off on the Karl study on December 24, 2014 – a full six months before it was published in the journal Science. Furthermore, Dr. Bates wrote in his approval of the Karl manuscript, that he later criticized in The Mail on Sunday story, “It is a pleasure to approve your manuscript….this is an important paper. It will be highly controversial and so the roll out and support for follow up should be carefully planned and fully staffed…. Thank you for your fine contribution, and success with your submission.” Understandably, the Majority has still not released this key document as it undercuts Dr. Bates’ own assertions about the Karl study.
Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson commented, “The findings by the British independent press organization IPSO are significant. However, it seems unlikely that they will prevent attempts to spread false, misleading and inaccurate information about climate change in the future by climate change skeptics and deniers. I hope that my Majority Science Committee colleagues will stop trying to politicize science, and not give comfort to those who are attempting to do so. Instead, our Committee needs to focus on core scientific issues that our nation should be addressing, one of which is how we should be addressing the reality of climate change.”
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