'Don't be fooled by climate change doubters'

By Caitlin Pike

The views of fringe groups who cast doubt on the effects of climate
change are being used too prominently in the national press, a leading
science body has claimed.

The Royal Society is so concerned about the groups – some of whom
are thought to be funded by oil companies – it has produced a guide for
journalists on the facts and fictions of climate change. The society is
hoping the guide will combat misleading and inaccurate coverage of the

The society’s vice president, Sir David Wallace, has
written to more than 100 editors and news editors expressing concern
that some parts of the press are giving excessive prominence to those
with extreme viewpoints who cast doubt on the scientific evidence about
the causes and impacts of climate change.

“There are some
individuals on the fringes, sometimes with financial support from the
oil industry, who have been attempting to cast doubt on the scientific
consensus on climate change and to deny that burning fossil fuels is
creating a problem.

“Sadly, some parts of the UK media appear to
be consistently giving great prominence to these extreme viewpoints
without significant evidence to support them,” he wrote.

Royal Society and the wider scientific community are afraid that
unbalanced reporting will mislead some of the public and that attempts
to persuade the Government, businesses and the public to address
urgently the potential threats of climate change are being undermined.
Sir David said: “We are certainly not setting out to muzzle the media,
or ask that disagreements about the science of climate change not be
reported. Indeed much of the reporting of the issue has been

“Some journalists, particularly the non-science
specialists, may be genuinely confused as to where the weight of
evidence lies and that is why we have produced a non-technical guide to
some of the facts and fictions around climate change.”

The guide
tackles common misleading arguments about climate change such as a
warmer climate being good for the UK’s economy, and variations in the
sun’s intensity being more likely to be the cause of climate change
than increases in greenhouse gases.

The guide is available at www.royalsoc.ac.uk/climateguide.

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