Scott Johnson

Science Editor

ARTICLE REVIEWS

Guardian coverage of essay on potential of future “hothouse” climate is generally accurate, but misstates some details

in The Guardian, by Jonathan Watts

— 09 Aug 2018

"The article reasonably summarizes a new study published in PNAS, which describes the potential of tipping elements to enhance climate warming and the potential for the Earth to tr..

Washington Post story puts recent weather extremes in accurate climate change context

in The Washington Post, by Joel Achenbach, Angela Fritz

— 31 Jul 2018

"This article accurately describes the broader climate context of recent heat extremes throughout the Northern Hemisphere. There are a couple spots where specific claims are somewh..

NPR story accurately describes ecological consequences of altered spring timings in a warming climate

in NPR, by Nathan Rott

— 27 Jul 2018

"This article at NPR discusses what happens when warm spring weather arrives earlier because of climate change. Animals must adjust to changes in the timing of plant flowering, for..

USA Today story accurate but lacks clarity regarding timescales over which warming could be underestimated

in USA Today, by Doyle Rice

— 10 Jul 2018

"An accurate and balanced article that gives readers a good flavour of the research but the reference to “Earth’s history” might confuse some when it otherwise refers to the ..

Daily Mail correctly reports that climate change leads to more severe heatwaves, but explanation of recent weather is off the mark

in Daily Mail, by Joe Pinkstone

— 07 Jul 2018

"Mostly this article is accurate in its reporting of the recent heat over North America and Eurasia. However, there are a few misleading statements, including the headline, that ex..

Washington Post article accurately describes latest estimate of accelerating Antarctic ice loss

in The Washington Post, by Chris Mooney

— 15 Jun 2018

"The article presents the results of the study accurately, and uses multiple comments from scientists both involved and not-involved in the study to highlight the key findings. Som..

National Geographic accurately covers research pointing to slower-moving hurricanes

in National Geographic, by Craig Welch

— 08 Jun 2018

"This is an important topic and the article explains the new research findings clearly... Highlighting how this result about slowing storms is consistent across two studies that em..

New York Times story accurately describes Rio Grande’s climate context

in The New York Times, by Henry Fountain

— 31 May 2018

"The issue of water resource management in the western US and how it fits within a changing climate is extremely complex and spans many disciplines from climatology to hydrology to..

Business Insider highlights health impacts of climate change, but some aspects are misleading

in Business Insider, by Kevin Loria

— 15 May 2018

"The article draws attention to the high CO2 at present and the health risks of climate change, but it gives the incorrect impression that breathing CO2 directly is a major cause o..

The Australian’s coverage of Great Barrier Reef study creates perception that scientists are divided

in The Australian, by Graham Lloyd

— 22 Apr 2018

"The Australian chooses to present a mixed message on this story when the science is extremely clear. The title and quote from Prof. Kaempf do not represent the views of the broade..

CLAIM REVIEWS

Ian Plimer wrongly claims that carbon dioxide emissions do not cause climate change

CLAIM
"there is no relationship between temperature and carbon dioxide emissions by ­humans[...] carbon dioxide has had a minuscule effect on global climate"

SOURCE: Ian Plimer, The Australian, 7 Aug. 2018

VERDICT

Ian Plimer incorrectly claims human-caused emissions are short-lived

CLAIM
"The ­atmospheric residency time of carbon dioxide is five years and it is quickly sequestered into plants, marine life, oceans and sediments."

SOURCE: Ian Plimer, The Australian, 7 Aug. 2018

VERDICT

President Trump’s claim that water supply policy has worsened California wildfires is baseless

CLAIM
"California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean."

SOURCE: President Donald Trump, Twitter, 5 Aug. 2018

VERDICT

Fred Singer incorrectly claims sea level rise is not caused by climate change

CLAIM
"Sea-level rise does not seem to depend on ocean temperature, and certainly not on CO2"

SOURCE: Fred Singer, The Wall Street Journal, 15 May 2018

VERDICT

Rush Limbaugh falsely claims there is no evidence of human-caused global warming

CLAIM
"There isn’t yet any empirical evidence for their claim that greenhouse gases even cause temperatures to increase."

SOURCE: Rush Limbaugh, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 2 April 2018

VERDICT

Breitbart repeats blogger’s unsupported claim that NOAA manipulates data to exaggerate warming

CLAIM
"NOAA has adjusted past temperatures to look colder than they were and recent temperatures to look warmer than they were."

SOURCE: James Delingpole, Breitbart, 20 February 2018

VERDICT

EPA’s Scott Pruitt incorrectly suggests climate change might not be “a bad thing”

CLAIM
"We know that humans have most flourished during times of, what, warming trends. I think there are assumptions made that because the climate is warming, that that is necessarily a bad thing."

SOURCE: Scott Pruitt, KSNV NBC Las Vegas, 6 Feb. 2018

VERDICT

Prof. John Christy incorrectly claims to show climate models are too sensitive to carbon dioxide

CLAIM
"the real atmosphere is less sensitive to CO2 than what has been forecast by climate models"

SOURCE: John Christy, The Daily Caller, 29 Nov. 2017

VERDICT

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott wrongly claims Australia has warmed far less than data show

CLAIM
"unadjusted data suggests that temperatures in Australia have only increased by 0.3 degrees over the past century, not the 1 degree usually claimed"

SOURCE: Tony Abbott, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 9 Oct 2017

VERDICT

Daily Wire article incorrectly claims climate models have overestimated warming

CLAIM
"climate models have overestimated the amount of global warming and failed to predict what climatologists call the warming ‘hiatus’"

SOURCE: James Barrett, The Daily Wire, 19 Sep. 2017

VERDICT

INSIGHTS

A discussion with experts on California wildfire links to climate change

— 16 Mar 2018

In many of these conversations, the question is framed in a fairly reductionist way: “Did global warming cause the California fires?” A more nuanced and scientifically-answerab...

US Congressman Lamar Smith rushes to dismiss study of Texas hurricanes like Harvey in a warming climate

— 24 Nov 2017

"Congressman Smith is an expert at using seemingly true statements to convey falsehoods." - Prof. Kerry Emanuel

Tony Abbott speech on climate change rehashes misleading, inaccurate talking points

— 12 Oct 2017

“the usual mix of misdirection, falsehoods and tirades against ‘brigades’ who supposedly say this and that but are never clearly identified”. In his speech, Abbott repeate...

How sea ice can still be thick in places in a warming Arctic

— 15 Jun 2017

The simple fact that baffles Breitbart author: global warming doesn’t mean that every square inch of ice has already melted.

CNN airs misleading climate claims in interview

— 25 Apr 2017

"Dr. Happer's assertion that models show 2x to 3x greater warming than observations is incorrect. At the surface (where we all live) models predict a rate of warming of 0.2 °C per..

Scientists reactions to the US House Science Committee hearing on climate science

— 10 Apr 2017

Only four witnesses were invited to testify before the committee, which cannot be representative of all the expertise required to understand a field as vast as climate science. So ...

The Daily Wire corrects story analyzed by scientists, but it’s still misleading

— 07 Mar 2017

While the most inaccurate statements have been edited, the scientists who reviewed the post indicate that the implication that the study undercuts confidence in the human cause of ...

Sensational claims of manipulated data in the Mail on Sunday are overblown

— 06 Feb 2017

"The “astonishing evidence” that David Rose purports to reveal in no way changes our understanding of modern warming or our best estimates of recent rates of warming. It does n..

IPSO decision ignores inaccuracies in The Spectator’s article on ocean acidification

— 02 Feb 2017

The article contains objectively inaccurate assertions on matters of fact—not opinion—and therefore does not meet the accuracy standards of IPSO’s Editors’ Code. By excusin...

Wall Street Journal articles on 2016 heat record send contradicting messages

— 27 Jan 2017

On January 18, NASA and NOAA released the data showing that 2016 was the warmest year on record in both datasets. All other major global surface temperature datasets, including the...