Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Richard Littlejohn; if the cap fits...

I was going to fill in a Press Complaints Commission report, but then decided to try the Daily Mail first, before the tiger of the Press complaints commission goes and sits on their lap, purring and licking itself.

Littlejohn asserts: "There is a welter of countervailing evidence that, far from warming up to boiling point, the Earth is actually getting cooler and the ice caps thicker".

The statement about the ice caps getting thicker is false.
I asked him to give a reference for this assertion, (last comment in list) but he did not reply.

We may guess that Littlejohn is referring to reports that the central Antarcic ice is getting thicker, which is thought to be due to warmer water around the Antarctic continent generating more water vapour, therefore clouds, therefore precipitation.

It is therefore the case that part of the Antarctic ice is getting thicker, although the Antarctic ice cap is shrinking in area, as is the Arctic cap shrinking both in thickness and area.

This distinction between cap (singular) = true, and caps (plural) = false may seem pedantic, but in the mind of the reader it makes a big difference. People have an well-defined image of the earth with its ice caps. They would be reassured to have it suggested that the ice caps were getting thicker. To hear that one ice cap was getting thicker in one part would not create the same impression.

I would therefore ask the Commission that either a correction be published by the Mail, or that they commission another article to counterbalance the AGW denialist tone of not just this piece, but many of his pieces.

Just to anticipate the argument that this is suppression of Littlejohn's legitimate right to his opinion: it is not. I am not asking for him to be banned from writing AGW denial stories: I am only asking that they should be factually accurate, and that his readers should have access to both sides of the argument.


weggis said...

Caveat Emptor

The only thing I believe in the newspapers these days is the Horoscope.

DocRichard said...


You don't think I bought the bloody rag do you? No way.

Careful. Hitler used to consult the astrologers, and look where it got him.

weggis said...

Yes, but purely for "research" purposes.