Daily Mail Bends Science to Support ‘Global Cooling’

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The deniers are at it again.

This winter’s cold spell, which chilled folks in England, the Midwest, and even Florida farm country, has led a prominent European scientist to argue that global warming has ended and that we’re in for 30 years of global cooling. Or at least that’s what Britain’s Daily Mail says. The scientist, Professor Mojib Latif of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told the Mail that “winters like this one will become much more likely.”

In addition to a 2008 report that is widely mischaracterized as proof that warming has slowed, this led the Mail, whose report was later picked up by Fox News, to claim that such statements could prove that the threat of global warming has been blown out of proportion:

Some experts believe these cycles – and not human pollution – can explain all the major changes in world temperatures in the 20th century.

If true, the research challenges the science behind climate change theories, and calls into question the political measures to halt global warming.

According to some scientists, the warming of the Earth since 1900 is due to natural oceanic cycles, and not man-made greenhouse gases.

It occurred because the world was in a ‘warm mode’, and would have happened regardless of mankind’s rising carbon dioxide production.

But speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Latif pushed back hard against the Mail, saying that the tabloid took his comments out of context to make an editorial statement. “It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming. I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming,” he said. “There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases.”

This is a predictable misstep for the Mail, which has a conservative streak and recently published a set of denialist stories, including Sunday’s David Rose report “The Mini Ice Age Starts Here,” and a special investigation on the Climategate emails last December.

Though many are uncomfortable having to bundle up more this year, the cold has a non-ice age explanation. The New York Times reported this weekend that the season’s extra shivers have nothing to do with global warming or global cooling:

A mass of high pressure is sitting over Greenland like a rock in a river, deflecting the cold air of the jet stream farther to the south than usual.

This situation is caused by Arctic oscillation, in which opposing atmospheric pressure patterns at the top of the planet occasionally shift back and forth, affecting weather across much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Considering the overwhelming scientific consensus that says the climate is changing, the Times’ explanation is easier to swallow than the Mail‘s. And their main source seems to agree.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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