Complaints - LSE Blogs

Press Complaints Commission
Halton House
20/23 Holborn
25 July 2014
Dear Sirs/Madams,
I am writing to complain about an article (enclosed) by David Rose which was
published by ‘The Mail on Sunday’ on 6 April 2014 in its print edition, under the
headline ‘Green ‘smear campaign’ against professor who dared to disown ‘sexed
up’ UN climate dossier’, and on its website. The article is grossly inaccurate and
misleading, in breach of Section 1(i) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. Although I
originally considered that the article was so ridiculously false that nobody would
believe it, I now recognise that there may be one or two individuals who wrongly
believe its content to be factually accurate.
The article is based on the hearsay of Professor Richard Tol of the University of
Sussex who claimed that I had been carrying out “a smear campaign” against him.
It is an entirely untrue allegation. I have been attempting to persuade Professor Tol
to correct errors in his work. Professor Tol had not corrected any of the errors in his
work at the time the article was published, and even though he has subsequently
made some corrections, a number still remain outstanding.
The article by Mr Rose in ‘The Mail on Sunday’ severely misrepresented my
actions and provided a false account of events. I am providing here a list of the
major misrepresentations in the article. I have enclosed a copy of my e-mail
correspondence with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as
Mr Rose purported to quote from it in his article, as well as my entire e-mail
correspondence from Professor Tol about this matter.
1. The article states that I “sent an email disparaging Prof Tol’s research to several
leading IPCC scientists and officials”, but it failed to point out that the message was
in fact sent as part of my duty as a reviewer of the IPCC report to highlight some
errors in a section of a chapter written by Professor Tol.
2. The article states that the other co-author of the chapter, Professor Doug Arent,
sent me an e-mail claiming that “a tiny, statistical error” had been found in “an
earlier draft”. This is completely untrue, as can be seen from the enclosed copy of
the e-mail from Professor Arent – it states: “The data has been double and triple
checked, and corrected if in error, and the chapter revised”. The uncorrected chapter
of the Final Government Draft, on which I commented, still remains on the website
of the IPCC, pending publication of the final version later this year.
3. The article claims that an email to Professor Tol from me “admits the errors are
small” in his work. This is very misleading as my email messages made clear why
the errors, while applying to a small number of figures cited in his papers, were
significant and required correction.
4. The article states: “Yet weeks before Mr Ward published his article, Prof Tol
volunteered to correct a handful of highly technical, minor numerical mistakes”.
This is entirely misleading. In the correspondence I received from Professor Tol,
the last of which he sent on 18 October 2013, he never offered to correct the errors
in his work. Furthermore, when the ‘Journal of Economic Perspectives’ did
eventually publish in May 2014 Professor Tol’s five-page correction and update
(enclosed) to one of his papers, he acknowledged two major differences in the
conclusions reached from the analysis. The corrections he made were significant
and changed his conclusions.
5. The articles states about Professor Tol: “He added that the errors made no
difference to his conclusion that global warming of up to 2.5C may have a net
beneficial impact on the world economy”. This is entirely false, as can be seen from
the enclosed copy of Professor Tol’s correction and update to his paper in the
‘Journal of Economic Perspectives’. He draws attention to his corrected results and
points out that “unlike the original curve (Tol 2009, Figure 1) in which there were
net benefits of climate change associated with warming below 2ºC, in the corrected
and updated curve (Figure 2), impacts are always negative, at least in expectation”.
This article represents part of an ongoing campaign by Mr Rose and ‘The Mail on
Sunday’ to disparage my professional work because they are apparently unhappy at
the way I have criticised their publication of inaccurate and misleading articles
about climate change.
Yours sincerely,
Bob Ward
Policy and Communications Director
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 020-7107 5413