Mainstream Media Fails to Fact Check a Climate-Change Story…Once Again

Someday, probably not too soon, the mainstream media will come to realize something important.  They need to perform a few simple fact checks on climate change-related claims in their articles.  When readily available data falsify a claim made in the story, the entire article is undermined and it falls into the great abyss we call propaganda.

That brings us to the recent Reuters article China says climate change threatens major projects.  The opening paragraph reads (my boldface):

Climate change threatens some of China’s most important infrastructure projects, China’s top meteorologist warned in a state newspaper, adding the country’s rate of warming was higher than the global average.

I’ll let you comment on the claims that weather events, “floods, typhoons, droughts and heatwaves,” were threatening “China’s most important infrastructure projects”, like “the Three Gorges Dam and a high-altitude railway to Tibet”.

My interest is the claim that China’s “rate of warming was higher than the global average.”  It’s regurgitated later in the article:

China’s rate of warming was “at an obviously higher rate” than the global average, with the north of the country warming faster than the south and winters faster than the summer, Zheng said.

That claim is very easy to verify…or falsify.

In addition to providing global and hemispheric data, Berkeley Earth has also subdivided their land surface air temperature data by country.  The China data are here. And we can run a few checks against the global data (source here).  The Berkeley Earth surface temperature data for China runs continuously from July 1837 to August 2013, so we’ll compare them first over that full term. See Figure 1.  The warming rates are the same.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Curiously, if we look at the China and global land surface temperatures starting in the oft-used 1979, Figure 2, we once again find the same warming rates.

Figure 2

Figure 2

Then again, when we look at the data since 2001, Figure 3, the global data show a very slight warming rate, while surface temperatures in China show a cooling, not warming, trend.

Figure 3

Figure 3

It only takes a few minutes to spot check claims about global and regional warming rates. Now, there’s no reason to cross check anything else.  The credibility of the entire article is gone.

On the other hand, it could well be that when Zheng is reported to have said, “China’s rate of warming was ‘at an obviously higher rate’ than the global average,” he was referring to global land+ocean surface temperatures. In that case, the statement would of course be correct, but it would be awfully misleading. He’d then be comparing two different metrics.  It is well known that land surface temperatures mimic and exaggerate the warming of the ocean surfaces, leading to higher warming rates on land surfaces than those of the oceans.

[sarc on.]  I can’t imagine (1) a government official anywhere attempting to mislead the public and (2) the mainstream media giving them free rein to do so on a climate-related topic. [sarc off.]


About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
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9 Responses to Mainstream Media Fails to Fact Check a Climate-Change Story…Once Again

  1. Pingback: Mainstream Media Fails to Fact Check a Climate-Change Story…Once Again - Perot Report

  2. Keitho says:

    Everywhere, when scrutinised by the MSM, is warming at twice the global average. It just seems to be an accepted “fact”.

  3. Thanks, Bob.
    So now Global Warming -> Anthropogenic Global Warming -> Climate Change turns to be warming land temperatures in China?
    China is big, it might have helped, it’s a pity (for warmunistas) that nature disagreed.

  4. DB says:

    Bob, the article said that China’s “rate of warming was higher than the global average.” The global average includes the ocean SSTs. Essentially all land (except Antarctica) is warming faster than the global average.

  5. Bob Tisdale says:

    DB, thanks. See my second-to-last paragraph.

  6. Hi Bob, I’m afraid you vastly over-estimate the ability of journos to convert data to graphs and then compare trends. I thought I’d check on Australia vs World in comparable ways to your job on China/World but your links only led me to oceans of data points. Using the search box there, I did get graphics. Are they current i.e. latest? They seem to stop at 1990 for century-trends. Ditto West Australia and Perth and Melbourne. It might make a piece for JoNova who’s asked me to do some for her, if I could test the warmist claims here all the time that “Australia/WA/NSW will be hit harder by climate change than elsewhere”. I’d need the trend slopes if using the graphs directly. For amusement, See

    cheers Tony


  7. Bob Tisdale says:

    Andrew, [sarc on] if Robert Scribbler says it’s so, it must be so. [sarc off.]

    Alarmism at its finest.

    What they fail to recognize is that sea levels are going to rise until the start of the next ice age.

  8. Bob Tisdale says:

    tonythomas061, at the bottom of the Australia surface temp graph on the BEST webpage you linked, there’s a link to the data.

    It runs through September 2013.

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