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Watchdog smacks Times for bogus climate claim

Inaccurate advert hits iceberg in Russian waters

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An advertising campaign touting the depth and quality of the Times newspaper's environment coverage has been slapped by an industry watchdog for inaccuracy. The paper has agreed to modify the advertisements, which are based on a false climate change claim.

The Times ads claimed that global warming had caused the North East shipping passage, the icy Arctic route which in summer links Russia's European ports to the Bering Strait, to be opened for the first time. In fact, the North East Passage opened in 1934, and was opened to overseas traffic after the fall of the Soviet Union. Modern technology, specifically radar, has permitted a safer passage in recent years.

News International has agreed to amend the ad, which instead of claiming that "Climate change has allowed the Northeast Passage to be used as a commercial shipping route for the first time," now claims that "Climate change has allowed the Northeast passage to be more accessible as a viable commercial shipping route".

Although that depends on the kind of climate change, though. With the climate cooling, the route is less accessible than it was in warmer times. In the leaked East Anglia emails, scientists who confidently predicted continued warming ahead confess they can't account for the refusal of the climate to conform to their models.

The Times

The Times spends big: to tell us it can't get climate stories right

The campaign received 29 complaints to the industry's self-regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority.

In November, The Times promised not to repeat another ad in the same series, which also boasted about its eco-reporting credentials. The paper had claimed that the oceans would be free of fish by 2048 (Not ManBearPig again, but over-fishing). The researcher who made the original claim has now revised it. Oops.

Hat-tip to reader Paul. ®

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