Extracts from Ofcom Complaint, by Category: Falsification/Manipulation

4. Falsification/Manipulation by Quoting Selectively

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Falsification/Manipulation by Quoting Selectively


Climate scare stories cannot be blamed solely on sloppy or biased journalism. According to Professor Reiter hysterical alarms have been encouraged by the reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. On the spread of malaria, the IPCC warns us that:

[Voiceover with on-screen quotation from IPCC Assessment]

Mosquito species that transmit malaria do not usually survive where the mean winter temperature drops below 16-18°C.


According to Professor Reiter, this is clearly untrue.

[Comment 112: The IPCC is selectively quoted here. The full sentence where the quotation appears (Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation of Climate Change, p571) reads:

Although anopheline mosquito species that transmit malaria do not usually survive where the mean temperature drops below 16-18°C, some higher-latitude species are able to hibernate in sheltered sites. [Emphasis added.]

Hence, the IPCC statement, taken in context, is consistent with the statements of Reiter. By pretending that it is not, and by quoting only the middle half of the sentence in order to make it appear to state the opposite of what it really is stating, the film maker apparently set out quite intentionally to mislead the audience.

Furthermore, the risk of malaria depends not only on the vector (the anopheline mosquito) but also the malaria parasite. The programme refers only to the effects of climate on the vector. The 1996 IPCC report went on to say:

Sporogonic development (i.e., the extrinsic incubation phase of the plasmodium within the mosquito) ceases below around 18°C for Plasmodium falciparum, and below 14°C for P. vivax. Above those temperatures, a small increase in average temperature accelerates the parasites extrinsic incubation (Miller and Warrell, 1990).

In addition, the 3rd and 4th IPCC Assessments were both very clear that the jury is still out as to whether increases in malaria in the East African highlands can be attributed to rising temperatures. For example, see Box 9.2 of the 3rd Assessment at http://tinyurl.com/38mckr, which states:

There are insufficient historical data on malaria distribution and activity to determine the role of warming, if any, in the recent resurgence of malaria in the highlands of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia (Cox et al, 1999).

Nevertheless, peer reviewed studies by specialists in this field have indeed suggested that in the future, climate change will be one of many factors influencing the incidence of malaria, including in the East African Highlands (Githeko and W Ndegwa, 2001, http://tinyurl.com/3cl7hw; Tanser et al, 2003, http://tinyurl.com/yvqnxb; and Martens et al, 1999, http://tinyurl.com/342b44).

Continued …

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Section 4 / Comment 112: Misquoting of IPCC on malaria]


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Final Revision

Last updated: 11 Jun 2007