RETRACTION, Sept. 5, 2021: In response to our correction and appeal, Climate Feedback sent the following:
We have reviewed your updated article and determined that it remains misleading. The article does not inform readers on the weight of evidence that supports the two theories presented. The scientific evidence gathered by thousands of researchers who have studied the causes and consequences of climate change over several decades show that greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere by human activities are the primary cause of global warming. This scientific consensus cannot be overturned by a single article, notably one published in a journal that is barely cited in its own field and that has no expertise on climate change.
If you read the paper, you will see that it is only based on a linear regression and there is no mechanism proposed to support the claim that the Sun could be responsible for most of the global warming observed. For a paper that aims at overturning decades of research, this is insufficient. As the saying goes, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.
We understand that media outlets don’t always have the expertise necessary to evaluate the scientific credibility of such claims, as you stated in the update to your article. However, in such cases, responsible journalism would require that the outlet consult the expertise of scientists with the necessary credentials and expertise to weigh in on the claim, in order to ensure that the outlet doesn’t propagate false or misleading information.
This manner of reporting a mix of accurate and false information without distinguishing whether scientific evidence supports them is misleading for readers. The journalistic practice of presenting “both sides” applies for some topics that are a matter of opinion and possibly in cases when there actually are two sides with equally valid evidence, which is not always the case on scientific issues.
For example, there are some, including scientists, who claim that evolution is unsupported, that AIDS does not exist, or that COVID-19 vaccines will cause millions of deaths despite all evidence to the contrary. Yet it would be misleading for a writer to present “both sides”, as it would incorrectly suggest there is a genuine scientific debate over these issues.
If you wish to appeal the Facebook rating, you would need to actually correct the article, simply mentioning a fact-check as if it were just another possible opinion is not a correction.
In light of the above, we cannot remove the rating.
The Western Journal has therefore retracted the commentary in its entirety.
CORRECTION, Sept. 2, 2021: Two weeks after the publication of this commentary, Climate Feedback issued a fact check on several articles that cited the study, including this one. The fact check stated, in summary: “Changes in solar irradiance have a very small influence on current climate compared to the effect induced by CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Ideas, methods and data sets used by scientists to study the various climate drivers are frequently discussed in the scientific literature and in the IPCC reports. Based on the body of evidence available, the scientific community concluded that solar variations don’t have any noticeable influence on the climate change observed in recent decades.”
The Western Journal has updated this commentary to provide this important information to our readers, and we encourage readers to click the link above to read the entire fact check for themselves. We have also altered the headline of the commentary to make it clear that the findings in this peer-reviewed study are not universally accepted. (The commentary as published stated as much, but that would not have been obvious to anyone encountering only the headline on social media.) In addition, we have removed several sentences from the end of the commentary and made two other minor alterations to phrases that seemed — but were not intended — to endorse the findings of the study, which we are not qualified to do.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.