Lawson and the think-tank bent on hijacking global warming debate

The leaked emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia could not have come at a better time for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a "cross-party political think-tank" set up last week to counter the supposed lies and distortions of the climate science community.

Chaired by Lord Lawson, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher, the foundation's stated aim is to "help restore balance and trust in the climate debate that is frequently distorted by prejudice and exaggeration".

"Our main purpose is to bring reason, integrity and balance to a debate that has become seriously unbalanced, irrationally alarmist, and all too often depressingly intolerant," said the foundation, which has half-a-dozen peers, a bishop, a banker and an economist as trustees.

In a newspaper article, Lord Lawson said the leaked emails from the CRU appear "at first blush" to show that scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures "to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend".

The foundation's own logo emphasises the point by showing that global mean temperatures for the 21st century have not in fact been rising, but, if anything, getting cooler.

"It is curious that, whereas their models predicted an acceleration in global warming this century... so far this century there has been no further warming at all," Lord Lawson said.

But for an organisation set up to expose such data manipulation, it was indeed unfortunate that the logo was itself a travesty of the truth. For a start, it contained at least one obvious error, spotted by Bob Ward of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.

The original logo depicted 2003 as having the highest global temperature of that highly selective series of years, which was not the case. Benny Peiser, the director of the new foundation and a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University, admitted that there had been a "small error by our graphical designer".

Mr Ward also points out that the data used in the logo comes from a dataset compiled by the Met Office and the very same Climatic Research Unit that the foundation criticises for data manipulation. Even the amended version of the logo appears to show that 2006 and 2007 were warmer years than 2004, which is not the case.

"I am surprised that the members of the foundation's academic advisory council have not been scrutinising the information on the website to ensure it is correct," Mr Ward said.

It is also odd that the foundation chose to represent just eight years of data, from 2001 to 2008. If it had included 2000, and the latest data on what is known of 2009, then the shape of the logo would look very different – even more so if the past 150 years of data were included.