Students challenge charitable status of think tank

| 2nd April 2020

Lord Nigel Lawson, founder of GWPF

Students call for Charity Commission to revoke Global Warming Policy Foundation's 'educational charity' status.

Now more than ever, science is needed to overcome the great challenges posed to humanity, and so must send a clear message; we believe in science. 

The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) operates all over the world and is registered as an ‘educational charity’ with the United Kingdom’s Charity Commission.

GWPF describes itself as open-minded to the “contested science” of climate change, but despite being an ‘educational’ charity, it actively misleads the public on the topic of climate change. It does this while receiving all the benefits that come with a charity status. 

There are numerous articles published by the GWPF which show a clear manipulation of data. For example, their claim that climate change isn’t accelerating, which they derived from the fact that average global temperatures dropped from 2016-18. While true, this misses out the fact that these statistics have always fluctuated year-to-year, but if one takes a look at the wider pattern across decades we see a clear increase, and so their claims are baseless and unscientific. 

Misleading 

David Attenborough’s ground-breaking documentaries have been incredibly successful in capturing the attention of and educating the public about climate change, but they have also received strong criticism from the GWPF.

The group criticised Attenborough’s coverage of polar bears and how their eating habits have changed, suggesting that Polar Bears are in a better position than what is being depicted. They also criticised the footage of cliff-falling walruses in ‘Our Planet’ suggesting that this was actually evidence of improved walrus numbers, not climate change.

Both of these are deliberately misleading, focusing on criticising a specific detail as a means to dismiss the message as a whole.

Multiple studies have found that both of these species are severely under threat because of the changing environment. The complaints of the GWPF are clearly misleading for the general public. 

The GWPF aren’t alone in taking actions like this. There are many politicians and organisations that dismiss the science behind climate change and work against the action we need to take. However, the GWPF is unique in the fact that it is registered as an ‘educational charity’, despite going against accepted science and publishing articles that misinform the public. It is failing to educate, and so is not fulfilling the purpose given by this status.

If we are a society that respects science and values the information it gives us, this charitable status has to be removed. Now more than ever, science is needed to overcome the great challenges posed to humanity, and so must send a clear message; we believe in science. 

This Author 

Alfie Hoar is a university student from the UK.

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