The news website published no such article, and the professor named said he did not make the statement attributed to him.

“Why is July so cold while everywhere else on the planet is burning? Prof. Luke O’Neill says Ireland is suffering from asymptomatic global warming,” says what appears to be a headline from the Irish Independent in an image shared July 21, 2023 on Facebook.

The same supposed headline circulated on InstagramTikTok and Twitter, which is being rebranded as “X.”

Screenshot of a Facebook post taken July 27, 2023

But the article is fake — it does not appear on live or archived versions of the Irish Independent’s website.

“The Irish Independent has never published an article under this headline,” a spokesperson for the paper’s owner Mediahuis Ireland said in a July 27 email.

Similarly, Luke O’Neill, chair of biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, told AFP: “I never spoke about ‘asymptomatic global warming’ — I’ve never even heard of the term.”

He said he did appear July 20 on NewsTalk (archived here) to discuss how the body copes with high temperatures, but the conversation was not focused on Ireland’s weather.

Other independent fact-checking organizations, including Full Fact and USA Today, have debunked the fake Irish Independent headline. Such posts misappropriate “a well-known name, brand or logo to fool people into believing that it is authentic,” according to the nonprofit News Literacy Project.

The altered image is the latest in a series of claims misstating the impact of climate change, the subject of numerous AFP fact checks.

June 2023 was the hottest June on record in Ireland, followed by weeks of rain in July.

“As climate change continues, we can expect further records to be broken and more frequent and extreme weather events,” said researcher Padraig Flattery of Met Eireann, the Irish National Meteorological Service, in a June 30 press release (archived here).

Geological Survey Ireland has also documented clear adverse effects of climate change on the island nation (archived here).

AFP has debunked other imposter content targeting media brands such as CNNGlobal News and the CBC.

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