The BBC: paid-up propagandists

Roger at the Olkiluoto Nuclear Plant in 2007

Roger at the Olkiluoto Nuclear Plant in 2007

What ever happened to the public service broadcasting ethos?  Whatever happened to balance and impartiality?
Living through the week in Brux, I have the privilege of waking up to the BBC World Service.  All this week, in a series of items linked to the G8 meeting in the earthquake city of Aquila, Italy, they have covered aspects of the climate debate.  Today they announced triumphantly that the G8 has declared that it will hold global warming to no more than 2 degrees C.  I wonder if history will recall the meeting as the “King Canute Summit”.  Certainly the G8 will have no more success with the climate than Canute had with the waves, though his reputation may last longer than theirs.
So the BBC, in its thorough way, has had a series of interesting items on renewables, on nuclear power and so on.  Much of the nuclear section was devoted to the problems, delays and cost over-runs at the new third reactor at Olkiluoto, Finland (which I have visited — see photo).  Very little was said about the other two reactors on the site which have been running very successfully for decades, and are now delivering the lowest-cost electricity in Finland.
In the whole week’s coverage, there was not a reference to the tens of thousands of scientists, many from prestigious institutions in many countries, who reject the Great Carbon Myth (see  Every one of the “experts” interviewed was clearly a fully-committed, signed-up alarmist.  It was all about how we should reduce carbon emissions, not about whether we should.  Surely at least in one of their special reports through the week they might have covered the large and growing case against the “consensus”?  Not a word about whether the proposed action might actually achieve the stated goal, or whether the goal made sense in the first place.
Meantime, the world has cooled over the last five years, and the cooling looks set to continue.  But the alarmists won’t let the reality deter them.  It is an interesting case study in human folly to see how long the establishment can cling to the myth in defiance of the reality.  As Lawrence Peter, author of “The Peter Principle”, put it, “Bureaucrats will cling to the status quo, long after the quo has lost its status”.
The BBC used to pride itself on its balance and impartiality.  Now it cannot bring itself to recognise that there are two sides to an argument.

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3 Responses to The BBC: paid-up propagandists

  1. Richard Barnes says:

    Have you seen the antics of Justin Rowlatt, the BBC’s ‘ethical man’? Typical quote:

    “Unless most of the world’s vast reserves of coal are kept underground then rapid climate change is, according to the scientific consensus, inevitable.”

    Shouldn’t BBC news employ journalists, not activists?

  2. Joe Potter says:

    ‘the world has cooled over the last five years, and the cooling looks set to continue’

    And yet the 17 warmest years on record (which goes back to 1850) have occurred in the last 20 years, so sure, the world might have cooled from 2003 temperatures, but we’re still in a warmest period for the past 159 years.

    As any scientist would tell you, you need more than a few years of data to be able to make any worthwhile predictions about the climate (or most other phenomena for that matter):

    “It is a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge to point to one year as the warmest on record…and then to extrapolate that cooler subsequent years invalidate the reality of global warming and its effects.

    The difference between climate variability and climate change is critical, not just for scientists or those engaging in policy debates about warming. Just as one cold snap does not change the global warming trend, one heat wave does not reinforce it. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit.”

    WMO secretary-general Michel Jarraud

    So, the question is, would you care to provide some evidence to back up the assertion that ‘the cooling looks set to continue’

    Now onto that wonderful Oregon Petition. Wouldn’t using it as evidence of a ‘large and growing case against the “consensus”’ be a bit disingenuous, given that it’s 10 years old?

    Furthermore, a quick search on the Oregon Declaration yielded some interesting articles:

    “Scientific American took a random sample of 30 of the 1,400 signatories claiming to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science. Of the 26 we were able to identify in various databases, 11 said they still agreed with the petition—one was an active climate researcher, two others had relevant expertise, and eight signed based on an informal evaluation. Six said they would not sign the petition today, three did not remember any such petition, one had died, and five did not answer repeated messages. Crudely extrapolating, the petition supporters include a core of about 200 climate researchers – a respectable number, though rather a small fraction of the climatological community.”

    “In less than 10 minutes of casual scanning, I found duplicate names (Did two Joe R. Eaglemans and two David Tompkins sign the petition, or were some individuals counted twice?), single names without even an initial (Biolchini), corporate names (Graybeal & Sayre, Inc. How does a business sign a petition?), and an apparently phony single name (Redwine, Ph.D.). These examples underscore a major weakness of the list: there is no way to check the authenticity of the names. Names are given, but no identifying information (e.g., institutional affiliation) is provided. Why the lack of transparency? Robinson claimed that about 2,100 signers had scientific background relevant to climate science, but there is no information given backing this statement.”

    Personally, I much prefer this Oregon Declaration, which came top of the Google results:

    But in all seriousness, a petition is no way to do science. Anyone can sign a petition (and perhaps change their mind a few years down the line). When you have amassed 3,147 peer-reviewed scientific articles denying the links between increasing greenhouse gas concentrations from human activity and the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century, then it might be worth listening to. And since it’s just a tenth of the number who signed the petition, it shouldn’t be too hard to amass, should it?

    Until then, I’m going to stick with the IPCC, the Federal Climate Change Science Program (US), the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, the InterAcademy Council, the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, the national science academies of Australia, Belguim, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, the Caribbean, China, France, Ghana, Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, India, Japan, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia. Mexico, Nigeria, New Zealand, Poland, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Sweden, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom, United States, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Network of African Science Academies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the European Science Foundation, the National Research Council (US), American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians, the American Society for Microbiology, the Australian Coral Reef Society, the Institute of Biology (UK), the Society of American Foresters, the Wildlife Society (international), the American Geophysical Union, the European Federation of Geologists, the European Geosciences Union, the Geological Society of America, the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, the Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Preventive Medicine, the American Medical Association, the American Public Health Association, the Australian Medical Association, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the World Federation of Public Health Associations, the World Health Organization, the American Meteorological Society, the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the Royal Meteorological Society (UK), the World Meteorological Organization, the American Quaternary Association, the International Union for Quaternary Research, the American Astronomical Society, the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Physics, the American Physical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Institution of Engineers Australia.

    Links to all of their declarations and reports:

    Indeed, no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate change.

  3. Roger Helmer says:

    Thanks Joe. First, we welcome comments — not cut & paste essays. Second, if petitions are no way to do science, nor are “consensuses”. However a petition with thousands of signatures is a great way to CHALLENGE a so-called “consensus”. Third, why do I say that cooling looks set to continue? Because I tend to agree with scientists who argue that solar activity is a main driving force for climate, and that today’s exceptionally quiet sun suggests an extended cooling. You rightly say that a few years don’t confirm a trend. We’ve had three decades of cooling from 1945 to 1975, two decades of warming until 1998, and now a decade of plateau or cooling. Where’s your warming trend there? Isn’t that a total failure of correlation with the steady, consistent rise in atmospheric CO2?

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