By guest Blogger Alex Henney:
On 12 January last year David Attenborough introduced a programme about the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). Its purpose was to scare viewers into believing “A new threat has begun to be recognised, climate change, we are seeing an increase in the temperature and acidity of the Reef of our seas. Both are killing the inhabitants of the Reef”. With help from four reef scientists in Queensland I complained about the programme, showing that none of these three claims were credible.
According to data from US satellites the average monthly temperature of the Reef increased at a rate of 0.084C/decade from 1982 to 2015 but for the period 2000 to 2015 decreased at a rate of 0.048C/decade. The temperatures off Papua-New Guinea where the same corals thrive are notably higher than the Reef.
The claim that oceans are “acidifying” due to an increase of CO2 is misleading. According to leading Australian geologist Ian Plimer, the oceans have been alkaline with pH varying between 7.9 to 8.2 for more than a billion years (acidity has a pH of less than 7.0), including the period 440-550 million years ago when atmospheric CO2 concentration is estimated to have ranged from 10 to 17 times current levels. Ocean pH fluctuates on all time scales down to hours and is kept within a narrow range by the carbonate equilibrium, silicates and borates, all of which tend to resist change. Some researchers report a slight reduction in reef pH over the last few decades but critically there is no evidence of any reduction of the rate of calcification of corals, which is what Attenborough’s febrile song and dance was about.
The BBC’s complaints procedure is byzantine bureaucracy. First came a Complaints Officer, who knew little. Next the Head of Complaints, who drew on Australian scientists who had a vested interest in Reef scares to get grant funding. Then the complaint went to the BBC Trust to an Advisor who had been a producer of Desert Island Discs and thus among the BBC literati eminently qualified to rule on matters scientific. Finally it went to a Panel of the Editorial Guidance Committee who ruled in January, a year after the programme.
Not surprisingly, as I was not only complaining about one of the BBC’s leading stars but also against the BBC party line on climate scares, the complaint was rejected at each stage. The BBC did not produce any data that supported Attenborough’s contentions, while my temperature and alkalinity data were dismissed out of hand with no good reason. The BBC breached its own rule which was applied to me that evidence available after a programme has been shown is not permissible. The Panel cited a paper published late 2016, and in a manifestation of the ignorance of the Advisor and the Panel they cited the high sea temperatures for February, March, and April 2016 which were driven by the El Nino as evidence of the climate warming. The El Nino, which raises the temperature of the Pacific, is a regularly occurring natural event that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated is nothing to do with climate change. Subsequently, as it always does after an El Nino, the temperature has dropped back. The Advisor and Panel also claimed that there had been an increase in extreme weather, a view which is not supported by the IPCC’s Special Report on Extreme Weather (2012) and its Fifth Assessment Report (2013).
The BBC is enjoined to “educate and inform”- which implies being accurate – and to be impartial. Not only does it seem to be incapable of achieving these lofty aims in climate programmes which are always spun to scare, the complaints process lacks intellectual integrity-it is a dishonest disgrace, showing no concern for facts and everything for BBC faith in the fiction of dangerous anthropogenic warming.
A colleague and I have put in a complaint about “Yellowstone: Wildest Winter to Blazing Summer” presented by Kate Humble on 5 January this year. The programme was full of hyperbole about the allegedly record temperatures, unusually extensive wildfires and suffering wildlife. If the BBC had the wish and competence to research facts instead of preferring to scare us with slop and spin and news, it would have found that the hottest year in Yellowstone was 1934, and there is no trend in wildfire acreage published by the National Interagency Fire Centre. And it could still have made a good programme out of the truth, rather than truthiness.