Climate fiction, facts, and BBC faith

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.



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23 Responses to Climate fiction, facts, and BBC faith

  1. Ian Terry says:

    Good piece Roger. What further proof is needed for the BBC to be dismantled. it has become a total disgrace and needs to be replaced with something better. All over paid luvvies and lefties

  2. Shieldsman says:

    What can you say other than the BBC likes to publish fiction instead of facts. It is a law unto its self, ignoring the fact it is a Public body financed by the Government and the licence fee.
    But then, the Media and its journalist don’t often get their facts right, sensationalism is the order of the day.

  3. You have no scientific credentials to back your words. The Earth is heating up as tens of thousands of (non political ) scientists know.
    ‘Who might you be, that you both insult, and exult and all at once’.
    Go see the out of control wild fires in North America…The polar ice fields are melting away. Your’e like most poiticians…bury your heads in the ground and be an ostrich for the big bucks

    • Tell me where I apply for the big bucks. I haven’t seen them yet. The earth has warmed slightly in the last 150 years — as it does repeatedly, on a cyclical basis, and has done for millennia. The question is, why? The climate cycles pre-date human activity by many thousands of years. Go figure. It’s a pity you can do no better than swallow and regurgitate the simplistic warmist propaganda.

    • Jane Davies says:

      Keith & Judy Meredith, I live in British Columbia, Canada, and it is a recorded fact that humans cause slightly more than half of all wild land fires in Canada.
      Lightning strikes cause slightly less than half of all wild land fires in Canada, but account for nearly 67% of the land area.

    • Martin Wigginton says:

      Very amusing, Keith & Judy. You are quite right to parody the climate pseudoscientist fantasists in that way. Sometimes withering scorn does help. But as you and I know, hard scientific facts (some of which are outlined in Roger Helmer’s article) are the things that will eventually direct our politicians to adopt correct and sensible policies.

  4. Dung says:

    The point is Roger, as an MEP what are you doing about it??

  5. Dung says:

    Keith and Judy (or should that be Punch and Judy?)

    Roger has a double first in maths from Oxbridge, what are your credentials (not that qualifications matter at all – what matters is truth)?

  6. KennieD says:

    High time the BBC was floated, either on the Stock Exchange or out to sea.
    Oh, and take Punch and Judy with them.

  7. Jerry Wraith says:

    You say above “The BBC is enjoined to “educate and inform”- which implies being accurate – and to be impartial.” This is not strictly correct. The BBC has a LEGAL obligation to be impartial and inform the public. I believe that it has not been doing this for well over 40 years as it has clearly been promoting the EU at every opportunity, partly if not mainly, by censoring bad news about the EU and the euro. For example, when has the BBC done an in depth analysis of the EU’s failure to get it’s accounts signed off by its own auditors for the last 20 years? NEVER! Hence, I believe that the BBC has been breaking the law for well over 40 years and yet, no politician or responsible person has had the ball’s to make them pay for it. It is a grave insult to UK citizens that they are legally enforced to pay for an outfit (I refuse to say “service”) that is clearly breaking the law and promoting its own agenda in so many different ways. Indeed, the Wilson Committee some years ago stated that the BBC WAS biased in favour of the EU, but incredibly said that this was not deliberate! What a load of b****ck’s for an excuse and typical of the establishments refusal to publicly state the obvious. The BBC licence fee must be abolished ASAP and the public allowed to CHOOSE how they spend on their money on their “entertainment”.

  8. Ex-expat Colin says:

    Willis Eschenbach at WUWT has plenty to counter the Attenborough/Humble/BBC drivel, not just the following.

    Part article:
    “In studying the data, the researchers noticed that spikes of phytoplankton blooms occurred during 2010 and again in 2011—those blooms made their way to the coral reef offering more food than normal for the coral. The coral responded by growing which caused them to pull more alkaline carbonate from the surrounding water, making it more acidic. Eating more also resulted in the corals emitting more carbon dioxide into the water. The result was a big increase in acidity—to levels higher than have been predicted for the future due to human emissions—yet, the coral continued to flourish”.

    Its that “predicted” thing again!

    Impossible to watch/listen to BBC TV & Radio/Ch 4 programming really. No balance and nothing for reference.

  9. Ex-expat Colin says:

    And: (H/T Delingpole)
    Falling Sea Level: The Critical Factor in 2016 Great Barrier Reef Bleaching!

    “After perusing Hughes 2017, it was clear they had been led to incorrectly embrace the prevailing bias of CO2-induced catastrophic bleaching because they failed to address the fall in sea level before and during the 2016 El Niño, and likewise they failed to address how weather created by El Niños promotes clear skies and increased solar heating. To add insult to injury, because sea level drops bleached reefs in both good water quality and bad, and bleaches reefs in both protected preserves and unprotected, Hughes 2017 presented a statistical argument that disparaged any significant value of ongoing conservation efforts to minimize bleaching by reducing nutrient loading and by protecting reefs from overfishing. By belittling or ignoring most critical factors affecting coral bleaching other than temperature, Hughes suggested our only recourse to protect reefs “ultimately requires urgent and rapid action to reduce global warming.”

    And because such an apocryphal analysis was published in Nature and will undoubtedly mislead coral conservation policies, I wept”–bleached-great-barrier-reef.html

    The BBC lazily skips this stuff so unnecessarily frightening some I’d say. Surely such BBC programmes should show a warning about being upset?

  10. vanorman2016 says:

    The BBC is a propaganda outfit. Attenbarough is wrong, but won’t admit it. As for Richard & Judy, both clowns.

  11. Roger Turner says:

    Just another thing

    I think I heard it on Sky News last week
    “5 Solomon Isles have disappeared below the waves due to sea rising from climate change”

    Is there any truth in this?

    • Jane Davies says:

      It would seem this is true and has happened over the last 70 years.

    • Ex-expat Colin says:

      There is truth in it indeed and nothing about the truth is shown in such media flash panics. Well, they have to fill a blank space with something…not that the space is sufficient to indicate evidence. I’ve never been to any Pacific island but have experienced enough of the Indian Ocean to be very respectful. Powerful stuff!

      On the topic I refer to Willis Eschenbach at WUWT since he has lived and worked on the Solomon Islands and has a written piece here:

      Its about high rise seabed rock piles with vast amounts of sand and rubble thrown on top by the Pacific Ocean and winds…island and atoll creation. Sea rise and fall that also damages the corals. Man made damage also exists but not of the AGW variety.

      • Ex-expat Colin says:

        Adaption – sort of?
        On UK TV here is a Grand Designs programme which follows those building there own big spendy homes. Last week the programme followed a Brit family on Fofoa in the Vava’u island group (Tonga island). In the pic their dream home is built on the beach and a few mtrs from the tide edge. About 100 mtrs behind it and up the island hill is a concrete emergency shelter…real ugly blockwork thing!

        Risky stuff? Perhaps…but these aren’t exactly poor natives who are left to there own devices as elsewhere in the Pacific.

      • Jane Davies says:

        I love watching Grand Designs albeit they are a few years old, the latest series was from 2014, I hope it won’t be too long before an more updated series is shown here. I would not like to live so close to the ocean….that’s for sure. We are about a 1/4 of a mile from the Pacific here on Vancouver Island, close enough for me!

  12. says:


    what is UKIP policy on fracking and coal?


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