Drowned Out: Balanced BBC Reporting of Climate Change

Drowned Out: Balanced BBC Reporting of Climate Change

With predictions that this winter’s run of gales may finally be coming to an end (February 16), the BBC’s ‘climate change’ propaganda deluge has reached a perfect storm level.

High prominence on the BBC website is given to Labour leader Ed Miliband’s claim – made in the Observer, part of  the corporation’s favourite newspaper stable – that ‘climate change’ is now an issue of national security. He demands the spending of billions of pounds on ‘decarbonisation targets’ and attacks the Conservative party for daring to doubt elements of his green fanaticism.

The story, of course, fits perfectly with the corporation’s own strongly pro-climate change agenda, endorsed at the highest levels of the BBC and – as the evidence lower down this page shows  – is pursued with vigour on a daily basis by programmes such as Today.

In consequence, you will search in vain on the BBC website for any mentions of the numerous stories also running on February 16 that provide clear evidence that this winter’s storms – though unusual – are not exceptional, and that the role of the Environment Agency in possibly making the flooding worse is under increasing investigation.

Christopher Booker, for example, argues strongly that the ‘climate change’ theory about the cause of the storms is mired in political axe-grinding by the Met Office, politicians, and the academic community that is paid billions to support such views.

What you will find on the BBC website, linked prominently to the claims by Mr Miliband, and therefore to buttress it,  is this story in which John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, calls for ‘climate change action’ and this guide to ‘climate’ change’ which puts the case for disastrous anthropogenic causation with a missionary zeal that first exactly with the corporation mindset.

John Kerry’s intervention was being delivered in Indonesia – where the BBC’s campaigning arm, Media Action, is particularly active in pursuing a ‘climate change’ agenda.  Without doubt, the main objective throughout Asia is to brainwash the maximum number of people  into alarmism, and to demand that billions are spent in averting the threat – as defined by the BBC.    Their climate change survey, funded by foreign office and EU grants, runs to hundreds of pages with sub reports for each major country, including Indonesia. It has dozens of alarmist sub-themes, and a primary methodology is asking people if they think weather is changing – and then using that data to ‘prove’ that climate change is real.  Astonishing.

A deluge of BBC coverage of the floods continues, so much that it is impossible to keep detailed track. But one thing is for sure: bias against what are increasingly dubbed ‘climate deniers’ continues. Never mind that those who say that the floods are not caused by ‘climate change’ claim they have a strong case; what is clear is that BBC journalists are continuing the battle to swamp or ignore their arguments.

Take Lord Lawson’s appearance on the Today programme on February 13. The full transcript is below.  The BBC has resolved, that only ‘due impartiality applies to such climate-related interviews. The sequence shows very clearly the practical consequences of this.

a)       Any advocate of climate change is treated with respect and deference by the interviewer

b)      Supporters of climate change are almost invariably given clear space to make their case, no matter how unsupported or controversial their claims are

c)       The interviewer sides with the advocate of climate change and ensures that the audience have heard and grasped the key points.

d)      The interviewer interrupts the guest who is a ‘denier’ to the maximum extent, through tone of voice, stopping he or she finishing points, cutting them off, and interrupting as many times as possible.

In this case, the interviewer was Justin Webb. He ensured that Sir Brian Hoskins, a political activist advocate of climate change who is paid to advance arguments in its favour, was not only given the lion’s share (by a ratio of approximately 2:1) of the sequence to advance his arguments, but also failed to challenge any point he made.  A moment’s analysis of Sir Brian’s arguments shows them to be highly contentious and woolly, lights years away from convincing scientific evidence.

But when Nigel Lawson’s turn came, Mr Webb’s tone and approach changed entirely. Everything he said was suspect, and not only that, Mr Webb was clearly straining to put across – irrespective of what Lord Lawson wanted to say – his own (the BBC’s?) main point, that money must be spent on climate measures because there was a more than a 50% chance of it happening.

In response, Lord Lawson had a brief opportunity to outline that he thought that such spending (on shemes such as wind farms) was a waste of money and that there was a need instead to pursue cheap energy policies and create adequate flood defences.

But the overall framework and approach was clearly designed to allow Sir Brian Hoskins to put across his climate change advocacy; what is clear is that when, rarely, ‘deniers’ such as Lord Lawson  are invited on to BBC programmes they are treated in almost exactly the same way as those who are against the EU: with disdain.

Source: BBC Radio 4: Today Programme


Date: 13/02/2014

Event: Sir Brian Hoskins on the missing heat: “Oh yes, it’s there in the oceans”

Credit: BBC Radio 4


  • Sir Brian Hoskins: Head of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change
  • Lord Lawson: Nigel Lawson, Baron Lawson of Blaby, Chairman of the Board, GWPF
  • Justin Webb: Presenter, BBC Radio 4 Today programme

Justin Webb: Is there a link, Sir Brian, between the rain that we have seen falling, in recent days, and global warming?

Brian Hoskins: There’s no simple link – we can’t say “Yes” or “No, this is climate change”. However, there’s a number of reasons to think that such events are now more likely. And one of those is that a warmer atmosphere that we have can contain more water vapour, and so a storm can wring that water vapour out of the atmosphere. And we’re seeing more heavy rainfall events around the world, and certainly we’ve seen those, here.

Justin Webb: So it’s the heavy rainfall, it’s the severity of the event, that points us in this direction?

Brian Hoskins: Well, in this event, we’ve had severe rainfall but we’ve also had persistence, and that’s where I say: we just don’t know whether the persistence of this event is due to climate change or not. But another aspect is sea-level rise, that the sea level has risen about 20 centimetres, over the 20th century, and is continuing to rise, as the system warms, and that of course makes damage in the coastal region that much greater, when we get some event there.

Justin Webb: But can a reasonable person, possessed of the evidence, as it is known to us at the moment, say “Look at the rain that we’ve had recently”, and say “Look, I do not believe that the evidence exists, that links that rain to global warming”?

Brian Hoskins: I think the reasonable person should look at this event, they should look at extremes around the world, the general rise in temperature that’s well recorded, reduction in Arctic sea ice, the rise in sea level, a number of extreme rainfall events around the world, the number of extreme events that we’ve had – we’ve had persistent droughts, we’ve had floods and we’ve had cold spells and very warm spells. The number of records being broken is just that much greater.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson, it’s joining the dots, isn’t it?

Nigel Lawson: Now I think that Sir Brian is right on a number of points. He’s right, first of all, that nobody knows. Certainly it is not the case, of course, that this rainfall is due to global warming, the question is whether it is marginally – global warming has marginally exacerbated it. He’s right, and nobody knows that. Though, he’s right, too, to say that you have to look at the global picture. And, contrary to what he may have implied, in fact, people who have done studies show that there has been no – globally, there has been no increase in extreme weather events. For example, tropical storms, which are perhaps the most dramatic form of weather events – there’s been, in the past year, there has been an unusually quiet year for tropical storms. And again, going back to the “nobody knows”, only a couple of months ago the Met Office were forecasting that this would be an unusually dry winter. So –

Justin Webb: Do you accept that, Sir Brian? Just on that point, that important point about the global picture. Do you accept, Sir Brian, we haven’t actually seen the kind of extreme conditions that we might have expected?

Brian Hoskins: I think we have seen these heavy rainfall events around the world. We’ve seen a number of places breaking records – Australia, with the temperatures in Australia going to new levels, um…

Justin Webb: Trouble is, we report those, and we’re interested in them. There is an effect, isn’t there, that is possibly an obfuscatory effect, actually, on the real picture, and you accept that that might be the case.

Brian Hoskins: Absolutely, and we have to be very careful to not say “Oh, there’s records everywhere, therefore climate is changing”. But we’re very sure that the temperature’s risen by about 0.8 degrees, the Arctic sea ice has reached a minimum level in the summer, which hasn’t been seen for a very, very long time, the Greenland ice sheet and the West Antarctic ice sheet have been measured to be decreasing. There’s all the signs that we are changing this climate system. Now as we do this, as the system warms, it doesn’t just warm uniformly. The temperature changes by different amounts in different regions. And that means the weather that feeds off those temperature contrasts is changing and will change – it’s not just a smooth change, it’s a change in the weather, it’s a change in regional climate we can expect.

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson?

Nigel Lawson: Yeah, I think we want to focus, not on this extremely speculative and uncertain area – I don’t blame the climate scientists for not knowing. Climate and weather is quite extraordinarily complex, and this is a very new form of science. All I blame them for is pretending they know, when they don’t. But anyhow, what we want to focus on is what we’re going to do. And I think this is a wake-up call. We need to abandon this crazy and costly policy of spending untold millions on littering the countryside with useless wind turbines and solar panels, and moving from a sensible energy policy of having cheap and reliable forms of energy to a policy of having unreliable and costly energy. Give up that – what we want to focus on – it’s very important – is making sure this country is really resilient and robust to whatever nature throws at us, whether there’s a climate element or not. Water storage, when there’s drought –

Justin Webb: Surely the wise thing… Can I just put this to you –

Nigel Lawson: – flood defences, sea defences – that’s what we want to focus on.

Justin Webb: Can I just put this to you though: if there is a chance – and some people would say there is a strong chance – that global warming, man-made global warming, exists and is having an impact on us, doesn’t it make sense, whether or not you believe that that is a 95% chance or a 50% chance or whatever, does it not make sense to take care to try to avoid the kind of emissions that may be contributing to it? I mean, what could be wrong with doing that?

Nigel Lawson: Everything. The – first of all, even if there is warming – and there’s been no recorded warming over the past 15, 16, 17 years –

Justin Webb: Well, that’s – oh yeah, there is a lot of controversy about that.

Nigel Lawson: No, there’s not – that’s a fact. It’s accepted even by the IPCC. No measured warming –

Justin Webb: No, no measured warming , but… Well, all right –

Nigel Lawson: No measured warming, exactly, well, that’s –

Justin Webb: We’ll get back to that.

Nigel Lawson:  – measurements are actually not unimportant. The – but what  – even if there is some problem, it is not able to affect any of the dangers, except marginally. What we want to do is to focus on dealing with the problems that there are, with climate – which there are, with drought and floods, and so on. These have happened in the past – they’re not new. And as for emissions, this country is responsible for less than 2% of global emissions. Even if we cut our emissions to zero – which would put us back to the, sort of, pre-Industrial Revolution, and the poverty that that [inaudible] – even if we reduced and did that, it would be outweighed by the amount of the Chinese, China’s emissions’ increase, in a single year. So it is absolutely crazy, this policy –

Justin Webb: Sir Brian?

Nigel Lawson: – it cannot make sense at all.

Justin Webb: Sir Brian?

Brian Hoskins: I think we have to do – to learn two lessons from this. The first one is that by increasing the greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere, particularly carbon dioxide, to levels we’ve not seen for millions of years on this planet, we’re performing a very risky experiment. And we’re pretty confident that that means – if we go on like we are – that temperatures are going to rise somewhere 3 to 5 degrees by the end of this century, sea levels up to half to one metre rise –

Justin Webb: Lord Lawson was saying there, there has been a pause, which you hear a lot about – a pause in what, 10, 15 years, in measured rising of temperature. That is the case, isn’t it?

Brian Hoskins: It hasn’t risen much, over the last 10 to 15 years, if you measure the climate from the global averaged surface temperature. But during that time, the excess energy has still been absorbed by the climate system, and being absorbed by the oceans, which are warming up.

Justin Webb: So it’s there, somewhere.

Brian Hoskins: Oh yes, it’s there in the oceans. And the oceans –

Nigel Lawson: That is pure speculation.

Brian Hoskins: No, it’s a measurement.

Nigel Lawson: No, it’s not, it’s speculation, with respect.

Justin Webb: Well, it’s a combination of the two, isn’t it, as is this whole discussion. Lord Lawson, and Sir Brian Hoskins as well, thank you both very much.

Brian Hoskins: Thank you.

The transcript of a Today programme item on February 5 about new methods of controlling floods in urban areas speaks volumes about the BBC’s attitude towards the subject of climate.

Two years ago, the BBC decided at Trustee level that dangerous man-induced ‘climate change’ was definitely happening and that climate issues must reported on that basis. Impartiality, that is, balanced referral to those who thought otherwise, was ruled out.

Alison Hastings, the Trustee for England, who – off the back of once working as editor of a minor provincial newspaper and as a member of the Press Complaints Commission – is now in overall charge at regulatory level of BBC editorial issues, explains why here. The report on which she based her findings, by Steve Jones, who Ms Hastings says was ‘independent’ despite being a frequent BBC contributor, is here.

In consequence, the BBC slavishly and enthusiastically follows any story that it believes ‘proves’ climate change. A good topical example is this based on alarmist remarks from Julia Slingo at the Meteorological Office, who has claimed that the ‘clustering’ of the current wave of UK storms is a firm indication of ‘climate change’. Many genuine climate experts think otherwise, for example in this analysis which puts into perspective the Dawlish railway line collapse, but you won’t see their perspective on the BBC  Their version of ‘balance’ does not allow that.

The BBC have also not reported claims in the Mail on Sunday  and the EU Referendum website that the Somerset levels floods are directly the result of EU directives which stipulate that more  should be done to drown, rather than dredge, wetland areas.

The February 5 floods sequence is important because it is a prime example of the BBC’s approach to this topic. One report is never evidence of cumulative bias, but this one shows graphically elements of the BBC’s entirely one sided approach.

It was news, of course, that a new flood dispersion schemes was being trialled, and the processes involved were well explained. This part of the sequence was fine.

But then Roger Harrabin’s report took an altogether different turn towards being a propagandist – exactly as the Alison Hastings ruling has facilitated. He said:

“Well, Welsh Water think this scheme is applicable not just here, but right across the country, they think it will save water companies money, and they think it will be more effective at preventing floods.  And the children at this school will learn, unlike their parents, that climate change is predicted to bring more extreme weather in the future and to raise the sea levels, so they may consider using the land differently to the way their parents did.”

Pardon?  Suddenly, the report is in a different dimension. The correspondent is no longer a reporter of events, but the direct purveyor of futurology – and it’s not a small point. He says directly that children in schools must consider changing ‘land use’ because ‘climate change’ (whatever that may be) will probably bring more rain in future.

And hey presto, at hand is someone to ram home this point. Back in the studio, Justin Webb interviewed Lord Krebs, an Oxford professor and part of Parliament’s committee on climate change.  Why was he chosen to appear? Presumably, it was because he is a member of that committee. It’s certainly not because of particular expertise, because Professor Krebs’ academic works have focused on bird behaviour. He is, however, a political activist with regard to ‘climate change’ – he is chairman of the national network of Science Learning Centres, which has a major role in spreading climate alarmism.

Professor Krebs did not disappoint. Justin Webb’s first question provided an open goal for him bs to say what he wanted. He duly delivered, culminating in his main point that most of the problems related to flooding were due to man-made climate change, and this meant that there had to be a massive diversion of expenditure – and changes in our way of life – to accommodate that. Greenpeace would have been proud.

Overall, this item vividly shows that the BBC has an overt and deliberate political agenda in this field. There was no attempt to provide a contrasting opinion to those of Professor Krebs, because the Trustees have said that such normal journalistic balance is not required. The corporation has become the mouthpiece of propagandists.

The full transcript is below:

Transcript of BBC Radio 4, Today, 5th February 2014, Climate Change, 8.36am

JUSTIN WEBB:       We’ve built homes and superstores on floodplains, we’ve paved gardens and drained bogs which used to catch water, and replaced woodlands with sheep farms which compact the soil and straightened winding rivers, we’ve made them flow faster.  And all of this, we are told, is contributing to flooding.  We are told this by the Committee on Climate Change and we’re also told by them today that it has to stop.  The Committee says we need to catch water in upstream areas, it warns that half a billion pounds of extra funding needs to be spent in the next four year period to keep pace, just to keep pace, with the risk of climate change affecting the UK.  We’ll speak to the Committee in a second, first let’s hear from our environment analyst, Roger Harrabin, who’s been to Llanelli in South Wales, where they’re spending £40 million on reengineering the streets to prevent flooding.

ROGER HARRABIN:               I’m near the centre of Llanelli, and as you might expect it has been raining and I’m here to see a scheme where Welsh Water are digging up the pavements to prevent floods.  I’m joined by Steve Wilson from Welsh Water.  Steve, can you explain to me what you’re doing?

STEVE WILSON:     We’re trying to take the surface water, the rainfall that comes off the house roofs, the roads, out of the sewerage network, find ways back into the environment, to really prevent flooding.

RH:          So, what exactly are you doing here behind us?

SW:         So, we’ve hollowed out the ground, put a depression in the ground, we’re going to fill that with soil, and that will soak the water in that would run down this hill, and instead of going into the sewer network, it will soak it into the ground.

RH:          And it looks like you’ve made holes in the curb so the water will come sideways out of the gutter and into this, this sort of holding system that you’ve built.

SW:         Exactly, you can imagine with the heavy rain here in Wales it pours down the roads, and if we can get it to pour off the road into this planting area and soak into the media that we’ve put in the ground there.  This scheme here should take out 22,500 cubic metres of rainfall every year out of the sewers.

RH:          How can you be confident of that?

SW:         The flow monitors and the design work that we’ve done is already showing us that actually some of the schemes we put in taking out more water than we actually first envisaged.  This is the answer for us, building more bigger pipes or bigger, deeper tanks, that we are reaching the capacity of them too soon, this is a much more sustainable way of preventing flooding.

RH:          I’ve now come up to Stebonheath School, just round the corner where they’ve got another innovative flood management scheme.  And I’m joined by . . .

DYLAN DAVIES:     Dylan Davies.

RH:          And . . .

CAITLIN THOMAS:                Caitlin Thomas.

RH:          What have you been doing here guys?

CT:          We’ve been, we’ve been, we’ve been making a swale, to stop all the floods from the drain.

RH:          What’s a swale?

CT:          The . . .the grass . . .

RH:          This grassy dip in the ground here.  So what happens, the water runs off the playground . . .

CT:          Yeah.

RH:          . . . into the dip.

DD:         Yeah, and it comes from, when it rains it goes onto the roof, then all the rain comes off the roof down into the swale, and the swale all the water and like, and pushes it off into the drain gently (words unclear due to speaking over)

RH:          And is there a big difference, can you see the difference when it rains?

BOTH:     Yes.

CT:          A lot of difference.

RH:          What did it used to be like?

CT:          It used to be all flooded, this area . . . we weren’t allowed to come by here, because it was all wet and puddles everywhere.

RH:          And it looks good as well.

BOTH:     Yeah.

DD:         Definitely.

RH:          Well, Welsh Water think this scheme is applicable not just here, but right across the country, they think it will save water companies money, and they think it will be more effective at preventing floods.  And the children at this school will learn, unlike their parents, that climate change is predicted to bring more extreme weather in the future and to raise the sea levels, so they may consider using the land differently to the way their parents did.

JW:         Hmm.  Roger Harrabin in Llanelli.  Lord Krebs is chair of the Adaptation Subcommittee, part of the Committee on Climate Change, and is on the line from Oxford, good morning.

LORD KREBS:         Good morning.

JW:         I don’t know how much of that report you heard, you would say, would you, presumably, that what they’re doing in Llanelli ought to be a model for the whole of the rest of the country?

LK:          I thought that it was a wonderful project that your reporter Roger Harrabin described in Llanelli.  The fact is that what we are experiencing now in terms of flooding and extreme weather is likely to become more common in the future as a result of climate change, and it’s time now to plan ahead, to make our country more resilient, to move from cleanup and the dreadful damage that occurs to people’s homes and livelihoods, to prevention, to make our country more resilient.  And at the moment, we’re not really doing that, we’re going in the wrong direction.

JW:         Does that mean though, for instance, that you ban people from paving over their front gardens?

LK:          Well, the fact is that the hard surfaces in our towns and cities have increased hugely, almost doubled in the last decade or so because people are paving over front gardens.  You can, of course, use absorbent paving surfaces, so it’s not actually the case that just because you pave over, you’re going to have more water run-off, but if we, it’s really a choice that we as a country have to make, if we want to make our country more resilient we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions to prevent the kind of thing that’s happening now happening more frequently in the future.

JW:         But just to make it clear, you’re saying to the government, it is time to make those difficult decisions, it’s time to say to people, ‘We are going to enforce planning regulations’, whatever they be, about saving your gardens and the various other things that might be discussed, it’s time to enforce them centrally because this matters so much.

LK:          Well, we are building in floodplains, 13% of all new developments in the last decade or so has been in floodplain areas.  The Environment Agency has a responsibility, a statutory responsibility for advising on whether development should go ahead, so there are regulations in place.  The problem we have identified is that in about a third of cases, the Environment Agency never finds out whether their advice has been followed, so it’s not necessarily about new regulations it’s about ensuring that existing rules are being enforced properly.

JW:         (speaking over) Yeah, but the onus is also put on developers now, isn’t it, rather more than on the agency, and that’s been something that the government has consciously done, and you’re saying now should consciously undo?

LK:          Well, as I say, there is a regulatory framework in place, the Environment Agency is the statutory consultee for any development, and it can comment on the potential flood risks.  However, these decisions about risk now and risk in the future, and if the government wants to say to people, look, we are just going to be exposed to more flooding risk and you’re going to have to experience this, that’s fine, but I think we need to be transparent and have an open discussion about how these decisions are made.  There’s also a role, of course, for individual householders because if people do live in a flood risk area there are measures that they can take to make their house more resilient by having, for example, flood resistant ground floor fittings, fitting water guards front of doors and over air bricks and so on.  So there are measures that individuals can take, that local authorities can take, and central government decisions can help too.

JW:         Are you frustrated that so much of the discussion in the last few days has been about dredging and whether or not there had been enough dredging in Somerset, in other words is the focus on that taking our mind, in your view, off what we should be focusing on?

LK:          I think dredging may be part of the story but there is, as I say, a much bigger picture about do we want to make our country more resilient to the kind of weather that we’ve experienced in the last month or so that is likely to get more common as a result of climate change.

JW:         The trouble is, you use that word lightly, and an awful lot of people would say, well yes, it may happen, but it may not as well and weather is, you know, unpredictable we may well go into a period where none of these things that you’re suggesting happen do happen, and we’ll have spent an awful lot of money and then wasted it?

LK:          Well, all we can do is go on the best available science, and the climate scientists who’ve looked at this, using the best models and the best evidence available suggest to us that the weather is likely to become more stormy, more predictable in the future and the kind of extreme weather events that we are experiencing now, rather than being perhaps, one in a hundred year event may become a one in twenty year event.  We can’t be absolutely sure of detail, but it’s sensible in my view to take precautions.

JW:         Lord Krebs, thank you very much.

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