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No line

Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 15:26 UK time, Thursday, 30 August 2007

A number of newspapers have picked up on a debate at the Edinburgh TV festival in a session entitled "How Green is TV?". Broadcasters debated whether TV should make an assumption in their programmes that man-made climate change is happening or not.

Channel Four's "The Great Global Warming Swindle" came in for sustained criticism from delegates for its alleged loose use of facts. In return, Channel Four representatives criticised the BBC for having a "line" on climate change.

A smoke stack emitting fumesBBC News certainly does not have a line on climate change, however the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man.

BBC news programmes and our website of course reflect alternative views but we do not balance these views mathematically as that is not our judgement about where the argument has now reached.

That is definitely not the same as us propagating a view ourselves about climate change. It's not our job to do that.

In the Edinburgh session the possibility of the BBC doing a "consciousness-raising" event about the subject, possibly called Planet Relief, was raised.

There has been no decision yet about whether there might be such an event, nor what its editorial purpose might be. However it is clear that all BBC programming about climate change - whether about the science itself or the potential policy response by governments - needs to meet the BBC's standards of impartiality.

It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject. However we can make informed judgements and that is what we will continue to do.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 04:46 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

What? I'm sorry but this has to be the worst case of spin/lies i've ever heard. You start by saying that you try to be impartial but then admit that you do lean towards the GW con because of scientific evidence...hardly impartial then. I've noticed that there is a huge bias towards climate change. Any freak weather events is attributed to climate change. There is constant talk of carbon footprints etc. Even the 'Have you been affected by climate change' HYS was left open for MONTHS when some don't last a day. However, all this doesn't compare to the bias in reporting which attempts to discredit 'deniers'

For example, in a recent report in your science/nature section, you detailed a report which stated that in a recent (relatively) GW rise before the last ice age, the polar ice caps did not melt even thought the temperature was 5c hotter than even the worse case scenarios of today. You then proceded to site no fewer than 5 previous reports suggesting the opposite. In the interests of fairness siting one or two would suffice. Mentioning 5 merely implies the report must be mistaken somehow. Its little examples such as this, which everyone knows happens all the time, which is severely damaging the BBCs reputation.

  • 2.
  • At 04:55 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

If it dosn't go ahead it will only be because of Peter Barron and yourself raising the issue at this stage.

You and Peter have shown real integrity and courage in taking on this issue and should be applauded.

Maybe there is still hope for the BBC after all.

  • 3.
  • At 05:58 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • D wrote:

Peter

My heart is saddened when I read your words "BBC news certainly does not have a line on climate change", when so many people believe that you do. They believe that you do because day after day on morning and evening news there is a piece on climate change. There is never any debate (or I certainly have never seen one) over the background science of climate change. Just because you are convinced of the argument yourself and believe most people are because most of the people you talk to are, or if you don't understand the science, blindly believe it, does not mean that there are intelligent people (and professional scientists) with ligitiment questions concerning climate change.

I have had to inform myself about climate change as I don't believe the BBC has presented a balanced discussion of the science on tv before. On the plus side for the BBC, the basic tenets of global warming (of rising CO2 concentration in the atmosphere and its global warming properties) are not in question. That is pretty much established fact. However, the feedback effects of of increased atmospheric temperature on snow (and hence on the albedo factor)and on oceans and its ability to store carbon, and the global warming effects of clouds and aerosols is not understood, and all may operate to in fact cool the climate. In addition, the General Circulation Models used to model climate change are incomplete, as computers do not have the power to accurately model the true climate, as the effects across the globe differ depending on location and local atmospheric, terrosterial and oceanic conditions (pressure and temperature). None of this side of the argument is ever presented, and it is all valid. And this is the reason why people are yet to be convinced, although others may use spurious arguments to defend their position.

However, I should point out that whether anthropogenic climate change is indeed happening or not is of less concern to me if it encourages man to invent or innovate new energy technologies, as oil is finite and we need energy security. But nevertehless, that does not allow the BBC to ignore the other side of the argument. It is your duty to present it in a balanced manner.

  • 4.
  • At 06:05 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Chris Morris wrote:

I have to say that the view that the BBC is an impartial commentator when it comes to global warming is a joke. I can't remember the last time a news broadcast or discussion panel hasn't mentioned global warming, carbon footprints or showing images of what a flooded London would look like (BBC homepage last week). You mention that channel 4 was critisized for screening "The Great Global Warming Swindle" but at least they showed it!!! Something i can't imagine the BBC doing.. The piece may have been critisised for so called loose use of facts, but no one ever mentions the same can be said for "Inconvenient Truth". If the BBC want to use the global warming angle for news then perhaps the BBC should be prepared to show and take part in a debate of the FACTS, by scientists and not jounalists or God forbid politicians

  • 5.
  • At 06:11 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Simon Brown wrote:

I can recommend the following link which has some facts - properly scientifically proven, peer reviewed facts.

Now I personally don't want to take sides either, because as a scientist you don't take sides, you simply observe and report.

So here you go :)

http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11462

  • 6.
  • At 06:20 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Steve Jameson wrote:

"You start by saying that you try to be impartial but then admit that you do lean towards the GW con because of scientific evidence...hardly impartial then."

There's hundreds of things that we believe in based on scientific evidence, even if nobody can say 100% that it's correct. Speed of light, time, big bang, etc. If the BBC had to be completely impartial about everything then the news would be so full of caveats that it would take forever to get through a single story.

Scientific evidence strongly supports global warming being an effect of mankind, and the evidence for it is far more strong and plentiful than the opposing viewpoint. Therefore it is right and proper that the BBC places more stock in it.

  • 7.
  • At 06:35 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Arthur wrote:

It's not the BBC's job to proselytise for global warming action, but neither should it shy away from showing the evidence. You are right to reflect the balance of scientific opinion and appreciate that not all viewpoints merit equal weighting. Labelling every freak event "a climate change consequence" is admittedly unhelpful as the causation is often more complex. As I understand it, and with due respect to conspiracy theorists, the evidence is already past "strong" and heading for "overwhelming".

The effect, from my perspective as a viewer, of BBC news and current affairs is to support the Man made global warming theory.

If its not editorial policy, as you say, then it certainly seems to be a very odd coincidence.

  • 9.
  • At 06:58 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Padraic Mac Aodha wrote:

I could not agree more with the first comment. For a number of years not the BBC News website has trotted out a continual stream of doom and gloom about first "global warming" and then "Climate change" when the powers that be decided the term was less scary.
As a geoscientist, my colleagues regularly remark at your ability to quote reports on vaguely related events in order to create the appearance of a trend behind a single story, or natural phenomena.

  • 10.
  • At 07:01 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

If the majority of evidence points towards our changing climate being the results of man's actions, then of course the BBC should reflect that, with caveats.

Otherwise it ends up pandering to everyone who has extreme/idiotic/unconventional views, such as Holocaust deniers and the Flat Earth Society.

  • 11.
  • At 07:11 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Bill Reister wrote:

I have noticed a shift of emphasis in recent articles indicating that your organization is backing away from their previous clear bias in support of "Global Warming" (the theory that the vast majority of any perceived Climate Change to the warmer is being caused by CO2 emissions generated by mankind) to a more supportable yet more vague "Climate Change."

This article seems to be officially distancing yourself from your previous extreme (and unsupportable) position.

Perhaps, if you feel a need to "take a position," it would be better simply to provide greater coverage of emerging technologies, such as carbon nanotube capacitors, which will make the fears of GW irrelevant - and focus on why we need to put our energies into clean solutions rather than wring our hands about phantom issues.

  • 12.
  • At 07:15 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

"In the Edinburgh session the possibility of the BBC doing a "consciousness-raising" event about the subject, possibly called Planet Relief, was raised."

This is somewhat disingenuous if you are not willing to say by whom it was raised. If it was a serious, costed plan proposed by the BBC then you should say so.

However if you are really saying that it was only a kite flying consultation, and that papers have jumped to the wrong conclusions then you should say that as well. But somehow I don't think that was the case, was it ?

  • 13.
  • At 07:29 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Martin Daler wrote:

The whole debate, BBC included, seems to be based on the bogus foundation of climate stasis normal (good news), climate change strange (Bad News). Little recognition ever attaches to the opposite. Evidence of climate change is always portrayed in a negative light - e.g. a species prospers and extends its range (due to GW) - Bad News; the opposite happens - paradoxically, still Bad News. The BBC Weather site devotes a whole section to climate change, complete with Bad News pictures of floods and dried up lake beds.
As with all media, Bad News sells, and GW is always seen as Bad News - the BBC is prey to the same bias as all media - biassed towards what sells (Bad News).
What irks the most is the unprofessional way it is so often done. Like when any freak weather event is glibly linked with GW with a throw away non-commital line "could this be due to GW, well of course this is just one flood/drought/cold snap/hot spell/whatever, but..."
I've seen/read/heard nothing on BBC against GW hypothesis, or even any recognition that is is just that, a hypothesis. I'm innundated with views to the contrary. Biassed? You bet!

  • 14.
  • At 07:41 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Clive Dawson wrote:

What a joke! You'll be telling us black is white, next. People only have to watch the deluge of 'news' stories on BBC - and the manner in which they're presented - to see for themselves the impartiality on display.

Perhaps if you weren't so entrenched in the 'right-on' mindset so prevalent at the BBC, you'd see be able to see the bias for yourself, Mr Horrocks.

  • 15.
  • At 07:55 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Raj wrote:

Sorry Anthony but you are wrong. Our elected representatives are acting as if GW is happening, we need to know the reasons why. If another issue this important were ever to happen and media waited until scientific proof to discuss it, then the serial critics would moan it was too late.

Certainly an issue this important needs prominence.

What about the early stages of BSE, or when AIDs first came to prominence? Would it have been better to sit on our hands until further proof came through?

  • 16.
  • At 08:22 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • David G wrote:

Anyone who thinks "the weight of scientific opinion is increasingly strong" is not doing enough research and ought to start checking the gift horse's teeth.

Planet Relief is the latest embodiment of exactly where the BBC stands on climate change.

Fortunately the british public know when we are being sold a ringer.

If I were you I would be more worried about why you are so out of touch.

  • 17.
  • At 08:26 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Rogers wrote:

"BBC News certainly does not have a line on climate change, however the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man."

"BBC news programmes and our website of course reflect alternative views..."

In my opinion either Mr Peter Horrocks either doesn't listen the output of the BBC or he is incapable of balanced judgement.

I listen to Radio 4. There is a 100% presumption that man made climate change is happening. Further, there is a 100% presumption that when UK politicians propose punitive taxes and restrictions of individual freedom in the UK in the name of climate change 'this is a good thing.'

This clear BBC line is simply not backed by science, by economics or by common sense. The UK only consumes about 2% of the world's annual consumption of fossil fuels. If we all go back to living in caves, the increase in consumption in China would replace our entire savings in 18 months or less.

I am certain that if Global Warming was a real immediate threat to the UK, the BBC would surely get it wrong and would campaign to ignore the threat.

If predictions of major flooding, rises in sea level and agricultural doom were real then we should strengthen the economy to help pay for the enormous costs that might be forced on us. This is not a line that I ever expect to hear from the British Bastions of soCialism.

The BBC was wrong on the ERM, the BBC was wrong on the Euro. The BBC is wrong on almost every issue facing Britain since 1945. This is because the BBC is staffed by people who don't like let alone understand business, science, economics and nationhood.

Certain people are prone to adopting beliefs 'The USA is evil,' 'The European Union is good for Britain', 'Climate Change is real threat to everybody in England," "All immigration is good." these people who never question the consensus are the same as people who believed in "Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden" and those who thought the world was flat and the Earth is at the center of the Universe and of course their beliefs are equally worthless.

The BBC is staffed by people who believe very strongly in their moral right to impose very one sided censorship. For example, what news stories they allow people to comment on and whose comments are shown. So these words may very well not appear.

  • 18.
  • At 08:37 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • G. Cooper wrote:

Very disingenuous, Mr. Horrocks.

The BBC was quick to provide maximum publicity for Prof. Lockwood's recent claims, but I have yet to see a single word about the detailed refutation of Lockwood's paper by the Alberta-based Friends Of Science Society.

The 'growing consensus' in which you appear to believe, is nothing of the sort. There is, and always has been, a great deal of dissent.

The BBC as a whole is clearly partial on this issue - and if you truly believe it is not, then that is deeply troubling.

  • 19.
  • At 08:57 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Bob Irving, Cirencester, UK wrote:

As a student of global warming, I cannot say that I have seen any new evidence appearing that contradicts that supporting the existence of man-made global warming. As time goes on, the likelihood only get stronger. Why then does the BBC still feel the need to represent the contrarian view so strongly? The more weight given to that opinion the more excuse given to politicians not to do anything.

There are many people out there who believe in Creationism, but the Beeb does not give them equal air-time...

  • 20.
  • At 09:03 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Alan Reid wrote:

When I first heard about global warming and man's effect (1970, at a scientific meeting), the evidence was strong but not overwhelming. Now it is overwhelming. It would be OK for the BBC to have a "line". Just as you have a "line" on the earth orbiting the sun, rather than vice versa. Or on a spherical rather than a flat earth. You are overbalancing in favour of special interests by mentioning all the time that there are dissenting views.

  • 21.
  • At 09:39 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Middle England Man wrote:

Peter Horrocks' statement is a contradiction in terms. You can either be impartial or you can express an 'informed' judgment, but not both. If you want to be impartial you shouldn't judge - end of story. Any judgment is subjective and value-based.

If you actually take the trouble to look at all the climate change data, the scientific consensus is that there have been many examples of rapid climate warming in previous millenia, and man's contribution, although real, only partly explains the current trend of climate warming. The assertion that the current warming trend is unprecedented should also be treated with some wariness - I am old enough to recall forecasts in the mid 1970s that we were on the verge of a mini ice age !

Journalists and editors should remember that, although it has become politically correct to assert that climate change is solely due to man's impact, it is not scientifically proven (there are other explanations). It is not clear therefore that the efforts proposed to reduce human CO2 emissions will have a material impact on the warming trend. Their reporting should reflect that, if they wish to be strictly impartial.

More generally, I feel that one reason why the public have lost faith in the integrity of the BBC's broadcasting is that too often we don't know whether the BBC is being impartial or whether it is being judgmental. One of the reasons for this is editorial laziness - it is much simpler and quicker and intellectually more straightforward to stick to one point of view (usually fashionable opinion or current received wisdom) than it is to be strictly impartial.

Being impartial would mean explaining more than one point of view, and presenting the contradictory evidence from both sides. It would make broadcast journalism duller, but more informative and truthful, and at least your audience could rely on you for the facts in order to come to its own informed judgment. I suspect many do not at present.

  • 22.
  • At 09:58 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Dave E wrote:

This is an extremely fair and reasonable view to take, and the BBC should be commended.

The major contributory factor to the USA lagging so far behind the rest of the world in response to climate change issues can be traced to how the debate was portrayed in the media during the 1990's. American-based media presented the issue as a 50:50 for/against problem, due to an inappropriate desire need to allocate appropriate airtime or column space to a counter argument.

However, climate change is not a 50:50 issue - 95% of scientists are 100% sure climate change due to mankind is happening right now, and will only get worse. To present the issue as an even split in thinking in the scientific field is wrong, and misrepresents the good science being done in this field. As a scientific researcher myself (although not in this field), I find the level of scientific reporting to be so poor as to be absolutey scandalous (see, for example, the nuclear debate, which is still reported as a 50:50 issue despite most scientists knowing full well nuclear is the only safe, clean fuel option for the foreseeable future).

The BBC should continue to report the overwhelming scientific consensus accurately, and in fact should carry this type of thinking into all science reporting - the general public would then be far better educated and informed on real issues with direct effects and consequences.

  • 23.
  • At 10:22 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Anna Haynes, PhD wrote:

> It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject.

I can understand and sympathize with you not wanting to raise your head when the tomatos are flying - but isn't educating the public a part of your job?

  • 24.
  • At 10:53 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • John Airey BSc wrote:

I totally agree with Anthony. Whether you believe the earth is millions or thousands of years old, we simply haven't been gathering weather data long enough to know for sure whether GW is man-made.

Notwithstanding this, the scientific community has a vested interest in never making a direct decision either way. If you are looking for truth, don't ask a scientist (says he rather ironically...)!

  • 25.
  • At 11:04 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Douglas wrote:

There are no credible alternative theories - there is not even a real scientific debate here. The BBC should reflect this. Having no "line" is essentially to be totally unbalanced and highly misleading.

  • 26.
  • At 11:34 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • Cynosarges wrote:

Peter Horrocks piously declaring "BBC News certainly does not have a line on climate change" does not make this true. The truth can only be determined by reading the BBC's "portal" on climate change: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/portal/climate_change/default.stm

This tells a very different tale from Mr, Horrock's claims. He proclaims "we can make informed judgements and that is what we will continue to do" as the reason for his bias. However, the BBC's selection of information is how it implements it's line. Choose the information you like, and ignore that that you don't like!


In the past 2 months, three major elements of the IPCC model have been found wanting. The Greenland icecap has been found to have remained intact for the last 800,000 years, contradicting the theory of icecap melting. The Asian brown cloud has been shown to be warming, not cooling, showing that the aerosols have been modelled incorrectly (and consequently other factors must have been overweighted. And finally, the Gulf stream has been shown to vary by 800% in the course of a single year, showing that theories that proclaim the collapse of the North Atlantic Conveyor based on 5 measurements in 50 years are laughable.

Are any of these included in any of the BBC articles? No. Are the studies reputable? Yes. The authors are all contributors to the IPCC, but they checked theories based on flimsy evidence, and the evidence they found showed the theories wanting. Does the BBC include this in their "portal"? No. This evidence would contradict the party line.

  • 27.
  • At 11:45 PM on 30 Aug 2007,
  • John wrote:

On the news today was a report that childhood Measles is increasing, as a result of the MMR scare some years ago.

At the time of the scare, the BBC was very responsible. While it reported the alleged link with autism and the numbers refusing MMR, reporters also reminded viewers that there was still string advice towards the vaccine and that measles is a serious illness that can kill.

In the same way the BBC should report campaigns by the deniers of climate change, but must remind its audience of the mainstream view among scientists. There have been factual series about the climate, which is good and proper, but to make a circus of the issue is unnecessary and should be left to campaigners.

  • 28.
  • At 12:02 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Dr Kevin Law wrote:

I have not laughed so much in years. Reading the above defence of 'no bias' towards championing climate change was hilarious. The BBC is the biggest cheerleader for climate change in the UK. It does this at so many levels. 1. It tends to report only the research that supports climate change. 2. Its idea of a balanced discussion is to have two supporters of climate change and no sceptics. BBC Breakfast is the worst offender of this. 3. It relates every weather event to climate change without any evidence at all. (The recent floods are an example). 4. It gives a platform to Climate Change advocates whilst seldom doing the same for sceptics. 5. It showed the Climate Change Concert in July all day and allowed pro climate change speakers to rant and rave on prime time TV without any attempt to put their views into perspective. 6. To my knowledge the BBC has never made a TV programme countering the claims made for climate change, but has made very many in favour. 7 It allows sometimes outrageous claims to be made by the pro-climate change lobby on the flimsiest of evidence without ever challenging such claims. All in all the BBC has no integrity in this area what so ever. I simply dont believe anything I hear from the BBC over climate change as i know they have an agenda and I suspect are acting as a propaganda arm of the Government. So much for impartiality and independence.


  • 29.
  • At 12:03 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Michael Barnes wrote:

"In the Edinburgh session the possibility of the BBC doing a "consciousness-raising" event about the subject, possibly called Planet Relief, was raised.

There has been no decision yet....."

and you say there is no line? Perhaps I could suggest a "consciousness-raising" event called "Global Warming - doesn't look like it's happening then!" I am sure that will receive the same consideration - not.

Personally I am still not sure whether we are being somewhat pompous and self important thinking that we can do anything about this. Despite the widespread agreement that man is causing the planet to heat up there is not widespread agreement about how to prevent it. Will you really get China and India to rein back there CO2 output? My other query is - what should be happening to the temperature according to these climatologists? In living systems things are very rarely in a steady state until some time after death and not even then really. We know the temperature has gone up and down before (maybe for different reasons but it still happened)so why shouldn't it change now? Perhaps Gaia is trying to clear us out in order to try something else!

  • 30.
  • At 12:48 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • gordon-bennet wrote:

You say:

BBC News certainly does not have a line on climate change, however the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man.

See this link:

http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=b35c36a3-802a-23ad-46ec-6880767e7966

This proves the BBC is wrong.

  • 31.
  • At 01:13 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Hettie wrote:

In the last BBC Trust report (From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel) it is mentioned that the BBC "held a high level seminar and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consesus". It's on page 40.

This would suggest that the BBC has a definite line: it promotes a consensus. It's ok to say that, so why don't you?

(although I think science is evidence based, thus inherently argumentative and there are many examples of a consensus being broken up by new evidence)

  • 32.
  • At 01:36 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • John wrote:

The BBC seems to me to select the parochial, euro-centred assumptions that if Europe 'cuts back' industrial CO2, then this will somehow mitigate climate change when in fact there is no scientific evidence that these small reductions will have any impact whatsoever. The science does not indicate that climate is a linear system that will return to a particular state if one removes the 'push' that initiates the change. If it is changing then it may well continue to do so, no matter what we do.

I live in New Zealand, and, as far as I can work out, every two weeks or so China increases its greenhouse output by an amount that matches our whole country's output. In the face of that staggering increase, our particiaption in the Kyoto protocol seems to be costly and pointless.
I'm not skeptical that man's activities will affect the climate. I'm deeply skeptical that groups (on both sides) that tell us that they 'know' what to do, have any idea at all as to what the actual effects of their mitigation measures will be. Cutting back in one place may in fact make things worse because the global economic system can transfer activites to 'dirty' locations. On the economic front, it looks like a classic 'tragedy of the commons' game is playing out, and that particular dynamic is not explored in the press.
Uncritically reporting antagonistic opinions does nothing useful if one fails to consider that both sides may be talking nonsense when it comes to extrapolating from the science in to actions.

John

  • 33.
  • At 01:59 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Neil Lees wrote:

I'm sorry, but i disagree Mr. Horrocks. Given enough time i could trawl through your news articles and present proof of a 'line' as you say you don't have... alot of it is your 'paraphrasing' (which this site seems to drown in).... presented like a fact, but really it's all quotes.... perhaps it's the way you present other people's views, not your own, is where your bias lies.

  • 34.
  • At 03:28 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

You report that in the Edinburgh TV Festival, Channel Fours "The Great Global Warming Swindle" came in for sustained criticism yet Al Gores " An Inconvenient Truth" is full of inaccurate statements and is put across in a very emotive and misleading way. This is a huge issue. I personally am not sure either way but am fed up with the constant reporting of this as fact and being labelled a "Denier", "Flat Earther", "Earth Destroyer" Etc. The BBC could do everyone a great service by having a series of debates with views on both sides. There are just as many Climatologists who disagree with the Al Gore view of things.That would be far more useful than some fatuous "Planet Relief" day with Ricky Gervais and Jonathan Ross!!

  • 35.
  • At 05:16 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Roger wrote:

It;s sad to realise you don't watch BBC. If you did you might have noticed the large number of programmes supporting the hypothesis and the lack of any not supporting it. Impartial? Sorry, I don't think so.

  • 36.
  • At 06:02 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Will Hamilton wrote:

#1: "You start by saying that you try to be impartial but then admit that you do lean towards the GW con because of scientific evidence...hardly impartial then."

I'd rather the BBC be partial towards fact - I don't think I'm alone there.

  • 37.
  • At 06:55 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • James wrote:

This has got to be a joke, right? The BBC has taken the whole Global Warming con and swallowed it hook line and sinker!

Please provide a couple of links to ANY of the recent reports and journals providing a huge amount of evidence that the whole idea of global warming is wrong and / or that the models are completely incorrect.

Lets try the following mind experiment as evidence: imagine some calculations had been done that shows that the fixes made to the temperature record were incorrect and that the 1930s were now the warmest decade and that 1934 was the warmest year. How much press would this get in the BBC? Now imagine it the other way around. How much press would this get?

Now realise that in the last couple of months the former has actually happened with ABSOLUTELY NOTHING being written about by the fluffists in charge of the BBC.

  • 38.
  • At 07:35 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Elliot Spencer wrote:

What a load of tosh! The beeb does nothing else but push an agenda, all of the time! Not just on climate change but on any flavour-of-the-month liberal lefty cause. You omit inconvenient truths on any subject to which you have a left bias and spin opposing arguments by misrepresentation and elimination of the views of your most eloquent opponents.

BBC lines;

Anthropomorphic global warming - Definitely happening or really happening - you decide!

Immigration - fantastic or brilliant - you decide!

Multi culturalism - wonderful or superb - you decide!

Public good, private bad - which one of these statements is true, or is it both? - you decide!

Business = evil - true or really true? - you decide!

  • 39.
  • At 08:06 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • dave t wrote:

Err no. Time and again you fail to cite the counter arguments. I have seen nothing about the fact that NASA have admitted their data was wrong and that 1934 was the hottest year not 1998 as loudly proclaimed by the climate change junkies (who seem to spend a lot of time travelling the globe by air to tell us...) People scream about polar bears whose population has jumped from 5000 to 25000 in 20 years according to the Canadian Wildlife Survey! Islands in the Pacific are sinking because islands do that, not because of rising sea levels. One day you lot scream too much salt in the Atlantic, then two years later there's not enough then there's too much! Can you at least keep some consistency?

There is a big discussion going on in other countries and online about the way many weather stations are sited in car parks, next to air conditioning vents etc which affects their data which is then 'adjusted' but funnily enough always ends up supporting the climate change case...

Short answer is we do not know the full facts yet and the political bandwagon that has jumped onto global warming is the cause of much wrong data, downright lies and deliberate spreading of fear, especially amongst youngsters. Al Gore's movie is just as riddled with poor science and misleading data as the C4 counter film. Then again he is making a fortune out of his carbon offset company! I have never seen anyone try to explain away the fact that up here in the Far North of Scotland there used to be vineyards a few hundred years ago! Since there weren't cars around.......who you going to blame?

The BBC ARE NOT impartial in this debate - time and again many people I work with agree that you are pushing a particular line and do not show the other side of the argument which has just as much data to prove their case; that we don't know and therefore it is wrong to constantly scream global warming due to mankind etc just now.

  • 40.
  • At 08:20 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Thank you Simon Brown, Post 5

Very interesting link, with lots of balance.

Sadly there are many subjects on the BBC that I simply don't believe these days, due to their biased.

  • 41.
  • At 08:34 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • C Morley wrote:

Climate Change has become a religion.This is obvious from the fact that people with a differing opinion are vilified and disparaged. The whole scenario is another armagedon theory so beloved of the doomsayers of each decade. Silent Spring anyone...starvation through overpopulation (we are supposed to be extinct by now if you believed that 60`s codswallop..even CND nuclear holocast (yawn) Oh and were we not suposed to have run out of oil by now? The whole planet will eventually be burnt up by the sun and no matter how hairy our hair shirts are we will not be around to see it. A thousand years of feeling guilty will never change this despite The Prius and everyone staying home recycling and worrying about that pathetic carbon footprint. I will always respect the BBC but requisite global warming scare research is noticably ongoing. Last one I noticed....Climate Change to get Worse After 2011...do me a favour!

Scientists need funding and inconvenient truths be damned..if they threaten the necessity of the researchers themselves. Funny that!

  • 42.
  • At 08:49 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

A very sensible piece, and I also think that Steve Jameson (#6) has hit the nail on the head. You can, after all, only take impartiality so far.

Sure, there is no 100% proof that man-made climate change is happening, but there is pretty strong evidence. To give equal airtime to the climate change sceptics would be to distort the science, and I wouldn't want to see the BBC distort anything. Let their views be heard, for sure, but keep them firmly in the context of the largely self-interested minority that they are.

There are, after all, some people who believe the world is flat. Does anyone have a problem with the BBC working with the assumption that the world is round?

  • 43.
  • At 09:03 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • J.G. wrote:

Ths BBC does not have a line on climate change? You're avin a larf! Day after day we get one sided 'stories' which are really a collection of opinion from the usual BBC talking heads, from CBBC to the news and across all your drama output. If you really believe the BBC is impartial, why did you and others feel the need to speak out at the Edinburgh jolly? I will leave it to one who probably knows better than me to sum up:

"People who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that [global warming] is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago", Jeremy Paxman, Media Guardian, Jan 31st, 2007.

  • 44.
  • At 09:14 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Mick Wood wrote:

Simon Brown,please!
This is another biased site.
If you check this one also try
http://www.climatepolice.com/index.html
Level Play Ground?

  • 45.
  • At 09:18 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Ray Gillespie wrote:

"That is definitely not the same as us propagating a view ourselves about climate change. It's not our job to do that."

Who are you trying to convince? The viewers or yourselves?

  • 46.
  • At 09:35 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • SG wrote:

>we can make informed judgements and that is what we will continue to do.
Peter, thanks for standing upto the ill-informed and thoroughly 'balanced'.

I am surprised at the number of people who still seem to have doubts about climate change and human causes to it. Perhaps, BBC should spend even more time bringing out the scientifically well established correlations. If BBC's mandate is to inform, there's much more to do. It's tragic (and positively harmful) to see people spouting scepticism that is akin to 'look how open my mind is that my brains have fallen out'.

  • 47.
  • At 09:38 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • seamus mcneill wrote:

The BBC does have a line on climate change. Why do you have an environmental "analyst" when other areas of life have to do with "correspondents"? Is this designed to add a particular status to green issues? Why shouldn't Channel 4 air different views? The abuse of data is not confined to the sceptics. Unless and until the BBC subjects environmental pressure groups to the same scrutiny as politicians it will not be discharging its proper role. When last was Friends of the Earth or Greenpeace taken to task for predicting yet another "environmental catastrophe" which in the event did not materialise?

  • 48.
  • At 09:38 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Kate wrote:

The first poster 'accuses' you of leaning towards global warming "because of scientific evidence". Isn't this rather a good reason to believe and emphasise something. At a time when the government is being all hot air and no action (look at their attempts to massage the figures for renewables a few weeks back, rather than do something) - I applaud the BBC for not letting us forget it.

  • 49.
  • At 09:47 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Russell wrote:

The bias I find astonishing is not the BBC's, but the people who are writing these comments. For too long, media and therefore public opinion on this issue has been shaped by politicians with vested interests, not science. The BBC's reporting has merely caught up with the scientific consensus of near enough 100% agreement on this issue. Giving equal coverage to both viewpoints is misleading, as it suggests there is still scientific debate on the issue: there is, but the debate has moved on from 'is it really happening?' to 'how bad is it going to get?' Furthermore, the basic idea that our global temperature is in part determined by the composition of atmospheric gases is over 100 years old: there really is no escaping it.

Those people who are waiting for that last piece of clinching evidence that will 'prove' global warming is happening just don't understand how science works, and exemplify the capacity for humanity to stick it's collective head in the sand.

  • 50.
  • At 10:13 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Don wrote:

Funny how everybody can also detect a BBC 'line' on the following topics as well isn't it?

America
The Monarchy
Christianity
Israel
The Conservative Party
Business
Motoring
Aviation
Nuclear Power
Abortion
George Bush
The War in Iraq
Palistine
The Labour Party
The Lib Dems
The EU
Green Issues
Multiculturalism
Immigration
Islam

Everybody knows what the BBC thinks about these issues. Ask anybody in any street in the country.

  • 51.
  • At 10:25 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Gordon wrote:

"increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man"

Where is this evidence?

Between the last two IPCC reviews, they've more or less halved the estimated global temperature increase and doubled the estimated time by when it will occur.

The IPCC itself is gradually reducing the estimated effect man is having on the climate, so they clearly overestimated at the start. Perhaps more reductions will come out in the future.

The 'evidence' is thus that GW is not as bad as we thought. So why don't we see headlines to that effect?

In the last 10 years, the average global temperature has actually decreased. We are in a phase of global cooling at the moment, despite ever increasing man-made CO2 contributions.

Why don't we see headlines like: "Global Warming Now Replaced By Global Cooling"?

You could say "yes, but take it over the last 100 years" and I could say "no, take it over the last 1000 or 10,000 or 10,000,000 years".

The time-scales are arbitrary and coincidence (100 years GW with man-made CO2 emission increase) has been used as the crux of the pro-man-made-global-warming argument. This is very dangerous 'science'.

I think what actually happened was that politics got a hold of some speculative science and did what politics does to things. A snowball began rolling well before scientific due process had been completed and now that snowball has a momentum of its own.

Nevertheless, we *should* decrease man-made emissions, pollution, the cutting down of rain forests etc. We *should* look after our environment.

And, yes, we probably do have an effect on the environment.

The point is, I do not believe we have anywhere near the significance of effect that politicians and the media are trying to imply. Furthermore, the science is nowhere near complete yet and the scaremongering over GW is seriously overplayed.

  • 52.
  • At 10:44 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

"The only 'line' the BBC has on Climate Change is an impartial one."

What an insult to the intelligence of your readers/listeners/viewers.

Based on what the BBC feeds me, I think GW caused by human pollution is a distinct possibility.

However, as a former student of History, I know climate change happens anyway with climate swinging back and forward several times over each millenium. Warmer weather in Roman times, cooler wetter weather in the Dark ages, The Medieval warm period, The little Ice Age etc.

In addition no-one in the BBC has ever, to my knowledge, audited or had a critical look at the assumptions that have gone into any of the GW climate change models.

The truth is Peter, you are simply not qualified to judge what is good or bad scientific information.

Therefore I would suggest you do not write this kind of rhetorical defense of impartiality, when impartiality is a word you clearly do not seem to understand.

  • 53.
  • At 10:49 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Jon Anderson wrote:

No, the BBC is not presenting a balanced picture, despite plenty of evidence from NASA’s satellites that much of the ground-based data being used to predict catastrophic scenarios is plain wrong. It is frankly astonishing that with so many well known and respected climate scientists expressing serious reservations over the current ‘consensus’, the BBC feels able to ignore their contribution in favour of the usual suspects. All we get is megaphone politics or eco sound-bites when what is needed is programming time dedicated to proper scientific debate. Can’t the BBC arrange this anymore?

  • 54.
  • At 11:18 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • francis wrote:

I feel BBC online presents a slightly more balanced view than BBC TV. From articles critisising the media's use of inappropriate "catastrophy" language. ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6115644.stm ) to articles on Indonesias deforestation ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6354079.stm ) revealing the burning of the peat forests realeases far more CO2 than the USA! These articles are few and far between, but there are some. Of course if it doesn't have catastrophe or chaos in it, it's unlikely to interest the average reader... climate language inflation!

BBC TV on the other hand is a disgrace, particularly local news where every article from floods to starving africans is accompanied by a picture of an SUV and some dim witted girl 'explaining' some psuedo science nonsense. I would love to say the words "total lifecycle cost" to one of these 'journalists', just to see the vacant open mouthed stare you'd get back.

  • 55.
  • At 11:22 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Hello! wrote:

I would like to add a simple statement, and whatever scrutiny it may come under, so be it. A thing which I find to be quite confusing with reports I hear about the "changing climate" are things such as "It's the hottest day since...", I can appreciate that yes this may well be true, but when it is a time 20 odd years ago for example (not a specific example just a generalisation) that is referred to, surely that implies that it was in fact hotter then. How does this fall in line with the idea that the climate is changing? Surely this shows more that variations simply happen, and not that every slight little thing need be mentioned in the news as if it is of significance? Even the idea of this being the wettest summer since records began carries very little weight because there will always come a time when something will beat a record, for example in sport, just because someone beats a world record it does not mean that participants of that sport are better than their earlier counterparts, simply that this person has broken a single record. To place weight on such things seems foolish. I would like to finish this with saying that I feel I am not prejudice toward either idea, climate change or not, I am yet to be convinced in either way. BUT, I would like a more fair account in the news and not the implication that the world is in imminent danger from the effects of man, which seems to be commonplace at the moment, when as far as I can see that is yet to be observed...

  • 56.
  • At 11:53 AM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Anothny - "You start by saying that you try to be impartial but then admit that you do lean towards the GW con because of scientific evidence.."

What a ridiculous statement. Would you rather it drew it's conclusions from something else, other than scientific research - like, for example innate political prejudice, or deliberate misrepresentations or obfuscations from commercially minded organisations who have a lot to lose, like Big Oil?

The scientific evidence strongly (and increasingly) supports the view of AGW, so why is it wrong to report on it?

Well Peter:

"People who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that [global warming] is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago",
Jeremy Paxman, Media Guardian, Jan 31st, 2007.

See my piece at Biased BBC if you're interested in a longer response and more discussion on the BBC's 'line'.

  • 58.
  • At 12:51 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Jonathan wrote:

Whether or not we believe that the warming of the world is caused by man or not, what cannot be refuted is that man is pumping into the atmosphere millions of tons of co2 that was locked up in oil and coal millions of years ago, in a very short space of time - a couple of hundred years. What also cannot be refuted is that the world is warming - it has been warming since the end of the last ice age and will continue to do so until it starts the descent into the next ice age.

It is right of the BBC to report on it and, since in my opinion the BBC lost it's impartiality many years ago (just look at the anti 4x4 bias of it's reporting), I see no issue with it having a line, as long as it makes it clear that it is a 'line' they are promoting and don't pretend they are impartial.

  • 59.
  • At 01:45 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • John M wrote:

The BBC lost any impartiality years ago when it discovered that alarmist stories get attention.

One product of this bias seems to be the number of people posting comments that show how little they understand the science. The supposed consensus and a few correlations are claimed by posters to be some kind of proof of man-made warming. The consensus is both far weaker than claimed and irrelevant, and a correlation is not proof of causation but apparently that doesn't stop the arm-chair experts.

They are as laughable as the BBC's claim to impartiality!

  • 60.
  • At 01:54 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Dodo wrote:

It is good to hear that the BBC is still holding on to impartiality as one of its principles, in the face of much alarmism and hysteria.

One question, though. What is the picture of a tornado doing in this blog entry? Is there a message about the number or intensity of tornados somewhere? Or did you just choose it to increase the drama of a dull piece arguing for impartiality?

  • 61.
  • At 01:59 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Vic wrote:

I would like to see the BBC do a program on the geological record of planet earth, and how climate change has been going on for about 4.2 billion years, not just since accurate weather records began about 250 years ago. The earth has never been in equilibrium but is continually changing, and is also greatly influenced by the activity of the Sun. In the past planet Earth has been much hotter and much colder than it is now, and sea levels have been much higher and much lower at various times in geoogical history than they are at present. This desire for some sort of ideal and stable climate is quite frankly ridiculous. I think humanity should certainly be more responsible in it's stewardship of planet Earth, but it is rather conceited of all these journalists who seem to believe that humanity is the cause of everything good or bad and that we are the pinacle of evolution and must somehow save the planet. A few too many superman films perhaps.

The Earth will continue to exist long after humanity is extinct and I suggest all journalism courses in future should include a geology or global processes unit just in case they go on to work for the BBC or the Independent. Humanity is more at risk from a mega-volcanic eruption or a large meteorite impact than climate change, but no amount of recycling is going to help prevent that so let's all worry about something we think we can affect.

  • 62.
  • At 02:00 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Holden wrote:

"BBC News does not have a line on Climate Change" - you're 'avin' a larf, aren't you?. Don't you read your own website or somefink?

  • 63.
  • At 02:03 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • G. Cooper wrote:

"What also cannot be refuted is that the world is warming..." writes Jonathan, at 12.51, while others bandy about terms like 'deniers' 'flat-earthers', mutter about 'big oil' and proclaim a wholly fictitious consensus.

Of course it can be refuted. In fact, and as has been explained, research shows that the earth is not warming and has not done so for a decade.

Why are people not aware of this fact?

Equally, the latest research shows that the majority of published, peer-reviewed scientific papers do not support the anthropogenic hypothesis.

And yet people repeat these same untruths, over and over again, mantra-like - either ignorant of, or unwilling to admit to, the facts.

In the end, one can only wonder why there is such wilful blindness? Surely it couldn't be because the MMGW theory supports so much else they believe in, could it?

  • 64.
  • At 02:52 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Peter Whitehead wrote:

Science is not politics. Science does work by consensus, and the consensus IS the climate change/anthropogenic CO2 model. The BBC does not give space to the Flat Earth Society on the Sky at Night, nor should it. The Natural History Unit follows the scientific consensus on evolution, and does not include creationism in David Attenborough's series, and nor should it.
Those who don't 'agree' with climate change seem to think it is a political opinion. The Royal Society website is where they need to go.

  • 65.
  • At 03:00 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • James S wrote:

To the people writing about some sort of scientific consensus can you please provide some details of where this is?

All I know about is a 4 year old paper published by an historian which has since been thoroughly discredited.

The last paper I read about a consensus said that only about 20% of papers published completely agreed with the science of AGW, 45% disagreeing and the remainder somewhere in between.

Nope, can't see a consensus here.

  • 66.
  • At 03:48 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Bill wrote:

The BBC is suckered in by its own reporting when it says "there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man." Can the BBC point to any objective polling of the scientific community that supports this position? Of course not. The BBC is simply living in a fantasy world that it has in part created.

They also demonstrate a lack of understanding of science. Unlike other areas where opinion plays a major role (e.g., politics), science is not based on balancing views "mathematically." Majority rule, consensus, etc. play no role in science. If it did, we would still be firmly convinced that Galileo was wrong and the earth did indeed go around the sun. As a result, responsible reporting of scientific issues requires equal airing of all arguments and not one based on the number of voices in various camps.

Overall, a very disappointing comment from the journalist world that indicates some retraining in the fundamentals of journalism is sorely needed.

  • 67.
  • At 04:05 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Walter wrote:

There are a number of problems with the BBC's view and many have been touched upon in previous comments.

However, one aspect of the issue that the BBC fails to appreciate is that the question of global warming is really two questions. First, is there or is there not actually an increase in temperature above and beyond normal variation (probably yes because we are still warming up from the little ice age that ended in the 1800s). If so, at what rate, how general, and so on. In short, is climate change really happening. Most, if not all, scientists would argue that it is although the rate of warming and amount are not always clear for a number of reasons, including data quality and amount of data.

If one accpets that the climate is changing, there remains the question of the extent that such change is due to human activities. Here the water gets very muddy. In the last analysis, conclusions regarding this question require climate models. Unfortunately, although there are numerous models none have yet been verified and there is ample evidence that the models are lacking in a number of different ways.

The BBC would serve the public well if it pulled the question of "global warming" apart into two pieces - climate change and affect of human activity on climate change. Doing so would begin to give the public a clearer view of the issues and provide a more objective basis for public policy decisions which should be a major goal of the BBC.

  • 68.
  • At 04:09 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Cormac wrote:

"...the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man."

The scientific opinion is, in fact, overwhelming. Indeed, a consensus exists. That your coverage doesn' (by your own admission) reflect this fact means that your coverage is biased in favor of the denial crowd.

  • 69.
  • At 04:35 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Peter Galbavy wrote:

The BBC, through it's editorial and commisioning groups, is guilty of having a "line" on climate change and/or global warming. See, you've even got me linking the two.

The problem is one of conflation and the nonsense logic of unrelated phenomena and so-called facts. A car has wheels, therefore all wheeled objects are cars ? I don't think so.

It seems that every story, and I mean EVERY story, on the BBC News is somehow always, and usually tenuously, linked to "global warming", "climate change", "carbon footprints" and the like by incredulous presenters. People killed in an earthquake ? Climate change! 100 year old wins lottery ? Carbon offsetting!

Getting bored ? Got bored ages ago.

  • 70.
  • At 04:45 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • jon wrote:

As long as we have Newsnight, things aren't too bad. I get the impression that minor divergences from North London Guardian-speak are ok so long as they are not of the "I'll get my coat" variety. The BBC seems to be very wary about frank discussion of immigration, for example. I'm particularly annoyed at how sympathetic the BBC is toward the smoking ban. Spokespeople for anti-smoking activist groups such as ASH and FRESH are never rigourously challenged and seem to chosen for interview in preference to serious scientists.

  • 71.
  • At 04:46 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Otto Wildgruber wrote:

Why don't you simply confess that BBC is just the abbreviation for
Brtitish
Brainwashing
Company

  • 72.
  • At 05:08 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Thomas Williams wrote:

James (37) - perhaps that data wasn't reported on the BBC (if indeed it wasn't - I've not bothered to check) because it was a minor adjustment that changed 1998 from being very, very slightly hotter than 1934 to being very, very slightly colder. Or perhaps it was because it was only dealing with temperatures in the lower 48 of the USA, and not global temperatures where recent years remain slightly hotter than 1934? Or perhaps because individual years are unimportant compared to the trend, which is still rising even with the adjusted model, with five-year averages being higher than in the 1930s?

  • 73.
  • At 05:21 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

There is no question but that the BBC has a 'line' on everything, and it's always to the left of the spectrum. As to global warming, I saw a comment from some BBC type the other day, to the effect that there is a consensus about it in scientific circles, and the BBC should reflect that. For a start, there is no such consensus except in the minds of the global warming fanatics, and for a finish we don't want the BBC to reflect anything whatsoever, or make any 'judgements', we just want it to report the news, preferably without further comment. IT SHOULD NOT HAVE ANY OPINION AT ALL, COLLECTIVE OR OTHERWISE, OR COME TO ANY JUDGEMENTS.

  • 74.
  • At 05:45 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Dave Williams wrote:

It's always depressing to read comments on a climate change issue. Even the best contributions that try to back their statements with links to in-depth explanations are hard trust due to the fact decently contrsucted arguments proving that Elvis is alive and Alien abductions are real can be easily found on the wonderful world wide web. But most are worse than that, they are shaped purely by individual's own political prejudices (e.g."I hate stinking lefty Greenpeace student types and they support climate change so I don't"). The BBC is undoubtably biased on the issue but simply giving programs that try yo rubbish Green issues is not the answer if they all include journalism as bad as last nights "Costing the Earth" on BBC2. Listening to blatent mistruths amoungst whole segments of misrepresentation and misinterpretation on an issue I can claim via my work to be an expert in has really left me depressed as to how useless the reporting is on all those issues I don't know much about. For the record:
1)Wind companies care a great deal about about placing wind farms in windy sites, its how they make money and if they didn't I wouldn't have a job as I tell them how windy it is.
2)Noone in the industry argues for battery storage - stronger, wider grids are how to challenge variability.
3)The UK does have the best wind resource in Europe. That wind is variable is common everywhere.
4)Germany, Spain and Denmark manage to handle ten to twenty times as much wind as a percentage of their energy supply as the UK and suffer no power failures as a result.
5)A wind farm does not need a mean wind speed of 8.5 m/s to be viable. Viability depends upon the cost of energy but we are very lucky in the UK that we have so many sites that get near this level. Germany with all its wind farms gets nowhere near.
6)The grid IS designed to be extremely variable - that is how it deals with the large power swings the population demands throughout the day.
7)Wind, like Nuclear, is capital intensive and therefore best suited to providing base load rather than the opposite as said by the presenter.
8)All other energy industries are also subsidised - the different ways in which they are make direct comparisons on price difficult which is one reason why so many different figures "proving" things one way or the other are published.
9)Capacity Factor is just an indicator of the expected energy production of a wind farm. To call it an efficiency suggesting the rest is somehow paid for and wasted is ridiculous - it's free air!! The final cost per kilowatt is all that matters.

There are many genuine issues regarding wind power and whether it can ever genuinely contribute enough energy to contribute heavily towards our energy demands. But its clean and comes from our own shores which in my mind is a big boost on being at the mercy of Russian Gas or Iranian Oil.

  • 75.
  • At 06:10 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Tim Dennell wrote:

“the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man.”

Some of the above comments disbelieve that statement, but it is a true reflection of the state of scientific opinion. After all, who could the BBC approach for an informed, considered scientific opinion?

Well the BBC could ask representatives for the Royal Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society of America, the American Chemical Association, the American Geophysical Union, the American Institute of Physics or NASA's Goddard Institute of Space Studies - all of whom have endorsed the AGW hypotheisis.
The BBC could ask the Bush administration, after all George W. Bush commissioned the Federal Climate Change Science Program in 2002. In 2006 this released the first of 21 assessments that concluded that there is ‘clear evidence of human influences on the climate system, due to changes in greenhouse gases, aerosols, and stratospheric ozone.’
The BBC could ask the normally cautious American Meteorological Organisation, that issued a statement earlier this year noting “There is adequate evidence from observations and interpretations of climate simulations to conclude that the atmosphere, ocean, and land surface are warming; that humans have significantly contributed to this change; and that further climate change will continue to have important impacts on human societies.”
Or maybe a representative from the Academies of Science of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Carribean, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sweden or the United Kingdom - who have all issued statements regarding AGW.
(The national science academies of the G8 nations along with the science academies of Brazil, China and India all signed a statement in 2005 that stressed that the scientific understanding of climate change had become sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action.)
Or perhaps they could ask a representative from the one of the 188 national meteorological organizations that form the membership of the World Meteorological Organization - that oversees the work of the IPCC.
Or maybe the BBC could ask an oil company:
BP: “There is an increasing consensus that climate change is linked to the consumption of carbon based fuels and that action is required now to avoid further increases in carbon emissions as the global demand for energy increases.”

I doubt if you got all the above together in a hall they’d agree on every jot and detail, but on the substantive issue – AGW due to GHG’s - they do all seem to agree.

And agreement is more than the contrarians seem able to achieve. There seem to be at least half a dozen alternative hypothesises with precious little evidence, just sweeping generalisations. Balanced doesn’t mean that every opinion has to be given equal weight, just acknowledgment that there is a majority opinion, and a number of minority ones. And minority ones should be subject to close scrutiny.

(There's also a lot of general ignorance of even basic science, how many people on HYS could give an impromptu run through of the electromagnetic spectrum, why some gases are greenhouse and others aren't or why an ice age begins for example?)

How we respond to climate change is really up to the political parties and ultimately ‘us’, the electorate. Personally I doubt we [the world] will cut emissions substantially enough, so we’re in the ‘adaptation’ game. Energy alternatives should be vigorously explored anyway, not least because the oil companies believe that oil and gas reserves will be seriously depleted by the middle of this century, even with the arctic being opened up.

  • 76.
  • At 06:16 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Najman wrote:

Sorry mate, but I do not believe you.

Here's a link on your site ...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/portal/climate_change/default.stm

... called 'Climate Change'.

Here's a link on that page that says ...

'Live Earth
Eight concerts. More than 100 artists. One aim - to help start a movement to solve climate change.'

That somewhat gives the game away, no?

  • 77.
  • At 06:38 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Michael Bertaut wrote:

My friends....

If I flip over the the Science/Nature web portal right now this minute and I count 11 of 28 stories that are directly or indirectly climate focused (39.3%). Of the 11, none offer any opinion that climate change may not be a)happening at all or b) if happening, not man-made.

Just a quick snapshot, but in fact whether you intend it or not, you are strong supporters of the human-induced climate change theory, if by your mix of story selection alone.

Now, as a former journalist, I know how provocative and interesting climate change stories are. And I realize that they draw a dedicated, young, and spendthrift following, which is perfect for the media. But don't try to mollify your reading public with tales of your lack of bias.

Frankly, it's an insult to the readers to suggest such a thing. Best to declare your obvious bias and take pride in it. That way, when 10 or 15 years from now this human-induced climate change nonsense falls into disrepute, you can harrange a whole new crop of listeners with how unintelligent scientists really are. What a great story that will be!

mrb

  • 78.
  • At 06:39 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

I, unlike many it would seem, remain undecided on the issue of man-made climate change. Whilst it is clear that something HAS changed (we've had no proper snow in Leeds for over a decade, and the subzero temperatures of my childhood are rapidly becoming a memory) there seems little consensus on the extent to which this has happened or will happen, or to which human activity is responsible.

However I would certainly concur with the commentators who suggest that were I to base my conclusion on the BBC's output I'd almost certainly come down on the side of the most catastrophic climate disaster imaginable, and place the blame squarely with man-made causes.

I know little about the science behind climate change, and I'll leave the nuances of that argument to others better read than I. My topic of interest is the so-called obesity epidemic, another of those issues on which the Corporation has displayed a clear bias in favour of an accepted and largely unchallenged consensus, and it would seem from reading through this thread that for an 'impartial' outlet there seems to be a rather long list of issues on which the BBC's approach is all too predictable.

These unexplored assumptions which seem to underpin all BBC reporting on a given subject serve only to close down the debate and mislead the public. In the case of obesity, these are 1/. that fat people are inherently unhealthy; 2/. that there has been a clear and indisputable rise in the numbers of fat people; 3/. that being over the prescribed weight limits is almost always as a result of excessive eating / insufficient exercise and that 4/. therefore government intervention (health warnings, 'fat taxes', various initiatives in schools) are the only solutions to this perceived crisis.

Never mind that statistics, studies and sociological papers exist which debunk every single one of these assumptions, as far as the BBC is concerned they may as well not and will never see the light of day. Never mind that you could easily get a fat acceptance / sceptic comment from Paul Campos, Marilyn Wann or various organisations (NAAFA, ISAA) rather than just relying on Sir Ian Campbell of Weight Concern for a soundbite every single time (it's getting like the Shami Chakribarti situation!). How is it that a small online publication such as Spiked magazine can examine both sides of this debate when the allegedly impartial BBC seem determined to perpetuate a simplistic moral panic? And if the BBC holds science and scientists in such high regard why do you insist on reporting every pseudo-study and data-mining exercise (provided it supports your line) as hard and irrefutable fact when sometimes even the reserachers themselves stress the limitations of their work?

I've said it before, and it has been mentioned elsewhere in this thread, but I would very much love to see a series of televised debates / investigative shows examining this and other major social issues of the day from all perspectives. Put them all in a studio and let them argue it out; it would make better television than Question Time with its carefully selected audience of lefty students and pre-approved discussions, and people might come away with a broader understanding of these issues than the media is currently providing.

I'd rather pay my license fee for this than endless Eastenders or some other show about singing restauranteurs dancing on ice. But then of course post-Hutton you're all too terrified of your own shadows (and more to the point of losing the license fee) to question the NuLab aproach to social policy. I think we can safely say there's fat chance of ever seeing balanced coverage of any contested topic by the BBC, which seems to have long ago made up its mind on just about every debate there is.

  • 79.
  • At 08:34 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • John A wrote:

Well there you have it Peter. 59 comments (including this one) and every single one contradicted your claim about not having a line on climate change.

Never mind. At the end of the month, your salary cheque is exactly the same.

Of course speaking as one of the people who help pay for that salary, I can only surmise that you have no shame about taking it.

  • 80.
  • At 08:44 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • John Anderson wrote:

This claim that the BBC has no "line" on global warming, and on the idea that mankind (rather the sun) is a total porkie-pie.

It is so extreme, it reminds me of Hilaire Belloc's poem :

"Matilda told such dreadful lies
It made one gasp and stretch one's eyes"

It is only in recent weeks that the panjandrums at the Beeb have admitted there is ANY debate on this issue.

As others have said - this is either the BBC being anti-capitalist as usual - or sheer ignorance. Or probably a combination of the two.

Mr Horrocks - you can see how riled you have made people with this disingenuous blog-post.

Maybe you should reconsider your arguments - rather than be held in ridicule ?

  • 81.
  • At 09:05 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Paul Rogers wrote:

Karl Marks; "Die Religion ... ist das Opium des Volkes."

An indoctrinated disciple 'Dave E' claimed: "... the nuclear debate, which is still reported as a 50:50 issue despite most scientists knowing full well nuclear is the only safe, clean fuel option for the foreseeable future."

If that is true, and if we agree that all people require some energy, then it must follow that every country must have the right to nuclear power. This, we know from experience is the route to nuclear weapons and nuclear accidents. Thus to mitigate the remote risk of a catastrophe due to 'Global Warming' occurring in perhaps 100 years time, Dave E is apparently prepared to risk nuclear annihilation in the next 20. I would rather take my chances with a warmer summer and a bit more rain. I know which is better for my garden.

Dave E's 'safe clean fuel' could very easily turn into the single biggest mistake ever made by mankind.

  • 82.
  • At 09:44 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Nicholas Murphy wrote:

I am normally a staunch defender of the BBC, of its reporting and of its neutrality. However over the issue of climate change the BBC is continually and clearly one-sided. Take for instance packages on 'Breakfast', 'The One Show' and other BBC News outlets. We are repeatedly told that we should and how we should save energy based on the assumption that climate change is caused by human activity.

Your science correspondents consistently fail to produce balanced reports - that while citing the evidence for climate change they fail to cite evidence against or the voices of skepticism or descent.

It's time the BBC cleaned up its act.

  • 83.
  • At 10:14 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Jennifer wrote:

I have to agree with many that, whilst the BBC may say it doesn't have a line on climate change, it most certainly gives the strongest of impressions that it does!I do believe in climate change - there's more than enough evidence for that in both geological and historical records) but am not entirely convinced about AGW. Nor do I think that the subliminal message given each time renewable energy is mentioned of wind turbines being pictured is coincidence - of course the excuse is that this is the most advanced of green technologies, but the BBC manages to conveniently ignore putting up pictures of the destruction the basic infrastructure for these factories causes - just look up Derrybrien, people!

The odd programme like Costing the Earth (30/8/07) might be used as an argument that the Beeb is not biassed, but the wind industry spokeswomen should have been subjected to a John Humphries political type interview and her pathetic humming and hawing pounced on! And why didn't the interviewer ask just how much money that farmer was getting in rent??

Sorry, BBC, but you're losing street cred!

  • 84.
  • At 11:24 PM on 31 Aug 2007,
  • Bob Pollock wrote:

Quite clearly BBC does have a line on climate change with your statement that it is a "fact" that "the weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate is happening and is being largely caused by man" is "not overwhelming". That is hardly a statement of impartiality and tells me that BBC News sits squarely in the "sceptics" camp. You do have a line and in terms of the weight of scientific opinion it represents a minority viewpoint.

  • 85.
  • At 03:15 AM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • kate wrote:

Interesting comments: 38 denying the science behind global warming, about 15 supporting the validity of the scientific evidence.

Good thing medical decisions are not based on seeking consensus in public opinion.
There are those who have the OPINION that use of condoms is unnecessary, that vaccines are harmful, that seatbelts increase risk of injury. These opinions do not need equal airtime with more evidence based recommendations.

The argument that scientists are arguing on behalf of global warming for their own financial interests is classic Carl Rove: take your vulnerability and argue that the opposition has this problem.

The reality is there are those with financial incentives to deny global warming who are fueling the argument that man made CO2 emissions are accelerating global warming this is a matter of opinion; THAT fact doesn't get enough coverage.

During propaganda blitz pre Iraq war, in the "you're with the terrorist if you don't agree with us" days in US, opponents of Iraq war were called Nazi's to distract from atmosphere of intimidating nationalism.

During campaign between Bush the draft evader and Kerry, the decorated war veteran, Kerry was slandered as not being the soldier his record showed he was to distract from the evidence of Bush's evasion of service.

Don't be bullied. Stay with the truth.

  • 86.
  • At 05:08 AM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • chrisb wrote:

Which scientists tell you mmgw is overwhelmingly supported?
The very same scientists who rely on it for their income,research grants,facilities and status?
The bbc doesn`t take a line on this?
I hope you are a fool because i would hate to think you are a liar.
By law if i want to to watch television(any channel!) i am obliged to stuff your pockets with my hard earned.We should be enjoying views from a far wider spectrum than the narrow bbc approved agenda.
Best wishes from one of the people who helps pay for your car, petrol, the food on your table,your kids education,the house you live in, your pension and your holiday flights.(please dont feel you have to bother with anyones view other than your own(but then you don`t do you?))

  • 87.
  • At 07:43 AM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Cope wrote:

I am certain that everyone at the BBC has a view on whether the earth is flat, on whether bacteria are the agents of infection and so on. In the case of human-caused global warming, the same ought to apply. All things are not obvious to common sense, and in these cases we rely on the scientific consensus, rather than on superstition, wishful thinking or corporate propaganda.

For the BBC not to have a view on climate change is ingenuous. It ought to have a view - and one which follows the evolving and ever-refined view of climate scientists. Who else should we believe? Corporate shills? Rain-makers and shamans? The angry and abusive denialists (but science-free) who post on the issue?

" there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man."

That statement isn't exactly accurate.
When Naomi Oreskes in 2004 analyzed "928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" " in 2004.

"Of all the papers, 75% either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.0% none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position."

Since 2004 there are more evidences that show the magnitude and urgency of the subject

The accurate statement should be
Overwhelming weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man."

So don't be shy to have a line on climate change
like all the scientific organizations in the world !

The source:
BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER:
The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change
-Naomi Oreskes - science magazine


  • 89.
  • At 11:01 AM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Dr JJG wrote:

I'm shocked by the scientific illiteracy shown in these comments. Balance means giving coverage to views equal to their credibility. The weight of scientific evidence is that we are effecting our climate, and that this can be slowed or counted by reducing pollution. But isn't reducing pollution good anyway? Do you like litter? Smoggy streets?

Rather than reading "GWcon" sites, why not learn real science by doing an A-level, IB, or degree from home. They are cheap, not very hard, and rewarding. Then you can decide which side is presenting real science.

  • 90.
  • At 12:47 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

Horrocks says evidence is 'increasingly strong' (but not overwhelming)'. What is he talking about? It is overwhelmingly overwhelming. This is the bogus 'impartiality' that irritates me.

It is time to take a very strong line, therefore.

There is a possibility (in that it has not and cannot be proved impossible) that Maddie McCann was abducted by aliens. Are the angry naysayers here proposing the theory is given airtime? The same sorts will dismiss homeopathy as having only very slight scientific support (even if some big science names give it time, and the Queen uses it, etc). So why are they so lenient on climate sceptics, as few as they are compared to the mainstream?

A key point is that no-one benefits that much from promoting the 'con' of global warming. The myth that anyone is minting it out of this is nonsense. Conversely, serious money is being made by maintaining and bolstering the fossil-fuel age.

Heads out of the sand, methinks.

(And: why do so many angry naysayers find it impossible to spell? I read one comment on the Guardian site (not 'cite', see above), where some angry anti misspelt his own name. Yikes. Save us from misspelling as much as from climate apathy.)

  • 91.
  • At 01:32 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

"BBC news programmes and our website of course reflect alternative views but we do not balance these views mathematically..."

I've just had a look at your website page on climate change and I can't see even one. Not one.

I've also had a look at the 'evidence' page and found no mention of any evidence for alternatives, or anything at all sceptical of the evidence you present. There is even something that looks very much like the hockeystick graph! Don't you think the scientific controversy around it is at least worth mentioning?

You don't have to balance them mathematically. Just put one tiny link on the page, call it "sceptic's corner", put some disclaimers on the front to say all the "we do not endorse... only in response to criticism... open debate... not consensus of scientific opinion... don't believe a word of it... enter at your own risk..." stuff, and then open it up to the best the sceptics have to offer. Invite regular short articles from or interviews with people like Pielke, Monkton, Christy, Lindzen, McIntyre, Watts, Lomborg, and so on. You can even insist on adding a bit at the bottom of each to point out any factual errors they make. You can then leave everything else the same.

You would then have a cast-iron case for claiming that you really do present alternative views, and if you're right and there's no credible contrary evidence, their failure to produce it will only strengthen your editorial line. Right?

I won't hold my breath.

  • 92.
  • At 01:52 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Bob wrote:

The August issue (pp. 64-73) of Scientific American has a article that presents the evidence for global warming.

Some claim that scientists are pushing global warming as a way to generate research dollars. That cynical view is countered by the fact the predictions of the computer models are happening on a global scale - the polar regions are the first to warm and freakish weather. The implications of global warming require a loud warning as soon as possible.

BBC should be commended - it is the 50/50 argument that is grossly incorrect.

  • 93.
  • At 07:06 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • karl wrote:

Theories about GW are based on the soft science of modelling ie guesswork and assumptions. This reliance on models has parallels in the current financial world where the 'Quanta' funds that used computed models have lost billions and those based on 'human' methods have not done so badly.

Models are as flawed and biased as the people who programme them - even the multinationals gave up modelling the future in the 80s when they checked their predictions against reality and realised how rubbish they were.

Models are only guestimates and should never be taken too seriously when there are so many, many variables involved.

The BBC is way too biased and believing of modelling 'experts' who could not even forecast last winter's weather and this summer's.

Wasn't it the Beeb that went along with the 'Global Freeze' idea in the 70s? Won't they ever learn??

  • 94.
  • At 08:26 PM on 01 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Reed BSc wrote:

So what is this supposed "other side of the argument" on climate change?

From the above we have:

Claims about the Greenland icecap having been extant for 800k years - When observations there show not only "rapid and synchornous" glacial retreats across large parts of Greenland, and the Arctic is at the moment undergoing what seems to be a structural failure. That suggests that what is happening now is unusual for the last 800k years.

Claims about the temperature on 2% of the globe's surface being relevant to trends of Global Warming (USA 1934 GISS correction). Thus ignoring the other 98% - anyone with a smattering of maths (averaging) knows that's wrong.

Not understanding that the paper that shows warming in the troposphere due to the Asian Brown Cloud, does not refute previous work showing substantial reduction of warming trend at the surface (both papers lead author - Ramanthan). Surface and Troposphere are not the same.

Not having read the IPCC Policy for Summary Makers which clearly outlines why IPCC projections for AR4(2007) are not simplistically comparable (page 14, note 15) with AR3(2001).

Coming out with the hackneyed "cooling since 1998" which is not the case when you refer to the GISS/CRU/GHCN datasets instead of uncritically swallowing denialist rhetoric.

Citing individual component carbon fluxes such as that from peat burning, whilst ignoring the multiple independent lines of evidence (e.g. Seuss effect) for human's being resposible for the CO2 increase. i.e. not taking the time to understand the science of carbon fluxes.

All of these basic errors (sorry to be blunt) are caused by people uncritically swallowing arguments without taking time out to learn the science. The BBC is doing a pretty reasonable job of reporting climate change.

The primary peer-reviewed literature clearly supports the scientific consensus that we are the causing global warming.

The denialist position is based upon a campaign of disinformation and obfuscation funded by the Fossil Fuel Industry.

  • 95.
  • At 11:50 AM on 02 Sep 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

I am certainly not a 'climate-change denier' and believe the balance of the evidence for man-made global warming.

However I am annoyed at people at the BBC who use the words 'climate' and 'weather' interchangeably !! They are two very different concepts and I wish you would learn the difference.

As a particularly bad example of this, and a rather obvious example that Peter Horrocks is talking out of his backside when he says there is 'no line', have a look at this dreadful series of poorly thought out films from BBC Scotland.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6974868.stm

  • 96.
  • At 12:05 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Jay Furneaux wrote:

"You start by saying that you try to be impartial but then admit that you do lean towards the GW con because of scientific evidence...hardly impartial then.." Anthony

A number of those sceptical of AGW climate change have cited the Greenland ice sheet as being 800,000 years old. Yet there are those who believe that the world is only 6,000 years old, in accordance with a biblical view of creation, younf earth creationists perform great feats of mental gymnastics in order to demonstrate that these ice cores cannot be more than 6,000 years old.
http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v15/i3/greenland.asp

Should the BBC report this viewpoint as well?

And Anthony, what makes you think your view is impartial? Your use of the word ‘con’ indicates a value judgement. Fair enough to express an opinon, but don’t lets pretend your views are impartial either.

  • 97.
  • At 12:16 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Fay wrote:

I'd like to see the BBC do a proper programme on the scientific method, to explain it to the general public - not hidden away on BBC 4, either. Judging by the comments here, which rely on feelings, anecdotes, and following easily understandable spin rather than the complicated nuances of science, it is sorely needed.

Global warming on the media is portrayed either as "It's the end of civilisation!" or "It's all a con!". Neither are an accurate portrayal of the facts.

  • 98.
  • At 02:00 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

G Cooper (#63): "Equally, the latest research shows that the majority of published, peer-reviewed scientific papers do not support the anthropogenic hypothesis."

Really? Do you have a citation for this latest research?

Bill (#66): "Can the BBC point to any objective polling of the scientific community that supports this position? [that climate change is happening and being largely caused by man]"

I'm sure they could if they looked. For example, you could try http://downloads.heartland.org/20861.pdf for a start.

  • 99.
  • At 05:29 PM on 03 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Dennell wrote:

“I'd like to see the BBC do a proper programme on the scientific method, to explain it to the general public…”

I’d agree with that. Much of the basic science (and history of GW) is simply not known by the public.
Another line of investigation would be a history of climate change - and it’s causes. Much, much more is known that the above contributers realise, but it’s often burried away in academic journals or books. Possible sources and presenters could be:
Iain Stewart who did the series ‘Journeys From The Centre of the Earth’ is good on climate change and Eurasian history of the past 7,000 years in his book of the series. John Roberts is also expert; his book ‘The Holocene: An Environmental History’ is a standard textbook on university earth sciences courses and covers climate change.
William Ruddiman would be an excellent choice and is a worldwide authority – author of ‘Earth's Climate: Past and Future’ and ‘Climate Change in Prehistory: The End of the Reign of Chaos’ and a number of others.
Any number of University earth science departments could suggest other possible researchers/presenters.

  • 100.
  • At 09:56 AM on 04 Sep 2007,
  • Mick Wood wrote:

To see the bias just look at your own website http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3928017.stm were is any article mentioning any of the "anti" facts sited by the above entries?

  • 101.
  • At 01:02 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Edd wrote:

A pathetic and cowardly decision. Presumably the BBC will be removing Crimewatch, Children in Need and the Blue Peter appeals from the airwaves as well. What are these programmes if not campaining?

Such cowardice, I would have never expected from the BBC. Luckily the public service TV in my own country hasn't yet been dumbed down this much yet, although it seems to be on the horizon.

I hope you will better yourselves. If you choose to broadcast the same kind of propaganda-filled nonsense as we get in all the other channels, why is there even a need for the BBC?

The BBC report on the decision to scrap the Save the Planet event was open about the reasons for the decision and noted the fact that the BBC has been criticized for allegedly biased coverage of global warming sceptics. I welcome this report and the clear attempt at transparency by the BBC (I am not generally noted for being a fan of this TV license-funded bureaucracy).

By contrast with the BBC's honesty in this case, in the past week a number of reports have claimed that the Aral Sea and Lake Chad are drying up because of climate change as well as pollution and over use. The problem I have with the climate change claim is that it lets the local governments off the hook for disastrous environmental policies. Put it this way, if average global temperatures were falling, I'm sure the Aral Sea and Lake Chad ecological disasters would still be happening (and the Dead Sea/River Jordan devastation, which somehow didn't get included in the headlines).

It seems that in the rush for anticapialist propaganda, real causes of ecological damage are being glossed over: over-irrigation, drinking water shortages and heavy-industry pollution. The issue of climate change is exploited for partisan political agendas, and a nationally tax-funded institution has no place taking sides. If the Guardian or the Daily Mail want to run with it, that's the priviledge of their editorial directors and owners, and a problem for their readers and advertisers.

  • 104.
  • At 01:30 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Look at this article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6979596.stm

Only one quoted source - and this is from radical green activist Mark Lynas. The only link in the internet links section is to his blog.

What about a link to climate audit - please don't tell me your environment corr hasn't heard of it. If he hasn't, he shouldn't be in the job.

This is bias. If the BBC cannot see this, then it is cannot be trusted to report impartially.

Look at this article:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6290228.stm

I quote:

'Mike Lockwood's analysis appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis. '

Look at these words:

'a large... nail in this... theory'

These words are a quote from Lockwood - yet here a BBC journalist incorporates them into his copy without quotation marks or attribution.

Result: the BBC is backing this view.

An absolute disgrace and something that will destroy the BBC's reputation more than any 'faked' phone in.

  • 105.
  • At 01:40 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Ben Rattigan wrote:

The Corporation has already taken a line on climate change, the BBC like many organisations has a "green" policy so the BBC has accepted the argument for climate change.

There is no bias in the broadcasting of climate change issues in this way, BBC News editors and management are giving way to fear of being accused of bias or they are giving in to the neoconservative right. That is biased.

  • 106.
  • At 01:42 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Noel Longhurst wrote:

I am shocked with the attitude of most of the comments in this thread. Most seem to be using it as an opportuntity for a bit of BEEB bashing rather than a serious debate on how the BBC should deal with the reporting of Climate Change. In doing so there are numerous spurious claims about the 'science'. As other posters have already recommended both the New Scientist and the Royal Society, have guides which dismiss many of the 'myths' which are used to dismiss climate change:

http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11462

http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/page.asp?id=6229

These are both highly respected institutions and they suggest that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warmings is happening and that it is a threat to the future of mankind. As others have suugested that is the only reasonable line of reporting that the BBC should take.

In my humble opinion, the naysayers are often more comfortable with denial because it prevents them from addressing important issues of personal and collective responsibility.

  • 107.
  • At 01:54 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

The Biased Broadcasting Corporation's pro-MMCC bias is so obvious it is laughable that some on here deny it.

If I am ever home from work early enough to catch Newsround (you know - the 'news' show for kids) almost every time I see it there is some story where the phrase "....is due to Climate Change...." is dropped in (with the obligatory negative connotation) - nice to see you brainwashing our children.

I have actually stopped watching the 1800H news as I am sick & tired of the pro-MMCC bias that runs through your news coverage - and as a licence fee payer that really gets my goat.

  • 108.
  • At 02:12 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Richard George wrote:

The breadth and depth of opinion represented above indicates that this is a matter of general public concern. As a Public Service Broadcaster it is wholly right and proper that the BBC should promote and sponsor open debate on the subject. Not to do so would be a dereliction of duty.

  • 109.
  • At 02:18 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Iain George wrote:

The programme that the BBC needs to make about climate change would focus on the public debate about climate change - or more specifically the large number of climate change experts that seem to exist amongst the general public.

I'm impressed that there are so many keeping up with all the latest research coming out of minor journals such as Energy and Environment. Always someone aware of the little known 'fact' that global warming ended in 1998. Often there are people totally unconcerned with the difference between ‘lower 48 US states’ and ‘global’ when it comes to the recent (statistically in)significant alterations to temperature records.

Let's put these experts on TV and end the need for any further research from these silly grant-seeking climatologists.

  • 110.
  • At 02:18 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

Sorry, this needs to be said.
Reading the posts here it's quite amazing how many people think that science is or should be "balanced". Science is neither democratic nor absolutist. And it certainly isn't a belief system. Science is a process of experiment, observation and analysis, and re-observation and re-analysis; always with reference to the real observable world. As new evidence is discovered and new observations made our understanding of our world improves, always.
Contrast Science then with beliefs, superstition or any form of absolutism, be it religion or alternative medicine (homeopathy, say) where there is no honest supporting evidence, and none is required.
What we observe and can verify is not balanced by contradictory statements about what we believe or would like to believe regardless of the lack of supporting evidence or evidence against.
In this sense it is correct to say that the evidence so far overwhelmingly points towards a large human element influencing the changing climate of our world. It would be irresponsible and dishonest to deny that. However, how one analyses the consequences or what one should do about them, if anything, should be openly discussed in a balanced way.

  • 111.
  • At 02:19 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Edward wrote:

Peter,
I would just like to point out that the sentence in your blog:

"...our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man"

directly contradicts the following statement given in the New Scientist's special report on Climate Change (published May 2007):

"The fact is that there is an overwhelming consensus in the scientific community about global warming and its causes"
Source: http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/dn11654

Why don't you contact the New Scentist to tell them that you disagree with them?

  • 112.
  • At 02:34 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

Quote: "It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject."

Perhaps someone should have explained this to the person who agreed to screen the overt propaganda represented by the Vicar of Dibley Christmas Specials in 2005? Or for that matter, the person who allowed The Girl in the Cafe to hit the screens?

One does not have to be unsympathetic to the viewpoints expressed in campaigns like MPH to form the view that it should not be the BBC's job slavishly to promote them. In the case of Vicar of Dibley, there was always a suspicion that Richard Curtis refused to write any more episodes unless he would be permitted to give his own personal hobby horse a run-out - and that Auntie agreed, knowing that the show would be guaranteed to be a ratings winner.

  • 113.
  • At 02:54 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Oliver wrote:

Sorry, but reporting the state of the scientific debate is neither proselytising nor "leading opinion", it is plain and simply accurate reporting.

As for making informed decisions, you show quite clearly that you are incapable of doing so -you are plain and simply not informed. If you're too butt lazy to fulfill the basic requirement of good journalism, namely solid research, please don't try to spin your laziness into an "informed decision" when it is in truth an ignorant decision.

  • 114.
  • At 03:01 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Oliver wrote:

@#78

Karl, you write "theories about GW are based on the soft science of modelling".

You show two things:
A)You don't know that any and all theories are models
B)You don't know that ALL SCIENCE is models.

You heard me right: All sciences is models that explain reality. Models have NOTHING to do with guesswork.

So please, take up your complaints with Einstein and Newton and their "soft science".

  • 115.
  • At 03:03 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Nell Barrie wrote:

This is a really interesting issue! Especially given the news that Planet Relief isn't going ahead. I think that's a good decision by the BBC, it's not their job to campaign. And I think to say that BBC coverage is biased because it reflects the widespread agreement of scientists that climate change is happening and is probably caused by humans is ridiculous. Is it biased of the BBC to report new fossils with the assumption that evolution did occur? Or is this just taking account of overwhelming scientific evidence?

  • 116.
  • At 03:19 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Matt B wrote:

Good for the BBC in recognising that they have no role in evangelising to the public on ANY political cause whatsoever.

It's high time the media recognised its role is to facilitate the transmission of events and ideas, not to engage in an editorial role where they dictate agendas or take sides.

Give the public a representative view of differing positions by all means but never, ever tell us what to think.

  • 117.
  • At 03:27 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Corpe wrote:

This is one of the main things that makes me distrust the BBC - pretending that there is no agenda when it can be seen again and again.

The website article today is shufflingly apologetic, as if saying that "Planet Relief" should have gone ahead but, well, you know.....

The BBC has lost the battle to be seen as authoritative over issues such as this. But at least sense seems to be beginning to prevail, and for that I guess we should be thankful.

  • 118.
  • At 03:47 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Davies wrote:

This debate makes me incredibly angry. The BBC should not be accused of political bias for reporting the views of the scientific community on scientific issues such as climate change. I wouldn't expect the BBC to have to drag out a dissenting crackpot, a crystal healing practicioner or armchair physicist when they discuss quantum mechanics, I'd expect them to get somebody from the Royal Society or a prominent researcher. Why then does the science of climatology get treated differently? Why does the BBC feel it has to get a dissenting view when it doesn't really exist within the scientific community? By taking this approach the BBC is politicising what should be a scientific debate.

The only knowledgable voices of dissent are those from people who know that we are in the process of causing harm to our civilisation and the environment but have their own personal stake in this and are trying to manipluate popular opinion to support their own interests. Is the BBC so cowed that they cannot stand up to these people?

What would have happened if the manufacturers of CFCs had been this well organised - would the BBC have refused to tackle that issue for fear of seeming biased?

  • 119.
  • At 04:15 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • marc roddis wrote:

Climate change skeptics get a lot of coverage in mainstream media, internet blogs and the like. However, challenges to the mainstream scientific view are absent from the peer reviewed literature. I have been involved in many debates about climate change with people that rubbish climate science (and the way it is reported by the BBC). However, on no occasion has any of these self-proclaimed experts been able to cite any publication from the peer-reviewed scientific literature. The "skeptical" comments here are no different; lots of hot air, but no substance.

In the 1970s and early 1980s, peer review ensured that no scientific article that questioned global cooling would be published. Remember how we were all about to freeze in a new Ice Age? It was a proven fact, and all the fault of human activity. Today, peer review ensures that no article that questions global warming can be published. Don't try to impress me with the words "peer review"; as recently as the 1950s, peer review would have blocked any article that supported the theory that the continents moved.

  • 121.
  • At 04:50 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

So after years of subjecting us to comic relief, children in need, as well as live aid, live 8, live earth and concert for Diana, a show devoted to raising awareness for climate change is considered to much. Come on BBC, pull yourselves together and do the right thing.

  • 122.
  • At 04:50 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • christopher wilkinson wrote:

This debate is astonishing. Of course the BBC must have a line on climate change and global warming.

In view of the remarkable positions that are reported on the part of certain BBC editors, may I say that it _IS_ the BBC's responsibility to educate the public, in Great Britain and World Wide.

Regards, CW

  • 123.
  • At 04:53 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • simon wrote:

Oliver of post 85,
you do not display that you understand the difference between theories as 'models of reality' such as F=MA and climate change theory being based on computer models where a large number of data points are measured and then run through a computer simulation.
These are different things.

The problem is that climate and weather are 'complex' in the mathematical sense. Small changes in boundary conditions result in large changes in outcome -- a flake of snow on the top of mont blanc can end up as water in the Baltic or the Med depending on only a cm difference in where it lands. The attacks on computer modelling are important and should not be ignored.

  • 124.
  • At 05:35 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Pete S wrote:

how convenient it is, the only people who can determine the truth about climate change and global warming are the scientists.
and without fail, it's the scientists who are under attack by industry shills and their gullible followers.

when you reject science as a means to discover the truth, what exactly are you proposing instead?
tarot cards? ouija boards? fondest hopes? oh wait, i forgot, the scientists *know* global warming is false and only press the issue to attract more funding in order to better study something they.. uhm.. know is false. (my my, what a preposterous accusation that is)

anyway, this is getting tedious now. information on the methods the industry employs to manufacture astro turf (fake grass roots) movements in support of their interests is available and i wish that news outlets would have more confidence to refer to that and so discredit many of these baseless or distorted arguments.

to the good folk reading HYS, the landslide
of mud slung at the bbc and proponents of global warming is only indicative of the huge sums of money that the industry pays
for it.

see this article by george monbiot on his new book about the issue. quite an eye opener.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/sep/19/ethicalliving.g2

oh and check the microsite on channel4.com
about the film "the great global warming swindle" even they seem to want to distance
themselves from it now.

http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/G/great_global_warming_swindle/index.html

naturally, the bbc moderators will not approve this post as they are terrified of being accused of bias.

it seems that these days, you only get approved
if your post claims that BBC = BIAS.

  • 125.
  • At 05:46 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Matt Harrison wrote:

The peer-reviewed science on global warming is overwhelming – a 2004 survey in Science showed that of the 928 peer-reviewed papers on the subject, 'none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position' – that anthropogenic climate change is a reality.

The balance in the media has been split almost 50-50 between the scientific evidence on the one hand and 'sceptics' on the other. All this demonstrates is that certain parts of the press are driven to base their stories on 'gut feel' and on satisfying what their audience want to hear. It is unfortunate that the BBC is not able to rise above this and follow the scientific evidence rather than the media herd.

  • 126.
  • At 05:51 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Nilaya wrote:

BBC and impartiality have been mutually exclusive for as long as I can remember. Of course they are better than private networks but that leaves a lot to be desired.


I have to agree with comments 10, 19, 20(probably with more but I didn't have the time to read them all).

If those who took the decision to scrap Planet Relief can look their kids in the eye and assert they do all in their power to safeguard their future, then I rest my case.

  • 127.
  • At 05:56 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Tony wrote:

The BBC does give great prominence to the issue of Climate Change. In so doing it chooses to be a campaigner / lobbyist.

But what is the BBC doing to become carbon neutral? How come we never hear the BBC talking about its own carbon footprint?

We seem only hear from Climate Change campaigners about the need to change our behaviour, not about the need for them to change theirs.

A recent example was the MEP who wished to ban cars that could exceed 100 mph - given great prominence by the BBC. An MEP who commutes to Brussels and Strasbourg. Let him look to his own carbon footprint first.

Please, BBC, put your own house in order before presuming to lecture the rest of us.


I am happy to see that somebody at the BBC finally understands that to campaign about Climate Change, a thing of the possible future, is not the same as working for children already in need or ill, or poor already poor indeed.

Anyway, here some evidence for BBC bias for bad environmental news, of which Climate Change is only one item...

- American Scientist magazine publishes study doubting the bleak
descriptions of wildlife around Chernobyl -> Not worthy of reporting on the BBC news website

- Study says Chernobyl area is not a wildlife haven -> article follows
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/6946210.stm (ironically citing the
previous "non-news")

- Aug 16: BBC News publishes "Atlantic yields climate secrets" following the same pattern.

For some reason it has been decided to detail the findings of the same group that incorrectly announced a 30% reduction in the Gulf Stream flow, without any reference to the doubts any of that can really affect the climate (by well-known Professor Carl Wunsch, and by yet another article on American Scientist).

  • 129.
  • At 06:10 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Charlie Henderson wrote:

The BBC's (and other media) coverage of the arguments about human-induced climate change is confusing the public.

Most members of the public do not have the time (or inclination) to sift through the evidence or listen to counter arguments and sabotaging comments from interest groups.

Governments around the world have had enough evidence to act for years, hence international and national CO2 agreements and targets.

On what basis have these governments made their judgement? Presumably through sound science and expert advisors.

The BBC should follow their lead and allow only recognised authorities to discuss climate science on serious news and debate programmes.

More lightweight chat shows should state clearly that the counter-views expressed by non peer-reviewed scientists, and the general public, do not reflect prevailing wisdom and mainstream scientific belief.


  • 130.
  • At 06:24 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Roly Gross wrote:

I've been studying Environmental Science with the OU for five years. In that time I've had a fascination with the climate sceptic phenomena not least because I'd love to find that killer piece of science that would allow me to stop worrying.

The reality is it just does not exist. The science is continually developing but most of it is just hardening bad news we already know or showing we've underestimated the problem.

Not my job to save the planet???? I can't believe anybody could really believe that.

  • 131.
  • At 06:27 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • vito garvin wrote:

Whether or not climate change is man made or not seems to be a point everyone is fixated on. The bigger question is how man made pollutants are impacting the planet every day. Does the level of smog in your city effect you? Regardless of the health effects, is it acceptable the your sky is brown? Does the fact that our water is so polluted that we're afraid to drink from the tap or swim in parts of the ocean bother you? Does the fact that species are disappearing at a rapid rate due to the elimination of habitat from the actions of mankind bother you at all? It should.
Why do we have to wave around a catastrophic scenario to get everyone to pay attention to the effects of our massive industrialization and sit around debating it when there are unpleasant results that are inarguable laying all around us. I believe that whether or not GW is manmade, there are overwhelming issues that need to be addressed regarding our planet. GW is the bogeyman. While we wait for politicians and media folk to decide whether or not it's panic time, i fear we may ignore the other environmental imperatives.

  • 132.
  • At 06:50 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Dennell wrote:

“In the 1970s and early 1980s, peer review ensured that no scientific article that questioned global cooling would be published. Remember how we were all about to freeze in a new Ice Age? It was a proven fact, and all the fault of human activity.” Alan Fisk:120

Untrue. You’re letting the Blog game of chinese whispers run away with the truth.
Let me be clear: There was not a SINGLE peer reviewed paper, by a scientist, published in a scientific journal in the 1970s that forecast an imminent ice age.

In 1975 the National Academy of Science (NAS) applied for funds to ‘Establish a national climatic research program’. A couple of journalists went to town to try turn this into a story people would want to read. The Newsweek article was written by an ordinary staff writer, Peter Gwynne.
Copy of article here: http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/newsweek-coolingworld.pdf
It was not written a scientist. Nor was its conclusion – Global Cooling - based on any scientific paper published in a scientific journal.

The New York Times also ran an article in 1975 based on the same NAS application, but said earth was HEATING. Scroll down to where it has the subtitle ‘Effect of Heat Waste’.
http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/ny-times-1975-01-19.pdf

One problem with the non-scientific press – take note BBC – is that journalists often base stories on what other journalists write. Whoever writes first sets the agenda.

The NYT article notes concern over CO2 levels and fears that production of energy 'heat waste' will generate so much heat as to have a major climate impact. That did represent an emerging scientific concern of its time.

So where did the notion of cooling come from? The 1970’s were an exciting time in the study of the ice ages with evidence from isotopes from ocean seabed cores proving that these ebbed and flowed in astronomical cycles. The most impressive analysis remained the pioneering work of Hays, Imbrie, and Shackleton. They even confirmed that the 20,000 year cycle was split into a close pair of cycles with lengths of 19,000 and 23,000 years - exactly what Milankovitch’s astronomical calculations had predicted. By the late 1970s, most scientists were convinced that orbital variations acted as a ‘pacemaker’ to set the timing of ice ages.’ http://www.aip.org/history/climate/cycles.htm

This is where the whole Ice Age prediction stuff in the press comes from. The geologists were saying that we were past the mid point of an interglacial period and, as they were cyclic in nature, another ice age would be inevitable at some point. That’s ALL they said. It was the press that conflated this into speculation as to when another may occur, or if CO2 warming would postpone it. Imbrie devoted a chapter (Chapter 16: the coming ice age.) to the CO2 issue in his book ‘Ice Ages, Solving the Mystery’. 1979.

There’s more on all this here by a scientist with the British Antarctic Survey. No one has yet been able to cite a SINGLE scientific report, published in a peer reviewed science journal in the 1970s, that forecast an imminent ice age.
http://www.wmconnolley.org.uk/sci/iceage/

So shoot the (Newsweek) messenger in this instance. (They have apologised since.)

  • 133.
  • At 06:51 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Malcolm Powell wrote:

"It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet," warned News Night editor Peter Barron at the Edinburgh Festival last month.

What an irresponsible thing to say. Surely it's everybody's job to save the planet. We only have one for the foreseeable future, so you are either helping to save it or you are helping to destroy it. There is no middle ground.

  • 134.
  • At 06:52 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Loosemore wrote:

The decision to cancel the Planet Relief special was an act of cowardice. The BBC's job is to make decisions based on facts, not the shrillness of those deny the existence of climate change. The case for climate change is closed: it is as close to a fact as any could be. The BBC is not supposed to give equal voice to two opinions just because two opinions exist: if one of those opinions is completely out of step with the real world, the BBC's responsibility is to allow for that.

  • 135.
  • At 07:03 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Robert Allen wrote:

Since 9/11 I've turned to the bbc for impartial news. I live in the US, but I don't trust the media there, so I tried you. FOX has a bad rep in the us because it has slipped from the news to comedy. Your rep is at stake on this one. The planet is aborting us. It will survive anything, even a meteor, but life will take the hit.

  • 136.
  • At 07:24 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Webb wrote:

The BBC shouldn't lead about Climate Change, Ive heard enough to drive me bonkers!
All we hear about is Global Warming blah blah blah while the US gets away with it.
Untill the USA sets out some targets why should the UK and the BBC even bother?

  • 137.
  • At 07:45 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Jack wrote:

It is important for the BBC to admit that they have to take a view. Being impartial is not the same as giving weight (and media time) to all sides equally. This is perhaps well illustrated in the MMR vacination scandal where one 'rogue' scientist was given undue weight in the media generally leading to the outbreak of measles in the UK because people stopped vacinating their children. So the BBC should admit that they have to make judgements and decide where the scientific or moral 'centre ground' is in the discussion and then allow debate around it. This is very difficult but you cannot run away from it.

  • 138.
  • At 07:58 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

“Head of TV news Peter Horrocks, writing in the BBC News website's editors' blog, commented: ‘It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject.’”

Oh really – so why does it broadcast “Songs of praise”, “Sunday Half Hour”, the “Daily Service”, “Good Morning Sunday”, “Sunday Worship” and most egregious of all “Thought for the Day” – (which despite innumerable requests, refuses to feature the views of humanists and atheists), then? This is all predicated on the BELIEF in a non-existent deity.

This is yet another display of applied hypocrisy - it's OK to further Lord Webber's commercial interests at the licence payers expense - but informing the public about the real impact of climate change - Heavens Forfend.

To follow up on the various points of science being purely objective - that is true of the scientific method, but if I were a scientist on a sinking ship, after I had described how the ship had been holed, the rate at which it was taking in water and the point at which I would drown, I would throw down my pen, paper and calculator and start bailing, and thinking of a way to stop the leak, despite the people on the top deck claiming that the ship wasn't sinking, it was just the sea getting higher.

And as for balance...if the Beeb is truly interested in balance next time we have a weather forecast based on the scientific method will they be inviting a bloke clutching his piece of soggy seaweed on to give an alternative view? Perhaps when an item is broadcast about the latest advances in chemotherapy, we could have Gypsy Rose Lee explaining how crystals are a better option.

We are all on the same ship, Planet Earth, time to start bailing, time for the Beeb to return to informing and educating (that actually requires you to take a viewpoint e.g. 1+1 = 2), rather than merely entertaining the lowest common denominator.

Shame on you Auntie, this is a major Bloomer.

  • 139.
  • At 08:11 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Al McEwan wrote:

There seems to be 2 debates going on here - which means there is an 'agenda war' on the go (no, this is my OPINION I offer no scientific or irrefutable evidence of this, nor is it up for debate). Debate 1. Should the BBC have the freedom to choose which programs get the 'green light' and which get 'canned'? I think that unless the BBC remit has been drastically changed then it has to have 'freedom of choice'. I would caution believing everything one reads in newspapers, or see on television channels where jealousy and rivalry will often colour 'impartiality' ... Sure we pay for the BBC, consider then the 'best' alternatives, CNN (Wolf Blitzer, etc) Fox-News (no comment) or NBC/ABC ... hmmm. Debate 2. Is global warming real? At present I live and work in Western Canada, due to a lack of normal winter frost VAST regions of forest are being utterly devastated by Mountain Pine Beetle (wiping out local economy, employment, communities) Salmon are arriving later every year because the rivers are too HOT for them to live in , Inuit/First Nations can show you actual starving polar bears (numbers in Hudson Bay area, have FALLEN 22%), spring here is arriving on average 3 weeks earlier (good for home gardeners NOT good news if you are a bird, Deer, Grizzly or Black Bear, fish, etc). Here is a conundrum, if these 'scaremongering' environmentalists are all 100% WRONG what have we lost; however if it turns out that these 'skeptics' are all 100% wrong, what can they to offer by way of alternative Plan B ... Whether we believe the BBC/Mr Horrock's decision to be right or wrong, we should respect that decision ... after all in the 'big picture' what difference does it make? Personally, I would rather NOT have such fundamental 'life and death' decisions taken by either academics, scientists, big business, or politicians, as their track record to date is a load of 'carbon dioxide' and 'methane'.

  • 140.
  • At 08:15 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

And as for those claiming that climate change predictions are only being made by those "who's grant income depends on it", let me paint you a little picture:

Man in Crow's Nest:
"Captain there is a ruddy great iceberg in our way"

Captain:
"We'll no-one can see it from down here"

Man in Crow's Nest:
"Well you wouldn't it's over your horizon at the moment, but you sent me up here to see further".

Captain:
"Well I'm afraid that we have done a poll of the passengers who agree that, although they haven't looked themselves, they feel it would be extremely inconvenient to change course at the moment, and what's more you are only saying that to demonstrate the worth of what you are doing and therefore keep yourself in employment. Now come down here and re-arrange the deckchairs with the rest of us".

Nitwits.

  • 141.
  • At 09:05 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Phil Korbel wrote:

This move is not a stand for editorial neutrality - it implicitly accepts that there is a significant case to answer against climate change. This flies in the face of 'frothing green radicals' such as Sir Nicholas Stern and Sir David King and ignores the dilution effect of the IPCC process. By the latter I'm refering to the fact that what we have got from the IPCC is first a scientific consensus of the mass of leading lights in the field which is then further filtered for political acceptability by government representatives. These reports have been accepted by China and Saudi Arabia for goodness sake.

I think that Mark Linas' comparison to the BBC being 'impartial' about the slave trade gives the degree of amorality but doesnt signify the degree of danger that we face in coming decades, nor how little time we have to turn thing s around.

If the BBC thinks that this decision will in any way impove their standing in the public eye they've got another thing coming. They are wilfully neglecting their duty as major player in world affairs when faced with a plain and catastrophic truth.

In years to come I'd like to be able to report a better story of the BBC's role in this looming and much predicted disaster to my young daughters - but this is a sad chapter indeed.

  • 142.
  • At 09:07 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Ross Clark wrote:

The general public and apparently BBC's editors do not understand that what is happening is completely unprecedented and will severely test the ability of our species to survive. This crisis is genuine, and humans are in collective denial about its urgency. This is not a social, economic, religious or political issue; it is ecological. BBC editors should educate themselves and spread the word responsibly. Impartiality has nothing to do with imparting a genuine sense of urgency that we must all heed -- now is the time; later will be too late. Remaining silent simply allows the approaching apocalypse to accelerate. Claiming impartiality is simply a lame excuse for doing nothing.

The discussion and effect on climate change and peak oil is not political and the BBC seems to view it as though it is.

The BBC needs to keep the public informed as to the problems and not be affected by commercial or political concerns. It appears to be highly concerned about it's image not being hurt by telling us all a few home truths about the west's profligate waste of energy.

Please try to help reinstate the prog. Planet Relief, a TV special on climate change

If you look at the Transitions Initiative that is growing very fast you know that this subject is of great public concern.

  • 144.
  • At 11:32 PM on 05 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Najman wrote:

Mark Davies says on post 118 -“Why then does the science of climatology get treated differently?”.

This is a very pertinent question and should be answered. The fact is, climatology is not science in the way that chemistry is, for example, or physics, or even biology.

Climatology is a statistical science, more like economics or weather forecasting. All are plausible and often useful models, but they are models that can only be tested in real time.

Experiments on the climate are hard to come by, whereas with nuclear physics for example, repeatable experiments are crucial in deciding between competing theories. In fact, theories that can't be tested repeatedly are not even given a look in, exactly for that reason.

So that's why climatology should be treated differently, at least to sciences like physics, biology etc.

P.

Would Nelson Mandela have bought down the clasp of apartheid all by himself if it weren't for the international media including the BBC? Imagine then if we were caught up in been impartial and were too sacred to voice an opinion about the woes of apartheid. All in the name of impartiality or avoiding bias.

Even clever societies need guidance
not just balance, impartiality and diversity of opinion. The focus on ratings and dilution of the airways has come at a cost: losing a certain wisdom and with it the role of television to air guidance from those with foresight and knowledge.

I read this comment page with increasing incredulity and despair. From our esteemed editor's misuse of the word "overwhelming" - when it's now scientifically certain to 95% that we are causing the most profound change in our planet (isn't that "whelming" enough?) and his avoidance of his own personal responsibility, to the incredible number of climate change deniers and contrarians posting to this site. This year sees the record low Arctic ice of 2005 absolutely shattered by a new record low of near one million square kilometres less. A million square kilometres in two years. No ice at all by 2030, or likely earlier? Exactly what "proof" do we need? Just how blind and careless can people be? It would cost us less to insure our whole planet than what we pay in house and car insurance, and we can't even do that.

Whilst I am not naturally a pessimistic man, the more I understand the urgency of dealing with climate change the more I am aware of a continued denial and aversion to taking this issue seriously both in the populace at large and in most of our leadership. Sure, this leadership makes the appropriate noises, but their prime commitment is, as it always is, to the status quo.

I don't think humanity is going to make it. I have to agree with James Lovelock, I am afraid. Oh, the human race will survive, but it will be an unrecognisable and impoverished society that will succeed us, if we go on the way we are, and this thread, and the BBC's pusilanimity, illustrates this perfectly.

  • 147.
  • At 01:24 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Felix wrote:

A clone of Live Earth, canceled? OUTSTANDING.

  • 148.
  • At 01:35 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Dr Ian Sedwell wrote:

This decision is to be deeply regretted. For me it signals a crisis in the BBC's impartiality in presenting news and current affairs. I firmly believe that the BBC is now on the verge of succumbing to censorship by whichever lobby is best able to manipulate its decision making. Harsh words I know - but this is precisely how this matter is being viewed.

The BBC has a duty to broadcast the programme. By all means offer another to "balance" the scale. The issues are not clear cut. Although the balance of probability seems to me that human activity is making climate change worse than would be felt through the natural cycle, there are cogent arguments to the contrary.

The BBC must present complex issues. Part of its remit is to educate and inform. It must have the courage to deal with criticism from whichever quarter. "Dumbing down" is one thing, avoidance is quite another.

  • 149.
  • At 06:47 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Simon of post 123 wrote:
"The problem is that climate and weather are 'complex' in the mathematical sense. Small changes in boundary conditions result in large changes in outcome -- a flake of snow on the top of mont blanc can end up as water in the Baltic or the Med depending on only a cm difference in where it lands. The attacks on computer modelling are important and should not be ignored."

Your example shows complete ignorance of scientific theory. There are many theories that work at a macro level but not at the micro level. An anologous example to the one that you have given regards radioactive decay - we know the half life of any isotope very accurately but it is impossible to specify which particular atom will decay next. Many of these theories are based on statistics and hence will only work at a macro level - it doesn't make them any less valid or correct. Attacks on computer modelling are valid but only from people who know what they are talking about.

Your answer is a good example of someon who knows nothing about science trying to pick holes in a theory they do not understand. Unfortunately far too many people feel they have something to contribute to this subject when they have no expertise. I prefer to trust the scientists who have spent years studying this - just as I would not ask a bloke in the pub to remove my appendix...

  • 150.
  • At 09:04 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Donnelly wrote:

[ "It is absolutely not the BBC's job to save the planet," warned Newsnight editor Peter Barron at the Edinburgh Festival last month. ] Taken from 'BBC switches off Climate Special', by Richard Black

I find this reprehensible. It is EVERYBODY's job to save the planet. Every individual, company, corporation and government in the world should be trying to save the planet, and to increase awareness.

The BBC are fudging, and over the single most important issue of the last 20 years. Take a stance and stop being so damn spineless!

Still, referring back to the little extract I stuck at the top, I guess that'll explain why the BBC doesn't turn its lights out at night, because they dont give a monkeys about the planet at the BBC.

Stop wasting my license fee on being bigoted, please, and start doing something that benefits the world. The BBC is (was?) the most respected news corporation in the world, and could play an important part in leading global opinion. If only the BBC managment would actually let someone express an opinion.

  • 151.
  • At 11:02 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Brian Woodgate wrote:

Dear Peter Horrocks, It is the BBCs role to educate the Public, Us! To televise the IPCC is one way, but comidy is a way of reaching a different audience. Why would the BBC be "Leading Public Opinion" with a Planet Relief event any more than Top Gear? Every TV program uses fossil fuel and is "part of the problem" . Climate Change is about real lives of People exactly the same as Live Aid. So I'm asking bring back Planet Relief or scrap Top Gear & a travel programs.

Mark in #149

"Your example shows complete ignorance of scientific theory... Attacks on computer modelling are valid but only from people who know what they are talking about...Your answer is a good example of someone who knows nothing about science trying to pick holes in a theory they do not understand"

What I will never understand is this: IF somebody is concerned about the planet's climate, and IF they think the science of climate change is strong, THEN WHY OH WHY would they waste time cheapening the issue with a Stalinist attitude, declaring who should and who should not be qualified to speak?

Anyway...computer models are simulations, not the real world. Is that so difficult to accept?

If we could rely on computer models there would be no need to test drugs in animals and then in humans, for example. We would all be able to invest in the right companies, and scientific research could stop as we have the computing power to model almost everything.

That doesn't happen because we all know that "there are more things in heaven and earth, horatio etc etc". And in climate

  • 153.
  • At 11:58 AM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Jones wrote:

I think the BBC should be condemned for its pitiable decision to not go ahead with Planet Relief. Of course it should host such an event just as it does to support other global issues such as poverty.

I assume that during the war the BBC never made a comment about the common dangers that were faced and the way everyone had to work together to solve them.

Andrew Neil, who presents the Daily Politics and This Week on the BBC, said: "I'm delighted the BBC has cancelled it. Our job is to cover these things, not to comment on them. There's a great danger that on some issues we're becoming a one-party state in which we're meant to have only one kind of view. You don't have to be a climate-change denier to recognise that there's a great range of opinion on the subject."

The BBC as a public service broadcaster has to comment on events, activities and issues and Mr Neil does that all the time. What Mr Neil is saying is that the BBC should not rock the current cosy boat the he and his colleagues with their current well cherished one-party views are sailing into a storm.

  • 154.
  • At 12:13 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Malcolm Duckett wrote:

Firstly, let me say I am a beliver in the fact that GW is a result of man's activity - but that is only my opinion.

However my issue with this topic is that I recall being told that one of BBC's principal objectives was to "educate and inform". It seems to me that your comment "It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject." is wrong.

We are blanketed by media which DOES seek to lead opinion (and go much further)driven by commercial interest. We NEED the BBC to take a position unbiased by commercial interest and educate its audience on the situation to drive INFORMED debate and collective, informed decision makeing.

So BBC use your position of impartiality, resources and my money to provide us an education based on the best information you have - and hope we all do something with this insight!

  • 155.
  • At 12:28 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Rick Beament wrote:

The BBC's stance on 'not leading public opinion' is frankly laughable. Anyone would think that whether-or-not to tackle climate change is a political question ...... it is not. It is the responsibility of every one of us that lives on this planet to do something about it and the fact is that the BBC hugely influences our society by the content of what it broadcasts. So if it can do something, it should - on moral grounds, not political ones. Of course, tackling the problem requires changes to what we do and I cant help thinking that those who control output may be averse to changing their lifestyles, so it's all-too-convenient to evade, dodge and otherwise bury their heads in the sand on the basis that "it's not really proven yet". HOW MUCH PROOF DO YOU WANT, and more importantly, does it matter to you that your kids and grandkids might well be asking why you didn't help when you had the chance. WAKE UP BBC - there is a real world outside your airconditioned offices and the news you broadcast is real, not some virtual reality game.

  • 156.
  • At 12:45 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Ian Barley wrote:

BBC coverage in this area is clearly biased. I cannot remember a single report or presentation that reflects an alternative viewpoint as anything other than an object of derision. "Deniers" is a title calculated to demean and minimise a view point. The simple reality is that nobody with eyes can deny that climate changes. The climate has changed for the last 4+ billion years so it would be pretty unrealistic to imagine that it would stop now because we happen to find its current range vaguely amenable. So any report that gets hysterical about climate change is by definition weak. Occasionally the effort is made to extend the definition to anthropogenic climate change which may help to strengthen the argument a tiny bit. We then have to decide on what basis we have decided that todays climate range is so desirable. There is a breathtaking level of arrogance in making a decision that the way things are right now is the way that should be tomorrow and in a billion years time.

I am afraid that I find the religiosity and bigotry that is employed by the media and activists around this area frustrating and annoying to a level which makes it increasingly difficult to sustain watching a news report. When I do watch the news and a "climate change" report appears I almost always switch channels so that I can catch a few minutes of Top Gear somewhere. At least they have a realistic viewpoint.

  • 157.
  • At 12:51 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • vivek sharma wrote:

First, I am glad that the BBC is 'impartial' but chooses to believe that GW is real. This choice is a responsible one and guides the tone and choice of your news on the issue. As a public service broadcaster it is important that you continue to take a stand and I'm glad that it is strident.

Second, I am also glad that that you chose to strip off the proposed Planet Relief show. Climate pop is the shortest distance between climate awareness and climate fatigue. The need of the hour is serious and long term engagement from everyone at every level no matter what or where. You have demonstrated maturity by deciding to focus on your core business - factual reportage of the issue. You certainly don’t need to be a climate salesman but you definitely need to be the guys who look at the issue critically at all times and keep everyone across the spectrum accountable.

Third, I think there is only as much that climate awareness can achieve and especially in the West people seem to have formed their opinions one way or the other.

The challenge for BBC is to lead the next level of debate. I shall keenly watch how the BBC will deepen the debate through its programming such that it becomes perfectly normal for people to start to act on information. It calls for more active and creative engagement with the issue like never before. More climate calamity stories may not be the answer, but being aware of the climate quotient in every regular story might!!

An example, what is the climate contribution of the War on Terror with the millions of explosions and sorties in Afghanistan and Iraq? Get the drift??

Lastly, as a climate campaigner in India, I remain concerned about the role of media in general on the climate issue. The BBC must consider an audit on how it rates itself in influencing its peers through its acts of commission and omission on GW.

  • 158.
  • At 12:52 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Mark Grindell wrote:

Hate to say this guys, but I've seen this one coming for a while. You ought to be more careful. All this careless talk about newtonian or relativistic mechanics and that really controversial stuff about Schrodinger's ideas about electrons having wave functions... and Maxwell's equations? I remember that from Tommorrows World and the Burke Special.

What a bigotted lot the BBC were back in those days! Where was the balanced viewpoint THEN? I mean, the Open University had the AUDACITY to present us with undebated and unbalanced views on Riemann geometry, physics, and ... well... I'm coughing, and my face is turning red... How DARE they!

Where was the equal time principle then? Did we not get an equal coverage of the distinguished art of alchemy and calling up demiurges? The still running and all important search to find the philosphers stone?

Never mind about Galois theory (So many thanks to Mr Stewart of the OU), why can't we see some attempt to square the circle? Find the last digit of pi? Trisect the angle? and for goodness sake, PROVE once and FOR ALL that carbon dioxide CANNOT have any effect on earth's atmosphere, even though it's spectral absorption characteristics have been know for so many decades, since any effect is PURELY the result of Left wing Pinko Commie Trade Union Propaganda?

Go on big boys in suits?

Huh?

"This is where the whole Ice Age prediction stuff in the press comes from. The geologists were saying that we were past the mid point of an interglacial period and, as they were cyclic in nature, another ice age would be inevitable at some point. That’s ALL they said. It was the press that conflated this into speculation as to when another may occur, or if CO2 warming would postpone it." Please cite here any record of scientists complaining to the media about the predictions of an imminent Ice Age. I was a postgraduate student at the time, and I remember how anyone who questioned global cooling was denounced as an ignoramus, an idiot, or a paid servant of the oil companies. Twenty-five years from now, you won't be able to find anyone who will admit to having believed in global warming.

  • 160.
  • At 01:07 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Jim L wrote:

"there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening".

I don't know on what basis this statement is made. I should like to see a comparison of numbers of climate scientists (rather than self appointed pundits) who believe in anthropogenic climate change as opposed to those who don't. I have read the IPCC report - the graphs are quite terrifying - and convincing.

  • 161.
  • At 01:34 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Derek Light wrote:

CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL - IT IS HAPPENING NOW - MANKIND IS TOO SELF-CENTRED/STUPID TO STOP IT - SO MAN WILL EITHER DIE OUT AS A SPECIES OR HAVE TO LIVE IN PERMANENT ISOLATION FROM THE EARTH'S NATURAL ENVIRONMENT -BUT DON'T WORRY IT WILL TAKE MAYBE A CENTURY OR SO - DO YOU CARE ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN?

  • 162.
  • At 01:38 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Louise Lewis wrote:

At long last the BBC has decided to stop preaching to us about climate change - about time.

No, it certainly isn't your role to lead opinion on this, or any other topic. It is your role to present information impartially. I hope this is the start of the BBC getting back to doing just that.

  • 163.
  • At 02:14 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Trinoc wrote:

Is the BBC adopting the post-modernist view that everything, even scientific fact, is relative and therefore subject to impartiality rules? Will we now see The Sky at Night balanced with an astrologer's view, or Crimewatch balanced with a perspective from the criminals' viewpoint? Will images of a spherical Earth include a disclaimer that some people believe it is flat, and we should respect their views?

  • 164.
  • At 03:14 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Iain George wrote:

Alan Fisk -

Try William Connolley's attempts to find peer reviewed articles announcing 'global cooling'. Last time I checked - none. The odd Newsweek article for sure, but that ain't where science is done.

Contrast it with Connolley's recent discovery of a 1972 Nature paper discussing global warming due to 'man-made' carbon dioxide (J.R Sawyer) Nature be one of the places where science is done, or at least reported.

I suspect you dis/misremember.

  • 165.
  • At 06:19 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Tom Pegg wrote:

In 2004 a review of 1000 published papers by proper scientists actually involved in climate related fields found that not one single paper diagreed with the basic consensus.

Any disagreement within the scientific community is almost exclusively around the details of exactly what contribution comes from which source and exactly how many degrees are we talking about NOT about the basic facts.

Most 'sceptics' are either not scientists or fast changing their minds.

Claiming that the scientific community is split in such a way that the BBC cannot 'take a line' is clearly not the case, even some modest research makes this clear and the BBC have a lot of researchers.

Given that background it is not only something you could do but something you have a duty to do as the nation's public information source - a duty you have abdicated with this shameful decision.

This is one decision where you appear to have let the wishes of vocal special interests stampede you into making a bad choice.

  • 166.
  • At 07:40 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Maurizio in post 152 - the problem with letting everyone push their opinion on this is we end up with a situation where people are afforded far more influence than their expertise allows. We let those who want to maintain the status quo drive the agenda even though there is clear evidence that we need to change our behaviour. I don't want environmental policy defined by demagogues who are acting to support their own self interest, I want it to be defined by those people who have spent their lives researching the area. There is a time for talking and a time for action - continuous debate over action is only in the self interest of a wealthy minority. This is why certain political factions and particular corporates fund and encourage this obfuscation, the longer we take the more money they make before we have to face up to the changes we have to make in our life styles.

  • 167.
  • At 09:31 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • Tim Dennell wrote:

“In the 1970s and early 1980s, peer review ensured that no scientific article that questioned global cooling would be published.” Alan Fisk. Comment 120.
“Please cite here any record of scientists complaining to the media about the predictions of an imminent Ice Age.” Alan Fisk Comment 159.

Two of the most influential peer reviewed papers questioning global cooling were these, published in Science, by the highly respected scientist Wallace Broecker that stated the world might be poised on the brink of a serious rise of temperature.
W.S Broecker (1975). "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?" Science 189: 460-64
Broecker et al. (1979). "Fate of Fossil Fuel Carbon Dioxide and the Global Carbon Budget." Science 206: 409-18
In1979 the US National Academy of Sciences Climate Research Board published. ‘Carbon Dioxide and Climate: A Scientific Assessment’.

The CO2 issue was a hot topic amongst climatologists in the late 1960’s 1970s. But the media led by Newsweek remained with cooling

Another scientist Reid Bryson had actively raised the idea that increases in smoke and dust would cool the atmosphere in a magazine article (not a science journal) published in Saturday Review in April 1967: "Is Man Changing the Climate of the Earth?". It’s an idea that’s still with us known as global dimming. This prompted another media feeding fenzy.

Glaciologists also discovered in the 1970’s that Earths climate had changed abruptly in a short space of time in Earth’s past leading to the identification of several short sharp climate changes now known as Dansgaard-Oeschger events:
Dansgaard, W., et al. (1971). "Climatic Record Revealed by the Camp Century Ice Core. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dansgaard-Oeschger_events

A journalist, Lowell Ponte then covering science for Readers Digest (he’s now a right wing radio host in the USA) wrote a book called The Cooling that speculated that a build up of aerosols could prompt such a sudden cooling leading to an ice age. Reid Bryson wrote a preface for this book, but used the opportunity to describe Ponte’s conclusions as neither scientifically accurate nor balanced.
Nigel Calder made a TV documentary based on these scenarios.

It was because different fields were reporting different findings that the NAS applied for funds to set up a National Climate Program.

“Don't try to impress me with the words "peer review"; as recently as the 1950s, peer review would have blocked any article that supported the theory that the continents moved.” Comment 120.

Not if it had evidence backing it. Wenger died in 1930 without seeing his theory accepted as he couldn’t explain how the plates moved.
Much of the key work that did validate Wegener’s theory was begun in the 1950’s, partly through new technology that allowed the mapping the magnetic variations on the seabed and seismic monitoring of earthquakes. It led to the discovery known as sea floor spreading that explained how tectonic plates moved. Harry Hess had his paper outlining this - "History of Ocean Basins” - published by the Geological society of America in 1962. Work by other geophysicists supported this and it was largely accepted by the end of the 1960s.

  • 168.
  • At 11:13 PM on 06 Sep 2007,
  • john c wrote:

Is there experimental proof that Air with 600ppm of CO2, warms up more than Air with 300ppm of CO2 when subjected to the correct wavelengths of infra red light?.

The only experimental results I can find show that it doesn't. Now that was a bit of a dissapointment, as I would have predicted it would, as did the scientists who did the experiments.

Now I understand in Theory it might,due to different absorbtion bands in the higher Troposphere. The Theory is very complex, but after fighting my way through scientific papers, I find that the actual warming calculated as caused by the extra CO2 is less than 1 deg C. It needs other things (positive feedback, forcing etc.) to happen as a result of this initial 1 deg C rise for the warming levels advised by IPCC to happen.

This feedback and forcing theory is not Theoretical Physics, it is Thermal Climate Modelling generated by complex computer programmes written by the climate scientists. Now Computer Programmes always just give the result the programmer intended, and very few of these programmes are available for pier revue, partly due to their complexity.

We are certainly running the experiment for real at the moment with the planet, and climate science interprets the weather record to prove the model, however they seem to be unable to interpret the weather record correctly as NASA had to revise the USA temp records when a blogger found a major error in the statictics and the warmest year on record is now 1934 not 1998.

However the Earth has dramatically warmed and cooled many times without any human influence, and the climate scientists don't really understand why.

So this is it, do I believe or don't I !

  • 169.
  • At 09:05 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • John wrote:

Sorry, I think the BBC has had a clear position on climate change. For example the majority of 6pm news broadcasts used to have a MMGW item, always an uncritical presentation of the latest claim from some obscure scientist or campaign group. I was really pleased to hear that the BBC had been brave enough to resist the clamour for another one sided climate change event - good news if you are now starting to move back to reporting not promoting opinions. I think the TV news has improved a lot on the partiality issue, but the website still lags behind.

  • 170.
  • At 11:14 AM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • BR wrote:

Everybody on here who is saying that climate change is happening now are missing the point. I don't disagree with them but this discussion is supposed to be about the BBCs response to it.

What the BBC are saying is they cannot be the mouthpiece for the environmental lobby. This is completely right. That does not mean they will not be discussing the subject at all.

In any case, you would have to be living in a cave to have avoided the blanket coverage on this we have been subjected to up to now. People know the arguements already. They can make choices based on them. We do not need Bono flying in by Learjet to tell us to holiday in the UK.

BTW we could do without the other vomit inducing discredited unfunny hypocracy that is Comic Relief, Sport Relief and Children in Need. Surely you can give to charity without characters like Jonathan Ross telling you to?

  • 171.
  • At 04:11 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Najman wrote:

Trinoc wrote:-“Is the BBC adopting the post-modernist view that everything, even scientific fact, is relative and therefore subject to impartiality rules? Will we now see The Sky at Night balanced with an astrologer's view, or Crimewatch balanced with a perspective from the criminals' viewpoint? Will images of a spherical Earth include a disclaimer that some people believe it is flat, and we should respect their views?”.

Hey Trinoc, where have you been for the last few years ...

1. Horizon covered the ramblings of a scientist who claimed that all he needed to create a fusion reaction was water. At the same time, ITER, a project being run by virtually every single important player in the world wasn't even mentioned.

2. Kirsty Wark talking to Steve Jones about the future of genetics-:“In the film GATTACA, ... drivel drivel

3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/slink/horoscopes/daily_index.shtml

4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/sites/mind/pages/homeopathy.shtml

The BBC is in the post-modernist state as described by you already.

And just to re-iterate my previous comments, climatology is not science since repeatable experiments are not possible (we can't re-run the climate for the last hundred years etc). It is more like economics, and we all know how terribly wrong economists can be.

It's one thing to measure things, and another thing to measure them in controlled circumstances, something that both economics and climatology cannot achieve.

P

  • 172.
  • At 06:16 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Phillip Huggan wrote:

I'm sure BBC took a strong position against the Nazis, climate change is no less a threat to modern civilization, save for some of the actors switching sides.

Just look at how strongly the scientifically innaccurate position that CO2 molecules don't initiate a Greenhouse Effect, is over represented on blogs, television and pop-culture. It is up to the BBC to safeguard her citizens from big-oil doublethink. Imagine one billion refugees on the Eurasian landmass...

  • 173.
  • At 09:59 PM on 07 Sep 2007,
  • Bryan W wrote:

How can you be impartial about climate change? The scientific evidence is overwhelming that it is happening and is caused by man. The danger for our children and grandchildren is enormous and growing. It is a fundamental misunderstanding to talk about all of this as propagating a view. A truth is not a view, however inconvenient. The media, including the BBC, have hedged the reality of climate change from the public for long enough, whether from naivety or ignorance. It is not proselytising to provide news of the seriousness of this issue.

  • 174.
  • At 09:46 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Groucho Marx wrote:

Global warming is the prozac of the masses.

  • 175.
  • At 12:16 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Julian Paren wrote:

Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth provided a view of climate change that was recognizable to the climate specialists but which contained a few flaws of detail that were irritating. The BBC would be well placed to improve on the content of An Inconvenient Truth and create a definitive programme that could become THE school resource for this issue.

The BBC does unfortunately allow its environment reporters to "go over the top" in their reports and how they are introduced by the anchor men of the news programmes. I remember David Shuckman in front of a melting ice cliff in the Antarctic, announcing over the sound of icicles dripping that the evidence of climate change was all around him. What David did not say was that for six to eight weeks each summer at the place he was reporting from that the temperature is usually above zero for 24 hours a dday! Melting ice is the norm.

Likewise a hunt in the Arctic for an Ice Island broken off from an Ellesmere Island ice shelf was hardly a story worth pursuing. Yet it was firmly set as a story of climate change. The ice island had been three years adrift and clearly visible by satellite, but Shuckman went to leave a tracking device on board it. Was it worth it? The time would have been better spent pursuing a serious contribution to the science of climate change.

  • 176.
  • At 03:38 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

Off topic perhaps on the issue of MMCC (though not on BBC bias / assumptions in reporting) this piece:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/6989002.stm

serves as perfect illustration of my earlier point (#78).

Can you seriously argue that this article doesn't set out with a whole host of assumptions and assertions which are never once examined or challenged?

And if you're going to attempt to take a 'stance' on science / medical stories is it really too much to ask for a list of sources for any statistics which are presented (as in this instance) as absolute and irrefutable?

I mean, we're all adults, and I for one could list a dozen people who would challenge those figures, but without knowing where they've come from how are we supposed to?

I even correctly predicted your choice of commentator - though I suppose a prize is probably out of the question, seeing as this was significantly easier than even the average daytime TV idiot-fodder phone-in teaser.

Three website articles already this week; I'm amazed Dr Campbell has time to run his pressure group with all the comments he provides to BBC reporters.

How much I wonder must one pay the BBC to obtain this 'preferred expert' status and a slot in the editor's speed-dial? Or is it something reserved for those who've adequately demonstrated their adherence to the Corporation's 'line'?

Maybe I should ask Reeta...

  • 177.
  • At 08:59 AM on 13 Sep 2007,
  • chris sandiford wrote:

A word to the "science" editors at the beeb. If any of you actually have scientific qualifications. Ask yourself the question. Every second of every day thousands of chemical reactions take place in the earths atmosphere. There are multiple feedback mechanisms that we probably don't even know about. The conclusion from our Scientific experts is that only ONE gas CO2 is responsible. This is complete and utter RUBBISH !
I'm not saying that CO2 isn't part of the problem but there must be hundreds of other causes / gasses & chemicals that could also be implicated. But why focus on CO2 ? Because it can be taxed EVERYWHERE ! from breathing to energy production.

  • 178.
  • At 04:35 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Matthew Todd wrote:

This discussion is insane.

There is an overwhelming consensus on man made climate change from everyone from Stephen Hawking and David Attenborough to Nasa, The Uks Royal Society, Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard, Yale, The American Academy of Sciences to the highest scientific academies of China, Brazil, France, Germany, the US, the UK, India and on and on.

There are more scientists who dont agree that HIV causes AIDS but i dont hear anyone demanding the BBC everytime it covers AIDS in Africa giving airtime to the handful of sceptics who say HIV isnt linked to AIDS.

The biggest polluters are spending millions of dollars pushing the sceptics to the fore and the public and indeed the BBC are falling for it. There IS a scientific consensus on this and the BBC should be reporting that and not giving disproportionate time to the tiny amount of sceptics. Its all documented and out there from Newsweek to the Uks Newsnight - but can people be bothered to find out? No.

When will we wake up? We are all facing what David Attenborough calls 'disaster on a global scale' and what the US Chief Scientific Advisor has now finally accepted is a threat to 'the Earths ability to be habitable'.

Our children will look back and ask us 'what were you thinking?'

Shame on you people here and shame on you BBC for not standing up for the truth.

  • 179.
  • At 05:31 PM on 16 Sep 2007,
  • Mr B J Man wrote:

the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man.

You mean the latest news is that the natural global warming deniers are overwhelmingly unanimously certain that there is a 90% chance that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man.

Do the intrepid BBC journos even ask themselves the following questions:

If it's true why do the natural global warming deniers insist that the science is settled despite even IPCC researchers disagreeing with IPCC conclusions, some to the extent of suing it for misrepresentation of their research?

If it's true why do the natural global warming deniers show shots of retreating glaciers to "prove" their case and when it's pointed out that a wider angle shot would show neigbouring glaciers advancing they then claim that global warming makes some glaciers advance too and that's more proof of man made global warming?

If it's true why do the natural global warming deniers show shots of Antarctic ice shelves breaking off to "prove" their case and when it's pointed out that they are breaking off because the ice is growing, not shrinking they then claim that global warming makes some ice advance too and that's more proof of man made global warming?

If it's true why do the natural global warming deniers say that global warming causes global warming and show figures to "prove" their case and when it's pointed out that temperatures aren't at record highs they claim that global warming makes temperatures fall too and that's more proof of man made global warming?

If it's true why do the natural global warming deniers say that there has usually been a close correlation between temperature and CO2 levels throughout the Earths history to "prove" their case and when it's pointed out that the CO2 levels usually rise AFTER temperatures rise, on average 800 years later, they say that, yes, in the past some unknown mystery magic trigger used to kick start temperature rises, which then caused increased CO2 levels, which then caused a feedback loop which caused more temperature rise.

So a supposed short time slight rise in temperature which hasn't been caused by the unknown mystery magic trigger that used to kick start temperature rises (and how do they know that then?!) is obviously more proof of man made global warming?

Sorry, run that last one past me again?

Oh, and if it's true as the natural global warming deniers claim, that some unknown mystery magic trigger used to kick start temperature rises, which then caused increased CO2 levels, which then caused a feedback loop which caused more temperature rise: why did temperatures not continue to rise, till the Earth was burnt to a crisp? Why did temperatures reverse and fall?

WHILE CO2 CONTINUED TO RISE?!

Any objective observer, regardless of their general environmental beliefs, would have spotted that the science WASN'T settled.

In fact, they would have spotted that the natural climate change deniers didn't actually have a clue about how the climate worked.

BUT CONTINUED TO INSIST THAT THEY DID.

Which would have led most unbiased observers to conclude that they were a bunch of charlatans.

And that's before you start asking questions such as if a few $million of oil money is enough to create false science from the man-made global warming sceptics then what is many $BILLIONS of global warming research grants based on carbon tax funding likely to do!

Sorry, but what was the BBC line again?

  • 180.
  • At 12:41 PM on 25 Sep 2007,
  • M Kastrup wrote:

"the weight of our coverage reflects the fact that there is an increasingly strong (although not overwhelming) weight of scientific opinion in favour of the proposition that climate change is happening and is being largely caused by man."

this is the statement that cought my eye, sure it's a matter of intrepretation what constitutes "overwhelming" or not, but i'd surgest that the BBC takes into account that the public in general is under the impression that man couses global warming if the same standard of sincentific fact is going to be used in all other programing i suspect there won't be many more great natural programs from the BBC since there are "scientist" who belive the dinosauers died out less than 10.000 years ago!

i'd surgest anyone who is interested in this subject to bookmark http://www.realclimate.org/ this site is generally speaking trustworthy and has quite a few good backgroud facts and an good overwiev of the sience involved.

particulary on the Chanell 4 Program "The Great Global Warming Swindle" it has nice CORRECT facts

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/03/swindled/

  • 181.
  • At 12:14 AM on 13 Oct 2007,
  • Micaela Grantham wrote:

I am appalled at the coverage of BBC News America concerning Al Gore's winning of the Nobel Peace prize. Rather than covering the reason he won (climate change), the report spent the majority of the story on Mr. Gore's potential as a US presidential candidate. His weight and beard were also highlighted. This is silly and offensive coverage of a serious man and a serious global issue. I count on the BBC to receive unbiased coverage of global events. I am disappointed, so say the least.

  • 182.
  • At 12:17 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Martyn wrote:

You say there is increasingly strong evidence - but it is "not overwhelming" that manlind is causing global warming.

Given the IPCC process has spent years, with thousands of scientists determining as precisley as possible what the chances are that global warming being casued by man, and has come down heavily in favour of the fact we are having an impact, just how much more evidence do you need before we move to "overwhelming"?

  • 183.
  • At 06:21 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Dom wrote:

"BBC News certainly does not have a line on climate change"...

ahaa haaa haaaaa haaaaaaa... aha oh aha... ahaa haaaa haaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaa... oh dear.. aha... aha haaa haaaa haaaaaaa...

  • 184.
  • At 02:32 PM on 20 Oct 2007,
  • R Kaltenbach wrote:

"Oceans are 'soaking up less CO2'"
is an absolutely incompetent article. The implication is that the environment is not conforming to the 'accepted' model.

  • 185.
  • At 12:26 PM on 22 Oct 2007,
  • Tim wrote:

As with other news issues. If you want at the very least a balanced view, you have to look elsewhere than the BBC

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/ tol...icle2709551.ece

Very good article by David Bellamy, who sadly we don't see anymore on the BBC, because they believe he has extremist views on climate change!

  • 186.
  • At 11:07 AM on 23 Oct 2007,
  • Guy Fox wrote:

Despite overwhelming empirical evidence (and a general consensus among climatologists and other scientists from many disciplines) that climate change is a reality, the Bush administratrion here in the $tates still continues to propagandize doubt and opposition.

Behold the massive record droughts and/or flooding. Behold the artic ice melting. Compare photos of glaciers taken 80-100 years ago... and compare them with photos today.

Where there is no insight, the people perish!

  • 187.
  • At 09:35 AM on 24 Oct 2007,
  • Scott English wrote:

We really should not worry too much about the survival of the planet. When the climate finally passes through the current swing to the warmer end of the scale, the ice caps melt deserts expand and crops fail, a sufficiently large portion of the earths population, industry and demand for energy will cease to exist. Balance will be restored.

  • 188.
  • At 06:08 PM on 17 Nov 2007,
  • Stuart Harmon wrote:

There is definite bias in the BBC with regard to the THEORY that the planet is warmer due to carbon emissions.

I have just read your environmental correspondants article which considers the merits of what he calls climate change sceptics. Not once does he educate or inform by using the word THEORY.

He states that he has reported on environmental matters for ten years and it would appear that he has a vested interest in promoting this theory as without it he probably would only be needed part time.

If he and the lobby that propagate this theory as fact are so clever then they should be able to answer two simple questions:

1 What caused the end of the last ice age.

2 If their computer models are so good that they are able to predict the global temperature in fifty years time why can't they predict the weather in five weeks time.

The BBC needs to get its act together and use the same meticulous standards that they use in other areas such as politics otherwise it would be reasonable to ask why should we pay a licence fee.

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