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More Nonsense From The BBC’s Harrabin

January 10, 2015

By Paul Homewood  


h/t Joe Public




Another day, another global warming propaganda story from Roger Harrabin.


Botanists have been stunned by the results of their annual hunt for plants in flower on New Year’s Day.

They say according to textbooks there should be between 20 and 30 species in flower. This year there were 368 in bloom.

It raises further questions about the effects of climate change during the UK’s warmest year on record.

“This is extraordinary,” said Tim Rich, who started the New Year’s plant hunt for the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland.

“Fifty years ago people looking for plants in flower at the start of the year found 20 species. This year the total has amazed us – we are stunned.

“During the holiday I drove along the A34 south of Newbury and saw half a mile of gorse in flower when gorse is supposed to flower in April and May. It’s bizarre.”

“We are now in our fourth mild winter. Normally flowers get frosted off by Christmas but this year it hasn’t happened.”

He said 368 species in flower is an unprecedented 15% of the flowering plants in Britain and Ireland – an “amazing” total. The high count was partly due to the growth in the number of volunteers – but mostly due to climate change, he said.

Dr Rich said it was possible that plants in unseasonal flower might be badly hit if February brought very cold weather.

The Met Office has confirmed 2014 as the warmest year on UK record, with the wettest winter and the hottest Halloween. It is also the warmest year in the Met Office’s Central England Temperature series, which dates to 1659.

Their blog said: “Human influence on the climate is likely to have substantially increased the chance of breaking the UK and CET temperature records. Estimates from the Met Office suggest that it has become about 10 times more likely for the UK record to be broken as a result of human influence on the climate.”

The most commonly recorded plants in flower were daisy and dandelion, each of which was recorded in 115 lists (75%).

The mild south and west of Britain had the highest numbers of species still in flower, but there were 50 species identified in the east and north of England, and 39 species flowering in Edinburgh. In absolute numbers, Cardiff won with 71 species in flower and Cornwall came second with 70 species in flower.

Ryan Clark, who co-ordinated the New Year Plant Hunt, said: “It was astonishing to see so many records flooding in, from Guernsey to the Moray Firth and Norfolk to Donegal. Ireland had consistently high numbers of plants in flower too, with the average of about 20 – almost exactly on a par with Britain.”

"The highest count in Ireland was 40 species flowering on Bull Island, in Dublin Bay. The west of Ireland also fared well, with Strawberry Tree in flower near Killarney, Co. Kerry."


This is all very believable, until you realise that there has been virtually no trend in December mean temperatures in the UK, since the start of the record in 1910.

And that December 2014 only ranked a very ordinary 46th warmest. The hottest December was as long ago as 1934. 





But Mr Harrabin never seems to bother himself with facts.




Joe Public points out that this is, in fact, only the fourth “New Year Plant Hunt”, that was started “ as a bit of fun” in 2012!



  1. January 10, 2015 2:13 pm

    How can the BBC employ someone so gullible, or deliberately misleading, as Harrabin, yet retain credibility?

    He reports varieties in bloom have increased “from the usual 20-30”, and this year there were 368 in bloom.

    Further, it was explained that the high count was partly due to the growth in the number of volunteers – but mostly due to climate change, according to the BSBI contact.

    What someone failed to mention is that this is only BSBI’s fourth New Year Plant Hunt.,ssl&ei=DTGxVPzHI8_1ap2EgQg

    • January 10, 2015 2:32 pm

      I emailed the BSBI to find this out, but I never imagined it was only 4 years!
      Also, I asked how the number of people taking part has changed over the years.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      January 10, 2015 2:58 pm

      1 he’s not ‘gullible’, he has an agenda.
      2 he’s a green journalist, being ‘deliberately misleading’ is part of the job description.
      3 BBC lost all credibility years ago.

  2. January 10, 2015 2:13 pm

    What a load of rubbish.I have seen daffodils sprouting here in the Brecon Beacons already.But the,I have seen this during many winters in the past 50 plus years,some of which have been very severe.The plants then just go back to earth.This is the same Roger Harrabin who said 10 years ago that we would not see any snow whithin the few years!Doesn`t hea realise tyhat carbon is necessary to life itself.These people have too much money for uttering this nonsense.How can they be exposed as the charletons that they are!!!

  3. mitigatedsceptic permalink
    January 10, 2015 2:22 pm

    Can nothing be done to stop this alarmism? Some people become seriously disturbed by stories like this. The old term was dis-temper.

    • January 10, 2015 2:33 pm

      Unfortunately, I think the answer is no!

  4. igsy permalink
    January 10, 2015 2:26 pm

    Here’s a press cutting from the winter of 1934/35, courtesy of Steve Goddard, in which we find abundant spring flowers in Scotland as of the 4th of January!

    All those Austin Light 12/6’s must have played havoc with the climate back then.

  5. January 10, 2015 2:28 pm

    It doesn’t take much to “stun” botanists these days.
    I dare say that this more due to the overall mildness of the year, rather than the warmness of December.
    And of course, it’s absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there are probably more people looking for flowers than in the past.

    • Streetcred permalink
      January 10, 2015 11:50 pm

      … they should stick to gardening, science is way out of their ballpark.

  6. January 10, 2015 3:12 pm

    I also listened to Today and wondered. This Harrabin’s CV on Wiki:
    “He attended Stivichall Primary School and King Henry VIII School.[3] He then studied English at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge,[4] where he was president of the Junior Common Room. He started a college newspaper.

    He began his career on the Coventry Evening Telegraph, where he gained a reputation for bringing fresh topics to the news agenda”

    The BBC describes him as its “environmental analyst”.

    Maybe he did a lot of night school science?

    It’s OK to circulate this stuff between ourselves but who among us is challenging the BBC itself? Indeed, beyond writing to Feedback, how does one challenge BBC “science”? (I ask with curiosity from Denmark, where I live)

    • January 10, 2015 4:52 pm

      Aunty has a long-winded ‘Complaints Procedure’. Takes about 5 – 10 mins to complete:

      Corporate Policy seems to be boiler-plate rejection, in the hope that ‘kills’ 95%.

      [It is not unknown for a complaint about web-page content to be initially ‘rejected’ but the offending web page to be altered/updated, but without the reason for the update to be acknowledged. They’re that sly.]

      Persistence (not easy, ‘cos their system is designed for BBC convenience, not ‘customer’ convenience) generates a slightly more detailed explanation of why you’re wrong.

      Things then get interesting.

      A 3rd attempt gets you escalated to the BBC Editorial Complaints Director.

      Should his response be not to your satisfaction, and if he deign’s to offer no resistance, you can appeal the The BBC Trust.

      Their rejection* of your complaint is extremely detailed.

      *The Trust sadly fails to maintain 100% record of clean sheets, and some do actually succeed.

      I urge potential complainants not to be put off by the above procedure. It’s only by complaining, that things get changed.

      At the moment, Aunty is fighting to retain its existing cushy Telly-Tax funding; but significant numbers are objecting to being forced to pay for its flavours of political & scientific propaganda.

      • January 10, 2015 5:35 pm

        I have often thought that the system is deliberately designed to put people off complaining. You have to fill in a lot of detail but if you get a reply, you can’t reply to that, but you have to start from scratch again, so the thread is lost. They also only allow 250 characters, so you can’t go into much detail.
        Hardly designed to encourage communication.

  7. January 10, 2015 4:29 pm

    From their NYD 2014 survey, BSBI members provided 48 lists of 221 species in flower.

    From their NYD 2015 survey, BSBI members provided 143 lists of 368 species in flower.

    There were 70 participants in 2014, but no number is given for the 2015 participants. The relative numbers of ‘lists’ would, I suggest, be a reasonable indication of comparisons.

    This means there were approx 3x as many searchers this year compared with last year.

    An additional BSBI observation which somehow escaped mention in Harrabin’s Petal Propaganda Piece is:- “Another interesting result is how in some areas, there are dramatically fewer plants in flower compared with last year.”

    So it seems Climate Change simultaneously increases and decreases flowers spotted (& presumably accurately identified) on New Year’s Day.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      January 10, 2015 5:09 pm

      “So it seems Climate Change simultaneously increases and decreases flowers spotted (& presumably accurately identified) on New Year’s Day.”

      You should also account for double vision due to the amount of alcohol imbibed the previous night …is there a model for that ???

  8. Green Sand permalink
    January 10, 2015 8:27 pm

    The effects of climate change on plants in Edinburgh? Spring happening later?

    Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh

    Springtime Phenological events at RBGE

    “………Over some of the past 12 years early spring has been getting warmer and some spring-flowering plants flowered more than two weeks earlier than usual. However, there have also been later than average years, and the current trend (2014) has a slight positive value (i.e. spring happening later). The “Edinburgh Spring Index” is a measure gained from the average of first flowering dates of all the taxa flowering before the Spring Equinox, relative to the (arbitrary) standard of 2002. This is a unique experimental opportunity comprising plants from regions across the world, growing at a single site, and subject to the same approximate climatic variation……”

    My bold (if it works)

    Chart – Edinburgh Spring Index 2014

    Click to access ESI2014.pdf

  9. Paul permalink
    January 10, 2015 9:41 pm

    I find that Aconites are our precursor of spring. As I write they have still to show themselves and flower, which they always appear to do, in late January.
    Clearly they are
    not the recipient of BBC propaganda.

  10. January 10, 2015 9:58 pm

    The more one looks at this report, the more holes are found in it.

    A direct quote from Tim Rich: “During the holiday I drove along the A34 south of Newbury and saw half a mile of gorse in flower when gorse is supposed to flower in April and May. It’s bizarre.”

    But according to the WildlifeTrusts:

    “It generally flowers from January to June (although it may flower sporadically throughout the year), …..”

    Oh dear.

    • 1saveenergy permalink
      January 10, 2015 10:16 pm

      Our gorse has consistently flowered 10-14 days before Xmas for the 14yrs we’ve been here, except for 2009 when it didn’t start till 2nd week in Feb.

  11. Bloke down the pub permalink
    January 11, 2015 1:44 pm

    I recall seeing an extract from Samuel Pepys diary where he writes about the streets being dry and dusty, and his rose bushes being in flower on Christmas day. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  12. January 12, 2015 2:58 pm

    Not only was it just the 4th New Year Hunt, but the majority of hunters only found the normal 20 or so! They got the much larger number because they’re able to include all the different localised sub-species. For example, dandelions, hawkweeds and similar continuous flowerers have hundreds of subspecies.

    I also note that someone was surprised to find gorse in flower around Newbury despite there being well known old folk sayings about finding gorse in flower all year round. Although I have to admit that on Greenham Common (a mile south of Newbury) it’s more floriforous than I’ve seen for the past few years..

  13. January 12, 2015 10:23 pm

    With such a large percentage of the BBC’s pension funds (8 billion pounds) invested in CO2 trading – and with no CO2 scare, most retirees will see little return on their investment over the years. So it is in the BBC’s interest to maintain the CO2 scam as long as they can.
    Of course the truth will always win in the end – and hopefully these liars will find themselves retiring into poverty – unable to even afford the high cost of electricity.

  14. tabnumlock permalink
    January 12, 2015 11:41 pm

    Why don’t we want flowers again?

  15. January 13, 2015 2:19 pm

    I received the following stats from the BSBI (sorry for format):

    2012 2013 2014 2015
    lists 1 7 48 143
    records 63 224 1180 2908
    species 63 105 222 368
    vcs 1 7 34 68?
    recorded once 63 53 104 160
    %recorded once n/a 53.00% 47% 43%
    % alien 20.60% 29.50% 27% 33%
    % spring natives 3% 8.50% 3.60% 5%
    no botanists 2 c. 35 70 300?
    highest 63 53.00 66 71
    average 32 24.6 20.3

    I am not sure what the “spring natives” percentage is a percentage of, but I wonder if the “text book” figure of 20-30, included alien species?

  16. January 15, 2015 1:20 pm

    I just found the following quote in a report on the survey on the BSBI website:

    “Dr Sarah Whild, who co-founded the Plant Hunt with Tim in 2012, said “The total of 368 wild plants in flower this year is much higher than the 222 recorded over the 2014 New Year, mainly due to the increase in the number of botanists looking for them! ”

    Yet Harrabin quotes Dr. Tim Rich as saying:

    “He said 368 species in flower is an unprecedented 15% of the flowering plants in Britain and Ireland – an “amazing” total. The high count was partly due to the growth in the number of volunteers – but mostly due to climate change, he said.”

    A slight difference of opinion!

    • Joe Public permalink
      January 15, 2015 1:58 pm

      “A slight difference of opinion!” – but Harrabin would quote the one best-suited to H’s corporate adgenda.

  17. January 15, 2015 2:16 pm

    Apparently the BSBI have tried to clarify their position on their News and Views page:

    Also, Dr. Rich is to issue a fuller statement on flowering dates later today.

  18. BrianJay permalink
    February 8, 2015 3:16 pm

    At John Brignals site he used to monitor the BBC Springwatch which used to promote the same sort of garbage that is right up the point where spring was arriving very late.

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