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Booker On The BBC’s Latest Propaganda

March 9, 2015

By Paul Homewood




Booker on the BBC’s latest climate propaganda programme.


Next January will see the 10th anniversary of one of the most curious episodes in the history of the BBC. At a “secret seminar”, many of its most senior executives met with a roomful of invited outsiders to agree on a new policy that was in flagrant breach of its Charter. They agreed that, when it came to climate change, the BBC’s coverage should now be quite deliberately one-sided, in direct contravention of its statutory obligation that “controversial subjects” must be “treated with due accuracy and impartiality”. Anything that contradicted the party line, from climate science to wind farms, could be ignored.

The BBC Trust later reported that the seminar had taken this momentous decision on the advice of “the best scientific experts” present. Only years later, after the BBC had spent tens of thousands of pounds trying to suppress the identities of its “scientific experts”, did it emerge that they had been nothing of the kind. The room had been full of rabid climate activists, from pressure groups such as Greenpeace and Stop Climate Chaos.

In 2011, I wrote a report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation charting in detail how this had led to hundreds of programmes that were blatantly biased.

Last week, as the wave of propaganda mounts in advance of that bid to get a new global climate treaty agreed next December, the BBC was at it again, in a 75-minute documentary called Climate Change By Numbers. Using a well-tried formula, the programme purported to be taking a fresh, objective look at the issue, this time employing three mathematicians to subject the basic science on global warming to rigorous mathematical analysis.

As usual, supported by an array of gimmicky graphics, irrelevant anecdotes and film clips from all over the world, what these presenters omitted to say was even more important than what they did. We began with a young lady mathematician explaining how we know that, since 1880, the world has unmistakably warmed. Although she cleverly skated round the increasingly controversial methods by which computers have been used to “adjust”, “infill” or “homogenise” temperature data, few people would disagree with her conclusion that the world has indeed warmed, by around 0.85 degrees. What she left out was that there has been nothing unprecedented about our recent warming. As the world has generally warmed since emerging from the Little Ice Age 200 years ago, two earlier warming phases from natural causes, between 1860 and 1880 and from 1910 to 1940, were just as great as that of the last 30 years – before CO2 levels rose as they have done recently.

But the computer models relied on by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have been programmed to predict that, as CO2 rises, so global temperatures must follow. So the second segment showed us a professor using his passion for Spurs football team to assure us that those computer models are reliable. What he omitted to explain was that, in the past 17 years, the IPCC’s computer model predictions have turned out to be comprehensively wrong.

In the final segment, another professor used a long sequence about Formula One motor-racing to tell us that pouring increasing amounts of man-made CO2 into the atmosphere has already led us to ever more “extreme weather events”, floods, storms, droughts, hurricanes etc. In years to come, unless we totally change our lifestyle, these will only get even worse and more dangerous. What he failed to tell us was that, as even the IPCC concedes, such events have not become more frequent or intense at all. There have been no more floods, droughts and hurricanes than there were before the global warming scare was invented.


Read the rest here.


David Whitehouse, of the GWPF, also gives us his take, and comes to similar conclusions:



The BBC has just aired a documentary called “Climate Change By The Numbers” in which three statisticians tackle the thinking behind three important numbers associated with climate change – 1) the Earth’s temperature increase since 1880 which is 0.85°C, 2) the idea that scientists are 95% certain about it all, and 3) the 1 Trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide is the maximum we can safely deposit into our atmosphere.

Disappointingly the programme championed style over content. Its treatment of the so-called pause in global annual average surface temperature was misleading. It was described as controversial, although those who say it is statistically meaningless and unimportant are few if vocal, and declining as the “pause” continues. The start date given for the “pause” was incorrect as was the assertion that not all surface temperature datasets show it. The discussion about the reasons for the pause was perfunctory concentrating on the missing Arctic data theory published last year by Cowtan and Way. It was said that when their adjustment was made there was a slight warming trend. What was not said was that this trend is statistically insignificant, surely an important point in a documentary about statistics and climate change. The “pause” was dismissed as a statistical fluke and then, briefly, suggested it might not exist. Also, the “pause” was not predicted by climate scientists other than in a most general way, and with possible durations very much shorter than that currently observed.

What also annoyed me was the lack of error bars in the graphs, especially in the section about the “pause.” Too much hand-waving conjecture about temperature data can be gotten away with if error bars are not included in the data. They could have done a section on accuracy of surface temperature data and displayed the data relevant to the “pause” at that accuracy using one of their light-stick displays. It would have been a straight line. Now that would have been a talking point.

Truth By Association

The transition to section two was not smooth and involved moving the goalposts. We left section one with a 0.85 (errors?) °C global temperature increase since the 1880s. Now we were told there is 95% confidence that half of the post-1951 warming was likely due to mankind. This section got the data wrong in saying there was more post-1951 warming than before. There was no mention of the temperature climb out of the Little Ice Age.

We are told of the value of climate models run on supercomputers and how good they were with no mention that the CIMP5 ensemble does not seem to conform with the reality of the past 20 years – no matter, they worked well predicting the post-Pinatubo temperature dip! This is “good evidence that climate modeling could be reliable.” Other proof of their effectiveness was given such as Arctic ice loss, increased number of heatwaves and the warming and acidification of the oceans! Where was this programme getting its scientific data from?

In the end it came down to a graph that showed how only with the inclusion of human intervention can the post-1950 climate be explained. Natural climatic variability cannot do it alone. No mention of the fact that the model used for natural variability was a simple one that we know cannot be accurate. It omits many of the causes of climatic variability invoked to explain the post-1997 “pause.”

A lot of the programme was “truth by association” suggesting that because a certain approach worked in one instance it obviously will work in another i.e. climate change. As proof we were offered things that fitted with this viewpoint and almost nothing that didn’t.

So Climate Change By The Numbers was a disappointment and a wasted opportunity and certainly not the start of a new narrative in the debate about climate change. But, in the interests of impartiality, why not allow three sceptics a similar platform to present their view of climate data?

Also, the “pause” is clearly a major area of research and debate in climate science having been described by Nature as the biggest problem in climate science. It’s been so for years, so isn’t it about time the BBC did a proper treatment of it and not just seek comments from the usual suspects? Discussion about the “pause” is everywhere, except on the airwaves.

  1. March 9, 2015 12:55 pm

    On nature’s laws there’s no longer reliance,
    “Man-made” now demands our compliance;
    Is it an ideology?
    Or maybe theology?
    For certain we know it’s not science!

  2. Newsel permalink
    March 9, 2015 1:31 pm

    First you have to get past the ad. but Monckton tells it the way it is.

    • March 10, 2015 12:20 pm

      Worth listening to. We face a huge challenge.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    March 9, 2015 1:40 pm

    Today’s lunchtime News at One.

    One major story was “Solar-powered plane Solar Impulse-2 launched successfully” about a record-breaking attempt to fly around the world in a solar-powered plane that has got under way from Abu Dhabi.

    An opportunity to wheel in Harrabin to comment on developments in solar panels, how they’ll reduce in price, and the long term benefit to the fight against ‘climate change’.

    Presumably for consistency, they’ll wheel in Harrabin during their Formula 1 coverage to criticise the sport’s extravegant use of fossil fuels to transport an entire circus around the world so that more ff can be used to power vehicles around a track, with consequent impact on climate change.

  4. March 9, 2015 3:27 pm

    Chris Booker continues his lonely fight against the establishments consensus science using your excellent blog for support data; how can the rest of us who oppose the powerful control groups like the national press an even worse the BBC make contributions to the battle?

    I try through the technical journals that will allow any dissent, but it is again preaching to the converted.

    UKIP published an Energy Policy that looked like a promising base for argument but it seems to have been forgotten about.

  5. March 9, 2015 4:29 pm

    Delingpole comments on the Booker article in his usual style.

  6. Coeur de Lion permalink
    March 10, 2015 11:40 am

    Following Christopher Booker, may I post a letter I have sent to the BBC about their second and even more disgraceful ‘climate’ programme….

    9 March 2015
    BBC Complaints (attn. the HORIZON production team)
    Dear Sirs or Madams
    Naughty Naughty Naughty! To get poor old Dickie Attenborough to risk his reputation by fronting up that self-referential and dimensionless graph! Did he know that the ‘global warming’ illustrated was about half a degree C per century? Hardly a catastrophe. To Hind-cast a model to fit observations, including an unproved CO2 contribution, and then remove your CO2 assumption to prove its effect, is circular.
    Why was there no mention anywhere in the programme of the 18+ years of zero warming to date, accompanied by an increase in CO2 and unpredicted by the ‘models’. Why has ‘global warming’ become ‘climate change’?
    Sir Dickie was made to say that Antarctic ice is diminishing. It’s increasing. A lie by omission. I’m afraid.
    Your lovely presenter, Dr Helen Czerski, correctly pointed up the difficulties with modelling clouds – they remain a dominant uncertainty. Your programme did not mention the more influential greenhouse effect of water vapour, presumably because it’s not ‘man-made’.
    You were good enough to screen a piece about the ‘sceptics’ at their conference and to mention that some of them were ‘scientists’. Your treatment, with time-lapse photography, generated an air of eccentricity. Viscount Monckton (“Good Heavens! A Lord! What does he know about science?”) was given a short piece to camera, talking about ‘urbanisation’ and ‘urban heat islands’ distorting temperature records. (“Quick! Quick! Snip him off – he has a cogent sceptics’ point which we can’t discuss here”)
    Your treatment of the ‘climategate’ scandal was frankly dishonest. The argument was not about the splicing of two different types of record to produce a ‘hockey stick’ (a methodology since rejected by the IPCC, by the way). Of course the scientists involved were ‘exonerated’ of dishonesty by their peer group and adjured to be more open about their methods, but you did not mention the many exchanges of emails discussing how unwelcome climate trend data were to be kept from the public. THAT was ‘climategate’.
    ‘The science is settled’ Not so – your programme gave the impression that the ‘sceptics’ were in retreat. Of the many ‘sceptical’ websites I’ll only draw your attention to which features 31,000 sceptical American scientists. That neither you nor Helen have checked out this website is a dereliction.
    Greenland ice cores show climate variability – we are emerging from the Little Ice Age and the planet has been warmer than now in the recent past.
    Sea level rise averages at 7 inches per century and the rate does not alter with increase in CO2
    Glacier melting began about 1850 and the rate has not altered with the increase in CO2
    There is no increase in the frequency or violence of Atlantic tropical storms nor of tornadoes
    American rainfall is increasing at 1.8 inches per century.
    The increase in CO2 has been enormously beneficial to the biosphere. (See the oped piece in today’s Times newspaper)
    And so on and so forth.
    As a sometime chief of naval information and public affairs director of the British chemical industry’s trade association, I’m very familiar with journalistic tricks on Television. Given the above, your alarmist weather material– opening the programme with a roof blowing off into a rainy street and all that iceberg calving etc – was frankly dishonest.
    Finally, the lovely Helen asked what we should do about it. I know. Let’s deprive the emerging nations of hydrocarbons and keep them in poverty.

    Very best wishes

  7. March 10, 2015 11:45 pm

    Paul – an absolute doozy of an article.

    The BBC’s Richard Anderson, apparently a business reporter although copy writer for #GreenCrap might be closer to the truth, has excelled himself.

    Two bits that stuck out, in what actually looks like an interesting use of heat pumps by the Norwegians ends up more as a sales pitch –

    “dirty fossil fuels”


    There are a number of barriers to widespread adoption [of heat pump technology] in the UK, from weak local government powers and a lack of heating networks, to a complex, privatised energy market and fear of the unknown.

    It is balanced by asking heat pump and energy specialists and lobby group Greenpeace for their opinion.

  8. March 10, 2015 11:58 pm

    The dirty bit warrants expansion for context and to highlight the authors lack context

    While researching ways to expand its capacity, the city’s heating company, led by Jon Ivor Bakk, discovered the water temperature in the fjord was ideal for heat pumps.

    If it could make the system work, the company would no longer need to buy in and burn dirty fossil fuels – primarily gas – to generate heat.

    This is even more hardcore than Greenpeace (my emphasis)

    we must leave the dirtiest energy forms in the ground, use remaining supplies of less-damaging fossil fuels like gas much more frugally, and accelerate the transition to clean energy sources that don’t threaten all life on the planet.

    Bear in mind this is an author who last year as part of another energy series wrote (my emphasis)

    new generation of coal plants means the fossil fuel will remain a key component of Germany’s energy mix.

    The fact that lignite will always be cheap to produce, allied with a powerful pro-coal lobby in German politics, means the temptation to rely on this dirty fuel will remain strong as long as the carbon price remains low.

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