BBC Forget Accuracy And Impartiality Again
By Paul Homewood
The BBC have a duty to report “with due accuracy and impartiality”. Read their latest propaganda piece and decide for yourselves:
A British aid charity is warning that by 2060 more than a billion people worldwide will live in cities at risk of catastrophic flooding as a result of climate change.
A study by Christian Aid says the US, China and India are among the countries most threatened.
It says the Indian cities of Kolkata and Mumbai will be most at risk.
The eight most vulnerable cities on the list are all in Asia, followed by Miami in the US.
The report urges governments to take action to reduce global warming and invest in disaster reduction programmes.
Dr Alison Doig, the report‘s author, told the BBC World Service that people living in large coastal cities were particularly at risk.
"I think it’s cities like Kolkata, Dakar, the big mega-cities of the south and the emerging economies where the people are most vulnerable to exposure to sea-level rises and to higher rain events," she said.
"Flooding in these cities can cause massive damage, but can also threaten life."
Dr Doig warned that Florida was likely to suffer extensive flooding.
"The whole of Florida is totally vulnerable," she said.
"It is so low-lying, it is virtually swampland reclaimed. So significant climate change… raising water half to a full metre this century, will take out an awful lot of Florida and a significant amount of Miami."
The study says that the priority should be to rapidly reduce carbon emissions and limit temperature increase by switching from fossil fuels to low-carbon energy.
It says vulnerable communities must be helped by better protecting homes and livelihoods.
The study also calls for international systems to help communities recover from devastating storms and floods.
In a very narrow sense, they could argue that all they have done is report on what Christian Aid have said, and therefore the article is accurate. However, even under this definition, they have omitted some important and relevant information. For instance, the Christian Aid study makes clear that one of the major factors is population growth in coastal cities. Indeed they point out that 625 million are already at risk from flooding.
They also identify the problems that development are bringing:
They also discuss the problems brought about by the failure in cities like Lagos to properly maintain drainage systems.
None of this is mentioned by the BBC.
The BBC also don’t mention the fact that this is not a scientific study about sea level rise; indeed they give the impression that it is. They could have mentioned the fact that the author, Dr Alison Doig, is not a climate scientist, much less an expert on sea levels.
According to LinkedIn, she is Principal Climate Change Advisor at Christian Aid. Her previous experience includes:
- Environment, Development and Communications Consultant
- Senior Public Affairs Officer with WWF
- Energy Campaigner with Practical Action.
Doig’s study includes one page, which rounds up some of the more outlandish projections for sea level rise, but basically consists of adding up population numbers in coastal cities. In no way is this a study presenting anything new about sea levels. You would be forgiven for not realising that from the BBC’s account.
As for impartiality, the BBC make no mention at all about other, less alarmist projections about sea level rise. And nowhere is there any mention of the actual rise in sea levels. In Florida, for instance, sea levels have been rising at only about 2mm/year since the early 20thC, and the fastest rate of rise was prior to 1970.
And at Bombay, the rate of rise is not only much less still, but sea levels have actually fallen since 1960.
And at Diamond Harbour, Calcutta, most of the sea level rise recorded was prior to 1970, since when things have remained pretty stable.
Bombay and Calcutta are, of course, the cities described by the BBC as most at risk.
The BBC have published an extremely one sided and incomplete article about an study written by a climate change activist. They have presented it as a serious, scientific piece of work, and failed to mention that the background of the author.
They have also failed to introduce any countervailing evidence or arguments.
On almost any other subject, there would be alternative opinions offered. If this had been a less alarmist study, (and assuming the BBC even published it), there would certainly be a list of “other experts say” lined up to offer their more alarmist views.
The BBC might just as well have asked Ms Doig to write the article for them. But, there again, maybe she did!