Reply From The BBC Re Miami Complaint
By Paul Homewood
You will no doubt recall my report last month, Miami Beach Turning Into Modern Day Atlantis–Fake News BBC, about a BBC World at One item.
The segment discussed sea level rise at Miami, and the BBC correspondent made two outrageous claims:
1) Rising seas and flooding are turning Miami Beach into a modern day Atlantis, the city being submerged by water”
2) Sea levels at Miami are rising at ten times the global rate.
I filed a complaint, both about these two specific fallacious claims, but also about the general tenor of the programme, which failed dismally to present any actual facts.
I have just received this reply:
Thanks for contacting us about Radio 4’s ‘The World at One’ on 27 March.
We understand you feel the programme allowed inaccurate comments about the sea levels in Florida.
This piece was about President Trump signing an order undoing President Obama’s climate change policies; it went on to talk about flooding in the southern coast of Florida – predicted rising sea levels in Florida being something that’s been widely reported across various media outlets. The presenter here explained that because the area is built on porous limestone, the water seeps up through the ground.
We reported the concerns of the local residents who pointed out scientists agree that the flood defences will soon offer inadequate protection. We also heard from a Trump supporter who didn’t think the issue was caused by climate change, and so was also voicing her opinions.
We’re committed to impartial and balanced coverage of climate change. Furthermore we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on the issue and reflect this accordingly. Across our programmes the number of scientists and academics who support the mainstream view far outweighs those who disagree with it. We do however on occasion, offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality.
In other words, they are claiming that they were simply “reporting the concerns of residents”. This, of course, totally ignored the fact that their own correspondent made two grossly inaccurate claims, both clearly designed to ramp up the climate scare.
There was no balance to the programme, and nowhere were facts used to challenge these outlandish claims.
I have refused to accept their reply, and have sent this resubmission:
I have now received a reply to the above complaint, which is wholly unacceptable.
There is no point restating the facts via the online form, so I will outline my reasons here, so that you can resubmit my complaint.
The gist of the segment on World at One was that sea levels were rising rapidly around Miami Beach.
The correspondent actually stated “rising seas and flooding are turning Miami Beach into a modern day Atlantis, the city being submerged by water”
It was later claimed that sea levels at Miami are rising at ten times the global rate. (It was not clear whether it was the correspondent who stated this, due to very poor editing)
An interviewee then claimed that Miami had 30 yrs left. At no stage were we told who he was, nor was he challenged.
The facts concerning sea level rise are very clear. NOAA have a database of sea level data from tide gauges. As the link below shows, sea levels around Florida have been rising at a rate of about 2mm/yr since the early 20thC. Approximately a quarter of this is due to the land sinking.
Furthermore, sea levels were rising as fast as now during the early 20thC, before slowing down around the 1960s and 70s when the world was cooling:
In other words there is no acceleration in rise.
Photographic evidence shows that the few inches of sea level rise since the early 20thC has had no noticeable effect whatsoever at Miami Beach.
It is also fact that Miami Beach was a swamp before being developed, and parts are actually below sea level. Unsurprisingly then, floods occasionally happen.
As you will see from the reply from the BBC, the programme was claimed to be simply reporting the views of residents. However, this does not stand up to scrutiny. It was the correspondent himself who talked in completely fallacious, inflammatory and irresponsible fashion about a modern day Atlantis. The claim about at ten times the global rate is also wholly wrong.
We are not told who the interviewee is, nor that he is a resident who clearly knows nothing about the subject. Instead, the whole segment is presented as “fact”.
Your reply uses the usual get out clause that you are only reflecting the broad scientific agreement on the issue. Clearly however, this has nothing to do with “science”, and everything to do with “facts”, which don’t support the wild claims made.
It is the BBC’s duty to inform. If members of the public are given a platform to spout nonsense, they should surely be challenged. Clearly the correspondent either did no know the facts, or did not care.
Please resubmit my complaint