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BBC Regrets Climate Error And Failure To Meet Usual Standards Of Reporting — Then Does It Again

March 26, 2018

By Paul Homewood


The BBC have been caught at it again!



Everybody makes mistakes, and some of them matter. On the BBC’s News at Ten on the 18th January 2018 there were two of them, and the GWPF complained a few days later.

The first error was in describing the global temperature of 2017 as the “hottest year on record,” which it wasn’t.

The second mistake was that the BBC’s Environment Analyst Roger Harrabin said that, “2017 had no heating from El Nino,” which was also incorrect.

We pointed out that whilst 2017 was not designated a year in which there was an El Nino event (defined as a period with prolonged El Nino heating) there was in fact El Nino heating in the northern spring for 11 weeks, and we provided a graph to prove it. (Click on image to enlarge)

2017 Sea Surface Temperature (SST) anomalies in the El Niño 3.4 region reaching and surpassing the 0.5°C threshold; Source: NOAA

This is straightforward stuff, and one would have thought a swift correction would have settled the matter. But no.

The BBC’s reply a few weeks later was a prime example of how making confusing and inaccurate statements are used to justify an inaccurate report. They said in referring to 2017 as the hottest year on record was an “unfortunate and genuine error,” and that, “an error slipped through,” and expressed regret that their usual standards weren’t met on this occasion. They issued a correction on their website. However, they then indicated that they should have said what they said on an earlier TV bulletin which was, “2017 was the hottest year on record without the natural warming effect of El Nino,” the inaccuracy of which was the subject of our complaint!

They were even more confused in the response to our complaint about 2017 having no “El Nino heating.” They said that Roger Harrabin’s “no heating effect” referred to a recognised formal El Nino “event” in the year rather than the temporary occurrence of “conditions” which do not result in a recognised event that year.

As this was nonsense we complained again on the 19th of February, pointing out that saying there was no formal El Nino event is not the same as saying there was no El Nino heating. We also said it was not a proportionate response for a mistake on the News at Ten to be “corrected” on an obscure website as it still leaves large numbers of News at Ten viewers misled.

To say we waited for a reply with rueful anticipation would be an understatement.

It came almost a month later. They ducked the issue of correcting a serious error on the News at Ten on the same programme, saying they had taken measures THEY felt were adequate.

As for the no “El Nino heating” problem, they told us what we already knew and that an El Nino did develop in the first half of the year but that it didn’t count as “heating” because it didn’t last long and the year ended up in La Nina conditions. They added that Roger Harrabin’s report reflected this when he said, “It’s extraordinary that temperatures in 2017 have been so high when there’s no El Nino (contradicting their “explanation” – Ed) In fact we’ve been going into cooler La Nina conditions.”

Once again the explanation is internally inconsistent and does not make sense. The year 2016 was the warmest on record due to the boost in temperature it received from a very strong El Nino. Given that is it all that surprising that the following year should have inherited a lot of this warmth prior to its dissipation!

And on that the BBC says it will not continue discussing the matter.

As I said, everyone makes mistakes and usually issue corrections. But what the BBC has done in this, and in other complaints, is not to address the problem but try to find a form of words that they think will get the complainant off their back. The issues involved in the GWPFs complaint are simple, the replies in attempting to justify a sloppy report are convoluted, inaccurate and misleading.

  1. quaesoveritas permalink
    March 26, 2018 12:23 pm

    The reason nobody picks up these errors in the first place, is that the BBC is institutionally biased towards climate change.
    Every pro-warming story, confirms that bias.

  2. NeilC permalink
    March 26, 2018 12:41 pm

    There was a piece in the Daily Telegraph (paper edition) about the BBC sending their journalists into schools to teach about how to identify FAKE news.

    So, all the fake news they broadcast about climate change, is that going to be included? Or will it just be a climate change propaganda campaign?

  3. Paul Weeks permalink
    March 26, 2018 12:51 pm

    Paul, if you are asked by the BBC to help them write accurate articles, make sure the letter is not dated next Sunday!

  4. Broadlands permalink
    March 26, 2018 12:52 pm

    It seems to depend on whose NINO 3.4 data one uses? The NOAA three-month database shows no period above the 0.5°C threshold in 2017. Neither does HadlSST 1.1. 2016 began with a strong El-Nino which quickly dissipated.

    The relevant point is that 2017 was a cooler year than 2016 and 2015… and 2018 is continuing this…so far.

  5. Phoenix44 permalink
    March 26, 2018 1:22 pm

    “…we’ve been going into cooler La Nina conditions.”

    Have we? It is certainly cooler, but is the BBC getting int heir excuses early? I wasn’t aware that we are now in La Nina?

    The BBC just does not care though. It “knows” Climate Change is real and serious, and so a few facts here and there just don’t matter.

    • Broadlands permalink
      March 26, 2018 1:29 pm

      The ONI 3.4 has been in La-Nina mode. Since last November…

      • dave permalink
        March 26, 2018 9:20 pm

        The type of consistent condition, seen below, seems to produce a drop in UAH and RSS numbers, for the monthly anomalies of the brightness metrics, a few months later, of one or two tenths C:

        I do not give rat’s arse whether anybody in authority proclaims or does not proclaim “an event.”

  6. March 26, 2018 2:02 pm

    BBC Regrets Climate Error And Failure To Meet Usual Standards Of Reporting — That is wrong as well – They exactly met the BBC’s usual standard of reporting.

  7. March 26, 2018 2:37 pm

    The obfuscation is deliberate. They have a Left wing agenda and push it hard. When caught they backpedal but never set it right.

  8. March 26, 2018 2:40 pm

    Here is the BBC teaching kids how to recognise “fake news”. It is more propaganda for kids:

    “Is that true, or did you hear it on the BBC?”

    • March 26, 2018 3:25 pm

      Exactly. The claim that they are capable of fairly impartially detecting fake news in all aspects of life is of course…fake news.

      • dave permalink
        March 26, 2018 5:10 pm

        No, Sorry, BBC. Just checked in my considerable library of textbooks of Physics. “A year” is not in any list of things which can have a temperature – high or low.

  9. Coeur de Lion permalink
    March 26, 2018 8:22 pm

    It springs from Harrabin’ s dishonest conspiracy of 26 January 2006 ( or was it 2009?) when top beebista and green crooks decided to deny deniers airspace.

  10. Bitter@twisted permalink
    March 26, 2018 10:02 pm

    Biased Bull$hit Cartel.
    There is only one solution. Mass non-payment of licence fees.
    They can’t put us all in clink.

  11. Vernon E permalink
    March 27, 2018 10:49 am

    There are two forms of fake news – commission and omission. The BBC’s speciality is the latter and they use it constantly.

  12. john cooknell permalink
    March 27, 2018 8:09 pm

    They did the same with promoting a food safety scare story together about trace plastic micro particles being found in plastic bottled water. Not exactly rocket science. I complained.

    The reply was that “David Shukman said several times there was no evidence that the plastic micro particles were any risk to health”.

    Why did they put it on the six o clock news then!

    It was a speculative trash study, not peer reviewed, no evidence, even the Food Standards Agency said there was no risk. But David whittled on about micro particles transferring through the gut wall, utter trash! They embed plastic in your eyes to cure cataracts. All blood and intravenous products come via plastic.

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