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Booker & The BBC’s Endless Bias

October 13, 2020

By Paul Homewood


 Misuse of the EM-DAT disaster database is not confined to the corrupt UN. Readers may recall an IPPR report, trumpeted by Roger Harrabin, which ludicrously claimed that “since 2005, the number of floods across the world has increased by 15 times, extreme temperature events by 20 times, and wildfires seven-fold.”

It was to be sadly the subject of one of the last articles by the late, great Christopher Booker:


How ironic it was last week to hear the BBC leading its news on that Commons report claiming that our “democracy is being destroyed” by the flood of “fake news” spread by social media. In fact, thanks to the relentless bias of its own coverage of so many issues, there is no more influential source of “fake news” than the BBC itself. Here are two glaring, but far from untypical, recent examples.

The first began earlier in February with puffs on the BBC News website and Radio 4’s Today programme by Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s “environment analyst”, for a report by a body called the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), warning of “multiple crises” that threaten to “destabilise” the world’s entire environmental system. Particularly striking was a repeated claim that, since 2005, thanks to climate change, there has been a 15-fold increase in floods across the world and a 20-fold increase in “extreme temperature events”.

This seemed so startling that it prompted Paul Homewood, the diligent statistical analyst, on his Notalotofpeopleknowthat blog to track down the evidence for these claims. It turned out that they originated from a database of natural disasters, EM-DAT. According to Homewood, this showed that the chief reason for these rocketing increases was a very significant change in the way such “disasters” were being recorded, to include thousands of more recent events that would previously have been far too small to register in the global figures (the IPPR itself warned that these figures should, therefore, be treated with “caution”).

But then Homewood found that the IPPR version was taken from something cited as the “GMO White Paper”, which might have sounded scientific. In fact, the “GMO” stands for Grantham, Mayo, van Otterloo, the asset management firm run by Jeremy Grantham, who also funds the Grantham Institute on Climate Change at two London universities, Imperial College and the LSE (similar figures have been quoted by Lord Stern, the chair of the LSE branch).

Even the BBC realised that it had come rather a cropper on these claims. Subsequently, it allowed for at least a partial correction, aided by Mark Lynas, the climate campaigner, and the authors of that disaster database to which Grantham attributed his figures. But the impact of this was infinitely less than that of the coverage by Harrabin.

It was he who, back in 2006, was the organiser of that “secret seminar” between top BBC executives and green activists, which led to the BBC policy that – despite its statutory obligation to report only with “impartiality” – because the science on climate change was now settled, there was no need to give “equal space” to views that questioned it (with results so much in evidence ever since).

31 Comments leave one →
  1. Is it just me? permalink
    October 13, 2020 7:16 pm

    Always was an admirer of Booker, a level head in an increasingly hysterical narrative landscape….

  2. MrGrimNasty permalink
    October 13, 2020 7:25 pm

    BBC South Today had another of it’s now regular climate change segments this evening.

    This consisted of going to see a few farmers, listen to them moan about how bad this year’s crop of this or that was, then ask them a loaded question about climate change being to blame – “of course, what else could it be” one said – errrrr weather. Have you ever known a farmer not complain?

    My whole life I heard the same moans about late frosts, too much rain, powdery mildew, canker, aphids, drought, excessive June drop etc. from the local Orchard owner, it was always the worst year for it ‘ever’ every year.

    And of course the now obligatory farmer of thinking about a vineyard……… she was having trouble finding a reliably frost free site on her farm she said, winters are so mild now, she also said in almost the same breath, oblivious to the contradiction.

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      October 13, 2020 7:27 pm

      Sorry about the apostrophes etc., too much spittle on the screen.

    • bobn permalink
      October 14, 2020 12:54 am

      Yes strange how Globdule warming this year brought us the coldest and latest frost (-4c on 11-15 May) that I have recorded in 20yrs in the south of England. All this fabulous warming is bloody cold!

      • MrGrimNasty permalink
        October 14, 2020 9:26 am

        People have selective memories. I spent my whole childhood waiting for a decent snowfall. UK winters are typically all wet and mild with occasional extreme snowy events and cold.

        December 2010 was only 0.1C warmer than the coldest in the entire CET.
        Only people alive in 1890 will have ever experienced a colder December in the last ~360 years.

      • Paul H permalink
        October 14, 2020 10:12 pm

        Yah, but think how cold it would be without global warming!

  3. Tonyb permalink
    October 13, 2020 7:34 pm


    In shellenbergers new book he mentions that in 2019 he wrote a couple of articles covering material from the book in order to double check he was correct.

    He says one of the main questions including from a BBC reporter Was whether some alarmism was justified in order to achieve changes to policy

    I wonder if the reporter was our friend Roger?

    • October 14, 2020 3:16 pm

      For “some alarmism” read “LYING” to the public which is simply what they are doing to promote a political agenda.

      For the liars there is automatic absolution because they are on the side of the right and virtuous. Certainly there are evidently no repercussions for bare faced lying ( to promote their cause).

      It does not help that all that we on the challenging skeptical side can do is laugh when this is actually deadly serious.

  4. John Cullen permalink
    October 13, 2020 7:44 pm

    Just this last weekend I wrote to the BBC’s Director General to complain about the Corporation’s climate bias and I included as evidence (i) Booker’s GWPF report on The BBC’s Triple Betrayal and (ii) a couple of links to parts of Paul’s site where Harrabin had been caught out.

    John Cullen.

  5. Broadlands permalink
    October 13, 2020 7:57 pm

    “Jeremy Grantham, who also funds the Grantham Institute on Climate Change at two London universities, Imperial College and the LSE.”

    Grantham also provides funding to support the AAAS, an organization that used to be non-partisan on issues of science, but is increasingly very activist with respect to global warming.

  6. Ian Magness permalink
    October 13, 2020 8:22 pm

    Booker – a truly great thinker and very sadly missed. It was his brilliant book with Richard North – “Scared to Death” – that first led me on to the path to AGW scepticism. How I would have loved to read his outpourings on Covid, lockdowns, the stupidity of models and governments and similar. I reckon I know what he would have said! He could have added a chapter to the aforementioned book on this subject.

    • October 13, 2020 9:30 pm

      Yes Ian, me too. Christopher Booker was a giant in the realms of investigative reporting. Taken from us far too soon. He was unafraid to reveal the facts and laid them out in clear, concise and beautiful English.

  7. Jackington permalink
    October 13, 2020 8:46 pm

    Now you mention it I remember the Booker article so well; and still the lies go on. We must all keep our eyes open in fear of the lunatics taking over the asylum.

  8. C Lynch permalink
    October 13, 2020 8:57 pm

    I miss Christopher so much – I’m currently re reading his superb “The Real Global Warming Disaster” – so prescient.
    As for BBC’s disgusting eulogising of the vile Iranian Regime, why should anyone be surprised given that the entire organisation is peopled by self loathing Marxists operating the barren principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

  9. Don B permalink
    October 13, 2020 9:28 pm

    For a terrific review of the history of carbon dioxide demonization, please read Christopher Booker’s monograph “Global Warming: a case study in Groupthink.” It is about 100 pages but well worth your time.

    Click to access Groupthink.pdf

    My recollection is that Booker was in the midst of expanding that monograph into a book when he died, and that someone, maybe Richard North(?), was going to complete the book. Does anyone have more information?

    • Is it just me? permalink
      October 14, 2020 4:53 am

      Thanks for the share Don B.

  10. john cooknell permalink
    October 13, 2020 10:20 pm

    I am not that bothered by the BBC making the most of “Climate Change” they are just repeating the scientific consensus.

    However I could not believe it when Saint Attenborough linked Covid 19 to the “Truth about Extinction” .

    What the f*** was that all about!

    • October 13, 2020 10:41 pm

      No fool like an old fool.

      • Jackington permalink
        October 13, 2020 11:17 pm

        And I’m getting tired of him popping up in other people’s programmes, He appeared from nowhere into Michael Palin’s Pole to Pole film the other night to give a short sermon.

  11. Paul H permalink
    October 13, 2020 10:36 pm

    I read Booker avidly and even had a mention in cehis dispatches, but never read another word of his after he came out as a Remainer.

    • Jackington permalink
      October 13, 2020 11:08 pm

      No, no he wasn’t a remainer but he was very aware of the benefit of maintaining a good trading relationship with the EU and advocated strongly for the Norwegian model.

      • bobn permalink
        October 14, 2020 1:03 am

        Yes he wanted out of EU but to remain in EFTA. The noggy or swiss model. I agreed this would be a good plan as you can leave EFTA on your own volition with 1yrs notice. We could thus use it as a stepping stone on the way out. Far less trade disruption, get out of the politics but maintain trade flows. Assess how it works and if still unhappy drop out of EFTA in a few years time. Booker’s path out of the EU was far more pragmatic than our current do or die approach.

  12. Thomas Carr permalink
    October 14, 2020 12:21 am

    I commend Matt Ridley’s latest blog which after its initial focus is on aspects of the current pandemic then enters the territory of scientific objectivity viz ” Some scientists so fall in love with their guesses that they fail to test them against the evidence”.
    This is a familiar scenario for many us who follow Paul’s bulletins but see what you make of it at

    It is not enough for us to just become a forum for merely appreciating Pauls alerts and each other’s erudition . Should we not print a briefing note which is sent out every time to the author and publisher of mistaken nonsense which has little to substantiate it ?
    as in:
    The dates or years when it was warmer or colder than it is now claimed. Similarly for ice cap changes, wind speeds, precipitation, bush fires etc. If the journos like R. Harrabin and Emily Gosden (today’s Times P. 39) will not do their own research we must have had enough guidance from Paul to run an up-to-date fact sheet with sources to substantiate – the ones that Paul has taken such trouble to point out.

    Well done John Cullen for writing to the BBC’s DG. Any response would be interesting from what is supposed to be a new broom.

  13. Edward Spalton permalink
    October 14, 2020 3:55 am

    “ The farmer will never be happy again,
    He carries his heart in his boots.
    For either the rain is destroying his grain,
    Or the drought is destroying his roots”
    A P Herbert.
    Seriously though, the production of food is not generally very profitable but “green”projects, wind farms and solar panels can be. Sheffield University recently produced a paper demonstrating that “ rewildng” the hill tops by allowing them to be covered with scrub could be more profitable than sheep because the growth of trees and bushes could produce “ carbon credits” for sale. Not very nutritious though!
    Incidentally, it is a travesty to say that Booker “ came out” as a Remainer. He believed in using the European Economic Area set up (as do Norway , Iceland & Liechtenstein) as a means of leaving the political structure of the EU whilst retaining access to the single market
    ( thus shedding approx three quarters of EU legislation) and using that as a departure point for further decoupling from the EU project. In the New Year We will see how effective Boris’s attempt at “ having our cake and eating it” has been. Having been opposed to our EEC/EU membership myself since 1972, I am hoping for the best

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      October 14, 2020 9:39 am

      What does it matter now! There may be a few temporary practical/technical issues and inconvenience. No one will starve or die from leaving the EU whatever Project Fear said.

      The economy cannot possibly be damaged in any meaningful way compared to the self inflicted nonsense over Covid and ‘zero carbon’ costs.

  14. Edward Spalton permalink
    October 14, 2020 10:49 am

    I am not concerned with Project Fear but Situation Reality. Having served on a Ministry of Agriculture committee charged with preparing the animal feed business for the Common Agricultural Policy during 1971/2 and implementing it in our own mill, I can only say how very well prepared we were then in comparison with today’s chaos. We were ready to implement the new system by this time of the year – after a strenuous nine months of detailed preparation and guidance. I later became acquainted with Sir Emrys Jones, the senior civil servant responsible, and was surprised to learn that he had been personally deeply opposed to the CAP. Nonetheless he made sure that we were ready to earn our living in the strange new world from Day one – and then resigned. If interested Google “ Edward Spalton The Miller’s Tale Episode 3 “

  15. CheshireRed permalink
    October 14, 2020 11:20 am

    O/T but not unrelated to misrepresentation…..I have an Amazon Fire tablet (very good device, 100% recommended) and the other day found myself cross-examining the voice-activated ‘Alexa’ on her climate change views! (Possibly a bit sad but bear with me)

    I asked ‘Alexa’ ‘how much CO2 is in Venus’ atmosphere?’ and ‘Alexa’ duly responded with …… ‘Venus’ atmosphere is 3.5% carbon dioxide’

    Wiki states it’s 96.5%.

    So I tried again, this time asking what the CO2 content of Mars’ atmosphere is. She replied…… ‘Mars’ atmosphere is 2.6% CO2′.

    Again, this is flat-out wrong. Mars’ CO2 atmospheric content is 95.97%.

    As every schoolboy knows BOTH those claims are flat-out wrong, yet the $multi-trillion organisation Amazon is allowing one of its most popular devices to deliberately mislead, by grossly under-representing the true numbers for CO2 on Venus and Mars.

    This is important because the huge discrepancy in temperatures on Venus and Mars, despite near identical CO2 content, blows a HUGE hole in CO2-driven theory.

    How many other ‘climate change’ related points are being misrepresented to people on their Fire tablets?

    • Tonyb permalink
      October 14, 2020 12:03 pm

      So did you ask it how much co2 there is in earths atmosphere? Probably at least5% it will tell you

      • CheshireRed permalink
        October 14, 2020 2:09 pm

        She got that right.

  16. October 15, 2020 2:45 am

    “thanks to the relentless bias of its own coverage of so many issues, there is no more influential source of “fake news” than the BBC itself”

    Says it all

  17. markl permalink
    October 15, 2020 5:35 pm

    Welcome to the “don’t worry we have it all figured out and we can balance electricity needs with renewables” when the time comes bullshit. An engineering 101 student could see the fallacy in their claims but they motored on. The people are paying the price figuratively and actually.

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