The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again

Hat Tip : George Marshall, ClimateDenial.org

In my humble opinion, Andrew Neil is completely beyond redemption. He has recently invited Global Warming sceptic Nigel Lawson onto the Daily Politics show. Nigel Lawson is no scientist, apparently, and so cannot really be expected to have a learned view on Climate Change, so why was he asked to “debate” with Professor Bob Watson, a proper scientist ? A certain lack of equality in the value of their views, there, I think. Why give equal weight to both, Andrew Neil ?

Back in Febriary, Andrew Neil invited arch-sceptic Fred Singer onto the Daily Politics show. Doesn’t Andrew Neil know anything at all about the history of this man’s involvement in anti-science lobbying in the United States of America ?

It is reported that Fred Singer “bullied” a researcher, Justin Lancaster with “unwarranted” lawsuits :-

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/04/nobody_should_trust_s_fred_sin.php

http://www.desmogblog.com/national-post-promotes-singers-sleazy-attack-on-al-gores-mentor

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=S._Fred_Singer

Plus, Fred Singer has been documented by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway as having taken part in long-term anti-science communications with the public :-

http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/10/merchants-of-doubt-distorting-science-while-invoking-science/

James Hoggan’s “Climate Cover-Up” book makes other aspects of the tale clear :-

http://hubpages.com/hub/Climate-Cover-Up-A-Review

Is this Fred Singer’s main mode of public activitiy – lawsuits and denial ? Doesn’t he do any actual science any more ? Or is he just a widely-travelled after-dinner speaker funded by various industrial special interests ? It’s “plausible”, a word he himself uses in denying the last 30 years of Global Warming. So why is Andrew Neil inviting him onto his TV show as an authoritative voice ? It’s ludicrous !

So back to the recent past and the introductory film for the Daily Politics show featuring the “debate” between Professor Bob Watson and Global Warming sceptic Nigel Lawson. To my mind at any rate, the BBC film was appalling. Narrated by the young Adam Fleming, it was dripping with Climate Change sceptic thought. Here’s what I wrote to the Crisis Forum :-

“Dear Crisis Forum, This is a really appalling re-write of recent history from the BBC :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503 “Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims” : I counted at least 10 inaccuracies in a piece of film shorter than an ad break. Surely some of you have some energy left to complain ? http://www.joabbess.com/2010/10/19/bbc-licence-to-manipulate/…”

Here’s what Bob Ward wrote in response :-

“20 October 2010 : I think this was broadcast on The Daily Politics yesterday and was followed by a “balanced” discussion, chaired by Andrew Neil, between Bob Watson and Nigel Lawson – it is worse than the introductory report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11576013. While I have high regard for the BBC’s coverage of climate change, The Daily Politics frequently exercises double standards by uncritically promoting the views of ‘sceptics’ while being fiercely critical of mainstream researchers. This approach appears to reflect Andrew Neil’s own views on the subject, as can be seen through his blog (eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/dailypolitics/andrewneil/2010/01/the_dam_is_cracking.html). I think it is worth drawing attention to the coverage of climate change by The Daily Politics for Professor Steve Jones’s review of the impartiality of the BBC’s science coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/march/science_impartiality.shtml : Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science ”

Here’s what George Marshall, of ClimateDenial.org, had to say in reply :-

“21 October 2010 : On youtube there is ANOTHER dreadful interview on the Politics Show with Bob Watson and Fred Singer. The whole preamble and Andrew Neil’s handling is from a sceptic perspective :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF2hley0SGA
. So I have a few questions. One is why Bob Watson keeps agreeing to go on this show? I realise that he wants to represent the science, but, to be honest, he does not do so well enough and seems to be poorly prepared and briefed to go against these people. In any case, by appearing he is accepting and condoning the phoney debate. It does make me wonder whether there are grounds for a specific approach to The Politics Show but (as we’ve discussed Bob). Certainly I am all in favour of people ringing them up and complaining. Overall though, I think it is better to have an overall strategy for dealing with this than launch into a single skirmish – but don’t want to discourage Jo or anyone who is seeing red. George”

So my appeal is this : Adam Fleming, young reporter for the BBC – what do you actually think about Climate Change ? I know you had to narrate an appallingly inaccurate script over the Daily Politics show film, but what do you personally think of the issue ? Tell us that you’re sane, and have read something about this. Recant from the sceptic BBC position. “Come out of her my people”, and be redeemed into scientific sanctuary.

Adam Fleming : BBC Complaint

Dear BBC

I am writing to complain about a short news article presented as online video, narrated by Adam Fleming, which contains a number of inaccuracies regarding the operation of Climate Change science and the results of inquiries into it.

The piece that I am referring to is here :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

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TEXT ON WEB PAGE

19 October 2010
Last updated at 13:48

Press coverage has cast further doubt on climate scientists’
claims that man-made global warming is real and adversely
affecting the planet.

Polls show that the public are becoming increasingly confused
about the issue. Adam Fleming reports.

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TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO IN FILM PRESENTATION

It’s the year that “uncertainty” became the buzzword in the
climate change debate, even for scientists who are convinced
that human activity is warming the planet.

Last year saw the publication of private e-mails written in
these buildings, the Climatic Research Unit at the University
of East Anglia. Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.
They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their
theories.

This summer, an inquiry, the last of three, left the
scientists’ reputation intact, but told them that they had to
be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.

Then came “Glaciergate”. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the group of international scientists that
inform global environmental policy, had written a report
saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by
2035, but that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.

The head of the IPCC, the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri
came under pressure to quit. In future [the] chairman will
serve just one term, and again the academics were told to be
more honest about the question marks in their research.

Back at home, David Cameron has pledged the “greenest
Government ever”, but there are limits. This week the Coalition
announced it wouldn’t fund tidal power in the Severn Estuary
because the bill was too high.

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Firstly, and most importantly, Adam Fleming repeats not once, but twice, the erroneous view that scientists were instructed by the “Climategate” inquiries and the IPCC review to be more “honest”.

That is not only a poor choice of word, it completely undermines the results of the inquiries and the review, which recommend more “openness” about data and methods, whilst at the very same time vindicating scientists of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Much of Climate Change science is very public already. Many data sets are totally within the public realm, and all the research papers are widely available. There are moves to publish more of the data and more of the methods for the models and computer programming. Some of the data and methods have been proprietary, or countries, universities or even individual researchers have placed restrictions on their use. The basic problem is that a non-expert cannot look at some of the data and understand it without background information (“metadata”) on how the data should be treated, how it was assembled and which adjustments should be made to make sense of it in a variety of frames of reference. For example, if I were to give you a database about road traffic accidents at a variety of blackspots and I didn’t tell you what the data measured, the parameters for how data was included, or how information was collected, how could you understand what it really signified ?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is to undergo reform in order to deal more effectively with the public, including the media, as it appears that the media consistently get the messaging wrong. The IPCC is not going to undergo reform in order to change its basic discoveries from the science. The science still stands, and the scientists are still right. The implications of the synthesis of Climate Change science is that there are very real risks of very serious disruption to the Earth’s climatic regime, and the evidence is constantly accumulating to back up this projection.

Uncertainty did not become a “buzzword” last year. Way back in 2007, the IPCC published (for free, on the Internet) their Fourth Assessment Report, which contained very clear summaries of which parts of Climate Change Science are robust and where the uncertainties are.

The use of the phrase “even for scientists who are convinced that human activity is warming the planet” suggests that there is a significant portion of scientists who are not convinced that human activity is warming the planet. This is misleading. Of those scientists who have researched Climate Change, the overwhelming majority accept that human activity is warming the planet. Global Warming from humankind’s emissions of Greenhouse Gases is basic Physics, and it’s ridiculous to even suggest otherwise.

The “Climategate” e-mails were not put to “publication” last year. It would be more accurate to say that they were “leaked”, but the actual process of how they came to be in the public domain is more complicated than that. It appears that a number of people had access to the material well before it was broadcast as the e-mails were released with additional material alongside suggesting all manner of nefarious goings-on that could not be drawn from the e-mails themselves, when read in their proper context. A more accurate description would be to say that the e-mails were “stolen” and their contents “hacked” with unfavourable commentary before they were released onto the Internet in a carefully staged campaign to create maximum disturbance to the Copenhagen UNFCCC conference.

“Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.” This sentence is incorrect. The “tricks” were not to change the numbers in the data, but ways to present the data to reveal certain trends.

“They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their theories.” That claim is “wildly inaccurate”.

“…told them that they had to be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.” This is incorrect. The three inquiries sought to persuade Climate Change science as a whole to share more data and methods than they currently do, so that others can understand how the data is used to come up with the conclusions. It is a call for full disclosure, not a reprimand over deception.

“Then came Glaciergate.” That is incorrect. The typographical reproduction error regarding the fate of the Himalayan glaciers was discussed in the media before “Climategate” unleashed badly commented confidential e-mails on the world. If you don’t know that, you haven’t done your research properly.

“…that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.” The use of the word “proved” is contentious, as it suggests that somebody did some science that contradicted what was in the IPCC. Not a bit of it. There are still ongoing discussions as to the speed of glacier melt, and its extent, and data collection is continuing. “Glaciergate” was an error in transmission, with an unsupported source. It was like a genetic coding error that leads a cell to a cancerous state. But the medicine is now available – the IPCC will be much more rigorous in future in double-checking what they report from.

“[the IPCC] had written a report saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by 2035”. It was not the IPCC who wrote the original error. Since Adam Fleming does not appear to know, it needs to be said again – the IPCC only reports on other peoples’ work – it doesn’t do any scientific research of its own. Minor mistakes in IPCC reports do not break Climate Change science.

“…the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri came under pressure to quit”. The so-named “pressure” has only from the Climate Change sceptics and the dogbark media. I do not know of any person in the Climate Change science community who is applying “pressure” of any kind for Rajendra Pachauri to quit.

“…again the academics were told to be more honest about the question marks in their research.” This is incorrect. The IPCC are already very open about the “question marks” in their research. If Adam Fleming were to take the time to actually read the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, (note well, Richard Black, senior environmental reporter has admitted that he has not yet done this), you would discover the normal academic presentation of both sides of every argument about every facet of the science. They could not be more “honest” about how they arrive at their conclusions. What will change is that they will start to be more “transparent”. There is a major media initiative going on in the IPCC management to use modern communications techniques to present the findings to the public in a more structured, accessible way, in order to restore public confidence in the work of Climate Change science.

I don’t expect the BBC to answer this complaint in the time period that they pledge, and I don’t expect them to answer correctly.

I don’t expect the BBC to start getting their Climate Change information right at the moment, but when the IPCC media team get to work, I can assure you the BBC will be changing its tune.

The BBC has proved consistently that it cannot report accurately on Climate Change. It would be far better if they outsourced their reporting on Climate Change to people who actually know something about it, instead of repeating Climate Change sceptic arguments as if they were the truth. This article by Adam Fleming is a revision of history and the current state of play and is not only “wildly inaccurate” to use his own phrase, it is “informationally contentious” in a manner that is misleading and ultimately incorrect.

BBC : Licence to Manipulate ?

Another Earth-shatteringly ridiculous piece on the practice of Climate Change science has dribbled from the loudspeaker of the BBC :-

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

Why am I surprised that they seem content to repeat falsehoods and rehearse a patronising tone ?

Where’s the proper investigative journalism ? Why get somebody so young and fresh-faced as Adam Fleming to tear up his good reputation so soon into his career ? I mean, he’s only done kids’ TV before now, as far as I know. Why was he only briefed with Climate Change “sceptic” fantasy nonsense ? And what will the University of East Anglia Press Office do to react ?

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Date: Tue 19 Oct 2010
From: Jo Abbess
Subject: The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again
To: Climatic Research Unit, University of East Anglia Pres Office

Dear Press Office at CRU UEA,

I am completely astonished at the paucity of the latest
offering from the BBC on so-called “Climategate” (see
forwarded e-mail I have sent to Professor Phil Jones).

I would see this as a prime moment to correct the BBC
publicly, and you could be the people for the job, which is
why I am drawing this to your attention.

I’m sure you don’t need me to pinpoint the inaccuracies in the
BBC piece, but I can offer comments if you would like to hear
them.

Regards,

Jo Abbess

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Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010
From: Jo Abbess
Subject: The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again
To: Professor Phil Jones
Cc: Dr Ben Santer, Dr Gavin Schmidt

Dear Professor Jones,

I can’t help asking myself why it is that the BBC has got
Climate Change science so, so wrong yet again.

Can’t they read ? And who have they been listening to ?

This is a really appalling re-write of recent history from the
BBC (see below). It’s insulting, judgemental and just plain
inaccurate.

They couldn’t have done worse if they had been deliberately
trying to be annoying, in my view.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503
“Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims”

I counted at least 10 “revisions of history” in a piece of
film shorter than an ad break.

Surely some of your colleagues have the energy left to
complain ?

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TEXT ON WEB PAGE

19 October 2010
Last updated at 13:48

Press coverage has cast further doubt on climate scientists’
claims that man-made global warming is real and adversely
affecting the planet.

Polls show that the public are becoming increasingly confused
about the issue. Adam Fleming reports.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

TRANSCRIPT OF AUDIO IN FILM PRESENTATION

It’s the year that “uncertainty” became the buzzword in the
climate change debate, even for scientists who are convinced
that human activity is warming the planet.

Last year saw the publication of private e-mails written in
these buildings, the Climatic Research Unit at the University
of East Anglia. Experts spoke of doing “tricks” with numbers.
They hinted at the deletion of data that didn’t fit their
theories.

This summer, an inquiry, the last of three, left the
scientists’ reputation intact, but told them that they had to
be more honest about how they reach their conclusions.

Then came “Glaciergate”. In 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change, the group of international scientists that
inform global environmental policy, had written a report
saying that most of the glaciers in the Himalyas could melt by
2035, but that was proved to be wildly inaccurate.

The head of the IPCC, the Indian academic Rajendra Pachauri
came under pressure to quit. In future [the] chairman will
serve just one term, and again the academics were told to be
more honest about the question marks in their research.

Back at home, David Cameron has pledged the “greenest
Government ever”, but there are limits This week the Coalition
announced it wouldn’t fund tidal power in the Severn Estuary
because the bill was too high.

=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=x=

Met vriendelijke groeten,

jo.