Saturday, December 10, 2011

New Report: The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal

A new report, published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, reveals that the BBC has failed in its professional duty to report accurately and objectively on the issue of climate change, one of the biggest scientific and political stories of our time.

Written by Christopher Booker, one of the UK's most seasoned journalists, the report critically reviews the BBC’s coverage of climate change issues against its statutory obligation to report ‘with due accuracy and impartiality’.

His report, The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal, shows that the BBC has not only failed in its professional duty to report fully and accurately: it has betrayed its own principles, in three respects:

First, it has betrayed its statutory obligation to be impartial, using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.

Second, it has betrayed the principles of responsible journalism, by allowing its coverage to become so one-sided that it has too often amounted to no more than propaganda.

Third, it has betrayed the fundamental principles of science, which relies on unrelenting scepticism towards any theory until it can be shown to provide a comprehensive explanation for the observed evidence.

"Above all, the BBC has been guilty of abusing the trust of its audience, and of all those compelled to pay for it. On one of the most important and far-reaching issues of our time, its coverage has been so tendentious that it has given its viewers a picture not just misleading but at times even fraudulent," Christopher Booker said.

In the foreword to the GWPF report, Sir Antony Jay writes:

"The costs to Britain of trying to combat global warming are horrifying, and the BBC’s role in promoting the alarmist cause is, quite simply, shameful."

The full report is available here


The BBC and an inconvenient truth about climate change


From its breathtaking footage of killer whales hunting in packs to the scenes of penguins swimming with balletic grace under the sea ice, Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Frozen Planet has been acclaimed as perhaps the most riveting sequence of natural history programmes ever produced.

The sophistication of the photography, the extraordinary endeavour of the film crews to get the best shots and Sir David’s breathily authoritative commentary have had viewers entranced in their millions.

Last night’s was the final part of this landmark series, and it set a very different tone from his usual celebration of the natural world. This was because Sir David and the BBC decided to use the last programme to put over a particular message that has become all too familiar from the Corporation in recent years.

The BBC's Frozen Planet has been a massive hit, with its presenter Sir David Attenborough capturing the nation's imagination

Sir David used the awesome shots of the frozen polar wastes to hammer home his belief that the world is facing disaster from man-made global warming.

No one can doubt the passion of his belief. But in putting across his apocalyptic message so forcefully, too many important questions on this hugely important subject were last night neither asked nor answered.


In short, it was a deeply disappointing end to the series — for it was the latest one of countless examples of how, in recent years, the BBC has chosen to make its coverage of one of the most crucial issues of our time quite deliberately, even defiantly one-sided.

The BBC is committed by its charter to report with ‘accuracy and impartiality’. Yet on climate change, it has adopted a clear ‘party line’, which has run through almost every aspect of its broadcasting.

Earlier this year, when the Mail serialised the memoirs of the respected former BBC news reporter and anchorman Peter Sissons, his insider’s view explained how the BBC had become ‘a propaganda machine for climate-change zealots’.

So distorted has the BBC’s coverage become that I produced a detailed report on the subject for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the ‘sceptical’ think-tank run by former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, which is published today.

My disturbing findings show that the problem began a few years ago when the alarm over global warming was at its height. Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — a sensationalist documentary warning of the imminent destruction of our planet because of climate change — was packing in vast audiences and being circulated to our schools to show to children.

Tony Blair was putting global warming at the top of his government’s agenda. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) was producing its scariest report to date.

By making its coverage so flagrantly one-sided on the environment issue, it has betrayed its statutory duty to report on world events impartially

At a secret ‘high-level seminar’ in January 2006, 30 of the BBC’s most senior staff listened as a former president of the Royal Society, Lord May, told them that ‘the scientific debate over climate change’ was over, and that the BBC must ‘stop reporting the sceptics’.

As a result, the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the winds.

The BBC’s journalists and producers were let off the leash — to line up with the more extreme environmental pressure groups, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth, in pushing their global warming agenda for all it was worth.

This bias was soon evident across the whole of the BBC’s output. Not just in the news and current affairs coverage, but from children’s programmes such as Blue Peter —which titled one show Green Peter, with top tips to save the planet — to story-lines in The Archers, one of which involved a farmer planting trees to combat climate change.

Even producers of the BBC Proms got in on the act. In 2007 they commissioned a ‘music drama’ centred on a group of children who had lost their homes through floods caused by climate change.

Programme after programme promoted the climate change gospel, including a two-part documentary series by David Attenborough in 2006, which featured practically every scare story ever dreamed up.

These included predictions that hurricane disasters, such as the previous year’s Katrina, would soon be commonplace, as well as familiar claims that the polar ice caps were melting, threatening the world with a catastrophic rise in sea levels.

The only trouble was that, even then, almost every claim Attenborough made was not supported by serious scientific evidence. The truth is that since the New Orleans flood of 2005, hurricane activity has, in fact, dropped to a historic low.

Despite all the scary claims about the vanishing Arctic ice, its modest retreat has been counter-balanced by a striking increase in ice around Antarctica (a fact not exactly highlighted on Frozen Planet last night).


Bias: When it comes to climate change, from 2006 the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the wind

The irony is that just when the BBC was going into overdrive with its propaganda, the real ‘global warming’ story was beginning to take a very different turn: none of the predictions made by the doom-mongers were coming true.

Temperatures were not continuing to rise as the IPCC’s computer models had predicted they should. The ice caps were not seriously melting; polar bears were not vanishing; sea levels were not dangerously rising; heatwaves, hurricanes and droughts were not becoming more frequent, as those Nobel Prize-winners Gore and the IPCC panel had insisted they must.

And ever more scientists questioned publicly the theory that the world was dangerously heating up as a result of greater amounts of man-made CO2.

Blithely oblivious to all this, the BBC carried on preaching the same old message, assuring us things were ‘even worse than predicted’, and that the only way to save the planet was to pile ever higher taxes on all emissions of CO2 and to build thousands more wind turbines (without, of course, telling us how ludicrously inefficient and expensive they are).

In 2009, the BBC’s journalists could scarcely hide their dismay at the collapse of the UN’s great Copenhagen climate conference, which planned to cut the world’s ‘carbon emissions’ to such an extent it would have landed mankind with the biggest bill in history, at an estimated cost of hundreds of trillions of pounds.

They tried to brush aside the huge embarrassment of the so-called ‘Climategate’ row in 2009 when hundreds of emails from the Climate Research Unit in Norwich were posted online and which revealed how some of the top scientists had been fiddling their data.

They downplayed scandals erupting round the IPCC when it was revealed that many of its more alarming predictions had not been based on proper science at all, but only on scare stories dreamed up by environmental lobby groups.


Then, last summer, in a bid to justify its conduct, the BBC Trust commissioned one of the Corporation’s regular contributors, the geneticist Professor Steve Jones, to review its science coverage, notably on climate change.

Professor Jones made the astonishing claim that the only problem with the coverage of climate change was not that it was too biased, but that it wasn’t biased enough.

All this is why I am far from alone in concluding that the BBC’s coverage has, on this key issue of our time, gone hopelessly off the rails. The Corporation has been guilty of three separate betrayals.

By making its coverage so flagrantly one-sided on the environment issue, it has betrayed its statutory duty to report on world events impartially.

Second, it has betrayed the basic principles of science by giving such unquestioning support to a theory which the evidence has increasingly called into doubt.

Above all, however, the BBC has betrayed the trust of its audience, by failing to give a fair and balanced picture.

This has become a national scandal. It is time we called this pampered, self-important organisation to account for having misinformed us for too long.


A new Noah?

Warmist David Attenborough: If we continue committing CO2 sins, we will be punished by A Great Flood

10 minutes with David Attenborough | ES Magazine:

[Q] What do you say to those who deny climate change?

[A] You simply can't deny it. What you can do, although it is misguided, is to deny how much we have been responsible for it. But the climate is changing, and if it goes on changing, we are going to be in trouble. Everything we can do to reduce the danger must be done, otherwise great cities are going to be submerged. It's absurd to pretend otherwise.


Scandal and Insanity at Penn State

In a repeat of Copenhagen, on the eve of the Durban climate change gabfest, someone released another horde of emails from alarmist climate researchers, including Dr. Michael Mann, whose infamous “hockey stick” was headlined in the 2001 IPCC report to justify the Kyoto agreement and demands that nations slash fossil fuel use and economic growth.

Meanwhile, back on Dr. Mann’s campus, Pennsylvania State University was confronting the sordid Jerry Sandusky affair. Sports Illustrated summarized the Augean Stables task in an article titled “Missteps at every turn: Efforts to clean up Penn State reveal how deep the institutional problems lie.”

As SI noted, a key judge in the case, Pennsylvania’s governor, Penn State’s new athletic director and even the attorney appointed to head up a “full and complete” internal investigation all have deep and longstanding ties to the university and/or its big-money football team. Noting these and other “blatant conflicts of interest,” the magazine quoted new PSU president Rodney Erickson as saying, “Penn State is committed to transparency to the fullest extent possible” [emphasis added] – in view of relevant financial, personal and other considerations, and special exemptions that Penn State enjoys from disclosure laws.

SI ended the article by asking, “Is Penn State cleaning house? Or simply rearranging the furniture?”

The same question applies to Dr. Mann. In the wake of Climategate 2009, Penn State hurriedly exonerated him and his department of any wrongdoing, as did NOAA and the National Science Foundation. The blatant whitewashes reflect the desperation of organizations intent on preserving their money train and perpetuating the Hollywood façade of manmade catastrophic climate change.

All three organizations are at the forefront of climate alarmism and its agenda of “radically transforming” the energy and economic foundations of modern nations. As IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri has said, climate change is “just a part of” the effort “to bring about major structural changes” in “unsustainable” economic growth, development and lifestyles.

The agenda involves slashing carbon dioxide levels to 80% below 1990 levels. That would carry the United States back to emission levels last seen during the American Civil War – devastating the economy.

Together these institutions receive billions of dollars in annual government grants that foster one line of thinking on “global climate disruption” – another term concocted to spin weather and climate events as unprecedented disasters resulting from hydrocarbon energy use. Delegates from all three institutions get to attend annual climate confabs at exotic 5-star resorts, to promote “the cause” of ending mankind’s “addiction” to fossil fuels and establishing “global governance” under UN auspices.

For all these institutions, full-blown independent investigations – with adverse witnesses, cross-examination, and access to data and records denied to previous investigators – could result in lost income, prestige, and power over public policy decisions. Honest, replicable, truly peer-reviewed, robustly debated science into the causes, effects and extent of climate change would do likewise.

For Penn State, the global warming treasure chest may well exceed the Nittany Lions football cash cow. As meteorologist Art Horn has noted, the university received a whopping $470,000,000 in federal grants and contracts between 2010 and 2011. Neither Mann nor Penn State is saying how much went to climate research. But since the US government spent over $106 billion on climate research money between 2003 and 2010, PSU undoubtedly received a hefty portion for promoting the official alarmist viewpoint.

No wonder they refused to turn over raw data and computer codes to other scientists, IPCC reviewers and even investigators – claiming these were private property, even though taxpayers paid for them and the results generated are being used to justify endless energy, job and economy-killing public policies.

At the tip of the policy iceberg are EPA’s (postponed) CO2 “endangerment” regulations, its boiler and refinery rules, its reams of restrictions on coal-fired power plants, the agency’s opposition to hydraulic shale fracturing and the Keystone XL pipeline, and its new automobile mileage rules, which will raise the cost of cars, reduce crash-worthiness and result in thousands of additional deaths in accidents. Mann’s deceptive models and hockey sticks are also being used to justify a $100-billion-a-year “climate change reparation and mitigation” fund for poor nations, to be financed directly by FRCs (formerly rich countries) or via “climate taxes” imposed on international air travel and imported and exported products.

Also benefitting from the corrupt Climate Armageddon research machine are crony capitalists and climate profiteers too numerous to count: the renewable energy and carbon trading firms that depend on climate scares to maintain renewable energy, “green job,” carbon trading, and similar mandates and schemes.

As Competitive Enterprise Institute analyst Bill Frezza has observed, the US Department of Energy invested $529 million in taxpayer-subsidized loan guarantees to build North America’s largest lithium ion automotive battery plant … to supply a Finnish electric car manufacturer backed by Al Gore’s venture capital fund … to ship 40 (!) cars to the USA to date … so that they can be purchased by “environment-motivated” millionaires like Leonardo DeCaprio, who receive $7,500 tax credits for buying the cars.

Add in billions for wind turbines and solar panels … billions to persuade the poorest nations on Planet Earth to endure “sustainable” lifestyles, rather than modernize through reliable, affordable and, yes, hydrocarbon energy … and billions for IPCC and other UN bureaucrats, who insist that drought and flood, cold and heat, storm and sea level events are no longer due to natural forces, but to mankind’s use of fossil fuels – and we’re talking serious money.

Global warming alarmism could ultimately cause the global economy trillions of dollars.

Meanwhile, what about average workers and families? They get none of these perks, sinecures, subsidies and handouts. Instead, they get to pay taxes to support the bureaucrats, pseudo scientists and activists. They get to pay soaring energy bills that subsidize wind, solar and climate schemes, while driving families into fuel poverty. They get to lose their jobs, as companies faced with skyrocketing energy bills lay people off, close their doors or ship jobs off to overseas factories that have cheap energy and cheap labor, because China, India, et cetera do not and will not operate under Kyoto-style restrictions.

What about families in destitute African countries, where 90% of the people still don’t have electricity – because radical environmentalists, World Bank operatives and Obama Administration bureaucrats collude to delay or prevent the construction of coal and even gas-fired power plants?

It’s maybe possible that we face a genuine manmade climate crisis. It’s highly likely that mankind will continue to confront natural climate changes that compel adaptation through ingenuity and technology.

However, Climategate 1 and 2, The Delinquent Teenager and other exposés make it clear that the climate crisis cabal deliberately altered data, misrepresented and withheld crucial information, squelched inquiry and debate, and presented a one-sided narrative, so as to protect their revenues and reputations, and drive an anti-hydrocarbon agenda. Until truly convincing evidence is presented, vetted and fully debated – that fossil fuels are causing significant warming and climate disruption – Kyoto and its proposed successors should be terminated, and the frenzied rush to renewable energy should be ended.

Penn State needs to conduct a real investigation, by honest independent analysts who have no ties to the university or the climate crisis consortium. Its trustees took bold, decisive action on the Sandusky scandal. They need to do the same thing with Professor Mann, his department and colleagues.

Far too much is at stake – for the university, United States and world at large – to permit Penn State (or the IPCC or White House) to merely rearrange the furniture.


Solar to add billions to Australian power bills

THE federal scheme to promote the installation of rooftop solar panels and hot-water systems will have a cumulative cost to consumers of $4.7 billion by mid-2020, adding to pressure on household power bills.

The prediction is contained in advice to the nation's energy ministers, which also forecasts rises in residential electricity prices of about 37 per cent in the three years to 2013-14, with an average annual hike of 11 per cent.

The predicted rise shows prices may increase faster than previously expected, with predictions in July suggesting the three-year rise was expected to be in the order of 30 per cent.

The advice also shows that the carbon tax is likely to hit electricity prices hardest in Queensland and NSW, where power prices are tipped to rise by 42 per cent over the next three years - compared with a 32 per cent rise without a carbon price.

This is broadly in line with Treasury modelling, which suggests that the carbon tax will add about 10 per cent to power prices from 2013-17.

Queensland, NSW and the ACT faced the highest predicted price rises over the next three years, at 42 per cent.

They are followed by South Australia, with a predicted rise of 36 per cent; Victoria (33 per cent), Western Australia (30 per cent), Tasmania (25 per cent); and the Northern Territory (16 per cent).

The reports, by the Australian Energy Market Commission, were released by the Ministerial Standing Council on Energy and Resources.

After the meeting, federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson announced a Productivity Commission inquiry into aspects of electricity network regulation.

Mr Ferguson said that significant investment was required in electricity networks to replace and upgrade ageing assets, to meet growing levels of demand and facilitate a transition towards clean-energy technologies.

"Critical to delivering our energy needs is ensuring that our network regulatory frameworks are delivering efficient and reliable outcomes for consumers," Mr Ferguson said.

But the energy network businesses hit back, saying network prices had to rise to ensure safe electricity supplies to consumers and because the costs of raising funds offshore was increasing.

The AEMC reports found that on top of the $4.7 billion from small-scale renewable projects, energy consumers would also pay for the costs of state-based feed-in tariffs for households for injecting power back into the grid over the life of systems that have already been installed.

The AEMC found if the states adhered to caps on feed-in tariffs - which several states are imposing in an attempt to rein in generous rebates - then the take-up of the small-scale renewable energy scheme should fall from existing levels.

"But forecasts of higher retail electricity prices and reductions in the technology costs for solar PV will still provide incentives for some consumers to take up the SRES," the AEMC found.

As the SRES is a national scheme, decisions by state governments on their feed-in tariffs hit all consumers, as retailers are required to buy certificates that are then "passed through to all consumers in Australia".

By the middle of this year, about 400,000 households had PV solar systems installed.

The number of solar rooftop panel installations could reach more than 1.5 million by 2019-20 - accounting for more than one in every four owner-occupied households - if a carbon price starts next year.

The main beneficiaries of the green policy have been people living in houses and semi-detached homes in suburbs with low population densities, young children and often have three cars to a dwelling. By contrast, young people, those renting, the very affluent and people in higher population density areas were unlikely to tap the scheme.

The majority of the new solar installations were expected in NSW and Queensland, with a significant number in Victoria and Western Australia.


Are We Standing on the Edge of the Climate Change "Abyss"?

Reason's science correspondent sends a third dispatch from the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Durban

Ronald Bailey

Durban, South Africa-Yesterday, before an audience of more than 100 environmental ministers gathered at the opening "high level segment" plenary of the Durban Climate Change Conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon flatly declared, "We are nearing the `point of no return,' and we must pull back from the abyss." The "abyss" against which the Secretary-General warned is a future average global temperature higher than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

What's so terrible about exceeding those two degrees, and where did that figure come from? The 2øC baseline is based on climate models that project increases in greenhouse gases produced chiefly by burning fossil fuels will soon commit humanity to this much extra warming.

In political terms, the 2øC figure derives from the 2010 Cancun Agreements in which member countries to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change officially recognized "that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are required according to science." How deep? They should be deep enough "to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2øC above preindustrial levels." In addition, the Cancun Agreements resolved that this target should reviewed by 2015 with the idea that it could be lowered to cutting greenhouse gas emissions even further with goal of holding the increase in global average temperature below 1.5øC. Keep in mind that it is generally thought that average global temperatures have already increased by 0.8øC in the last 100 years.

"The world has an ever narrowing window of time to stay within the 2 degrees scenario," asserted Achim Steiner, executive director of the United Nations Environment Program. "If we allow the United States to set the framework for negotiations from here to 2020, we can wave goodbye to 2 degrees," warned Tim Gore of Oxfam. Nicholas Stern, lead author of the notorious Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, said "The numbers for climate change are very clear-if we want to remain below 2 degrees the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have to be radical."

A new report issued this week by Climate Interactive (a collaboration between MIT's Sloan School of Management and the Ventana Systems consultancy) also found that to achieve the 2øC goal, the world economy must decarbonizes at a 5.8 percent rate, more than quadrupling the historical rate of 1.3 percent. But it gets worse, according to the Climate Interactive analysis, if countries wait to impose stringent emissions reductions until after 2020; decarbonization would have to rise to 8 percent per year. Interestingly, the latest reports note that in 2010 global carbon intensity actually increased by 0.6 percent rather than falling.

Obviously, a lot of brain and computer power have been devoted to calculating the suite of "ambitious" industrial policies needed to meet these emissions trajectories. In their models, the analysts and most of the folks here at the conference clearly see the climate "abyss" yawning before the world. But how much should we rely on prominent well-meaning energy experts to accurately discern the future?

In 2009, I looked back at the projections made by a much-ballyhooed 1980 National Academy of Science (NAS) report, Energy in Transition, 1985 to 2010. That report took four years to assemble and involved 350 of America's smartest energy researchers, engineers, and economists. How did they do? Not too well. In the NAS economic growth scenario that most closely matched what actually happened, the experts projected that the U.S. energy consumption would rise from 80 quads to more than 130 quads of primary energy by 2010, a 60 percent increase. (A quad is a quadrillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) which is equal to the amount of energy in 45 million tons of coal, or 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or 170 million barrels of crude oil.) Instead U.S. energy consumption rose to 98 quads, an increase of 22 percent.

Did government energy efficiency policies lead to the steep reduction in projected energy use? Again, not really. A 2004 study by the Washington, D.C., think tank Resources for the Future found that energy efficiency programs reduced annual primary energy consumption by 4 quads below what it would otherwise have been.

Of course, it is possible that our ambitious 21st century energy policy experts armed with faster computers and more complicated models are right this time in their energy production and consumption projections. At least, that's the economic bet that the climate activists and negotiators here in Durban want the rest of us to make.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


No comments: