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« Climate change change | Main | Rees transcript »

BBC review "proceeding with vigour"

I emailed Professor Steve Jones, who is heading the BBC review of science coverage. Prof Jones has said that the rumour of its cancellation is incorrect and I've now had this confirmed by a third party who has discussed the issue with the BBC direct. Apparently the review is "proceeding with vigour".

But without any input from critics of the BBC's science coverage.

This is probably a good point to bring in this transcript of a meeting of top journalists back in 2005. I chanced upon this while looking for something else. These top truthseekers were discussing how to deal with coverage of global warming and I certainly found it fascinating to see Jon Snow cheerleading for the AGW cause and a man from Greenpeace on hand to make sure that everyone is getting the correct message.

Is it any wonder that the mainstream media is on the wane?

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Reader Comments (37)

From the transcript: George Monbiot (it really is his lifes work - 2005)

George Monbiot:

I think it has been one. Also, the complete collapse of the global-warming-denying argument has been another, where there just simply aren't credible scientists left who say it's not happening

George Monbiot: Things have changed very rapidly. It wasn't that long ago that the BBC in the United Kingdom just about every time there was a discussion on climate change insisted on bringing on someone who had no scientific qualifications, and was generally funded by Exxon, to say climate change is not taking place - despite the fact that they were flying in the face of a scientific consensus as solid as any scientific consensus becomes. It was the equivalent of, every time you have the issue of smoking and lung cancer on the radio or the television, getting someone on to say there is no connection between smoking and lung cancer. Or the equivalent of getting someone on to say there is no connection between HIV and AIDS every time the issue of AIDS came up. It was grotesquely irresponsible. But I'm glad to say that I think that's passed."

Post Climategate, no wonder George has been so grumpy, he thought it was all 'settled' years ago...

Aug 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

I thought that with AGW we wouldn't see Snow any more.

Aug 5, 2010 at 8:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

It was interesting to see how they were already grasping at straws with the heavy emphasis on Catrina; also mentioning the tsunami, caused by an earthquake!

And how can anyone at the BBC read that and claim that their reporting is unbiased?

Aug 5, 2010 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeT

Jon Snow: Do you think New Orleans (Katrina) has been a determinant factor?

George Monbiot: I think it has been one. Also, the complete collapse of the global-warming-denying argument has been another, where there just simply aren't credible scientists left who say it's not happening.

5 years on and the warmists like Monbiot are in full retreat.

Aug 5, 2010 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

I made a complaint to Channel 4 about Snow some months ago. He interviewed an AGW alamist and a sceptic in a news bulletin. He clearly favoured the AGW and gave him much more "air time". When he did eventually ask the sceptic something he constantly interupted and talked over him. It was so obvious he had an agenda.

Of course I got the polite response of "we will take it up the the programme's producers" and then ...err ....silence.

Aug 5, 2010 at 10:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterMactheknife

Why the concern about who said what at that meeting. The real problem is the fact that there was such a meeting at all. Smacks of news management to me. So much for BBC impartiality. Herr Goebbels would be proud of them.

Aug 5, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commenteremckeng


I had just about got myself ready to admit that I was wrong about Moonbat at the Guardian debate. I was ready to confess to all that actually I was wrong and that he really DID do a good job as chairman. Then I read this.... Humph!
A bunch of journalists trying to figure out how to panic the population into believing something the journalists dont have a clue about?
I dont know how much the report was edited but in what I read there was no discussion of science, just how do we frighten the public into doing what they want.

Aug 5, 2010 at 11:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Well done, Andrew, for unearthing that fascinating fossil from a bygone time! In the chronological account of the AGW story I gave in my book The Real Global Warming Disaster, I described 2005 as the year when the whole AGW hysteria was just approaching its zenith..At the very time that Time, Newsweek and the rest of the media were going bananss over how the water tipping over the levees from Lake Pontchartrain was the ultimate proof of how global warming was taking place in front of our eyes, Gore was busily putting together his Oscar-winning movie for release the following year. Blair, as head of the G8, was calling it the biggest threat to mankind. And there in that transcript you've dug out they all are, Moonbat, the BBC, Greenpeace, Jon Snow, caught like flies in amber! What a wonderful period piece it now seems! Of course, as you would be keenly aware, it was also the very year when M and M were delivering their most deadly salvoes against the 'hockey stick', the event which will eventually be seen as having more than anything else brought the whole pack of cards tumbling down,

Aug 5, 2010 at 11:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterchristopher booker

Most honoured to see you on Bishop Hill Mr Booker :) Your Sunday column is one of the few things that keeps me paying for the Telegraph.

Aug 5, 2010 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

As a slightly O/T observation:

I was browsing in my local Waterstones the other day for the first time in a while and was both surprised and encouraged to see a row of books (including one of yours, Mr Booker: sorry Mr Montford, no sign of the HSI - I did look) all focusing, and I generalise, on the various ways in which the public and the media are "managed" by interested parties.

A short review written by a member of staff and pinned underneath one of the titles simply said, "This is why I don't read newspapers any more".

Aug 5, 2010 at 11:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop


Strange? I thought Amazon owned Waterstones these days? On Amazon HSI has 47 5 star reviews out of 50 and their only interest is profit right? hehe

Aug 5, 2010 at 11:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Dung: you may wish to have a look at today's (6th August) on-line edition - Nepstad is back via the egregious Gray!

How curious: I've just gone back to the Telegraph website and the story has been moved from the top line down to beneath the fold:

Here's Gray's piece:

"Climate change and illegal logging could wipe out rainforest wildlife by 2100
Most of the plants and animals found in rainforests today could die out by the end of the century because of climate change and illegal logging, according to a new study."

And here's ANOTHER piece on the same story which has just appeared, by Richard Alleyne:

"Climate change could destroy 80 per cent of rainforest by next century
Fewer than one in five of the plants and animals which currently live in the world's rainforests will still be here in 90 years time, a study predicts."

Nepstad's scientist/advocate comments appear in both.

Aug 5, 2010 at 11:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop


Nobody seems to have told them that 99% of all species that ever existed on Earth are extinct. We should stop trying to control the planet and start planning how we become part of the 1% and not the 99% hehe

Aug 6, 2010 at 12:04 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung


Also I have to admit ignorance :( was Nepstad involved in the IPCC bunk about a tiny change in climate will destroy 40% of the rainforest?? (shame on me hehe)

Aug 6, 2010 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

bbc's david shukman chaired this one 2 years later tho i can't find the transcript.
note the use of 'deniers' in the summary. what an objective discussion this promised to be:

News Xchange 2007
What can and should broadcasters do to help reduce global warming and attract new and environmentally committed viewers? Do they have a responsibility to give equal coverage to all sides of this story – climate change deniers and environmental crusaders alike?
There may be an overwhelming consensus that global warming is a global crisis, but not about what needs to be done to reach the goals that scientists and researchers feel will stem the threat to our planet's survival. So what are broadcasters already doing? And what radical ideas are out there to engage viewers, to empower global activits (sic), and to create new audiences by exploiting all media platforms?
With contributions from Anders Levermann, Professor of Dynamics of the Climate System, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Robert Mendelsohn, Professor of Economics, Yale University; Klaas van Egmond, Director, Environment and Nature Planning Office, advisor to the Dutch Government on environmental issues; Jacqueline MacGlade, Executive Director, European Environment Agency, advisor to the EU on environmental matters; Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Hans Laroes, Editor-in-Chief, NOS Television; Arkalo Abelson, Minister of Environment, Greenland; Professor Wangari Muta Maathai, Kenya's Assistant Minister of Environment, and 1994 Nobel Prize Winner. Chaired by David Shukman, Environment and Science Correspondent, BBC News.

List of delegates who attended the above:

Aug 6, 2010 at 12:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Dung - see EU Referendum website for details about the "Amazongate" affair...

Aug 6, 2010 at 12:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterwoodentop

Ok my memory has returned :)

Plus I read Louise Gray and Alleyne on Telegraph online.

"Globale warming may cause" add whatever turns you on.
"Climate change may result in" as above.

However most of what they say is true :)
We are in an interglacial and 2.5 billion years of climate history says it will not last much longer.
I dont know if we will return to the current ice age for another 100,000 years or if in fact we are at the end of the ice age and will return to earth normality with temperatures 10 to 15 degrees warmer than today.
However I would bet my mortgage that one of those changes will start to happen within 1000 years (the end of this interglacial is way overdue).
we MUST start planning how we deal with those two possible events and obviously the return to Ice.

Aug 6, 2010 at 12:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Would be a killer

Aug 6, 2010 at 12:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Confession time. I'm an avid consumer of BBC Radio 4 and have been so for the last three months. I ditched both my Television apparatus and Licence payer status at that time when I discovered that digital was technologically incompatible with my hitherto trustworthy 405 line B&W, walnut-veneered, entertainment centre.
Apart from " Z Cars" and "Dixon of Dock Green" I don't miss TV at all.
For some inexplicable reason I find radio propaganda much less unsettling than that from big bro. I can listen to snippets from "Woman's Hour" describing the pain felt by a mother, whose grown-up son wants to have children, who desperately wants to warn him about the bleak future they will experience due to Global Warming.
But she can't tell him, so each day she dies a little more.
I don't even get angry. Just a little more saddened.
When another commentator tells us that studies indicate that 80% of marine species are still unknown to Man and then adds that vast but unknown numbers of lifeforms are, and will be, going extinct because of ACC, I merely shrug and stay tuned.
If I'd heard these snippets on TV, I'd probably still be frothing.
On radio, I skip barely a heartbeat.
Moral. If you don't pay the piper, you don't care as much what tune they play.
The BBC has, I firmly believe, lost its way but that does not mean it will always be so.
Winston Churchill once famously said "... It would be open to then to go back and rejoin the party from which for the time being they had severed themselves"
We can't vote, one way or the other, for Auntie at the ballot but we can vote with our pockets!

Aug 6, 2010 at 1:35 AM | Unregistered Commenterroyfomr

would it not be -fair- to assume there is %-wise as many agw sceptics in the BBC's "work"-force as in the general population?

about their "work" and "services", you'ld think they come up now and then with something new but i was watching Miranda the other night and it occurred to me i saw that episode like a year ago?? I guess they're all on holiday then , the quangocrats? put on a tape for the losers who DON'T have AND 2 extra months pay AND work security AND relocation allowances AND expense AND pension AND AND.

Aug 6, 2010 at 1:42 AM | Unregistered Commenterphinniethewoo


No I dont think it would be fair to assume that.
The BBC seems to filter out people with a sense of humour, people with independent minds and people who "dont go with the flow".

Aug 6, 2010 at 2:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Any chance you will do a paper on Tiljander like Casper and the Jesus Paper?

[BH adds: Part of the story is already told in HSI. I could bring it up to date at some point, but the day job is likely to intrude in the immediate future. I might put the tip box up again, to see if I could raise enough money to justify taking some time off.]

Aug 6, 2010 at 4:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Makes you realise what a marvelous outlet AGW is/was for these of the alarmist persuasion. How they could hang guilt on all and sundry. With its foundations crumbling it's like taking toys from children.

Aug 6, 2010 at 6:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterspangled drongo

Since Harrabin has gone into print with his unease about the Three Exonerations, wouldn't it be awkward for him if the BBC's coverage is in turn exonerated on the authority of Oxburgh, Russell and Penn State? Actually, since the BBC has produced some fairly self-critical reports in recent years I wouldn't write this one off entirely yet.

Aug 6, 2010 at 7:43 AM | Unregistered Commenteranonym

Napsted comment from the Telegraph
Daniel Nepstad, senior scientist at the Woods Hole Research Center, which studies climate change in Massachusetts, said: "This study is the strongest evidence yet that the world's natural ecosystems will undergo profound changes including severe alterations in their species composition through the combined influence of climate change and land use.
"Conservation of the world's biota, as we know it, will depend upon rapid, steep declines in greenhouse gas emissions."

Sure there will be profound changes because they keep hacking down the forest in Sumatra for example to replace it with palm oil plantations.

Aug 6, 2010 at 8:18 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

The paper which is the subject of the two Telegraph articles:
Gregory P. Asner, Scott R. Loarie, & Ursula Heyder, "Combined effects of climate and land-use change on the future of humid tropical forests", Conservation Letters, Published Online: Jun 22 2010

I've not yet read it, but in case some of you lot want to wade in...

Aug 6, 2010 at 8:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterHaroldW

I was reading the Telegraph story but stopped after I saw the words 'Using Models' , so its not based on real data its based on the latest AGW fiction.

Aug 6, 2010 at 9:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnH

Good morning Bishop, sorry to bother you but.. Last night and this morning I have received about 10 emails which appear to have come directly from your blog. All of them refer to Crook feels the hairdryer. See below. This is only 1 of them. Is this something you have come across before?


Peter Walsh

'RETEPHSLAW' commented on Crook feels the hairdryer:

Grant B thks for the Air Vent item. So many contributions there. I do recognise some names already and have barely scratched the surface.

Don, up front comments as usual. I like that. My wife's sister in law said about me some years back, trust Peter to say it as it is.

I am still unsure as to whether that was a compliment or not.

Havn't been to Kerry for 5 years now. When we came back after almost 21 years in NZ, the 1st thing we did was vow not to leave Europe again. So we have "done" all of Ireland and now working our way around europe. Have plans to one day head down to (excuse this pls) west Cork and also Kerry. I will let you know. Rgds Peter


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Aug 6, 2010 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterRETEPHSLAW

The abstract from the link provided by HaroldW

New deforestation and selective logging data and climate change projections
suggest that biodiversity refugia in humid tropical forests may change more
extensively than previously reported. However, the relative impacts from climate
change and land use vary by region. In the Amazon, a combination of
climate change and land use renders up to 81% of the region susceptible to
rapid vegetation change. In the Congo, logging and climate change could negatively
affect the biodiversity in 35–74% of the basin. Climate-driven changes
may play a smaller role in Asia-Oceania compared to that of Latin America
or Africa, but land use renders 60–77% of Asia-Oceania susceptible to major
biodiversity changes. By 2100, only 18–45% of the biome will remain intact.
The results provide new input on the geography of projected climate change
relative to ongoing land-use change to better determine where biological conservation
might be most effective in this century.

Perhaps removing the climate change projections and just using the actual data would give the paper a little more reality but I suppose that would reduce any funding.

Aug 6, 2010 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered Commentermartyn

I'll have to see if I can dig out a copy of the complaint I made to the BBC regarding one of their environmental news stories from a few years ago - the gist of the story was that sea level rise was going to have a catastrophic effect on coastal erosion particularly along the coast from north of the Humber to East Anglia.

My complaint was that such coastal erosion is a natural process, and that at the projected rate of change of sea level, the effect would be lost in the noise, especially given that the rate of land level change (because of post glacial isostatic rebound) is pretty much the same as the projected sea level rise. As an aside, I also made reference to the 'arty' picture they used of cooling towers belching out grey/black smoke.

The official response was predictable - models suggest greater storm activity, more severe weather etc. In fact the only part of my complaint that they agreed with was the blatant mis-representation in the image of the cooling towers.

Unfortunately, the on-line complaints procedure does not allow a right of reply following such an adjudication - I had several points to make, primarily over the reliance on predictive models over observational science (like where is all this extreme weather?).

Aug 6, 2010 at 1:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan B

The BBC needs to make its mind up on when 'balance' is needed on Science stories. On Today a couple of days ago there was a piece on the cloned bull scare. A veterinary scientist (No, the bull was not cloned. It was the offspring of a cloned cow. No, there is no danger to human health.) was 'balanced' by someone from the Soil Association (It's unnatural.) I wonder if she has a problem with eating apples. They are all cloned.

Aug 6, 2010 at 2:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Dreadnought, author of a fine 'tribute poem' to the Milibandias of windfarms ( , I hope you might consider writing some more to help capture the pretensions of the BBC in its role to save the world by means of goal-led reporting on climate change.

Aug 6, 2010 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Not really off topic -- The US weather bureau, which is only slightly more realistic than the Met has reduced the number of predicted "named" storms on the US east coast this year


Sounds like the models the BEEB is so much in love with are breaking down already.

Aug 6, 2010 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra


“I'm an avid consumer of BBC Radio 4”

Same here, and like you, it seems easier to forgive when it pushes the warmist agenda, perhaps because there’s a better chance that its audience is capable of independent thought.

I notice that Nigel Lawson is on ‘Any Questions’ tonight. It will be interesting to see if they allow a global warming (sorry, climate change) question, and if so, whether Dimbleby lets him reply!

Aug 6, 2010 at 7:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"Professor Steve Jones"

Is that the geneticist? I always thought he sounded quite sensible.

Aug 6, 2010 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Oops - it was Dominic Lawson (his son). I'm pretty sure I heard 'Nigel' in the trailer, though!

Aug 7, 2010 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

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