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« Guitar groups are on the way out | Main | Global warming the novella »
Monday
Dec172012

GWPF calls for new BBC global warming seminar

This just in:

Lord Lawson (Conservative), Lord Donoughue (Labour) and Baroness Nicholson (Liberal Democrat), three Trustees of the all-Party and non-Party Global Warming Policy Foundation, have called upon the BBC’s new Director-General Designate to convene a new high-level seminar in order to re-assess the BBC’s treatment of global warming and climate policy issues.

Over many years, the BBC’s treatment of climate change issues has been marked by bias, ignorance, credulity and – in the latest episode – unwarranted concealment. The behaviour of the Corporation throughout has failed to measure up to professional standards.

In their letter to Lord Hall, the GWPF Trustees have asked the Director-General Designate also to reconsider the implications of the controversial global warming seminar held in 2006 which has shaped BBC policy on climate-related issues ever since.

In their letter the Trustees write:

“We refer to the now notorious seminar on global warming held in 2006, involving 28 senior BBC staff and 28 outsiders. As the BBC Trust subsequently explained, ‘The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus [on climate change and climate change policies]‘. Ever since then, the BBC has fought tooth and nail, at considerable public expense, to keep secret the identity of ‘the best scientific experts’.

As you may be aware, it now emerges that, of the 28 present, there were only two (hand-picked) climate scientists; and the bulk of the rest were either green activists (including two from Greenpeace alone) or non-scientists with a vested interest in promoting renewable energy. So the BBC stands convicted not only of culpable imbalance, but also of rank dishonesty.

We hope that, once you have grappled with the more immediate challenges facing the BBC, you will revisit this important issue. We suggest that you might start by convening a new high-level seminar, this time a more balanced one, whose non-BBC participants would be qualified climate scientists, energy and environmental economists, and experienced policy-makers – whose names, incidentally, would be made known. The Global Warming Policy Foundation would be happy to be represented in any such seminar.”


LETTER TO LORD HALL FROM GWPF TRUSTEES

The Global Warming Policy Foundation – 14 December 2012

Dear Lord Hall,

As Trustees of the all-Party and non-Party Global Warming Policy Foundation, we would like to wish you every success in your new and important post of Director General of the BBC. It is clear that you have a number of urgent matters to attend to in your post. But when you have done that, we hope you will find time to turn your attention to a matter which, although not urgent, is of considerable importance: the BBC’s treatment of global warming and climate change issues.

That the BBC recognises the importance of these issues is clear from the lecture given at Oxford University last month by your predecessor but one, Mark Thompson, who opened with an extensive quotation from the Director of this Foundation, Dr Benny Peiser, which he then proceeded to discuss at considerable length. While he was, of course, speaking in a personal capacity, it is reasonable to suppose that his lecture reflected the present view of the BBC on how it should treat climate change issues; and since it is the fullest statement of that view currently available it merits close attention.

We wish to be fair to Mr Thompson. In places his discussion betrays a welcome acknowledgment that perhaps the BBC has not got its treatment of global warming and climate change issues quite right. And he does seem grudgingly to concede that the Global Warming Policy Foundation has a point when it insists that these issues need to be fully and openly debated.

However, against this have to be set a number of less commendable aspects of the lecture. His account of what the Global Warming Policy Foundation is and does is a travesty, wholly ignoring the fact that (as our name clearly implies) our principal focus is the policy response rather than the science. He refers, in patronising terms, to the detailed analysis by Christopher Booker of the BBC’s coverage of climate change issues which we published last year, a fully-documented and peer-reviewed report, without deigning to address any of the serious charges it made.

He also shows (as, it must be said, does the BBC as a whole) considerable ignorance of many of the issues he discusses. In particular, he seems to imagine that the issue is a simple yes-no question, namely, whether man-made carbon emissions are likely to warm the planet. He shows no awareness of the fact that there has been no recorded global warming for the past 15 years or so (despite an accelerated rise in carbon dioxide emissions), no awareness that climate scientists are deeply divided over how great or small any future warming is likely to be, and no awareness of the complexity of what the impact, for good or ill, of any such warming might be.

Above all, he shows no awareness of the crucial question of what the most cost-effective response might be, a matter on which economists are divided and on which scientists have no expertise to bring to bear. Nor, incidentally, does he recognise that what might be a sensible policy for the world as a whole may not be sensible for the UK on its own. These are all distinct issues deserving the most careful scrutiny and debate; yet the BBC appears to maintain that there is one single issue which is no longer a matter for debate at all.

The lamentable report to the BBC Trust, earlier this year, by Professor Steve Jones fell into precisely this error, arguing that the BBC should in future allow even less airtime to dissenters from the conventional wisdom, on the grounds that “For at least three years, the climate change deniers (sic) have been marginal to the scientific debate, but somehow they continued to find a place on the airwaves”.

Curiously, since he was in post when the event occurred, but perhaps revealingly in the light of recent events, Mr Thompson fails to mention what has come to be known as ‘28gate’. We refer to the now notorious seminar on global warming held in 2006, involving 28 senior BBC staff and 28 outsiders. As the BBC Trust subsequently explained, “The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal [ie more than derisory] space being given to the opponents of the consensus [on climate change and climate change policies]“. Ever since then, the BBC has fought tooth and nail, at considerable public expense, to keep secret the identity of “the best scientific experts”.

As you may be aware, it now emerges that, of the 28 present, there were only two (hand-picked) climate scientists; and the bulk of the rest were either green activists (including two from Greenpeace alone) or non-scientists with a vested interest in promoting renewable energy. So the BBC stands convicted not only of culpable imbalance, but also of rank dishonesty.

We hope that, once you have grappled with the more immediate challenges facing the BBC, you will revisit this important issue. We suggest that you might start by convening a new high-level seminar, this time a more balanced one, whose non-BBC participants would be qualified climate scientists, energy and environmental economists, and experienced policy-makers – whose names, incidentally, would be made known. The Global Warming Policy Foundation would be happy to be represented in any such seminar.

In the light of the public interest in this issue, we shall be posting this letter on the Foundation’s website.

Signed

Lord Lawson (Chairman) (Conservative)

Lord Donoughue (Labour)

Baroness Nicholson (Liberal Democrat)

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Reader Comments (55)

I'll be surprised if they even get an acknowledgement, let alone any action.

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Registered Commentersteveta

As 28gate got so little attention from the msm, the BBC will rest assured that they can ignore this letter without fear of being brought to task.

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

Squadrons of flying pigs seen taking off from BBC HQ determined to defend the organisations "integrity" following surprise foray from GWPF (Global Warming Police Force).

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

28Gate is no X Factor short-term gimmick. The wave is long but is building up.

Keep your hopes up and wait for the enemies' corpses to float down the river.

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

They should have stated that this is one of the several issues that the new DG should grapple with immediately. Surely a DG, with his huge administrative support, can grapple with more than one issue at a time.

I certainly do, without any backup.

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Good letter. Much will depend on whether the departure of Mark Thompson coincides with a change of attitude in the BBC. Was his star on the decline? Are there rumblings of discontent about the awful wet blanket burden of conformism in their corridors or power or studios of thought or even seminars of righteousness? I fear not. I suspect anyone suspected of such a tendency would not get very far within that mighty hierarchy. They tried to find a replacement directors from within. But he clearly could not think on his feet when a situation not previously coached in those corridors, studios or seminars came up. The current one, having left the BBC for a while, might just have thrown off some of his conditioning. The head of the governors noted this about him 'As an ex-BBC man he understands how the corporation's culture and behaviour make it, at its best, the greatest broadcaster in the world. And from his vantage point outside the BBC, he understands the sometimes justified criticisms of the corporation - that it can be inward-looking and on occasions too institutional. But perhaps most importantly, given where we now find ourselves, his background in news will prove invaluable as the BBC looks to rebuild both its reputation in this area and the trust of audiences."
[http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20441887].

We shall see. Anyway, a very civil and considered letter suggesting one very sensible step forward that the BBC could take.

But can you imagine the awful consternation, the furious lobbying, the heartflet lamentations by the 'unco guid' on climate topics, that part of ' the establishment' which has been so ably represented by 'environment' or even 'science' correspondents in the printed and the electronic mass medias for so many years! There are a lot of vested interests at stake - financial, political and reputational. But should they not be challenged all but automatically in the media in a free society? Or has the BBC moved so far left that it is not really very keen on such a society?

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

The BBC will ignore this letter and any like it.

The BBC will only react to potential loss of its £3.3B income from the TV Licence.

Dec 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterConfusedPhoton

I'll be surprised if they even get an acknowledgement, let alone any action.

Dec 17, 2012 at 11:15 AM | steveta

They will get the usual BBC palm-off. Sort of, don't care what you think we are the BBC, so there.

I've been there and done that with the BBC. They are arrogant, ignorant socialist liberals who believe that they are right come what may.

Dec 17, 2012 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

This is the reply I got to my letter to the BBC Trust (the same one that I sent to Julian Huppert, MP).
I also attach my reply to the BBC Trust, for which I am still awaiting a reply.

Dear Dr Keiller

Thank you for your email to the BBC Trust. I am responding as a member of the BBC Trust Unit which supports and advises the Chairman and Trustees.

I note your concerns about the impartiality of the BBC and in particular the recommendations of the Bridcut Report of 2007.

I can assure you that ensuring the impartiality of the BBC is a key priority for the Trust; it is essential to its independence that the BBC retains the public’s trust as an impartial purveyor of news and programming. The BBC is required to deliver duly impartial news by the Royal Charter and Agreement and to treat controversial subjects with due impartiality. The Trust is committed to making sure that the BBC fulfils this obligation.

The seminar to which you refer was held on 26 January 2006 under the Chatham House Rule. It was organised in partnership with the Cambridge Media and Environmental Programme (CMEP) in conjunction with BBC News and BBC Vision. It pre-dated the Trust and was not a BBC Trust event. I understand that the Seminar was a one-day event focusing on climate science and the possible implications for businesses, individuals and international diplomacy looking ahead to the next 10 years and exploring the challenges facing the BBC in covering the issue. The event brought together 28 BBC representatives and 28 external invitees including scientists and policy experts including representatives from business, campaigners, NGOs, communications experts, people from the 'front line', scientists with contrasting views and academics. It is important that, in order to achieve an understanding of where due weight might lie in an argument, the BBC establishes what the prevailing consensus on an issue is and I understand that the seminar was part of that effort.

The Bridcut Report itself was commissioned by the BBC Governors and the BBC Executive but was an independent report by Mr Bridcut. He concluded that the Seminar included 'some of the best scientific experts'. His report was presented to the BBC Trust, which accepted the report, agreed the principles outlined within it and approved the recommendations for the Trust.

You have quoted from the Bridcut Report on the seminar but you will also be aware that the Report went on to make the following point: "But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC's role to close down this debate. They cannot be simply dismissed as 'flat-earthers' or 'denier', who 'should not be given a platform' by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space."

New editorial guidelines were published in 2010. The current BBC Guidelines state that, "Impartiality does not necessarily require the range of perspectives or opinions to be covered in equal proportions either across our output as a whole, or within a single programme, web page or item. Instead, we should seek to achieve 'due weight'. For example, minority views should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus."

The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee has explained its position in some of its findings on the subject in recent years. The Committee decided that its position was that there is a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening and laid out some of the reasons for reaching that decision, which included the statement by the Royal Society that, "Our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming". The Committee also noted that all three of the larger British political parties, as well as the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, have accepted man-made climate change as a reality.

However, if you feel there are specific instances where the BBC has not met expected standards of impartiality then you can of course raise them using the BBC complaints process. Details of the process are available online at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely

John Hamer
BBC Trust Unit

Dear Mr Hamer, I am in receipt of your reply, on behalf of the BBC Trust, to my letter detailing my concerns about the BBC’s lack of impartiality with regards climate change.

You appear to place great confidence in the Bridcut Report, commissioned by the BBC Governors and the BBC Executive. You state that this was “independent”, whilst carefully omitting to mention that Mr. Bridcut had previously worked for the BBC for a period of 12 years, in a variety of roles. Such an omission does not inspire confidence.

Neither do the qualifications of Mr. Bridcut, who concluded that the Seminar included “some of the best scientific experts”. Please explain to me how Mr. Bridcut’s specialist knowledge of English 20th Century composers, in any way qualify him to pronounce on matters of science, or scientific expertise?

Then you make the dully predictable “consensus” argument and “appeal to authority”. In this case, the Royal Society.

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels. It is a way to avoid meaningful debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator, who happens to be right, which means that he, or she, has results that are verifiable by real world data and experiments. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

The historical track record of scientific consensus is nothing but dismal. Many examples can be cited, here are a few:
Nicholas Copernicus experienced the effects of the prevailing consensus when he advanced theories that planet Earth was not the centre of the Universe.
Lord Kelvin (the first UK scientist to be elevated to the House of Lords and President of the Royal Society) uttered these immortal words, just 5 years before Einstein upset the Newtonian apple cart. “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement"
Finally, probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had, indeed, drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology, until 1961. It took the “consensus” fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=MC2. This is a theory that has been repeatedly tested in real world experiments. Unfortunately the same rigour has not been applied to the theory of AGW, much of which is “supported” by unverifiable computer models, rather than real, observational, science.

Finally with regards to the BBC’s pro-environmental bias. Only today BBC 5 Live interviewed committed AGW alarmist Bob Ward (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change) for several minutes unopposed. Naturally Mr. Ward was less than enthusiastic at the recent developments with regard to fracking.
The presenter then said she'd read out a 'few of your texts that have come in'.....before stringing off 4 anti-fracking messages in a row, with not a single pro-fracking text to compare to.

Biased BBC strikes again.

Accordingly I believe you need to reconsider your misleading and shallow reply to me.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. D. Keiller

Dec 17, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

You'd have to detach the BBC pension Fund from carbon trading........

Dec 17, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecm

John Shade says:

I suspect anyone suspected of such a tendency would not get very far within that mighty hierarchy.

My version...with apologies in advance:

I suspect anyone suspected of such a "Militant" tendency would not get very far within that mighty hierarchy.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Walsh

Re: Alecm

The top 10 investments of the BBC pension fund:
Vodafone - 82.40

GlaxoSmithKline - 76.18
British American Tobacco - 63.65
BG Group - 58.94
BP - 55.71
Baidu - 54.98
Royal Dutch Shell - 52.83
Amazon - 51.02
AstraZeneca - 50.61
Imperial Tobacco - 48.09

Pharmaceuticals, Oil and Tobacco dominate the top 10. You can find the top 100 here although you are unlikely to find anything significantly different than any other pension fund.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I had already been wondering what would happen after 28Gate and now I have my answer. This is indeed a step in the right direction, but could easily be side-stepped by the BBC commissioning an internal inquiry and finding 'no evidence of wrong-doing' (ho ho) with respect to the in-house alarmist event back in 2006.

We've all seen so many 'tricks' and turns in keeping the green lie going that expectations of a decent and righteous approach are indeed somewhat thin on the ground, sadly.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterFarleyR

I was moved to write to the BBC Newswatch programme recently after an extraordinary (well, I suppose not that extraordinary, given their stance) feature on a recent Newswatch programme.
The lady announcer, in her introduction, said that some people thought that the BBC gave too much emphasis to 'global warming' - however, one young viewer thought there should be more...
Cue firstly a mildly 'realist' letter from a listener, pointing out (wrongly) that there had been no warming for ten years (actually its sixteen). Then ten-year-old Master Diaper (an unfortunate name, if ever there was one, as we shall see) in the BBC's Southampton studio, who stated that he had been given a project about climate change and global warming (you could see where this was going). Screen cuts away from his face as he proceeds to ramble on about 'the polar ice melting' (library film of ice crashing into the sea from icebergs) and 'more flooding' (library film of aerial views of flooded fields), etc.
At the conclusion - no comment WHATSOEVER from the presenter - just a sort of smug smile, as if to say: 'See, even a (brainwashed) ten-year-old can see what problems we are faced with...'
Only on the Biased Broadcasting Corporation...

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

The cynic in me says it'll never happen.

These are a bunch of swivel eyed denialist loonies that support the likes of UKIP and can be safely ignored.

Attacking the BBC s funding with a question in the House of Lords might just might gain a little attention. Just might mind you...

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

It is, since 28gate, now literally impossible for any honest and informed person to dispute that ther BBC, across the entire organisation, is a corrupt, ying totalitarianm propaganda orgnaisation eager to lie and censor to promote big government scare stories & is simply masquerading as "news" broadcasters.

It is clear that the BBC and all the obedient parts of our paper "free press" is simply censoring 28gate to ensure everybody who relies on them for "news", while honest, must remain ignorant.

It will be interesting if anybody puttinmg forward new scares as "scientific" will be willing to claim that their claims are more trustworthy than the standard of honmnesty the BBC aspires to. If not any claims they make should be treated accordingglly.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Good Idea, Good letter.

An upfront challenge to the incoming Director General. A weather gauge for "new brush" or "Business as usual". Interesting to see how it goes.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterGSW

TerryS: the BBC pension fund carbon investments are apparently clustered in a series of hedge funds.The pensions' administrator is also a big gorgonzola in the carbon investing bodies.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

The letter cannot be ignored.The acting/new DG's will be wary of what TWO-WAY communication channels the GWPF has in place with the Government. It may not get any positive outcome, but it will not be ignored.

This is why the GWPF is attacked continuously, playing the man not the ball.

Dec 17, 2012 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

This letter can and will be ignored.

Like it or not, the BBC/Guardian control the media in this country, and most peopole are too stuipd or lazy to get news anywhere else. It doesn't help that the Murdochs are complicit in shielding the BBC - the supposed enmity between them is a pantomime, at the end of the day they protect the vested interests of the other.

Ask around, do a straw poll of ordinary non-skeptic people where you work. You'll be able to count on zero fingers how many people have even heard of the GWPF.

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Terrys, you quote the top ten INDIVIDUAL companies invested in. There are other funds invested in by the BBC which cover a wide range of "Green" enterprises.

However, I think it would be wrong to assume that the BBC trustees would keep on investing in stuff that did not deliver growth to the Pension fund as a whole. How could they justify that?

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:25 PM | Unregistered Commentermarchesarosa

I have a letter in both to the Trust and to Radio 4 re: an interview with Lord (Scouse) Oxburgh on 29.11. 2012. Both have been acknowledged, and I believe it is a serious matter. See below:

On Thursday 29th November John Humphries, the Radio 4 journalist, interviewed Lord Oxburgh on the issue of energy policy in the UK. At the top and tail of the interview Mr. Humphries described Lord Oxburgh as a former Chairman of Shell, which is, of course true. What he didn’t mention is that Lord Oxburgh is also, honorary president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, chairman of Falck Renewables, a wind energy firm, adviser to Carbon Capture Capital, which is, from its website “… an investment manager and advisory group specialising in the opportunities generated by the transition to a low carbon economy.” He was chairman of D1 Oils, plc, a biodiesel producer, in 2007, and a director of GLOBE, the Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment.
So the listeners were given the impression that they were listening to the former chairman of an oil company when they were in fact listening to a man who stands to make a lot of money out of government investment in renewable energy. A man who shamelessly plugged for an investment in carbon capture and storage during the interview.
In times gone by the BBC may have irritated, and infuriated some of its listeners, but all of them would have borne witness to its integrity. Those times have seemingly passed, and the BBC, and its Trust, have given up all pretense of impartiality and are deliberately (It has to be deliberate doesn’t it? Given the pedigree, professionalism and seniority of Mr. Humphries he must have done his homework on Lord Oxburgh. Musn’t he?) keeping information from listeners to help support a political position the BBC approves of.

I will take it to Ofcom if they don't respond.

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Here is the response I got to my letter to the BBC Trust (the same one that I set to Julian Huppert, MP).
I have also include my reply.

Dear Dr Keiller

Thank you for your email to the BBC Trust. I am responding as a member of the BBC Trust Unit which supports and advises the Chairman and Trustees.

I note your concerns about the impartiality of the BBC and in particular the recommendations of the Bridcut Report of 2007.

I can assure you that ensuring the impartiality of the BBC is a key priority for the Trust; it is essential to its independence that the BBC retains the public’s trust as an impartial purveyor of news and programming. The BBC is required to deliver duly impartial news by the Royal Charter and Agreement and to treat controversial subjects with due impartiality. The Trust is committed to making sure that the BBC fulfils this obligation.

The seminar to which you refer was held on 26 January 2006 under the Chatham House Rule. It was organised in partnership with the Cambridge Media and Environmental Programme (CMEP) in conjunction with BBC News and BBC Vision. It pre-dated the Trust and was not a BBC Trust event. I understand that the Seminar was a one-day event focusing on climate science and the possible implications for businesses, individuals and international diplomacy looking ahead to the next 10 years and exploring the challenges facing the BBC in covering the issue. The event brought together 28 BBC representatives and 28 external invitees including scientists and policy experts including representatives from business, campaigners, NGOs, communications experts, people from the 'front line', scientists with contrasting views and academics. It is important that, in order to achieve an understanding of where due weight might lie in an argument, the BBC establishes what the prevailing consensus on an issue is and I understand that the seminar was part of that effort.

The Bridcut Report itself was commissioned by the BBC Governors and the BBC Executive but was an independent report by Mr Bridcut. He concluded that the Seminar included 'some of the best scientific experts'. His report was presented to the BBC Trust, which accepted the report, agreed the principles outlined within it and approved the recommendations for the Trust.

You have quoted from the Bridcut Report on the seminar but you will also be aware that the Report went on to make the following point: "But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC's role to close down this debate. They cannot be simply dismissed as 'flat-earthers' or 'denier', who 'should not be given a platform' by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space."

New editorial guidelines were published in 2010. The current BBC Guidelines state that, "Impartiality does not necessarily require the range of perspectives or opinions to be covered in equal proportions either across our output as a whole, or within a single programme, web page or item. Instead, we should seek to achieve 'due weight'. For example, minority views should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus."

The Trust's Editorial Standards Committee has explained its position in some of its findings on the subject in recent years. The Committee decided that its position was that there is a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening and laid out some of the reasons for reaching that decision, which included the statement by the Royal Society that, "Our scientific understanding of climate change is sufficiently sound to make us highly confident that greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming". The Committee also noted that all three of the larger British political parties, as well as the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru, have accepted man-made climate change as a reality.

However, if you feel there are specific instances where the BBC has not met expected standards of impartiality then you can of course raise them using the BBC complaints process. Details of the process are available online at www.bbc.co.uk/complaints.

I hope this is helpful.

Yours sincerely

John Hamer
BBC Trust Unit

Dear Mr Hamer, I am in receipt of your reply, on behalf of the BBC Trust, to my letter detailing my concerns about the BBC’s lack of impartiality with regards climate change.

You appear to place great confidence in the Bridcut Report, commissioned by the BBC Governors and the BBC Executive. You state that this was “independent”, whilst carefully omitting to mention that Mr. Bridcut had previously worked for the BBC for a period of 12 years, in a variety of roles. Such an omission does not inspire confidence.

Neither do the qualifications of Mr. Bridcut, who concluded that the Seminar included “some of the best scientific experts”. Please explain to me how Mr. Bridcut’s specialist knowledge of English 20th Century composers, in any way qualify him to pronounce on matters of science, or scientific expertise?

Then you make the dully predictable “consensus” argument and “appeal to authority”. In this case, the Royal Society.

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels. It is a way to avoid meaningful debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator, who happens to be right, which means that he, or she, has results that are verifiable by real world data and experiments. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

The historical track record of scientific consensus is nothing but dismal. Many examples can be cited, here are a few:
Nicholas Copernicus experienced the effects of the prevailing consensus when he advanced theories that planet Earth was not the centre of the Universe.
Lord Kelvin (the first UK scientist to be elevated to the House of Lords and President of the Royal Society) uttered these immortal words, just 5 years before Einstein upset the Newtonian apple cart. “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement"
Finally, probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had, indeed, drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology, until 1961. It took the “consensus” fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=MC2. This is a theory that has been repeatedly tested in real world experiments. Unfortunately the same rigour has not been applied to the theory of AGW, much of which is “supported” by unverifiable computer models, rather than real, observational, science.

Finally with regards to the BBC’s pro-environmental bias. Only today BBC 5 Live interviewed committed AGW alarmist Bob Ward (Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change) for several minutes unopposed. Naturally Mr. Ward was less than enthusiastic at the recent developments with regard to fracking.
The presenter then said she'd read out a 'few of your texts that have come in'.....before stringing off 4 anti-fracking messages in a row, with not a single pro-fracking text to compare to.

Biased BBC strikes again.

Accordingly I believe you need to reconsider your misleading and shallow reply to me.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. D. Keiller

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Its a good letter and it has cross-party support from the Lords. I think this all adds weight and puts pressure on the BBC and the BBC Trust. It will take time but as the pressure builds the BBC and/or Trust will have to respond. There are too many names, including MP's and Lords, starting to ask questions. My own letter of complaint to the BBC Trust on this matter has still yet to have a reply or acknowledgement. I have received replies acknowledging the contents from my MP and the Culture, Media and Support Committee. I also copied John Redwood MP after his blog that was cross-posted here - I have also recevied a reply from him and he is also writing to the BBC Trust and says he will publish on-line when he receives a reply.

If enough people, and some in high places, keep writing forthright but well reasoned letters there will be a response. And in the meantime if temperatures keep flat-lining and the sun enters a Dalton or Maunder minimum...

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterThinkingScientist

geronimo: the people who have their snouts in the trough have taken over. Examples are Cameron via his in-laws and Clegg via his wife. Davey's bother is troughing too.

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

On this tack ... here's my letter to PM feedback after an appalling item on the decision to allow Caudrilla to re-start exploratory drilling. Letter sent by email 3 days ago. As yet, no response.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was interested to hear what the member of Friends of the Earth had to say about the fracking process, on the 1pm news today on Radio 4 - interested, as it was so predictable regarding the dangers he recounted of fracking.

1. Water pollution
2. Methane in water in the USA
3. Increased emissions

A little research conducted with an open mind would have discovered the following.

1. The head of the EPA in the USA, a virulently "green" lady, Lisa Jackson, who is currently laying waste to the coal industry there, notes on video that there have been "no known cases of water pollution from fracking". Fracking started 63 years ago in the USA. There have in that time been NO recorded incidents of water pollution (this is because the gas is far far beneath the water table). Here is the link. This is easily available information, yet you did not confront the FoE representative with it.

2. Methane. This is of course from the now much discredited "Gasland" film. Methane occurs naturally in drinking water in parts of the USA. This is nothing to do with fracking, although fracking FOR methane could indeed be a very useful energy source to come. Again, this is easily available information, yet you did not confront the FoE representative with it.

3. CO2 emissions in the USA, since the large scale use of fracked natural gas, are down to 1990 levels. Again, this is easily available information, yet you did not confront the FoE representative with it.

It is hard not to conclude this news story was presented to fit to an existing agenda at the BBC, when all that is needed to query it is in the public domain and easily accessible. How can it be right in such an important matter to present one side of the story, and that from a lobbying group with a specific agenda?


Kind regards

Jeremy Poynton

And .....

One other thing I noticed, and should have mentioned in my original missive to you regarding this (Fracking - 1pm news) - the FoE representative you interviewed; nothing he said was questioned by you. On the other hand, everything the Cuadrilla representative you spoke to was questioned.

Can you tell me the reasoning behind this approach, and how it accords with your charter requirements for impartiality?

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:41 PM | Registered Commenterjeremyp99

A good letter and a very reasonable restrained and polite request.

That it will even be acknowledged is open to question. As to the gist - I think it highly unlikely that the BBC will change ingrained habitual addiction and adhesion to it's cultural Marxist 'principles' and clear bias in favour of green issues with its unswerving purblind worship at the altar of global warming.

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Re: AlecM,

I don't doubt that the BBC have some funds tied up in carbon trading but to claim that the level is such that it would affect their programming is foolish.

Their main investments are in the industries that they most vehemently oppose and campaign against, tobacco oil and gas. If the contents of their pension fund influenced their programming then they would not be anti-smoking or against oil and gas.

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

TerryS: the BBC Pension Fund is invested in a consortium connected to the IPCC. it is summarised here: http://www.climategate.com/follow-the-money-bbc-exposed-in-biggest-climate-racket-on-planet

The head of the fund is the chairman of the consortium.

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

It is in the policy arena that we must focus our resources. The corruption of the science will take many years to remedy but the harm the policies are doing is apparent now.

I have copied the letter to my MP.

Carthago delenda est

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

The letter is signed by three senior figures in the Lords, one from each party. There must be a little bit of concern at the BBC about the licence fee. I would expect a response (and some private consideration).

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

I nobody else has said it, I will: "good luck with that".

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobinson

Robinson, a few of us have said similar. I find the idea that a strongly worded letter to the BBC is seen as some sort of watershed moment strangely comforting and yet totally worrisome at the same time. It's no wonder they think we're strange.

Dec 17, 2012 at 3:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Re: AlecM

The BBC pension scheme is a member of The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC). The BBC has exactly £0 invested in this as it is not an investment. It is a group of investors who have agreed to use the power of their investments to influence policymakers and companies.

If the BBC started supporting fracking, oil exploration, less subsidies for renewable etc it would probably increase the pension fund value as the majority of the fund is in investments that would benefit from this.

The pension fund does not give the BBC a reason to be biased.

Dec 17, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

I sent the following to GWPF.
Dr Peiser, I was delighted to see the letter to Lord Hall calling for a fresh look at the BBC’s policy on reporting “ climate change aka global warming aka extreme weather” . However, I groaned when I saw in the first paragraph at least two invitations to kick this issue into the long grass. The BBC will always have urgent issues to address and if our issue is regarded as subordinate, it will never be addressed.

Furthermore I regard this issue as extremely urgent each time I get my energy bills. The BBC affects both public and politician’s views on this subject and has considerable responsibility for the mad renewable policies currently being pursued to no purpose but to increase our energy costs.

I hope that you can find a way to impress upon Lord Hall that this is not a subject that should be allowed to languish in his pending tray until he has time to get round to it.

Dec 17, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Hanwell

If the BBC takes no action, this gives everyone an excuse to write to the BBC asking what they are going to do about it / why they have done nothing.

Dec 17, 2012 at 5:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

Don Keiller @ 12.47

For what it is worth, today I received a letter from John Hamer of the BBC Trust Unit, dated 10 December, which is identical to your letter from him apart from the first paragraph - I had written to Lord Chris Patten on 16 November. I append the letter that I wrote to Patten below. Hamer didn't even try to comment on my points. A consummate Sir Humphrey.

Mike Post

Dear Lord Patten

I am a great fan and supporter of the BBC which has informed my life – I am two months younger than you. However, in recent years I have despaired at the BBC’s behaviour.

I received a scientific education and am, like many of my peers, sceptical about the various vehement claims made about man’s influence on our climate. Puzzled by the BBC’s clearly biased reporting of this very new area of scientific endeavour, I was surprised to discover, in November 2009, a June 2007 BBC Trust document: ‘From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel - Safeguarding Impartiality in the 21st century’. On page 40 a passage relating to the reporting of climate change said: “The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus.”

Intrigued to understand why the BBC had come to this remarkable conclusion, I asked for the names of the “best scientific experts” who had attended the January 2006 seminar using the Whatdotheyknow website. On 10 December 2009 the BBC refused my request (reference RFI20091627) on the grounds that the information that I sought was held for the purposes of journalism and thus exempt from the FOI legislation. I could not understand the lack of transparency.

Last week a gentleman called Tony Newbery who had not chosen, as I had, to accept the BBC’s rejection, lost a case in the courts in which the BBC are said to have employed 6 lawyers at great expense. However, on Monday this week another gentleman called Maurizio Morabito, through clever use of a search programme, obtained the names of the 30 experts whom the BBC had invited to advise them at the January 2006 seminar.

The list of names, which I append to the bottom of this letter, is astonishing. There is no possible way that they can be described as “the best scientific experts”. Indeed, few can be described by any stretch of the imagination as scientists at all. They are overwhelmingly environmental activists and campaigners. This is a scandal. There is no other word for it.

The BBC has spent a considerable chunk of money obtained from licence-payers trying, and ultimately failing, to conceal a lie. So far as the reporting of climate change is concerned, its reputation is in tatters. I now understand why the BBC is so bad at climate change science reporting. My worry is that this corruption extends to other areas on which the BBC reports.

I look forward to your comments.

Yours sincerely

Mike Post BSc (Hons Eng) Bristol 1965

Dec 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Post

It is a good letter but why on earth did they say the subject wasn't urgent and the new BBC management will have much more pressing problems to sort out first? The BBC now has the perfect get out clause. What a spoilt opportunity.

Dec 17, 2012 at 5:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Thompson

Perhaps they should remind the BBC that the BBC Poll Tax will not cook food, wash clothes, heat a home or transport an individual as £145.50 of overtaxed gas, electric or petrol.

The BBC pushing AGW/Climate Change/Global Disruption/Global Weirding/New Normal/latest name for non-event/etc, is like a turkey voting for Christmas.

Dec 17, 2012 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered Commenterjeff todd

Re urgency. I don't see any grounds for regarding human impact on the climate system as an urgent problem. I have no doubt however that serious harm is being done to society, not least to children, by the obsessive pessimism and destructive interventionism associated with the environmental movement in general, and with their most spectacular success ever in stirring up irrational fears about carbon dioxide. The mess they have helped create, aided and abetted by others who have seen advantage in adopting their perspective, will take a long time to clear up, possibly decades. The degradation of the BBC on climate matters is but one casualty, and I don't for a moment suppose that the new DG will give addressing that any priority since to do so would be to admit another grievous blunder - this one of global significance given the outreach of that corporation. I could well imagine a stressed DG dismissing the GWPF letter out of hand if it claimed to be urgent, given that the DG almost certainly moves in social and professional circles in which the climate scare issue and the BBC's blinkered take on it are not seen as at all controversial.

Dec 17, 2012 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

It will take time but as the pressure builds the BBC and/or Trust will have to respond.

You are not living in the unreal world of the BBC. IF they reply it will be the same smarmy side swipes, innuendos, appeals to authority and just downright temper tantrums that they have displayed over the years and in their replies above.

You are wasteing your time with the BBC. Patton is an old age pensioner seeing out his time at the BBC to enhance his otherwise enormous taxpayer paid pension. As many have said already, you will only move this bunch of toads by withdrawing their oxygen (read money).

Dec 17, 2012 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Earlier today when Dr Don Keiller wrote..."“Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels. It is a way to avoid meaningful debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator, who happens to be right, which means that he, or she, has results that are verifiable by real world data and experiments. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus”...

I was reminded of a quotation by Albert Einstein: (from my collection again)


No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong." - Albert Einstein

Dec 17, 2012 at 7:26 PM | Registered Commenterpeterwalsh

Does anyone know what is wrong with the Biased BBC blog site?

Dec 17, 2012 at 7:37 PM | Unregistered Commenterlmda

"... it is essential to its independence that the BBC retains the public’s trust as an impartial purveyor of news and programming."

In order to retain the public's trust, they would have to still have it wouldn't they? They can't retain something that they lost years ago. I think that he should have said that it is essential that the BBC wins back the public's trust as an impartial purveyor of news and programming.

Dec 17, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

Regarding the BBC's dismissive responses to complaints. For quite some time now, I have followed, among many others, this blog, the now dormant 'I hate the Jeremy Vine Show' blog and Peter Hearty's 'Platitude for the Day' blog. The thing that these blogs have in common is that both the hosts and the guests have often written letters of complaint to the BBC. These complaints have been well founded in pretty much every case. These complaints have been glibly dismissed in pretty much every case.

The problem, as I see it, is the unique way in which the BBC is funded. That is, something similar to a protection racket. You can find out about some of their mafia type methods here:

http://tv-licensing.blogspot.co.uk/

My point is that if your customers have a choice about whether they hand over their cash in exchange for your product, you are forced to treat them with respect. Any private company that treated its customers with the kind of contempt that the BBC treats its customers with, would very quickly go out of business.

The link that I have provided does give advice about how to go legally licence free. Some get their TV from the internet, others amass a huge collection of DVDs, some just stop watching television altogether. Whatever legal route that you choose, you will still get BBC licencing thugs banging on your door.

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterStonyground

It's obvious the BBC are going to view this letter as very irksome and mischievous and that pleases me immensely.

That the BBC "establishment" and Patten's crew being confronted is long overdue and they have been abusing their position of trust and influence an order of magnitude beyond what an awful lot of people regard as sensible or tolerable - leveraging their near monopoly on framing any debate in the public perception to promulgate on many occasions a skewed and dishonest narrative on what's going on in the world - and more to the point patronisingly setting out what we should think about it.

Accuracy and honesty have become the victims of PC ridden activist advocacy and propagandising.

GWPF are baiting them and that's fine by me - I hope they rise to the bait.

Over 30 years travelling around the world I've seen folk overseas attitude towards the UK's state broadcaster swing from respect to deep contempt and mockery while domestically they bask in a suffocating miasma of self regard. There are exceptions but those exceptions would survive anywhere in the broadcast media.

I am ashamed of them and I hope they get their just deserts.

Dec 17, 2012 at 9:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterTomO

I dunno. I like Richard North’s summation (the one who was there). I paraphrase – but like he I haven’t got a great deal against the Beeb and don’t think it a monolithic conspiracy - it is just too… well… – too well huge to fail… But is big enough to fart all over society

<SARC


The BBC took a position where it would only make statements about an orthodox position. Maybe foreign readers of this site don’t know but the BBC have been performing a great service in correcting public misunderstandings of science since 1920. This is understandable. The BBC sign off at midnight advising us all to not to bother tying down the furniture in case gravity reverses overnight since they know the British public constantly expect that on a daily basis. This is very familiar in our country and we are all vigilant for that day when the BBC may tell us different about anything. We are all grateful to them.

They need to maintain this vigilance against anti-science in all realms.

As always the BBC need to be advised behind closed doors about these great truths on a day to day basis with great minds of stupendous importance and breath-taking detachment from mere self-indulgent political bias- we respect them more when they tell us that they have gathered major chin-stokers with beards (even the women) who know everything behind closed doors.

If we were to hear what they were thinking about, and who said it, we would not be able to handle it.

I think that is a great position to be in.

Bloody hell what if we had a choice - Urgh!!

SARC>

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:34 PM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

TerryS,

There was quite a bit of info on the web as to the BBC investment funds after the release of the Climateegate I dossier.

Dec 2009, thru Mar, 2010 would likely leave you embarrassed. I may just reopen that can of worms for you if necessary.

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered Commentereyesonu

Their coronary organ is correctly located - but sheesh what a waffly letter. And offering the enemy an excuse for delay?

Dec 17, 2012 at 10:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

Dec 17, 2012 at 2:50 PM | TerryS says "If the contents of their pension fund influenced their programming then they would not be anti-smoking or against oil and gas."

Time and again I am seeing reverse causation, a mistake of interpretation that turns the hypothesis the wrong way around.

Perhaps what is meant is that "Their (BBC) programming is influenced because the pensions fund prospers when high profits are shown by the smoking, oil and gas sectors." Be realistic and ask yourself if you would bite the hands that feed you.

Dec 18, 2012 at 1:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

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