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back to article What's Auntie for, exactly?

Recently, we discovered that some of the evidence in Al Gore's film about climate change, An Inconvenient Truth, was fictional. But was this the result of a classic exposé from Panorama, or from Newsnight? In fact, the Gore revelations followed from the persistence of a school governor from Devon, who mounted a High Court …

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Jobs Horns

A neglected aunt on benefit

At some point in the near future this is a chance that the state imposed idea of "Great Britain" will be superseded with more home grown ideas of national identity. These may be about warm beer and cricket or wrapped up in the fate of the Scottish or Welsh Rugby teams but its unlikely it will ever again be a British thing and so the Beeb may become a neglected aunt on benefit.

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Dead Vulture

Ah yes

"the abduction of Madeleine McCann"

Umm, I hate to point out that even 'abduction' belies an assumption as nothing is yet proven. 'disappearance' could perhaps be a better word.

Could it be that you're using the word 'abduction' to make your point hard-hitting? :)

Damned journalists.

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Flame

beeb and global warming

Errr, I don't think the beeb should be applying balance to issues which are accepted in the mainstream.

We don't provide a dick head giving forth on his favourite hobby horse say for the abiogenesis of oil now do we. Nor should we on global warming.

As for Al Gores "An inconvenient truth", now I was sure that was cleared for distribution in schools. Now you may know differently, but I doubt it.

Fringe loonies don't deserve prime time slots for their rubbish, end of.

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Tom

Wow

A "Professor of Forecasting and Innovation", eh? Wow.

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Dead Vulture

Impartiality is hard to achieve...

... if you don't understand the issue at hand. How many reporters with a decent scientific background does the BBC have? The general level of science reporting on the BBC is dreadful. It's treated as a joke, or somehow low-brow and not as important as the latest media or arts story (one only has to listen to John Humphreys on the Today programme for a classic example of this). Or take Horizon... every topic it deals with has to be presented as some sort of human drama, rather than take a break from the constant stream of soap operas and reality TV to present something thought provoking for once.

So when it comes to a topic such as global warming, which will continue to be a topic of critical importance for decades to come, the BBC is clearly ill-equipped to deal with it. It's not surprising they can't produce a balanced presentation -- they wouldn't know scientific balance if it slapped them round the face with a rapidly warming frozen haddock.

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Joke

Professor of Forecasting and Innovation

Does the course that fellow teaches include crystal ball gazing, tarot cards and runes reading? If not, it's a scam! I think entrails divination is post-grad though...

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting background reading regarding Dimmock

He wasn't a little guy, he was funded by a big money lobby group.

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,2190770,00.html

And his errors and really clutching at straws stuff:

# Mr Gore's assertion that a sea-level rise of up to 20 feet would be caused by melting of ice in either West Antarctica or Greenland "in the near future". The judge said this was "distinctly alarmist" and it was common ground that if Greenland's ice melted it would release this amount of water - "but only after, and over, millennia".

# Mr Gore's assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributable to global warming - the court heard the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

# Mr Gore's reference to a new scientific study showing that, for the first time, polar bears had actually drowned "swimming long distances - up to 60 miles - to find the ice". The judge said: "The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm."

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Stop

@AIDAN

So, care to hazaard a guess when this will happen ?

Can I suggest that far from being in "the near future" it will never happen. Tell you what I will put a beer on it, any pub any time in the next 5 years. That gives you a bit more time than anyone elses "near future" that I know of.

Tell me, I would really like to know where you get your information. What insightful government policy or thinktank dreamt this up for you ? If it was a complete "in my backyard production" can I suggest you stick to coding HTML cos your opinion is like wading through treacle. Sweet, but very, very thick.

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Silver badge

Descriptive adjectives

I for one would appreciate BBC News reporting facts in a plain and truly neutral way. The use of descriptive adjectives colours the news and potentially guides public opinion. News reports should not contain opinion or bias of any kind. Qualifying a news report with descriptive adjectives serves to place one view of an event as the correct view at the expense of another and possibly equally valid view point. BBC bias in many instances is subtle and invasive.

We live in a relative world with few absolutes, good and bad, right and wrong will all vary dependant on political stance, creed, colour, religion, nationality etc. Yet we are all here together and have to live here together. Moralising the news to what the sheeple deem as acceptable only serves to exacerbate the differences and segregate us further.

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Heart

"Mainstream" = "agrees with me"

"issues which are accepted in the mainstream"

Try clicking page 2, Anonymous Coward. The issue of climate change may be mainstream, but the theory of anthropogenic global warming is far from proven, and its advocates rely on hype and fear to obscure the lack of supporting evidence.

Perhaps you define "mainstream" as "people who agree with me"? In which case, your view is always mainstream, and therefore you're always right.

How very convenient!

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Balance

For far too long the BBC's treatment of climate change was to try and give both sides of the argument equal weighting, which was even more ludicrous than the situation today.

If we have to hear both sides of the argument on every science issue are we going to get the Flat Earth Society out for each Shuttle mission, the Creationists involved at the discovery of a new Montanan dinosaur and various demented preachers on Newsnight when the Big Bang is discussed?

As for BBC Science/Tech journalists - it goes from the pointless Rory Cellan Jones at one extreme to the superb Suzanne Watts at the other.

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School Governor? I think you mean oil lobbyist

For more info on the supposed "plucky persistence of the underdog" high court ruling, I refer readers to http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007/10/

for a quick rebuttal. In summary, the film was not wrong in any respect, and the guy prosecuting the court case is by no means disinterested.

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Global Warming

I have to say that I'm a bit of a Global Warming Naysayer myself.

Not really convinced by either sides arguments.

The world is such a complicated eco-system that we dont really fully understand. All I know is that all the money is being poured into proving global warming exists and really it could all still be about random changes in the earth that happen all the time!

I'll still be driving my car and flying as often as possible!

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Rob
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consensus...

Funny how any discussion of anthropogenic global warming always refers to the "scientific consensus" these days.

Reminds me of how V.I. Lenin called his faction the Bolsheviks, which means majority. Though, in fact, they were not.

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Impartiality is a nonsense

The BBC, like every media organisation, _has_ to take a position on any matter of substance. What the BBC means by 'impartial' is really 'the bias of the common man'.

But their concept of 'the common man' is significantly out of step with most people's experience. Comes from being stuck in W12. Andrew Marr was spot on describing the BBC as "an urban organisation with an abnormally large number of young people, ethnic minorities and gay people. It has a liberal bias not so much a party-political bias. It is better expressed as a cultural liberal bias."

Britain doesn't have to learn "what Britain is for". But the BBC does.

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Anonymous Coward

Are they really that bad?

Only last week I read an editorial on this very subject on the BBC site. I thought they outlined their reasoning for their coverage quite nicely.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2007/11/climate_sceptics.html

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Pirate

Auntie Social Progression.

Exactly why do we still have this media QUANGO?

I can appreciate that in years gone by, the Middle Class would have wished the hoi-palloi to be in receipt of Received Pronunciation, and to have role models to show them how to correctly doff caps and tug forlocks,but why now, in the 21st centurty do we need this organisation?

Great Drama? "Doctor Who"? I'm still cringing from the Bonnie Langford years... Oh, but then there's "Doc Martin".. But hang on, that's not the BBC, is it? So probably not for that reason.

Impartiality in the news? Well why is it that, when a politician spouts a load of absolute bollocks, we don't get a reporter telling us that "that was Mr. X.Y, Labour MP for Greater Z, spouting absolute bollocks"? No.. that' can't be it!

Is it for the integrity of the Blue Peter Cat Naming competitions? <cough> Well Not In My Humble Opinion.. (ROTFLMAO!!!)

Is it for the great in-depth accuracy of their IT reporting? What about the marvelous detailed reports telling us what a load of corporatist, consumer-battering crap Windows Vista is, and how Apple products are as bad, or worse?? As the last decent thing the BBC did regards IT, was to promote the Acorn Computer bearing the BBC name, I don't honestly think that that is it either?

Does it exist to screw even more tax out of the British Subject, in order to harangue them with the mores of the circularly self-justifying Moral Minority?

IMO Probably.

We should therefore get rid of it, or make it compete on equal commercial terms with the -mindless-trash-is-the-opium-of-the-people- commercial channels it is, due to our teevee-tax-dollars, so pleased to feel superior to, or to beat it into something that actually serves the people, rather than enslaving them, ramming its values down their throats, and generally being the auntie you wished you didn't have.

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Flame

Professor of what?

So Britain is displaying "loss of clear identity, mission, nerve, and legitimacy", is it? That'll be why the place is cluttered by people with titles like "professor of forecasting and innovation" who seem to think they should be taken seriously.

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Heart

Hitting the nail on the head

I've noticed this on the BBC and it's good you've raised this

Certainly there is a consensus that climate change is happening due to human development. I find the arguements plausible, though obviously there is plenty to learn and reasearch there. Thereare sceptics on the science, some are nuts, but some are making palusible points and deserve their say.

However on the BBC I have often heard the sceptics referred to as "Global Warming Deniers" - obviously trying to imply that they are about at the level of Irving/Ahmadinejad. This has extended to the point that they are now roughly "Don't worry about the science, we need to act now!" and anyone who disagrees with the kyoto\shopping-bag bans etc is again in the same basket as Messers I& A above.

Now whist the is a fair consensus on what appears to be happening to the climate, they sure as hell isn't a consensus on what constitutes a good thing to do about it. All proposed actions will have multiple impacts and there are plenty of groups involved using climate change to push thier own agendas (Unions after more protectionism, Leftists wanting government control of everything, Greens wanting to reverse economic growth).

Bjørn Lomborg was somethime described as a sceptic, but in fact his argument was that there were more important things that the world should be doing to help the poor, against disease etc.

It's easy for the BBC to take this line now, but saying "Don't think about the science, it's above your head and you just need to do what we say" is a worring direction.

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Oh, give it a rest

"but the theory of anthropogenic global warming is far from proven,"

Yeah, yeah. People have been saying that for 100 years now and for 100 years the evidence has piled up and up and up. The argument's over. Long over. All we have now is a bunch of hype generated by vested interests and superannuated scientists desperate for a grant to tide them over to pension age. It's getting warmer and we're responsible for a large chunk of it, so just get over it.

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IT Angle

Why the Focus on Global Warming

I don't understand the focus on global warming. Personally, I'm not convinced either way. The world's been getting warmer since the last ice age. We had a mini ice-age only a few years ago (in climatological terms) etc. etc.

But it doesn't matter, does it?

We are going to run out of fossil fuels some time in the short-to-medium term. Some people say 150 years. Some say 500 years. Both are pretty close.

We shouldn't really be pumping all sorts of crap into our atmosphere anyway. Whether it causes global warming or not, it's just not a sensible or pleasant thing to do.

There are plenty of alternatives which require investment. In the short term we have nuclear, wind, solar, wave, tidal etc. In the long term we have fusion. These are far more sensible energy sources anyway.

So why is the focus not on promoting the benefits of investing in these technologies which, whatever the arguments over global warming, we will eventually need anyway because we are going to run out of oil, gas and coal?

I've also never heard anyone discuss what we are going to do for plastics when we run out of oil. Or are we all going to be using our microwave ovens to make stuff as per Machu Pichu's hilarious "Visions of the Future" on BBC 4 last night?

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@Robert Long

You may believe it has been proven for 100 years, but you clearly don't remember even as far back as the 1970s when we were supposed to be entering a new Ice Age.

Whether you like it or not, climate change/global warming are facts, what causes them, and what it is best to do about it are matters of opinion. Just becasue your side shouts the loudest does not make it right.

In fact, you sound just like a journalist of the 'we're all going to die' school, you are so ill informed. Are you one?

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@Risky

Good point, there are so many things that people could be doing, but lets face it they are not.

It would be lovely to imagine that the world will keep to the promises they have already made on debt, fresh water, childhood literacy, economic development etc etc. But its not going to happen now is it ?

The Russians have a saying about Marx ...

"Everything he told us about Communism was wrong, Everything he told us about capitalism was right"

Well I am looking forward to seeing how we "consume" our way out of this one. Most peoples idea of global warming extend about as far as maybe having to buy a hybrid car, fitting insulation and maybe having a small wind thing perched on the side of the house. Good luck with that.

As so many commentors have said in so many different words. "Its never been better to be part of the problem". In a world where so many exist on less than a dollar a day, you will never starve, for you are rich.

Enjoy your hols ; )

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The BBC may be the best thing about Britain

I realise that every privately run media outlet has to criticise the BBC because it is in their interests to do so, but it seems to me that they are the only broadcaster even trying to think about balance.

Everyone else ( present company excluded, of course) just nails their flags to the station/newspaper/other outlet owner's agenda and throws any pretense of objectivity out with the bathwater while complaining in superior tones about state funding, monopoly and licence fees. If they want a level playing field they need to be prepared to offer an equivalent service, but that is not what they get paid for.

There is only a serious question over the existence of ACC at the moment because of the amount of money being paid to the ex-tobacco lobby groups that constitute the denial industry. How serious it is and how it will manifest, those are questions that we still need to be working on, but the only evidence against it is cold hard cash being paid to very clever marketting and FUD specialists.

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Flame

@mainstream != agrees with me

Actually no, I go by the IPCC which last time I looked had a few signings against it of world known scientists that could agree with the findings. Which certainly would make that document non-contrivertable in my book. The real rates of warming are likely to be far more aggressive.

Nothing in science is ever "proved", of course doubt remains. But we are talking about scientific uncertainty which should not be parleyed into political uncertainty. Otherwise the status quo is maintained, and there are far more voices in favour of Man made global warming than the reverse. By orders of magnitude.

If you are a sceptic, fine, I note you have Dr in front of your name, and Im hoping thats for a Phd, in which case, get off my back and go and produce some peer reviewed work which debunks the theory. Thats your job and you are not doing it.

If, on the other hand, this is not your area of expertise why should I care what you think ? You dont debate the issues, you just attack your straw men. Stop whinning its bloody pathetic, and also try and avoid non-peer reviewed articles its embarrassing that someone with Dr in front of their name links to shoddy crap that wouldnt turn up in Nature Watch, nevermind Nature or Science.

P.S. Annonomous Cowards keep their jobs

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Happy

Sacred Cows

My, how upset some people get when you suggest their cows may not after all be holy.

You cannot show that global warming is caused by man-made CO2 production - there is no proof, peer reviewed or otherwise. You may claim a correlation over an extremely short timescale, but that is not causation, as I am sure you know. You also need only look at the last few million years of climate change to realise that there is nothing provably special about this period. The point about the 1970s was that the consensus amongst climate scientists at the time was that we were entering an ice age. How come they were wrong then, but likely to be right now? The whole thing is much too complex to be sure at the current stage of knowledge.

I agree with others that it only makes sense to reduce dependence on oil & gas, to reduce pollution and to invest in some alternative technologies. I would NOT include hydrogen buses, electric cars or bio-diesel at this point as they all have negative consequences of their own, and I am very nervous of nuclear. Panic is not likely to produce sensible strategies.

In the final analysis, it should be clear that over-population is the real problem. Environmentalists should first declare their intention to have no offspring before I can believe they are really worried about the ecosystem and not just trying to make everyone else jump through hoops.

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Science paper on the unknown effect of the stratosphere

As for that stratospheric paper, and I quote from it, "Inclusion of stratospheric ozone-climate effects in coupled atmosphere-ocean climate models will not significantly alter the overall estimates of globally averaged surface warming." It goes on to state that effects may be felt in polar regions and rainfall in the middle latitudes - it's a case of dotting the i's and crossing the t's on climate change rather than ripping up the rulebook as the article suggests.

As many commenters here have said, saying that global climate change is not largely human-derived makes you more like Gene Ray than Giordano Bruno.

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Flame

BBC? its no longer British

I used to trust the BBC when I was a small boy. But I noticed as I got older that they had their own agenda. Tomorrow's world was the first casualty when Philppa Forrester started mouthing her own opinions on the ethics and morality of some of the tech shown off. Then I noticed during Gulf war 2 the live coverage of the invasion when a pressman at the front asked the villagers what they thought of Bush and Saddam, 30 or so blew raspberries to Bush and cheered Saddam, whilst the demented village idiot gave a thumbs up to Bush. Guess what was show at prime time 1800hrs news 30 anti-Bush villagers or the village idiot? The idiot of course. Talk about blatant news manipulation.

The BBC is now more interested in making programs for export, get some cash in! so that they can make more programs for export. Meanwhile I as a license payer I see no benefit, no refund on my license. Jonathan Woss worth £6Million? I think not. The BEEB, when not directed by government has its own social agenda, firmly aimed at the 20 something bracket, because that is the average age of the people who work there. Ironically it is this age group that is least likely to be watching TV.

The BEEB really should shut down all its many and diverse little radio stations and digital TV failures and concentrate on 3-4 channels of good quality programs. I fear however that there is an agenda to allow the BBC to become so terrible that no one bats an eyelid or cares when it is sold off to men with too much money , who want even more money. The assets that I and many others have paid for with our license fees will just disappear in a swirl of government spin.

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Unhappy

Fellow Travelers

Unfortunately, along with the "reasonable" skeptics of global warming, we also must take into account many of their fellow travelers. These are the people who, while maybe not admitting that they think the world is flat, they DO believe that the earth is 6,000 years old, that the world was created in an actual 6 days and that evolution is a fraud.

These people join up together and it is nearly impossible to separate them. They introduce Intelligent Design (ID) as a supposedly rational explanation for phenomena to which science doesn't have an answer to yet. When asked, if there is an Intelligent Design responsible because nature could not create this, then who created the Intelligent Designer? I get blank stares.

Many who wish to discount global warming do not want to do it based upon science and the lack of "proof", they want to discount it for political reasons.

Note the rabid way the anti-global warming proponents attack, belittle and try to dismiss any research.

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Sacred Cows ?

What is that phrase supposed to mean, I'm secretly a Brahmin high priest ?

Of course I can't prove that global warming is man made, luckily I don't have to. I just have to posit the theory, if it holds up I win. Its called science and it works by disproving stuff. If you can find a decent peer reviewed piece that shows that global warming is not man made, you win. Unfortunately all that the sceptics link to is highly politicised crap churned out by far right senators from the US.

As to population being the cause, where is the pollution coming from ? Since the industrial revolution its been us. The only sensible way to look at this is per capita, and that puts the blame squarely on the Americans and Europe. Even China the largest single polluting country (now) doesn't even dent the amount we and the yanks have pumped out.

Yes, population increases will have a dramatic effect (just as it did when we went through the demographic transition). But it hasnt yet, the lifestyles of the majority have not improved to the level where they start to affect anything. When they do its time to panic. Watch China in this regard and India/Indonesia. They are the big population centers.

So Mike Street, wheres your links, where is your proof. Cos there is more than enough on my side pointing to the fact that its yours and mine and everyone else in the Western Worlds fault. You don't like it ? Then show your proofs.

As an aside the New Scientist has a very good selection on the latest in this debate. As they are a science publication they are of course on the side of MMGW in this debate. But like all good science publications, if something dents the model they will publish that too.

http://environment.newscientist.com/channel/earth/climate-change/

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Rabid attackers

@Darren7160

"Note the rabid way the anti-global warming proponents attack, belittle and try to dismiss any research"

If you look through these comments - and your own post - you'll see the smears have come entirely from one side.

For example, when an unfounded assertion is questioned, the proponent is denounced as in the pay of energy lobby.

(RealClimate.org receives large grants from George Soros to make generalised propaganda about the evils of capitalism - but that doesn't count as a lobby).

The hysterical Dax Farrer is a good example. Just one of several posters demanding that critics shut up.

Show us your science, please, so we may be convinced. And spare me some vague "consensus" generated by a small group of like-minded zealots.

"P.S. Annonomous Cowards keep their jobs"

PPS - Global Warming nuts karn't spel

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Evidence

Yes climate change is happening, yes we are currently in a warming phase, yes human activity undoubtedly has an effect; however whether CO2 has a significant effect, or whether warming will be catastrophic is very uncertain (the atmospheric greenhouse effect is an unproven hypothesis). The main "evidence" for a catastrophic effect comes from global climate models, GCMs are a useful tool to help understand the mechanisms involved, but they are not themselves reasonable evidence.

An interesting article in New Scientist this week where it is pointed out that current temperature rises are too small to have widespread climate effects, and that blaming local flooding, heat-waves, hurricane Katrina and the like on AGW, as the media does, is actually diminishing the message; the BBC should take note.

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Rob
Bronze badge
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@Doc Jones

"The hysterical Dax Farrer is a good example. Just one of several posters demanding that critics shut up."

I think it's more of a case of put up, as in put up the evidence to support your whining.

It's easy to argue, harder to win without the evidence to back it up though.

(Where was it you bought your title? Send me the URL)

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Evidence-free science?

"Of course I can't prove that global warming is man made, luckily I don't have to. I just have to posit the theory, if it holds up I win."

And without evidence, it falls down.

The theory that humans are primarily, or even significantly responsible for causing the recent rise in global temperatures isn't supported by the evidence. We have a theory for how we could have a significant role, but no causal link that we play that role. Once it's there, I'll happily accept it.

@Rob:

"I think it's more of a case of put up, as in put up the evidence to support your whining."

More insults! Anthopogenic climate change advocates are quick to insult, but not so forthcoming with their evidence.

Allow me to propose a theory that the Earth's moon is actually made of Camembert. The surface is rock and dust, but the core is actually a runny French cheese.

I see no evidence of peer-reviewed papers refuting my theory. Therefore, the moon is made of Camembert.

Do you now understand why the onus is on you, not me, to convince people of the merits of your argument?

You're no scientist, that's for sure.

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Relevance

Agree to disagree rather than arguing about the unwinnable. If the world does come to an end because of global warming then will anybody be going "ha.. TOLD YOU SO"?

I think the best way to stop the bias in the BBC news reporting is to simply scrap the BBC in its current (or any) form. I get my licence fee back and can forget about Terry Wogan being paid 10k for presenting charity events.

Maybe combining two channels using that clever time shifting they do can let me watch two opposing newscasts, we can have a nationalistic, borderline racist, honest to goodness Enoch-a-like reporting on a lack of deportation issues on one side and a report on the short term effects of the plant a tree campaign started in London in 1960 when Mr. Blair planted his first apple tree at the tender age of 10.

I'm totally British.. I demand this right now.

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@Gary Moran

Of course glbal warming isn't causing current climate events and most of the commentators know it, but there is a clear undercurrant that it is better to scare people and not trouble them with the complexity of the facts. I 've listen to enough R4 interviews where we roughly get:

BBC: "So the flood/drought/storm can be attributed to glabal warming"

SCI: "Well if action isn't taken on GW, then we will see more of these events"

BBC "So people should act now and [Buy Lexus hybrid-SV, Organic-microwave-meal, etc]

SCI "Um, yes, we all need to ..blah"

I would like to hear some enviromental campaigners that don't feel the need to treat us like morons.

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3x2

@Darren7160 and the rest

"Note the rabid way the anti-global warming proponents attack, belittle and try to dismiss any research."

It looks like the only rabid attacks on here are from people like you. That's why some of us have a problem with those rabidly obsessed with climate change and the "End of the World (Tm)".

Your "evidence" and "factoids" come primarily from models and sensationalist reporting (is there any other kind). Although models for weather prediction have been refined for 50 years prediction beyond a couple of days is still a dream. Hold on here comes the model of the Earth that after 5 years development can predict 100 years into the future - erm yea right.

A couple of months ago I was at my nieces house and the subject of a school trip to London came up and she didn't want to go. I asked her why not and she showed me her "climate change" project from school and explained that London was very dangerous and you could drown. She even had a photo of London under 60ft of water to prove it (no doubt ripped from the BBC). This is what you want us to teach young children in school? This to you is Science?

I remember having to do a similar project at that age - Overpopulation, armed with my cut out and keep guide to starving to death in the year 2000 with the 25 billion other chumps - seems some things don't change.

(except the climate obviously)

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BBC airtime : Madeleine McCann vs Iraqi civilian deaths

It reminds me of what Stalin said "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic", roll on the Pravda Broadcasting Corporation...

Caveat: the one man rule doesnt apply to official enemies of the state, e.g. Dr. David Kelly, random people shot dead by our brave warriors in Blue as "suspected terrorists" etc

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