back to article BBC cans Planet Relief special

The BBC has decided to can a planned Planet Relief TV special on climate change following senior executives concerns that it "might breach impartiality guidelines". According to Auntie, the concept surfaced about 18 months back as a "climate change counterpart to programmes such as Live8", and was pencilled for a January 2008 …


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  1. JP

    Another pi$$ing contest

    "The only reason why this became an issue is that there is a small but vociferous group of climate 'sceptics' lobbying against taking action, so the BBC is behaving like a coward and refusing to take a more consistent stance." screamed a small but vociferous group whose real problem is globalization.

    People need to wake up and realise that differences will only be noticeable if huge sacrifices to our modern consumerist way of life are made. Purchasing carbon credits or planting trees will not reduce your carbon footprint, 'cause that's already been made. If you really want a carbon neutral lifestyle, return to the Stone Age!

    Plus, once again, events like these (or Earth8) don't actually acheive what they're trying to do. Flying celebrities around for these gigs, plus entourage, plus equipment, plus the fans getting to the venue do nothing more than increase the sales of the "artivists" involved.

    (Sorry, slow day, needed to rant!)

  2. Paul

    Ricky Gervais

    "Viewers will not now be able to enjoy celebs such as Ricky Gervais"

    Thank God!

  3. Mike Richards Silver badge


    We'd also best stop the BBC discussing evolution because it conflicts with guidance from the Kansas School Board. Clearly the Big Bang is also out since it causes grave offence to believers in invisible beards. However, the evidence of a common human ancestor from mitochondrial DNA can be talked about, just so long as equal time is given to celebrity readings of 'Mein Kampf'.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BBC doesn't campaign?

    Well, that's Children in Need, Red Nose Day and all the others knackered then, isn't it?

  5. Richard

    Don't do another Comic Relief

    The carbon emissions saved by not sending dozens of celebrities to Africa again will make just as big a point.

    On the other hand, fundraising telethons are so flipping tedious that I would have thought that they result in mass TV switch offs anyway.

  6. Peter W

    why is it biased

    if it's true?

    And couldn't they have added a half hour program from the sceptics if they are worried about being accused of bias?

  7. Andy Taylor

    Cowardly Indeed

    The BBC had to resort to cutting away from Live8 between bands so as not to be seen as endorsing the aims of the event. We had to endure Jonathan Ross and Fearne Cotton interviewing "celebs" backstage rather than be allowed to see the films made by Ricky Gervais etc.

  8. John A Blackley


    "Activist and writer" Mark Lynas thundered: "This decision shows a real poverty of understanding among senior BBC executives about the gravity of the situation we face." = "This decision pisses me off because it takes away a very public platform from which I could spout my particular, half-assed opinions about climate change."

    "The only reason why this became an issue is that there is a small but vociferous group of climate 'sceptics' lobbying against taking action" = "There are people who disagree with me"

  9. Graham White

    Complain, then...

    Well, if you disagree, go to the BBC website and send in a complaint: I just did. Here's the URL:

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Switch Off

    If it's a mass switch off programme, who stays long enough to watch it ?

    Hello Egg, I'm chicken.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Don't do another Comic Relief

    "The carbon emissions saved by not sending dozens of celebrities to Africa again will make just as big a point."

    Actually, there's no need to bring them back. That would save carbon emissions and plenty of unnecessary hot air and probably reduce consumerism in our society.

    The only down side is that we might accused dumping toxic waste in another country.

  12. Tom Silver badge

    Can't have something that might make people think...

    Maybe the BBC execs don't want to think about all that while they drive their Land Rovers around the city.

  13. Steven Moore

    Peter, because

    it isn't true, that's why.

    Read the new Stephen Schwartz/Brookhaven paper on Heat Capacity (that blows the IPCC's estimate of climate sensitivity to Hell), or the Spencer, et al, paper on new evidence for the Lindzen Infrared Iris.

  14. Matthew

    Never stopped them before

    The BBC have been peddling this nonsense every day for years now. They publish everything and anything that supports the idea of man-made global-warming (now referred to as climate change as the world has been cooling since 98).

    In April the BBC had all these experts predicting that 2007 would be the hottest and driest on record yet when it was cold and wet the same scientists were brought out to show how CC could cause it to be colder and wetter too, so basically CC causes weather! Jeez thanks for that, and how much are these scientists on?!!

    I thick that the MMGW movement is slowly becoming unraveled as folk realize the 'well it must be' argument & automatically attributing any kind of strong weather to CC doesn't hold much weight. The BBC are right to calm down or risk looking stupid.

  15. Wade Burchette

    Good for them!

    Facts are a global warming activists worst nightmare. Which is why they call the other side skeptics and use many other derogatory terms against them. If humans really are causing climate change, why are those who say it is so afraid of open debate? If there is rock solid evidence, why are they so afraid of discussion. If this film is about people causing global warming, then obviously it will have little truth and a lot of opinion and scare tactics. Just like the Inquisition, except this time Torquemada is Al Gore.

    Good for the BBC! The last thing we need is another show based on opinion and innuendos. Planet Earth was really good and for the most part left such innuendos out of it. But they still couldn't resist, especially when talking about drowning polar bears while conveniently not mentioning that the Southern Hemisphere is unusually cold and the ANTarctic is increasing. South Africa saw snow this winter, something that hasn't happened there is decades.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    British Brainwashing Corporation

    Paxman was right when he slagged off the BBC recently - the BBC has become an Establishment toadie too afraid of criticism to actually say what needs to be said. I have always been afraid that the BBC would be destroyed through privatisation - now I realise the real threat; becoming a propaganda machine for the government and its friends (ie the US government and big multinationals). How long before the BBC is as untrustworthy as Fox or Chinese state TV?

    The BBC need to grow a pair... after all, human related climate change is now pretty much universally accepted amongst the scientific community. How can it be impartial to report what is essentially a scientific fact? Next the BBC will have to can The Sky At Night because a few religious nuts think the universe is only 6000 years old.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Another pi$$ing contest

    Well said JP.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yeah right , a TV concert to persuade people to turn their TVs off.

    Good thinking

  19. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Calling a spade, a spade

    "It is not the BBC's job to lead opinion or proselytise on this or any other subject."

    Will somebody please tell that to the BBC's Government arm ...... although I would much prefer that they get with the Program and do the Programming better than is their present hamfisted effort.

    Strewth, it is not as if IT is difficult to show a world Lead. I wonder who are pulling their strings?

    What is their job to be then, at great Public expense ...... vacuous, mindless rubbish masquerading as entertainment. Is that what they are good at?

    There's no need to answer that. The Output speaks for ITself.

    Is it their job to stop anyone else leading opinion, which is something which they are better at in their own limited way whenever they condone/instigate a Denial of Service attack to views which merely question those which they publish/share?

    And there's no need to answer that either whenever the evidence is there in testimony available.

    J'accuse, a canned BBC/a puppet organisation rather than an original Source of Information....... which must also be a reflection upon the State of the Nation ....with global implications.

  20. Joe Hanson

    Oh Yea!

    Yea I agree, they should only give the liberals about 30min to raddle their empty heads. Any longer and folks might think they are watching a lousy remake of The Twilight Zone.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inventive Wastefulness

    If the BBC shut themselves down for 6 hours they could raise nearly 2 Million pounds from the licence fee. The carbon footprint would lower as people would switch to other channels but the BBC would avoid all travel, electricity etc carbon costs and this money could go to subsidising a filter system on a coal fired power plant in China.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Calling a spade, a spade

    its the end of the world!!!

    MFM is starting to post cohearently!!! (sp)

    *oh noes*

  23. Drew Whitworth

    Bog all to do with climate change

    This is bog all to do with the arguments for and against climate change. It's everything to do with irritating little Hitlers in jumped-up rags like the Daily Mail bleating about how the BBC should be "Impartial" but only when that channel gets even the vaguest bit radical.

    "Impartiality" is neo-Conservatism by another name, it just means protecting the status quo. Hacks like Waterhouse would be happy enough to see the BBC presenting tedious rubbish about the Royal Family, or Churchill, or gubbins like that, but not address political issues, that's "partial", "biased", whatever.

    If you don't want to watch a programme on climate change then don't watch it, and the viewing figures will be low and it'll go away - which, to be fair, the BBC have already suggested is one reason not to show the special. But for some chief guy to say "it is not the BBC's job to save the planet" - that sums it up. What he means is "it is not the BBC's job to go against the government". The "Iraq dossier" affair got the BBC very worried, and they are retreating into their shell. Then again we should never expect radicalism from such a body.

  24. Simon Brown

    I love climate change sceptics

    I love climate change sceptics, they remind me of why I love science.

    "Look - this new paper proves that the change is due to this infra-red effect or that solar output net effect or this straw or that straw". What about all the previous effects that came along and have been disproved? What about the vast majority of scientists leaning towards the idea that if you pump a lot of infra-red reflective gas into a quasi-closed system it will reflect more infra-red?

    Well, because now we can use the effect of local change to show how globally things aren't changing. Look it was wet and cold this summer in the UK so GW must be nonsense. No, it's El Nino / La Nina combined with weaker thermo-haline currents as fresh water enters oceanic systems due to melting. Look it was snowing in South Africa last winter GW is all wrong, it didn't predict that. No, it's El Nino / La Nina combined with weaker thermo-haline currents as fresh water enter oceanic systems due to melting. Look it's wetter / drier / hotter / colder in this or that place. Look, look, look, it can't be caused by humans because it's not behaving how I predicted it might over the short-term. Short-term climate predictions are rubbish. They're as rubbish as weather forecasts which usually have a large margin of error because the climate and the environment is an enormously complex, chaotic system which we simply can't predict properly. But that's not an argument to go pumping gases into it.

    The fact is, we really don't know. We don't know if the carbon we emit now is going to affect the lives of our children and their children or if it's a few drops in an ocean of natural carbon emission in the carbon cycle. We don't know what is going to happen but right now the climate is changing faster than it ever has (according to ice cores though how reliable are they?) and the weather is changing. Right now we should probably do the sensible thing and be cautious. If we can reign in our carbon output then we give ourselves loads of time to work out whether or not it's a problem. If we ignore the problem and fiddle while Rome burns by the time we turn to look, irreversible damage may have been caused but we don't know.

  25. simon croft

    @Mathew and Wade Burchette

    The point about global warming is that we wont get solid facts until it is too late. We have to take the advice of the IPCC and change the 'unlimited growth' archetype of the current world economy. Sure there are a minority of scientists that disagree with the IPCC - but there are probably some who also still think the world is flat, there are certainly some 'scientists' who believe in biblical creation of the world. There are definitely politicians who are counting on divine intervention to solve the worlds problems. None of this invalidates the advice of the IPCC who have weighed the evidence on our behalf and concluded that there is a problem.

    The real problem the BBC have is that big business and politicians don't want to change the mass consumption and feelgood factor that gets them re-elected.

    A lot of their voters also have a 'very nice lifestyle thank you and if you think I will change it then you can fcuk off'

    I don't think our children have much of a future to look forward to.

  26. Tezfair



    Cows wear nappies,

    The sea is drained,

    3rd world countries clean up,

    ...there will always be pollution. its just how TV presents it depending on which egg head wants their 15 minutes of fame.

    If the UK was once on the equator, and the summers are getting warmer - isn't that because we are moving back to the equator?

    Next someone will complain that each year we are moving further away from the sun and that its going to get colder.

    Fund raising programmes show money going directly to those that need it. Climate programs do diddly because other countries possibly produce more crap in a week than the UK does in a year.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Bog all to do with climate change

    It really is bog all to do with climate change, and yet the climate change "sceptics" have to start chipping in about Al Gore and what have you when it's a story about BBC impartiality, and they kick in about half way down the comments as usual.

    I spent a while wondering why they always turn up, always say the same things and make such a noise, but the more I read about the issues involved the more I realise that they are being paid for their posts. Those aren't genuinely held opinions, nobody is that ignorant, they are the work of payment-per-post shills who have vaguely relevant news reports pointed out to them and get to make a bit on the side by pushing opinions aimed at casting FUD on the science of climate change in the aim of bolstering the status quo that benefits their employers.

  28. Dave

    overloaded emotional terminology

    "climate change" == "weather"

    We got weather, they got weather, everybody got weather

    Cut through to the real issue: does this current decision not to 'proselytise about <insert name of issue here>' run counter to the original Reithian ideal for a Public Service Broadcaster to "inform, educate, entertain"?

    Any celebs yet prepared to sign up to an 8 hour telethon "we all got weather - just relax"?

    Only then could Auntie be able to preserve balance in the delivery of 'inform, educate and entertain'. One telethon for the "we're all going to die" lobby and one for the "nothing new here" brigade.

    Won't happen - therefore, correct decision.

  29. Mark Davies


    Wade, Wade, Wade....

    It's always interesting to see those who refuse to believe evidence use this argument. There is a wealth of evidence supporting the theory of global climate change, there are numerous papers by numerous scientists in many respected, peer reviewed publications describing this.

    Lined up against this is the vested interests of some governments (US hang your head in shame), some corporates and some individuals all trying to ensure that their interests are met. This oposition has managed to twist this into a political arguement rather than a scientific argument yet they still claim there are no facts supporting the theory of global climate change.

    There has been open debate, but amongst those who know what they are talking about, i.e. climatologists, that is how peer review works. That means that it shouldn't have to be re-debated by arm-chair scientists like yourself, in the same

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    everyone wants their own prejudice on the BBC

    Who actually believes in free speech? If you do, you shouldn't demand that the media advance popular views (they don't need it). You should demand that they advance unpopular views.

    Right now the BBC barely touches on anything outside a "comfort zone" of soft left/liberal ideas. Public spending and high taxes good; private education/health care and low taxes bad; public transport good/private transport bad. Nanny state good; individual freedom and responsibility bad.

    People with contrary views, if they get on air at all, are announced with a "health warning" of their dodgy right wing status. It's not (just) that the current affairs programs have bias; it's the endless advancement of the BBC world view in "ordinary" programming that's most intellectually corrosive. These programs assume that leaving the car at home/eating less salt/banning smoking/etc/etc/etc are good.

    It's neither here nor there that I agree with many of the things they advance. I am aware that significant numbers of people (sometimes majorities) disagree with it. If I believe in free speech, I should believe that these people should get an equal airing, and not rail against it!

    Especially on a public service broadcaster that defends it's compulsory funding with claims in impartial output

    When green activists should support the airing of programs that are skeptical about climate change, then I will believe that they think free speech is important.

    So, should the BBC show Planet Relief? Well, yes they should (provided it satisfies non-political considerations: do licence fee payers want that sort of program?). But they should also give major air time to skeptical views. What chance of that? One measly hour of skeptical documentary late at night on Channel 4 and there was uproar...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "This decision was not made in light of the recent debate around impartiality." - BBC

    The Beeb have apparently decided the best way to lead discussion about climate change is to do documentaries and news gathering - i.e. activities where the BBC controls the editorial tone and direction - rather than act as facilitator for a bunch of wet celebrity activists. I think it's a great decision.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The future.

    "I don't think our children have much of a future to look forward to."

    So what?

    Did OUR forefathers give two $hits about what they were leaving for us?

    Did they fcuk!

    And as for criticising the 'vested interests' of us 'deniers'....the IPCC and governments (such as ours) pushing the MMCC/AGW fallacy don't have any vested interests at all do they?

    Dearie me!

    And on the subject of the high priest of the MMCC/AGW religion (formerly known as Al Gore) - he has his mucky fingers shoved very deeply into the rather dubious pie of "carbon offsetting" so he doesn't have any vested interests either does he?

    Gimme a break.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A timely end to the Climate Change Channel?

    Thank lack-of-God for that. Whether it's happening or not you can have too much of a good thing, and it seems every time I switch to the BBC there's some pompous bore going on about why everyone else needs to make sacrifices for the greater good, "think about the children!" etc.

    Unfortunately if they are going to turn down the "we're all going to die of global warming! And its *your* fault!!" thing from 11, they'll just choose something else to get utterly frantic about. It'd be nice if the organisation actually started representing all of the "British" in its name instead of the over-privileged pseudo-intellectual liberal middle classes and their self-aggrandising pontification. I won't hold my breath.

  34. Mark Davies

    Free speech?

    This is not free speech issue - the Global Climate Change discussion is not the same as the discussion on education, it's not about personal beliefs or points of view - it is about evidence.

    In a discussion on quantum mechanics would we feel the need to have an impartial viewpoint presented by the BBC? Would we have to have a journalist/politician/footballer/pundit challenging string theory on the grounds that the scientists proposing it are exhibiting bias over brane theory? Would we give credence to some bloke banging on about his own, personal anecdotes over detailed, peer-reviewed research?

    NO - so why do we have to put up with this when we are talking about global climate change.

  35. Chris Fryer

    Raise consciousness

    @Elisha Sessions

    Good spot. If they're being truthful about the reasons for canning it, I say good. I'd much prefer some well-made documentaries from BBC Bristol to some fool comedians trying to "'raise consciousness' about the science of climate change". How can they possibly raise consciousness? Consuming any media these days means you can think of little else.

    On the other hand, the BBC's science documentaries have been a bit patchy of late. Horizon's standards seem to have slipped to a particularly low level.

  36. Robinson


    If you want to switch off all your electrical equipment, you are free to do so whenever you like. Why wait for the BBC to tell you?

    The BBC should not be involved in `raising awareness' (eco-communist propaganda) about something as nebulous, unproven and completely and utterly idiotic as anthropogenic carbon dioxide based climate change.

    A program pitching the alarmists\eco-loonies against the skeptics - now that would be worth watching.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evolution^WClimate change, it's just a theory.

    See, it says so in the name. That's why it's essential that equal credence is given to a bunch of lunatic god-botherers^W^Woil industry shills.

    Coming up next week on Equal Access to Nutters, "Iraqis: How They're Really Queuing Up To Be Shot For Freedom"

    Seriously, as a wise man said, sure, they laughed at Christopher Columbus and Gandhi. But they also laughed at Coco the Clown.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Evolution^WClimate change, it's just a theory.

    See, it says so in the name. That's why it's essential that equal credence is given to a bunch of lunatic god-botherers^W^Woil industry shills.

    Coming up next week on Equal Access to Nutters, "Iraqis: How They're Really Queuing Up To Be Shot For Freedom"

    Seriously, as a wise man said, sure, they laughed at Christopher Columbus and Gandhi. But they also laughed at Coco the Clown.

  39. Jim


    So environmental awareness now denotes communism?


    Seriously, get out a bit more and try reading some scientific literature (not a report on scientific work) before formulating your philosophies, rather than The Economist or Forbes.

    "A program pitching the alarmists\eco-loonies against the skeptics - now that would be worth watching."

    No it wouldn't. Everyone knows how it would go. The eco-loonies would get overly emotional, start contradicted themselves and end up looking ridiculous.

    Now if you replaced eco-loonies with a group of climate scientists, encompassing all the different fields of climate science, then you might find that the it is the skeptics who look ridiculous as they constantly trot out dated scientific work or erroneous interpretations of current work.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    free speech is never out of scope

    You can't declare that climate change isn't an issue of free speech, on the grounds that "the" science makes it a fact. Whether or not is is established as fact, is an opinion, and that makes free speech an issue.

    Otherwise you're simply asserting the right to grant or deny people platform based on your interpretation of the evidence. You may feel that's entirely appropriate, but be honest and admit it's censorship.

    [Aside: why is climate change supported by "the" science, when other things are merely supported by science. Is "the science" more authoritative than "science"?]

  41. breakfast


    No, it wouldn't be worth watching. Have you ever seen Stephen Dawkins debate with a creationist? It's a simple demolition of fundamentalist religion by science. A debate with climate skeptics would be no different, superstition versus reason. As usual the skeptics, unable to summon up any credible scientific evidence for their claims would just end up shouting everyone down so they could feel like they were winning.

  42. Robinson


    @Idiotic and @Jim,

    If you want to know just how AGW data collection and analysis proceeds, just visit If after seeing exactly what goes on you still think climatologists are doing real "science", then I suggest you don't really understand how science actually works.

  43. Mark Davies

    Free speech?


    Please re-read my earlier point:

    "There has been open debate, but amongst those who know what they are talking about, i.e. climatologists, that is how peer review works. That means that it shouldn't have to be re-debated by arm-chair scientists like yourself, in the same"

    I'm not trying to deny people a platform based on their viewpoint but deny them an equal platform based on their lack of expertise.

  44. breakfast


    I find it interesting that the McKintyre and McKitrick, the experts you link to, are experts in finance and economics, one coming from a mineral exploitation background, giving a whiff of vested interest, and the people who disagree with them (and they do disagree very strongly- see some sample counterarguments on ) are experts in climatology.

    In any given field, it seems rational to seek the expertise of people who belong to that field over the expertise of people who are specialised in totally different fields, surely? Even if you are uncomfortable with the findings of the former group?

  45. Luther Blissett

    Rattle the woodwork, see what comes out

    @simon croft - "The point about global warming is that we wont get solid facts until it is too late. We have to take the advice of the IPCC and change the 'unlimited growth' archetype of the current world economy. "

    Priceless example of irrationality piled on irrationality. I need to get my socks off to count all the prejudices in there.

  46. Robinson


    Fair point breakfast, but a scientific study cannot be truly valid unless it is replicable . The point of climateaudit is to show how ad-hoc (and often just plain mathematically wrong) the methods they are using actually are and how often their published work is not enough to reproduce their results. Moreover, none of these "boffins" are trained mathematicians (trained in statistics) and their conclusions are highly unreliable (modeling past temperatures using dodgy temperature proxies for example), so I don't think we should jump every time they publish. At least the point of this story is that there are arguments on both sides and so the BBC should not be promoting one over the other. Not all skeptics are creationist lunatics (indeed Hansen, who published the famous "Hockey Stick" paper is on record are saying skeptics are participating in the "destruction of creation" - so exactly who is are the creationists in this debate?).

    At the very least, there is no clarity on the issues involved in climate change and there is certainly no consensus, so promotion of policy is really arbitrary and I happen to think somewhat absurd. Another problem is that "climate change" is bundled in with environmentalism in general. Nobody things more pollution is a good thing, but we do disagree on just how much of a pollutant CO2 actually is. Personally, I think its a wonderful gas (plants grow much more vigorously in its presence!).

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    free speech, round 3

    People might very well wish to attribute greater significance to the pronouncements of climatologists than those of comedians, film stars, politicians and TV "personalities".

    If the BBC wants to stop all mention of climate change in it's programs, except for peer reviewed evidence, that would be a one thing. And utterly different to letting Al Gore, Ricky Gervais et al. pronounce on climate change whilst denying equally (un)qualified skeptics the same platform.

  48. breakfast

    Regardless of which...

    Getting back to the original article, it would be absolute bollocks television and I certainly wouldn't bother watching it.

  49. Mark Davies

    Free speech?


    You are beginning to see sense - lets leave climate change discussions to those who know what they are talking there will then be nothing for the sceptics to quote...

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    free specch - over and out

    I utterly refute that scurrilous assertion that I'm beginning to see sense!

    "lets leave climate change discussions to those who know what they are talking"

    If we /knew/ who knew what they're talking about, then we wouldn't have anything to discuss.

    Whereas lots of people think they know who knows what they're talking about, others are fairly sure that they know the others don't know who knows what they're talking about. Nobody really knows if anyone knows who knows what they're talking about, so we'll never know for sure if these people knew what they were talking about or just thought they knew that they knew what they thought they knew.


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