Home > AGW, Climate Change, Global Warming, Omniclimate, Skepticism > The Impossible Impartiality of the BBC

The Impossible Impartiality of the BBC

I have devised a simple model explaining why the BBC is biased towards reporting pro-AGW stuff. And it does not involve a government conspiracy.

Simply, the BBC cannot report impartially on climate change or a lot of any other issues for that matters.

They will never, ever open a news bulletin by stating “Polar Ice is perfectly fine” or “There’s peace in Malawi”. The BBC journalists are bound by the way of their profession to go hunting for “bad news”: the only way global warming is going to disappear from their reports is for global cooling to kick off in some spectacular way.

I am still waiting for a news item reporting that the summer 2005 drought in the UK has finished. They (the journalists, and editors) are simply physically unable to say a word about that. And if you want an example that is completely unrelated, just look at how house prices were spoken about when they were going up (”rising property values have priced many potential first-time buyers out of the housing market”) and now that they are going down (”thousands of Britons […] have lost their homes amid spiralling repossessions by mortgage lenders”).

Even if a report mentions whale numbers are on the up, the title is “Mixed fortunes for world’s whales“. Or if a species of bird is found to be thriving under changed climate conditions, there goes in the comment “other species are likely to fare much worse than great tits as temperatures riseother species are likely to fare much worse than great tits as temperatures rise” 

“Normality” is not news and nobody will ever write about “normality”. If it gets on the BBC, it has to be bad.

  1. 2008/08/19 at 16:34

    Result! To their credit, the response was prompt. Thanks!

  2. 2008/08/19 at 13:59

    They have corrected the article: “The UN climate panel says Africa could be hit hard by climate change in the coming century

  3. 2008/08/19 at 04:43

    Just posted to their Contact us section:

    Couple of errors in the Maasai climate change article…first of all, it is wrong to state that “The UN climate panel predicts Africa will be hit hard by climate change”.

    The IPCC has repeatedly stated theirs are “projections”, _not_ “predictions”. This is obviously a non-trivial difference. The IPCC is not in the business of divination.

    Secondly, the article says “Africa will be hit hard…in the next century”. Is that the XXII century? I think not. It should be corrected to “…during the current century” or something like that.


  4. 2008/08/18 at 22:47

    And on the subject… Here’s an online news article today from the BBC about how the “Maasai ‘can fight climate change’ “. Note the final paragraph: “The UN climate panel predicts Africa will be hit hard by climate change in the next century, with tens of millions facing…” (etc, etc., you know, the usual catastrophe.)

    The next century? The one that’s 92 years from now? And “predicts”? I didn’t think the IPCC predicted anything. Don’t they just “project”?

  5. 2008/08/15 at 11:29

    Very interesting – well, at least the BBC appear to be consistent in their bias.

  6. 2008/08/14 at 18:54


    I did a little investigation about the location of that article on the BBC web site, using the WayBackMachine. My conclusion is that although it would have made perfect sense to insert a link to the “growing” article in the Science/Nature page (if only to balance out previous “Bangladesh is doomed” articles there like this one http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4056755.stm ), the BBC really has confined in the past climate-change Bangladeshi stories to the South Asia section alone

    Even their “boat diary” on climate and Bangladesh was in the SA page but not in the Science one



    Is climate change in Bangladesh of little scientific interest, one wonders?

  7. 2008/08/14 at 16:45

    A good case in point is the BBC’s online news article about the Bangladesh landmass increase. I read this and also the original AFP article; it was interesting to note the differences between them. My observations:

    – The AFP article gives plenty of space to Mahfuzur Rahman (Bangladesh Water Development Board’s Coastal Study and Survey Department), whose conclusions are positive and upbeat (land increase is outpacing sea level rises, and Bangladesh could reclaim 4,000 to 5,000 square kilometres in the near future by building dams.) The BBC article omits Mahfuzur Rahman and his positive comments completely.

    – On the other hand, the BBC article gives plenty of space to IPCC’s Dr Atiq Rahman, who is basically saying little more than “so what”.

    – Not only that, the BBC article actually highlights one of Atiq Rahman’s negative comments, for emphasis.

    – To be fair, the BBC do give their article the title “Bangladesh landmass ‘is growing'” (although note the inverted commas), but look at the negative conclusion of the article, with Atiq Rahman’s dismissive comments and the message that more research is needed.

    – And look at where the article is – not in Science/Nature, which is where an important climate-related article would normally be. It’s in World/South Asia, so really just about a local quirk of geography (although notice the right-hand side of the screen and all the global warming links there.)

    I find it difficult to avoid the conclusion that the BBC is reporting what is basically a positive news story (which has implications for certain claims made during the climate debate) but that they are also doing what they can to put a negative spin on it.

  1. 2010/08/30 at 13:00

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