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Blatantly Misleading Copenhagen Report From The BBC

This complaint has just been sent to the BBC:

I am looking hard for reasons to believe that your “Climate scenarios ‘being realised‘” article has not been written with the intent of misleading the average reader.

There is no indication whatsoever that the “six key messages” from the Copenhagen conference have not been unanimously endorsed by all 2,500 delegates. You could check that with Mike Hulme, no less, who has explicitly stated that

The six key messages are not the collective voice of 2,500 researchers, nor are they the voice of established bodies such as the World Meteorological Organisation. Neither are they the messages arising from a collective endeavour of experts, for example through a considered process of screening, synthesizing and reviewing of the knowledge presented in Copenhagen this week. They are instead a set of messages drafted largely before the conference started by the organizing committee, sifting through research that they see emerging around the world and interpreting it for a political audience

Coming from a supposedly impartial news source such as the BBC, your blatantly misleading report is all the more striking, given the fact that the even the original press release makes the situation very clear with an ALL CAPS disclaimer:


Please amend the text of your article accordingly. I do not want to believe that the BBC is trying to be “more warmist than the warmers”. thanks – maurizio

  1. Cassandrina
    2009/04/16 at 16:02

    “I have been informed by the editorial policy group that they have no intention of removing the bias because the hypothesis is accepted by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community”.
    There was a time that to deny the “fact” that the earth was flat, could have earned ridicule or even death.
    On GW and other issues the bbc is so entrenched in its thought process that it is a liability to learning.

  2. 2009/03/26 at 14:03

    Latest update…I have been promised “something” but (a) it hasn’t happened yet and (b) I cannot reveal what it is as it would mean revealing what is part of a private e-mail message. Let’s wait a little bit longer then…

  3. 2009/03/25 at 06:36

    Richard Black replied pointing me in the direction of Mike Hulme’s comments. I guess they must have a backlog of complaints…

    Anyway this is what I have just sent to Black (and Matt McGrath) with subject “So are you confirming or denying that Matt McGrath’s original report is misleading?

    Thank you for your reply Richard. Unfortunately, not even Mike Hulme’s comments have convinced the BBC to correct Matt McGrath’s original report, still telling readers that the Copenhagen messages came from “the scientists” (all 2,500 of them) rather than “a statement drafted by the conference’s scientific writing team” as described by Hulme.


    Could you guys at the BBC please make up your mind, and either correct McGrath’s article or refute Professor Hulme’s remarks. Authorship of a document written a couple of weeks ago surely is not a matter of opinion?

    I don’t want to do your job but still I do not understand what is preventing you from as simple an editing as going from “scientists at an international meeting” to “the organizers of an international meeting”.

  4. 2009/03/17 at 18:05

    Pete and Rupert and Maurizio,
    I’ve been thinking it would be good to have a web page listing examples of the BBC AGW bias.
    I know there are a lot of examples here and elsewhere but it would be clearer to have a separate page dedicated to just that subject, because it’s important and the public is being misled and the BBC is in breach of its charter. Any volunteers to coordinate this? If not I will have a go, but I don’t have much time.

  5. Rupert Wyndham
    2009/03/17 at 15:13

    For Pete Stroud.

    I have now accumulated quite a lot of information about this, which I’ll be happy to share. It’s a pretty deplorable story.



  6. 2009/03/17 at 10:37

    the BBC has just given prominent space to Mike Hulme himself, stating the same concepts as in Pielke Jr.’s blog. Let’s see what justification they will come up with, regarding their previous misleading of the public.


    One wonders if there is more internal debate at the BBC about climate change coverage, than what transpires from the articles of Harrabin or McGrath.

    • 2009/03/17 at 11:27

      Dirty games might be happening…the Disclaimer has since been removed from the Conference’s press statement…there is only a side remark that “preliminary messages from the findings were delivered by the Congress’ Scientific Writing Team“, i.e. not by all participants in unison

  7. Pete Stroud
    2009/03/17 at 10:23

    I’m very pleased with the complaint to the BBC. I have had a running battle with the Corporation over its bias in favour of AGW . But I have been informed by the editorial policy group that they have no intention of removing the bias because the hypothesis is accepted by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community. Even so, the Copenhagen fiasco reporting was a step too far and the Beeb’s failure to even mention the NY ICCC was a disgrace.

  8. 2009/03/16 at 19:14

    I agree with Rupert that writing a letter to the BBC is a sound idea, and that e-mails all too easily disappear without trace. I complained a while ago by e-mail, via the complaint page, to them about the Obama inaugural speech cut-and-paste episode, but haven’t had a reply. Am planning to re-send that complaint in writing and will probably add something about Copenhagen for good measure. Maurizio, please let us know how you get on.

    Luke Warmer, I know what you mean about the advertorials – really, really irritating.

  9. Luke Warmer
    2009/03/16 at 13:55

    Sic transit…

    Even William Connelley (aka Stoat) described Copenhagen as a political affair.

    More and more of the Beeb’s news stories are advertorials for its programmes and, as for the rest, it’s interesting to compare NDTV, pressTV, al-J, fox, sky etc and the beeb on stories as they break. The beeb is usually slower to report, more prone to meaningless speculation, adds spurious and biased analysis and frequently doesn’t bother with stories despite their relevance to global current affairs.

    Keep us posted on the complaint please.

  10. Jack Hughes
    2009/03/15 at 21:12

    their six key messages to political leaders – are they secret ?

    No further mention in the piece.

    • 2009/03/15 at 21:21

      Jack Hughes

      do those messages matter to anybody, really?

  11. Crowcatcher
    2009/03/15 at 19:56

    Dear Rupert
    I am a retired BBC engineer.
    About thirty years ago a very astute boss of mine coined two phrases :-
    1 “The trouble with the BBC is that it’s been taken over by journalists!”
    2 “Know bugger all about anything, become a (BBC) journalist!”
    I rest my case

    • 2009/03/15 at 21:20


      I wouldn’t go that far…not for now, at least! 😎

  12. Rupert Wyndham
    2009/03/15 at 10:23

    Glad to see you lodging a complaint. The nonsense from Copenhagen is only one of now innumerable examples of systemic bias within the BBC. They are currently engaging with several from me and, I know, many others as well. Please note, though, that the BBC tends to simply ignore e-mailed complaints. Letters are harder to ignore.

    Good luck and, if I can offer assistance, by all means make contact.


    • 2009/03/15 at 10:52

      thank you Rupert. As a matter of fact, I usually do receive replies from the BBC when I lodge a complaint. If I were them I would slightly modify the text of the article now, and claim that the Copenhagen press release disclaimer was added after the press release was issued. But we will see.

      It is telling they all they’d have to do would be to change very little, for example at the opening of the article change “scientists at an international meeting” to “the organizers of an international meeting”, in order to remove all reasons for the complaint.

  1. 2010/08/30 at 13:42

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