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Posts Tagged ‘BBC News’

BBC And Climate: News Before Things Happen?

2009/06/13 7 comments

[ UPDATED 22:50 GMT June 15: Andrew Bolt kindly links here and then makes a good point in his blog, with the help of “reader Anthony“, further demonstrating the BBC bias on the topic of AGW: “That’s not reporting, but propagandising. You disagree? Then ask why the BBC reported on a Melbourne protest of a few hundred believers of its preferred green faith, but ignored this Melbourne protest by even more believers of a more traditional one“]

[ UPDATED 23:47 GMT: According to Singapore’s Straits Times, it was “Hundreds of environmental activists” marching in Australia. The Sydney Morning Herald focuses on Brisbane and “a crowd of 600“, after reporting that “thousands of environmental activists marched in central Sydney“. Finally, Melbourne-based The Age writes that “The rallies attracted about 6,000 people nationwide“.

That article is timestamped at 6:24PM, or 8:24AM GMT, a little less than 4 hours after Phil Mercer’s piece for the BBC. QED.]

[ UPDATED 13:50 GMT: I have inserted the pictures grabbed earlier today.

There is now an ABC article saying “At a protest rally in central Sydney, streets were blocked off as more than 1,000 people marched through the city streets to the office of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd“. And yes, it mentions just Sydney.

There is also a blog (with a photo) claiming “Thousands marched from Melbourne’s State Library to the Treasury Gardens to demand more action on climate change“.

To be perfectly clear, the point of this blog is not to ask if thousands have marched in Australia against climate change or not. Had the BBC reported manufactured news, that would have been fraud. Instead, the point is to ask on what basis did the BBC find it necessary to rush this kind of news first, and without having had the time to check what they were writing about.

That is not fraud: it is bias. And I do not think the BBC can afford to show bias.]

Australians demand climate action“, writes Phil Mercer from Sydney on the BBC News web pages

Thousands of demonstrators have rallied across Australia to demand greater government action to protect the environment from climate change

BBC report on marching Australians

BBC report on marching Australians

Or have they? Has Mr Mercer written his piece before the fact (could happen), and much worse, before having the information needed to verify the contents of his article?

It is rather strange, for example, that there was no picture of those thousands of people available for the BBC to publish…

Mercer’s article as of now is timestamped as “Page last updated at 04:20 GMT, Saturday, 13 June 2009”. That corresponds to 2:20pm in places like Brisbane and Sydney. The National Climate Emergency Rallies were scheduled for 1pm Brisbane time. I suppose that could put Mercer’s article in the “breaking news” category.

But look now at what else is available on the ‘net about thousands of people marching in Australia. When limited to the past 24 hours, and sorted by time, Google results include only two relevant news articles apart from the BBC’s

Google's web results sorted by date

Google's web results sorted by date

thewest.com.au report on hundreds of Perth marchers

thewest.com.au report on hundreds of Perth marchers

AFP picture of Sydney marchers from Business Recorder

AFP picture of Sydney marchers from Business Recorder

(the Nigeria Best Forum entry is a copy-and-paste from the BBC)

from Nigerian Best Forum blog

from Nigerian Best Forum blog

Notably, the AFP picture cannot be used to judge a crowd’s size. Even more notably, there is nothing as of now from Australian’s sites and blogs about “thousands of people“.

So if there’s no pictures, and the only local report is about “hundreds of people” in one city, where is the BBC picking up its “thousands…across Australia” figure? Why, look at the National Climate Emergency Rallies website:

National Climate Emergency Rally web site

National Climate Emergency Rally web site

On June 13, join thousands of people around the country at the National Climate Emergency Rally. The rally is a vital opportunity to send our governments a united message that the Australian public wants strong, swift and real action to solve the climate crisis

———-

In summary, BBC’s Phil Mercer’s “news” article has likely been pre-packaged with an “informed guess” using activists’ own estimates made long before any demonstration had taken place.

And it has been rushed up to appear as top “Top Story” in the Science & Environment page just in time for Britons to read early on Saturday morning: before any meaningful check about its content could be done. More: before any other major news media thought is meaningful to report about it. Google News, in fact, shows nothing else apart from what already listed above.

———-

Now…by what stretch of imagination can an organization rushing itself forward, with pre-packaged rathern than breaking news, present itself as reporting on climate change impartially and without a bias? Were this any other aspect of politics, BBC news could easily be categorized as a political outlet.

Perhaps some Editor over there will have an answer to this…

(note: I have grabbed most of the sites above as PNGs…later today I will insert the relevant pictures)

Numerical Evidence Of Richard Black’s (And the BBC’s) Biased Climate Reporting

2009/06/10 2 comments

Numerical evidence for Richard Black’s (hence, the BBC’s) biased reporting on climate can be found in the amount of space dedicated to the various arguments in the “appalling” article about Japan’s emission targets.

The article is made of 469 words. Of those, 249 make up “neutral” sentences (54%). Negative comments are made of 156 words (34%). Only 58 words (13%…a mere three sentences!!) are left to explain the reasons for the Japanese government’s decision (see below for separate extracts).

In other words, for each word supporting the decision, there are a little less than three words against it. And with direct quotes, as if somebody had actively sought pro-AGW opinions…

How many times does a point need to be made before falling into readers’ brainwashing, one asks?

NEUTRAL

Japan has announced a target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 15% over the next 11 years –
The target equates to a cut of about 8% from 1990 levels, the commonly used baseline. By comparison, the EU plans a 20% reduction over the same period.
The announcement comes in the middle of talks on the UN climate treaty in Bonn.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN advisory body, has recommended that developed nations cut emissions by 25-40% from 1990 levels by 2020.
Mr Aso’s target puts Japan roughly in line with the US. President Obama has pledged to bring emissions back down to 1990 levels by 2020, although legislation coming through Congress is likely to impose a target of about 6%.
Last year, Mr Aso’s predecessor Yasuo Fukuda set a longer term target of cutting emissions by 60-80% by 2050, and indicated the 2020 target would be close to the EU’s.
The US, and some EU nations, are determined that major developing countries such as China and India should adopt emission curbs.
But they have repeatedly said they will not sign up to measures that could curb their economic growth, arguing that the developed world must lead the way.
The two-week meeting in Bonn, which ends on Friday, is the latest in a series leading up to December’s key summit in Copenhagen, which is supposed to usher in a climate agreement to supersede the Kyoto Protocol, whose current emissions targets only run as far as 2012.

NEGATIVE REMARKS

a figure derided by environmentalists as “appalling”.
Some observers say Japan’s goal is not enough to persuade developing countries to cut their own emissions.
“The target is not strong enough to convince developing nations to sign up for a new climate change pact,” said Hidefumi Kurasaka, professor of environmental policies at Japan’s Chiba University.
But Kim Carstensen, leader of the global climate initiative at environment group WWF, said the 8% target represented virtually no advance from the 6% cut that Japan had pledged, under the Kyoto Protocol, to achieve by 2012.
“Prime Minister Aso’s plan is appalling,” he said.
“[It] would mean that Japan effectively gives dirty industries the freedom to pollute without limits for eight years.”
Japan’s annual emissions are currently about 6% above 1990 levels, despite its Kyoto Protocol pledge to make cuts.
To the chagrin of environment groups – who point the finger at lobbying from Japanese industry – this has not transpired.

JAPANESE GOVERNMENT’S REASONS

Announcing the target, Prime Minister Taro Aso argued it was as strong as the EU’s because it does not include “flexible mechanisms” such as international carbon trading.
But the government points out that the society uses energy much more efficiently than other industrialised countries. Per-capita greenhouse gas emissions are about half the rates in Australia and the US.

Explanation For BBC Science News Webpage’s Climate Change Policy

2009/05/31 3 comments

Having carefully watched the BBC “Science & Environment” news web page for several weeks now, I am inclined to identify the following as their underlying “Climate Change” reporting policy:

  1. No day shall pass without at least one climate-change-related link somewhere on that page
  2. Reporting on scientific articles supporting AGW will be strictly confined to a slight change of the original press release with the smallest and most inconsequential of doubt and criticism in the results
  3. Whatever Prince Charles or any other environmental celebrity has to say will be considered worthy of publication
  4. No such luck for anything not supporting AGW, however authoritative the source.
  5. Point 4 will not apply once a quarter or so, in order to demonstrate “balanced reporting”
  6. No climate change link will be considered too trivial to report
  7. There will be links to Richard Black’s blog
  8. There will be no link to the BBC’s own “Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom” blog. After all, it does make fun of AGW

And so there goes my licence money at work supporting the fight against the destruction of the world by evil SUV drivers…

Science Magazine: Evidence Of AGW Prejudice

2009/05/12 8 comments

Many thanks to the BBC for (unwittingly?) underlying a case of pro-AGW bias on the AAAS ‘ flagship magazine Science , "the world’s leading outlet for scientific news, commentary, and cutting-edge research ".

(Leading? Yes, but where, one should ask. Leading towards a pre-conceived, data-independent and therefore antiscientific understanding of the world. But here are the details…)

In a sentence, the Editors of Science appear fixated with AGW to the point of forgetting the non-AGW articles that somehow manage to surface in their magazine.

The case consists of 2 "reports " ("brief communications"?) and 1 "perspectives " ("invited commentary"?) from the 8 May 2009 issue ; a little-known climate-change BBC blog with a (positive, free-minded) approach; and a sheepish attitude by the BBC "Science & Environment" staff in reporting news with no trace of any critical approach to the subject.

This is the complete list with links (details at the bottom of the blog):

(a) REPORT #1: The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies (blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)

(b) REPORT #2: Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean (suggesting, in the BBC words, that a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)

(c) PERSPECTIVES: Ecology – Some Like It Cold

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT: Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

And here the most likely chronology:

  1. Science magazine publishes (a) and (b) in the same issue. Note that they are both "reports" and therefore have been given absolutely equal importance
  2. The Editors of Science overlook (a) (the report blaming desert dust and not global warming for most of the recent warming of the tropical North Atlantic)
  3. The same Editors invite and publish (c) therefore concentrating everybody’s attention on (b) (the report suggesting a world without shrimp cocktails is in the making due to global warming, i.e. human-induced climate change)
  4. Likely via an embargoed press release, word about (b) and (c) comes to the BBC, universally (in)famous because of the "importance the organisation places on climate change as part of the news agenda "
  5. Victoria Gill is tasked to write (d). It is not known if Ms. Gill has read any part of the related Science issue, as in her article there is no mention whatsoever of (a)
  6. Far away from the BBC News room, the BBC Climate Change – The Blog of Bloom is free of mind enough to notice the relevance of (a) in the climate discourse. Hence they publish a blog (e) about it

IMNSHO, the worst part of the above saga is when the authors of the invited commentary (c) do not mention the non-AGW report (a) at all.

Now, we can of course pretend that it all happened by chance. Or we can choose the simplest explanation, using Ockham’s razor: the bias towards propping up the AGW theory is just very, very strong at Science magazine. There is simply too much very good evidence in that direction.

Time will tell how much such a bias will literally poison all attempts at a scientific approach to climate change/global warming…unless of course the AAAS has intended all along to change their magazine’s title to Anti Science

=======================================

DETAILS

(a) REPORT #1
The Role of Aerosols in the Evolution of Tropical North Atlantic Ocean Temperature Anomalies

Amato T. Evan, Daniel J. Vimont, Andrew K. Heidinger, James P. Kossin, and Ralf Bennartz
Science 8 May 2009: 778-781.
Published online 26 March 2009 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1167404] (in Science Express Reports)

[…] Our results suggest that the mixed layer’s response to regional variability in aerosols accounts for 69% of the recent upward trend, and 67% of the detrended and 5-year low pass–filtered variance, in northern tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

(b) REPORT #2
Basin-Scale Coherence in Phenology of Shrimps and Phytoplankton in the North Atlantic Ocean

P. Koeller, C. Fuentes-Yaco, T. Platt, S. Sathyendranath, A. Richards, P. Ouellet, D. Orr, U. Skúladóttir, K. Wieland, L. Savard, and M. Aschan
Science 8 May 2009: 791-793.

[…] We conclude that different populations of P. borealis [shrimp] have adapted to local temperatures and bloom timing, matching egg hatching to food availability under average conditions. This strategy is vulnerable to interannual oceanographic variability and long-term climatic changes.

(c) PERSPECTIVES
Ecology – Some Like It Cold

Charles H. Greene, Bruce C. Monger, and Louise P. McGarry (8 May 2009)
Science 324 (5928), 733. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1173951]

The northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, makes up 70% of the 500,000 tons of cold-water shrimp harvested annually from the world’s oceans. Commonly captured in shelf waters deeper than 100 meters, it supports major fisheries throughout the North Atlantic. On page 791 of this issue, Koeller et al. (1) report that the reproductive cycles of most northern shrimp stocks are finely tuned to match the timing of egg hatching with that of the local spring phytoplankton bloom (see the figure). This remarkable degree of local adaptation on a basin scale is achieved by females regulating the initiation date of their temperature-dependent egg incubation period so that eggs hatch on average within a week of the expected spring bloom. Thus, in typical years, eggs hatch at the time of maximum food availability. The potential downside of this reproductive strategy is its sensitivity to climate-associated changes in the ocean environment.

(d) BBC NEWS SCIENCE & ENVIRONMENT
Shrimp tuned to ocean temperature

By Victoria Gill – Science reporter, BBC News

Stocks of northern shrimp, the essential ingredient in the ubiquitous prawn cocktail, could be badly affected if ocean temperatures rise. Researchers report, in the journal Science, that shrimp eggs hatch within days of each spring phytoplankton bloom – the main food source for the larvae.

(e) BBC CLIMATE CHANGE – THE BLOG OF BLOOM
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust: theory that Atlantic Ocean is warming due to climate change laid to rest

The North Atlantic is hotting up fast but it’s not because of climate change, say scientists in the most recent edition of the journal Science. No, it’s because there’s less dust around to keep the water cool. […]

What’s In It For Roger Harrabin?

2009/04/24 1 comment

Roger Harrabin writing on the BBC News website about Carbon Capture technology.

Only thing, he’s definitely NOT writing as a BBC journalist. This sentence in particular is more than your usual BBC reporting:

I believe that [Carbon Capture] will prove feasible, if costly

The above looks like some kind of informed opinion. But usually a BBC journalist like any other journalist would quote the people whose opinion is being reported.

Not in this case. We are hearing what Harrabin himself thinks of a subject.

On what basis are we supposed to put trust on his thoughts? Is Roger Harrabin a recognised expert in the field of carbon capture? Or any other field for that matters?

Perhaps he is. But then we should be told.

Blatantly Misleading Copenhagen Report From The BBC

2009/03/15 17 comments

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:

DISCLAIMER: THIS PRESS RELEASE IS WRITTEN BY THE CLIMATE SECRETARIAT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN. THE PEOPLE QUOTED DOES [sic] NOT NECESSARILY SHARE THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY OTHERS IN THIS TEXT.

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

Climate Expertise Inflation By The BBC

2009/02/23 10 comments

Richard Black’s desire to defend the BBC is natural and even commendable. Still, his or any defence of the (unsigned) Feb 15 “Global warming ‘underestimated’” article is untenable.

That article is clearly misleading.

Black tries to make a point about Field’s political weight and the breadth of the IPCC “Impacts” Working Group remit:

As the new co-chair of the IPCC working group on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, he now has a leadership role in the periodic assessments of global climate change that are the most politically significant documents in the field; so his views on the subject will presumably carry some political weight, and are therefore worth reporting.

As to how well qualified someone who started life as a biologist is to pronounce on climate change; well, if you look at the scope of that IPCC working group, it’s extremely broad, and I suggest it would be impossible to find anyone who has formally studied all of the relevant disciplines.

That situation, though, is hardly unknown in science. Even within universities, a dean of science could hardly be expert in every subject in his or her faculty; yet many intelligent and able people seem to make a decent fist of it, and it’s highly unlikely, I would suggest, that Chris Field would have got the job if his peers didn’t think him qualified.

But that’s not the issue with the Feb 15 article. The problem is that the BBC chose to describe Field as a “leading climate scientist“. And whilst Black is right in stating that Field is a leader, and a scientist, and a biologist with experience in the potential impacts of climate change, by all means Field is no “climate scientist“.

Why couldn’t the BBC write of Field as a “leading biologist in the field of climate change“? As things stand instead, casual readers of that article will have no clue of the fact that Chris Field’s take on future temperatures is not a climatologist’s.

A quick search in past BBC news reports reveals how Brian Austin for example, Dean of Science at Heriot Watt University, was characterised first and foremost as the exact kind of expert he was (microbiologist) (“Sponge puzzles superbug experts“, 26/12/2005).

The BBC faux-pas about Field is perhaps telling of a mindset that conflates all kinds of experts under the all-encompassing umbrella of “climate”, whenever anybody mentions climate change/global warming within the IPCC orthodoxy.

And that mindset can only succeed in cheapening up the very concept of “climatologist”.

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