Our new report, The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal, written by Christopher Booker and with a foreword by Sir Antony Jay, will be released today at 3pm. For for a free pdf copy, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
From its breathtaking footage of killer whales hunting in packs to the scenes of penguins swimming with balletic grace under the sea ice, Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Frozen Planet has been acclaimed as perhaps the most riveting sequence of natural history programmes ever produced.
The sophistication of the photography, the extraordinary endeavour of the film crews to get the best shots and Sir David’s breathily authoritative commentary have had viewers entranced in their millions.
Last night’s was the final part of this landmark series, and it set a very different tone from his usual celebration of the natural world. This was because Sir David and the BBC decided to use the last programme to put over a particular message that has become all too familiar from the Corporation in recent years.
The BBC’s Frozen Planet has been a massive hit, with its presenter Sir David Attenborough capturing the nation’s imagination
Sir David used the awesome shots of the frozen polar wastes to hammer home his belief that the world is facing disaster from man-made global warming.
No one can doubt the passion of his belief. But in putting across his apocalyptic message so forcefully, too many important questions on this hugely important subject were last night neither asked nor answered.
In short, it was a deeply disappointing end to the series — for it was the latest one of countless examples of how, in recent years, the BBC has chosen to make its coverage of one of the most crucial issues of our time quite deliberately, even defiantly one-sided.
The BBC is committed by its charter to report with ‘accuracy and impartiality’. Yet on climate change, it has adopted a clear ‘party line’, which has run through almost every aspect of its broadcasting.
Earlier this year, when the Mail serialised the memoirs of the respected former BBC news reporter and anchorman Peter Sissons, his insider’s view explained how the BBC had become ‘a propaganda machine for climate-change zealots’.
Toeing the party line: Attenborough put across his apocalyptic climate change message forcefully in the final episode of Frozen Planet
So distorted has the BBC’s coverage become that I produced a detailed report on the subject for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the ‘sceptical’ think-tank run by former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, which is published today.
My disturbing findings show that the problem began a few years ago when the alarm over global warming was at its height. Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — a sensationalist documentary warning of the imminent destruction of our planet because of climate change — was packing in vast audiences and being circulated to our schools to show to children.
Tony Blair was putting global warming at the top of his government’s agenda. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) was producing its scariest report to date.
By making its coverage so flagrantly one-sided on the environment issue, it has betrayed its statutory duty to report on world events impartially
At a secret ‘high-level seminar’ in January 2006, 30 of the BBC’s most senior staff listened as a former president of the Royal Society, Lord May, told them that ‘the scientific debate over climate change’ was over, and that the BBC must ‘stop reporting the sceptics’.
As a result, the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the winds.
The BBC’s journalists and producers were let off the leash — to line up with the more extreme environmental pressure groups, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth, in pushing their global warming agenda for all it was worth.
This bias was soon evident across the whole of the BBC’s output. Not just in the news and current affairs coverage, but from children’s programmes such as Blue Peter —which titled one show Green Peter, with top tips to save the planet — to story-lines in The Archers, one of which involved a farmer planting trees to combat climate change.
Even producers of the BBC Proms got in on the act. In 2007 they commissioned a ‘music drama’ centred on a group of children who had lost their homes through floods caused by climate change.
Programme after programme promoted the climate change gospel, including a two-part documentary series by David Attenborough in 2006, which featured practically every scare story ever dreamed up.
Breathtaking: the sophistication of the photography is one of the many reasons Frozen Planet has been acclaimed as perhaps the most riveting sequence of natural history programmes ever produced
These included predictions that hurricane disasters, such as the previous year’s Katrina, would soon be commonplace, as well as familiar claims that the polar ice caps were melting, threatening the world with a catastrophic rise in sea levels.
The only trouble was that, even then, almost every claim Attenborough made was not supported by serious scientific evidence. The truth is that since the New Orleans flood of 2005, hurricane activity has, in fact, dropped to a historic low.
Despite all the scary claims about the vanishing Arctic ice, its modest retreat has been counter-balanced by a striking increase in ice around Antarctica (a fact not exactly highlighted on Frozen Planet last night).
Bias: When it comes to climate change, from 2006 the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the wind
The irony is that just when the BBC was going into overdrive with its propaganda, the real ‘global warming’ story was beginning to take a very different turn: none of the predictions made by the doom-mongers were coming true.
Temperatures were not continuing to rise as the IPCC’s computer models had predicted they should. The ice caps were not seriously melting; polar bears were not vanishing; sea levels were not dangerously rising; heatwaves, hurricanes and droughts were not becoming more frequent, as those Nobel Prize-winners Gore and the IPCC panel had insisted they must.
And ever more scientists questioned publicly the theory that the world was dangerously heating up as a result of greater amounts of man-made CO2.
Blithely oblivious to all this, the BBC carried on preaching the same old message, assuring us things were ‘even worse than predicted’, and that the only way to save the planet was to pile ever higher taxes on all emissions of CO2 and to build thousands more wind turbines (without, of course, telling us how ludicrously inefficient and expensive they are).
In 2009, the BBC’s journalists could scarcely hide their dismay at the collapse of the UN’s great Copenhagen climate conference, which planned to cut the world’s ‘carbon emissions’ to such an extent it would have landed mankind with the biggest bill in history, at an estimated cost of hundreds of trillions of pounds.
They tried to brush aside the huge embarrassment of the so-called ‘Climategate’ row in 2009 when hundreds of emails from the Climate Research Unit in Norwich were posted online and which revealed how some of the top scientists had been fiddling their data.
They downplayed scandals erupting round the IPCC when it was revealed that many of its more alarming predictions had not been based on proper science at all, but only on scare stories dreamed up by environmental lobby groups.
Then, last summer, in a bid to justify its conduct, the BBC Trust commissioned one of the Corporation’s regular contributors, the geneticist Professor Steve Jones, to review its science coverage, notably on climate change.
Professor Jones made the astonishing claim that the only problem with the coverage of climate change was not that it was too biased, but that it wasn’t biased enough.
Sir David used the awesome shots of the frozen polar wastes to hammer home his belief that the world is facing disaster from man-made global warming
All this is why I am far from alone in concluding that the BBC’s coverage has, on this key issue of our time, gone hopelessly off the rails. The Corporation has been guilty of three separate betrayals.
By making its coverage so flagrantly one-sided on the environment issue, it has betrayed its statutory duty to report on world events impartially.
Second, it has betrayed the basic principles of science by giving such unquestioning support to a theory which the evidence has increasingly called into doubt.
Above all, however, the BBC has betrayed the trust of its audience, by failing to give a fair and balanced picture.
This has become a national scandal. It is time we called this pampered, self-important organisation to account for having misinformed us for too long.
Christopher Booker’s report, The BBC And Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal, is available online today from the Global Warming Policy Foundation at www.netzerowatch.com