By Paul Homewood
The BBC’s coverage of climate change and related policy issues, such as energy policy, has long been of serious and widespread concern. There have been numerous instances of factual errors, bias and omission of alternative views to the BBC’s narrative.
Our 2022 paper, Institutional Alarmism, provided many examples. Some led to formal complaints, later upheld
by the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit.
However, many programmes and articles escaped such attention, though we believed they were equally biased and misleading. They include:
The third most active hurricane season
In December 2021, BBC News reported that “The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season has now officially ended, and it’s been the
third most active on record”.
It was nothing of the sort. There were seven Atlantic hurricanes in 2021, and since 1851 there have been 32 years with a higher count.
The article also made great play of the fact that all of the pre-determined names had been used up, implying that hurricanes are becoming more common. They failed to explain, however, that with satellite technology we are now able to spot hurricanes in mid-ocean that would have been missed before.
Hurricanes: are they getting more violent?
Shortly after Hurricane Ian in September 2022, a BBC “Reality Check” claimed “Hurricanes are among the most violent
storms on Earth and there’s evidence they’re getting more powerful”. The video offered absolutely no data or evidence to back up this claim, which contradicted the official agencies.
For instance, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) state in their latest review:
“There is no strong evidence of century-scale increasing trends in U.S. landfalling hurricanes or major hurricanes. Similarly for
Atlantic basin-wide hurricane frequency (after adjusting for observing capabilities), there is not strong evidence for an increase
since the late 1800s in hurricanes, major hurricanes, or the proportion of hurricanes that reach major hurricane intensity.
The IPCC came to a similar conclusion about hurricanes globally in their latest Assessment Review. However, the BBC
article failed to mention any of this.
The Norfolk village crumbling into the sea
reporter visited Happisburgh, one of the villages affected, and spoke to a resident. The report claimed that “punishing weather
conditions linked to climate change have eroded so much of the village’s soft sandy rock that her house is now the last one before
the cliff edge”.
In fact, the coast in that part of Norfolk has been retreating for thousands of years, for reasons that are geological rather
than climatalogical. According to the British Geological Society: “It is likely that the Norfolk cliffs have been eroding at the present
rate for about the last 5000 years.”
The historical record also clearly details the loss of large chunks of the village to the sea since the Middle Ages. Following
a complaint, the BBC have been unable to offer any evidence for their claim.
Heat pumps are much cheaper to run
are much cheaper to run’ than gas boilers. There is no truth in this, as the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit was finally forced to admit 16 months later.
Quite why it took them so long to correct such a blatantly obvious error is a mystery.
Svalbard: the fastest warming place on Earth
In October 2022, the BBC published a long report on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, reporting that ‘the temperature in
Svalbard has jumped 4C [sic] in the past 50 years’.
However, they failed to point out that temperatures in that part of the world plunged between the 1950s and 70s, and are now only about a degree higher than at the start of the 20th century.
Pakistan floods: one third of country is under water
Reporting on the dreadful floods in Pakistan in summer 2022, the BBC stated: “One-third of Pakistan has been completely submerged by historic flooding, its climate minister says.”
A quick map check would have told the reporter that this claim was simply absurd, as most of Pakistan is covered by mountains
and deserts. A subsequent BBC programme, More Or Less, admitted the claim was false, and estimated that the real figure was
about 10 percent. Incredibly though, Lord Deben, Chair of the Committee on Climate Change, made exactly the same false claim in a BBC interview in January 2023. The BBC interviewer failed to challenge him.
Puff piece for solar power
“Queen Elizabeth Prize: Solar team wins prestigious engineering award”, was written in February this year, with the usual over-the-top praise for how wonderful solar power is and claiming that its uptake is rocketing. To illustrate its message, it used a graph showing share of power capacity.
Readers seeing it would naturally have believed that solar power is now a significant contributor to the energy mix. Unfortunately, the BBC forgot to explain that capacity and electricity generation are two different things, and that because solar power only produces a small fraction of its capacity (just 11% in the UK), it still only supplies 3% of the world’s electricity.
Extreme weather is the norm
The BBC uncritically reported the World Meteorological Organization’s latest claims that ‘extreme weather events are the new normal’. Yet this idea contradicts successive reviews from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Moreover, just a
month before the BBC ran the story, an authoritative study had concluded that there was no clear positive trend in extreme
events, such as floods, droughts, tropical cyclones or tornadoes.
Bee-eaters ‘worrying sign of climate change’
Last summer a few bee-eaters (see Figure 2) turned up in Norfolk, to the delight of twitchers. But for the BBC this news was worrying, as they reported: Rare ‘rainbow birds’ trying to breed in the UK was a worrying sign of how our climate is changing.
Pushed northwards by climate change, these exotic birds will likely become established summer visitors in the future, having been an early and unmissable sign in the past two decades that the nature and climate emergency has reached our shores. 18
In fact, as any half-knowledgable bird watcher would have told the BBC, bee-eaters have frequently visited England in the past. These sightings have been very carefully recorded in British bird books, as far back as 1793. Indeed, one archive alone lists 80
sightings between 1793 and 1957.
Trees threatened by climate change
According to the BBC, a study has found that many trees in cities in England are at risk of drought linked to climate change.
Many are already supposedly stressed. Drier weather under climate change is expected to have a big impact on trees, particularly in York, London and Birmingham, we are told. Yet Met Office data shows that these areas are not getting drier; nor is there any evidence that they will. Once again, the BBC is uncritically presenting a controversial study as factual.
Driest start to year since 1976
England certainly had a notably dry spring and summer last year. But maybe not quite as dry as the BBC would like you to believe. On 26 July 2022, their report claimed that it had been the driest January to June in England since 1976.21 It’s a pity they did not check the Met Office data first, which would have told them it had actually been drier in 1996 and 2010.21But ‘driest start to the year since 2010’ hardly has the same ring to it!
The article also featured a photo of a dried-up reservoir. In fact, this was trick photography, as the dried up part was merely a small area at the head of the Dowry Reservoir, near Oldham.
Similar images of the same part of the reservoir have often been published in past years, such as 2013 and 2019.
The full netzerowatch.com report written by Paul Homewood (with full documentation) is available at netzerowatch.com.