BBC told – Too much Time for Flat Earthers

July 22, 2011

Look for a sea change in the way climate denial is handled (everywhere but Fox News…)

Those of us who care about such things have for years been pointing out that, we don’t present “both sides” of the flat earth debate, we don’t put people on TV (usually) who claim to have a perpetual motion machine or a reverse engineered flying saucer in their garage, and we don’t give a whole lot of attention to the people who say HIV does not cause AIDS — yet we’ve seen gross distortion in the amount of air time given to climate skeptics, way out of proportion to their (vanishingly small and getting smaller) representation in the scientific community.

Now, the BBC is getting the message. Can the American media be far behind? (ok, don’t answer that, but at least it’s a ray of hope)

The Independent:

Climate sceptics who do not believe that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are contributing to global warming have had too much air-time on the BBC as a result of its public broadcasting remit to be impartial, an inquiry has found.

Inaccurate statements from those who challenge the scientific consensus on a range of subjects had frequently gone unquestioned in the BBC’s attempts to be even-handed.

Professor Steve Jones, who reviewed the broadcaster’s science coverage at the request of the BBC Trust, said: “When faced with strongly opposed views in a scientific discussion, a journalist may not be certain of the facts presented on each side and may apply balance while describing it as impartiality – but if one proponent is presenting dubious evidence that claim is not justified.

“For at least three years, the climate change deniers have been marginal to the scientific debate, but somehow they continued to find a place on the airwaves.”

8 Responses to “BBC told – Too much Time for Flat Earthers”

  1. livinginabox Says:

    I’ve written a complaint about a certain well known Denier who featured in a well known denialist mockumentary.

    This denier features in a BBC programme.
    Who when asked by the presenter “Well xxxxxxxx, do you agree with the support for the IPCC reports?”
    xxxxx: “…..I want to recommend one particular, splendid website called [insert well known denialist website here] which actually won the 20XX best science weblog award.

    I don’t want to give too much away.

    I will report back if and when I hear anything.

  2. otter17 Says:

    Good for BBC evaluating its coverage on climate change.

    I don’t know how BBC operates, but it seems that there is a lack of science-savvy journalists in general. I would think most all news organizations would have a small group devoted to science and tech issues. Maybe those type of journalists are a rare breed?

  3. daveburton Says:

    People who “debate” science with name-calling (“deniers! flat-earthers!”) directed at scientists who disagree with them do so because their case is weak. They can’t pound the facts, so they pound the table.

    In 2007, back before Climategate demolished the alarmists’ credibility, Harris polled 500 leading American Meteorological and Geophysical scientists, and even back then there was no consensus on AGW. They found that:

    “97% agree that ‘global average temperatures have increased’ during the past century. But not everyone attributes that rise to human activity. A slight majority (52%) believe this warming was human-induced, 30% see it as the result of natural temperature fluctuations and the rest are unsure.”

    52% is no consensus, obviously, and the subsequent Climategate revelations, combined with four more years of plateaued temperatures, have surely diminished support for climate alarmism even more. When alarmists pretend that there is a consensus supporting their view, when there obviously is not, they just discredit themselves. “After all,” reasonable people quite reasonably reason, “if the alarmists will lie about that, what else are they lying about?”

    • livinginabox Says:


      Describing someone who denies the mountain of evidence as a denier, is merely calling them by what they do and many of them are liars too. It’s interesting that while you complain about people being called ‘deniers’, you then feel free to label those who disagree with you as ‘alarmists’.

      ‘Climategate demolished the alarmists’ credibility’, have you been paying attention? Because if you had been, you would realise that while a great deal of mud has been thrown, none of it has been made to stick, despite repeated dishonest attempts to claim it has. There have been numerous independent enquiries, none of which showed any wrongdoing or anything much else of significance.
      Since you are clearly hard of thinking here’s a link to a couple of videos which will show you why you are very wrong.

      As for your alleged poll, it is so different from the ones I know of, I suspect its veracity.

      As for temperatures, all major temperature datasets show the same pattern, albeit slightly different due to different methodologies. You will note that the rate – the trends are almost identical.

      Since climate is defined as the trend over 30 years, short-term trends are used by the cherry-pickers [deniers] to prove their current lie.

      Full instrumental temperature anomaly record HadCrut3, GissTemp, UAH and RSS with 5 year smoothing. All temp trends from 1979. Note: NOAA global temperature anomaly omitted, because currently WoodforTrees do not offer this.

      Since the facts: the physics, the trends, and the extent of the data have only been increased, any objective analysis isn’t likely to have changed. The only reasonable conclusion is that those who continue to deny reality, despite the immense amount of scientific evidence and have drawn their conclusion because of some factors other than the science and the evidence. For some, the other factors are clearly either money or ideology or both.

    • greenman3610 Says:

      you must be a flat earther.
      Anyone who is still beating the “climategate” dead horse has truly not been paying attention to anything other than Fox news.

  4. michaelemmett Says:

    DaveBurton quotes the HarrisInteractive poll, so being inquisitive open-minded, I looked into this 2008 poll. The good place to start is wikipedia’s page on scientific consensus on global warming:

    This overwhelmingly shows worldwide consensus and that other surveys besides Harris Interactive’s poll have been conducted. I was curious as to why you chose this Harris Interactive poll rather than all the other indicators of worldwide consensus? Of course, Harris Interactive survey is listed by the wikipedia page. I couldn’t find the original report on the poll (Please, Dave, link to it if you have the actual study rather than the references to it that I find).

    I found the Forbes article from which you found your above quote – which you must admit has it’s own agenda. Here’s what US News and World Report said about the study you refer to: “Of the 489 Earth and atmospheric scientists surveyed by Harris Interactive, 97 percent said that global temperatures have increased during the past 100 years, and 74 percent agreed that “currently available scientific evidence substantiates the occurrence of human-induced greenhouse warming.” The findings mark a significant increase in concern over climate change since 1991, when a Gallup survey of the same universe of scientists showed only 60 percent agreed that temperatures were up and 41 percent believed that evidence pointed to human activity as the cause.”

    At best, your reference (Forbes) and the above (US N&WR) are contradictory, even though they reference the same poll.

    I haven’t read through all the other references on the wikipedia page. Why did you choose the Harris Interactive Poll and ignore the others referenced there? What is it about the Harris Poll that runs contrary to the trend towards global consensus? Why do you think Forbes chose this poll rather than the others? Is there anything about the Poll’s sample that might make it not so representative of worldwide climate scientists consensus you argue against?

    Just pounding the facts. And I am willing to understand your arguments.

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