“Climate Change -the Facts” My complaints and BBC Replies

Case Number CAS-5417171-25S56H

1. My Complaint Stage 1

1. Most “facts” quoted false, some irrelevant or misleading in context. Examples:

2. There are no “Greater storms, greater floods extreme sea-level rise.” according to the IPCC, nor, according to the IPCC, is this “happening far faster than any of us thought possible.”  

3. “At the current rate of warming,” we risk, not the “devastating future” mentioned by Atters, but the same temp rise as last century: < 1°C. 

4. Bats dying in thousands from heat first recorded in Australia in 1791, not our fault. 

5. Temp rise at the equator is less than elsewhere. Highly habitable (unlike the poles.)

6. Wildfires in Ca last year caused by sparks from electric cables, not clim change. Film of wildfire was from 2009 in Montana, but Atters introduced it with “The fires that swept through California last year…”

7.“Antarctica is losing 3X as much ice today as it was 25 years ago.” But it was gaining 25 yrs ago.

8. Louisiana land loss due to subsidence, also silting, river course changes, deforestation. Not climate change.

9. Orang utan being killed off by deforestation to grow palm oil to satisfy green policies to save climate.

10. Graph falsely attributed to IPCC. Real temps go up to 2018, so can’t be from last IPCC report.

11. On Paris summit, no mention of fact that countries responsible for 70% of emissions are not bound to make any reductions at all. Europe and white commonwealth are to do all the reductions. Absurd.

12. “rapid falls in the price of renewable energy.  Solar power has led the way with this.. Germany went first.. and China really picked up the baton.” 

13.Germany has 2nd highest electricity prices in Europe. China will continue increasing coal use until 2030.

14. “Solar power is now the cheapest form of newly installed electricity in more than 60 countries” because coal and gas are not “newly installed”and no-one is installing nuclear.

15. 1 fact quoted from a scientific source: “..huge benefits from a warming planet. In the IPCC’s own report, there’s fewer deaths from cold-related diseases.” Lawson

2. BBC Reply to My 1st Complaint

Dear Mr Chambers

Thank you for contacting us about ‘Climate Change – the Facts’ and your concerns surrounding the accuracy of the programme.

Climate Change – the Facts represented the work of a wide range of scientists from the UK and US, as well as other countries, demonstrating the scale and scope of scientific endeavour and thinking around this complex subject.

Their interviews were based on their research, describing what it has revealed and in some instances expressing personal reactions based on their deep insights. The overall content of the programme was also based on peer reviewed scientific research, which was rigorously checked by an independent scientific consultant, a leading academic at University College London. Inevitably in a 60 minute programme there were some subject areas which could not be addressed in greater detail or which we did not feature.

The vast majority of climate scientists agree on the fundamentals of human induced climate change and this was reflected in the film. As climate change is accepted as happening, the BBC no longer seeks to ‘balance’ the debate by interviewing those who do not agree with this position.

There are many complexities in communicating climate change to a mainstream audience; the film sought to balance potentially alarming scenarios with scientific analysis on attribution (the extent to which extreme weather events and other phenomena such as sea level rise can be linked to climate change), climate modelling and projections of what may happen in the future (in which inevitably there are many uncertainties) and actions aimed at reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the effects of climate change going forward. While Sir David Attenborough drew on his own experience of reporting on this subject over many years, he also balanced a sense of urgency with optimism that there are ways of addressing the serious issues we undoubtedly face.

We hope this helps to address your concerns and we thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards, BBC Complaints Team

[discussed at https://cliscep.com/2019/04/26/cliscep-v-the-bbc-round-1/]

3. My Complaint Stage 2

Your reply to my complaint doesn’t even mention the dozen factual errors I identified, which would suggest to an average person that you accept my criticisms. If so, please withdraw the programme, rectify the mistakes, and apologise to your viewers.

If you do dispute my criticisms, and continue to assert that we are experiencing “greater storms, greater floods extreme sea-level rise;”that “at the current rate of warming, we risk a devastating future”; that the heatwave that killed Ozzy bats is unprecedented; that a fire in Montana in 2009 is relevant to last year’s fires in California; that Louisiana land loss is due to man-made sea rise and not to land use and water management; etc. please furnish evidence for your claims.

Your statement: “As climate change is accepted as happening, the BBC no longer seeks to ‘balance’ the debate by interviewing those who do not agree with this position” is a straw man argument. Hardly anyone disputes that climate change is happening. Many scientists and others dispute the likely scale or effects. You ignored them.

You could have interviewed prominent climate scientists like Spencer and Christy (responsible for the NASA satellite temperature data) Lindzen and Judith Curry, or experts in the economic consequences of climate change like Pielke and Lomborg, none of whom dispute the reality of climate change. Are they also covered by your ban? If not, why were their dissenting opinions not mentioned? By ignoring their existence, you gave a deliberately biassed view of the science.

Please answer factually my objections to your so-called facts quickly so we can get on to the interesting bit with Ofcom. There I shall be arguing that your documentary has been a key factor in getting a parliamentary motion passed declaring a fantasy climate emergency; that it is a mendacious political tract; that many of your so-called experts are charlatans; and that the BBC has broken its statutory duty of political neutrality. Then it gets interesting.

4. BBC Reply to my 2nd complaint

Dear Mr Chambers

Thank you for contacting us again about Climate Change – The Facts. We are sorry you remain unhappy following our previous response.

In producing its Fifth Assessment Report in 2014 the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) drew on the expertise of a large number of the world’s top scientists to assess the scientific evidence of climate change and concluded: “It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”

All the national academies of science agree on the existence of man-made climate change and the vast majority of international and national bodies involved in the study of climate change are also in agreement on this point.

While we note that you disagree with these assessments there is no requirement on the BBC to reflect opposing views. The BBC seeks to achieve due impartiality by giving “due weight” to the range of opinions on a subject. This means that minority views do not have to be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus.

The interviewees who did feature in the programme came from a wide range of disciplines and are among the leading experts in their fields.

We note that you are concerned about the statement that “at the current rate of warming, we risk a devastating future”. This statement is based on evidence that climate change threatens human wellbeing and prosperity now and in the future in a wide variety of ways that together constitute an unprecedented menace.  It is our view that the statement and the level of “alarm” of the film is supported and justified by statements from the UN, and other science, policy, economics, business, security, health and environmental communities.

The programme did not claim that “the heatwave that killed Ozzy bats is unprecedented”. Historical evidence shows that Australian fruit bats have been living at their habitat heat limit for a long time – and as a result have experienced occasional irregular heat death events even back as far as the 18th century.

What the programme sought to explain was that while not every single weather event is due to climate change, global warming is changing baseline temperatures in Australia; this relatively small change in mean temperature results in a higher frequency of extreme temperatures. It follows that fruit bats are now increasingly at risk of multiple major heat death events, as indeed occurred in Queensland last year, when an estimated 20,000 died. This was the first time this species – the more northerly Spectacled Flying Fox – has been affected in such numbers.

We believe the programme was clear that the extraction of oil and gas and sea level rise have both played a role in Louisiana land loss. However, evidence suggests that climate change is often a threat multiplier in already vulnerable places and for already vulnerable communities. Hence the inclusion of the Isle de Jean Charles as an example of this.

The footage of the wildfire in Montana was captioned with the location and date, clearly distinguishing it from the footage of wildfires in California. The date of the Montana footage was 2018, not 2009 as you’ve suggested here.

We hope this response addresses your concerns. Having offered the above, I’m afraid we cannot correspond with you further at this first stage of the complaints process. If you are still dissatisfied, you can contact the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). The ECU is stage 2 of the BBC’s complaints process.

Details of the BBC complaints process are available at

http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle-complaint/

where you can read the BBC’s full complaints framework.

If you wish to contact the ECU, please write to it directly within 20 working days of receiving this reply. Please explain to it why you believe there may have been a potential breach of standards or other significant issue for it to investigate.

You can email ecu@bbc.co.uk, or write to: Executive Complaints Unit, BBC, Broadcast Centre, London W12 7TQ. Please include the case reference number we have provided above in this reply.

[discussed at https://cliscep.com/2019/06/25/bbc-two/]

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