The BBC’s main morning radio news programme, Today, has been generating a stream of misleading propaganda to promote the COP21 climate conference. This morning at 07:20 the story was the following, as described on their website:

“Among the nations at the Paris climate conference making the call for a lower temperature target is the Pacific island country of Vanuatu, which was hit by a devastating cyclone in March and is now facing a drought. Our chief correspondent Matthew Price has sent this report from the South Pacific.”

The story of the impact of the devastating cyclone was duly reported. But the problem with this sort of emotional blackmail is that there hasn’t been any increase in cyclones.  Don’t take my word for it –  here’s what the IPCC says on the subject at the start of Chapter 2 of  their latest report, AR5:

“Confidence remains low for long-term (centennial) changes in tropical cyclone activity, after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.”

And here is Figure 2.34 from the report, showing no trend in cyclones and hurricanes over the last century:


fig 2.34


  1. Our chief correspondent Matthew Price has sent this report from the South Pacific.

    What a tough assignment. Did he perhaps sail there I wonder?


  2. Sea level looks dangerously low to me.
    Also there seem to be some large hills ~ 100m above sea level. Since the tidal range daily is around 2-3m, I don’t think they have much to worry about a ‘sea level rise’ of 10cm by 2100.

    Perhaps IPCC can airlift 10 cm of sand in.


  3. The link to the Today programme recording is here.

    The Vanuatu piece is at about 01:21.

    Later on, at 02:55, there is an interview with Matt Ridley. He says there are more serious environmental problems we should be worried about – rainforest loss, over-fishing etc – and emphasises that his views are within the IPCC range, but at the low end. He also mentions the damage caused by policies like biofuels, and the uselessness of wind turbines, ending with a call for more investment in nuclear energy.


  4. See the new BH discussion on this top

    Paul with BBC links you add the time like this #playt=1h21m
    to get
    direct link to Vanuatu segment
    direct link to Ridley segment

    Note the difference in treatment :
    The ACTIVIST – Welcomed and given an open door : not called out
    – Gets the primetime slot

    The SKEPTIC – Hostility – has his expertise played down, is called journalist (not SCIENCE journalist), called “not a scientist” twice, has false assertions thrown at him e.g. ‘authorities like IPCC’ say “it’s an urgent problem”
    – Gets the graveyard slot right at the end of the prog when everyone is already at work, and when you can pull the “out of time” trick.

    To be fair they did allow a fair amount of time, the interview could have been far worse


  5. I have been quite annoyed by the coverage by the BBC on COP21. Radio 5 on Monday had quite extensive coverage without any challenge to the rhetoric from personalities and with an absolute acceptance of CAGW. All this week Radio 5 are running programmes called “Changing Climate; Changing Lives” with no discussion of the science. It is a “fait accompli”
    Meanwhile on the BBC news website I have been checking what the public are interested in reading. Not once have I found that COP21 has made it into the top 10 “most read” save for one article about the fake adverts that went up around Paris and even then, not for long.
    This is a public service broadcaster that has invested a significant amount in covering COP 21 yet we do not seem especially interested. Perhaps the public would be more engaged if they fulfilled their charter and balanced the reporting with challenges to statements, evidence etc from the wealth of material, scientists and journalists available to them.
    The TV news report on Qinghai Tibet, for instance, blamed the situation purely on climate change as if it was a fact whithout reference to the many factors involved and that no definitive cause has been qualified, nor was it put into a historical context. This does not rule out warming, the world has warmed, but besides mismanagement and other factors there is no thought that it could be a natural event that repeats over long time spans. It feels like propaganda rather than coverage and as a supporter of public service broadcasting I find myself rather disillusioned. Indeed, I find myself turning off, similar to so many others it seems.


  6. One of Steven Goddard’s gems from his mining explorations in the press archives has this from the Pall Mall Gazette in 1871:

    THREE consecutive years of drought, while they have stimulated the inventive resources of practical agriculturalists, have had the natural effect of calling forth a plentiful crop of speculation from weather prophets, and projectors, and half-instructed meteorologists, and all the philosophic tribe of Laputa in general, to whom the periodical press now affords such fatal facilities. We have often noticed that in the tabular statements of those compilers of weather records who write to the Times, useful and welcome as their communications are, every season is sure to be “extraordinary”, almost every month one of the driest or wettest, or windiest, coldest or hottest, ever known. Much observation, which ought to correct a tendency to exaggerate, seems in some minds to have rather a tendency to increase it.

    More thoughts on that, and original links here: Climate Change Prophets and Projectors.

    A little climate variation has been enough to call ‘forth a plentiful crop of speculation from weather prophets, and projectors, and half-instructed meteorologists’ for whom the BBC ‘now affords such fatal facilities’. That might well have been amusing back in 1871, but it is decidedly not so these days when the mass media seems to have so much more influence.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Does anyone monitor the comments pages at the BBC website? I never do because it seems odd to comment on the internet about something you’ve heard on the radio, particularly as I like to use real quotes, and even Alex can’t be that speedy with the transcripts.
    I’d expect Today listeners to be a bit more critical than the average media consumer, since, on any other subject than climate, Today has always been pretty abrasive and open minded.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “Comments pages at the BBC website” You mean the ones they abolished years ago, cos they couldn’t censor them fast enough ?
    You go on Twitter and search under #r4Today or @BBCr4Today, Today also has a Facebook page, but less comments make it there.


  9. Thanks to Alex for the useful transcripts. On twitter Ridley says that he does not “own a coalmine” as claimed by Nick Robinson – he owns land on which coal is mined by others.

    And thanks to Stew for the helpful tip about how to link directly to sections within the Today programme.

    Geoff I think Stew is right, there are no longer any comments sections at the BBC. There was much twitter-ranting against Ridley yesterday, but it was all “coal” “tory” “Northern Rock” etc, nothing of substance.


  10. Speaking of Ridley, this line by line criticism of his BBC interview by climate scientists/experts was a predictable but useful read.

    (In fairness, Ridley is hardly the most galling celebrity-by-contrarianism on the climate scene that we’ve seen out of the U.K. branch of the anti-climate science rebellion – being after all something of a heavyweight compared to the likes of Monckton et al…)


  11. Geoff M Price
    Agreed, it’s a predictable but useful read. It’s worth pointing out what’s happening here. The BBC’s environment correspondent conducts a short radio interview with a “lukewarmer”, someone who disagrees with some parts of the consensus around climate change and our responses to it.

    The Carbon Brief, a website with funding of a third of a million pounds p.a. from the European Climate Foundation, is so impressed/shocked by this event that they invite scientists to respond. ELEVEN respond with a nitpicking line by line critique – of a radio interview! There’s the usual fight-to-the-death defence of the hockeystick, an earnest cogitation on the number of cold-related deaths in Greece…

    How many professors of climatology does it take to change a light bulb? And how fast do they have to pedal to keep it glimmering?


  12. I sympathize, the fastidious attention to facts you find with scientists is in fact rather irritating, especially when there are important ideological narratives to be advanced. It takes some getting used to.

    I think you are wanting to have your cake and eat it too to some degree here. You revel in the outsized attention afforded to the odd contrarians – a result of the enormous (and well cultivated) demand/market for the sorts of opinions and talking points they are generating – and celebrate the significant inroads you’ve made into the political process despite the rather shallow and (charitably speaking) factually ambiguous nature of your claims, but then howl foul when scientists take such arguments seriously and answer them in detail. ‘But there are so many of them, and so few of us’! I think you are rather well aware that you are not actually a victim of any sort, but I understand you have to play the hand you are dealt. Cheers.


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