On January 18th, the BBC 6pm Radio 4 news started with a completely false headline, as I reported here the next day.
I wrote a complaint to the BBC, using their online complaints form. Here is my complaint:
Complaint Summary: Completely untrue statement in headline radio news
Full Complaint: The 6pm Radio 4 News on 18/1/18 started with the headline “The world’s leading climate agencies have said for the first time that global warming caused by humans now dwarfs natural temperature changes”.
This is untrue. The main news itself started with a repeat of this false statement: “For the first time, leading scientists in Britain and America say they are confident that the impact of humans on our climate dwarfs that of natural processes”. The statements from the world’s climate agencies in the UK and US issued that day can be seen here:
None of them said anything about human impact dwarfing natural processes. In this era of concern over “fake news”, it is appalling that the BBC should have put out such an untrue statement at the top of a key news programme, misleading millions of license payers.
Here is the reply from the BBC. I’ve redacted the name of the poor chap who is paid by the BBC to sign his name to this sort of thing, though I was very tempted to leave it in.
Dear Dr Matthews
Thanks for contacting us regarding Radio 4’s ‘Six O’Clock News’ on 18 January.
We note your unhappiness with the headline “The world’s leading climate agencies have said for the first time that global warming caused by humans now dwarfs natural temperature changes”, and that you felt use of the term “dwarfs” was inaccurate.
However, please know that this was the language used by acting director of the UK Met Office, Prof Peter Stott, quoted in the following article, who told BBC News:
“Last year was substantially warmer than 1998 which had a very big El Niño.
“It shows clearly that the biggest natural influence on the climate is being dwarfed by human activities – predominantly CO₂ emissions.”
We trust this allays your concerns, and thank you again for your feedback. We’ve included your comments in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC ensuring that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.
BBC Complaints Team
NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.