BBC doubles down on fake climate news

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

Reference CAS-4752632-HHNHL8

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.

Kind regards


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.

From Ofcom:


  1. ‘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.’

    No – it shows clearly that confirmation bias, not science, is rampant in the Met Office.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This would appear to be the same Peter Stott who today amended his cv on the Met’s web site to remove the fake reference to being a “co-recipient” of a Nobel Prize. The move followed recent general hilarity around the internet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Now, when you complain about the inadequacy of their response, you get allocated a different CAS-reference number, which means sweet FA to everyone but the erks at Aunty.

    Keeping track of multiple complaints at different stages of its complaints procedure is a bloody nightmare.

    But that’s their intention.


  4. Paul
    Do you not feel that you are really influencing the people at the top table of the leading News provider in the BBC? NGOs would give anything to have a similar level of impact at a COP summit.


  5. What’s the chances of allayment when your complaint is opposed by someone who claims a fractional interest in a Nobel Prize?

    “We’ve included your comments in our overnight reports.” TRANSLATION: your comments went into the trashcan.


  6. The headline was clearly false and misleading. The “world’s leading climate agencies” claimed nothing of the sort. The climate change loon in charge at the Met Office made one unsubstantiated assertion, which he is wont to do.


  7. So according to the BBC, Peter Stott is “The world’s leading climate agencies”. How much worse can the BBC get? That is a rhetorical question – when you are at the bottom of the barrel, you cannot get any lower.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Try the BBC Twitter accounts. All you have to do is write your complaint, make a jpeg, go to the BBC account (they have several) and get in a thread about climate issues, post your complaint so that several dozen people can see it. I tried it with a newspaper in chile, and I got tons of responses, that echo lingered for days, and all of them got copied to the newspaper.


  9. ‘When I use a word,’ said the Beeb, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Dr Matthews, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said the Beeb, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    h/t Lewis Carroll

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I think the BBC’s normal practice is to dismiss complaints in the first instance. The complaint has to be restated and escalated.


  11. Paul. I had a sudden seizure when reading the BBC reply again. I noticed with a shock all those kisses at the end*

    *(before remembering that you had redacted the name of the person who wrote it).


  12. The BBC is being trollish now.
    As pointed out by Phillip and Jaime, their headline is not accurate. The opinion of one person cannot grammatically or rationally be called “The world’s leading climate authorities”.
    It is if Len or Ken were writing for the BBC.
    Beth, as usual, gives the insights.
    Fernando gives a great piece of practical advice. Perhaps a bit of twitter tweaking will get the beeb’s attention?


  13. The BBC resists being subject to the same complaints system as other TV because they have their own system. Perhaps it’s time people routinely copied Ofcom. And/or send them a copy of the non reply from the BBC. It might give weight to the argument that the BBC is stripped of its self policing role.


  14. Tiny, thank you I don’t think I had absorbed this:

    “Under the new Royal Charter and accompanying Agreement, regulation of the BBC passed from the BBC Trust to Ofcom on 3 April 2017. One of Ofcom’s central responsibilities is to hold the BBC to account for fulfilling its mission and promoting its public purposes.”


  15. Various Ofcom documents here. From the Operating licence for the BBC’s UK Public Services document, page 3:

    “The BBC’s Public Purposes

    1.16 The Public Purposes of the BBC are as follows:

    1.16.1 To provide impartial news and information to help people understand and engage with the world around them: the BBC should provide duly accurate and impartial news, current affairs and factual programming to build people’s understanding of all parts of the United Kingdom and of the wider world. Its content should be provided to the highest editorial standards. ”

    Oh dear.

    And from the Introduction to Ofcom’s Operating Framework for the BBC, page 2:

    “Complaints about BBC programmes are considered under a ‘BBC First’ complaints framework. The BBC handles complaints in the first instance, and complainants can refer their complaints to Ofcom if they are dissatisfied with the BBC’s final response or if the BBC fails to respond in a timely manner.”


  16. Will the BBC report this, I wonder –

    A giant lava bubble is expanding at Kikai volcano, a supervolcano just 31 miles south of Japan’s main island of Kyushu.

    More than 31 cubic kilometers (7.4 cubic miles) of lava have shoved the seabed up around 2,000 feet, creating a giant dome with a diameter of about six miles.

    This puts global warming in the shade if something goes pop and there’s a mega-eruption in Japan

    Liked by 1 person

  17. MiaB. Dinna fret lad, been there 7000 years (since last caldera collapse). Would put Mt Pinatubo in the shade if/when it lets off.


  18. 7000 years is but a blink of an eye. I hope you were not the guy who was asked about Vesuvius around early August 79 AD and said that this baby was not about to blow


  19. 7000 years may be a blink of the eye, but so might 100,000 years. For a caldera collapse ring faults would be required, for which there would have to be indications. For a seismically literate society like Japan, those indications would not be missed.
    I suspect you would be more at risk at Yellowstone.

    BTW. seismic risk is difficult to evaluate. When I lived in the USA I was more at risk when I lived near Dallas than when I lived less than 10 miles from he San Andreas fault near San Francisco.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. “The most serious problem that we are worrying about is not an eruption of this lava dome, but the occurrence of the next supereruption,” said Yoshiyuki Tatsumi a volcanologist at Kobe University in Japan and lead author of the new study published in Nature Scientific Reports.

    Dr. Tatsumi thinks the chances of a supereruption in the within the next 100 years are only about 1 percent. But when that eruption comes, it could eject nearly 10 cubic miles of magma (not ash, but magma!), enough to cover almost all of Japan in ash nearly eight inches thick, he found.

    Will Lew blame this on homo bradians?

    Liked by 1 person

  21. BTW, I hope we are all basking that Len has migrated to fresh waters. His inability to make a coherent argument allows him to believe we are all stupid so he has to escape to a circle of equally intelligent folk


  22. Alan, when I visited Death Valley there was a crater left by a massive ball of rock blown into the sky. The locals didn’t seem to know when that was going to happen again. I bet they voted Trump


  23. OK. I’ll bite – what is the link between not knowing when a new crater might form and being a Trump supporter? BTW I don’t believe there are any locals in a National Park.

    Do you notice a link between posts by Brad and wandering off topic?

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Obviously if you vote Trump you don’t worry about climate catastrophes, especially when they are not climatic in nature. But a Clintonite would be setting up a camp for wimmin to prevent the imminent eruption of disgust from Mother Earth

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Tis true young Brad, yet some in the monitoring profession go apesh!t at even a misplaced or misused semicolon (not here in these caverns of enlightenment you understand or vaguely perceive). However you need to be very, very careful, the law takes a very dim view of “below-the-line bloggery”.


  26. BBC Radio 4 has lost its mind lately. ‘Farming Today’, for example, used to be vaguely about farming. Now, it’s about banning pesticides and herbicides, promoting fungi-ridden toxins (aka ‘organic farming’), figuring how to turn farmland into wasteland, chattering about how climate change will flood Britain or lead to endless droughts : they really can’t decide. It should be renamed ‘Anti-Farming Today’.


  27. And another thing, you, Andrew Marvel,

    And strange at Ecbetan the trees
    Take leaf by leaf the evening strange
    The flooding dark about their knees
    The mountains over Persia change…


    Liked by 1 person

  28. On foreign shores
    mycorrhizae pulsate
    in symbiotic rhythm
    releasing molecules of ill repute.
    Agaricales attract toads
    as thrones seek crowns.
    Mycophobia: a new Cook social disease
    to be exploited as denier’s doom.
    Pray he starts with psychoactive varieties

    Liked by 2 people

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