Another bogus climate claim from the BBC

The BBC’s false reporting of climate issues appears to be reaching epidemic proportions.

Paul Homewood has a post BBC’s Fake Climate Claims Now Becoming A Habit in which he discusses three examples – sea level rise in Florida, reindeer in Russia, and hurricanes. Then there were the fake news stories from Roger Harrabin on Jan 18th, one on the 10pm TV news, discussed at the GWPF, and a different false claim about what the world’s leading climate agencies said, reported here recently.

The latest suspect is the Costing the Earth, a BBC Radio 4 programme. The associated website claimed that “Spring now begins on average 26 days earlier than it did 10 years ago”, see screenshot above, until Jonathan Jones complained. It has now been marginally altered to say that “some records suggest that Spring now begins on average 26 days earlier than it did 10 years ago.”

The false claim was read out by presenter Lindsey Chapman, about 6 minutes in to the programme:

“Spring now arrives an average of 26 days earlier each year than it did 10 years ago. We know this because of the extraordinary records kept by the public, stretching back centuries.”

This statement that Spring is almost a month earlier than it was just 10 years ago is complete nonsense and fails the most elementary sanity check.  It appears, yet again, that where global warming is concerned, elementary common sense and fact-checking are thrown out by the BBC, and replaced with absurd exaggeration and alarmism.

Meanwhile back in the real world: British farmers in turmoil as delayed spring plays havoc with growing season



  1. The Guardian article you quote on “British Farmers in turmoil” has a nice take from one of our favourite climate scientists:

    What the farmers are experiencing first-hand accords with what scientists are finding. Ed Hawkins, professor of climate science at NCAS-Climate, University of Reading, who helps run – a site where volunteers digitise millions of historical weather observations – says that UK temperatures have risen by around 1.5 degrees in the last 150 years.
    “It’s basic physics: warmer air can hold more moisture so, as the atmosphere warms, it means, when it does rain heavily, we get more rain than we would otherwise have done from the same storm 100 years ago.”


  2. What a strange thing to claim posing it as news.
    It is the sort of assertion one might expect at a SF writer’s workshop as the kernel of a science fiction story.


  3. If you look at the UK data from the Met Office, it is very clear that Spring (Mar Apr May) mean temperature has increased by just over a degree Celsius since 1975.

    Furthermore, a cyclical pattern of increasing and decreasing Spring temperature is clearly discernible. natural variability obviously plays a large part in decedal trends. Springs were warm in the 1940s but not as warm as they are today. They cooled significantly thereafter until the mid 1970s. Since 1910, the overall long term trend has been for warmer springs.

    If spring was happening a month earlier than a decade ago, one would expect, naturally, that February, the month just before spring, would have been getting increasingly warmer. This is the graph for February mean temperature.

    As you can see, it peaked in 2000 and February has been getting steadily colder ever since. Indeed, the average Feb temperature is now little different from what it was in 1910. Perhaps the BBC can explain to us how spring is arriving earlier by almost a month in the last decade when February temperatures have been declining for the last 18 years? Maybe warmer Januaries have been kickstarting early Springs? Nope, January temperatures have been flat since 2000.

    If Spring is arriving 26 days earlier than it was 10 years ago, it’s definitely not because it’s getting warmer.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Sorry, but am I being thick here? The principal yardstick by which the changing seasons are measured is the length of the day. This also happens to be the primary indicator used by the flora and fauna. So what exactly is the process by which emission of CO2 has caused the days to lengthen prematurely?

    Either I am an ignoramus or the BBC is. If it is me, please break it to me gently.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I’m guessing that the BBC are measuring Spring not astronomically but biologically John, i.e. according to plant growth/activity – which is influenced by temperature and the availability of light.


  6. Jaime,

    Actually, I don’t think it is at all clear what they think they mean by ‘spring’, or how its arrival is to be measured biologically. The point I’m trying to make is that it is the amount of sunlight that drives most of the biological change. I’m sure that the house martins that have turned up again to crap on my car didn’t turn up yesterday because they heard we were having an unusually warm April.



    Liked by 3 people

  7. LOL John. They normally hear what the weather’s like in the UK through the grapevine – but grapevines aren’t doing too well this Spring!
    PS. We have house martins – they poo constantly once they set up nest and the young arrive.


  8. Seriously though, if it’s a question of daylight hours, it’s probably the case that, if those daylight hours are more sunny and less cloudy, plants will start springing into life that bit earlier. In that respect, Springs have been getting a lot sunnier since the 1970s:

    Winters too:

    Did climate models predict sunnier winters and springs in the UK?


  9. Spring was one of the things that I missed most when I lived in the Canadian prairies. It never occurred. The snow melted but nothing grew. We had many weeks till things started leafing and budding and the interim I termed “the Brown”. A truly horrible time. Wonder if this is getting warmer/longer?


  10. Jaime,

    “Did climate models predict sunnier winters and springs in the UK?”

    That’s a very good question. To which I would add:

    Why isn’t the BBC equally fascinated by a late onset of winter? What is so special about spring that it can be allowed to shift about the calendar but all the other seasons have to stay were they are but take on a different character?

    Just what is the non-astronomical event that the BBC is using to give the phrase ‘beginning of spring’ even a semblance of scientific rigour?

    This is the same BBC that, in the guise of Kate Humble, recently warned of the potential release of “toxic CO2” from the Welsh peat moors. The BBC wears its scientific mask like a two year old wears lipstick.




  11. David Icke has his wacky religion
    Our colonial masters in London the liberal elite have their own wacky religion too
    ..episodes of Costing the Earth are their sermons
    ..There is no point in debunking the prog cos it’s habitually wacky and made for the faithful by the faithful.
    However sometimes I don’t get to the off switch quick enough, so I did make a note

    R4 now “Spring begins an average of 26 days earlier than it did 10 years ago”
    ‘Natural Trust spring records ”
    #Fallacy of AVERAGING complex things, like a whole country”
    – Its obviously recorded in February cos they are referencing this years early Spring
    Betts is now speaking…
    I’m offing it.

    What I meant, is they are seriously talking about an early Spring, when everyone knows we’d just had late knows after its supposed start date.
    The whole thing was so ridiculous that normal people could see the “26 days thing” was on par with “yeh I just go abducted by aliens”


  12. “Fair enough” – This post gets the endorsement of Richard Betts on twitter. He appeared on the show, talking rather cautiously about extreme weather.


  13. Gotta love the TV weather presenters, it’s now the hottest day in April for 70 yrs somewhere in the south East!!! wonder what that area of London looked like then?


  14. ‘The BBC wears its scientific mask like a two year old wears lipstick.’



  15. Note how, from the graphs above, the incidence of warmer average surface temperature appears to be highly correlated with the incidence of sunnier weather. Far be it for me to suggest that there might be some causative link with increasing amounts of SW solar energy reaching the surface and higher mean surface temperature and accelerated plant growth in late winter/early spring . . . . that would just be plain silly. I mean, we all know it’s those pesky anthropogenic CO2 molecules which are causing this and I don’t mean because they’re fertilising plant life; no, no, no – it’s because they’re trapping heat like a big invisible duvet in the sky!


  16. The BBC’s trick of corrections via stealth edit is NOT acceptable is it ?
    We all get things wrong as there can be a bit of creepage in what is true and what we assume
    (Yesterday Womans Hour had a long item about a teacher who’d won a huge payout from Katie Hopkins /Daily Mail In part of an article about libs brainwashing kids.
    Hpkins articles with showed a few examples of libs doing this, one section had been how this teacher had taught the class of 8-9 year olds about protesting against Trump and got them to make a banner,
    … That’s all true but Hopkins had next said here’s a photo of the kids and banner at the demo
    Which was wrong cos the teacher had only taken the banner to the demo not the kids )
    Yet the BBC’s own mistakes are just palmed off.
    I’m sorry, but if an article get’s a material change, it should have an edit note right at the top under the title, cos that way the news record is properly conserved.
    The normal thing I see is that the BBC, make a hyperbolic title , which is then copied or retweeted by 1000 activist orgs, then a bit later the BBC come back and tone down the title.
    But the dark PR has already done its job, none of the activists mention the change, they’ve all moved on.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Almost off topic, but the arrival of migrant birds such as house martins and swallows is a subject I find interesting. Around 10 years ago during a gloriously sunny and warm final week of March we were on holiday in Glencoe, and the house martins had already arrived. This year, we saw our first swallow of the year, several hundred miles further south, in Cumbria, only yesterday.

    I don’t believe that they “know” from thousands of miles away what the weather is doing in the UK in any given year, but the timing of their arrival does seem to be linked to the weather. Does anyone know how this works? Do they arrive on warm thermals from the south?

    Anyway, to be back on topic, this spring (in terms of temperature) has undoubtedly arrived a lot later and been a lot colder here than for many a long year.


  18. Also slightly off topic: spring and blossom has been weird this year. Winter was ending normally early in March when Russian beasts appeared. In my garden I usually can evaluate Spring using two trees – a magnolia which flowers first and another unknown white blossoming tree that flowers 2-3 weeks later. Things were proceeding normally, the magnolia developed flower buds but these were killed off by the spell of snow and cold weather. The other tree then, after a number of weeks burst into flower, followed to my great surprise, by the magnolia. So now both trees are in full blossom, and the ground beneath is littered with frost-damaged magnolia flower buds.
    So when did spring begin for us?
    The last few days resemble summer, with temperatures during the day in excess of 25 degrees, insects like bumblebees in search of summer flowers that have not appeared. I’m already seeing many dead butterflies (starved).
    Weather this spring is weird (and deadly). Do something?


  19. I feel the need to elaborate upon the somewhat glib remarks I have posted on this thread.

    Yes, there is an extent to which temperature will influence the transitional behaviour of plants and animals during the onset of Spring. But such an influence will take effect within the constraints of the overarching photoperiodism that controls transition. The extent of influence varies from species to species. For some (those that are obligate photoperiodic) there will be no effect whatsoever due to temperature. For others (the facultative photoperiodic) there will be some.

    Given the spread of behaviour, the effect of temperature upon the ‘arrival of Spring’ will depend upon what species, and what behaviour, one chooses as one’s harbinger. To my mind this calls into question the scientific validity of the concept. The best one can say is that increased temperature may result in the blurring of the arrival, i.e. increased temperatures erode the concept. This, I believe, is reflected in the spread of figures that phenologists are quoting for the rate of season creep. Whilst the Woodland Trust quote the hysterical (as in hysterically funny) figure of 26 days in a decade, others seem satisfied with a more plausible 2-3 days per decade. Only in the service of climate change research are such glaring inconsistencies tolerated. And only in the service of alarmist journalism are the most extreme figures brought to our attention.

    Well done the BBC!


  20. Alan Kendall (21 Apr 18 at 7:52 am)
    If the bees and butterflies know its warming, why don’t the flowers? And have you checked whether there are more dead butterflies at the south end of your garden (due to this week’s global warming) or the north end (due to last month’s global cooling?) Professor Parmesan got a worldwide reputation that caused President Macron to invite her to come to France to sort out our ecological problems here in the Pyrenees from just such research. And since Jaime’s link on another thread to an excellent post by Chiefio on composting I’ve got a new enthusiasm for this blog. Could we have a special section for gardeners?


  21. John Ridgway (22 Apr 18 at 9:07 am)

    Whilst the Woodland Trust quote the hysterical (as in hysterically funny) figure of 26 days in a decade…

    So in 2100 April will be arriving the August before? I can hardly wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Geoff. Thank you for your considered response. However, you are confused; lepidoptera and hymenoptera emerged early during mid-April’s heatwave (I’m awaiting the Woodland Trust’s announcement that Summer is 31 days early this year, and Christmas is scheduled for November 17th). As for any interest in gardening, you are misinformed. We moved to our present home because it had much smaller gardens – we block-paved the front, and converted much of the back into rockeries, gravel and bushes in order that, in our decrepitude, gardening would be at a minimum.
    I note that you live near the Pyrenees, aren’t they closer to the tropics? I doubt if our advancing Springdom will affect you.


  23. WUWT. Reports delayed spring in northern California:

    “even here in Northern California, and with the benefit of the Pacific Ocean all vegetation/trees are experiencing delays in budding/new growth. This is a shift of the climate which has now made itself clearly visible.”

    Has the Earth tipped?


  24. John, in defence of the Woodland Trust (of which I am an increasingly disgruntled member – more on that story later) I don’t think they are the people claiming that Spring is 26 days earlier than a decade ago, it’s the BBC.

    The BBC may have got the claim from this article in the Guardian, “Spring is sprung 26 days earlier than a decade ago”, which in turn came from Climate News Network.

    But if that is the case, why did the BBC script say it was thanks to records from the public?


  25. “So in 2100 April will be arriving the August before?”

    It’s worse than that Geoff. As each year’s Spring comes earlier and earlier we will end up with them queuing up, impatiently waiting for the preceding Spring to get out of the way! Winters will have to step aside to let them pass. Autumns won’t know if they are coming or going. Whole Summers will be cancelled with no refunds. And it will all be your fault.

    In the immortal words of the Bard:

    “The time is out of joint, O curs’d spite,
    that ever I was born to set it right!”

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Paul,

    “I don’t think they are the people claiming that Spring is 26 days earlier than a decade ago, it’s the BBC.”

    In that case, I stand corrected. I’m still struggling to fully gauge the depths of the BBC’s journalistic fecklessness.


  27. Paul,

    I think Christopher Booker’s analysis of the flowering of the blackthorn tree may illustrate the point I tried to make earlier in this thread; how one judges season creep depends entirely upon the species chosen. His observation suggests that the blackthorn is obligate photodeterministic, whereby it will only flower once the length of day has passed a particular threshold. No amount of warming will affect this. Furthermore, the existence of the phenomenon referred to as a ‘blackthorn winter’ backs up the idea that blackthorn is prepared to blossom whatever the daytime temperature.

    I’ll say it again: The problem with a headline statement such as ‘Spring is arriving 26 days earlier’, is that it is not scientific enough to be either right or wrong.



  28. “Spring now arrives an average of 26 days earlier each year than it did 10 years ago. We know this because of the extraordinary records kept by the public, stretching back centuries.”

    Surely the average of ‘centuries’ compared to the average of ‘centuries + 10 years’ can’t produce a difference of 26 days. Or if that’s not what they meant, what did they mean?


  29. In the last few years the bluebells in my garden have first started appearing in December! But they don’t actually flower until late April. I’ve no idea if that’s usual or not.


  30. This early spring story has grown completely out of control. Much of it came from a Guardian article by Tim Radford which states that “One sedge species (= ONE SEDGE SPECIES) in Greenland ( IN GREENLAND) is springing to growth 26 days earlier than it did a decade ago. This is the only documented instance of 26 days that I have found. There is therefore no evidence whatsoever that spring in the UK is so early.

    Yet Lindsay Chapman in Costing the Earth reported that “Spring now arrives an average of 26 days earlier each year than it did 10 years” age and “We know this because of the extraordinary records kept by the public, stretching back centuries.” IN GREENLAND???
    Extraordinarily poor reporting and journalism from the BBC. What we need is Lord Lawson to put things right.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Alan,

    That is indeed an interesting article that you bring to our attention, particularly since it refers (indirectly) to studies undertaken by the USA National Phenology Network (USA NPN). Unless I have seriously misunderstood, I believe the USA NPN’s methodology can be summarised as follows:

    a) Their proclamations regarding the early arrival of spring are NOT based upon direct observations but rather from, “mathematical models that predict the ‘start of spring’ (timing of leaf out or bloom for species active in early spring) at a particular location”.

    b) When the USA NPN says ‘predict’, they are actually predicting the behaviour of an extended set of species (the ‘extended spring indices’) based upon the observed behaviour of a highly selective set of species (the ones used to calibrate their models).

    c) Specifically, this temperature/spring arrival calibration is based upon, “historical observation of the timing of first leaf and first bloom in a cloned lilac cultivar (S. x chinensis ‘Red Rothomagensis’) and two cloned honeysuckle cultivars (Lonicera tatarica ‘Arnold Red’ and L. korolkowii ‘Zabelii’)”.

    d) To make their predictions, the models take temperature and weather event data as their input. The observed relationship between temperature and the nominative ‘start of spring’ for the selected (calibration) species is then used to convert temperature into a generic ‘start of spring’ at the various locations covered by the models.

    e) The species of plants chosen by the USA NPN to calibrate their models are chosen because they are purely temperature sensitive, i.e. they do not demonstrate any photodeterminism.

    The main points to take away from this are:

    1) That only TWO species of plant are deemed necessary by the USA NPN to calibrate their models.

    2) The non-photodeterministic nature of the plants used for calibration means that their models’ predictions for the ‘start of spring’ can only apply to a relatively restricted range of species, i.e. those that are strictly non-photodeterministic. This necessarily excludes a huge range of flora and fauna from the predictions (I am giving the USA NPN the benefit of the doubt here, since to include photodeterministic species amongst their ‘extended spring indices’ would be either idiotic or fraudulent).

    3) Nowhere in the journalists’ hysterical proclamations regarding early spring arrival is there anything to suggest that any of the proclamations are based upon predictions made by mathematical models.

    4) Nowhere in the journalists’ hysterical proclamations regarding early spring arrival is there anything to indicate the narrow applicability of the models, i.e. to strictly non-photodeterministic species.

    I also strongly recommend that one visits the USA NPN website to see for yourself the output of the models. Interestingly, there are as many locations within the USA for which late onset of spring (compared to a historical average) is predicted, as there are early onset predictions. (Another interesting fact that is blithely ignored by the journalists).

    As with other scientific fields co-opted into the service of climate change research, one looks under the hood of the science (in this case phenology) and one finds proxies, mathematical models, dodgy calibrations, cherry-picking and predictions sold to the public as fact.


  32. John. Of course one of the most studied and important links between temperature and time of year is the timing of cherry blossom in Japan. Each year predictions are made as to when the blossom is at its peak and then how it progressively moves northwards (and upwards) over time. This holds great importance as a matter of tradition but also for tourism as millions make special visits to take in the spectacle. Newspapers and television news mark this northern passage of this event. In a similar fashion the timing of maximum leaf colour during the Appalachian fall are given much prominence and this varies in its timing from year to year.

    I believe information about the timing of flowering in Japan goes back centuries.



  33. Alan,

    Japanese Cherry Trees? Now we really are cherry picking!

    I know nothing about their photodeterminism and so I could hardly comment. However, your mention of Spring travelling north brings to mind the studies performed by the British Science Association in 2015. Seven spring indices were monitored (by the public) to determine the differentiated spring arrival across the UK. From this data, the BSA determined the average speed of travel for Spring ‘moving north’. The figures were (according to the chosen indicator):

    Ladybird – 6.5mph
    Hawthorn leafing – 6.3mph
    Swallows arriving – 2.4mph
    Hawthorn flowering – 1.9mph
    Orange tip butterfly – 1.4mph
    Oak first leafing – 1.3mph
    Frogspawn – 1mph

    From this, they declared an average speed of 1.9mph.

    This figure was compared with 1.2mph, as measured between 1891 and 1947, and the difference, of course, was attributed entirely to climate change. I can see how they could do so with regard to a generally early onset, but an accelerated south/north warming strikes me as being somewhat more difficult to explain (maybe generally warmer winters may affect the calculation due to there being a different baseline temperature).

    Whatever the case, I maintain my position that such calculations are hugely effected by the choice of indicator (even within a single species such as the hawthorn) and so the conclusions must be taken with a fair quantity of salt.


  34. I suspect cherry tree blossoming must be predominantly controlled by temperature because not only is its incidence controlled by latitude but also by elevation. This phenomenon has been on my mind because my family only has recently returned from a visit to Japan. They arrived in Sapporo in the north too early and cherry trees were not in bloom, but upon travelling south to Tokyo found the festival over. However when travelling even further south but also up into the Japanese Alps came across masses of blossom.
    Timing of the Cherry Blossom Ceremony has become significantly earlier which, as you might expect, is attributed to climate change. My bet is that a considerable amount of the change is due to urbanization and to the adoption of heat retaining building materials and road surfacing.


  35. Gosh the speed of Spring as determined by ladybirds and hawthorn leafing is faster than a man can walk. In the early nineteenth century only a man on a horse could keep up. Being overwhelmed by spring had real physical meaning!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. D’yuh think the Met Office predicted the warmest Royal Wedding Day EVAH?


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