More dishonest, irresponsible scaremongering from the BBC

Further evidence of the institutional dishonesty of the BBC over climate change: on Wednesday, Radio 4’s Costing the Earth had a programme on “Eco-anxiety”.

Is the future of the planet making you depressed? Do you feel paralysed, unable to imagine the happiness of future generations? As global governments fail to respond to the existential crisis of climate change it’s understandable that some people seem unable to conjure up a sense of hope, understandable that dozens of young British women have joined the Birthstrike movement, refusing to bring more children into the world. Verity Sharp meets the eco-anxious and asks if they are ill or simply more perceptive than the rest of us.

The answer to Verity’s question is, of course, that the eco-anxious are neither ill nor more perceptive — they are more simply susceptible to the lies that the BBC tells the public about climate change.

The programme started off with the usual alarmist soundbites from BBC news about “devastating tornadoes” and “climate catastrophe”. Presenter Verity Sharp said that she’s so worried about climate change that it’s affecting her sleep, suggesting she may have “eco-anxiety”. She then interviewed a fellow sufferer, who says she “cried every single day”. Psychotherapist Caroline Hickman said that eco-anxiety was on the rise, with people worrying that there might be food riots and “not enough water to go round”.

So what did the programme do to help these poor people who are in a panic about climate change?

The honest and compassionate thing to do would be to alleviate their concerns by quoting some key points from the IPCC, such as this statement on tropical storms from the 2018 SR15 report:

“Numerous studies towards and beyond AR5 have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy”

Yes, contrary to the lies told by the BBC in the recent documentary, hurricanes are actually decreasing.

But no, the Costing the Earth programme did exactly the opposite.

15 minutes into the programme, the presenter introduced a man called Jem Bendell:

“Jem Bendell is professor of sustainability at the University of Cumbria… Last July, Jem Bendell wrote a paper, called Deep Adaptation: A map for navigating climate tragedy, a paper I have to admit I was dreading reading. The abstract says ‘The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide readers with an opportunity to re-assess their work and life in the face of an inevitable near-term collapse.’ It’s gone viral with the pdf being downloaded over 400,000 times. Many of the people we spoke to have read it.”

What the BBC neglected to mention is that Bendell failed to get his “paper” published in an academic journal.  Nor did they mention that Michael Mann described Bendell’s paper as “crap” and “unscientific and nonsensical…” — see this very good blogpost by Robert Walker, who was appalled that the BBC was promoting Bendell’s junk science on BBC3 back in March.

Bendell was given free rein to promote his falsehoods, such as this blatant whopper: “The IPCC in October last year has said very similar things”.

I thought that Verity might have been concerned about people suffering from eco-anxiety and might want to help to alleviate their symptoms. But clearly I was wrong. She and the others involved in the programme want to make it worse, by promoting the nonsense of pseudo-scientists like Jem Bendell and scares about catastrophe and running out of water. This was confirmed by her words right at the end of the programme,

“So, if you’re feeling anxious about climate breakdown, good…”

See also this post by Paul Homewood.

Update: Alex Cull has produced a transcript.







  1. Jem Bendell has his own website:

    No wonder the BBC chose to give him publicity. From his website:

    “Emotional support in face of climate tragedy
    Posted by jembendell on July 26, 2018

    If you have come to recognise that climate change will lead to a near term collapse in our way of life, or even worse, then this can be a very difficult realisation to process, integrate into our lives, or communicate to other people.

    In my experience, the key thing is not to sit with these emotions on your own. If you have people who you can talk to about this without them thinking you must be confused, insane or depressed, then that’s ideal. However, many people feel very lonely in their realisation. Therefore, here are some links to resources that I have found helpful, as they enable you to get in touch with others.

    The Aching Heart Movement is a Facebook Group associated with Extinction Rebellion, and holds regular online ‘grief circles’, facilitated by experienced grief workers. These circles have been warmly recommended to me by friends.

    Death Cafe movement is an umbrella movement providing support and resources for local face to face community death cafes. You can find out if there’s a cafe near you, or even start one. This movement is not overtly about climate grief, but the meetings are absolutely open to anyone, and anything that they might bring.

    The Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook Group. This one focuses on sharing ideas and information on how to live well after acceptance of likely (or unfolding) societal collapse. You won’t see posts saying we can stop a catastrophe nor on how bad things are getting, but ideas on how people and organisations are responding positively… Even if that just means how to reduce suffering. This one is my initiative and connected with the Deep Adaptation Forum (see below).

    The Human Near Term Extinction Support Group on Facebook. I have not concluded that we are going extinct but the people on this group offer useful support to people struggling with that possibility in their awareness. There is also a similar group, same topic but mentioning love in the title, and I’m not sure what the difference is.

    The Deep Adaptation LinkedIn group is more of a professional focus, and less sharing of resources and support for emotional processing, but still offers the possibilities of connecting with others who are considering the implications for their own lives of climate crisis.

    The Deep Adaptation Forum, launched in March 2019, will be a place for deeper engagement and collaboration. Again, this platform is aimed at different professional perspectives.

    Climate Psychology Alliance is aimed mainly at the psychotherapy profession, but has some useful resources. In addition, in the UK this group has launched a network of therapists to provide support. For info, email

    The Reframing Collapse Facebook Group also can provide helpful feedback.

    The Dark Mountain network is also beginning to put people in direct touch with each other

    In addition, there are a variety of sources for reading and listening…

    Lifeboat Hour podcast

    Any books and articles by Caroline Baker

    Video casts by Deb Ozarko and her book Beyond Hope.

    Roy Scranton’s book Learning to Die in the Anthropocene and another book of the similar title, reviewed here.

    I write up some of my own reflections on how I have been trying and wobbling to integrate this awareness into my life and work, in this rather long reflective piece called “After Despair.” I also explored some of the emotional aspects of this topic in an hour long interview here.

    Ultimately, I think we will best supported by activities that support our transcendence from our normal fears, whether those activities are spiritual or agnostic. There are an increasing number of spiritual coaches appearing online such as my friend Zori. These forms of grassroots, diverse, non dogmatic, spiritual inspiration and support will become more important. If you have suggestions, please enter them in the comments below.

    If you want to attend events to discuss these issues with people, then you could follow this blog (link on the right) and you will get updates on what I post here, which include retreats like this one in UK.

    If you are still thinking whether it is wise to further explore your acceptance of this predicament, perhaps because of ideas it might be irresponsible or counter-productive to think we can’t prevent a breakdown in our society, then I recommend reading my post on forms of collapse-denial.”


  2. “UK Deep Adaptation Retreat, with Jem Bendell & Katie Carr

    he emerging realisation that climate change is becoming a destructive tragedy, not just an urgent challenge, is profoundly disorientating for many people. How are we to feel? What are we to do? What might become the purpose of our lives and work in the face of imminent societal breakdown from climate chaos?

    You are warmly invited to join us for three days of dialogue and reflection with people who are working on this Deep Adaptation agenda, integrating questions of resilience, relinquishment, restoration and reconciliation into their lives and work.

    We will focus on nourishing the inner resilience for us all to help make this a kinder and more sacred unravelling of life-as-we-know-it. We will draw upon the experiences of participants, a range of experiential exercises as well as facilitated connection and exploration that welcomes emotional, spiritual and somatic ways of being and (un)learning, as well as the intellectual/cognitive. Our aspiration is that we will support peaceful empowered surrender to our predicament, where action can arise from an engaged love of humanity and nature, rather than problematic stories of worth and purpose.
    This retreat is for you if you:

    are accepting the premise of Deep Adaptation, that near-term social collapse due to climate change is inevitable or very likely
    are engaged around the implications of climate breakdown for your personal and professional future
    sense that some days spent in nature with people on a similar path could support your journey and healing.
    Within a safely held and gently facilitated space, we aim to explore the possibilities for meaning, purpose, acceptance and joy amidst the climate tragedy, whilst cultivating the practice of welcoming the whole range of human emotions, including those that are painful and often pushed away. The focus is on inner adaptation rather than policies for reducing the harm from societal collapse. The retreat is part of a wider movement on Deep Adaptation. Our hope is you leave better able to host future gatherings on this agenda, and feel more peaceful in your ability to be alongside and support others in their own journeys.

    You are invited to bring a reading, practice or insight to share that is helping you to explore living lovingly and actively in the face of climate-induced collapse.”

    I particularly liked these helpful notes:

    “The Centre connects easily to the A66 and there is quick, direct access to the A1 and M6 motorways. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool are all reached in 2 hours or less by road.”


    “Penrith train station is 20 minutes away in a taxi. Appleby train station is a few minutes drive away (with some coordination and a donation towards fuel costs, the centre can provide lifts from Appleby station).”

    What? No electric cars available to run on magic free eletricity?


  3. Of course, Cumbria might be too cold and lacking exoticism for you – in which case Greece might be a preferable option?

    “22 — 29 JUNE 2019
    from € 520
    The emerging realisation that climate change is becoming a destructive tragedy, not just an urgent challenge, is profoundly disorientating for many people. How are we to feel? What are we to do? What might become the purpose of our lives and work in the face of imminent societal breakdown from climate chaos?

    You are warmly invited to join us for a week of dialogue and reflection with people working on this Deep Adaptation agenda. We will focus on nourishing the inner resilience for us all to help make this a kinder and more sacred unravelling of life-as-we-know-it. We will draw upon the experiences of participants, a range of experiential exercises as well as facilitated connection and exploration that welcomes emotional, spiritual and somatic ways of being and (un)learning, as well as the intellectual/cognitive. Our aspiration is that we will support peaceful empowered surrender to our predicament, where action can arise from an engaged love of humanity and nature, rather than redundant stories of worth and purpose.”

    Mind you, how you get there without flying, and exacerbating the existing appalling climate catastrophe, is beyond me.


  4. On the broader subject of BBC dishonesty, my rejection of the BBC’s generic response to my complaint about the Climate Change The Facts (sic) programme has finally brought this holding response:

    “Thank you for taking time to contact us again recently. This is an update to let you know that although we had referred your complaint to the relevant people, we regret that it may be a little longer before we can reply.

    We investigate and reply to most complaints at this stage of the complaints service within 20 working days (around four weeks), but cannot do so every time. It depends on what your complaint was about or how many others we are investigating, and can sometimes be affected by practical issues. For example a production team may already be working on another programme or have gone on location.

    We apologise for this and have been in touch with the relevant staff again. We therefore ask you not to contact us further in the meantime.

    For full details of our complaints process please visit:

    In the meantime thank you for contacting us – we appreciate your patience.”

    Have others received the same?


  5. Here’s Tim Jones, the ex-teacher from that Costing the Earth episode:

    Imminent societal collapse, possible human extinction, bla bla bla. He says elsewhere that his pupils found it hard to take him seriously when he tried to teach them such things. Good for them. It’s unscientific nonsense.

    The video’s best bit is right at the end. Jones accepted a bet from Andre Walker that if climate change kills Jones before he can claim his pension then Walker will pay for his funeral but if he lives to collect it then he has to give it all to Walker.

    I hope Walker got that in writing.


  6. Mark, for your 520 Euros, you get a week’s accommodation… in a tent. And you get the honour of helping Jem and Katie do the washing up.

    Encouraging and exploiting people’s irrational fear is clearly a lucrative business.


  7. Hi Paul
    seems to be a big push from the Beeb on the mental health front on everything lately (with royal input making it the thing to cover methinks)

    as usual looking for links I came across Gaia Vince at the Guardian –

    & on her blog this comment from 2014 – Liz Courtney May 8, 2014 4:34 am

    “Hi Gaia, I am an Australian film direcor pasionate about the enviroment and in 213 directed one of the largest bodies of work on our changing climate system which is now playing in over 40 countries titlled The Tipping Points – seems the only major country not to buy the series has been the UK which is odd as a huge majority of the scientists are from the UK! Anyway if you have time check it out NOW I am in development on a big series for screen and IMAX about future cities and would really like to connect with you both on a personal and a business level – so please let me know best options? LIz Courtney Unboxed Media Australia Thanks, and love your work!”

    just listen to the intro vid – this is a career for these people, they depend on scaring people.

    [Sorry for the hold-up, this got stuck in our spam folder – PM]


  8. A full transcript of Costing the Earth – Eco-Anxiety is now here:

    I was quite struck by the account of Tim Jones (ex-teacher, now full-time activist) – he clearly has some deep-seated issues and found the blockading of Blackfriars Bridge extremely therapeutic (although it was not so therapeutic, obviously, for the pool souls stuck in traffic hell). “And this weight lifted off me, and it was just a beautiful moment.” So the action appears to have met a very strong, personal need.

    Something about the intensity of this and the other accounts (singer Faith Elliott saying “it consumes every thought”, for instance) says to me that these people seem to be going through what could be called a spiritual crisis, the sort of thing that in previous centuries led to the founding of new religious movements.

    It also reminded me of the accounts of “alien abductees” (bet you didn’t see that coming!), many of which have an apocalyptic element, often to do with environmental or nuclear disaster. There’s an interesting paper on the psychology of UFO abduction beliefs which touches on this, and which you can read here:

    The paper references a book called The Threat by UFO investigator John E Mack, which you can also read online, and which has some pertinent quotes:

    From Chapter 11:
    “Taken as a group, the Positives’ [friendly aliens’] message is that humans have conducted their affairs in a way that will lead to the degradation of the planet and the end of the human species. Humans have caused poverty, ignorance, and overpopulation, and they risk environmental catastrophe and atomic annihilation. The concerned aliens are “educating” abductees to warn us of what is to come if we do not change our behavior.”

    From Chapter.3:
    “During visualization procedures, the aliens might show an abductee a multitude of images: atomic explosions, meteorites striking Earth, the world cracking in half, environmental degradation, ecological disaster, dead people bathed in blood strewn around the landscape, and the survivors begging the abductee for help.”

    Could there be that some human beings (not all) are susceptible to a deep-seated vein of apocalyptic thinking, which in these more secular times can result in eco-anxiety or even bizarre experiences at the extreme end, such as alien visions of the Earth being destroyed?

    My take on this is that people such as those in the programme saying things like “we’re losing 200 species a day” (and they’re not necessarily stupid people) could be talking from an overwhelmingly strong personal (spiritual?) conviction and perhaps are unlikely to be convinced by rational arguments around E.O. Wilson and the species-area accumulation curve.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Alex, here’s a one-hour video about the connections between alien abductions, alien/human hybridisations and climate change:

    Dr Young Hae-Chi is a follower of Dr David Jacobs, who, according to Wiki, disagrees with Dr John Mack’s teachings, although only in a Little/Big Endian way, as far as I can tell.

    Climate change first pops up about 10 minutes in, when Dr Young Hae-Chi is still setting out what his speech is all about.

    Why did aliens, we can ask, embark on the abduction and hybrid project only in the latter half of the 20th century? What I suggest here is that they started it as a response to the rapidly aggravating environmental conditions of this planet. To show why I think so, I will first explain the trend of the climate change and the scale of the threat that human species are now facing and then I will go on to mention some cases in which aliens appeared to be giving very serious warnings about the Earth environment and the impending demise of human civilisation.

    (That’s as far as I’ve watched so far.)

    Here’s an XR co-founder, born in the latter half of the 20th century, bothering people on a bus:

    Is he a mere bus-bothering-but-oddly-diffident half-Canadian hairy hippy who, like, sort of wants what’s best for everyone, you know, or is he in fact something far more sinister – a bus-bothering-but-oddly-diffident half-alien hairy hippy hybrid with secret plans to rule the world?


  10. @ Vinny, fascinating videos, thanks. 🙂

    Forgot to mention earlier, one of the most famous alien abductees is of course Whitley Strieber, whose book The Coming Global Superstorm was turned into the movie The Day After Tomorrow.


  11. Climate consensus induced anxiety.
    It is like a SJW hustler claiming they have discovered a new terrible blight in society, and only by everyone redefining the language and ignoring the science and most of all doing as they’re told by the SJW, can “social justice” be achieved.


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