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« Curry down | Main | Tom Chivers on 28gate »

Guido on climate again

Guido picks up on Joe Smith's "Dangerous News" paper. This is discussed in my CMEP pamphlet, as it was an important part of the hunt for the truth about the seminars. Guido is understandably outraged...

An academic paper containing evidence from previous seminars shows that “specialists” and BBC bosses admitted their editorial stance could be exaggerating the risks of climate change. An anonymous documentary maker explains: “shots might be set up this way, with the member of the public saying I’m suffering (from global warming) even if the causal link cannot be directly drawn”. According to one media specialist, “on account of the weak understanding of science, there are now instances of coverages that exaggerate the risk of climate change… this is unthinkable in spheres such as economics or politics”. Unbelievably, these unnamed journalists are admitting  exaggerating the risks of climate change.

Read the whole thing, but note that this paper predates the climate change seminar itself.

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Reader Comments (35)

Interesting if you compare the descriptions above with the contents of David Shukman's recent article on Hurricaine Sandy, which was remarkably level-headed and used Roger Pielke jr as one of the primary sources in discussing why it is still not possible to link AGW and extreme weather events - it even mentions that ACE measurements show no increasing trend.

In light of both this and the recent Climategate documentary, maybe the influence of the warmists is starting to wane at the Beeb?

Nov 14, 2012 at 3:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

If we can agree on one basic definition of 'news' as being: information on an obstacle to a society's way of life, we might see that the value (to society) of such information is determined by the known value of the obstacle it describes - ranging anywhere between non-existent to insurmountable.

As society's trusted deliverer of information, it is the BBC's task to seek to identify this value in any given obstacle. Instead, we find the BBC using a secret meeting with the intent to seek to inflate the value of the AGW obstacle. We know this from the quality of people it invited, and those it didn't.

We can also recognise this process in the BBC's attempt to inflate McAlpine as an obstacle and to understate Savile as one.

By these actions, the BBC has made itself a most serious and pressing obstacle to society's way of life.

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

As George Entwistle said in his resignation the BBC DG is also Editor in Chief and carries the ultimate responsibility for the BBCs output.

So the person who carries the can for the lack of impartiality and the exageration of climate reporting is the DG at the time - Mark Thompson.

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterbeeboid

" but note that this paper predates the climate change seminar itself."

- The paper is actually very important vis a vis the #28gate seminar - it shows that this attempt to influence and lobby the BBC has been occurring since 1997 at multiple seminars. It just happens to have been the 2006 one that blew up in their faces.

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterKatabasis

Peter S: Brilliant way to frame it, integrating 28gate, Savile and McAlpine in a totally fair way.

Nov 14, 2012 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

It has been alleged that I am unable to appreciate comments anywhere from those failing to use their real names. As a single counter-example, let me offer #57 from Guido's:

One-term Dave, leading the Tories to their grave, says:
November 14, 2012 at 2:41 pm

I think you need a little perspective. Man-made global warming is a fact. If my extremely rich daddy-in-law didn’t get £1,000 every day, tax free, for having a windmill on his estate, all the penguins would drown and the polar bears would have nothing to eat.

I know my green taxes are wrecking our economy. I know they’re putting you into fuel poverty and ruinign the tourist industry. But please. Think of the fluffy polar bears. And all the very rich people who are getting decidedly richer out of this scam.

Tood pip!

Hilarious and effective. Well done Dave. Or should I say Dellers?

Nov 14, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I don't really like bloggers who come a bit late to the party, and then intimate that they have provided the scoop without acknowledging the people who did the hard work....

Nov 14, 2012 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

The comments on Guidos blog are well worth a read. Master class in taking the piss.

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead

Dodgy Geezer - though you have a point, Guido did a post yesterday with a link to Maurizio (and also tweeted another blogger nearer to the MSM to get him to attribute the work) and a recognition of Tony's battle. One of the advantages of the blog is that it has a wider readership and does seem to sometimes get picked up by the mainstream press. I'm a reader there and recognise a number of others who have also posted here (AC1, Schrodingers etc). As we know, there's nothing worse than a circle jerk.

Nov 14, 2012 at 7:30 PM | Unregistered Commenterstun

I support Stun's remarks.

Any help with the heavy lifting is welcome.

Guido is followed by the MSM even if it is to abuse him.

Those of us who seek Climate realism and a return to a scientific debate should not disparage anyone who helps even in a small way.

Nov 14, 2012 at 8:42 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

The Real World Brainstorms take place annually and are co-hosted by BBC Vision and BBC News. The aim is to bring together key decision makers within broadcasting with a mix of writers, producers and environment and development specialists to explore how we can more effectively represent our interconnected world. Delegates exchange views on key issues and ideas, discussing fresh approaches to stories which impact here in the UK and around the world.
Past seminars have had enormously positive feedback, inspiring major programme
seasons as well as diverse individual projects. But the meetings are not about pitching
ideas – they are about making space for fresh thinking about the way the world is and
how it might be represented more richly.
The seminars are organized jointly by the BBC, IBT and the Cambridge Media and
Environment Programme.

A one day event was held in London on January 26 2006, focusing on climate change and its impact on development. The brainstorm brought together 28 BBC executives and independent producers, this time including several from BBC News, and 28 policy experts. It was chaired by Fergal Keane and looked ahead to the next 10 years, to explore the challenges facing television in covering this issue. Several delegates attended from developing countries, including Ethiopia, China and Bangladesh.
On September 14 and 15 2006, another one and a half day event took place at Sidney
Sussex College in Cambridge. The theme was ‘interconnectedness’ and there was a
particular focus on Latin America. Many of the BBC participants were drama and
comedy producers, directors and writers. One of the aims of the seminars has been to
persuade non factual programme makers to introduce international themes and stories
into their programmes. As a result of the Kew seminar, the BBC commissioned Howard Brenton to write a drama on contemporary China. It is now recognised that drama, comedy and entertainment offer ways of reaching new and wider audiences.

Was this really a policy making seminar?

Nov 14, 2012 at 8:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

I follow stun and retireddave is saluting Guido rather than shooting him.

Nov 14, 2012 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake


'Was this really a policy making seminar?'

Not until a reason was required for a change in the position of impartiality as far as global warming reporting was concerned.

The false reason for that change in position then needed covering up, which is where we are now.

Nov 14, 2012 at 9:28 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

I agree that it may not be wise to shoot friendly messengers; however, one of the things I really admire about Dellers is that he rarely - if ever - fails to recognize, acknowledge and link to those in the blogosphere whose work he is discussing (even a lesser-light such as I received a Dellers h/t and commendation a few years ago when I wrote about the birth of the IPCC's sibling, IPBES!).

Linking to sources by friendly messengers encourages others to explore for themselves in greater depth, and come to their own conclusions. My theory is that this practice has contributed greatly to the steadily declining "trust" in "climate science" - and in those who adhere so unquestioningly to its tenets.

By the time I read Chivers piece on 28gate, I note that he had subsequently amended his post to acknowledge Maurizio's marvellous manuscript discovery.

IMHO, it would be nice if Guido would consider following the example set by Dellers and Chivers.

All of the above being said, in light of:

This is discussed in my CMEP pamphlet, as it was an important part of the hunt for the truth about the seminars.

I must apologize to our host for failing to follow the link in his Conspiracy in Green when I read it some months ago; so that in one of the recent threads here, after reading Joe Smith's 2005 "Dangerous News" paper (which I would urge all who have not read it to read), I had attributed the "find" to Tallbloke, whose more recent link I had followed.

Now that the extent of the influence of green NGOs on the Beeb is seeing the light of day, I think it is also worth noting that this is a parallel to one of the main problems with the IPCC reports, as Donna had noted in TDT.

As an aside, to my mind the patterns that emerge from the various and sundry protective circles surrounding the prime promulgators of climatological tenets have all the ingredients of a Baroque melody.

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Lord B

The snippet of "REAL WORLD BRAINSTORMS" pasted above was written by Mark Galloway in 2008, and I would suggest the BBC seminars morphed into policy seminars perhaps sometime after that date.
Just my opinion of course.

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn


One of the problems as I see it is that there remains a relatively small - albeit expanding - amount of 'realist' information getting into the mainstream press. We can rage as much as we want in the blogosphere, and the volume is surely being turned up, but I would dare to say that one newspaper with a circulation of a million people (the Daily Express in this case, regrettably also a Princess Di assassination tinfoil hat wearer) probably achieves more than the blogs can do when preaching to the converted. The research being done by yourself and all the other bloggers and individuals is amazing, but needs to be converted into public opinion. Our acknowledged leftie and entirely reasonable geoffchambers seems to be a better studier of this than I am, but we are approaching this from a fully rational viewpoint of uncertainty and doubts about mitigation - if necessary, and at what cost - whilst our sworn enemies use a completely different technique of closing down any dissent amidst blind belief.

It depresses me that the MSM hasn't yet taken up the bait, especially with Boaden involved. We have a long way to go.

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM | Unregistered Commenterstun

BBC has given an official response to Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail about the Jan. 2006 seminar. They disavow any claim that the seminar(s) set editorial policy. Yet that contradicts what their (now former) news director said about this "high level" seminar.

BBC now minimizes significance of the seminars and also says IBT is no longer involved! (is that fallout from the IBT unwittingly providing the list of seminar participants, or had the change occurred already?? (when the IBT organized seminars in the past, was there some ongoing contract with the BBC or was it always on an ad hoc basis year by year?)

BBC response to Melanie Phillips of the Daily Mail

"[Melanie Phillips] put the main points above to the BBC. In response, they said this:"

'There has been no censoring of climate change reporting. We have attempted to report proportionately. Indeed The BBC Trust’s science review of last year praised our coverage. The event certain bloggers have referred to was one in a series of seminars for BBC editors and managers. They were a forum for free and frank discussion of global issues and not created to produce programming nor set story direction. They involved external contributors from business, science and academia. Seminars such as this do not set editorial policy. They can over time and along with many other elements help inform our journalism through debate and access to expertise, but the setting of our editorial policies is a formal process involving BBC Boards and the BBC Trust.

'The BBC has refused disclosure on the basis that the documents were held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature, and are therefore outside the scope of the BBC’s designation under FOI Act. The Information Tribunal has unanimously upheld this. The seminar was conducted under the Chatham House Rule to enable free and frank discussion, something that is necessary for our independent journalism.

'IBT were one of a range of organisations and different voices the BBC worked with in delivering these seminars. They are no longer involved. The events were considered against our editorial guidelines and raised no issues about impartiality for the BBC or its output.'

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil


From Seesaw to Wagon Wheel, Safeguarding impartiality in the 21st century was prior to that wasn't it, 2007?

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:22 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Hilary Ostrov: "Maurizio's marvellous manuscript discovery"

If you're going to alliterate, m'lady, go all the way..."Maurizio's marvellous manuscript materialisation from memorious machine."

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:39 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW


I get the impression that these seminars were never there to define policy or were debates in which the fundamental direction of policy could be challenged.

More like they were there to communicate policy, accept minor course directions and act as pep talks or progress reporting meetings.

They were too big to define policy and there were too many there who could act to implement policy but not define it.

I suspect they started by communicating the general direction of travel, consulting stakeholders blah, blah, and ended more as chearleading sessions, no brainstorming about it, unless as better ways to sell the message.

I think there was a process of morphing and formalising something insitutionally agreed but not realised.

It was never a question of consulting various experts and considering their views. Pre-screened experts maybe. The agenda was never in doubt.

In any case as asked by Latimer Alder and others, why should the BBC have a policy on CAGW anyway? They're just there to report impartially, not to create opinion or frame dabates.

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:49 PM | Unregistered Commentercosmic

Skiphil - ah, would that be this Trust review that heaped up the praise?:

Nov 15, 2012 at 12:41 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

"The events were considered against our editorial guidelines and raised no issues about impartiality for the BBC or its output.'" was badly written - considered vis-a-vis their guidelines or against them?

Nov 15, 2012 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered Commenterstun

One of the Jones report's recommendations was the appointment of a BBC Science Editor. Well the executive decided they would make the position "news only". David Shukman got the job - read his incisive and authorative scientific analysis in the side bar on this story:

A more complete treatment can be found here:

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet


Thanks for the link. Seems to me they’re digging a bit of a hole for themselves with this. A couple of things jump out on the first reading.

1. They claim this event was just a “forum for free and frank discussion of global issues and not created to produce programming nor set story direction” and that “seminars such as this do not set editorial policy” but rather that’s a “formal process involving BBC Boards and the BBC Trust”. One has to then ask how it is that in his report for the BBC Trust, Bridcut seems to have been told, or at the very least, given the impression, that the BBC had “come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus [on anthropogenic climate change]” and that this was as a result of a “high level seminar” comprising “some of the best scientific experts”. So if it wasn’t this particular seminar which set that editorial policy, to which one is Bridcut referring? And which members of the BBC Board attended and which members of the BBC Trust attended? And if it was a “formal process”, then obviously there will be minutes, yes? And again, if it was a “formal process” then those minutes will surely come under the scope of the FOI Act, yes?

2. They say the seminar was “a forum for free and frank discussion of global issues and not created to produce programming nor set story direction”. So why were high level executives from the Drama, Comedy, Entertainment and Education departments, each of them responsible for making and commissioning programmes, in attendance, if not to consider ideas for programming and story direction?

I’m sure there’s more to think on. Meanwhile I’ll cross post this on Melanie’s blog and see if she can ask them.

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:20 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

Nov 14, 2012 at 10:53 PM | stun

[much that I don't dispute or disagree with] It depresses me that the MSM hasn't yet taken up the bait, especially with Boaden involved. We have a long way to go.

But, Stun, this steam-roller has had an unimpeded free-pass for more than twenty years. IMHO, it would not be reasonable to expect the MSM "churnalists" to change their advocacy spots (or even to recognize their glaringly obvious blind-spots - e.g. Kloor, Hickman and Revkin!) and engage in some honest investigative journalism.

As Matt Ridley wrote when he posted an excerpt from TDT a little over a year ago:

[...]For those of us who took the IPCC’s evaluations of climate at face value when they came out — I know I did — and thought that they were based on an impartial and careful process that relied on peer reviewed evidence, these revelations are shocking. [Donna Laframboise's] book The Delinquent Teenager is [...] one of the most important pieces of investigative journalism in recent years. It demolishes the argument that we need the mainstream media because the blogosphere will never do the hard work of investigative journalism. The opposite is true. [emphasis added -hro]

That being said, while I agree that we still have a long way to go, the view from here (so to speak!), is that we have come a long way in the past three years. And - as the saying goes - Rome wasn't built in a day:-) Which brings me to ...

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Skiphil's

quote of the Beeb's "response" to Melanie Phillips. Seems to me that they are following in the footsteps of the IPCC in their haste to "revisionize" and paper-over their foibles and failings. Considering the full context of Phillips' post (and noticing particularly that to which they did not respond) they've done themselves further injury.

Don't know about you, but I am having considerable difficulty squaring:

[the seminars were] not created to produce programming nor set story direction

with their claim in the next paragraph that:

BBC has refused disclosure on the basis that the documents were held for the purposes of journalism, art or literature,

Additionally, their reliance on (the "authority" of):

BBC Trust’s science review of last year praised our coverage

which they did publish with great fanfare, serves to shine the spotlight on the self-serving hypocrisy of their adamant refusal to publish the Balen Report (a review of their "coverage" of the Middle East).

Although, I suppose one must give them some "credit" for the consistency of their arrogance and very expensive obfuscatory stonewalling when questioned by members of the public they are supposed to be serving.

And while I'm here ...

Nov 14, 2012 at 11:39 PM | HaroldW

"Maurizio's marvellous manuscript materialisation from memorious machine."

You're absolutely right! Thanks for fixing that for me ;-)

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:22 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

I said there would be more to think on and straight away Hilary sees things I'd missed :-)

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:30 AM | Registered CommenterLaurie Childs

"“on account of the weak understanding of science, there are now instances of coverages that exaggerate the risk of climate change… this is unthinkable in spheres such as economics or politics”. "

Who is he trying to kid?? The media exagerates and lies about ANYTHING their favorites want to promote or damage!!

Nov 15, 2012 at 3:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterKuhnKat

"this is unthinkable in spheres such as economics or politics”.

Nov 15, 2012 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

In early 2008, the BBC DG Mark Thompson deigned to respond to a limited selection of wideranging criticisms proffered by Telegraph readers. One annoyed listener complained of the pervasive climate change coverage which was brushed aside thus

Q: Everyone is surely aware that ‘climate change’ or global warming’ has been a huge propaganda success story for the ecofanatic lobby so far, but is it really necessary to inflict us with a daily diet of constant drip, drip innuendo associating it with every negative environmental story that devotees within your ranks can trawl up. This morning at 6 the radio 2 news bulletin slipped in a typical example linking coastal change with it. At least our forebears were more philosophical about the slowly changing natural environment. For instance, the coast of Kent and East Sussex has changed quite dramatically in historical times. The Cinque Ports, once the home of the Royal Navy, are now silted up or drowned. Winchelsea was totally rebuilt on a hill in 1288 when Old Winchelsea was finally inundated in a great storm and the Rother changed its course completely. The silent majority of the British public are far more intelligent than you seem to credit them and remain implacably impervious to this kind of indoctrination. Posted by Richard on January 16, 2008 12:09 PM

MT: You make a good point that climate change is not a new phenomenon. Nonetheless, I believe that the level of worldwide scientific consensus (IPCC reports and so on) is sufficiently strong that we are right to devote considerable air-time to the subject.

Nov 15, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Registered CommenterPharos

An intriguing comment from Tony Newberry aka Harmless Sky on ClimateAudit

'And steps are already in hand to make sure that the questions that need asking are put in the hands of people who the BBC will have difficultly not answering.'

No doubt all will become clearer in the fullness of time

I would write to my MP but he is an idiot.

Nov 15, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterDolphinhead


"Maurizio's marvellous medicine" perhaps. It must taste pretty revolting to the Beeb (and therefore be doing them some good).

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"people who the BBC will have difficulty not answering"

And difficulty answering. Rocks and hard places come to mind, but it's about time. Anyone for popcorn?

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:04 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


These cottages (on the Isle of Wight) were built several fields inland:


We also have an ex-harbour that is now farmland. All naturally occurring...

Nov 15, 2012 at 1:15 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


Mark Thompson's response simply shows him to be entirely ignorant of Earth Sciences - the gradual erosion or inundation of coastal areas has absolutely sweet FA to do with climate change (and this was the main point of my one formal complaint ever to the BBC - rejected of course other than their accepting that the photographs used behind the news reader showing black 'smoke' coming from cooling towers were misleading and would not be used again).

Nov 15, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Blanchard

The seminars so far 2004
The seminars started with an overall theme: change and its impact on people’s lives in the
west and in the developing world. The aim was to demonstrate that the lives of people in
the developing world are not static- as they are sometimes portrayed on television.
Specific issues discussed included the effects of global environmental, technological and
economic changes, the economic growth of China and India, urbanisation, deforestation,
access to education and running water, healthcare, trade rules, HIV/Aids and mental

The first seminar took place in London, on Thursday May 20, 2004 and the second in
Cambridge, on September 16 and 17, 2004. Each event was attended by 20 senior BBC
executives, including the Director of Television, the Channel Controllers for BBC1, 2
and 4, the Heads of Drama, Documentaries, Specialist Factual, Learning, Children’s,
News, Current Affairs and Sport. 20 developing world experts also attended. They
included academics, film makers, writers, grassroots activists, representatives from UK
based NGOs (including Barbara Stocking, the Chief Executive of Oxfam), Government
Ministers and business leaders. The Kew meeting was addressed by Hilary Benn, the
Secretary of State at the Department for International Development. Delegates traveled to
the two seminars from a range of countries including Pakistan, South Africa, Mexico and

From Harrabin’s witness statement in my own Info Tribunal appeal.

“Following a sabbatical from Cambridge University from September 1995 – December 1995, during which I developed a critique of BBC News output, including its challenges in adequately reporting slow-moving issues such as environmenal change and world developement, I began to co-organise seminars for BBC News managers and editors to discuss BBC coverage of important slow-moving stories. These seminars were orgnised by myself and Dr Smith of Cambridge University through and adhoc partnership known as the Cambridge Media and Enviornmental Programme…”

Nov 16, 2012 at 9:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

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