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Has the BBC banned all non-alarmist views?

Peter Lilley has just issued the following press release.


The BBC is undermining its reputation for impartiality by apologising for “giving a voice” to two MPs and by putting a ‘health warning’ on the BBC website casting doubt on their credibility – even though the accuracy of what they said is not disputed: says Peter Lilley MP in a letter to the Director General.  

He added: “It is particularly outrageous that the BBC should try to discredit the only two scientifically qualified MPs who served on the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee; absurd to suggest my views are “outside the scientific consensus” when I said on the programme that I accept the proven science of global warming though my views on the likely amount of warming are at the “lukewarm” end of the range given by the IPCC; thoroughly unscientific to claim the Met Office views are upheld by scientists when, on the matter under discussion, their predictions had been falsified; and discourteous to publish these insulting and untrue remarks without even informing me.”

The letter in full:

Dear Lord Hall,

I would be grateful for the opportunity to come and discuss with you the following issue which calls into question the impartiality of the BBC.

The BBC has published an apology relating to the programme What’s the Point of the Met Office for “giving voice to climate sceptics” and because it “failed to make clear that they are a minority, out of step with the scientific consensus”.   I has also posted a note on its website to similar effect specifically referring to “comments by MPs” making it clear that it refers to me (and also Graham Stringer) and casting doubts on our credibility.

It is particularly ludicrous that the BBC should behave in this heavy handed way about a light hearted programme in a series poking fun at everything form the Methodist Church to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.   It should have told critics to get a sense of humour – not insulted participants in that show and put the BBC’s impartiality at risk.

The apology and the note are offensive, inaccurate and based on a false premise.   It is sad and in conflict with its own Charter that the BBC has again bowed to attempts by environmental campaigners to censor any views less strident than their own.

Any one reading these apologies will assume:

a)      That something I said was factually untrue.   In fact my remarks were demonstrably true and not even the Met Office have challenged a word I said.   (The Met Office did publish in 2004 with much fanfare a forecast that the world would warm by 0.3oC by 2014 whereas there was no statistically significant increase in temperature over that period.)

b)      Or that, although what I said was accurate on this occasion, I am not to be trusted in general.   That is an outrageous and possibly libellous slur.

c)       And that I will probably not be “given voice” on the BBC in future on matters relating to energy and climate change (despite my service on the Select Committees on Energy and Climate Change and on Environmental Audit) and if I am – and even if what I say is factually correct - it will always be accompanied by a health warning to listeners casting doubt on its accuracy and my credibility.

The BBC justifies this extraordinary approach by asserting that mine is a “minority voice, out of line with the scientific consensus”.   The notion that scientific truth is established by a show of hands is itself absurd[1].   But it is not true that I reject the consensus as I made clear in the programme when Mr Letts specifically asked me about this:

Quentin Letts: Are you a total sceptic, on man-made climate change? 
Peter Lilley: No, I studied physics at Cambridge, so I accept the basic thesis that … a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere, will marginally warm up the Earth. But I'm what's known as a "lukewarmist", one who thinks that there won't be much warming as a result of it, and that's the scientifically proven bit of the theory - anything going on the alarmist scale is pure speculation.

There is no scientific consensus about the climate sensitivity - how much warming will follow from a doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.   The IPCC shows a wide range of estimates and in its last report for the first time was unable even to agree on a best estimate.   My ‘lukewarmist’ estimate falls within the range they show.

What is the minimum estimate of the climate sensitivity in which it is necessary to believe for the BBC to define someone as part of the “scientific consensus”, and to be allowed a voice on the airways without a demeaning health-warning?    Is there a maximum estimate beyond which a similar health warning will be given?   Or does the BBC take the view that no one can be too alarmist even if they are outside the “scientific consensus” or the range spelt out by the IPCC?

Is the BBC now saying that anyone who takes a less than alarmist view of the likely rate of global warming is outside the scientific consensus and must be publicly labelled as unreliable or excluded from the airwaves?

On what evidence does the BBC base its claim about the existence of a scientific consensus?   The only detailed and credible study of the views of climate scientists that I know of is that published by Bray and von Storch[2].  It shows that there is no consensus on many key aspects of climate science.   Their Figure below shows that if anyone is outside the consensus it is the Met Office which claimed that it could forecast a decade ahead but – as I reported in the programme – was falsified by the resultant observations.

I am personally less concerned about the harm to my reputation from the BBC’s decision to cast doubt on my credibility than about the serious damage this will inflict on the BBC’s own reputation for impartiality and veracity.    As someone brought up in a BBC household I have a considerable affection for the institution.    I hope you will try to restore the Corporation’s credibility by repudiating this unwarranted apology, taking down the insulting note from the website and giving me the assurance that I will neither be excluded from the airwaves nor subject to demeaning and unjustified slurs on my credibility should my views ever be reported by the BBC.

But we can discuss the best way to set matters right when we meet.

Yours sincerely

Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP

[1] To paraphrase Prof Feynman, the scientific method is to compare predictions, based on a theory, with observations (e.g comparing Met Office’s predictions with observations): “If they disagree … the theory is wrong. In that simple statement is the key to science. It does not make any difference how beautiful your theory is, who made the theory – if it disagrees with experiment it is wrong. That is all there is to it.”  That does not mean the basic physics of global warming is wrong but their model clearly does need revising.  The statement on the BBC website that “We would like to clarify that the Met Office's underlying views on climate change are supported by the scientific consensus” does not apply to the matter in contention between us.   Any practising scientist will agree that their underlying views on the balance between global warming and natural factors was shown to be false.

[2] Climate Science and the Transfer of Knowledge to Public and Political Realms by Dennis Bray and Hans von Storch  A survey of the views of over 400 practising climate scientists in USA, Canada and Germany.

I can't say I agree with Lilley that the BBC's impartiality is "at risk". The BBC hasn't been impartial on climate change since the day that Lord Hall - or plain Tony Hall as he was then - got Roger Harrabin to set up the Cambridge Media and Environment seminars, a course of action that ultimately led to the 28gate scandal.

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Reader Comments (61)

Michael Oxenham

as many people - notably in my view Michael Crichton have elaborated - the present environmental movement displays almost all the attributes of an organised religion.

Harrabin is is a sly proselytiser for the dogma / catechisms that provide the belief framework of the faithful. He does not seek enlightenment offered by observation and analysis - he seeks to block contradictory information and sow fear and doubt - all aimed at quite ruthlessly promoting his ideoology from his senior position inside the state broadcaster.

He is usually very careful to provide morsels of "balance" that he can point at to deflect / misdirect from criticism of his "analysis". Numerate and curious he is not.

I expect the BBC to try the well oiled brush-off tactic on Lilley that the rest of us are so familiar with - so all consuming and hubristic is their arrogance.

Heresy will not be broadcast. Even uncertainty about how the natural world works is haram.

Oct 13, 2015 at 4:07 PM | Registered Commentertomo

tomo, I don't think the tone of Lilley's letter indicates that a well oiled brush-off is going to suffice, and given other debates going public, such as the EU, the BBC either needs to apologise for it's apology, and start addressing it's own issues, or have them addressed in a more decisive manner.

10 years ago, I would have leapt to the BBC's defence, but the BBC has grown arrogant presuming respect for glories long past.

When in a crisis, the traditional cry at the BBC has been "Deputy Heads will roll!". It has gone on for too long. Jeremy Clarkson must regret having taken aim in a restaurant, when the Boardroom was a richer target environment.

Oct 13, 2015 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The earth has stopped warming. There has been no global warming for 18 years(confirmed by both RSS and UAH satellite temperature data).. Nearly all the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not coming from human use of fossil fuels but from natural temperature and moisture induced releases from high vegetation areas(confirmed by the Japanese IBUKU climate satellite). All three terrestrial temperature data sets have been interfered with Hadcrut 4, Giss, NCDC so they are totally unreliable and have lost all credability. carbon dioxide is not a pollutant but an essential gas for human survival
Salby`s Westminister lecture this year now on u tube Ice core measurements from Antarctica confirm earth temperature in the past has been much higher than today!.

Oct 13, 2015 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerri Jackson

golf charlie

that won't stop the goons trying the brush off - if for no other reason than delaying tactics while they pass the silver plates out the back door.

It is clear that they think themselves untouchable - one has to wonder at Danny Cohen's resignation.

The sneering, smug sniping from safe sinecures will continue probably until the yokels with burning torches and pitchforks turn up - even then - I'd expect some status suffused indignation at the effrontery of the peons.

Starve them out.

Oct 13, 2015 at 6:30 PM | Registered Commentertomo

The BBC's treatment of the climate change debate is an absolute disgrace. There is no impartiality just unqualified support for the global warming hypothesis. Science is not about consensus it is about contesting the hypothesis and applying the founding principle - nullius in verba - of the Royal Society (although now discredited by its unqualified support for the global warming hypothesis). I am ashamed to admit that we have a public service broadcaster who is so lamentably on one side of the argument and refuses to give balance to the myriad of evidence that questions the hypothesis.

I have been listening to their frequent coverage opposing the demise of onshore wind farms. I have not heard any coverage that questions that this might have been a good thing. Do the BBC think we are fools?. They have a blatant "warmist" agenda and are a complete disgrace!

Oct 13, 2015 at 7:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterPatrick Harcourt

The first thing that jumps out at you is that BBC is not able to dispute any science that the Rt Hon Peter Lilley MP brings up. Instead of talking science they side-track the conversation to a nebulous "consensus" that has no meaning. It is supposedly a shared view of scientists involved. The actual number of those consensusists is in question and there is evidence that the numbers may have been falsified. But that is irrelevant because it is something they want to believe in because that is all they have..

As far as the history of consensuses goes, they have existed as far back as the Middle Ages. There was a consensus that Galileo's system of the world was wrong and he was made to recant his views in front of the papal court. He got away with only house arrest for punishment while Giordano Bruno who expressed similar views earller was burnt to death on the streets of Rome. In more recent times there was a consensus that phlogiston existed. Thermodynamics put that to rest but its defenders kept agitating for the next hundred years that it was real.

Peter Lilley rightly brings up Feynmam's view that the validity of any theory must be verified by comparing its predictions with observations. No matter how beautiful a theory is, if it disagrees with observations it is wrong. The theory in question here is of course the greenhouse theory of warming. There is no experimental proof of it so the BBC and a host of pseudo-scientists depend on the consensus to prove their case. I am sorry to say that they are all wrong. That is because because their beautiful theory does not meet the Feynman requirementthat predictions and observations must agree. First lets take predictions. The Arrhenius greenhouse theory is the one that IPCC uses to predict our climate, It says that addition of of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will warm the atmosphere by its greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect to them means absorbing infrared radiation from the air and using this captured energy to warm the air. Now it happens that we can measure atmospheric temperature quite well and we can also determine how much carbon dioxide is in the air from the Keeling curve. Knowing these two things allows us to compare predictions with observations for a Feynman test. First you use the Keeling cuirve to determine how much carbon dioxide is being added to the air. Next you calculate how much warming this will create. And finally you look at the temperature graph and compare the predictions with actual temperature. This has been done. And guess what? The predicted temperature and the global temperature simply do not agree. They have not agreed for the last 18 years.

Clearly that beautiful greenhouse theory is just plain wrong and needs to be discarded into the waste basket of history. It so happens that the pseudo-scientists in charge at the IPCC simply don't understand this fact ankeep fighting it. They are trying to prove that there is no hiatus by changing existing temperature records. More than two dozen papers have come out, all hoping to prove that there is no hiatus.They have not succeeded, despite looking everywhere, including the ocean bottom, for that "lost heat." Their models and their theories simply cannot handle the no-warming environment of today.

While the Arrhenius greenhouse theory does not work, we do have an alternate theory that does. It is called MGT for Miskolczi greenhouse theory. It predicts exactly what we see: addition of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere does not warm the air. But it gets worse because so far we have overlooked the fact that in the eighties and nineties there was still another non-warming hiatus period. It lasted from 1979 to 1997 or 18 years, just like the current one has lasted. I discovered it in 2008 while doing research for my book. I used satellite data but when I went to cross check with ground-based data I discovered that were showing false warming in its place. They have been doing it since 1997 when that hiatus stopped. Clearly an outfit that falsifies temperature ecords to fool the public should not be in charge of public temperature data. It should be investigated and necessary action taken under the RICO statute they have tried to use against their scientific opponents. The present hiatus and the former one in the eighties and nineties jointly cover the period of satellite observations that began in 1979. Since the presence of a hiatus blocks out the greenhouse effect we can say that all the satellite data sine 1979 are greenhouse free.

[Paragraphs added for ease of reading. BH]

Oct 13, 2015 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterArno Arrak

tomo, the BBC have barricaded themselves into a corner, and expect to be fed and rescued. Miliband failed, and even the BBC seem to have realised that Corbyn represents another Tory victory. Burnt Bridges Corporation.

Arno Arrak, I am not qualified or experienced in sufficient science to comment on alternative theories concerning climate change, however, as a country bumpkin, I can say that that not much seems to have changed, so the whole CO2=global warming theory seems to have burnt itself out.

Oct 13, 2015 at 11:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I'd never revisited the 28Gate scandal, so I was more than gobsmacked to see Tony Hall had a part to play in that travesty.

That connection explains a lot, I really thought that when he joined the BBC as DG, Tony Hall might take a serious look at the BBC's climate bias. Now I understand why it is business as usual at the Beeb. Someone needs to pull the BBC apart and start again.

Oct 14, 2015 at 8:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Cook

the warmish are always 100% certain..
until you ask specifics, then you get pseudo liberal waffle with every line they utter the word "likely" , "could" , "maybe".

Precautionary, have they EVER set the things next to each other we should precautions about??

They want MASSIVE INVESTMENT because something very far down the lane, no matter we see no urgency now, very far down the lane it "could" be bad. Just warming could be bad, all the other things will never happen we shouldnt have any precautions there.

Only windmills and schemes with taxes that play in the present liberal freeloaders hands count of course. They all sorted that out.

Lefties DESTROYED nuclear industry so now only want windmills because they "understand" (have a tentacle in the honey pots) that

Why would we believe them? why because they have been lying about each and every single issue

Oct 14, 2015 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

The BBC never had any impartiality in the first place. They just pretended they did. They are elitist snobs who couldn't care a toss for the people that they are supposed to serve. They demand public funding like it is their birthright and then they proceed to spend the people's money on PC propoganda that the people do not want. Then they pretend to be morally superior and liberally enlightened when in actual fact they are just a bunch of bottom feeders, sicophants, narcissists and hypocrites.

Mar 31, 2016 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndrew


A scathing evaluation of the BBC.

I would like to extol the BBC's excellent programmes, unfortunately they are increasingly rare. The BBC's coverage of HM EIIR's Thames boat trip encompassed so much that is wrong/broken at BBC exemplified by the semaphore flag message from "War Horse" that BBC boasted they had nobody who understood it.

Then I remember WimbleDum 2015.

imho the few good programmes they broadcast are outweighed by the huge amount of childish, dumbned down, biased programmes and opinionated news.

Your evaluation is valid.


Apr 2, 2016 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterPcar

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