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« Holyrood smothers another new industry at birth | Main | Teaching values »

The BBC and the chief scientist

Ben Pile highlights a fascinating comment at Guido's blog:

In 2010, I was on a research trip to an area north of Svalbard. We were lucky enough to have a So-Called BBC journalist along for the ride. Unfortunately, my cabin was very close to his which meant that I had to listen to him editing his riveting reports about Climate Change™ before they were broadcast on BBC Climate Change 24. He'd just interviewed a Danish glaciologist that we had with us who explained a process with the sea ice that was "a negative feedback" (contrary to climate change bollox). I heard Mr X, the journalist, rewind and replay the tape about 5 times before he finally rang the chief scientist for advice because "I'm not sure this is putting out the right message...."

This raises a few questions: is this the government chief scientist that is referred to? And who was the BBC journalist? I'm struggling to find a BBC article about Svalbard around that time.

It would be extraordinary if the BBC was contacting the GCSA for "lines to take".

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Reader Comments (30)

Ask him?

Jan 8, 2016 at 9:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

Almost certainly. Reklam confirms it was the SAMS expedition.

Jan 8, 2016 at 10:00 AM | Unregistered Commenterdidymous

It may be from 'Costing the Earth' on Radio 4, which seems to concentrate on this theme.

Jan 8, 2016 at 10:12 AM | Unregistered Commentertrefjon

Is anyone really surprised? And if, as seems likely, the story turns out to be entirely true, what will be done about it?

The BBC took up its position years ago, as it has done on other 'liberal' causes célèbres such as the EU and immigration, and however many times it is caught out displaying rampant bias, it just sails on, oblivious and unchecked.

Jan 8, 2016 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

Does the BBC have a "right message" on all topics or just Green issues?
A "neutral message" - just reporting the facts - would be preferable.

Arguably that's what was given in the end; a neutral message.
It's just the lack of context that leaves the report only informing and not educating.

Still, it's quite entertaining now.

Jan 8, 2016 at 10:51 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Your 'NO evidence for ocean acidification' story from last week seems to have slipped through the so-called BBC's editorial net, likewise at the Guardian too. Hands up whose astonished?! That really ought to be bombshell news in the climate change industry as OA has been pitched for several years in a 'Best Supporting' role to AGW. To learn that there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER for it should be front and centre on the so-called BBC and the 'worlds leading environment newspaper' environment section. Instead, tumbleweed......

Sometimes silence really can say more than words ever can.

Jan 8, 2016 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshireRed

"Richard is an award-winning science writer and broadcast and so is in healthy competition with his Planet Earth co-presenter as to who makes the best podcast."

Wow, what a fellow, he's an actual "broadcast", as opposed to a "broadcaster"! And that from Cambridge University! Pretty much sums up the sloppiness of that once hallowed institution. When I used to work at RAL, every letter was checked & read through for accuracy & grammar as a professional team should always do, none of this "what's in a spelling mistake" attitude. If they can't get basic simple written English right, what chance that their science is right? Sloppy!

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

So the comment on Guido's blog by Lenny Henry

Is that the genuine Lenny Harry whose married to Dawn French

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamspid


Check the avatar again.

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

Jamspid: probably not -- the avatar looks more like Ainsley Herriott. Also, "Tony Blair" and "John Prescott", amongst many others, are also regular contributors.

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:33 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

"Lenny Henry" is being subtly ironic with his avatar, as when Lenny's knighthood was announced, ITV news accompanied it with archive footage of Ainsley Harriot.

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:49 AM | Registered Commenterdennisa

Is that Tony "I'm a multi-millionaire at taxpayers expence" Blair, our once great Socialist leader?

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

As is Old Goat, but I never was famous...

Jan 8, 2016 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Goat

While not wishing to drop EJ in it.

From below the comment you have posted is this:

I may have mentioned it before but the fuckwit had one report that started excitedly with "That's the sound of us smashing through icebergs!"

From Hollingham's blog:

But then we seem to find reserves of power to smash through the bergs, ripping the ice apart to send it toppling in fragments along the sides.

Jan 8, 2016 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

It's propaganda/lies. You would have to be daft in the head not to realise that.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered Commenteresmiff

But then we seem to find reserves of power to smash through the bergs, ripping the ice apart to send it toppling in fragments along the sides.
Jan 8, 2016 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered Commenter Swiss Bob

A strange claim for a conventional powered ship, perhaps being an eco trip it used pedal power. Yes, that must be it. :)

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick J

>It would be extraordinary if the BBC was contacting the GCSA for "lines to take".

Well, it should be extraordinary but, of course, it's no surprise any more. Only when the Beeb finally make the connection between the decline in their output standards and the similar trend in the number of licence-fee payers will they sit up and take notice.

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:16 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

My work 'pon occasion takes me onto research vessels up north - Svalbard / Greenland (E&W) / Nordkapp / Barents Sea.

EJ Reklam's comments on the Whacky Wadham piece tie in pretty much with my experience. If one does discuss "that topic" - most of the folk are pretty circumspect about attribution and will essentially say (most times) that variability is so large that they could not honestly commit to an evidenced opinion and certainly not publicly since the Eco-Inquisition will always make space for another heretic head on the trophy wall...

The only folk I ever came across that were enthusiastic / voluble AGW melting world alarmists were the token academic liberal arts writer / poet in residence and other artists along for the experience....

Then of course there's the BBC's solo effort with Neptune to Greenland ... fragments of which are still rattling around the web.

A number of pals/acquaintances have tried to rectify BBC reporting from offshore / at sea to correct geographical and technical fantasies with no success at all. The alarmist disinformation stands.... so much so that there has been some discussion about going all Pointman "EcoAnnie" in the certain knowledge that the technical veracity will never be quentioned...

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:19 PM | Registered Commentertomo

"When I used to work at RAL, every letter was checked & read through for accuracy & grammar as a professional team should always do, none of this "what's in a spelling mistake" attitude."

"Is that Tony "I'm a multi-millionaire at taxpayers expence" Blair, our once great Socialist leader?"

Just sayin'... :-)

Jan 8, 2016 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGavin

I note that one of Richard Hollingham’s heroes is Robert F. Scott, of “Scott of the Antarctic” fame. Sad, really, as it indicates he prefers tragedy to inspiration – one of my own heroes of that era was Ernest Shackleton, who managed to survive, with all his crew, despite the bad fortune that beset his expedition.

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:33 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Damned predictive text, can't switch it off!

Jan 8, 2016 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Radical Rodent, it is a sad fact that Scott is remembered better for his heroic failure and death, than Shackleton who failed in his mission, but survived through his (and his men's) bravery, leadership and heroism. By the time Shackleton made it back, WW1 was underway.

For those not familiar, his trip was to cross Antarctica, via the South Pole. His ship was crushed by ice, and the crew used life boats to get to shore. There was no hope of rescue, so Shackleton sailed an open lifeboat to South Georgia, was shipwrecked on the wrong side, and climbed/hiked over the top to the whaling settlement, arranging the rescue of his stranded men.

Jan 8, 2016 at 3:40 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"Pretty much sums up the sloppiness of that once hallowed institution.

We don't need checkers and proofreaders anymore because now we have computesr. Why sweat the details when all you have to do is be an "idea man" and think Globally, Act Locally in accordance with Big Green?

Jan 8, 2016 at 4:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPiperPaul

"Framing", as the Master Media Manipulator professionals trying to force "correct thinking" openly confess, is crucial.

The US National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (curiously under the Dept. of Commerce) Style Manual for report writing mandated avoiding the use of the term, "positive feedback" in discussing "global warming", rather saying "accelerates negative effects".
In a futile search for my lost link to this curiosity from a decade back, I did unearth this remarkable current admission in their glossary.
Water Vapor (H2(5) "Water vapor is the primary gas responsible for the greenhouse effect."

With the 50 year government campaign against dietary cholesterol ending with the USDA admitting yesterday that dietary intake has nothing to do with blood levels, (though not being straightforward about there never having been any evidence for the "settled science") what can the world be coming to?

Jan 8, 2016 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterbetapug

I go to SAMS quite frequently with work. I did manage to raise a few eyebrows on one occasion when sitting in their refectory overtly reading "The Hockey Stick Illusion", back when it was not off the press. Until challenged in a loud voice by "What's That!" .... but that's another story.

Jan 8, 2016 at 7:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterKnockJohn

There was a BBC news report sometime last year 2015 which was by Shukman, I think. He was in open water toward the russian- norwegian coast in a rubber boat showing how there was open water and all the ice had gone. Could it have been that one.?

Jan 8, 2016 at 9:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

tomo 8th Jan 1:19pm

Thanks for the reminder - EcoAnnie - one of Pointy's best.

Jan 8, 2016 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

It is really good to see Peter Wadham getting credit at Guido's. He is the clearly visible part of an ice berg, sticking up above the sea. The public can't see the dark menace of climate scientists, lurking beneath the surface, keeping him afloat.

Jan 9, 2016 at 1:02 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

We are assailed constantly by scientist/activists and government scientific advisers who ignore the Civil Service Code and promote a political agenda rather than do their job and present the scientific evidence. Currently the attack on individual liberty and taxation targeting is focused on alcohol consumption and sugar. And in the wider society, energy pricing.

Will we ever return to the clear-minded advice of the likes of Dr Magnus Pyke. He provides some wisdom on what is science and sound advise on nutrition and fossil based energy v windmills/solar. An interview from 1980 at ICL that should be compulsory viewing for scientist/activists.

Enjoy the human windmill!

Jan 10, 2016 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas

Nicholas, I'm wondering how much tax they will put on jam and honey.

Curses on the WI, and those pesky bees!

Jan 10, 2016 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterjolly farmer

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