BBC sought advice from global warming scientists on economy, drama, music... and even game shows
Daily Mail, 27th November 2011
Britain’s leading green activist research centre spent £15,000 on seminars for top BBC executives in an apparent bid to block climate change sceptics from the airwaves, a vast new cache of leaked ‘Climategate’ emails has revealed.
The emails – part of a trove of more than 5,200 messages that appear to have been stolen from computers at the University of East Anglia – shed light for the first time on an incestuous web of interlocking relationships between BBC journalists and the university’s scientists, which goes back more than a decade.
They show that University staff vetted BBC scripts, used their contacts at the Corporation to stop sceptics being interviewed and were consulted about how the broadcaster should alter its programme output.
Like the first ‘Climategate’ leaks two years ago, they were placed last week on a Russian server by an anonymous source.
Again like their predecessors, they have emerged just before a United Nations climate summit, which is to start this week in Durban.
BBC insiders say the close links between the Corporation and the UEA’s two climate science departments, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, have had a significant impact on its coverage.
‘Following their lead has meant the whole thrust and tone of BBC reporting has been that the science is settled, and that there is no need for debate,’ one journalist said. ‘If you disagree, you’re branded a loony.’
In 2007, the BBC issued a formal editorial policy document, stating that ‘the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus’ – the view that the world faces catastrophe because of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.
The document says the policy was decided after ‘a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts’ – including those from UEA.
The ‘Climategate 2’ emails disclose that in private some of those same scientists have had doubts about aspects of the global warming case.
For example, Professor Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, admitted there was no evidence that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting because of climate change, and he and his colleagues agreed there were serious problems with the famous ‘hockey stick’ graph – the depiction of global temperatures that suggests they were broadly level for 1,000 years until they started to rise with industrialisation.
But although there is now more scientific debate than ever about influences on climate other than CO2, prompted by the fact that the world has not warmed for 15 years, a report from the BBC Trust this year compared climate change sceptics to the conspiracy theorists who blame America for 9/11, and said Britain’s main sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, should be given no air time.
The man at the centre of the BBC-UEA web is Roger Harrabin, the Corporation’s ‘environment analyst’, who reports for a range of programmes on radio and TV.
Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed that in 1996, he and his friend, Professor Joe Smith of the Open University, set up an informal two-man band to organise environment seminars for BBC executives.
Known as the Cambridge Media Environment Programme (CMEP), it operated until 2009, and over three years (2002 to 2005) received £15,000 from the Tyndall Centre. Mr Harrabin did not derive personal financial benefit, although Prof Smith was paid.
Yesterday Mike Hulme, UEA’s Professor of Climate Change, who set up the centre in 2000 and was its director until 2007, said he planned to fund CMEP from Tyndall’s outset, as an ‘integral part of our outreach and communication strategy’.
Mr Harrabin was also appointed to the Tyndall advisory board – an unpaid position he held for five years until 2005.
The Climategate 2 emails suggest Prof Hulme expected something in return – the slanting of BBC coverage to exclude global warming sceptics.
On February 25, 2002, the climate change sceptic Philip Stott, a London University professor, debated the subject with John Houghton of the Met Office on the Today programme.
This prompted an angry email to colleagues from Prof Hulme. ‘Did anyone hear Stott vs Houghton on Today, Radio 4, this morning?’ he wrote.
‘Woeful stuff really. This is one reason why Tyndall is sponsoring the Cambridge Media Environment Programme, to starve this type of reporting at source.’
Last night Prof Hulme denied he was trying to deny space to sceptics, saying: ‘What I wanted to “starve” at source was “this type of reporting” – in which the important and complex issues raised by climate change are reduced to an argument between two voices representing different positions on climate science, as though there is one right and one wrong answer to climate change.’
Far from wanting to narrow it, he said, he had tried to widen debate about the issue for years.
This was not the only time there was talk of sceptics being shut out. On December 7, 2004, the BBC’s then-environment correspondent Alex Kirby wrote to Prof Jones.
He had, he said, succeeded in blocking one sceptic from the BBC, claiming his work was ‘pure stream of consciousness rubbish’. But to his regret, he had been unable to stop a group of scientists who said there were flaws in the hockey-stick graph being featured.
‘I can well understand your unhappiness at our running the other piece,’ he wrote.
‘But we are constantly being savaged by the loonies for not giving them any coverage at all... and being the objective impartial (ho ho) BBC that we are, there is an expectation in some quarters that we will every now and then let them say something. I hope though that the weight of our coverage makes it clear that we think they are talking through their hats.’
Prof Jones commented: ‘I thought you exercised some caution with crackpots.’
Mr Kirby replied: ‘Oh Phil, what can I say...I hope you’ll still talk to me despite this.’
Yesterday Mr Kirby explained his joke, saying that editors often asked him to include sceptic views in his stories, in order to provide balance.
‘I felt then and I feel now that it’s not our job to inject artificial balance into an unbalanced reality,’ he said.
He believed scientists such as Prof Jones had got the subject ‘mainly right’, while those who rejected their conclusions were often not worth hearing.
In November 2008, in an email to his UEA colleague Claire Reeves, Prof Jones expressed his satisfaction that ‘the reporting of climate stories within the media (especially the BBC) is generally one-sided, ie the counter argument is rarely made’.
But alas, there was ‘still a vociferous and small majority [sic] of climate change sceptics... who engage the public/govt/media through web sites’.
He suggested UEA should set up a project to curb their influence, writing: ‘Issues to be addressed include: should a vociferous minority be able to bully mainstream scientists? Should mainstream climate scientists have to change the way they have worked for generations?’
Mr Harrabin shared his UEA contacts throughout the BBC.
For example, in October 2003 Vicki Barker, a presenter on the World Service, wrote asking to visit Prof Hulme, saying: ‘My colleague Roger Harrabin suggested I contact you. I am about to spend several months attempting to answer the following question for senior BBC managers: If we were to reinvent economics coverage from scratch, TODAY, incorporating what we now know (or think we know) about global environmental and economic trends, what would it look like?’
She said she had noticed ‘environmental undertow’ that was ‘beginning to tug at economies around the world... I have wondered if current newsgathering practices and priorities are conveying these phenomena as effectively as they could be. Is this a question you and some of your colleagues feel like pondering?’
The same year, BBC1 broadcast a series on the British countryside presented by Alan Titchmarsh. The last programme presented a deeply pessimistic view of future global warming and before it was transmitted its producer, Dan Tapster, asked Prof Hulme to vet the script.
‘I’d be grateful if you could send me your hourly/daily rate as a script consultant so that I can budget your time,’ he wrote. Prof Hulme said he remembered going through the script, adding that he was not being paid, and was ‘certainly not an official adviser’.
Mr Harrabin knew that if he was seen to be too closely associated with green campaigners – in earlier years CMEP had accepted funding from activist organisation WWF – the impartiality he was supposed to demonstrate as a BBC reporter could be jeopardised.
In July 2004, in an email to Prof Hulme that asked him to continue funding CMEP seminars, Prof Smith explained: ‘The only change I anticipate is that we won’t be asking WWF to support the seminars: Roger particularly feels the association could be compromising to the “neutral” reputation should anyone look at it closely.’
Prof Smith told Prof Hulme that the seminars’ purpose was to influence BBC output.
He spoke of finding ways of getting environmental issues into ‘mainstream’ stories ‘by stealth’, adding: ‘It’s very important in my view that research feeds directly back into decision-maker conversations (policy and above all media). I hope and think that the seminars have laid the ground for this within the BBC... There is senior BBC buy in-for the approach I want to pursue.’
Yesterday he said he had always ensured there was a range of views at the seminar, while by using the phrase ‘by stealth’ he simply meant that ‘sustainability stories are elements of mainstream stories, but the complexity and uncertainty inherent in them make them difficult to report in isolation’.
In September 2001, another email reveals, Mr Harrabin and Prof Smith wrote to Prof Hulme, asking what the BBC should do to mark a climate summit the following year.
They said his suggestions would be ‘circulated among relevant BBC decision-makers’, while instead of confining himself to news and current affairs, he should also feel free to recommend ideas for ‘drama, music, game shows’.
Labour MP Graham Stringer last night said he would be writing this week to BBC director-general Mark Thompson to demand an investigation into the Corporation’s relationship with UEA. ‘The new leaked emails show that the UEA scientists at the Tyndall Centre and the CRU acted more like campaigners than academics, and that they succeeded in an attempt to influence the output of the BBC,’ Mr Stringer said.
Conservative MP David Davis said: ‘Using research money to evangelise one point of view and suppress another defies everything I ever learnt about the scientific method. These emails go to the heart of the BBC’s professed impartiality... its actions must be investigated.’
But the BBC insisted its relationship with UEA had never been ‘unhealthily close’, saying it was always impartial. A BBC spokesman said: ‘We would reject the claim that the Tyndall Centre influenced BBC editorial policy.’
As for Mr Harrabin’s place on the Tyndall board and the advice he gave, he said: ‘The idea was for him to look out for potential stories for the BBC and to offer academics a media perspective on climate change and policy. We do not believe that com-promised impartiality.’
Mr Harrabin added: ‘It was right that the BBC decided not to give sceptics parity on climate change,’ saying there was a ‘cross-party consensus.’ But he said he had maintained they should still be given some air time.
Prof Jones was not available for comment last night.
Climategate scientists DID collude with government officials to hide research that didn't fit their apocalyptic global warming
5,000 leaked emails reveal scientists deleted evidence that cast doubt on claims climate change was man-made
Experts were under orders from US and UK officials to come up with a 'strong message'
Critics claim: 'The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering'
Scientist asks, 'What if they find that climate change is a natural fluctuation? They'll kill us all'
More than 5,000 documents have been leaked online purporting to be the correspondence of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia who were previously accused of ‘massaging’ evidence of man-made climate change.
Following on from the original 'climategate' emails of 2009, the new package appears to show systematic suppression of evidence, and even publication of reports that scientists knew to to be based on flawed approaches.
And not only do the emails paint a picture of scientists manipulating data, government employees at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are also implicated.
One message appeared to show a member of Defra staff telling colleagues working on climate science to give the government a ‘strong message’.
The emails paint a clear picture of scientists selectively using data, and colluding with politicians to misuse scientific information.
‘Humphrey’, said to work at Defra, writes: ‘I cannot overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a message that the government can give on climate change to help them tell their story.
'They want their story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made to look foolish.’
Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the centre of the affair, said the group findings did stand up to scrutiny.
Yet one of the newly released emails, written by Prof. Jones - who is working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - said: 'Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden.
'I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.'
In another of his emails, he wrote: 'I’ve been told that Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is above national Freedom of Information Acts.
'One way to cover yourself and all those working in AR5 would be to delete all emails at the end of the process.'
Other scientists are clearly against such a policy, but some seemed happy to collude with concealing and destroying evidence.
One nervous scientist wrote: 'The figure you sent is very deceptive.'
'I also think the science is being manipulated to put a political spin on it which for all our sakes might not be too clever in the long run,' wrote another.
The lead author of one of the reports, Jonathan Overpeck, wrote, 'The trick may be to decide on the main message and use that to guide what’s included and what is left out.'
A weak performance by Environment Secretary Chris Huhne on Question Time has helped to inflame the row over the second leak of private UEA emails - now described as Climategate 2.0.
Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson's Global Warming Policy Foundation warned against ignoring 'shortcomings' in a letter strongly critical of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It said: 'The BBC, in determining its policy towards the coverage of global warming, which is of course not simply a scientific issue but an economic and a political issue, too, ought to shred that section of the Jones review and revert to the impartiality laid down in its charter.'
He was also strongly critical of sections of the media who lent support to the scientists.
Andrew Orlwowski, UK science site The Register's science correspondent comments on one email that says, 'What if climate change turns out to be a natural fluctuation? They'll kill us all'
Orlowski says, 'That won't be necessary.'
Clive Crook, a commentator for the Atlantic, who described the earlier inquiries into the Climategate emails as 'ineffectual' and 'mealy mouthed', reportedly said, 'The closed-mindedness of these supposed men of science, their willingness to go to any lengths to defend a preconceived message, is surprising even to me.
'The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering.'
There is other correspondence from scientists such as Prof Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Centre at Penn State University, some of which have a distinct feel of PR 'spin'.
The release of the information echoes the 'Climategate' leaks of hacked private emails two years ago ahead of crunch climate talks in Copenhagen that referred to ways to ‘hide the decline’ in global warming.
A series of independent reviews cleared the East Anglia researchers of impropriety, but they were told they had been too secretive.
Today's leak may also be timed to disrupt the next session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change next week in South Africa.
The emails have been released in the form of quotes carefully 'chosen' to show bias, or that scientists were pursuing a particular agenda in their research.
The unnamed individuals who released them chose the 5,000 emails from keyword searches, saying, 'We could not read every one, but tried to cover the most relevant topics.'
The emails were posted on a Russian server - Sinwt.ru - as a downloadable ZIP file in an apparent attempt to cause disruption in advance of next week's climate change conference in Durban.
They were rapidly reposted on climate-sceptic blogs such as The Air Vent.
It is not clear, though, whether they are new, or indeed whether they indicate any kind of conspiracy.
The release of the data was accompanied by a 'press release' in the form of a readme file, which said, 'Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.'
'Poverty is a death sentence. Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilise greenhouse gas emissions at sustainable levels.'
'Today's decisions should be based on all the information we can get, not on hiding the decline,' said the file.
The identity of the people who posted it was not revealed - although the clear political statement is new.
The file also contains more than 200,000 other emails, which are encrypted, and no password is provided.
Presumably, this is to protect the individuals involved - or simply because the material is so non-controversial or boring that it's not worth releasing.
The University of East Anglia has not confirmed whether the material is genuine.
None of the material appears to be new, either: it seems to date from the first release in 2009.
It also occurs against a rather different scientific background, after the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature review of climate-science data by prominent climate sceptic Richard Muller, which analysed 1.6 billion temperature records, and concluded that global warming was a genuine effect.
It is still unclear what effect - or combination of effects - is causing the current warming of the atmosphere, which has risen around one temperature in the past 50 years.
Professor Mann, speaking to the Guardian, described the release as 'truly pathetic.'
'Well, they look like mine but I hardly see anything that appears damning at all, despite them having been taken out of context.
'I guess they had very little left to work with, having culled in the first round the emails that could most easily be taken out of context to try to make me look bad.'
Is the global warming scare the greatest delusion in history?
The scare over man-made global warming is not only the scientific scandal of our generation, but a suicidal flight from reality.
Daily Telegraph, 26 November 2011
To grasp the almost suicidal state of unreality our Government has been driven into by the obsession with global warming, it is necessary to put together the two sides to an overall picture – each vividly highlighted by events of recent days.
On one hand there is the utterly lamentable state of the science which underpins it all, illuminated yet again by “Climategate 2.0”, the latest release of emails between the leading scientists who for years have been at the heart of the warming scare (which I return to below). On the other hand, we see the damage done by the political consequences of this scare, which will directly impinge, in various ways, on all our lives.
It is hard to know where to begin, after a week which opened with The Sunday Telegraph’s exclusive on a blast of realism from Prince Philip over the folly of our Government’s infatuation with useless windmills. Then came an excoriatory report from the House of Lords on how we have so run down our nuclear expertise that it is doubtful whether we can hope to run a new generation of nuclear power stations. Next, there was a report from a leading Swiss bank finding that the EU’s “emissions trading scheme” has wasted $287 billion (£186billion) over six years – paid by all of us, to achieve nothing in terms of reducing “carbon emissions”. There was also a front page story in another newspaper, warning that (as readers of this column have long been aware) within nine years we could all be paying nearly £300 a year to subsidise solar panels and those same useless windmills.
Let’s start, however, with a form of insanity which has so far made few headlines – a Government policy which, in the next few years, will inflate the cost of a new home in Britain by as much as 66 per cent.
The soaring cost of 'zero carbon’
LAST WEEK, David Cameron and Nick Clegg were lamenting that house-building is at its lowest level since the 1920s, just when we desperately need millions of new homes (not least to accommodate the 250,000 immigrants flooding into Britain each year, as a result of policies they both support). Neither mentioned, though, that one major obstacle to any improvement in the figures is their own Government’s building regulations, already being phased in. These decree that, by 2016, all new homes must be “zero carbon” in terms of energy-use and emissions. According to official estimates in the Code for Sustainable Homes, this will increase the cost of building a house by up to £37,793.
In rural areas, where there is already a serious housing crisis, this will be made still worse by the Government’s wish by 2013 to abolish the “Fuel Factor”, a relaxation of the rules for new homes in places without access to the natural gas grid. New houses built in outlying areas will no longer be allowed to install oil or gas cylinder-fired heating but will have to rely on wood pellet boilers or “heat pumps”. A paper submitted to the Government by Calor points out that a polluting wood-fired boiler costs £11,000, while “air-source heat pumps” (£15,000) and “ground-source pumps” (£18,000) have both been shown to be seriously inefficient.
But the Government, with its “carbon” obsession, seems determined to ignore such practical matters, even though they will push the cost of new housing through the roof and make nonsense of their stated wish for a dramatic increase in the provision of new homes.
Our disappearing nuclear capability
In his Annual Energy Review for Parliament last week, Chris Huhne announced, through gritted teeth, that he is still hoping to see a new fleet of nuclear power stations to plug Britain’s fast-looming energy gap, as older power stations are closed down by age or EU anti-pollution laws. His review coincided with a devastating report from the Lords Science and Technology Committee on Nuclear Research and Development, dismally depicting how Britain, which led the world in this field 50 years ago, has allowed its pool of expertise to run down so far that we no longer have the know-how even to run a new generation of nuclear plants.
The authors begin their report, damningly, by saying that they were “struck by the extraordinary discrepancy between the view, on the one hand, of some senior Government officials and the Secretary of State (Mr Huhne) and on the other, those of independent experts from academia, industry, nuclear agencies, the regulator and the Government’s own advisers. A fundamental change in the Government’s approach to nuclear R&D is needed now to address the complacency which permeates their vision of how the UK’s energy needs will be met in the future.”
The fact is that we would be wholly reliant on foreign-owned companies to build new nuclear power stations. Britain’s last world-class nuclear company, Westinghouse, was sold by Gordon Brown to the Japanese in 2006, at a knock-down price of £3.4 billion. So if new “carbon-free” nuclear reactors are built here, it will most likely be by a German consortium of RWE and E.On – using a design from Toshiba’s Westinghouse. And as the Lords point out, thanks to Government policy, we would not even be able to provide engineers to run them.
Inside the climate cabal
While our Government remains trapped in its green dreamworld, similar horror stories pile up on every side, from that UBS report on the astronomically costly fiasco of the EU’s carbon-trading scheme, to our own Government’s “carbon floor price”, in effect a tax on CO2 emissions rising yearly from 2013. This alone will eventually be enough to double the cost of our electricity, and drive a further swathe of what remains of UK industry abroad, because we are the only country in the world to have devised something so idiotic.
All this madness ultimately rests on a blind faith in the threat of man-made global warming, which no one has done more to promote than the scientists whose private emails were again last week leaked onto the internet.
It is still not generally appreciated that the significance of these Climategate emails is that their authors, such as Michael Mann, are no ordinary scientists: they are a little group of fanatical insiders who have, for years, done more than anyone else to drive the warming scare, through their influence at the heart of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. And what is most striking about the picture that emerges from these emails is just how questionable the work of these men appears.
We see how they torture the evidence to support their theory – even to the point where some of them seem to lose faith in the story they are trying to tell. And we also see how rattled they were as soon as their work was challenged by expert outsiders such as Steve McIntyre, the mathematician who exposed the methods used to create Mann’s “hockey stick” temperature graph, which the IPCC had made Exhibit A for their theory.
Again and again we see them trying to defend the indefensible, giving vent to wild personal abuse of the enemies of what they call their “cause”, and stopping at nothing to keep their critics’ evidence out of IPCC reports and scientific journals, and prevent dissenting views from getting media atention.
This is no longer science worthy of the name. As I wrote when the first Climategate emails appeared in 2009, the global warming scare is far and away the greatest scientific scandal of our generation. When we then contemplate the insanity of the measures the politicians have imposed on us in consequence, we know we are looking at a collective flight from reality which has no precedent in the history of the world.