Friday, November 01, 2013

BBC fails on Global Warming (again)

Last night, Thursday 31st October 2013, the BBC failed again on its coverage of climate science and the existential crisis facing humanity.  Now I'm one who loves the BBC; radio is a constant part of my life and I would gladly pay the licence fee for that alone. So it's particularly distressing to find the Corporation guilty of promoting the crime against humanity of ecocide. We expect it of the Daily Mail.  We all know that half their articles are tosh and the wise amongst us discern which half, but the BBC?  Surely not.
The headlines left the impression that global emissions of CO2 were declining and that this was the result of shale fracking. Tosh.
The story was based on "Trends in globalCO2 emissions: 2013 report", a document published by PBL Netherlands Environment Agency, the Dutch national institute for strategic policy analysis in the fields of environment nature and spatial planning.  Download the 60-page report here.
Of course global CO2 emissions are not declining.  What the report shows is that there appears to be some slowing down in the rate of increase of emissions.  There was, briefly, a real drop in emissions following the 2008 financial crisis, but things soon picked up.  Now all we are seeing is a change in the exponent of the exponential increase.  Emissions are not rising quite as fast as they were.


Here's their key graph.  You can see the little dip associated with the financial crisis and the recent slowdown in the rate of increase.  From the planet's perspective it's the top line that counts. The actual downslope from the USA, and to a lesser extent Europe, reflects the shift of carbon-intensive industry to China. Shale gas in the USA, far from reducing CO2 emissions exacerbates the problem.  It is an addition to, not a substitute for coal, though now the surplus American coal is exported so appears on other countries' carbon inventories. Furthermore, fracking the shales releases the more powerful greenhouse gas, methane, a point emphasised by the Dutch report.
The reality, then, is exactly the opposite to the impressions left in the minds of millions who heard the BBC news headline and did not delve further. This represents a failure to uphold its own Charter.  The headline should have read:
CO2 Emissions Continue to Rise.  Fracking makes Global Warming Worse.

Update 4/11/2013
And the BBC has done it again.
Here's what I've just written to the Environment Agency:
This morning on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme, the Medmerry scheme was, twice, described as protecting against a one in a thousand year flood. Of course, given global warming related sea level rise we are in no position to give such an assurance and I can find no mention of '1 in 1000' in the extensive documentation on your website.  Did the 1 in 1000 figure originate from yourselves or did the BBC invent it?
The importance of this question lies in the alleged systematic under-reporting of the significance of global warming by the BBC.
I look forward to your reply. 
Biff Vernon

Update 5/11/2013
BBC fail on climate science (yet again).  The International Conference on Regional Climate - CORDEX 2013 has just run two of its four days.  Somebody tell me I'm wrong but I don't think there has been a single word about it on any of the BBC's news outlets.  Fortunately we can watch it live over the net without the help of the BBC.  But that's not the point.  Here we have a major scientific conference in full flow, discussing how humanity's first existential crisis since the Lower Paleolithic, and it doesn't even get a mention on the Science/Environment section of the BBC News website.


4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to be an utter pedant but "it's" is short for "it is"...

2:03 pm  
Blogger Biff Vernon said...

Thanks. Silly typo corrected. :)

2:12 pm  
Blogger Biff Vernon said...

Today, 18th November, the BBC replied to my complaint but they repeated the exact same mistake in their response by saying 'that the rate in CO2 emissions was slowing down,' when they should have said the rate of increase in CO2 emissions was slowing down. I have complained again.

9:23 pm  
Blogger Biff Vernon said...

At 6.50 this morning, 19th November, Radio 4 mentioned the Warsaw climate conference but immediately moved on to an interview with Bjorn Lomborg, of all people, greenwashing the disastrous Japanese retreat from its Kyoto commitments. BBC fail again.

8:53 am  

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