Last August I signed a petition to the then Director General of the BBC, George Entwistle, calling for better coverage of climate change on the BBC - see here. Here is an update from the Campaign against Climate Change:
Major problems, identified by a 2011 BBC Trust report, include 'false balance' between sceptics and the scientific consensus, and news presenters being ill-equipped to cover science stories effectively.
Since then, a new Director General has taken office, and a second BBC Trust report has been produced on the subject of science and impartiality. By skating over these problems it has implied that they are all solved. But if you were listening to the Today programme yesterday morning (9th Jan) you will have heard John Humphrys saying "The Met Office does not believe that global warming will be as severe as it had previously predicted."
So we can all go home and stop worrying then...? Actually, no. The new modelling by the Met Office predicts near-record levels of global temperatures in the next few years, but that these will be lower than they would have been because natural cycles will cool the climate, masking the underlying warming trend. Of course, in some of the years to come, natural cycles will work the other way, exacerbating warming. Long term (extremely worrying) predictions are unaffected.
BBC coverage on this issue has clearly taken its intial cue from sceptic think tanks such as the Global Warming Policy Foundation, rather than from the Met Office itself. While later comment from Roger Harrabin, and coverage on the 6.30pm news was more accurate, the presenting from John Humphrys leads one to the conclusion that he does not understand - or perhaps accept - the science.
If you listened to the Today programme and were concerned about this item, we urge you to complain to the BBC. You can also email the programme ‘Feedback’ on Radio 4, who have already been in touch with us about our concerns: firstname.lastname@example.org
I sent my complaint in yesterday.