Tuesday, April 23, 2019

GWPF Newsletter: Was This The BBC’s Worst Climate Show Ever?

What David Attenborough Got Wrong

In this newsletter:

1) What David Attenborough Got Wrong 
David Rose, Mail on Sunday, 21 April 2019
2) Was This The BBC’s Worst Climate Show Ever?
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 19 April 2019

3) What David Attenborough’s Climate Show Didn’t Tell You
Ross Clark, The Spectator, 20 April 2019
4) Alberta’s New Premier Building ‘War Room’ To Counter Green Extremists
The Globe and Mail, 19 April 2019
5) David Attenborough’s Our Planet Scene Showing Mass Walrus Deaths Accused Of Being ‘A Lie’
The Mirror, 19 April 2019
6) China To Resume Building Coal Power Plants
Bloomberg, 19 April 2019
7) And Finally: Millions Of Britons Cancel BBC Licence 
The Sunday Times, 21 April 2019

Full details:

1) What David Attenborough Got Wrong 
David Rose, Mail on Sunday, 21 April 2019

One of the most talked-about programmes of the past week – a primetime documentary on BBC1 – featured two people many seem to regard as living saints.

One was the presenter, Sir David Attenborough, the other Greta Thunberg, the Swedish teenage activist inspiring climate change ‘school strikes’ in several countries, including Britain.

The film’s title was Climate Change: The Facts, and these, Sir David claimed, are now ‘incontrovertible’. The film’s message was so bleak it could have been made by Extinction Rebellion, the eco-anarchist protest group which has brought Central London to a standstill.

No one has done more to convey the marvels of the natural world than Attenborough, and his long career has rightly earned him public acclaim.

Sadly, on this occasion, I believe he has presented an alarmist argument derived from a questionable use of evidence, whose nuances he has ignored.

According to Sir David, climate change, is the ‘greatest threat’ to humanity in thousands of years. ‘We are facing the collapse of our societies,’ he intoned, insisting we ‘must all share responsibility… for the future of life on Earth.’

Attenborough is about to turn 93, while Thunberg is just 16, but they issued the same warning. ‘It’s our future and we can’t just let it slip away from us,’ she told viewers. Yet ‘nothing is being done, no one is doing anything’.

The film rounded off a week which had already seen the BBC invite Extinction Rebellion extremists on to its news shows to expound the message – without serious challenge – that unless we cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, ‘our children will die’.  […]

One of the film’s most questionable aspects was its claim that extreme weather events such as floods and storms have already got worse and more frequent, thanks to global warming, along with wildfires.

It did say that attributing reasons to any single event is difficult, and derived from probabilities. But in the words of interviewee Michael Mann, a US climate scientist, the effects of climate change are ‘playing out in real time’, and are ‘no longer subtle’. Cue images of monster waves and hurricanes, accompanied by doomy music.

But is this true? The IPCC, regarded by mainstream scientists as the world’s most authoritative source, says there have been some changes, such as higher rainfall. But its Fifth Assessment Report, published in 2013, stated there are ‘no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century’. It added: ‘No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricane counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.’

A separate IPCC report last year said that cyclones in the tropics would in future be less numerous, although some would be stronger.

In 2014, a group of IPCC experts published a paper about flooding. So far, they said, ‘no gauge-based evidence has been found for a climate-driven, globally widespread change in the magnitude/frequency of floods.’

Another memorable segment of the film showed a father and son narrowly escaping from one of several devastating fires last year in California. These, too, were ascribed to global warming. Surprisingly, several recent scientific papers suggest that wildfires have been declining in recent years – even in California, where statistics gathered by the local agency, Calfires, says the number across the state has roughly halved since 1987, following a peak in the 1970s.

According to a study published by the Royal Society in 2016, ‘many consider wildfire as an accelerating problem’. In reality, however, says the study: ‘global area burned appears to have declined in past decades, and there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape than centuries ago.’

Equally questionable was the film’s claim that global warming is triggering a wave of extinctions, with eight per cent of species under threat solely because of it.

This also appears to oversimplify the findings of the IPCC, which said in 2014: ‘There is low confidence that rates of species extinctions have increased over the last several decades. Most extinctions over the last several centuries have been attributed to habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution, or invasive species.

'Of the more than 800 extinctions documented by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, only 20 have been tenuously linked to recent climate change. It says: ‘Overall, there is very low confidence that observed species extinctions can be attributed to recent climate warming.’

The IPCC is clear that further warming will make things worse, but has found ‘low agreement’ over which species are at risk, and when extinctions might occur.

Attenborough made yet another contentious claim about corals, claiming that one third of the world’s reefs have perished due to ‘heat stress’ in the past three years.

It is true that the record high temperatures recorded during the powerful ‘El Nino’ event of 2015/16 – which saw the central Pacific warm by several degrees and drove warmer weather elsewhere – damaged corals badly.

But many have begun to recover, including those of the supposedly moribund Great Barrier Reef.

Full story

2) Was This The BBC’s Worst Climate Show Ever?
Paul Homewood, Not A Lot Of People Know That, 19 April 2019

The BBC continued its climate change propaganda season last night with David Attenborough’s well trailered “Climate Change – The Facts?”

The opening sequences, recorded against film of hot weather and including these quotes, left no doubt of where the programme was headed:

“Right now we are facing our greatest threat in thousands of years – climate change”

“What we’re doing right now is we’re so rapidly changing the climate, for the first time in the world’s history people can see the impact of climate change”

“Greater storms, greater floods, greater heatwaves, extreme sea level rise”

“All of this is happening far faster than many of us thought possible”

Attenborough shows this graph of global temperature trends, (though omitting satellite temperature measurements which show no [significant] increase since 1998). But he fails to explain why temperatures rose sharply in the early 20thC, long before CO2 emissions began to rise significantly.

Nowhere either does he tell us that the 19thC marked the end of the Little Ice Age, probably the coldest period since the end of the Ice Age.

In order to scare people about this small amount of warming, he has to bring out the extreme weather bogeyman.


Peter Stott – “It’s having a dramatic effect on our weather” “The frequency of extreme temperatures is increasing”

Michael Mann – “You’re going to get more frequent and intense heatwaves. You’re going to get worse drought”.

The example of last summer’s heatwave in the UK is used as an example of climate change, even though it was actually no hotter than the summer of 1976.

While average summer temperature temperatures may be a bit higher, winters are also milder, so it is not clear why the climate is any worse. Is Oxford’s climate worse then Newcastle’s, just because average temperatures are higher?

As for Stott’s ludicrous assertion that the frequency of extreme temperatures is increasing, milder winters will simply offset hotter summers.

In any event, daily temperature extremes are not increasing, in the UK at least. The hottest day in CET was 33.2C, set in 1976, and equalled in 1990. No day last summer got anywhere near that.

In fact, there is considerable evidence that heatwaves are actually becoming less common, at the same time as cold spells are also less frequent. In other words, temperatures are becoming much less extreme. This is certainly the case in the US, as the Federal climate report admitted:

They then show a film of some dead bats in Queensland, killed by a heatwave when temperatures reached 42C. Yet the all time record for Queensland is 49.5C, set in 1972!

Picking single weather events is meaningless. But this does not stop Attenborough preposterously saying:
“Animals of all kinds are struggling to adapt to rapidly changing conditions”

As for droughts, there is no evidence whatsoever that they are getting worse, as the IPCC AR5 admits:
And in the US, as Mann ought to know, rainfall has steadily been increasing since 1900. The calamitous droughts of the 1930s and 50s are a thing of the past:

Full post

See also: Climate Change- The Facts Part II

3) What David Attenborough’s Climate Show Didn’t Tell You
Ross Clark, The Spectator, 20 April 2019

I had thought David Attenborough would be above resorting to the subtle propaganda, linking every adverse weather event to climate change. But apparently not. 

Given the reception that awaited Richard Madeley when he ventured last week that David Attenborough is “not a saint, just a broadcaster” – something which is evidently true, though I haven’t formally checked with the Vatican – one delves into this subject with some intrepidness. Nevertheless, great documentary-maker though he may be, Attenborough cannot be allowed to get away with the propaganda element of his latest piece, his documentary Climate Change: the Facts which went out on Thursday evening.  

Before I get going, don’t even bother thinking of calling me a climate change denier in the pockets of oil companies, or whatever. I am happy to accept the observable facts: the carbon dioxide content of the air has climbed substantially from under 300 parts per million (ppm) to 400 ppm over the past century, that temperatures have increased by 0.1 Celsius per decade over the past century, and that global sea levels are rising by an average of 3 mm a year. These are enough of a concern in themselves. There is every reason why we should be acting to phase our fossil fuels as soon as is practically possible without causing harm to the global economy – something which would itself have devastating impacts on living standards.

But what I won’t let go is this growing practice – which is lazy at best and quite often born of scurrilous motives – of trying to link every adverse weather event to climate change. In this, Attenborough’s documentary was a masterclass. It wasn’t so much what he was saying as that he resorted to the same trick used by Al Gore and many others who have made films on the subject – running a discourse on climate change against footage of devastating hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters.

While Attenborough did say on a couple of occasions during the film that it was not possible to link any particular weather event to climate change he must know how viewers – especially sensitive, younger ones are going to ingest it. He will have succeeded in planting the idea in many thousands if not millions of minds that every time we have a storm, a flood, a wildfire or anything else, we are watching climate change in action.

If you are going to present a film called Climate Change: the Facts the very least you should be doing is, well, presenting the facts. Well here they are, in two of the areas which made up such a hefty part of the film: wildfires and hurricanes. Are wildfires increasing? They are according to Attenborough. One of the scientists who takes part in the programme, Professor Michael Mann of Penn State University, goes as far as to say there has been a “tripling in the extent of wildfires in the Western US”.

He is not specific about his evidence for this claim, nor said over what timeframe wildfires are supposed to have trebled, but it is not a fair assessment of the data collected by the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA). This shows no upwards trend in the number of wildfires in the US over the past 30 years. Take another way of measuring wildfires – the acreage burned, in figure two of this data  – and there is an upwards trend since the 1980s.

Look at the state-by-state data (figure three) and, if you are very selective and take the case of Idaho, you could even say the acreage burned has trebled in the past 30 years.

But then again, go back further, to the 1920s, and you see that both the number of US wildfires and acreage burned in them has plummeted. 
That is nothing to do with the climate – more down to firefighters getting better at tackling fires. But that reduction in wildfires – which, after all, were occurring naturally long before Europeans arrived in the US – has brought with it a problem: deadwood is not being cleared out at the rate which it used to be. As a result, when a wildfire does take hold, it tends to be a more powerful fire, which is one reason large acreages tend to get burned when fires do take hold. That was a large part of the debate which followed the wildfires in California last November.

But I know what will have entered the heads of many of Attenborough’s viewers: that wildfires are being caused by climate change and that is that.

The same will be true for hurricanes. If you are child, for whom hurricanes are a novel phenomenon, watching the film will have given you the impression that hurricanes are pretty much a function of man-made climate change. A voiceover, indeed, makes the claim that climate change is causing ‘greater storms’.

But again, the data on cyclone activity in the Atlantic, Gulf and Mexico and Caribbean does not support that idea.

Full post

4) Alberta’s New Premier Building ‘War Room’ To Counter Green Extremists
The Globe and Mail, 19 April 2019

Alberta’s premier-designate Jason Kenney says he plans to dip into the private sector as he staffs a campaign-style “war room” to push back against environmental groups and negative media coverage of the province’s oil industry.

Mr. Kenney, who is preparing to be sworn in as premier April 30 after his United Conservatives won this week’s election, campaigned on a promise to devote $30-million to respond to “lies and myths” about Alberta’s energy sector. The energy war room was part of a suite of platform promises designed to challenge outside forces Mr. Kenney blames for pinning down the Alberta oil industry at a time when the province’s economy is already suffering.

“Both the industry and governments of different partisan stripes have not been fast enough to respond to the incoming attacks,” Mr. Kenney told reporters after meeting with outgoing NDP Premier Rachel Notley in Edmonton on Thursday.

The war room would be part of the province’s public affairs bureau, and he suggested prospective staff with private-sector experience who have a “creative” approach to communications would be the best fit.

Mr. Kenney has complained that environmental groups have peddled misinformation about the oil industry and used foreign funding to wage public-relations and legal fights to block new pipelines.

Full post

5) David Attenborough’s Our Planet Scene Showing Mass Walrus Deaths Accused Of Being ‘A Lie’
The Mirror, 19 April 2019

A David Attenborough documentary has come under fire for a disturbing scene showing walruses falling to their deaths.

It’s no secret that David Attenborough nature documentaries have a tendency to make viewers emotional.

But one scene from the 92-year-old’s most recent programme has left viewers in tears.

In a particularly traumatic scene in Our Planet on Netflix , a number of walruses are seen falling off the edge of cliffs, plunging to their deaths.

The documentary blames the tragedy on climate change, claiming a mixture of melting sea ice and poor vision drove the walruses to the cliff edge.

However experts are now suggesting that this may not be the case.

Zoologist Dr. Susan Crockford from Canada has claimed the documentary makers are lying about the footage in order to push their climate change agenda and has accused them of using it as “tragedy porn”.

She argues that climate change isn’t responsible for the death of the walruses and instead suggests that it was a “natural event” most likely caused by polar bears.

Speaking to Mirror online, she said: “More walruses are hauling out and dying from falls and trampling because they are more abundant now than they have been in more than a century.

“Our Planet producers are spinning a bogus tale to promote an agenda using deliberately misleading footage and commentary.”

Dr. Crockford further explored this in a post on her website , in which she wrote: “The lie being told by Attenborough and the film crew is that 200-300 walruses fell during the time they were filming, while in fact they filmed only a few: polar bears were responsible for the majority of the carcasses shown on the beach below the cliff.

“This is, of course, in addition to the bigger lie that lack of sea ice is to blame for walrus herds being on shore in the first place.”

In addition to this, she believes the footage shown in the documentary was actually filmed following an incident in 2017 in Siberia and has been cleverly edited.

Reported on by The Siberian Times, the event saw around 20 polar bears spook a herd of walruses on a cliff at Kozhevinkova Cape – causing hundreds to fall to their death.

She continued: “The film crew have steadfastly refused to reveal precisely where and when they filmed the walrus deaths shown in this film in relation to the walrus deaths initiated by polar bears in the fall of 2017.

Full story

6) China To Resume Building Coal Power Plants
Bloomberg, 19 April 2019

China allowed 11 provinces and regions to resume building coal power plants, in another sign that the world’s largest energy user is far from finished with the most-polluting fossil fuel.

The National Energy Administration forecast that only 10 provinces and regions would have an excess of coal-fired electricity generation capacity in 2022, down from last year’s outlook for a glut in 21 areas by 2021.

That means 11 areas can start building plants again, as the overcapacity label had suspended construction of new projects until the issue was addressed.

The decision underscores how dependent on coal the world’s second-largest economy still is, even as it invests hundreds of billions of dollars in cleaner energy sources such as natural gas, wind turbines and solar panels. While coal’s share of China’s total energy consumption fell to 59 percent last year, the growth in the country’s total energy consumption meant burning of the dirty fossil fuel actually increased by 1 percent.

Full story

7) And Finally:  Millions Of Britons Cancel BBC Licence 
The Sunday Times, 21 April 2019

A former top executive at the BBC has warned that it is “at risk of being eaten” as new figures reveal that more than 880,000 television licences were cancelled last year.

Roger Mosey, the former editorial director, writes in The Sunday Times Magazine today: “The corporation is facing its toughest battle yet to retain its position at the heart of our national life.”

He describes as lethal “the external competition and the way the world has changed”, highlighting the number of young people switching to streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon that do not require a TV licence.

Anyone who watches terrestrial channels or uses the BBC’s iPlayer catch-up service is required to have a licence. A year ago 25.8m were held, a high driven largely by population growth.

Cancellations among the under-75s, however, rose from 860,192 in 2017-18 to 882,198 in the period from March 2018 to the end of February, new data shows.

The figures equate to an annual loss to the BBC of more than £136m. BBC bosses are already facing cuts of £800m to fund free licences for the over-75s.

Mosey, 61, criticised the dumbing-down of news and “the nonsense put on social media by BBC” staff.

Full story

The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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