In the U.S. – thanks largely to Donald Trump – the skeptics are winning the climate argument.
But in the rest of the Western world, skeptics are losing big time because, increasingly, their voices are being censored. Nowhere is this more painfully true than in the UK, where the BBC has now officially been reprimanded by a state watchdog for telling the truth about climate change.
No really. It sounds absurd to the point of lunacy. But this is what Ofcom – Britain’s state regulator of broadcast media – has done in its latest ruling.
The BBC had run a radio interview in August 2017 with a climate skeptic – Lord Lawson (formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer under Margaret Thatcher). Lord Lawson made several statements about climate change, all but one of them entirely accurate.
“We do have in this country, in England, one of the highest energy costs in the world”
[in response to interviewers’ “The point Al Gore makes is that we subsidise all energy, including fossil fuel energy”] “No we don’t. That’s not true. We tax fossil fuel energy. Anyway, we subsidise renewable energy”.
Complaints were made by a person or persons unknown and Ofcom investigated. It decided, grudgingly, that the above claims were defensible.
It ruled, however, that two of Lord Lawson’s other statements represented a “breach of standards.”
• “all the experts say there hasn’t been” an increase in extreme weather events and that the IPCC “concedes” this fact
• according to the official figures, “during this past 10 years… average world temperature has slightly declined”.
Now the second of these two statements is indeed incorrect – a misspeak, you might say – for which Lord Lawson subsequently apologised. Sure there is a case to be made that global warming has been subject to a 20 year “Pause”, which none of the alarmists’ computer models predicted. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, Lawson picked an unfortunate timescale on which to base this point.
But the first of these statements is entirely correct. And it’s not evil, cackling, climate change deniers in the pay of Big Oil who are saying this. It’s the impeccably alarmist IPCC which Lord Lawson was quoting.
Here, as per Roger Pielke Jr, is what the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report says about “extreme weather” and global warming:
- “Overall, the most robust global changes in climate extremes are seen in measures of daily temperature, including to some extent, heat waves. Precipitation extremes also appear to be increasing, but there is large spatial variability”
- “There is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century”
- “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin”
- “In summary, there continues to be a lack of evidence and thus low confidence regarding the sign of trend in the magnitude and/or frequency of floods on a global scale”
- “In summary, there is low confidence in observed trends in small-scale severe weather phenomena such as hail and thunderstorms because of historical data inhomogeneities and inadequacies in monitoring systems”
- “In summary, the current assessment concludes that there is not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends, and dependencies of inferred trends on the index choice. Based on updated studies, AR4 conclusions regarding global increasing trends in drought since the 1970s were probably overstated. However, it is likely that the frequency and intensity of drought has increased in the Mediterranean and West Africa and decreased in central North America and north-west Australia since 1950”
- “In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low”
Short version: Lord Lawson was right.
Now the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which Lord Lawson chairs, has made a formal complaint about Ofcom’s judgement.
Without providing any evidence to justify disputing the IPCC’s conclusions, Ofcom claimed that Lawson’s statement about extreme weather was incorrect and not sufficiently challenged by the BBC presenter during the interview.
Ofcom, however, appear to base its ruling on information from unnamed complainants, the BBC (and possibly from other unnamed sources) without publishing that information or where it obtained it from. As a result, nobody is able to see it and judge its credibility. It did not ask Lord Lawson for any information regarding his statements.
That Ofcom should judge on scientific matters without justifying their decision sets a worrying precedent concerning the oversight of journalists.
It will, of course, be completely ignored by Ofcom. But the issues it raises are very serious.
Ofcom rulings are not taken lightly by the UK broadcast industry. Broadcasters like the BBC are bound by its terms. What Ofcom is doing here is ensuring that BBC will be less likely than ever before to give space to skeptic voices.
This won’t bother the BBC much: for years it has acted as one of the climate industry’s most enthusiastic propagandists.
Now the Ofcom ruling has given the BBC just the excuse it needs to be even more one-sided in its treatment of the global warming debate.
Where does this leave democracy in Britain? In a pretty poor shape, I would argue. If you are going to have government-appointed regulators deciding what broadcasters are allowed to say, the bare minimum the public has a right to expect of these censorship watchdogs is that they should be rigorous, transparent and accountable.
Ofcom has failed here on all those counts.
It also fails in another key area: impartiality.
Until last year, Ofcom was run by a fanatical Europhile called Bill Emmott.
Here is Guido‘s report on what has just happened to him:
An ultra-Remainer former quango chief will receive a huge pay-off from the taxpayer despite being sacked for openly criticising the government on Brexit. Former Economist editor Bill Emmott became head of Ofcom’s Content Board in 2015; as a journalist Emmott proposed extending the single market, advocated a new EU ‘energy union’ and made an anti-Brexit film for the BBC called The Great European Disaster Movie. He is a properly fanatical Europhile…
The following year Emmott was let go having given an interview to an Italian newspaper headlined: “Outside Europe the UK dies”. He had also tweeted: “Prediction: Jeremy Corbyn will be Britain’s PM by 2020. Boris’s legacy” and “Gove scaremongers on migration free-for-all”. Ofcom bosses are subject to strict impartiality guidelines, all the more crucial in a referendum year…
Emmott is entirely typical of the liberal elite troughers who get put in charge of running quangos like Ofcom. Their values are pro-EU, pro-Climate-Industrial-Complex, anti-free-market, anti-Conservative.