The unspeakable BBC: biased even when trying to be unbiased?

From Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christensen

  • We are honored to publish the following letter to the unspeakable BBC from Dr. Sonja Boehmer-Christensen, one of the doughtiest scientists who have upheld scientific truth and integrity despite all pressures and temptations to subit to the New Superstition that is ‘global warming’. Dr. Boehmer-Christensen is the editor of Energy and Environment, a leading climate-science journal that allows scientists skeptical of the official ‘global warming’ theory to publish their papers where other journals have sold out to the money-men behind the scare. Dr. Boehmer-Christensen is here telling the BBC what she thinks of a programme by its political correspondent, Andrew Marr, in which – in a manner almost unprecedented at the BBC – he tried to allow both sides of the climate debate to be reflected.

Sir, – As an ‘expert’ on the science and politics of global warming since the late 1980s and the editor of a journal that has long given climate ‘sceptics’ a voice, I would like to complement the BBC for attempting, this morning on Radio 4 , an open-minded discussion of the science and politics of man-made global warming. Two sides were demonstrated. However, a number of outright mistakes and omission created enough bias to turn the programme into sophisticated  UK government propaganda.

Here are the main faults:

1. The IPCC was NOT asked to research the “for and against” of the man-made warming hypothesis, as claimed. It was set up(at a time when fossil fuel prices collapsed again after a long period of very high prices) to support the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. This states, as international law, that man-made climate change exists, is dangerous and can be mitigated by reducing the emission of  greenhouse gases. However, only a few  developed countries accepted the obligation to reduce emissions, the UK among them. This treaty was de facto an energy policy agenda directed against carbon fuels. IPCC working group III provided the solutions to a problem that  working group I  was asked to demonstrate more  precisely. The IPCC did not seriously evaluate  alternative theories. It set out to discredit them, perhaps correctly, but this remains to be decided. Its brief was and remains to ‘underpin’ a major international political agenda with far-reaching economic implications.

2. By no stretch of the imagination can Bob Watson, John Houghton and Nick Stern be considered independent scientists or academics. At best they are loyal civil servants with a  background in science or economics. All held major policy or management positions in the UK, EU, World Bank, Met Office or World Meteorological Organization. It was indeed a major conclusion of my three-year research project on the IPCC, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, that the institutions of science and their managers were a  major political actor in global environmental politics, and that they had  chosen the language of environmentalism to further their causes. (I researched the IPCC as a Senior Research Fellow and a member of the energy group of SPRU (University of Sussex). I observed the strong links  between the  environmental rhetoric and energy policy objectives. I also interviewed Houghton and Watson and followed their careers. The former saw it as his religious duty to warn us against global warming, the latter ‘promised’ me (in the mid-1990s when working for the IPCC  in Washington) that the IPCC would publish majority and minority science reports, rather than the negotiated (with governments) consensus of government-funded science. Minority reports were never published.

3. The financial interests in the decarbonisation agenda are now very extensive indeed and, to the best of my knowledge, include the BBC, the UK Royal Society, and most academic institutions in the UK and elsewhere, not to mention individuals like Al Gore and the current head of the IPCC, Rajendra Pachauri, as well as former civil servants in the Department of the Environment. There is of course nothing illegal in having such ‘interests’, but they may colour belief and the interpretation of ‘the science’.

4. Oil interests may not like giving carbon dioxide a price and then trading it, but this does not apply to natural gas. In general, it is not true that the energy industries are opposed to ‘decarbonisation’. Enron, for example was a major supporter of the Kyoto Protocol. In any case, if carbon capture and sequestration becomes eligible for carbon trading, taxpayers would have to pay for the ‘evil’ gas to be injected (at huge cost) back into depleting gas and oil fields, thereby increasing their yield. Subsidies for ‘renewables’ have also made energy companies more friendly towards more expensive energy. The nuclear people were a major supporter of the global warming scare, for obvious reasons. They may even have ‘invented ‘ it originally.

5. Lastly, you  paid too little to attention to a major consequence of the prevailing blame game. The accusation that  global warming is the alleged responsibility of the rich and the ‘West’, is already leading to bribery, dubious aid streams and the ignoring of other factors causing  poverty and disasters in poor, badly-governed nations.

Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen,

Reader Emeritus, Hull University; Editor of Energy & Environment (Multi-science); former Senior Research Fellow, Science Policy Research Unit, Energy Group.