BBC folds, then folds again

Marc Sheppard
The BBC appears to have serially caved-in to global warmist activism. There was much online discussion this weekend about a Friday BBC global warming / La Nina related article suddenly changing its wording and with it -- its apparent balance.  Today, news that an eco-activist has smugly taken credit for coercing the change has joined the conversation.  And I'm now adding my discovery of a second amending in which a neutrality-vital sentence that survived the first update has now completely vanished.

The original piece by BBC News environment analyst Roger Harrabin opened with the words "Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007."   But by day's end the lede's start was changed to "Global temperatures will drop slightly this year."

Both versions included as a third line:

"This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory."

But while the original followed that with:

"But experts have also forecast a record high temperature within five years, probably associated with another episode of El Nino."

The updated version read:

"But experts say we are still clearly in a long-term warming trend -- and they forecast a new record high temperature within five years."

And then added:

"The WMO points out that the decade from 1998 to 2007 was the warmest on record. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C.


"While Nasa [sic], the US space agency, cites 2005 as the warmest year, the UK's Hadley Centre lists it as second to 1998.


"Researchers say the uncertainty in the observed value for any particular year is larger than these small temperature differences. What matters, they say, is the long-term upward trend."

What prompted the discussion-altering edit, which -- by the way -- neglected to update the post's timestamp?

This morning, Jennifer Marohasy of Australia's Institute of Public Affairs, revealed an exchange between the author and climate alarmist Jo Abbess she found on the Campaign Against Climate Change message board.  It seems that the CACC board was where Abbess posted a transcript of her email debate in order to impress her fellow greenies.

Apparently unhappy with the article's emphasis on natural forces, Abbess demanded a "correction" on typical alarmist grounds. First, she countered statements Harrabin made with laughably unsubstantiated claims.  Here's a taste from her first:

"Several networks exist that question whether global warming has peaked, but they contain very few actual scientists, and the scientists that they do contain are not climate scientists so have no expertise in this area."

She quickly moved on to another Gorebot favorite tactic with statements the likes of:

"I think it's counterproductive to even hint that the Earth is cooling down again."

AND

"This is not an issue of ‘debate'. This is an issue of emerging truth."

Harrabin countered each of Abbess's arguments for her demanded "correction" to the article exactly twice before the latter pulled out her big guns - ad hominem:

"I would ask : please reserve the main BBC Online channel for emerging truth.

Otherwise, I would have to conclude that you are insufficiently educated to be able to know when you have been psychologically manipulated. And that would make you an unreliable reporter."

And threats:

"I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution, unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be said that you have had your head turned by the sceptics."


To which the BBC News environment analyst obediently responded:

"Have a look in 10 minutes and tell me you are happier.

We have changed headline and more."

And believe it or not -- change it they did.

But it would appear not enough so to make Abbess, or perhaps some fellow eco-maniac, "happier." 

Having just returned from the BBC site, I'm amazed to report yet another drastic change - again, original "last update" timestamp intact -- to the piece.  Besides offering a third version of the lede, this time opening with "Global temperatures for 2008 will be slightly cooler than last year," this crucial sentence - mitigated in the first update -- has now been removed altogether:

"This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory."

It, and the sentence modified Friday to diminish the impact of the flat mean temperature phenomenon we have reported here, here, here, and here, have both been replaced with this single statement:

"But this year's temperatures would still be way above the average -- and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases."

While the original's opened the door to reasoned debate, the opening paragraphs of the latest rendition purposely slam that door shut.  Not coincidentally, Abbess had demanded that certain things be made clear "in the first few paragraphs."  And now they were, morphing the article's tenor from dialogue to lecture with a minimum of extorted word processing.

I wonder if Mr. Harrabin appreciates the irony of what he has done.  Particularly that he did so partly in response to the suggestion that being "insufficiently educated to be able to know when [he has] been psychologically manipulated" might make him an "unreliable reporter."

And who or what exactly compelled this most recent odious change?

Was it Abbess, who confided to her fellow alarmists that the first update might not be "much better?"

Or did Harrabin's cowardly capitulation open the door to eco-copy-cats who further skewed the facts through intimidation?

Either way, this was not one of journalism's proudest moments.
The BBC appears to have serially caved-in to global warmist activism. There was much online discussion this weekend about a Friday BBC global warming / La Nina related article suddenly changing its wording and with it -- its apparent balance.  Today, news that an eco-activist has smugly taken credit for coercing the change has joined the conversation.  And I'm now adding my discovery of a second amending in which a neutrality-vital sentence that survived the first update has now completely vanished.

The original piece by BBC News environment analyst Roger Harrabin opened with the words "Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007."   But by day's end the lede's start was changed to "Global temperatures will drop slightly this year."

Both versions included as a third line:

"This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory."

But while the original followed that with:

"But experts have also forecast a record high temperature within five years, probably associated with another episode of El Nino."

The updated version read:

"But experts say we are still clearly in a long-term warming trend -- and they forecast a new record high temperature within five years."

And then added:

"The WMO points out that the decade from 1998 to 2007 was the warmest on record. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C.


"While Nasa [sic], the US space agency, cites 2005 as the warmest year, the UK's Hadley Centre lists it as second to 1998.


"Researchers say the uncertainty in the observed value for any particular year is larger than these small temperature differences. What matters, they say, is the long-term upward trend."

What prompted the discussion-altering edit, which -- by the way -- neglected to update the post's timestamp?

This morning, Jennifer Marohasy of Australia's Institute of Public Affairs, revealed an exchange between the author and climate alarmist Jo Abbess she found on the Campaign Against Climate Change message board.  It seems that the CACC board was where Abbess posted a transcript of her email debate in order to impress her fellow greenies.

Apparently unhappy with the article's emphasis on natural forces, Abbess demanded a "correction" on typical alarmist grounds. First, she countered statements Harrabin made with laughably unsubstantiated claims.  Here's a taste from her first:

"Several networks exist that question whether global warming has peaked, but they contain very few actual scientists, and the scientists that they do contain are not climate scientists so have no expertise in this area."

She quickly moved on to another Gorebot favorite tactic with statements the likes of:

"I think it's counterproductive to even hint that the Earth is cooling down again."

AND

"This is not an issue of ‘debate'. This is an issue of emerging truth."

Harrabin countered each of Abbess's arguments for her demanded "correction" to the article exactly twice before the latter pulled out her big guns - ad hominem:

"I would ask : please reserve the main BBC Online channel for emerging truth.

Otherwise, I would have to conclude that you are insufficiently educated to be able to know when you have been psychologically manipulated. And that would make you an unreliable reporter."

And threats:

"I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution, unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be said that you have had your head turned by the sceptics."


To which the BBC News environment analyst obediently responded:

"Have a look in 10 minutes and tell me you are happier.

We have changed headline and more."

And believe it or not -- change it they did.

But it would appear not enough so to make Abbess, or perhaps some fellow eco-maniac, "happier." 

Having just returned from the BBC site, I'm amazed to report yet another drastic change - again, original "last update" timestamp intact -- to the piece.  Besides offering a third version of the lede, this time opening with "Global temperatures for 2008 will be slightly cooler than last year," this crucial sentence - mitigated in the first update -- has now been removed altogether:

"This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory."

It, and the sentence modified Friday to diminish the impact of the flat mean temperature phenomenon we have reported here, here, here, and here, have both been replaced with this single statement:

"But this year's temperatures would still be way above the average -- and we would soon exceed the record year of 1998 because of global warming induced by greenhouse gases."

While the original's opened the door to reasoned debate, the opening paragraphs of the latest rendition purposely slam that door shut.  Not coincidentally, Abbess had demanded that certain things be made clear "in the first few paragraphs."  And now they were, morphing the article's tenor from dialogue to lecture with a minimum of extorted word processing.

I wonder if Mr. Harrabin appreciates the irony of what he has done.  Particularly that he did so partly in response to the suggestion that being "insufficiently educated to be able to know when [he has] been psychologically manipulated" might make him an "unreliable reporter."

And who or what exactly compelled this most recent odious change?

Was it Abbess, who confided to her fellow alarmists that the first update might not be "much better?"

Or did Harrabin's cowardly capitulation open the door to eco-copy-cats who further skewed the facts through intimidation?

Either way, this was not one of journalism's proudest moments.