In order to avoid giving ‘false balance’ to the climate alarmists at the BBC, I thought it would be a good idea to fact-check their new internal guidance on climate change. This is their totalitarian memorandum aimed at stamping out free scientific discourse, on the basis that certain facts are established beyond dispute.
The problem is that these aren’t, and the BBC is guilty of repeatedly failing to describe accurately the nuances of climate science and the degree to which certain claims are disputed.
The crucial paragraph reads:
‘Most climate scientists regard a rise of 2 degrees C as the point when global warming could become irreversible and the effects dangerous. At current rates, we are on track for a rise of more than 3-4 degrees C by the end of the century.’
There are so many things wrong with this short statement.
That global warming can be somehow ‘irreversible’ is pure propaganda; the climate has always been changing and it always will. The briefing later describes the idea of catastrophic tipping points as a ‘common misconception’, so they have comically failed their own test right at the start.
A temperature rise of more than two degrees is not inherently dangerous either. The majority of economic impact studies put the cost of climate change by the end of the century at between 1.5% and 3% of world GDP, but these studies often make the inaccurate assumption that either no or little adaptation will take place.
In contrast, even the IPCC has admitted (p.15) that the cost of reducing emissions (‘mitigation’) to meet the 2oC target may be up to 4% of world GDP in 2030, 6% in 2050 and 11% in 2100.
These numbers do not incorporate the benefits of reducing our emissions, which are primarily the avoided costs of climate change. But given that a certain amount of warming is already ‘baked in’, it looks almost certain that this ‘mitigation’ will actually be far more expensive than not doing anything. If warming actually turns out to have a positive effect, the gamble will have failed even more spectacularly.
The IPCC has openly admitted that its cost forecasts come with incredibly optimistic assumptions that immediate mitigation takes place in all countries, that there is a single global carbon price, and that there are ‘no additional limitations on technology relative to the models’ default technology assumptions’. With no carbon capture and storage (CCS), they predict the total mitigation cost rises by a staggering 138%. The bad news is that CCS is currently failing to deliver, and few now expect it to play a significant role in reducing emissions.
Given the record of economic forecasts, all these predictions should be taken with a pinch of salt, but on the available evidence it appears we are sleepwalking into spending trillions of pounds to achieve only a negligible reduction in global temperatures.
The father of the two-degree target, veteran climate alarmist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, has admitted the number is entirely fabricated: ‘Two degrees is not a magical limit; it’s clearly a political goal’. He nonetheless celebrates its cynical effectiveness at motivating international political action.
Other prominent climate scientists, such as Hans von Storch, have been much more critical of this approach. Storch reflects on how scientists have become political sermonisers in a way which damages science as a whole: ‘Unfortunately, some of my colleagues behave like pastors . . . it’s certainly no coincidence that all the mistakes that became public always tended in the direction of exaggeration and alarmism.’
The statement that we are on track for ‘more than 3-4 degrees’ is an even more blatant distortion of the scientific evidence. Earlier this year, Peter Cox of the University of Exeter announced the results of his latest study which ruled out higher levels of warming. He concluded that ‘climate sensitivity’ would be in the narrower range of 2.2-3.4oC, thus ruling out warming of 4 or 5 degrees by 2100. His voice adds to a growing consensus that climate sensitivity will be lower than previously estimated. Does the BBC now consider him a climate denier too?
Quite surreally, the document also describes the statement that ‘climate change has happened before’ as a ‘common misconception’. How much longer before the BBC renames itself The Ministry of Truth?
Estimating the current and future impacts of climate change is a complex and contested enterprise, but the BBC would rather you didn’t know. ‘The science is settled’ they say, so move on. This climate memorandum is nothing less than propaganda presented as fact by controller Fran. There is a critical debate to be had, so inquisitive people had better look elsewhere.