FOR the last two years, Justin Rowlatt has been firstly the BBC’s chief environmental correspondent, and now their climate editor. As with all of the BBC’s output on climate change, his work has always been grossly one-sided.
He has often crossed the line into telling outright falsehoods. He was, for instance, rebuked by BBC News bosses last year for his patently false claim that ‘the offshore wind industry was ‘now virtually subsidy-free’.
He went one better when presenting a Panorama edition last November called Wild Weather – Our World Under Threat. The programme blurb summed it up:
‘Panorama investigates a year of wild weather and hears how freak events are becoming increasingly commonplace, changing life right now for millions. This summer a small town was destroyed by fire after record-breaking high temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Floods in Germany swept away entire villages. A plague of mice destroyed livelihoods in Australia’s New South Wales. Dust storms from China swept thousands of miles to South Korea and the people of Madagascar are on the brink of the world’s first climate change-induced famine. By interrogating climate science and with exclusive access to new Met Office data, reporter Justin Rowlatt reveals where in the world the climate is changing the fastest and who will be most affected.’
Rowlatt’s opening statement included this: ‘The world is getting warmer and our weather is getting ever more unpredictable and dangerous. The death toll is rising around the world.’
The claim about death tolls rising is a blatant lie. The opposite is in fact the case, as the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) have reported:
‘Deaths [due to weather disasters] decreased almost threefold from 1970 to 2019. Death tolls fell from over 50,000 deaths in the 1970s to less than 20.000 in the 2010s. The 1970s and 1980s reported an average of 170 related deaths per day. In the 1990s, that average fell by one third to 90 related deaths per day, then continued to fall in the 2010s to 40 related deaths per day.’
One viewer complained to the BBC, who tried to fob him off with this ludicrous response: ‘This was a response to the cumulative death toll from weather-related events, not the annualised rate.’
It’s hard to imagine a more inane reply, or a more dishonest one! Can you imagine the government getting away with a claim that pensioners are getting better off every month?
The viewer has now escalated his complaint to the BBC’s Executive Complaint Unit (ECU).
But how on earth did such a preposterous claim come to be made in the first place? After all, there is a wealth of readily available data out there to back up the WMO’s report.
It would seem that Rowlatt simply could not be bothered to check the facts, or chose to ignore them, preferring to air his personal preconceptions.
The shoddy reporting did not end there. In the same programme, a substantial segment was devoted to a drought in Madagascar last year, which Rowlatt described as ‘the world’s first climate change-induced famine’.
As with the rest of that Panorama edition, there was no attempt to prove the claim with any data. Shortly after the show, a scientific study was published which conclusively proved that the drought had nothing to do with climate change, and that similar droughts have occurred regularly in the past.
My complaint about this is also now with the ECU, after being fobbed off with the excuse that the BBC had got the claim from the UN. Given that the Madagascar was such a significant part of the show, the failure to carry out proper research was extremely shoddy journalism.
In both cases, as well as the offshore wind claim, it is abundantly clear that Justin Rowlatt has little interest in the truth. To him, the message is all-important. His aim is not to report, but to brainwash.
Indeed his obsession with climate change goes back many years. As long ago as 2009 he was blogging about the topic, even questioning whether democracy was an obstacle to tackling global warming.
All very admirable, no doubt. But clearly he is far too obsessed with climate change on a personal level to be able to report on it fairly and accurately.
He should be removed from the climate brief.
£36billion for solar panels (that don’t work in winter!)
It was reported in the Telegraph last week that the government wants to carpet the country in solar panels:
‘England faces being carpeted with solar panels covering an area close to the size of Exmoor. Kwasi Kwarteng, the Business Secretary, is understood to be pushing to more than triple the UK’s solar power capacity by 2030 as part of this proposal – adding an additional 36 gigawatts of energy, equivalent to solar panels taking up around 225 square miles of space. Exmoor National Park covers 267 square miles.’
It is estimated that the extra 36GW will cost £36billion, equivalent to £1,333 per household.
Although this extra capacity might in theory provide a tenth of the country’s electricity, any benefit will quickly be cancelled out by the costs of storing the power for when it is needed and all of the other grid balancing costs, as well as the cost of connecting solar farms, which are often in remote areas, to the grid.
Worst of all is the fact that solar farms provide barely any electricity at all in winter, which is of course when demand is greatest.
As the chart below from the University of Sheffield shows, output from solar farms in December is about a seventh of the summer peak. This means that solar farms are running at less than 2 per cent of their capacity then.
University of Sheffield
Kwasi Kwarteng’s extra 36GW will provide just 0.6GW in midwinter, a third of the output provided by one modern gas power station.
And we’re going to spend £36billion on this nonsense?
BBC’s Climate Check – same old nonsense
BBC’s latest Climate Check was presented by Sarah Keith-Lucas, rather than Ben Rich. But that was the only change, because just like all of the others it was no more than usual mix of misinformation, outright lies and misdirection.
She began by saying: ‘The latest report from the IPCC has been called the bleakest yet of the impact of global climate change. And some recent events support this assessment!’
What followed did not bear out this claim at all.
The first port of call was Australia, where heavy floods have hit Brisbane and Sydney. Sarah Keith-Lucas says that Brisbane had two months of rainfall in two days, but this is not unusual. February 27 and 28 recorded 613mm. This may sound a lot, but maybe she should have put this into perspective, as Queensland has often had much more than this in a single day:
She also claims that Sydney had its wettest start to the year in 150 years. In fact, rainfall across the whole of the summer in NSW has been pretty much average.
If Sarah thinks that heavy rainfall is due to global warming, maybe she would like to explain the 1970s!
We are then told that, according to the thermometer near the runway at the international airport there, Perth has just had its hottest summer. Yet the summer in Western Australia as a whole was not even as hot as 1976.
We then move on to Madagascar, where Keith-Lucas falsely claims there have been five tropical cyclones in six weeks.
In reality, there have been three cyclones, Ana, Batsirai and Emnati. Dumako did hit Madagascar, but it was never above tropical storm strength, with winds of 40 mph. Sadly, frequent cyclones are a fact of life in Madagascar.
Meanwhile, so far this season, the number of tropical cyclones in the Southern Indian Ocean is well below average.
Keith-Lucas then informs us that the sea ice extent around Antarctica was below average in February – cue images of collapsing glaciers! What she forgot to tell us is that the ice extent was close to record high levels in 2015, and that large variations from year to year are common. Indeed, the long-term trend for sea ice extent in summer is increasing. Interestingly, we know from the log books of Ernest Shackleton and Robert Falcon Scott that the Antarctic sea ice has barely changed at all in 100 years.
Finally we learn that Britain has just had a mild winter, which hardly bears out her opening claim about ‘bleakest yet’!
In short, Australia has always had floods, and it has always had heatwaves. Tropical cyclones are normal in Madagascar, and Antarctic sea ice is not melting away.
As for that mild winter, I think we can all live with that, don’t you?