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1st July 2019

By Chris Morrison

The rot deepens at the BBC.

The last time your correspondent dropped in on the “comedy” slot, some frightful old bat was suggesting throwing acid over political opponents to the right of Joseph Stalin. Over on Sports there was – little live sports. The drama department seems to have out-sourced its schedule to an increasingly overworked Jed Mercurio. And there is little sign of music these days with 400 plus BBC staffers on holiday at Glastonbury giving us the views of some lout in a Union Jack-decorated stab vest who suggested that we have sexual relations with Boris Johnson. Rather improbably he went on to promoted similar relations with the entire British government.

Surely the science pages are baring up to the strain of running the corporation on only £5bn a year and providing some illuminating and interesting coverage of developments in the scientific world.

Sadly, no.

Last Thursday I checked. First up was a piece by former computer magazine editor Matt McGrath reporting on some meaningless compromise from yet another conference junket over the IPCC’s bizarre suggestion that we should de-industrialise the planet on the basis of forecasts produced by 100 inaccurate climate models.

Of course, the whole boondoggle is about politics and money. The delegate from Tuvalu, Ian Fry,  noted that the IPCC report was not negotiable. “We face existential threats from climate change”, he said, presumably with a straight face given that Tuvalu has grown in size by around 3% in the last 40 years. Fry, of course, wants the international loot for his supposedly sinking island, but it is not clear what excuse McGrath has for printing this nonsense unchallenged.

Next up we learn that “Tory hopefuls told not to squander UK science progress”. The journalist in charge of editing this press release is Pallab Ghosh and it is, of course, the usual plea for vast quantities of government cash. President of the Royal Society Sir Venki Ramakrishnan told Messrs Johnson and Hunt that “if we lose the momentum behind the commitment to investing 2.4% of GDP, we will be left behind by our competitors”. Later the handout, sorry story, itemises some of the uses to which this “investment” will be put with cancer and climate change topping the list. Strange to see the most important item listed second, although diplomatic reasons might be behind the undoubted error.

The next story looks a little more promising with the suggestion that “bats benefit from protected farmland hedgerows”. Of course, the subtext for the story is that the human population must starve so that nature can be returned to an idyllic wilderness. According to Dr Jeremy Froidevaux from Bristol University, “bats did not benefit from common environmentally friendly prescriptions, such as creation and management of species-rich grassland, field and water margins management”. So, of course, the prescriptions “needed to be tailored to make them more effective for nocturnal species”.

Anything to do with polar ice, preferably melting, is always a banker at the BBC. The next story tells us that more than 50 lakes have been detected under the Greenland ice sheet, although most seem to be little more than puddles. Water acts as a lubricant, it is noted “and as the world warms” expect the Greenland ice sheet to come crashing through your front living room any time soon. Actually, I made that last bit up – for now!

Our favourite computer editor Matt McGrath returns to the fray with “‘Triple whammy’ threatens UN action on climate change”. I confess that I did not read this political activism dressed up as independent reporting but in mitigation I note that I have read the same article about 100 times before.

Finally, there is another run-out for Ed Hawkins climate stripes. The Reading University professor specialises in recording our recent period of gentle global warming by graphic work inspired by the modern “throw paint at the wall” school. A great deal of red paint is employed to show that “the entire planet has got hotter, increasingly so in recent decades”. Well, there was some cooling from 1945-1976 and a pause from 1998-2014, but let’s not allow the facts to get in the way of creative art.

And that is a typical day’s output on the BBC science page, replicated of course by the broadcast output.

Just as there are few laughs on the comedy side, there is little or no real science on the science page.

In fact, both outputs are largely driven by a liberal left agenda ultimately designed to take control of the commanding heights of the economy.

Debate over the controversial scientific theory that humans are solely responsible for warming the planet is banned. The matter is “settled”. For some reason, this theory of settled scientific fact is not extended elsewhere. For instance, the idea that human life starts at conception or that gender is determined by chromosomes.

The journalists on the science pages led by McGrath and Roger Harrabin don’t appear to have many scientific credentials but this would not matter if they didn’t constantly promote the work of political activists under the guise of science.

Earlier this year Roger Harrabin reported the inaccurate findings of a left-wing think tank that global floods had risen 15 times, wildfires sevenfold and extreme weather events generally a whopping 20 times. Maybe in the recent past journalist alarm bells would have been sounded by left-wing activists making wildly improbable claims. Maybe a little checking would have discovered that the only previous experience of one of the three authors was working as a research volunteer for two Edinburgh “equality” charities.

But the alarm bells failed to ring – maybe they have been switched off – and Harrabin used this report to tap into the vast reservoir of rent-a-quote geography professors. Simon Lewis from UCL said that the think tank was right to say that environmental change is happening ever faster and threatens to destabilise society while Harriett Bulkeley from Durham thought it was a “good interpretation of the current evidence”.

In obscure parts of the BBC there might be the occasional item on molecular physics, geodesy or quantum biology where the views of advanced map readers are not considered essential. But on the main pages the science was “settled” long ago, to be largely replaced by anti-science political rant.


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