The BBC: well ahead of the news.

According to this report:

“Global warming could cut the world’s annual economic output by as much as 20%, an influential report by Sir Nicholas Stern is expected to say.”

Call it debasement of the English language, call it wishfulfillment journalism, but surely the “influence” of a report can only be estimated after the effects of its publication are known? Still, it makes for a nice consistency: a hypothetically gloomy report on an unproven hypothesis is said, hypothetically one supposes, to be influential- all by a hypothetically unbiased news organisation.

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92 Responses to The BBC: well ahead of the news.

  1. Richard says:

    Afer the effects are known? The contents of the report have to be known first! Not even published yet it cannot possibly be influential. Even if the BBC’s assessment of its conclusion is accurate, the cannot know if it was even based on any solid reasoning at all, let alone if it will withstand scrutiny, let alone if it will influence anything.

    Does it surprise you? The feckwits at the BBC have been showing their pathetic grasp of grammar for years now.


  2. Bryan says:

    This is a really funny one. BBC journos are proving their bias from an unexpected angle. I’m not so sure bad grammar is at fault here – though the BBC gives us ample proof of that elsewhere – but an unwitting revelation of the workings of the BBC propaganda machine.


  3. DennisThe Menace says:

    Mr Stern is an economist FFS !!! He thus can have no authoritative view on climate, weather systems past or present on which to base any research or conclusions. His review is founded on two fallacious assumptions on climate as givens •

    1. That climate change is an abnormal state within the Earths eco-system
    2. That any climate change is primarily due to human activity and thus can be influenced by us.

    How can his report based as it is on unproven hypotheses be regarded as influential by anyone other than groups and organisations with a biased agenda to promote? (BBC and fellow eco-fascists). Its just more pseudo-science being served up as fact by people who lack any innate pride and professionalism they obviously think we’re all daft.

    This report should go in the same bin as the Lancet/John Hopkins mortality study on Iraq.


  4. Biodegradable says:

    influential is BBC Newspeak for ‘we believe it, so you should too.’


  5. Pete says:

    Don’t bother complaining to the BBC. I complained that they repeatedly spoke on the PM programme of Moldovans travelling to Europe to find work, when Moldova itself is in Europe. I said the BBC used ‘Europe’ to mean ‘the EU’. They admitted they had done this, but it was all my fault for not understanding the ‘context’ the terms were used in. It wasn’t them being sloppy and careless. They are always right, the customer is always wrong. Nice work if you can get it.


  6. Rob says:

    This BBC report is misleading – it isn’t global warming itself which could reduce economic output by 20%, but the cost of combating global warming. Neither the headline or the main heading paragraph make this clear.


  7. Chris H says:


    You missed.

    3. Whatever the change, count the costs and ignore the benefits.


  8. Tim Worstall says:

    What’s even better is that the BBC hasn’t read a copy of the report. No one, not even the newspapers or the Beeb, have been given an advance copy under embrago. I know because I got an email saying so to my own request this morning.

    So everyone, everyone, is guessing until Monday.


  9. Jon says:

    Well here is another guidline they’ve ignored.

    “Truth and accuracy

    We strive to be accurate and establish the truth of what has happened. Accuracy is more important than speed and it is often more than a question of getting the facts right. We will weigh all relevant facts and information to get at the truth. Our output will be well sourced, based on sound evidence, thoroughly tested and presented in clear, precise language. We will be honest and open about what we don’t know and avoid unfounded speculation.”


  10. J.G. says:

    “influential is BBC Newspeak for ‘we believe it, so you should too.'”

    Spot on. When they agree it’s “influential”, when they don’t it’s “controversial”.

    This is the kind of insidious bias that permeates the whole of the BBC output, drama and news.


  11. pounce says:

    The BBC and half a story;

    Anybody notice how quick the BBC is to point the finger of blame at the US when it comes to global warming.
    Global warming ‘threat to growth’
    According to BBC business correspondent Hugh Pym, the report will carry weight because Sir Nicholas, a former World Bank economist, is seen as a neutral figure.
    Unlike earlier reports, his conclusions are likely to be seen as objective and based on cold, hard economic fact, our correspondent said.
    It also may help win over sceptics in the US, where climate change has often been accused of being based on shoddy science.

    Small climate of concern as US polls loom
    By Richard Black
    Environment correspondent, BBC News website

    It should be the best of times to put climate change on the US political map.

    US evangelicals launch green plan

    A group of influential US evangelicals has launched a campaign to persuade Americans that being a good Christian also means tackling climate change.

    Climate change: The big emitters
    The US emits more, absolutely and per head, than any other country

    So in a nutshell from the BBC, America bad and Europe good.

    Err BBC…here is what the Guardian had to say about the EU this morning;

    The European Union, self-styled global champion in the battle against climate change, is falling woefully short of its targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and will need to take radical measures to achieve them, new projections have shown.

    The European commission said that, based on current measures and policies, the emissions of the EU’s original 15 members will be just 0.6% below 1990 levels by 2010. The EU-15 countries are committed under the Kyoto protocol to an 8% cut on 1990 levels by 2012.

    Mr Dimas said that, on unchanged policies, seven countries – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain – would exceed their individual emission limits, which are binding under EU law. Even with extra measures, Spain is projected to exceed its 1990 emissions by 51.3% in 2010, compared with an allowed increase under Kyoto of 15%.,,1933867,00.html

    The BBC and half a story


  12. the_camp_commandant says:

    AIUI all this economist has done is proceeded from two a priori assumptions – that there is climate change and that some economies will spend money trying to alleviate it.

    As he’s an economist, he can have nothing to say about whether his assumptions are actually valid, and nor need his inexpert view either way colour the economic conclusions he draws from it. He’s not pronouncing on whether it’s real but on what consequences might flow from it if it were. It’s just a thought experiment. As such, his conclusions could be taken in exactly the opposite of the way al-BBC would like: viz. if dancing to the ecofascist tune is going to cost us all 20% of global GDP, well, thanks but no thanks.

    Predictably, al-BBC has already decided not to spin it that way. Fancy that!

    Incidentally, if global warming is indeed bad, as the BBC would have it, that’s a relief – that must mean that global cooling would be a good thing. And as any fule kno, what we mean when we speak of “global warming” is that the temperature (by some measures) appears to be going up in the northern hemisphere, but by the very same measures is also apparently going down in the southern hemisphere.

    Of course, you won’t hear the latter inconvenient fact on al-BBC, and neither will you get any hits if you search the BBC website for ‘Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillator’, a periodicity phenomenon which has provided a complete explanation for fluctuating hurricane activity in the Atlantic (a la Katrina) for about 200 years now.


  13. Chuffer says:

    Superb, grown-up analysis of climate change scare stories.


  14. Lynette says:

    I’m still waiting to see the BBC story crediting Bush with this year’s mild Atlantic hurricane season.


  15. Jon says:

    “According to BBC business correspondent Hugh Pym, the report will carry weight because Sir Nicholas, a former World Bank economist, is seen as a neutral figure.”

    Is he neutral?

    “He was knighted and recruited by Gordon Brown, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, to work for the British government where, in 2003, he became second permanent secretaray at H.M. Treasury, initially with responsibility for public finances, and head of the Government Economic Service. Having also been Director of Policy and Research for the Commission for Africa, he was, in July 2005, appointed to conduct reviews on the economics of climate change and also of development. He ceased to be a second permanent secretary at the Treasury though he retains the rank; the review team he heads is based in the Cabinet Office..”

    The BBC don’t tell us this


  16. Iva says:

    graze the page of
    The grazepage of BBC – homepage – Home of the BBC on the Internet is the place to post, find, view, and share interesting content regarding the web page of “BBC – homepage – Home of the BBC on the Internet”.
    You can add supporting or disapproving content, suggest tips, share facts or links, ask questions, etc


  17. Bryan says:

    Iva, clicking on your link just brought me to the top of this comments thread.


  18. Robin says:

    You can reduce global warming (?)pollution ,traffic density, jet travel by having an economic depression. The BBC wont mind. We would still have to pay the telly tax.


  19. DennisThe Menace says:

    I read somewhere in the dim and distant past that every 1 – 2 % drop in GDP in the developed world translated into approx. 30 Million deaths in the 3rd world (from various causes – disease, starvation – etc. etc.).

    Thus if the BBC trailed conclusions from the ‘Stern’ report holds true then we could be looking at around 300 Million fatalities ??

    This is especially ironic for the eco-fascists, aid/charity/H-R NGO’s and anti-globalisers ‘et al’ if the predicted global deflation is as a result of expenditure to combat the effects of the ‘man made’ climate change myth.

    The problem with these ‘social engineer’ assholes is that they never really think things through fully being so totally absorbed in their own little mini-verses !!!

    Who will they blame then – Scooby Doo ? Mickey Mouse? The Pope ? — Naah, it’ll be the good ole USofA yet again.


  20. Richard says:

    “The US emits more, absolutely and per head, than any other country”

    Interesting in that this is an out-and-out lie from the BBC. Canada emits more per head, at least according to the study I read – so to present it as an undisputed “fact” is simply untrue.

    “the temperature (by some measures) appears to be going up in the northern hemisphere, but by the very same measures is also apparently going down in the southern hemisphere”

    That explains why the average world temperature has been roughly constant (statistically insignificant fall) over teh past 8 years. Methink there is someone talking crap out there.


  21. Tim says:


    Whilst working for an intelligence gathering company (Diligence LLC) in London, I met the writer of Spooks and during the first episode some of the guys from our company met the actors. They wanted to meet ex Special Forces guys and real life Spooks – Our two bosses were ex MI5 and CIA.

    Nick, the ex MI5 guy use to be their advisor, terminoligy and methodoligy mainly.

    The first series was great, but now it’s comical, I must look call Nick who now works and Washington and ask him if he realises what a load of left wing drivel the show has become.


  22. Jon says:

    “Copernicus moved the Earth into orbit around the sun and proceeded to solve the mathematics involved. He wrote up his ideas and his methods in a book, then carefully put the book away without having it published.

    This was, after all, the early years of the Reformation. Issuing a book that so blatantly challenged the authority of the Church was a risky matter that could lead to excommunication or worse. Copernicus was no Lutheran, ready to defy the Catholic Church, so he chose to keep silent.”

    Change “moved the Earth into orbit around the sun” to “influence of human activity on global warming” and “Catholic Church ” to “liberal agenda” and you will see that we are living through a similar era now.


  23. will says:

    pounce | 28.10.06 – 6:09 pm

    points out that the BBC never seem to get around to detailing the EU’s pathetic efforts to meet the Kyoto terms that they are signatory to. The BBC is too busy bad mouthing the US, whose crime is to be more honest than our EU partners.

    In any event the hard lifting for the EU was to be done by the UK & Germany, with eg France being required to make no reductions from the 1990 base & eg Greece being allowed a 25% increase on 1990.


  24. Socialism is Necrotizing says:

    Mark Thompson
    DG of the BBC

    writing in the Mail

    Nice to know that everythings fine and that the BBC is worth every penny. Oh, and theres no bias either. No sir. Never.


  25. Socialism is Necrotizing says:
  26. Jon says:

    Fines for Halloween troublemakers

    “Our concern is that Halloween is a time when young people are going to enjoy themselves, but there are those who as they get older, thirteen, fourteen or fifteen go a little bit beyond the pale,” he said.

    “They’re the ones we will be cracking down hard on and that sort of behaviour can be knocking and running away from doors, ringing doorbells and running away.”

    Now ringing doorbells and running away will be dealt the full weight of the law. What an utter waste of police time.

    But then again they better patrol in dozens.


  27. Lee Moore says:

    I liked the Stern Review’s Terms of Reference best of all. After the bloke is invited to predict the course of development of the world economy for the next century, ditto the weather; and assess the economic impact of aiming for a low carbon global economy, he is finally asked to produce his review by …”Autumn 2006.”

    One can just see his teams of boffins wearing their fingers to the bone on their computer keyboards, calculating that 0.07 metres of sea level increase by 2075 will add 0.26% to Indian unemployment, while Sir Nicholas himself wrestles with the real toughie. “Hmm – September ? Or maybe October ? But why not early November ?”

    For those who still cling by their fingernails to the real world, meanwhile, humanity’s efforts at central planning so far indicate that state functionaries haven’t the slightest idea what is going to happen to the Hartlepool economy next month, far less the world economy over the next century.


  28. Rob says:

    More plugging of the green agenda, another “report” is headline news:

    A couple of points:

    1) The reason why Africa is a basket case is corrupt government. Other parts of the world are equally vulnerable to climate yet are successful and prosperous (SE Asia, with its huge populations and unpredictable and often violent climate, is a good example). Corrupt government is NEVER mentioned by the BBC. Doing so would undermine the entire “victims of the West” idea about African policy.

    2) Africa’s way out of poverty, in addition to having stable governments and the rule of law, is to industrialise. They will never be permitted to do this, however, because (a) green politics trumps desperate poverty and (b) deep down in a dark place the Libs want African desperation to continue – how else will they demonstrate how compassionate and progressive they are?


  29. Andrew Kinsman says:

    The NEWS part of Radio 4’s “Broadcasting House” has just led on a report by the so-called (and economically illiterate) new economics foundation (sic). A swift look at that organisation’s website tells you all you need to know.

    The Working Group on Climate Change and Development are:

    ActionAid International, Bird Life, CAFOD, Christian Aid, Columban Faith and Justice, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Institute for Development Studies, IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development), MedAct, nef (the new economics foundation), Operation Noah, Oxfam GB, Panos, People and Planet, Practical Action (formerly ITDG), Progresio (formerly CIIR), RSPB, Tearfund, teri Europe, World Vision and WWF.

    Hmmm, pressure groups, the lot of them.

    THe Policy Director and Head of the Climate Change Programme at nef is one Andrew Simms.

    An e-mail to nef asking for his academic credentials received no direct reply. Interestingly, however, his potted biography no longer states that he studied at the London School of Economics. One could perhaps speculate that no degree was forthcoming and ask oneself why.


  30. Chem Ed says:

    BH’s cosy little chat was even worse – I admit, you’re not likely to check you’ve a balanced panel view on climate change, but at least the presenter might inject sanity? Oh no.


  31. GCooper says:

    When people complain about BBC bias, this is precisely the sort of thing they mean – and it’s the issue that the Corporation’s apologists on this blog never address, preferring to pretend we mean party political bias.

    The BBC is 100per cent in hock to the ‘Green’ lobby and it’s reporting of environmental issues is a digrace as a consequence.

    It should be the BBC digging behind the scenes to find who really is at work in these impressively-titled organisations – not contributors to a blog (though congratulations and thanks to those who have!).

    BBC bias? Here it is. Naked and plain for anyone to see.


  32. John Reith says:

    Aha. I see the quality Sunday papers have all gone big on the Stern report.

    Even though it hasn’t been published.

    In the Sunday Telegraph Matthew “d’Ancona announces that ‘Stern will transform British politics”. Stern’s report, he sasys, ‘delivers one of the most significant intellectual knock-out blows of our times’.

    With pundits talking it up in those terms, it seems it’s been pretty influential already.

    The Sunday Telegraph devotes not just one, but two analysis/opinion pieces to it.

    The Observer leads on it.

    So – was it really wrong of the BBC to break this first?

    Was the word ‘influential’ unjustified?

    Anyone who knows how government works can reasonably infer this from 2 facts:

    1. It was commissioned by the Cabinet Office
    2. The CO is publishing it (with some media fanfare) instead of quietly burying it.

    As for Tim Worstall’s:

    “What’s even better is that the BBC hasn’t read a copy of the report. No one, not even the newspapers or the Beeb, have been given an advance copy under embrago. I know because I got an email saying so to my own request this morning.

    So everyone, everyone, is guessing until Monday.
    Tim Worstall | Homepage | 28.10.06 – 4:00 pm

    Looks pretty naive now, doesn’t it?

    Never heard of a draft final revise Tim?


  33. GCooper says:

    You know, Reith, roping in Matthew D’Ancona and… err… The Observer, is hardly a knockout blow.

    Now, how about the failure to reveal the agenda and backers of the ‘New Economics Foundation’?

    Doesn’t sound quite as impressive once you know who signs the petty cash vouchers, does it?


  34. John Reith says:

    “You know, Reith, roping in Matthew D’Ancona and… err… The Observer, is hardly a knockout blow.”

    Yes it is. The thrust of Ed’s criticism was that the BBC should have kept its audience in ignorance of a story that has become one of the big stories of the weekend.


  35. will says:

    Of course there are other economic analyses to which the BBC gives less coverage.

    Some people say economists have too much influence these days, but in some areas they do not have enough. Laws and regulations affect the economy enormously. All too often, however, their economic effect is misunderstood or miscalculated, as is pointed out in a new paper from the Institute of Economic Affairs — the Economics of Law by Cento Veljanovski.

    Suppose you wanted to reduce property crime by 1% and had three options — increasing police numbers, sending more offenders to prison, or increasing the length of sentences. A politician would probably choose the extra police, as would most voters. But a classic piece of research, quoted by Veljanovski, shows that it would cost 10 times as much to do this as imprisoning more criminals, and 14 times as much as lengthening sentences. Food for thought at a time when the debate is about sending fewer people to prison and shorter sentences.,,176-2426289,00.html


  36. Jinx says:

    Does this unpublished bit of ‘science’ tell us how the dinosaurs were wiped out?
    Will this report tell us about all the global warmmings of geologic history? Al-beeb will conclude that Israel has a time machine and caused it all.


  37. Heron says:

    John Reith: one of the two pieces you mentioned in the Sunday Telegraph was a piece entitled ‘Is Global Warming Happening?’ with the No argument put forward by Richard Lindzen and the Yes argument provided by Philip Eden. That’s right, balanced reporting.

    Perhaps you would be good enough to provide us with links of the BBC displaying similar balance?


  38. John Reith says:

    Sure Heron, here’s one:


  39. PJ says:

    From Mark Thompson’s article in The Mail
    SiN referred to above:
    “I’ve worked with BBC colleagues who have later stood as MPs for all the major parties.”

    Ask yourself this question – How many of YOUR work colleagues have later stood as MP’s?
    Personally, in my entire career spanning 40 years in finance, precisely one. Anyone better that?
    Why do so many BBC staff end up as MP’s? Or conversely, why do so many aspiring MP’s favour a career with the BBC? With so many of its staff politically active how does that square with its remit to be divorced from party political loyalties?


  40. John Reith says:

    Heron, here’s another:


  41. Richard says:


    If you include University, I can match you – or not quite, since she is the shortest MP in the Commons 😀

    Not sure I even know anyone else who has known an MP through work or education.


  42. billyquiz says:


    1 article thats 6 months old whith the initial sentence “Amphibians are dying out the world over” and another from 2 years ago. Not exactly balanced IMO.

    To achieve balanced reporting the opposite view should be included with the original article, that way the readers can make a better informed decision.


  43. John Reith says:

    You must be seeing things, billyquiz, the article I posted begins:

    “Hardly a day goes by without a new dire warning about climate change. But some claims are more extreme than others, giving rise to fears that the problem is being oversold and damaging the issue.”

    The other one is part of a constantly updated briefing series that link to one another.

    Links are the way of not having everything in the same, undigestible article.

    In any case the BBC is about programmes – the first article is connected to a broadcast programme.

    The BBC is obliged to represent a wide range of perspectives and arguments on complex issues, not force evrything into an artificial binary opposition.


  44. max k says:

    “Unlike earlier reports, his conclusions are likely to be seen as objective and based on cold, hard economic fact, our correspondent said.”

    And the underlying assumption is, of course, that his conclusions are based on cold, hard ECOLOGICAL facts.


  45. nick says:

    Off topic…
    This article here, second question from the bottom

    David Loyn, Taleban embed, explains…

    “‘Islam’ means ‘the way of peace’. That is their [the taleban] dream… …Rather like the dreams of communism the struggle may be as important as the result.”

    2 points:-
    a) Islam means total submission
    b) You couldn’t find a better link between communism (and soft, cuddly Liberal Lefties for that matter) and Islamofascism.

    You’re not sipping sangria above the hills of Barcelona, Dave or is it Daoud, now?


  46. Jon says:

    The global warming debate has been hijacked by liberals for a liberal agenda – what they don’t tell you is that Human Activity contributes about 0.28% of greenhouse gases. The Earth has seen higher temperatures within the last 600 years, but is much lower than it was between about 1200 – 1400. If you look at the figures for the last 1,000 years the temperature has in fact reduced.

    Spending all this money on trying to “stop” global warming is a sham – you could get rid of every car, airplane and power station in the world and it would not stop global warming (it would not even slow down the process)- it would still occur and all that money would be wasted. And just think what proportion of this 0.28% of manmade greenhouse gasses Britain contributes, must be very small. Its all a scam and like Copernicus the scientists know this but they do not want to be in the wilderness.


  47. Pete says:

    Hi all,

    Love the b-bbc blog in general but I’ve got to take issue with some of the comments on this one.

    A lot of coverage of environmental issues annoys me because of its over-generalisations, focus on worst case scenarios and general underlying puritanical streak but…

    … the poor coverage does not make the underlying science wrong! Yes, climate science is very complicated; and yes, there has been and always will be natural climate change. However, those two points don’t mean that we will inevitably fail to understand the system sufficiently, or that climate change won’t be a problem.

    Some people say “we can never be sure about climate change!”. No, really??? If you want total 100% certainty about everything you should become a mathematician and retreat from the outside world. However, if you want to understand something complicated like, say, climate, you have to accept uncertainty and just get on with it.

    Because something happens “naturally” doesn’t mean its a good idea to encourage it. I will die eventually, but I’m damned if I’m going to help that process along now.

    Also, saying that thinking “global warming” is bad means you should be in favour of “global cooling” is just plain silly, and I hope I don’t need to explain why.

    Where people live, how they live, how they grow food, protect themselves from the elements etc will obviously need to change over the long term just to respond to “natural” climate change. But lets not make things difficult for ourselves, especially the most vulnerable, by inviting and de facto encouraging that change to occur sooner and faster.

    Just because the BBC holds a view and reports sloppily on it, doesn’t always make that view wrong!



  48. Pete says:

    Hi Jon,

    Can you elaborate on that “0.28% of greenhouse gases” quote? I’m intrigued as to what it actually means.



  49. Chem Ed says:

    I think someone else might have already dealt with the rights and wrongs of the BBC (or more properly their taxpayer-funded employees) holding views on much, but I can speak on the science.
    I don’t require certainty – but beliefs backed up by computer models which can’t hope to reflect reality i can do without;
    I quote directly from the fourth assessment report.

    We think we have high understanding only for carbon dioxide and methane, medium for ozone and solar forcing, low understanding of stratospheric water vapor, the direct effect of aerosols and contrail cirrus, not to mention very low understanding of indirect cloud albedo effect and land surface albedo.

    This is why climate models have what us scientists call “fudge factors”. They can’t hope to ever tell us what will happen to the climate over long term, other than it will change.
    climate is an accumulation of weather. We can’t predict weather very well past 7days (UK), though looking at the jetstreams helps over a few months. What climate fairy brings back certainty as we move into a multiple-year timeframe? It can’t be wishful thinking can it?