BBC Accused Of Serious Errors And Misleading Statements In David Attenborough’s Climate Show

  • Date: 26/04/19
  • Press Release, Global Warming Policy Foundation

London, 26 April: The Global Warming Policy Foundation has criticised the BBC for seriously inaccurate and misleading statements broadcast in its recent programme, Climate Change – The Facts.

The BBC programme, presented by Sir David Attenborough, went far beyond its remit to present the facts of climate change, instead broadcasting a highly politicised manifesto in favour of renewable energy and unjustified alarm.

The programme highlighted suggestions that storms, floods, heatwaves and sea level rise are all rapidly getting worse as a result of climate change.

However, the best available data, published in the last few years by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and NASA, contradicts the BBC’s alarmist exaggeration of empirical evidence.

In its 5th Assessment Report (2013), the IPCC concluded:

“Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century … No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.”

In its more recent Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, published in 2018, these findings were reconfirmed. It stated that

“Numerous studies towards and beyond AR5 have reported a decreasing trend in the global number of tropical cyclones and/or the globally accumulated cyclonic energy… There is consequently low confidence in the larger number of studies reporting increasing trends in the global number of very intense cyclones.”

Regarding floods, the IPCC’s Special Report concluded:

“There is low confidence due to limited evidence, however, that anthropogenic climate change has affected the frequency and the magnitude of floods. “

There is also no observational evidence that the rate of sea level rise is getting worse. NASA satellite data shows that since 1993, there has been an annual mean sea level rise of 3.3mm, with no significant level of acceleration in the last three decades.

Suggestions by David Attenborough and Michael Mann that climate change is causing increases in wildfires in the US and globally are also misleading and not supported by any empirical evidence. 

According to a survey published by the Royal Society the global area burned has actually declined over past decades, and there is increasing evidence to suggest that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago. These are vitally important facts that should have been mentioned if an accurate description of the impact of climate change on wildfires was to be maintained.

In his letter of complaint, Dr Benny Peiser, the GWPF’s director, has asked the BBC to acknowledge and correct the evident errors and misleading suggestions documented in the complaint and offer remedial measures as soon as possible.

The full complaint is available here (pdf)