Global Warming Activist Pressures BBC to Significantly Alter Article

NewsBusters has just learned that a British "climate activist" was responsible for getting the BBC to radically alter its "Global Temperatures 'To Decrease'" article last Friday.

As reported Sunday, the third paragraph of what previously had been a very balanced piece about how global temperatures have been declining since 1998 was totally reworded in order to make the report just another hysterical climate change pronouncement.

On Monday, Jennifer Marohasy, the director of the Environment Unit at Australia's Institute of Public Affairs, received and published an e-mail exchange between the article's author, Roger Harrabin, and a climate activist affiliated with the British Campaign Against Climate Change:

From Jo, April 4, 2008

Climate Changers,

Remember to challenge any piece of media that seems like it's been subject to spin or scepticism.

Here's my go for today. The BBC actually changed an article I requested a correction for, but I'm not really sure if the result is that much better.

Judge for yourselves...

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from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:12 AM
subject Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to decrease'"

Dear Roger,

Please can you correct your piece published today entitled "Global
temperatures 'to decrease'" :-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7329799.stm

1. "A minority of scientists question whether this means global
warming has peaked"
This is incorrect. Several networks exist that question whether global
warming has peaked, but they contain very few actual scientists, and
the scientists that they do contain are not climate scientists so have
no expertise in this area.

2. "Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007"
You should not mislead people into thinking that the sum total of the
Earth system is going to be cooler in 2008 than 2007. For example, the
ocean systems of temperature do not change in yearly timescales, and
are massive heat sinks that have shown gradual and continual warming.
It is only near-surface air temperatures that will be affected by La
Nina, plus a bit of the lower atmosphere.

Thank you for applying your attention to all the facts and figures available,

jo.

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from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:23 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to decrease'"

Dear Jo

No correction is needed

If the secy-gen of the WMO tells me that global temperatures will
decrease, that's what we will report

There are scientists who question whether warming will continue as
projected by IPCC

Best wishes
RH

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from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:37 AM
subject Re: Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to decrease'"

Hi Roger,

I will forward your comments (unless you object) to some people who
may wish to add to your knowledge.

Would you be willing to publish information that expands on your
original position, and which would give a better, clearer picture of
what is going on ?

Personally, I think it is highly irresponsible to play into the hands
of the sceptics/skeptics who continually promote the idea that "global
warming finished in 1998", when that is so patently not true.

I have to spend a lot of my time countering their various myths and
non-arguments, saying, no, go look at the Hadley Centre data. Global
Warming is not over. There have been what look like troughs and
plateaus/x before. It didn't stop then. It's not stopping now.

It is true that people are debating Climate Sensitivity, how much
exactly the Earth will respond to radiative forcing, but nobody is
seriously refuting that increasing Greenhouse Gases cause increased
global temperatures.

I think it's counterproductive to even hint that the Earth is cooling
down again, when the sum total of the data tells you the opposite.
Glaringly.

As time goes by, the infant science of climatology improves. The Earth
has never experienced the kind of chemical adjustment in the
atmosphere we see now, so it is hard to tell exactly what will happen
based on historical science.

However, the broad sweep is : added GHG means added warming.

Please do not do a disservice to your readership by leaving the door
open to doubt about that.

jo.

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from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 10:57 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to decrease'"

The article makes all these points quite clear

We can't ignore the fact that sceptics have jumped on the lack of
increase since 1998. It is appearing reguarly now in general media

Best to tackle this - and explain it, which is what we have done

Or people feel like debate is being censored which makes them v
suspicious

Roger

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from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 11:12 AM
subject Re: Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to decrease'"

Hi Roger,

When you are on the Tube in London, I expect that occasionally you
glance a headline as sometime turns the page, and you thinkg "Really
?" or "Wow !"

You don't read the whole article, you just get the headline.

A lot of people will read the first few paragraphs of what you say,
and not read the rest, and (a) Dismiss your writing as it seems you
have been manipulated by the sceptics or (b) Jump on it with glee and
e-mail their mates and say "See ! Global Warming has stopped !"

They only got the headline, which is why it is so utterly essentialy
to give the full picture, or as full as you can in the first few
paragraphs.

The near-Earth surface temperatures may be cooler in 2008 that they
were in 2007, but there is no way that Global Warming has stopped, or
has even gone into reverse. The oceans have been warming consistently,
for example, and we're not seeing temperatures go into reverse, in
general, anywhere.

Your word "debate". This is not an issue of "debate". This is an issue
of emerging truth. I don't think you should worry about whether people
feel they are countering some kind of conspiracy, or suspicious that
the full extent of the truth is being withheld from them.

Every day more information is added to the stack showing the desperate
plight of the planet.

It would be better if you did not quote the sceptics. Their voice is
heard everywhere, on every channel. They are deliberately obstructing
the emergence of the truth.

I would ask : please reserve the main BBC Online channel for emerging truth.

Otherwise, I would have to conclude that you are insufficiently
educated to be able to know when you have been psychologically
manipulated. And that would make you an unreliable reporter.

I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution,
unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your
comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to
happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be
said that you have had your head turned by the sceptics.

Respectfully,

jo.

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from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 11:28 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to decrease'"

Have a look in 10 minutes and tell me you are happier

We have changed headline and more

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ORIGINAL
================

Page last updated at 00:42 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 01:42 UK
Global temperatures 'to decrease'
By Roger Harrabin
BBC News environment analyst

Global temperatures this year will be lower than in 2007 due to the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

The World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

But experts have also forecast a record high temperature within five years.

Rises 'stalled'

La Nina and El Nino are two great natural Pacific currents whose effects are so huge they resonate round the world.

El Nino warms the planet when it happens; La Nina cools it. This year, the Pacific is in the grip of a powerful La Nina.

It has contributed to torrential rains in Australia and to some of the coldest temperatures in memory in snow-bound parts of China.

Mr Jarraud told the BBC that the effect was likely to continue into the summer, depressing temperatures globally by a fraction of a degree.

This would mean that temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world.

Watching trends

A minority of scientists question whether this means global warming has peaked and argue the Earth has proved more resilient to greenhouse gases than predicted.

But Mr Jarraud insisted this was not the case and noted that 1998 temperatures would still be well above average for the century.

"When you look at climate change you should not look at any particular year," he said. "You should look at trends over a pretty long period and the trend of temperature globally is still very much indicative of warming.

"La Nina is part of what we call 'variability'. There has always been and there will always be cooler and warmer years, but what is important for climate change is that the trend is up; the climate on average is warming even if there is a temporary cooling because of La Nina."

Adam Scaife, lead scientist for Modelling Climate Variability at the Hadley Centre in Exeter, UK, said their best estimate for 2008 was about 0.4C above the 1961-1990 average, and higher than this if you compared it with further back in the 20th Century.

Mr Scaife told the BBC: "What's happened now is that La Nina has come along and depressed temperatures slightly but these changes are very small compared to the long-term climate change signal, and in a few years time we are confident that the current record temperature of 1998 will be beaten when the La Nina has ended."

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UPDATED VERSION (note : the page date and time has not changed)
==============================================

Page last updated at 00:42 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 01:42 UK

Global temperatures 'to decrease'
By Roger Harrabin
BBC News environment analyst

Global temperatures will drop slightly this year as a result of the cooling effect of the La Nina current in the Pacific, UN meteorologists have said.

The World Meteorological Organization's secretary-general, Michel Jarraud, told the BBC it was likely that La Nina would continue into the summer.

This would mean global temperatures have not risen since 1998, prompting some to question climate change theory.

But experts say we are still clearly in a long-term warming trend - and they forecast a new record high temperature within five years.

The WMO points out that the decade from 1998 to 2007 was the warmest on record. Since the beginning of the 20th Century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74C.

While Nasa, the US space agency, cites 2005 as the warmest year, the UK's Hadley Centre lists it as second to 1998.

Researchers say the uncertainty in the observed value for any particular year is larger than these small temperature differences. What matters, they say, is the long-term upward trend.

Rises 'stalled'

La Nina and El Nino are two great natural Pacific currents whose effects are so huge they resonate round the world.

El Nino warms the planet when it happens; La Nina cools it. This year, the Pacific is in the grip of a powerful La Nina.

It has contributed to torrential rains in Australia and to some of the coldest temperatures in memory in snow-bound parts of China.

Mr Jarraud told the BBC that the effect was likely to continue into the summer, depressing temperatures globally by a fraction of a degree.

This would mean that temperatures have not risen globally since 1998 when El Nino warmed the world.

Watching trends

A minority of scientists question whether this means global warming has peaked and argue the Earth has proved more resilient to greenhouse gases than predicted.

Animation of El Nino and La Nina effects

But Mr Jarraud insisted this was not the case and noted that 2008 temperatures would still be well above average for the century.

"When you look at climate change you should not look at any particular year," he said. "You should look at trends over a pretty long period and the trend of temperature globally is still very much indicative of warming.

"La Nina is part of what we call 'variability'. There has always been and there will always be cooler and warmer years, but what is important for climate change is that the trend is up; the climate on average is warming even if there is a temporary cooling because of La Nina."

China suffered from heavy snow in January

Adam Scaife, lead scientist for Modelling Climate Variability at the Hadley Centre in Exeter, UK, said their best estimate for 2008 was about 0.4C above the 1961-1990 average, and higher than this if you compared it with further back in the 20th Century.

Mr Scaife told the BBC: "What's happened now is that La Nina has come along and depressed temperatures slightly but these changes are very small compared to the long-term climate change signal, and in a few years time we are confident that the current record temperature of 1998 will be beaten when the La Nina has ended."

End of email reporting on Jo's activities.

Wow. For those interested, "Climate Changers" appears to be a Yahoo message board group Abbess belongs to. Also, Abbess posted the entire e-mail exchange at CACC's website.

Isn't it refreshing to know that a major, international press outlet like the BBC can be so easily pressured to change the content of one of its stories?

*****Update: More about Jo Abbess:

Jo Abbess writes:

I replaced Bruce Valpy at the Ealing Churches Together "Our World - What Future ?" event on Tuesday evening as part of One World Week, speaking on campaigning, and representing Christian Ecology Link's Operation Noah. The other panel members were Bishop John Oliver and Laurie Michaelis, of Quaker Green Action and leading light in the Living Witness Project.

All the Christian Ecology Link Climate Covenant cards I had with me vanished like hot cakes, so I must have done something right ! Also, leaflets for the Campaign against Climate Change advertising the Climate March on 3rd December were circulated and eagerly pocketed.

Questions from the floor were excellent, and covered all aspects of environment, community, politics and science. The speakers mainly focussed on Climate Change and our personal and corporate response. Frustration about Government policy was evident, and hopes for a less energy intensive life were aired freely.

I am attaching my prepared notes which I had to ad-lib a bit to dovetail with what the other two speakers said before me.

============================================================
25th October 2005 : Ealing Abbey Personal Presentation :

Hello. My name is Jo Abbess, and I get nervous when I have to speak in public, so
please forgive me if I start to resemble cranberry jelly...

Over the last few years I have been busy reading and reporting on Energy Trends, Climate Change and Resource Depletion; and as a direct result I am morphing into an environmental campaigner. Along the way, I became a member of Christian Ecology Link, gratefully recognising there are others of faith who are on a similar journey.

My particular viewpoint is that Energy Reduction and Resource Adaptation, which people are committing to on a personal level, must be matched by rock solid policy in the public domain.

Research by the World Wildlife Fund indicates that about 50% of the changes required are at the private or household level, but that means that 50% of the changes required are in the public realm. Loading individuals with the burden of change is not ethical, neither can it ever be a complete solution !

As a nation, we are learning that we have to adapt our Energy and Resource use. This Adaptation has to happen at every level and across every sector In order to adapt, we need to ADOPT. It is exciting to see that there is a large groundswell of people learning and taking radical action, in their
daily lives, their homes and communities. Business and industry are also moving, making a virtue out of necessity.

But it is becoming alarmingly clear to me that uptake on a voluntary basis is not sufficiently widespread, or emerging fast enough, despite extensive mainstream media and public education. The conclusion for me is that Adoption will need to be imposed through regulation, from the top.

The biggest problem is Carbon Dioxide. Many experts are concluding that a global cap on Carbon Dioxide emissions is necessary, and that the Global Carbon Budget will need to be fairly shared, and progressively reduced, in the coming years : this is Contraction and Convergence.

Beyond personal and corporate responsibility, we need national strategy and international cooperation. Currently there is the brave but faltering Kyoto. The United States is in a state of clinical denial. Meanwhile, the UK Government seems to be suffering schizophrenia, as it continues to promote airport expansion, plan new roads and build energy-poor housing; whilst at the same time urging energy restraint and offering grant schemes for green energy systems.

I think the key questions are : Will we decide on Carbon Taxation or Carbon Rationing ? When will we realise that centralised energy provision is too wasteful ? How are we going to finance localised Renewable Energies and Biofuels ?

And if we refuse to consider changing our high maintenance lifestyles : How many Climate Refugees will it take before we admit there is a crisis ? How long will it be before the growing gap between energy demand and energy supply destroys the global economy ? How long before crop loss halts international food trade ?

Over the weekend I was at a workshop in a public building, and on the notice board was a sign : "No Smoking". And underneath, the sign : "Please Recycle Your Waste". The first, an imperative, the second an invitation. How long does it take to move from "Please" to "No" ? If I think back, it has been about ten years between the first anti-smoking campaigns and the public buildings ban.

I expect it could take ten years to get effective Climate and Energy policy into the legal framework of this country. However, it might take less time to start Climate Justice proceedings in an international court. My campaigning has to be focussed on influencing a faster move from
voluntary change to institutional policy : ten years might be too slow, considering the fact that the Siberian permafrost is already melting. Everything I do from now on, making changes in my life, in my work and in my words, has to bring the future forward.

Global problems such as Climate Change, Peak Oil and Energy Security need global solutions and, happily, since each of us is a global citizen, we can all do something useful. This is One World Week, so make your promises to the planet. And don't forget to sign the Climate Covenant with Operation Noah !

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.