BBC Report on Sun and Climate Change Contradicts Its Own 2004 Story
On Thursday, Jules Crittenden wondered if American media are lazy, stupid or willfully ignorant with how they’ve been reporting events in Iraq.
Given the BBC’s recent piece concerning the relationship between the sun and climate change which hysterically ignored an article it published almost three years ago with a completely diametric view, one might ask the same question of that British television network.
To set this up, as NewsBusters reported Thursday, the BBC.com published a piece concerning Mike Lockwood’s paper discrediting a connection between the sun’s activities and global warming in the past 22 years.
A new analysis shows that the Sun is more active now than it has been at anytime in the previous 1,000 years.
Scientists based at the Institute for Astronomy in Zurich used ice cores from Greenland to construct a picture of our star's activity in the past.
They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth's climate became steadily warmer.
In fact, this report included the following (emphasis added):
Over the past 20 years, however, the number of sunspots has remained roughly constant, yet the average temperature of the Earth has continued to increase.
Hmmm. Yet, three years later, the BBC reported this:
A new scientific study concludes that changes in the Sun's output cannot be causing modern-day climate change.
It shows that for the last 20 years, the Sun's output has declined, yet temperatures on Earth have risen.
Fascinating, wouldn’t you agree?
Now, to be sure, these articles are reporting the findings of different scientists. However, shouldn’t the BBC have done some back-checking to identify articles that it had published on this subject in the past?
This is especially the case given statements made in the current piece (emphasis added):
The IPCC's February summary report concluded that greenhouse gases were about 13 times more responsible than solar changes for rising global temperatures.
But the organisation was criticised in some quarters for not taking into account the cosmic ray hypothesis, developed by, among others, Henrik Svensmark and Eigil Friis-Christensen of the Danish National Space Center.
Their theory holds that cosmic rays help clouds to form by providing tiny particles around which water vapour can condense. Overall, clouds cool the Earth.
During periods of active solar activity, cosmic rays are partially blocked by the Sun's more intense magnetic field. Cloud formation diminishes, and the Earth warms.
Mike Lockwood's analysis appears to have put a large, probably fatal nail in this intriguing and elegant hypothesis.
Given the BBC’s report three years earlier based on a Zurich study, along with the countless other papers on this subject supporting the connection between solar activity and climate, it hardly seems Lockwood has put a “probably fatal nail” in this “elegant hypothesis.”
Furthermore, it seems the BBC ought to do a better job of checking its own articles on such subjects before asserting questionable conclusions. This seems especially critical given the recent self-examination the network went through concerning its reporting activities, and the findings related to global warming:
Climate change is another subject where dissenters can be unpopular. There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening, and that it is at least predominantly man-made. But the second part of that consensus still has some intelligent and articulate opponents, even if a small minority.
But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC’s role to close down this debate.
They cannot be simply dismissed as ‘flat-earthers’ or ‘deniers’, who ‘should not be given a platform’ by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space. ‘Bias by elimination’ is even more offensive today than it was in 1926. The BBC has many public purposes of both ambition and merit – but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them. The BBC’s best contribution is to increase public awareness of the issues and possible solutions through impartial and accurate programming. Acceptance of a basic scientific consensus only sharpens the need for hawk-eyed scrutiny of the arguments surrounding both causation and solution. It remains important that programme-makers relish the full range of debate that such a central and absorbing subject offers, scientifically, politically and ethically, and avoid being misrepresented as standard-bearers.
Sounds like good advice, folks. Maybe you should take it.