BBC to issue correction on rice yields story

From: Richard Black

Sent: Thursday, August 12, 2010 7:01 AM

To: Anthony Watts

Subject: RE: Your article on rice yields

Dear Anthony,

Thanks for your email. You are correct – I am mistaken – a correction will be made to the news story shortly.

Best regards,

Richard Black

…my letter follows

From: Anthony Watts

Sent: 11 August 2010 00:51

To: Richard Black; Richard Black-Internet

Subject: Your article on rice yields

Importance: High

Dear Mr. Black,

I’m writing as a courtesy to advise you that I believe your article:

Which says “Yields have fallen by 10-20% over the last 25 years in some locations.”

…is in error.

The actual press release says ”Rising temperatures during the past 25 years have already cut the yield growth rate by 10-20 percent in several locations.”–htt080610.php

It is not the gross yield that has supposedly fallen, but the rate of increase in the yield.

Further, I have a graph from the International Rice Research Institute which supports this and demonstrates that gross rice yields are still increasing in Asia:

I think it’s just a simple interpretive error on how you read the press release, but it does have large consequences for how the story is interpreted by readers. Here in Northern California, one of the largest rice growing areas of the world, a call to our local Rice Association confirmed this. A correction might be in order.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Anthony Watts


See these related WUWT stories:

Of Rice and Men

Rice yields, CO2 and temperature – you write the article

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jim Cripwell
August 12, 2010 7:32 am

Congratulations. Richard Black has been promulgating this sort of exaggeration for years. Maybe he will learn that, in science, you cannot get away with this sort of thing. Maybe, just maybe, he will check his facts next time, before he writes his article.

Henry chance
August 12, 2010 7:33 am

It is theoretically impossible for the growth in yields double every 12 years.

August 12, 2010 7:34 am

You would be surprised how forthcoming some people are about letters you write. I wrote my senator a few times about global warming and was polite and firm about how I was worried about our economy under cap and trade would go.
She was very polite in the letter back and reassured me that she is worried too about it. Not sure if that means much in the larger context, but I think it does show that even one letter/email can make a difference in at least people’s perspectives.
I will say this, be polite above all. This is case in point Anthony, I think this was good work in that the truth is important in the context it is in.

John Whitman
August 12, 2010 7:35 am

A shift by you from mainly a constantly curious questioner to include a growing role in active auditing?
With greatest respect,

August 12, 2010 7:35 am

I notified the Independent via a comment that they made exactly the same error – no response and no correction to date.
I see if they react to a more direct contact. Perhaps many people should try.

Phillip Bratby
August 12, 2010 7:40 am

Well done Anthony. Of course nobody will notice the correction. The damage has been done, presumably as intended.

August 12, 2010 7:40 am

Thank you. I was wondering what I might do this afternoon. I will now compose a nice letter to Mr Richard Black and tell him how much I resent the attitude of the BBC towards CAGW, and draw to his attention a few simple facts, like it was warmer during the Medieval Warm Period and there was no catastrophic feedback, how the warming effect of CO2 is strongly logarithmic, and if it was so bad, why is it 62′ F here in the middle of August 2010.

August 12, 2010 7:40 am

I wonder if you will get a BBC h/t ?

August 12, 2010 7:42 am

Well done Anthony, this shows the power of rigorous scientific review and pointing out errors in interpretation. Well done the BBC for openly correcting. Now all we need is a few more honest sources out there to see and correct high profile errors.

August 12, 2010 7:44 am

Nice one Anthony… correction yet tho’ @ 15:44 Uk time..

August 12, 2010 7:45 am

It will be interesting to see how fast the high priests of doom mongering are in correcting their story – seems like they haven’t managed to get a correction posted during their working day, Thursday 12 August.

August 12, 2010 7:46 am

How long do you suppose we will have to wait for the correction?

August 12, 2010 7:46 am

Easy enough error to make, I don’t think there was any ‘secret’ motive on this one. Good on you for correcting this mistake though.

August 12, 2010 7:51 am

Amazing. You actually got a reply. He just ignores my emails about their lying propaganda on so-called “global warming,” as does everyone else at the British Brainwashing Corporation.

Leon Brozyna
August 12, 2010 7:55 am

The devil is in the details. Those pesky details.
Nice to see that, in pointing out the error in civil terms, the error was acknowledged.

August 12, 2010 7:57 am

ice – rice – what’s next? – lice ?!
“A department strategy group reported last year that the lice have rapidly developed resistance to available veterinary chemicals, and rising sea temperatures have helped their populations survive and increase year by year since 2002. ”

August 12, 2010 7:59 am

So the error is resolved in a courteous and proper manner, as it should be. However, how can the damage of mis-represented facts be undone? The erroneous meme will stick and the retraction, if noticed at all, will evaporate like it never existed. Watch for the original article to be repeated and cited as fact without the correction appended. Journalists/publicists ought to be obligated to amend the original article with *attached* corrections and updates so at least there is a chance that subsequent readers will get the right information.

August 12, 2010 7:59 am

:-), very nice!
Of course, waiting on the correction may be a different issue entirely.

David Spurgeon
August 12, 2010 8:00 am

Your email sounds like Chris Monckton, Anthony – lol!

Doubting Thomas
August 12, 2010 8:00 am

Good work Mr. Watts.

Chris B
August 12, 2010 8:01 am

Anthony, you can be very diplomatic. And congratulations to Richard Black for correcting the error.

David Spurgeon
August 12, 2010 8:01 am

Sorry – letter sounds like…

August 12, 2010 8:03 am

“”Rising temperatures during the past 25 years have already cut the yield growth rate by 10-20 percent in several locations.”
Anthony, temperatures have had nothing to do with it.
I know this study only deals with Asian rice production, so it does not take into account Brazil, USA, etc. Less rice has been produced in Asia, for two reasons.
They are converting to more profitable crops, like bio-fuel, etc.
And more countries, like Brazil, are increasing their production.
It’s mainly competition from other countries that’s driving the production down.
Asian rice took a 25% drop in price in the past two years. That’s a big hit.
All they did was the most simplistic of studies, Asia is not producing as much rice at the same rate, and it must be because of climate change.
And this sort of thing gets peer reviewed by the same in house morons that suggested the study in the first place.

August 12, 2010 8:04 am

I always smell a rat when a warming story relates to food reduction. (fear factor)
IMHO there is only so much juice you can squeeze out of an orange anyway and temp effects remain to be seen.

August 12, 2010 8:04 am

Wow – I’m impressed… direct from the top.
I’ve often wondered if there’s a way I could start a business “correcting” the ridiculous spelling and grammar seen on some Asian product instruction manuals and packaging. Now I’m thinking it would be lots of fun to “correct” ridiculous science errors on “science related” items in the mainstream media. There certainly would be a HUGE market for it…

Joe Matais
August 12, 2010 8:04 am

Well stroked. In my neck of the woods, the local paper is quick to correct an error in identifying a dog at a dog show. Requests for correction of more substantive errors usually are met with, “We stand by our original story.”

Crispin in Waterloo
August 12, 2010 8:05 am

Will the correction get the same level of publicity as the original mis-quote?

Alan the Brit
August 12, 2010 8:14 am

In between slurps of tea, is it really temperature increases that have actually caused the “rate of growth” to slow over the last 25 years? Or is there some other potential cause as yet undiscovered or ignored even? It seems to me unlikely that plants that require warmth & water & CO2 to grow would reduce output with a modest increase in temperature, & a modest increse inb CO2 with it.

roger samson
August 12, 2010 8:15 am

Looks like the picture is phony as well and is photoshopped…. its the perfect match for the story.

Frederick Michael
August 12, 2010 8:16 am

Richard Black deserves high praise for including the words, “I am mistaken.” His response would have read just fine without that. It reflects true professionalism and sturdy self-esteem. I am impressed.

August 12, 2010 8:17 am

Well done!

Alan the Brit
August 12, 2010 8:18 am

Second slurp & thoughts. Perhaps the particular varieties of rice are reaching there ability to naturally increase rate of growth? Perhaps new high-yielding varieties with stronger growth characteristics are needed?

August 12, 2010 8:25 am

Anthony, I am impressed – as always – with your courteous approach. I am also encouraged by the journalist’s willingness to print a correction. As always, however, the impact and the damage are done by the original article. Corrections and retractions are generally crafted to appear insignificant, and well nigh impossible to find.

August 12, 2010 8:26 am


August 12, 2010 8:26 am

Hello page 76!

August 12, 2010 8:27 am

Seems the correction is done. There is a world of difference between falling yields and slowing growth rates of yields. Sheesh

August 12, 2010 8:28 am

Fair play to him. If you read these comments Mr Black, as a licence fee payer, may i ask you to do some checking on the press releases before you post them on the bbc website?

Tim Woodman
August 12, 2010 8:28 am

Don’t know if this has been amended yet – but if it has the title and first line is STILL misleading.
Title – “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”
First line – “Global warming is set to cut rice yields in Asia, research suggests.”

August 12, 2010 8:29 am

Now THIS is responsible science at its best. Courteous, to the point, and FACTUAL. Bravo Anthony.

Bart Nielsen
August 12, 2010 8:29 am

What a civil exchange. Well done, Anthony.

Ed Fix
August 12, 2010 8:34 am

How about that. Courteous and professional.
It will be interesting to see how his tone changes after he realized who his correspondent is. Obviously, he doesn’t yet realize that Anthony Watts is one of the world’s most notorious oil- and coal-funded climate change deniers.

August 12, 2010 8:37 am

Very well done!
But, fortunate for the AGW crowd, this story, and all the others, are to be seen on the front pages of MSM on almost a daily basis in Norway.
They are really busy nowadays! Looks like panic to me.
On the other hand; Maybe it hurts their case more than advance it?

August 12, 2010 8:38 am

Wow, Richard Black’s response is a model for how people should deal with errors of fact. A certain group of climate scientists should take note.

August 12, 2010 8:40 am

Amazing to see the MSM admit an error. Way to stay classy and indicate it’s a “simple interpretive error” instead of the more likely “spun to generate maximum impact”.

Evan Jones
August 12, 2010 8:41 am

Very impressive!

August 12, 2010 8:43 am

When may we expect the Beeb to renounce their membership in the Most Holy Church of Mann-made Global Warming and cease their advocacy of this non-scientific farce? I’ll wager a pint of Sierra Nevada Autumn Brown Ale that someone at the Beeb may connect the dots regarding the difference between the output of models and field observations by 2050.

August 12, 2010 8:46 am

I wrote Mr Black an e-mail and then tried to send it. And lo and behold, a question about what my e-mail server is called – POP 3? SMTP? No idea. Is this some trick to avoid comments from the public?

August 12, 2010 8:48 am

I’m glad your’e on them like a hawk, Anthony! I once had to correct them and I provided sources when they claimed 2003 was “likely to be the hottest year on record” and that it was extra unusual because unlike 1998, the previous hottest year on record, there was no El Niño in 2003 to raise temperatures.
I had to tell them that, in fact, there had been a moderate El Niño during the fall, winter, and spring of 2002/03 and that unlike 1998, no La Niña formed in the autumn like in 1998 which drastically cooled global temperatures by year’s end.
In the end, 2003 wasn’t the warmest thanks to a last minute cool off… but as has been the case nearly every year in the past 10 years… they simply find a time when it may appear temps will be a new record, whether that be January-October or January-November and then they just release all the press releases and yell very loudly… and then when the last 1 or 2 months are factored in, the year ends up being 3rd or 5th or whatever and a quiet press release is issued sometime in January.

August 12, 2010 8:49 am


Richard Barnes
August 12, 2010 8:50 am

Just checked the BBC site, at 15h30 GMT, 12th August. As yet, no correction.
A correction will eventually appear, but it will be very well hidden. Hardly anyone will be disabused of the idea “warming = starvation in Asia.”
I’m in Manila at the moment. The Philippines has large stores of rice, going bad. The country now intends to buy more rice (which will go into store) so the people do not go hungry.
Makes you weep, when you see how malnourished are some of the children. Don’t hold your breath for a report from the BBC on this.

August 12, 2010 8:55 am

The norwegian met office’s weather site corrected their rice story after I made them aware of the error. I referred to rice production data from this site

John W.
August 12, 2010 8:57 am

Mr. Black deserves commendation for correcting the error promptly. The authors of the original paper, however, deserve condemnation for producing such a shoddy work.

August 12, 2010 8:57 am

Compliments on polite persuasive communication.

Dikran Marsupial
August 12, 2010 9:02 am

Cool, a polite letter pointing out an error in a news story provokes a polite response and action, news at 11! If only all disagreements could be handled similarly…

Richard M
August 12, 2010 9:03 am

Another example of confirmation bias at work. It was not an innocent mistake, it was a mistake driven by a desire to print on anything that supports CAGW.

August 12, 2010 9:13 am

The one sentence that you brought to his attention to has been changed, but the title “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming” and the introductory sentence “Global warming is set to cut rice yields in Asia, research suggests” remain unchanged.

Colin Porter
August 12, 2010 9:15 am

If you have any Scottish blood in you Anthony, You could join the Black Watch Regiment and maintain a reconnaissance on Mr Black and his colleagues at the BBC for further “mistaken” sorties into the arena of climate science journalism and propaganda.

August 12, 2010 9:15 am

It is probably so that the idea alone that agricultural yields are steadily rising is so foreign to an arch-malthusian in the pay of the BBC that Richard Black never considered he might have misinterpreted that sentence.

CRS, Dr.P.H.
August 12, 2010 9:19 am

Well done, Anthony!

August 12, 2010 9:19 am

My faith in the BBC has improved over the last couple of days what with this and a good explanation, on the main news weather, of the Jet Strem causing the weather extremes in Moscow and Pakistan. However I’ll be interested in the prominence of the correction.
By the way you can call him Richard from now on.
cheers David

Douglas DC
August 12, 2010 9:19 am

Good job! this is what is needed-call’em on it!

August 12, 2010 9:19 am

The correction has been made, such as it is, but the headline has not been corrected and is still patently wrong.
Headline: Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming
However there is no suggestion that yields are going to fall. The scariest justifiable headline is something like:
Global Warming threatens hoped-for increases in rice yields.
Rice yields to rise more slowly under global warming

Jason Calley
August 12, 2010 9:21 am

Modified quote follows:
“Thanks for your email. You are correct – I am mistaken – a correction will be made to the news story shortly. Once hades freezes over.”
No, just kidding, really! It is just so rare to see such a quick and honest response from a news agency that I was overcome by cynicism. Let us assume that the honorable Mr. Black will do exactly as he promises, in a timely and appropriate manner.

August 12, 2010 9:23 am

Thank you Anthony. All I can do is grit my teeth. I have just been listening to a BBC report on Radio 4 that is claiming an American company has devised a method of removing CO2 directly from the air. The tone of the announcement was as of a messaniac revelation.

Tim Spence
August 12, 2010 9:25 am

They’ve put a small correction at the foot of the article but the headline reads :-
“Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”

Jack Hughes
August 12, 2010 9:27 am

Thanks for this Anthony.
The truth has finally got its boots on…

August 12, 2010 9:30 am

You got a reply, Anthony, I did not.
Black has altered a few words but the article is still the same scare-mongering “future scenario” as before. You wouldn’t expect any less from an elite climate warming propagandist, would you?
He could have chosen population growth as the hook to hang a rice production story on but he chose the phoney “climate change” angle instead.
Black spits in the face of our concerns over accuracy.

August 12, 2010 9:33 am

Good work. Succinct, irrefutable, professional.
This can serve as a template for effectively dismantling the hype of AGW.

August 12, 2010 9:34 am

Well well well.
The Independent online editor acknowledged my message within 30 minutes, and the article has been pulled now, under an hour later.
So they do listen…
Still readable via the google cache, if anyone cares…

August 12, 2010 9:36 am

Regardless of the “correction, they still spin the story faster than a 78 rpm vinyl record…
Still towing the same old doom stories of AGW without any critical reading of the paper itself… very poor journalism indeed!
It’s not enough to report a story, one has to understand the subject and obviously Mr. Black hasn’t.

Robin Kool
August 12, 2010 9:38 am

This is important.
This BBC journalist acknowledges the existence of WUWT as a serious voice in the ongoing climate debate. This looks like the beginning of the acceptance of the facts and opinions presented on WUWT into the mainstream media.
The admittance of error must have hurt, so it is reasonable to expect more care in the future.

August 12, 2010 9:40 am

Well done Anthony. I used the BBC website to make a complaint about the misrepresentation in the article. I don’t suppose Richard Black would have changed anything for a mere mortal.
More power to your elbow.

August 12, 2010 9:44 am

Richard Blake made his correction at the bottom of the article in a “fine print” type usually made in dubious contracts. The rest of the article keeps implying there will be reduction in yields. Especially the article heading.
It is just me or the following is a contradictory statement in the article?
Quote: “However, if temperatures continue to rise as computer models of climate project, Mr Welch says hotter days will eventually begin to bring yields down.”
“We see a benefit of [higher] daytime temperatures principally because we haven’t seen a scenario where daytime temperatures cross over a threshold where they’d stop benefiting yields and start reducing them,” he told BBC News.” –End of quote—
Isn’t this a fallacy based on ignorance? There are too many negative-negative terms in the equation. They haven’t seen a scenario (so there is not one) where higher temperatures will not benefit yields. Ergo, higher temperatures WILL benefit yields. So how can he say yields will go down if temperatures go up?

Ken Hall
August 12, 2010 9:48 am

The BBC corrected something??? WOW!

August 12, 2010 9:51 am

The BBC have corrected the text of the article – but the headline still reads:
“Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming” – a claim which is unsupported by the research.

August 12, 2010 9:52 am

I’m not too impressed by the correction
Headline still says “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”

August 12, 2010 9:53 am

In typical BBC/Richard Black fashion, the headline remains unchanged, and the correction is buried !
A study published at the begining of last year concluded that half of the world’s population could face a climate-induced food crisis by 2100, with the most extreme summers of the last century becoming routine towards the end of this century.
Correction 12th August: this story has been amended to reflect the fact that it is the rate of growth in yields that has fallen, not the yields themselves.

August 12, 2010 10:27 am

Phillip Bratby says: “Well done Anthony. Of course nobody will notice the correction. The damage has been done, presumably as intended.”
Phillip, I very much doubt that Mr. Black intended to mislead. More likely, he was mislead by the way the press release was phrased. “Growth rate in yield” would have been much clearer.

Mick J
August 12, 2010 10:49 am

I found the graph that Anthony linked to interesting. Apart from China which has a strange shape anyway by eyeball the other regions recent yields look to be growing in the recent years. Presumably this is based upon measurement rather than models as used by the alleged study. 🙂
Having read the article by Black with the small correction it just now seems to fall apart, I am surprised that he did not remove his name. 🙂

slow to follow
August 12, 2010 10:55 am

I think the only credit due here is to Anthony Watts. As others upthread comment they have emailed Richard Black on errors with no response. All this correction demonstrates is that Anthony has “traction” and that is due to the work he has done with WUWT. RB’s reporting and correction to the story are pathetic.

August 12, 2010 10:56 am

I feel so sorry for people like Richard Black.
He is part of this new generation that have been brainwashed by schools and universities for their entire lives. You can’t honestly expect them to be capable of critical thought – suffering as they have done in the dark – a mushroom being fed only propaganda. They see everything through their religious beliefs in Mother Gaia and that mankind is evil and that everything is bad or will lead to catastrophe. What a sad sad and disturbed & depressing way to grow up. The Sky is Falling!
No wonder, everything is interpreted as more evidence that Henny Penny was right and we are all doomed. After all, Black is only trained as a “journalist” – whatever that means – he only knows how to scaremonger and preach disaster in everything he writes.
This new generation enjoys the highest standards of living and health EVER and yet all they ever do is worry, mope, moan and complain. Perhaps it is the disease that comes from having too much good food and too much leisure time and having very little hard work (like our ancestors did when they toiled dawn to dusk only to survive, if lucky). Something there for psychologists for sure – life is just too easy for this new generation – they have it too good and it destroys their self esteem.

roger samson
August 12, 2010 11:03 am

The title indeed gives the impression they are attempting to exagerate the impact of the finding. It’s the yield increase that is to decline not the yields. This is equivalent to saying the stock market is to fall when it in fact is growing but the earnings growth reduced. If the BBC reported the business news like the climate news, heads would roll at the editorial board at the BBC.

August 12, 2010 11:07 am

I also notified Richard Black about the mistake, and got a response mail:
“Indeed – corrected now, thanks.
Not much, of course, but it sure earned him a few points in my book!

August 12, 2010 11:15 am

This looks like a breakthrough to me.
Not because of the minor correction. No, quite the opposite.
As in Anthony’s original email it is polite to assume that the original mistakes were a simple case of misinterpreting the story. However, Richard Black admits his mistake and makes a minor correction but leaves the headline which is still clearly wrong.
I would say that it is now an obvious case of deliberate misinformation. Proof, from his own email, that Richard is willing to misrepresent the facts really does like a breakthrough to me.

August 12, 2010 11:17 am

So the fact that Anthony’s rice yield graph completely negates Richard Black’s article doesn’t disturb him in the slightest. See, premise destroyed, conclusion still intact; look Ma, no hands. The fine school of British public broadcasting. East Germany’s Aktuelle Kamera couldn’t have done it better.

August 12, 2010 11:19 am

Unless of course he really does not understand what the words mean. But that wouldn’t be a whole lot better.

Mike Post
August 12, 2010 11:24 am

Please see below my email exchange with Richard Black:
Hi Richard
With the greatest respect, I think you are being disingenuous. As the press release on which you base your story clearly states:
Rice yields will only fall if “we cannot change our production methods or develop new rice strains”. Aided by good science, rice growers have, in the recent past, adapted extremely well to fluctuations in the environment.
The headline is a dud which admittedly fits in well with the agenda of the waning CAGW religion.
Kind regards
Mike Post
—–Original Message—–
From: Richard Black-Internet []
Sent: 12 August 2010 18:47
To: Mike Post
Subject: RE: Rice yields
Thanks, Mike. No, the headline does still work because the research is projecting yield falls in the future.
From: Mike Post []
Sent: 12 August 2010 18:24
To: Richard Black-Internet
Subject: Rice yields
Dear Mr Black
I see that you have corrected your rice yield story. However, the headline still reads incorrectly: “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”. Can I suggest that you arrange for the headline to be corrected too?
Kind regards
Mike Post

John Whitman
August 12, 2010 11:32 am

Craig Loehle’s book “Becoming a Successful Scientist” has a good treatment of bias related to science. NOTE: WUWT prominently advertises it near the top of the main blog page. I bought the ebook version.
One section is “Values and Bias” where he discusses problems of a person’s values biasing the view of a piece of science. Certainly, this would apply to media interpreting a science paper to correspond to the journalist’s values.
I enjoyed Loehle’s book very much. He mixes in the history of the philosophy of science into his discussion very well.

August 12, 2010 11:43 am

Correction 12th August: this story has been amended to reflect the fact that it is the rate of growth in yields that has fallen, not the yields themselves.

The correction is in but the title says:

“Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”

and also

“Global warming is set to cut rice yields in Asia, research suggests.”


stephen richards
August 12, 2010 11:47 am

Frederick Michael says:
August 12, 2010 at 8:16 am
Richard Black deserves high praise for including the words, “I am mistaken.” His response would have read just fine without that. It reflects true professionalism and sturdy self-esteem. I am impressed.
Don’t be misled by weasel words. They cost him nothing. Wait for the correction. I think you will be disappointed. Black is a rabid warmer, predjudiced novelist. If he corrects I will apologise.
See last post!! No correction merely a deflection.

August 12, 2010 11:48 am

Andoman says:
August 12, 2010 at 7:46 am
Easy enough error to make, I don’t think there was any ‘secret’ motive on this one. Good on you for correcting this mistake though.
Isn’t Richard Black supposed to understand things like this. It was pretty clear in here so some people understood the report.

August 12, 2010 12:06 pm

I expect we can now look forward to a triumphant article by George Monbiot in tomorrow’s Guardian on why a writer on one side of the AGW debate had to admit a mistake and correct his story due to an error pointed out by someone on the other side.

August 12, 2010 12:11 pm

RayG says: “… the Most Holy Church of Mann-made Global Warming …”
Indeed, Ray. I’ve heard they accept nearly all denominations – but a $50 bill will do.
Where are the headline writers? Have they all knocked-off early, or, (more likely) been instructed not to amend? Spin … spin … spin …….

August 12, 2010 12:14 pm

steveta_uk says:
August 12, 2010 at 9:34 am
Well well well.
The Independent online editor acknowledged my message within 30 minutes, and the article has been pulled now, under an hour later.

1.5 down and 120,000 news stories to go!!! :o(
I wish journalists could just realise the kind of damage and alarm they cause by not checking their sources or even asking the opinion of sceptics. Had this been a balanced news report the otherside might have pointed the error out before publication. With CAGW we now have journalism by press release.

August 12, 2010 12:18 pm

“Thanks, Mike. No, the headline does still work because the research is projecting yield falls in the future.
Hey, it’s the news. It’s…. educational.
(Thank God for WUWT)

August 12, 2010 12:30 pm

Jeremy says:
August 12, 2010 at 10:56 am
This new generation enjoys the highest standards of living and health EVER and yet all they ever do is worry, mope, moan and complain. Perhaps it is the disease that comes from having too much good food and too much leisure time and having very little hard work (like our ancestors did when they toiled dawn to dusk only to survive, if lucky).

It sounds like AGW is a disease of western nations who feel guilt ridden by their standard of living while carbon credits is a disease of the wealthy, luvvy, jetset bunch who would rather die than reduce their luxury lifestyles. All the while the jetset bunch tell us how wicked human greed is and we are destroying the planet. Al Gore has 2 mansions, 1 one the beach with its 6 fireplaces churning out co2!!!!

Tony B (another one)
August 12, 2010 1:00 pm

An unavoidable retraction, so I would not be heaping any praise on Black. You would expect a professional journalist to be able to interpret the press release correctly, so it certainly does indicate yet more of this confirmation bias disease that is completely endemic within the BBC these days.
Unless they wholeheartedly retract the original article and its headline most of the damage has been done.
Another example of their obsession was demonstrated earlier this week during the BBC Breakfast programme. In a report about impending water shortages due to lack of rainfall, the voiceover quite clearly stated that 1H 2010 was “the dryest 1st half of the year since 1914” whilst the moving graphic (the bit that sticks in your memory) showed “hottest 1st half year since 1914”.
They simply never miss an opportunity to keep the hype going

James Evans
August 12, 2010 1:18 pm

The headline has changed from “Rice yields falling under global warming” to “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”.
I emailed Mr Black regarding this story, and also sent in a complaint to the BBC. I also made a fuss on Mr Black’s blog. The email and the complaint both resulted in very polite responses from Mr Black. The blog posts were ignored, though frankly I think I would have ignored them if I was him, as I was in “irritating twerp” mode when I wrote them. And to be fair, two acknowledgements of my concerns must surely be enough.

August 12, 2010 1:21 pm

Here is another story for the CAGW crowd. Follow the link for the rest of the story.
It looks like everything is in danger, rice, corn, broccoli, truth…
If only the Toronto Star would correct their stories…
The U.N.’s network of climate scientists — the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — has long predicted that rising global temperatures would produce more frequent and intense heat waves, and more intense rainfalls. In its latest assessment, in 2007, the Nobel Prize-winning panel went beyond that. It said these trends “have already been observed,” in an increase in heat waves since 1950, for example.
Still, climatologists generally refrain from blaming warming for this drought or that flood, since so many other factors also affect the day’s weather.
Stott and NASA’s Gavin Schmidt at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, said it’s better to think in terms of odds: Warming might double the chances for a heat wave, for example. “That is exactly what’s happening,” Schmidt said, “a lot more warm extremes and less cold extremes.”
The WMO did point out, however, that this summer’s events fit the international scientists’ projections of “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.”

On on and on…
Just look for the key words for all your favorite memes.

August 12, 2010 1:32 pm

You got some lip service. Is that good? You know where those lips have been.
You didn’t win any retraction, for sure. I call premature triumphalism. I think your projection of decency was irrational, no matter that it demonstrates your own fundamental goodness. Get this: he’s laughing. He’s got the $$. We get the shaft.

August 12, 2010 1:35 pm


John R. Walker
August 12, 2010 2:18 pm

The article is still misleading… And Black makes/quotes assumptions about possible outcomes only to support his own well demonstrated bias…
The real threat to food production is falling temperature not rising temperature – everything else being equal…
All soils have a finite limit for crop production – the rate of yield growth will always tend to reduce as that limit is reached – everything else being equal… It’s not rocket science!
Typical BBC campaigning drivel…

Tim Clark
August 12, 2010 2:28 pm

Wow! A correction, if only minor. Anthony, obviously your repute is gaining weight (no pun intended ;~P). Way to hold their feet to the fire.

August 12, 2010 2:29 pm

Richard Black is, always has and ever will be full of the proverbial.
Once again, here we have an example of science versus; conjecture, incontinent headlines and downright bad journalism, the meme, getting in the way of objectivity and accurate portrayal of the quite evident facts.
Full marks Mr. Watts.

August 12, 2010 3:44 pm

Jimbo says:
August 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm
“[…]Had this been a balanced news report the otherside might have pointed the error out before publication. ”
Ten years ago the BBC still did that; that was when i switched from German news channels to the BBC. I thought it was some kind of standard in British news reporting. They dropped that over the past decade.
I still occasionally stroll by but only to see the latest propaganda lie. Gotta stay current with that.

August 12, 2010 4:15 pm

Well done, Anthony and gracious response from R Black.
Up to UK WUWTistas to make sure he follows through

Jack Cowper
August 12, 2010 4:35 pm

Have you complained to the BBC about this?
[Reply: If you want to be sure Anthony sees your tip, put it in Tips & Notes. There are only so many hours in the day; sometimes Anthony misses a comment in other threads.
But readers should feel free to utilize your link here if they like. ~dbs, mod.]

August 12, 2010 4:45 pm

This error is not uncommon, but not necessarily unintended. How many times has a politician told us taxes were being lowered only for us to realize later that it was the size of the increase that has been reduced but which still results in higher taxes?

August 12, 2010 4:55 pm

He had the good grace to admit his error. Nicely done, Anthony.
Has anyone pushed back on the New Scientist? Their RSS blurb says, “The combined effects of climate change and deforestation threaten 80 per cent of Earth’s tropical forests – but they can still be saved.” The story starts with “BY THE end of the century, up to 82 per cent of today’s tropical forests could be damaged by a combination of climate change and local destruction.” My bet is 81.75% comes from “local destruction.” Link:

Marcia, Marcia
August 12, 2010 5:10 pm

The alarmist side is continually corrected.
Other than spelling errors what has the “skeptics” side had to correct?

Dr A Burns
August 12, 2010 5:18 pm

“Yields have fallen by 10-20% over the last 25 years in some locations.”
Obviously not poor farming practices. Blame it on AGW and you might get a grant to fix it.

August 12, 2010 6:58 pm

trouble is BBC “stories” go around the world…
Bangladesh: Rice yields falling under global warming (Courtesy BBC)
Ghana: Rice yields falling under global warming
Ethiopia: Rice yields falling under global warming
Lebanon: Rice yields falling under global warming
UAE: Rice yields falling due to warming!
put “rice yields falling” in a google search. i got 34 PAGES of links to this story, incl most of the CAGW websites!

August 12, 2010 6:59 pm

did AFP and Natasha Gilbert at Nature make the same “mistake” as richard black?
how many picked up the AFP article, either in French or English?
AFP: Global warming threatens Asian rice production: study
Rising temperatures in the past 25 years have already cut rice yields at several key growing locations by 10-20 percent
10 Aug: Nature: Natasha Gilbert: Temperature increases damage rice yields
But as temperatures have warmed over the past 25 years, rice yields have fallen by 10-20% in Asia, which produces the lion’s share of the world’s rice…
will they retract and apologise?

Baa Humbug
August 12, 2010 11:10 pm

What a load of Bull Crap this is. Rice grows in WARM WET climates.
AGW supposedly will make it WARMER and WETTER, therefore MORE RICE

Tim Woodman
August 13, 2010 1:04 am

Problem is the story is STILL misleading! The title and first line are WRONG. Is it worth writing again Anthony?

August 13, 2010 1:16 am

Richard Black has not made an adequate correction. The heading is still wrong. If Richard Black doesn’t write a new article with an apology for his error, I will use this as an example of BBC warmist bias.
And Google will have this WUWT post on their first page of results. Heck, let’s do that anyway. You all know what to do don’t you?

James P
August 13, 2010 2:17 am

Anthony – perhaps you would like to follow this up, too? I woke to the news that a researcher is going to spend a year with the Inuit (even though he still has to learn the language!) to study their habits, as they are soon to be wiped out by GW…
Now, how easy would it have been to get the grant if he hadn’t been able to invoke GW?
What gets to me is the tacit acceptance by the BBC that GW is a valid excuse. It’s become a given to them, so they don’t even bother to query it!

August 13, 2010 2:30 am

Excellent news. I had already contacted Richard about this and castigated him on his blog. I would love to believe it was an innocent error, but come on, the guy is a nailed down advocate.

August 13, 2010 5:03 am

The correction is completely inadequate, the headline is now stating “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”

James P
August 13, 2010 5:18 am

“I had already contacted Richard about this and castigated him on his blog”
Does he have more than one? I’ve just looked on his ‘Earthwatch’ and the latest item was three days ago.

August 13, 2010 8:15 am

Mr. Black should be in government. Only a politician would say that a decrease in the rate of growth in something is a cut…

August 13, 2010 8:29 am

Never look a gift horse in the mouth. While the BBC has made a minor correction, its healdines and story lines are still false. As one commentor pointed out, amny of the CAGW sites have picked up the (false) line and are running with it. So it will continue to be an urban myth for years to come, and an easy way for the non-religious to shut down the faithful in real open debate.

Don Keiller
August 13, 2010 10:27 am

I read “The Times” daily. I have yet to see this “correction”.
Maybe it has been printed (online), but if it is already in the newstand version it must be microscopic.
Whatever happens I guarantee it will not be given equal exposure.

August 13, 2010 11:19 am

Title – “Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”
IS this some sort of ‘post norma’l journalism at work….?
Is putting ‘to fall’ in quotes an ironic way of meaning the exact opposite…
This is deliberate spin, by the BBC and Richard Black.
They have been informed that the headline is factually incorrect and confusingly means the exact opposite of the facts..
The Growth in the rate of increase in rise yield has dropped.
Or some such similar headline would be accurate.
Yet the BBC chooses a headline to misrepresent the facts
The BBC are supposed to be impartial, accurate and provide a public service, not spining any story into an activists environmental CAGW advocacy
Time to complain, again, to the BBC trust and copy some members of Parliament that srill actually care about impartiality at the BBC and in science reporting..
Enquiry into bias in science reporting at the BBC (including man made global warming)
If anybody cares about the world poor that is….
This story has already caused rice prizes to rize, countries like to Philipines to buy/store rice. Pushing up prices for the world’s hungry..
Well done BBC !

August 13, 2010 11:35 am

Imagine, as an analogy..
If the BBC business section had written an article titled.
House Prices ‘to fall’
When in fact the rate INCREASE of house price had fallen slightly….. ( they have increased, but only by 8% this year compared to 9% the previous year)
Imagine, if it had been pointed out to them, this was factually wrong, and they issued a minor correction and left the same title, and bulk of the story/spin..
The BBC would be (rightly) accused of spinning a headline against the facts, as a political statement, and there would be trouble (lots of it, poltical and otherwise – ie markets)..
(remembering, at all times, the BBC is publically funded, and has a charter that say it should be impartial and accurate, and provide an apolitical public service. It is not some sort of newspaper or media channel with a party line, or political bent)
So prior to the correction, ‘sloppy’ journalism….. possibly?
Following the correction, the facts having been spelt out to them by many people.
Then deliberate ‘spin’ to keep that headline, and not rewrite the article to get it accurate……. Totally unacceptable for the BBC

Jimmy Haigh
August 13, 2010 12:30 pm

“Pushing up prices for the world’s hungry…”
Quite. Simple though – there are just too many people in some places.

August 13, 2010 1:17 pm

Careful, careful, that might be too many RICH westerners in ‘some places’, consuming at the expense of the world’s poor..
Care to give up, your ‘life’ for the benefit of others Jimmy?!
thought not………..
You are aware of how awful, your statement came across.?

August 13, 2010 1:50 pm

The BBC may have corrected the first sentence, but not I suspect the headline, and the conclusion is still domesday.
“Rice yields ‘to fall’ under global warming”
‘A study published at the begining of last year concluded that half of the world’s population could face a climate-induced food crisis by 2100, with the most extreme summers of the last century becoming routine towards the end of this century.’

August 13, 2010 2:35 pm

well i got nowhere with the bbc lie about “both poles melting fast” , its still there , goto bbc site , then science and nature , then frozen planet , at the foot of the article the lie is still there ,, bbc ignored my objection and my MP climate minister Chris Huhme claimed he could not find the link and that the BBC were “nothing to do with government”….

August 14, 2010 12:29 am

OK, it looks like the BBC are not going to change the title of their story. And other media are copying the original wrong BBC story.
You can all help here. Copy the following line into a Google search:
rice yields to fall
and then click on any link that disputes the rice yields story, especially those with a WUWT link.
Don’t leave it all to me! I got it to page two of the Google results.
Let’s get it to result #2 of page one, right next to the BBC story that is wrong, where it will stay for months.

August 14, 2010 1:39 am

Richard Black has posted on his blog, a sort of apology, but insists the headline is correct, because of ‘projections’ of rice yield. !!!!
Fantasy Climate Joke: BBC internal memo:
BBC journalists salaries ‘to increase’ due to the recession
ie ‘post normal’ spin/journalism,
The real story, the rate of increase in Percentage salary cuts for BBC environmental journalists have gone up. 😉
The headline is misleading,
Rice Yields ‘to fall’ under Global Warming
(presumably left out the man made bit, as a bit of spin as well)
It implies that rice yield has fallen, now in the REAL world, perhaps forcing prices up for the world’s poorest people.
Food prices has risen due to catastrophic man made global warming alarmism.
Well done BBC…
As Richard Black says above:
“Projections may not turn into reality, of course – but there it is. ”
Real world story ever higher rice production, but let’s have a story about projections that promote an CAGW alarmist agenda, at he BBC, instead.

August 14, 2010 2:31 am

I’ve stuck a Journalism Warning Label on the BBC article:
Tom Scott noted that newspapers put warning labels on content that involves “sex, violence or strong language,” but have no such warning labels for “sloppy journalism and other questionable content.” So he made them. He’s put together a printable document of journalism warning labels.
Journalism Warning Labels:

Brian H
August 14, 2010 5:44 pm

” Henry chance says:
August 12, 2010 at 7:33 am
It is theoretically impossible for the growth in yields double every 12 years.”
Well, I don’t know what you mean by “theoretically”, but are you familiar with the ‘Rule of 72’? It is an accountant’s rule of thumb: to determine how many compounding periods it will take for an investment to double, or the rate required to double it in a known period, divide the known number into 72.
Thus, to double in 12 years requires an annual compounding increase of 72/12 = 6%.
It seems that the yield increases come in spurts, as new varietals are developed, etc. So it’s pretty hard to know what’s in the pipeline and what will work.

August 20, 2010 1:59 am

Well done people.
A Google search for [rice yields to fall] now has the BBC story at search result #1 and two rebuttals of the story at results #2 and #3:
Richard Black, your name is there and it’s your fault.
Please correct your stories properly in future, including the headlines.
Better still, don’t make mistakes in the first place.

Verified by MonsterInsights