Will the Cost of the Climate Wars be the BBC's Integrity?

Guest essay by Jim Steele, Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University.

On July 29, 2013 the BBC’s Hardtalk journalist Stephen Sackur wrote “The Alaskan village set to disappear under water in a decade.” He opened the story with “within a decade Kivalina is likely to be under water. Gone, forever. Remembered – if at all – as the birthplace of America’s first climate change refugees.” He then quotes a local who laments, “The US government imposed this Western lifestyle on us, gave us their burdens and now they expect us to pick everything up and move it ourselves. What kind of government does that?”


Given the context, such a statement sounds like the locals were feeling abandoned by global warming. But the tone also reminded me of the complaints by many native Arctic people who were relocated by the US, Canadian and Russian governments in a 20th century battle to secure claims to Arctic territory. Such a vulnerable location seemed odd for a permanent settlement.. Sure enough Wikipedia supported my suspicions Kitvalina. The original village was located at the north end of the Kivalina Lagoon but was relocated to its present location in about 1900. Reindeer were brought to the area and some people were trained as reindeer herders, suggesting there as a government attempt to force a permanent settlement. From the history I can glean on the internet “the people of Kivalina, like the Ipiutak before them, utilized the barrier reef only as seasonal hunting grounds, making camp there in warm-weather months.” Their recent plans to relocate due to erosion and an expanding population are opportunistically blamed on global warming.

The Arctic people have long been victimized by “southern people’s” politics. Relocation of indigenous families became a tactic employed by all the “polar bear countries” in an international chess match to stake claims on Arctic resources. In 1925, Denmark relocated families in Greenland to counter any Norwegian claims to the island. The following year the Soviet government moved a small Eskimo community to Wrangel Island in order to replace an occupation of Alaskan Eskimos that had been established there by American interests. The relocation of families was also a crucial cold-war tactic by Canada to insure their claims on the Arctic, but not just against any Russian threats, but more so from perceived encroachments by the United States.631

In 1944, Henry Larsen, a staff sergeant in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, became the first to navigate the Northwest Passage from the west to east and back again. This celebrated feat greatly strengthened Canada’s claims to Arctic lands, and offset any potential Scandinavian claims based on Norway’s Roald Amundsen’s successful crossing of Canada’s Northwest Passage in 1903-06. However the US military bases built during World War II were now perceived as a threatening foothold. So in the 1950s Larsen was put in charge of relocating several Inuit families to Grise Fiord and Resolute Bay in the far northern reaches of the Canadian Arctic. Grise Fiord is known by its Inuit name that means “the place that never thaws.” Although these were strategic places in ongoing international maneuverings, it was a region long abandoned by the Inuit’s ancestors. Government stories of an unspoiled land where hunting was more bountiful enticed Inuit families to leave the milder climates of their villages along the central Hudson Bay. Government officials sealed the deal by suggesting there was absolutely no risk and promised a swift return passage if the families found their new settlement unsatisfactory.

But it was a promise that Canadian officials never intended to keep. Ironically, the woman who played Nanook’s wife in the popular 1930s documentary “Nanook of the North” and her son (who was fathered by the documentary’s producer) were among the families relocated to Grise Ford. Although “Nanook of the North” had enthralled Americans and Europeans with a glamorized depiction of Inuit resilience and adaptability, their new settlements doled out such incredible hardships their resilience was severely tested. The struggles of those families have now been well documented in the book, The Long Exile: A Tale of Inuit Betrayal and Survival. It was the film producer’s granddaughter, daughter of his half-Inuit, half-Caucasian son, who finally forced the Canadian government to own up to their betrayal. The Canadian government finally made a public apology in 2008 and paid reparations to the offended families.

Sackur’s article continues the long tradition of half-truths. To indict climate change he wrote:

  1. “Kivalina’s story is not unique. Temperature records show the Arctic region of Alaska is warming twice as fast as the rest of the United States.”
  2. “Retreating ice, slowly rising sea levels and increased coastal erosion have left three Inuit settlements facing imminent destruction, and at least eight more at serious risk.”
  3. No longer does thick ice protect their shoreline from the destructive power of autumn and winter storms.”

However his story relies on zombie data. It was indeed true that Alaska had been warming twice as fast as elsewhere. In a 2012 paper climate scientists from Alaska Climate Research Center, University of Alaska reported, “a sudden temperature increase in Alaska was recorded starting in 1977, seemingly driven by the change in polarity of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) Index, which went from dominantly negative before 1977 to dominantly positive values after that year” However unlike Sackur they also reported for the 21st century ” The mean cooling of the average of all stations was 1.3°C for the decade”1 Alaska is now one the most rapidly cooling areas on earth.

Sackur’s reference to “slowly rising sea levels” are also questionable. Go to the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level website and view the 2 stations nearest to Kitvalina. At Nome Alaska the sea level is rising so slow it appears to be dropping over the last decade.



Or look at Prudhoe Bay .



Except for a brief surge for a few months in late 2013, Prudhoe Bay sea level has been dropping there as well. The shifting PDO is also known to change sea level across the Pacific Ocean.

Finally it is hard to understand Sackur’s claim, “No longer does thick ice protect their shoreline.” In 2012 the National Snow and Ice Data Center reported “ice extent in the Bering Sea was much greater than average, reaching the second-highest levels for January in the satellite record.” NASA’s Earth Observatory wrote, “For most of the winter of 2011–2012, the Bering Sea has been choking with sea ice… NSIDC data indicate that ice extent in the Bering Sea for most of this winter has been between 20 to 30 percent above the 1979 to 2000 average. February 2012 had the highest ice extent for the area since satellite records started.” And in 2013 Bering Sea ice was again above normal as seen in National Snow and Ice Data Center picture.


So why has the BBC published this story filled with references to zombie data and half-truths? The region’s temperatures are cooling, sea level is dropping and sea ice is above average. The story about Kivalina has been published many times before and residents sued Exxon six years ago. Are they trying to rekindle global fear in a time of paused global warming? Are they now tools of the IPCC? Climategate emails revealed Michael Mann’s distress at a BBC’s story that the PDO could delay global warming, and he told his fellow advocates he would have a talk with their “science” writers. Did Michael Mann and the fellow IPCC warming advocates successfully pressure the BBC to present such a biased and unsupported story that does not educate the public about the complexities of climate change but instead attempts to instill gloom and climate fear? I once saw the BBC as a trusted source, but count me as a climate war casualty. I will never again trust another BBC climate article.

1. Wendler,G., et al. (2012) The First Decade of the New Century: A Cooling Trend for Most of Alaska. The Open Atmospheric Science Journal, 2012, 6, 111-116

Mr. Steele is author of Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism


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A strong complaint to the BBC would seem to be in order!


The BBC have been serial offenders in this respect, this is nothing new to us in the UK. There has been a small (sea) change recently, but there are still the odd weird alarmist stories like this, to keep the troops happy I expect. Supertankers don’t suddenly turn around, they do a wide circle.


” I once saw the BBC as a trusted source, but count me as a climate war casualty. I will never again trust another BBC climate article.”
Given that the BBC has had such a bias for some time e.g. programmes like “Meltdown”,and “Climate Wars”, how could anyone have trusted the BBC to be impartial about climate!

Joe Public

The Beeb has not been trusted on its climate-related stories for a long time.
The 28-gate affair proved that.
Relevant articles by its ‘science’ team and Harrabin are frequently illustrated by photos showing steam or flue gases back-lit to imply ‘visible-particulates’ to the uninitiated.


It’s no longer about science for the nutters. It’s all zombie apocalypse, all the time.

View from the Solent

“Will the Cost of the Climate Wars be the BBC’s Integrity?”
A null question. It’s integrity was destroyed years ago.


In Their Own Words
When people ask for evidence of an institutional Left-wing bias at the BBC, this is the place to go for evidence. Out of the mouths of Beeboids….

Patrick W M

The BBC has been on a climate crusade for over a decade, and rational, impartial reporting has gone out of the window. Their crew of ‘science’ reporters are all press release and PC merchants. The best science journalist they ever had was Dr David Whitehouse (who writes much common sense about climate science – what the BBC should have been doing all along) who, as far as I know, left in circumstances that have never been fully explained. I was a fan of his at the BBC as he seemed to be trying to push them in the right direction. Now what does the know nothing about climate science Stephen Sackur phone when he wants to know about climate science – Roger Harrabin or David Shukman – say no more.


Bring back David Bellamy!!!!!!


I went to the Beeb’s website hoping to be able to leave a comment and a link to your article, but none allowed. I noted that they said they were also broadcasting another programme on Climate Change at the same times today. It looks like the BBC’s assault on promulgating the warmist meme is ‘hotting’ up, while temperatures remain static.

” I once saw the BBC as a trusted source, but count me as a climate war casualty. I will never again trust another BBC climate article.”
The BBC has always been a propaganda arm of the state and it has served its master well over the years. The thing is … the internet now allows people to research many different sources very fast and see for themselves what is going on. An alternative site like WUWT gives people a chance to read real science and to check out another view other than the hysterical media’s myth of impending doom.
The internet may someday be credited with saving humanity by breaking the choke-hold of the information gatekeepers. (well, it is at least possible)

Reblogged this on Climate Ponderings.

Bloke down the pub

I wonder if the Beeb is even aware how far their credibility has fallen?

Surfer Dave

The Beeb has been compromised for a long time, and not just on climate, it no longer provides real fourth estate journalism on any subject at all. I now view it as a propaganda outlet with occasional current events reporting (disasters, royal births, test cricket, etc).


If the BBC was a person it would be a jaded, alcoholic, sixties feminist. It has campaigned for free love and drugs all its life and is dismayed to discover nobody respects it now it’s middle aged. It still jumps on every hippy band wagon, but it gets to the demos by flying first class. It firmly places it’s politics on the left but it’s really just champagne socialism and enjoys the high life on other people’s money. It tells everyone how to live better lives but gets sulky and spiteful when others point to its own failed lifestyle. It despises traditional values and paints a road to ruin as progress. It’s a national embarrassment that fawns over good looking youngsters that find the attention a bit creepy. Aunty Beeb is a complete slapper that has never lived up to the respect it earned when it was at least fresh and original.


And don’t forget how they treated Benny Hill. Disgraceful.

Hari Seldon

I’m ashamed to say that the integrity of the bbc is shot to pieces. I was brought up on a diet of the ‘Horizon’ program which induced me take up a science career. In those days the science was the centre of the program. There was no presenter, just a voice over and this held one’s attention.
All we get now is close up shots of ‘attractive presenters’ often gazing wistfully into the distance, or some flashy useless graphic to bedazzle the watcher.
Its about the presenter and not the subject matter. I don’t think the current crop of producers understand how to communicate science or engineering.
Its a shame

Joe Dance of Queensland

Well they did push this out back in 2007 but i suppose they like many others hope people have short memories http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7139797.stm

Limey here. The BBC is long past its best. having been taken over by the Left Liberal class. Everything that goes with that is thrust down our throats, and the fact that people have to pay £140 a year to listen to or watch this crap makes many very angry. Yes, they do some great stuff – their sports coverage, for example, is excellent (especially the radio), however the current affairs is appalling, because of their in-built bias. And their coverage of Israel/Palestine is sickening. This is utterly against their charter, but nothing ever happens about it.
If you don’t have a TV, you don’t have to pay the BBC Poll Tax.
We don’t have a TV.

Colin Porter

Join the club. If you live in the UK and you know the truth about global warming, you will be sickened by the BBC’s biased reporting.
Much nearer to home, last evening, they were reporting on the stand off between ultra left wing hippies protesting in the village of Balcombe and Quadrilla, an exploration company attempting to test drill the area. The local community in Balcombe who had initially objected, had disowned the hippies and did not wish to be associated with these criminals. Yet the BBC reported the dispute as if Quadrilla were in the dock. And to reinforce the legitimacy of the protesting hippies, they even showed multiple images taken from U Tube videos of flames shooting out from water taps. They knew there was no substance to such reports and even said that the videos had been largely disproved of being genuine, so what can have been their reason for showing these images, other than to reinforce the myth and add justification to the protests?

Philip Aggrey

Mr Steele, Mod or Anthony. there is a typo that needs correcting:-
“Except for a brief surge for a few months in late 2013, Prudhoe Bay sea level has been dropping there as well. The shifting PDO is also known to change sea level across the Pacific Ocean.”
The brief surge was for a few months in late 2012 (and not 2013, since we aren’t there yet).

Here’s how the BBC is protected by the BBC Trust. A perfect example


“markstoval says:
July 31, 2013 at 2:42 am
The internet may someday be credited with saving humanity by breaking the choke-hold of the information gatekeepers. (well, it is at least possible)”
I don’t see that happening at all, in fact quite the opposite. The NSA in the US, the UK has plans to “protect internet users” from “inappropriate material”, New Zealand is about to pass a bill to expand surveillance powers of their GCSB and similar policies planned for Australia too. Anyone would think we all live in China or N.Korea.

Peter Hannan

As a Brit, I tend to be proud of the BBC; but that is based on its historical record (WWII, the World Service, its reporters in the 70s and 80s); however, when I was In Britain in October last year, I was appalled by the general parochialism of reporting in the main BBC news programmes (not its dedicated news channel). It was as if nothing was happening in the rest of the world. But, as in my post on The Grauniad, I don’t give up. The BBC is an institution which forms part of the strange democracy that exists in the UK, and it has a commitment to objectivity. If it fails in that respect, well, let’s criticise and correct it. After all, that’s what democracy and freedom are about, aren’t they?


“jeremyp99 says:
July 31, 2013 at 3:01 am
If you don’t have a TV, you don’t have to pay the BBC Poll Tax.”
I am sure that is not correct. If you watch a broadcast, either live or recorded, on, it seems these days, any device, mobiles, computers etc, you need a license. I recall when I lived in the UK, before smart phones, a PC in each home and tape recorders etc, the fee covered mains powered radio sets.
The BBC has produced some great documentaries such as Orbit: Earths Extraordinary Journey. Not one bit of aCO2 driven climate catastrophe mentioned.


Even though the BBC is a pioneer in this regard – none of the media in the entire EU have any integrity. They are actually forced to lie by EU legislation. And my guess is that about 95% of the journalists actually like it that way.
Trust media in the EU at your own peril. We are the USSR redux.

Henry Clark

Unsurprising, as the actual prime determinant of and variation in sea level rise rates is as illustrated here (for global average sea level rise rather than that specific location and a smoothed curve but related):
(enlarging on further click)


What integrity?

jonny old boy

the ignorance in the BBC article is breathtaking. For a start a school kid studying geography can tell anyone what will happen to a “spit” if nature has its way. many natural cycles lead to errosion patterns over years and decades. One of the most precious examples in the UK of such a feature (albeit) markedly different in size and shape is chessel beach which is a world renowned nature site BUT takes MILLIONS of GB pounds each year to maintain. Otherwise the result would be the same. Only people completely ignorant of basic geography would build a ssettlement in such a place without precautions. The “climate” only has any thing to do with this story with regards natural variations and its general effect on errosion. But then again what would the BBC know….

Claude Harvey

You would be shocked at what the state of Alaska and the U.S. government spend each year so that a scattering of Alaska’s “indigenous people” can have it both ways; living in their remote ancestral villages AND enjoying modern conveniences, education and medical care. Taxpayers would be stunned at the air freight and passenger bills alone. The only thing stopping those natives from living exactly as they once lived on vast lands that have been essentially unchanged over thousands of years are the indigenous peoples’ insistence on having it both ways while living in a wilderness and the white man’s guilty conscience. I once lived in an Athabaskan Indian village and I know whereof I speak.


MSM will question no statement, however ridiculous, when it comes to CAGW:
31 July: Politico: Erica Martinson: Gina McCarthy: Climate change poses economic threat
“Hello. Climate change isn’t an environmental issue. It is a fundamental economic challenge for us,” the Boston native said during Tuesday’s address at Harvard Law School. “It is a fundamental economic challenge internationally.”
Nobody looked at Hurricane Sandy as an environmental problem, McCarthy said. “They looked at it as economic devastation.”
She said the limits on natural resources are real; the threats of climate change are real; and the country should embrace cutting carbon emissions as a way to spark innovation…
“The president even had the courage and the vision” during her long confirmation fight “to stand up in 100-plus degree weather” and give the “most compelling … speech on climate change that any American president has ever delivered,” she said, referring to Obama’s address June 25 at Georgetown University…
30 July: WaPo: Julie Eilperin: As new EPA chief, Gina McCarthy vows to act on climate change
But she vowed to “continue to work with the administration as difficult decisions are made” and compared charting national environmental policy to reconciling interests in a noisy family.
“It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be hard. It’s supposed to be all the different voices coming together screaming at the top of their lungs like three children,” she said, adding that she would work to allow “all those voices to be heard and to listen to them. And it’s my obligation to keep peace in the family, whether it’s my EPA one or my little one.”


The trustworthiness of the BBC is an urban legend.


You need not pay the bbc poll tax if you do not watch ‘live’ tv, wonderful saved £140 a year and happy that I’m not paying some short-sighted treehuggers wages anymore!


That picture is stunning. Who could put their hand on their heart and say that this was a prime piece of real estate? (Other than a real estate agent).
Thanks very much for adding the geopolitical dimension to this discussion – another piece of the puzzle.


What a farce! the BBC has been deemed to top the 10 best science news websites compiled by RealClearScience.

Kivalina is a barrier island. Unless Arctic barrier islands are very different from the east coast barrier islands, they are subject to erosion primarily from storms. According to Wikipedia the village is 3.9 square miles (2.0 of it water). Although barrier islands may not change rapidly without storm erosion, you’d hardly consider them permanent living sites.


The creeping malaise that is CAGW has infected every public organisation in the UK, as has Political Correctness, Helath and Safety, etc, etc.
The BBC is no exception and has followed their own promotive agenda for some time, along with the Metoffice, they are jointly responsible for the majority of disinformation to the public.
Articles like this post need to be constantly put ‘out there’ to try and educate the public to see how they are being mislead. Unless a major backlash is forthcoming from the TV licence payers, these manipulators will continue – and the only way to gain support and understanding is through publicity and open discussion/explanation to the public via friends, relatives, workmates, etc.. If we all educate just two people, and they pass it on to two people, etc – it is possible to bring open minds and real education/truth to the mass public in time.

Chris Wright

Patrick says:
July 31, 2013 at 3:29 am
“The BBC has produced some great documentaries such as Orbit: Earths Extraordinary Journey. Not one bit of aCO2 driven climate catastrophe mentioned.”
Not quite true. The obligatory piece of climate alarmism came at the end of the last program. Staring out at the sea, she stated that the world was getting warmer and it was caused by mankind.
This was quite ironic, as they had spent most of the program showing how brutally cold it was in those parts, for example showing how hot coffee was frozen before it hit the ground. She had also described how recent storms had cleared away the local ice cover. In other words, the lack of ice there was noting to do with global warming but everything to do with winds and ocean currents.
To answer the question: no. That’s because the BBC has no integrity to lose.

Margaret Smith

I do not trust the BBC on anything since the 70s. I live in N Ireland and the lies, half-truths and implied falsehoods was breathtaking. The BBC picks a side to support and sticks with it spinning it to deceive. They did this with Sri Lanka until Channel 4 broke ranks and told us the truth. A shocked BBC was forced to tell the truth after harrowing pictures from Ch 4. Nevertheless they are trying to return to their own agenda. Their bias on Global Warming is something they are proud of and have said so on radio and TV. I believe nothing they say on the news now. Mann would have an open door and a welcome mat. (sorry about the rant).


On BBC radio 5 Live there was a recent interview / discusion between Rachel Burden and (I think) David Shukman, on the lack of global warming these last 15 years or so. They tried to smooth it over without a serious question being asked of the science.
Normally Rachel Burden is an inquisitive and probing interviewer, yet on this occassion she soft-soaped Shukman to within an inch of his life.
“If the science was settled, how come scientists are baffled by the current pause”?
“If the models failed to predict this pause then they’re falsified, are they not”?
“That in turn raises serious questions about the integrity of climate science and the claims of coming catastrophe, yes”?
Ha! No chance were such questions asked. Goes against the Holy Writ, that.
That’s just one example of blatant BBC bias. Theere loads more. And they were also at it again this morning on the shale gas / fracking ‘debate’. They’re a joke and have long-since blown their credibility.


According to the BBC, “Four hundred indigenous Inuit people currently live in Kivalina’s collection of single-storey cabins.”
Have a close look at this (zoom in to full screen)
Exactly where are the 400 people living?


When I see this report I will certainly complain but the BBC ignore complaints about climate inaccuracies.

John Wright

“Except for a brief surge for a few months in late 2013, Prudhoe Bay sea level has been dropping there as well.”
Typo? – Late 2013, we’re not there yet. Shouldn’t it be late 2012. That’s what it looks like on the graph anyway.

Ha!! He used “BBC” and the word “Integrity” in the same sentence!!!! That’s funny!
okay, it’s more sad than funny.
The BBC has about as much integrity as Anthony Weiner.


Living on a sand bar exposed to the ocean is, well, you know…


Stan says:
July 31, 2013 at 2:57 am
And don’t forget how they treated Benny Hill. Disgraceful.
The BBC has much to answer for, in regard to it’s appalling climate reporting and otherwise, but let’s get our facts straight while criticizing the BBC for getting theirs wrong.
Benny Hill was dropped by ITV (for which whom had been working for years) NOT the BBC.
To be fair to ITV, Hill had been doing basically the same thing for decades, his schtick was looking tired (regardless of political fashions) and his shows were very expensive in light entertainment terms. For someone who was smart he should have evolved more to keep fresh or give him more of an alternative career in something like comic acting, but didn’t.
Much the same thing happened to Stanley Baxter and Baxter never had anything like the “PC problem” that Benny Hill was supposed to have.


I no longer watch BBC news broadcasts. Even the documentaries now have a ‘global warming’ message just before the end.
I watch CCTV for a more balanced global news coverage.


I forgot… anybody seen Brian Cox lately?

Gerry - England

I agree with those who question whether the BBC has any integrity left to lose. They have produced reports over the years that proclaim that they were left-biased but it’s all different now……until the next report saying the same thing. The BBC Trust have just condemned the excellent John Humphries for producing a report agreeing that the Government has plenty of scope to cut the welfare bill we can’t afford. His crime is going against the party line that any cuts to free-loading shirkers is outrageous. Same as trumpet the evil of ‘cuts’ to public spending without mentioning that the cuts hardly scratch the surface of public spending waste or that we will slowly go bankrupt with reducing spending. From an organisation that has just been found to have made huge excessive pay-offs to managers that would embarrass a banker.
The BBC’s time is over – they can’t be reformed so closure is the only option.

Peter Miller

if you look at the bloated bureaucracy of the BBC, its largely incompetent (and overpaid) management, its recent financial disasters, then it becomes clear that the BBC’s left wing bias and departure from high scientific ideals was inevitable in this rotten-to-the-core organisation.
Cleaning out this Augean Stable is long overdue.