BBC’s Institutional Alarmism


By Paul Homewood

I’ve now had a chance to write a fuller account of my new paper on the BBC:

The BBC has been accused of institutional alarmism in a new report published by Net Zero Watch. It reveals the BBC’s persistent exaggeration and false information when it comes to climate and weather-related news.

The study, written by me, reveals that the BBC has been forced to correct a dozen items of false claims and fake news in climate-related coverage after receiving public complaints in recent years.

The paper shows that it has become common practice for BBC reporters to publicise exaggerated and often misleading weather-and climate-related stories in order to hype up the potential risks from global warming.

Persistent misrepresentation by BBC journalists in climate news coverage is fuelling the corporation’s institutional alarmism.

Institutional alarmism is a form of hyped and exaggerated news reporting that is deeply embedded in the BBC. It manifests itself as unbalanced, one-sided coverage of climate risks that are habitually exaggerated and that go uncorrected by the BBC’s in-house fact checkers.

In 2020, the BBC’s director general warned that the problem posed by disinformation online was increasingly serious and that the BBC would need to work harder than ever to expose fake news and separate fact from fiction.

Since then the corporation set up a team of fact checkers, a BBC-wide Anti-Disinformation Unit and a Climate Misinformation team. Yet none of these teams of fact checkers noticed or addressed the long list of false news stories that were only corrected by the BBC after lengthy and protracted complaint procedures.

The dossier includes the following examples of fake news:

  • The three complaints upheld against the BBC’s Climate Editor, Justin Rowlatt, last year, two of which concerned a Panorama episode devoted to global warming.
  • Claims that the number of floods around the world has increased 15-fold since 2005.
  • A BBC News report that the population of African penguins was declining rapidly because of climate change.
  • Repeated claims that onshore wind was “banned” in the UK
  • False statements about “record temperatures”
  • A BBC Two broadcast, which wrongly alleged that the reindeer population in Russia was declining because of climate change
  • Repeated claims that hurricanes were becoming more frequent and powerful
  • A World at One broadcast, which asserted that sea levels in Miami were rising at ten times the global rate

Most of the claims were so obviously and ridiculously false that it is hard to see how they made it through the BBC’s editorial process. This of course raises further questions.

Is the BBC so entrenched in its own version of climate change that it believes its own propaganda, just as the Soviets did? Or do the editors and various layers of management simply not care whatever lies are published?

The above list is merely the tip of the iceberg. Many other falsehoods occur without being challenged, or where complaints are simply ignored.

News items of how weather is getting more extreme, Victoria Falls drying up, droughts in California, starving polar bears and many more. One BBC News report baldly stated that the number of weather disasters had increased five-fold in the last 50 years – a patently absurd claim, which the organisation responsible for the database explains is actually due to better data reporting.

One of the most egregious examples of bias came in Sir David Attenborough’s documentary three years ago, “Climate Change – The Facts”. In fact the hour long programme had little to do with facts, more to do with propaganda. It made several highly questionable assertions, such as that “storms, floods, heatwaves and sea level rise are all getting rapidly worse as a result of climate change”. The documentary provided no actual data to back up these claims. Nor did it offer the views of scientific experts who do not agree.

Often BBC reports are just outright propaganda, with the opinions of Greenpeace, WWF and the Green Party being given prominence, but with very little coverage of alternative views. The coverage of the proposed Cumbria coal mine last year by Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s Environmental Analyst, was a classic example of this.

At other times, the reporting is just silly. For instance, last summer the BBC gave prominent coverage to a silly report which claimed that the impact of global warming would likely lead to ‘impaired’ performances at the Tokyo Olympics. This flew in the face of the fact that many Olympics in recent years have taken place in much hotter climes, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Athens.

The sheer weight of evidence presented in this paper suggests that bias is now en­demic in the BBC’s climate reporting.

All of the factual errors noted could easily have been avoided with a bit of basic research. Is this carried out and the results ignored if they don’t agree with the BBC’s agenda? Or is the corporation’s output just made up and printed anyway without checks? Either way, this is journalism at its shoddy worst.

And who is editing this fake reporting? Why are they not insisting on accurate reporting? Where are the highly paid executives, who let all of this continue?

The topic of climate change, Net Zero and the total transformation of society which is demanded to achieve it is of crucial importance for the future of the coun­try. The public deserve all of the facts, not just the warped version offered by the BBC.


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June 13, 2022 10:08 pm

They lie and make up misleading statements because they KNOW the real situation doesn’t make for a Climate Emergency.

I see the lies a lot at a forum I visit frequently because the truth can’t feed their propaganda line thus the lies and misleading nonsense is many.

Tom Gelsthorpe
June 13, 2022 10:45 pm

Chicken Little rules the roost.

John V. Wright
June 13, 2022 10:47 pm

Thank you Paul. Many of us have been aware of the BBC’s inaccurate, misleading and unbalanced coverage of climate change issues so it is good to see it being documented and, yes, challenged.
The problem that the BBC has now is that it’s hysterical reporting on climate, coupled with its shocking bias on the Brexit issue (where, even in supposedly impartial “news” programmes it clearly supported and promoted the Remain agenda) has crippled its reputation as an independent news organisation. Every BBC news story, on air or online, has people tilting their head and thinking “What are they trying to push here?”.
The sad truth is that this once proud news organisation is now a left-wing propaganda machine. Because of its history it still has a worryingly deep reach into the lives of many British families. But increasingly more and more people are coming to recognise the BBC for what it actually is – the enemy.

Reply to  John V. Wright
June 14, 2022 2:02 am

Its the same with Canada’s CBC and Australia’s ABC. They all seem to be following each other’s Leftist propaganda and a large number of citizens believe every word.

John Garrett
Reply to  Klem
June 14, 2022 4:11 am

…and NPR in the U.S.

Call me a skeptic
Reply to  John Garrett
June 15, 2022 8:57 am

You forgot to add ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN,MSNBC, New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times,The Atlantic, PBS etc.etc.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  Klem
June 14, 2022 10:12 pm

Yes, the cbc really is the enemy of canada

Call me a skeptic
Reply to  Pat from kerbob
June 15, 2022 9:02 am

The bigger question is why western lefties are so hell bent on destroying the western world. Most of them have nice comfortable western lifestyles. Rush was right, liberalism is a mental disorder.

Reply to  John V. Wright
June 14, 2022 1:37 pm

Agree 100%
I have downloaded Paul’s pamphlet, and sent it to a couple of friends – and also my MP, a junior Minister in Boris’s Government.

Possibly falling on stony ground – but felt I had to try!

June 13, 2022 10:54 pm

“do the editors and various layers of management simply not care whatever lies are published?”

They only care if it is the “right” lie.

M Courtney
Reply to  Brad-DXT
June 16, 2022 7:17 am

They care about the BBC. Loyalty to one’s organisation is a good thing.
But it has led to a creeping acquiescence to the activists in the BBC.

It’s good that the BBC allows all views a voice. It’s a National Broadcaster. But the views need to be balanced. Despite the passion and vehemence of the most committed – the activists.

So the BBC ends up setting the ,most passionate voce as the norm. And then the range of views can be a little more extreme in that direction. Until eventually the range of acceptable views is stretched to breaking point. And the BBC must decide where the edge is.

But what manager would say that the BBC has made a wrong editorial decision for the last ten or twenty years? And so it continues.

Reply to  M Courtney
June 16, 2022 8:18 am

I think the BBC has been making wrong decisions for longer than twenty years.

Coeur de Lion
June 13, 2022 11:20 pm

Available deep in Paul Homewood’s archive is a 162 page Major Complaint dated April 2016 which devastated the BBC’s output over a decade, including a whole chapter on Attenborough’s lies. The Complaints chapter describes the BBC attitude to complaints as ‘ignorance , misplaced sophistry and disdain’. But it didn’t have any effect. Of course not.

Steve Case
June 13, 2022 11:46 pm

It isn’t just the BBC. Is there any so-called main stream media outlet that doesn’t dish out climate change propaganda on a regular basis? We are dealing with a well organized propaganda machine.

Here’s a link to Kip Hansen’s WUWT story about that from a year ago:

Turning Opinion into Science Fact

June 13, 2022 11:48 pm

The BBC has no shame…

“Why is climate ‘doomism’ going viral – and who’s fighting it?”

By Marco Silva
BBC climate disinformation specialist

Reply to  fretslider
June 14, 2022 6:07 am

Huh. It’s not like there’s an illiberal and intolerant “thought police” or something to enforce such things. Must be an invisible hand of Zeitgeist™. 🤡

Reply to  fretslider
June 14, 2022 10:02 am

Nice read. Thank you. At least a sort of an equilibrated text in BBC.

June 14, 2022 12:04 am

Why would any citizen in the UK pay a licence fee so they can be fed this nonsense.

Who was the last person fined for not have a licence?

The best way out is simply not watch the garbage dished up.

Your kids could be watching the tripe and being indoctrinated. Watching tripe turns kids brains to mush.

In Australia, their ABC is funded from general revenue. If it was privatised, it would not find a buyer. It would be impossible to turn it into something worth paying for.

June 14, 2022 12:34 am

I live here in the UK. I have studiously avoided any and all output from the BBC for over ten years now. They openly lie about practically everything.

Reply to  Derek Wood
June 14, 2022 3:53 am

If you have avoided all output for more than 10 years…

how do you know they openly lie about practically everything?

Reply to  Mark
June 14, 2022 8:37 am

I listen to CBC a few times a week for the very reason of “knowing the enemy”. CBC continues to lie outrageously on a number of topics including climate change, COVID, alternative energy costs, plastic pollution, and others. Their primary mission seems to be promulgate fear and inflame factional conflicts in the country, particularly with indigenous peoples.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
June 14, 2022 12:43 am

Nor should we forget that the BBC took a secretive decision some years ago that no one who held a contrary view on the current climate crisis hysteria would be allowed to express or present a balancing account on air of why they dissent from the general view or the Corporation’s propaganda on this issue.

It says little for the reputation of the BBC leaders -or our MPs – that this has not been challenged and that the green activists in the BBC who now virtually control the broadcast narrative remain unrestrained or held to account.

The BBC has been front and centre of creating a mood of panic and hysteria and damaging the mental health of young people especially by deliberately leading them to falsely believe that life on Earth is under some immediate threat by a (non-existent) climate crisis.

Mike Post
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
June 14, 2022 1:21 am

Just in case you have forgotten, the “best scientific experts” (according to the BBC Trust) who attended the 2006 seminar as the result of which the BBC decided to abandon impartial reporting of man made climate change were:

Robert May, Oxford University and Imperial College London
Mike Hulme, Director, Tyndall Centre, UEA
Blake Lee-Harwood, Head of Campaigns, Greenpeace
Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
Michael Bravo, Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge
Andrew Dlugolecki, Insurance industry consultant
Trevor Evans, US Embassy
Colin Challen MP, Chair, All Party Group on Climate Change
Anuradha Vittachi, Director,
Andrew Simms, Policy Director, New Economics Foundation
Claire Foster, Church of England
Saleemul Huq, IIED
Poshendra Satyal Pravat, Open University
Li Moxuan, Climate campaigner, Greenpeace China
Tadesse Dadi, Tearfund Ethiopia
Iain Wright, CO2 Project Manager, BP International
Ashok Sinha, Stop Climate Chaos
Andy Atkins, Advocacy Director, Tearfund
Matthew Farrow, CBI
Rafael Hidalgo, TV/multimedia producer
Cheryl Campbell, Executive Director, Television for the Environment
Kevin McCullough, Director, Npower Renewables
Richard D North, Institute of Economic Affairs
Steve Widdicombe, Plymouth Marine Labs
Joe Smith, The Open University
Mark Galloway, Director, IBT
Anita Neville, E3G
Eleni Andreadis, Harvard University
Jos Wheatley, Global Environment Assets Team, DFID
Tessa Tennant, Chair, AsRia

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
June 14, 2022 3:39 am

My understanding of this decision was that the BBC had been told by the Government that this was Government policy and that the BBC was to abide by it.

Reply to  Oldseadog
June 14, 2022 4:43 am

It was…. A Noo Labour government – Prop. Rev A.R.P. Blair

Reply to  fretslider
June 14, 2022 6:58 am

Well, if I am right, why is everyone getting onto the BBC, you should be complaining to Westminster.

M Courtney
Reply to  fretslider
June 16, 2022 7:19 am

And backed up by the Tory PM with the huskies and the wind turbine on his home.
Still supported by Boris.

Greg Shark
June 14, 2022 1:03 am

This world over … climate alarmism seems to be the oil that greases the wheel to woke acceptance

June 14, 2022 1:23 am

All of the factual errors noted could easily have been avoided with a bit of basic research.”

This is the crux of the entire issue. It’s not just BBC playing fast and loose. It’s the entire MSM and the activist climate scientists. At times it does take more than just a quick search on google. But generally there will be papers or data that, at a minimum, raise questions about their claims. I’ve falsified so many claims over the years by hard core research that I’ve lost all faith in anything I see or read by the MSM. The stories are just old wine in new bottles.

Richard Page
Reply to  cerescokid
June 14, 2022 5:10 am

They are more than willing to accept other activists lies at face value because of their own confirmation bias. There is no fact checking done on these stories – with far more wide-reaching and rigorous censorship done on anything they don’t agree with. ‘London Metropolitan Elite echo chamber’ – the licence fee should be cut with immediate effect – let the metropolitan elites support them out of their own pockets if they feel that strongly.

UK-Weather Lass
June 14, 2022 3:28 am

Trading on an illustrious past which probably ended in the Thatcher era the BBC has steadily become arrogant and driven by agenda rather than objectivity and neutrality. We have seen this not just in climate and environmental matters but in programming generally, in fact anywhere their agenda can be pushed to full effect. Misinformation and propaganda have followed as the bias gathers strength pleasing the BBC’s own ‘woke’ echo chamber. Rather than encouraging any dissenting or any minority voice as the BBC once did so well, now they have selected dissenters, selected minorities and censorship of any advocacy of opinion that goes against their agenda. The BBC has no even handedness at all.

What is most unpleasant about all this is that TV owners in the UK must pay a license fee to support the BBC’s wickedness or face a prison sentence. In the light of that for our politicians not to see the BBC’s demise as an Orwellian dystopia in the making is the greatest proof of how insidious the shift towards communism can be when not kept in check.

License payers should at the very least be compensated whenever it is proven the BBC has misinformed or misled its viewers or listeners and the BBC’s complaints system should be designed to encourage such expressions of dissatisfaction that license payers feel. However, it could be argued that if the public can be sent to prison for not paying a license fee then the BBC’s top dogs should likewise face custodial sentences for not keeping their part of the bargain too. Trial of the BBC live on the TV once a week as prime time viewing … what is not to like …

Richard Page
Reply to  UK-Weather Lass
June 14, 2022 5:12 am

The BBC has a charter which they have bent, abused and broken systematically over the last 50 years; they need to be held to account.

Reply to  UK-Weather Lass
June 14, 2022 12:58 pm

The bias only became absurdly obvious during the Thatcher years. It’s always been there.

June 14, 2022 3:58 am

institutional corruption from the top down, using coercion to get TV licences and blackmail of every single government of the last 40 years to get their biased, crappy, lying, two faced way,- ie. the ministry of “truth”.

Orwell described it as a mixture of whoreshop and lunatic asylum.
Nothing changed.

June 14, 2022 4:41 am

What do you think BBC stands for? Bollocks Bias, and Claptrap.

June 14, 2022 4:55 am

Yes, there is such a tree in the forest. A thick and tall one, too. However, it’s still but one tree in a forest.
Let’s name the forest: BBC is but one part of “unofficially official” (or “Cathedral aligned”) press, all of which has the primary purpose of promoting the ideas that justify use of power.
Moreover, that’s one of the only 2 (two) large niches for the press at all: theocratic press and yellow press, preaching and rumour-mongering. There are many hundreds of specialist niches, of course, but they are comparatively small.

Last edited 11 months ago by TBeholder
June 14, 2022 8:48 am

What irks me so much is the media’s apparent immunity. If a business makes false claims they can be taken to task by the SEC, and a host of other regulatory bodies that exist to protect shareholders, customers and the general public.

But somehow the media has been excluded from this oversight. I used to send in measured and calm corrections with data but found these were ignored. Having grown tired of seeing effort come to nothing, I gave up and now can only refuse to click on the worst offenders in the hopes of reducing their traffic and ad revenue.

As long as they endure zero consequences for their damaging lies, they will continue to lie.

June 14, 2022 12:54 pm

To most leftists, truth is determined by the party.
Independent thought is not needed and will in fact be punished.

June 14, 2022 3:10 pm

It’s not just climate. Everything from the BBC follows its agenda, whether comedy, drama, geography, politics, history, science, music or even mathematics.

June 14, 2022 3:46 pm

I made a complaint recently about a BBC Radio 4 programme, which claimed heat pumps were now close to cost parity with gas boilers because of the increasing cost of gas. What the programme completely ignored, however, was the need for domestic hot water, i.e. it focused entirely on heating costs.

I pointed out that if the need for domestic hot water was taken into account, which of course is essential throughout the year, then gas boilers remain far more economic than heat pumps in the UK.

The programme was totally misleading because of this and would have led many people to entirely the wrong conclusion. It was propaganda pure and simple but dressed up in a way to make the argument sound plausible. Absolutely appalling reporting, quite frankly.

Neutral Observer
June 15, 2022 1:59 am

On BBC R4 Today programme this morning East Coast coastal erosion was partly blamed, without any attempt at justification, on climate change.

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