BBC Sought Advice from Global Warming Scientists on Economy, Drama, Music - and Even Game Shows; Leaked Cache of Emails Reveals How Controversial Climategate Scientists Were Given the Chance to Influence BBC Policy in the Most Unlikely Areas; SPECIAL REPORT

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), November 27, 2011 | Go to article overview

BBC Sought Advice from Global Warming Scientists on Economy, Drama, Music - and Even Game Shows; Leaked Cache of Emails Reveals How Controversial Climategate Scientists Were Given the Chance to Influence BBC Policy in the Most Unlikely Areas; SPECIAL REPORT


Byline: by David Rose

BRITAIN'S leading green activist research centre spent [pounds sterling]15,000 on seminars for top BBC executives in an apparent bid to block climate change sceptics from the airwaves, a vast new cache of leaked 'Climategate' emails has revealed.

The emails - part of a trove of more than 5,200 messages that appear to have been stolen from computers at the University of East Anglia - shed light for the first time on an incestuous web of interlocking relationships between BBC journalists and the university's scientists, which goes back more than a decade.

They show that University staff vetted BBC scripts, used their contacts at the Corporation to stop sceptics being interviewed and were consulted about how the broadcaster should alter its programme output.

Like the first 'Climategate' leaks two years ago, they were placed last week on a Russian server by an anonymous source.

Again like their predecessors, they have emerged just before a United Nations climate summit, which is to start this week in Durban.

BBC insiders say the close links between the Corporation and the UEA's two climate science departments, the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and the Tyndall Centre for Climate Research, have had a significant impact on its coverage.

'Following their lead has meant the whole thrust and tone of BBC reporting has been that the science is settled, and that there is no need for debate,' one journalist said. 'If you disagree, you're branded a loony.'

In 2007, the BBC issued a formal editorial policy document, stating that 'the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus' - the view that the world faces catastrophe because of manmade carbon dioxide emissions.

The document says the policy was decided after 'a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts' - including those from UEA.

The 'Climategate 2' emails disclose that in private some of those same scientists have had doubts about aspects of the global warming case.

For example, Professor Phil Jones, the head of the CRU, admitted there was no evidence that the snows of Kilimanjaro were melting because of climate change, and he and his colleagues agreed there were serious problems with the famous 'hockey stick' graph - the depiction of global temperatures that suggests they were broadly level for 1,000 years until they started to rise with industrialisation.

But although there is now more scientific debate than ever about influences on climate other than CO2, prompted by the fact that the world has not warmed for 15 years, a report from the BBC Trust this year compared climate change sceptics to the conspiracy theorists who blame America for 9/11, and said Britain's main sceptic think-tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, should be given no air time.

The man at the centre of the BBCUEA web is Roger Harrabin, the Corporation's 'environment analyst', who reports for a range of programmes on radio and TV.

Last week The Mail on Sunday revealed that in 1996, he and his friend, Professor Joe Smith of the Open University, set up an informal two-man band to organise environment seminars for BBC executives.

Known as the Cambridge Media Environment Programme (CMEP), it operated until 2009, and over three years (2002 to 2005) received [pounds sterling]15,000 from the Tyndall Centre. Mr Harrabin did not derive personal financial benefit, although Prof Smith was paid.

Yesterday Mike Hulme, UEA's Professor of Climate Change, who set up the centre in 2000 and was its director until 2007, said he planned to fund CMEP from Tyndall's outset, as an 'integral part of our outreach and communication strategy'.

Mr Harrabin was also appointed to the Tyndall advisory board - an unpaid position he held for five years until 2005.

The Climategate 2 emails suggest Prof Hulme expected something in return - the slanting of BBC coverage to exclude global warming sceptics. …

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BBC Sought Advice from Global Warming Scientists on Economy, Drama, Music - and Even Game Shows; Leaked Cache of Emails Reveals How Controversial Climategate Scientists Were Given the Chance to Influence BBC Policy in the Most Unlikely Areas; SPECIAL REPORT
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