Return to Website

Number Watch Web Forum

This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.

Number Watch Web Forum
Start a New Topic 
Author
Comment
Thoughts on 28Gate

The biggest story in the British AGW sceptic blogosphere towards the end of 2012 was "28 Gate" where it was finally revealed that the 'best scientific experts' (as they were described in a BBC Trust report written in 2007) at a BBC climate change seminar held in January, 2006 were predominantly Green-leaning NGO activists. The story gave rise to JEB's Number of the Month for November, 2012 and also resulted in a 'Golden Winston' NUMBY award for the BBC in recognition of their non-coverage of the story.

One thing not really mentioned by the AGW sceptic blogosphere about the notorious seminar is that the only reason we heard about it at all is because there was an attempt to push the envelope in the level of bias at this seminar that even the BBC Trust could not ignore. There may have been other climate change seminars or meetings held by the BBC that we don't know about because the bias was less blatant and so the BBC Trust didn't intervene. The main outcome of the January, 2006 seminar was that it led to a proposed TV event called 'Planet Relief Day' which was subsequently cancelled, described in this link:

link1

Planet Relief Day was going to feature people like Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross and Ricky Gervais, and was going to be like an environmental version of Comic Relief, including the idea of a mass switch-off by the public to conserve energy.

It looks like some chancer, probably Harrabin, tried to give the impression that Planet Relief Day was the idea of a bunch of leading scientists rather than a bunch of Green NGO activists to make the whole thing look a bit more respectable to the BBC Trust.

Another issue that I don't think the AGW sceptic blogosphere picked up was that there is a certain amount of absurdity in applying the 'Chatham House Rule' to meetings involving participants from Green NGOs. This Chatham House Rule was used as the defence by the BBC as to why they did not have to hand over a list of participants at the January, 2006 seminar in response to an FOI request made by Tony Newbery, the Harmless Sky blogger. The CH Rule is explained on this link:

link2

The idea behind the rule is that someone at a meeting may simply spout the opinion of their employer or possibly their profession rather than take the risk of giving a potentially career-damaging personal opinion, but the degree of anonymity provided by the CH rule could loosen their tongue and lead to a more useful discussion. Campaigning organisations are almost by definition not going to show a significant divergence of opinion within their ranks, as people don't join these sort of organisations unless they believe in the cause to a great extent. Even in the unlikely event that somebody from a Green NGO thought, for example, that the idea of wind energy is rubbish, they are very unlikely to express this opinion in a meeting attended by other people from Green NGOs (as in the Jan 2006 seminar) because their employer would probably get to know through the grapevine about their unorthodox view. As far as I can see, the only purpose of holding a meeting with a lot of Green activists under the Chatham House Rule would be to cover up the fact that you have been talking to Green activists.


Re: Thoughts on 28Gate

To illustrate my point that there may be other meetings between BBC programme-makers and Green activists on climate change that we don't know about, consider this post from Richard D North's blog about a climate change conference he attended in April 2012.

link

Richard D North is not to be confused with the other Richard North, the EU Referendum blogger. RDN works for the 'Institute of Economic Affairs' free market thinktank and seems to be the token conservative representative who gets invited to UK climate change meetings, probably because he used to be an environmental journalist in the 1980s and early 1990s and is therefore sort of acceptable to the Greenies. He was one of the attendees of the notorious BBC seminar of January 2006.

Extract from the blog post:

"One curiosity. I noticed that several participants felt that if the public didn’t “get” climate change or the horrors of nuclear or the need to conserve energy, or more spending on cleaner energy, then that was a failure of communication. Maybe. I prefer to suppose that the public has understood a fair amount and just doesn’t care much. More communication might make them care even less.

Another curiosity. A couple of people said that the next wave of persuasion ought to be amongst women, as though females were less persuaded than men but might become better activists for the cause once they were. I said, good luck with that."


From the above extract it can be inferred that Green activists are in attendance and I would guess that media organisations are present (which could include the BBC) as there is talk about failure of communications and a suggestion to target women in the next wave of persuasion, and the media would presumably be the ones doing the communicating.

The blog post doesn't give enough information to identify whether the BBC were actually there, as the conference was held under the 'Chatham House Rule', which seems to be used as an excuse to hold secret meetings.


Re: Thoughts on 28Gate

Well done again, Dave! It is important that we keep the light shining in the establishment engendered darkness; you in your small corner and I in mine.