Ever since Extinction Rebellion was formed in 2018 one of their major targets have been the BBC. In November that year on a cold wet winter morning they protested outside BBC Radio Sheffield. So why are the BBC a target, and have things begun to change?
In London climate activist Jon Fuller has regularly led protests outside BBC headquarters to demand they tell the truth. His complaints include
- There has been little or no coverage of major climate events.
- There has been little or no coverage of “the tipping points” which will lead to runaway climate change.
- There has been a lack of rigorous economic analysis.
In Sept 2017 there was a UN General Assembly Meeting immediately after Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica, St Croix, and Puerto Rico. It is regarded as the worst natural disaster in recorded history to affect those islands. Speaker after speaker called for immediate action to stop carbon emissions. One speaker asked “What’s next, the complete evacuation of the Carribean?” None of this was reported on the BBC.
In December 2017 there was another major conference called the One Planet Conference. Theresa May attended. President Macron of France gave a speech which he wanted the world to hear. He said “If we decide not to change ….we will be responsible for billions of victims”. This was totally ignored by the BBC.
In September 2018 the UN Secretary General António Guterres issued a major announcement on climate change in which he explained we are now approaching runaway climate change. He said this is a direct existential threat and we have to act now. Again the BBC completely failed to report it.
There are many tipping points which we are frighteningly close to. Some may already be unavoidable. Each tipping point reached makes others more likely, making an ever increasing spiral of heating. There is evidence melting permafrost in the Arctic is producing abrupt increases in emissions of CO2 and methane from the carbon rich soils. Methane is 30 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Ice sheet disintegration in Greenland and the Antarctic will not only lead to higher sea levels and coastal flooding, but could cause major disruption to our current weather patterns. The cool fresh water flowing from the ice into the sea will disrupt ecosystems and further change our weather. In the Amazon there is a danger that current deforestation will lead to hotter, drier conditions with more wildfires, causing dieback of the rainforest and a shift towards savannah. There are many more tipping points. The BBC hardly ever mention them, so are keeping the public in the dark about how serious the situation is.
Jon’s third point is the economy. The Paris Agreement commits us to paying for negative emissions technologies in the future to reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. This massive debt will fall on the next generation and is estimated to be as much as £125,000 per person. Add to this the cost of adaption (building flood defences, rebuilding homes to replace those abandoned due to flooding, converting to renewables etc) and destruction of homes, crops and businesses through extreme weather the cost of doing nothing now is ginormous. But when the BBC interviews advocates of HS2, or road building schemes or Heathrow expansion this economic fact is never mentioned. Clearly any project that increases use of fossil fuels is completely uneconomic.
The BBC’s pension fund is mainly invested in fossil fuel industries. These will become stranded assets when Governments take the necessary action to stop emissions. So BBC personnel have a self interest in delaying the action we need to combat the climate emergency. Perhaps that is why they are so reluctant to ask the difficult questions.
But there are signs of hope. David Attenborough’s outstanding documentary A life on our Planet was shown on prime time BBC and although not as hard-hitting as some would have liked, it began to tell the truth about what is happening to our planet. Women’s Hour interviewed Gail Bradbrook, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, and let her explain that we are on course for the death of billions of people. Panorama has examined how UK weather is becoming more extreme leading to more flooding, loss of crops and people overheating in their own homes that were not designed for the temperatures we are now experiencing. <a href=”https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000pzlx/countryfile-plant-britain?fbclid=IwAR2aEzok21B2LmFZnCWLHmULCe_660XAJOd_YL2pxVwqu1ThFI6ZBBR5KE”>https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000pzlx/countryfile-plant-britain?fbclid=IwAR2aEzok21B2LmFZnCWLHmULCe_660XAJOd_YL2pxVwqu1ThFI6ZBBR5KE</a>Q</p> Countryfile reported that a million species are now at threat of extinction. As I write I am hearing the BBC report that high emitting countries like the UK will be accused of climate genocide if we don’t change course, by the Prime Minister of Barbados.
It is only when the general public realise the massive threat we are facing that they will demand Governments take the necessary emergency action. The BBC must continue to do better and inform us what is happening to our only home, planet earth.
Jonathon Fuller speech
Womens Hour Gail Bradbrook
Climate tipping points-too risky to bet against
Prime Minister of Barbados