The BBC has no editorial guidelines on climate change | Brussels Blog

The BBC has no editorial guidelines on climate change

posted by on 28th Jan 2015
28th,Jan

Below I list more complaints I have made to the BBC about their coverage of climate change. There is particular reference to their choice of “experts” that they use for interviews and quote in articles.

The core complaint is

The BBC regularly reports scientists who express less urgent views and are more “government friendly” (e.g. Julia Slingo, Myles Allen, Brian Hoskins) but rarely those who express more urgency and express views less friendly to the government (e.g. Kevin Anderson, Robert Watson, Michael Mann)…

The BBC takes pays attention to “dissenting voices” if they down play climate change but ignores those who say it is much worse. This is bias.

One reply makes an interesting point

We don’t actually have editorial guidelines on the subject but we treat it the same way we treat any controversial subject – in a fair and balanced way.

That’s very interesting.

Complaints to the BBC and replies

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The BBC vs the Greens. Debate required?

posted by on 19th Jan 2015
19th,Jan

Below I list some recent complaints I made to the BBC on the coverage of business and climate change.

The complaints and replies below aren’t easy reading and I have not enough energy to follow through with a considered complaint to the BBC Trust as the last reply suggests.

A quick glance at the membership of the BBC Trust suggests a leaning towards a business that would make them unprepared to accept necessary lessons on climate change. For example, Rona Fairhead was previously head of the Financial Times Group and was appointed a British business ambassador by the prime minister.

The BBC dropped the the Green Party from the election debates. We need a debate between the BBC and a prominent green.

What about George Mombiot on the green side and Rona Fairhead for the BBC?

Would be a good debate. Much more gripping than the stuff below.

 

Complaints and replies

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Joined up economic and climate research needed

posted by on 5th Jan 2015
5th,Jan

Introduction

I have been surprised over decades, on the lack of power of important economic models to investigate the policies that interested me. My proposal for modifying VAT to create employment (in 1978) could not be tested on the Treasury Model because its labour market segmentation was not rich enough.  I understand it is still the case that the Treasury Economic Model cannot investigate this and similar proposals which can actually be specified quite simply.

In the 1990s, a grant from the European Commission enabled Professor Kim Swales and colleagues to create a more sophisticated model than the one that I had constructed. The results showed the VAT with Rebate proposal was very promising. A proposal with some similarities, which has increasing support in the USA, is the one for a Carbon Fee and Dividend aimed at cutting carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

We propose an initial fee of $15/ton on the CO2 content of fossil fuels, escalating $10/t/y, imposed upstream at their point of extraction and collected upon entry into the economy. All revenues, less administrative costs, are rebated to U.S. households in the form of monthly dividends.

On behalf of the Citizens Climate Lobby, this proposal has been modeled by Regional Economic Model, Inc (REMI). This has produced encouraging results.

The full dividend drives new wealth into hiring, particularly among lower income groups. The rate of change in fossil fuel-dependent areas will be gradual, unfolding at the pace of “normal” economic evolution but in the direction of reduced fossil fuel dependence.

The Scottish Government funded economic research from the University of Strathclyde, The economic and environmental impact of the introduction of a carbon tax in Scotland. This concluded

when revenues from the tax are recycled to reduce taxes on employment there is a reduction in emissions accompanied by an increase in Scottish GDP and employment. Extensive sensitivity analysis allows us systematically to compare our results with others reported in the literature.

The effect to increase Scottish GDP and employment is similar to that reposted for the USA in the REMI modeling.

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We need a green recession and full employment

posted by on 27th Dec 2014
27th,Dec

Preface

This preface is an afterthought. After a week or so of struggling to bring out the argument below, I have realised a few days later a simpler way of expressing where the argument leads: to save the world from climate catastrophe a reduction we need a recession because we have to cut most of that consumption which pollutes.  Green growth is greenwashing. We need a green recession.  Below I suggest one mechanism of creating a green recession with full employment. I have changed the title from “Poverty, equality, climate and growth” to “We need a green recession and full employment”.

 Post-crash economics

In university economics  departments there are  courses in “free market theory” but to my surprise  a Google search for a “free market theory courses” at UK universities gave results that were mostly critical.  The 2008 crash seems to have had an impact. For example Economics students aim to tear up free-market syllabus

Economics undergraduates at the University of Manchester have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society, which they hope will be copied by universities across the country. The organisers criticise university courses for doing little to explain why economists failed to warn about the global financial crisis and for having too heavy a focus on training students for City jobs. Joe Earle, a spokesman for the Post-Crash Economics Society and a final-year undergraduate, said academic departments were “ignoring the crisis” and that, by neglecting global developments and critics of the free market such as Keynes and Marx, the study of economics was “in danger of losing its broader relevance”.

Personally, I hope the students don’t take Keynes or Marx too seriously. Economists with a Keynesian bent will lean to expanding the economy at a time when we must cut consumption to avoid a climate disaster. Current consumption might lead to the end of most life on Earth. Marxists believe in the labour theory of value. This links labour value to the right to consume. This has been expressed as “He who does not work, neither shall he eat“.  As far as I remember, Marxists have clever but awkward ways of rigging their theories to make labour the basic measure of value but this needs hard counter-intuitive argument. It also undermines the  non-labour sources of value, such as the air we breathe. Anyway, I shall not  discuss further Marxism here: We are stuck in a capitalist market system of sorts and we should look for ways to change it to make the world a better place, with less poverty and avoid the impending climate disaster. An obvious starting point to discuss the current capitalist “free market” system is the ideas of Milton Friedman and his followers. He has outlined an approach to three key issues: Poverty, equality and climate change.

Poverty and Equality

In  Poverty and Equality, a video from LibertyPen Milton Friedman says

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A macroprudental proposal for employment

posted by on 18th Dec 2014
18th,Dec

Introduction

This post is republishing items from MoreJobs.org.uk.

I have been pushing the main proposal, which is to “subsidise” low-paid jobs as a flat rate rebate on Value Added Tax. The proposal is revenue neutral and increases employment at the lower-paid end of the labour market because a flat rate tax rebate has a greater proportional effect for low paid jobs. A point often missed is that this actually raises the take-home pay of the low-paid by increasing demand for their labour.

The high point (so far) of this proposal was a grant from the European Commission so that  Professor J.K.Swales of the University of Strathclyde could model the effects and sharpen up th economics. See below.

It is unfortunate that I included the term “subsidise”, when the “subsidy” in the scheme is a tax rebate paid to employers. It is a reduction in their tax bill and therefore not government expenditure. This point has been accepted by the UK Treasury.

In contexts such as this there is little difference in the economics between a subsidy and a tax rebate: a subsidy cheque from the Government has much the same impact as a equal cut in a tax bill.  The political perception should be the same – but, of course, it isn’t.

I’m hoping that the recently introduced idea of a “macroprudential regulation” can push forward this or similar proposals. The main goal of macroprudential regulation is to reduce the risk and the macroeconomic costs of financial instability.

Unemployment is a “macroeconomic cost” of financial instability and is part of the recent “stress tests” on UK Banks carried out by the Bank of England. The proposal made here is a macroprudential regulation because it has the capability of controlling the level of unemployment.  This will be important in periods of financial instability.

22nd September, 2009

More jobs – the easy way

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The BBC implies that only economic growth can create jobs.

posted by on 8th Dec 2014
8th,Dec

This is a boring piece on my complaints to the BBC –
I wouldn’t read it – but it’s now public and the topic important.

The BBC supports “economic growth” and implies growth is the only way of
creating jobs: No mention of the damage “growth” does to the climate
or other ways of creating jobs.

The BBC asks for a example of where it never says this (???) –
Logicians and lawyers may read on.

The BBC imply: Only economic growth can create jobs.

…Sunday 5th October… CAS-2951985-CXGM61 …Complaint

All major political parties and business are pushing for economic growth. This is reported widely on the BBC and in other media.

The BBC has extensive coverage of business and presents economic growth as essential for the creation of jobs. The BBC also promotes economic growth as “good thing”. Every hour of every day there is business news: Climate news is much rarer and of mixed quality (I will make a separate complaint on this.) There is hardly any mention of the fact that economic growth brings more environmental hazards, such as greenhouse gas emissions, except occasionally that “green growth” is a possibility.

By leaving the underlying assumption that jobs depend only on growth, the BBC is promoting a falsehood. The green agenda is being buried by growth propaganda. “Public purposes: Sustaining citizenship and civil society” says “You can trust the BBC to provide high-quality news, current affairs and factual programming that keeps you informed and supports debate about important issues and political developments in an engaging way.”

In leaving the public ill-informed the BBC is failing its guidelines. For background see:

Job creation doesn’t need economic growth

Greenwash from Stern?

Public purposes: Sustaining citizenship and civil society”

… Monday 6th October… CAS-2954926-6XZMFL… Reply

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The Arup Report: York exiles the poor?

posted by on 30th Nov 2014
30th,Nov

This is an email to York councillors on a report on housing by Ove Arup.

Arup’s report does not sufficiently address two key issues:

(i) the effect of planning permission on house prices and

(ii) the resrictions that prevent low-cost housing.

Dear Councillor

The Arup Report: Will York exile the poor?

The report is Housing Requirements in York, Assessment of the Evidence on Housing Requirements in York by Ove Arup & Partners Ltd.

The report raises concerns but provides insufficient solutions. I have copied and annotated a section of the report and suggested potential paths to solutions. The telling part of the report is in section 6.3 Broader relationships and impacts. I have added numbered headlines (in bold). The text from the Arup report are in green.

6.3 Broader relationships and impacts

1. First time buyers cannot even afford lower priced houses

Although headline prices have remained in line with national trends in York, lower quartile priced housing has become less affordable suggesting that established home owners are probably compromising their choices at the lower end of the market, probably in homes that were previously available to first time buyers.

2. Older, more affluent people will displace traditional population.

The consequences of such changes are complex, but are likely to include the development of an increasing proportion of older, more affluent (and socially conservative) population over time. There will also be displacement of traditional population, perhaps to locations such as Selby or Leeds as gentrification becomes more widespread.

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Guardian readers rob the poor

posted by on 23rd Nov 2014
23rd,Nov

Last Wednesday’s debate at York University (@YorkUnion #BenefitsYork) has prompted me to post something from an old website section I posted a decade ago. Incidentally, I read the Guardian every day as a schoolboy in 1960, when it was the Manchester Guardian. The first edition arrived mid-morning in Rochester, Kent with the legendary typos.

How do Guardian readers rob the poor?

These days I read the Guardian less but it still is one of the information sources I trust the most – even more than the BBC. Here is the introduction from Guardian readers rob the poor.

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The BBC: The Back Business Campaign

posted by on 30th Oct 2014
30th,Oct

Complaints made to the BBC

The BBC imply: Only economic growth can create jobs.

…Sunday 5th October… CAS-2951985-CXGM61 …Complaint

All major political parties and business are pushing for economic growth. This is reported widely on the BBC and in other media.

The BBC has extensive coverage of business and presents economic growth as essential for the creation of jobs. The BBC also promotes economic growth as “good thing”. Every hour of every day there is business news, climate news is much rarer and of mixed quality (I will make a separate complaint on this.) There is hardly any mention of the fact that economic growth brings more environmental hazards, such as greenhouse gas emissions, except occasionally that “green growth” is a possibility.

By leaving the underlying assumption that jobs depend only on growth, the BBC is promoting a falsehood. The green agenda is being buried by growth propaganda. “Public purposes: Sustaining citizenship and civil society” says “You can trust the BBC to provide high-quality news, current affairs and factual programming that keeps you informed and supports debate about important issues and political developments in an engaging way.”

In leaving the public ill-informed the BBC is failing its guidelines. For background see:

Job creation doesn’t need economic growth

Greenwash from Stern?

Public purposes: Sustaining citizenship and civil society

 … Monday 6th October… CAS-2954926-6XZMFL… Reply

Thanks for contacting us.

I understand you feel the BBC is reporting that all major political parties and business are pushing for economic growth but fail to mention that economic growth brings more environmental hazards such as greenhouse gas emissions. I also note your comments that by leaving the underlying assumption that jobs depend only on growth the BBC is promoting a falsehood.

The time given to each issue or report in the news is frequently a very difficult decision for our editors. Our audiences don’t look at events in the same way and there’s no one universal news agenda that applies to all. The time given has to be selective and no matter how carefully such decisions are made, news editors are always aware that some people may disagree with them.

Essentially this is a judgement call rather than an exact science but BBC News does appreciate the feedback when viewers and listeners feel we may have neglected a story or focused too much on a particular story or item.

Thank you again for contacting us, we value your feedback about BBC News. All complaints are sent to senior management and programme makers every morning and I included your points in this overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.

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Questions on Human population reduction

posted by on 28th Oct 2014
28th,Oct

Questions I put on Corey Bradshaw’s blog,  Conservation Bytes, after his recent paper.

The abstract for the paper, “Human population reduction is not a quick fix for environmental problems”, starts:

The inexorable demographic momentum of the global human population is rapidly eroding Earth’s life-support system. There are consequently more frequent calls to address environmental problems by advocating further reductions in human fertility… Assuming a continuation of current trends in mortality reduction, even a rapid transition to a worldwide onechild policy leads to a population similar to today’s by 2100.

My questions and comment …

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