by Christopher Booker
From its breathtaking footage of killer whales hunting in packs to the scenes of penguins swimming with balletic grace under the sea ice, Sir David Attenborough’s BBC series Frozen Planet has been acclaimed as perhaps the most riveting sequence of natural history programmes ever produced.
The sophistication of the photography, the extraordinary endeavour of the film crews to get the best shots and Sir David’s breathily authoritative commentary have had viewers entranced in their millions.
Last night’s was the final part of this landmark series, and it set a very different tone from his usual celebration of the natural world. This was because Sir David and the BBC decided to use the last programme to put over a particular message that has become all too familiar from the Corporation in recent years.
Sir David used the awesome shots of the frozen polar wastes to hammer home his belief that the world is facing disaster from man-made global warming.
No one can doubt the passion of his belief. But in putting across his apocalyptic message so forcefully, too many important questions on this hugely important subject were last night neither asked nor answered.
In short, it was a deeply disappointing end to the series — for it was the latest one of countless examples of how, in recent years, the BBC has chosen to make its coverage of one of the most crucial issues of our time quite deliberately, even defiantly one-sided.
The BBC is committed by its charter to report with ‘accuracy and impartiality’. Yet on climate change, it has adopted a clear ‘party line’, which has run through almost every aspect of its broadcasting.
Earlier this year, when the Mail serialised the memoirs of the respected former BBC news reporter and anchorman Peter Sissons, his insider’s view explained how the BBC had become ‘a propaganda machine for climate-change zealots’.
So distorted has the BBC’s coverage become that I produced a detailed report on the subject for the Global Warming Policy Foundation, the ‘sceptical’ think-tank run by former Chancellor Lord (Nigel) Lawson, which is published today.
My disturbing findings show that the problem began a few years ago when the alarm over global warming was at its height. Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film An Inconvenient Truth — a sensationalist documentary warning of the imminent destruction of our planet because of climate change — was packing in vast audiences and being circulated to our schools to show to children.
Tony Blair was putting global warming at the top of his government’s agenda. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC) was producing its scariest report to date.
At a secret ‘high-level seminar’ in January 2006, 30 of the BBC’s most senior staff listened as a former president of the Royal Society, Lord May, told them that ‘the scientific debate over climate change’ was over, and that the BBC must ‘stop reporting the sceptics’.
As a result, the BBC adopted a new editorial policy line, throwing any obligation to impartiality to the winds.
The BBC’s journalists and producers were let off the leash — to line up with the more extreme environmental pressure groups, such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Fund and Friends of the Earth, in pushing their global warming agenda for all it was worth.
This bias was soon evident across the whole of the BBC’s output. Not just in the news and current affairs coverage, but from children’s programmes such as Blue Peter —which titled one show Green Peter, with top tips to save the planet — to story-lines in The Archers, one of which involved a farmer planting trees to combat climate change.
Even producers of the BBC Proms got in on the act. In 2007 they commissioned a ‘music drama’ centred on a group of children who had lost their homes through floods caused by climate change.
Programme after programme promoted the climate change gospel, including a two-part documentary series by David Attenborough in 2006, which featured practically every scare story ever dreamed up.