BBC: The anti-nuclear propaganda machine. Chronicles of Complaining!

Should a Public Service Broadcaster, funded by License Fees, have ‘internally-derived’ agendas? That is: Should it ‘Propagandise’ information?

COMPLAINT ‘A’

Me: 09 October 2021

YOUR COMPLAINT:

A Perfect Planet. Series 1:5. Humans

At 45:52, Jeremy Rifkin said: “…The Sun does not send us a bill; the wind does not invoice us. Coal, oil, gas, uranium — they’re expensive. The Sun and wind is free…”

Mr Rifkin is a pro-renewables advocate of massive influence who has ‘advised’ Angela Merkel and Xi Jinping among others on the adoption of renewables to mitigate climate change. He is also actively anti-nuclear power.

This man is an economist and his statement, in scientific terms, is patent nonsense, for this reason:

The energy locked inside coal, oil, gas and uranium is just as freely available for humanity’s use as the energy locked inside wind and solar radiation. Human ingenuity creates machines to access this ‘free’ energy and convert it into a form of energy of use to humankind.

Electricity is the most useful ‘product’ such machines can provide but it must be low-carbon electricity and this rules out coal, oil and gas machines, leaving just uranium, wind and solar radiation machines.

But wind and solar machines can only provide intermittent electricity, which is a useless form of electricity without backup from gas machines to convert it to 24/7/365 electricity — the only usable form. Strictly speaking, intermittent electricity from wind and solar machines is not low-carbon.

By contrast, uranium machines generate 24/7/365 which is truly low-carbon and thereby much more efficient and more cost effective than wind and solar machines at combatting climate change.

I would like to see the BBC make it clear to its audience through a televised statement that this statement by Mr Rifkin is, by any logical analysis, nonsensical. I also believe, in the cause of balance, the BBC should point out that uranium machines, i.e. nuclear power plants are just as effective (if not more so) than wind turbines and solar panels in combatting climate change.

BBC: 13 October 2021

Thanks for getting in touch with us regarding A Perfect Planet on BBC One.

We note you feel Jeremy Rifkin was inaccurate when he said “The sun has not sent us a bill. The wind has not invoiced us. Coal, oil, gas, uranium — they’re expensive. The sun and the wind is free.”

Although there are set up costs behind renewable power, we feel our audience understands by “free” Jeremy means sun and wind are inexhaustible resources unlike coal, oil, gas, uranium which you have to continue to pay additional costs to collect.

The programme was not trying to state the entire world can be run on wind and solar with the current technology we have at our disposal. However, renewable energy will play an important role in the future as the world tries to wean of carbon and tackle climate change.

Furthermore, we have also provided extensive coverage of the potential role nuclear power could play in the future, which you can read using the following link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cmj34zmwm52t/nuclear-power

Nevertheless, we do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management and we’ve included your points in our overnight report. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.

Thanks again for getting in touch with us.

Me: 18 October 2021

YOUR COMPLAINT:

A Perfect Planet. Series 1:5. Humans

In your email reply of 13/10/2021, Conor Walsh stated: “…we feel our audience understands by “free” Jeremy means sun and wind are inexhaustible resources unlike coal, oil, gas, uranium which you have to continue to pay additional costs to collect…”

Firstly, in using the word ‘we’, Conor Walsh implies that what follows is a ‘joint’ opinion. In which case, would you please let me know the contact details of the person heading up the team that arrived at that opinion.

Secondly, when I compared uranium machines to wind and solar machines and stated they are much more efficient and cost-effective, I do include the whole life-cycle costs for uranium machines, which includes ‘additional costs to collect [uranium]’.

Furthering my case that the entire episode was dedicated to the promotion of wind and solar power plants (WASPPs) is that, beyond Mr Rifkin’s negative statement about uranium, nuclear power was never mentioned again.

Other ‘expert’ contributors, none of whom are technically competent to compare the value-engineering aspects of competing machines, made comments throughout, such as:

Sir D. A.: But, the biggest saving we could make would be to stop using fossil fuels. And, there are many people who think that we could exploit the natural forces of the planet to do that.

Mr J. R.: We can power the whole world with just a fraction of the solar and wind we get every year…

Dr N. M.: We’re just going to have to shift how we generate that power from non-renewables to renewables.

Unarguably, this powerful documentary, viewed by many millions of people, displays the anti-nuclear bias of the BBC. Otherwise, why would the BBC not have covered the qualities of nuclear power plants in providing a low-carbon answer to the UK’s net-zero target, which the government see as essential?

The link you provided for ‘extensive coverage’ of nuclear power was insulting in its pathetic content compared to a costly documentary intended to sway public and political opinion.

BBC: 16 November 2021

Thank you for contacting us again about A Perfect Planet. We are sorry to read you remain unhappy and note that you continue to dispute the view expressed by Jeremy Rifkin that uranium is expensive, in contrast to the sun and the wind which he describes as being free.

You state this is wrong because “the energy locked inside coal, oil, gas and uranium is just as freely available for humanity’s use as the energy locked inside wind and solar radiation” and that your life-cycle assessment of “uranium machines” shows these to be cheaper than “wind and solar machines”. We believe viewers would have understood this statement to refer simply to the financial cost of accessing these resources.

While this brief section of the programme did not aim to examine all the alternatives to fossil fuels exhaustively, the issue of intermittent power and a possible solution was touched upon with the visit to the Ouarzazate Solar Power Plant in Morocco which has a molten salt storage system that allows it to power steam turbines overnight using the sun’s energy — providing green electricity 24 hours a day.

This concludes Stage 1 of our complaints process. That means we can’t correspond with you further here. If you remain unhappy, you can now contact the BBC’s Executive Complaints Unit (ECU). The ECU is Stage 2 of the BBC’s complaints process. You’ll need to explain why you think there’s a potential breach of standards, or if the issue is significant and should still be investigated. Please do so within 20 working days of this reply.
Full details of how we handle complaints are available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle-complaint/.

How to contact the ECU:

We’ve provided a unique link for you in this email. This will open up further information about how to submit your complaint. You’ll be asked for the case reference number we’ve provided in this reply. Once you’ve used the link and submitted your complaint, the link will no longer work.

This is your link to contact the ECU if you wish: ‘Click here’

Me: 04 December 2021

The penultimate paragraph of my last email accuses the BBC of anti-nuclear [power] bias and this is now the subject of my complaint.

Since this complaint, my follow up research takes me into new realms supporting my premise. I would like you to consider the new facts as exceptional and: “…they may need to be considered in the interests of fairness…”

Episode 5 is ‘A Silverback Films Production’. The Executive Producer is Alistair Fothergill, who is Co Chief Executive Officer and Director of Silverback Films and also a Member of the ‘Council of Ambassador’ of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

The “…WWF-UK’s Council of ambassadors is a distinguished and influential group of senior volunteers. Members have achieved a significant profile in their profession and/or field of interest or expertise and are committed to WWF’s mission…”

In respect of ‘Civil Nuclear Power’ the WWF’s mission is: “…In our view, nuclear power could be phased out globally by 2050 and in the UK by the time all existing reactors are due to be decommissioned…”

As a licence-fee payer, the questions to which I seek answers are about the choice of Silverback Films in the making of this blockbuster series, which has probably been viewed worldwide by figures in the billions:
(i) Does a coterie within the BBC ‘concoct’ a notion for a documentary and does that then undergo a normal commercial procedure of putting out enquiries to filmmakers for quotations?
(ii) Do filmmakers ‘pitch’ an idea for a documentary to a coterie in the BBC and offer a price for their production?

Either way, why was Silverback Films selected and what consideration was given to the competitiveness and value for money of their offer? Is this information available to me, and if not, would you please advise if it is possible to get such data through a Freedom of Information request?

As pertinent to the anti-nuclear power content of ‘Humans’ is the unique ‘force’ that is Sir David Attenborough, who is also a WWF Ambassador. The fretful children and young people, whose quality of life will be determined by climate change mitigation, hang on every word uttered by Sir David. He never mentioned nuclear power.

From my communications with Sir David, he tells me he has never taken a position, for or against nuclear power. He also says that the BBC recruit a panel of experts to vet every script in the Perfect Planet series and the words he used were approved by the BBC’s advisors.
The world’s greatest communicator on the dangers to biodiversity, the threats of extreme weather events and the catastrophes facing the less fortunate, did not utter one word about the potential of nuclear power to mitigate these issues. He had plenty to say about the Sun which “…does not send us a bill…” and the wind which “…does not invoice us…”.

So it’s down to the script writers which, supposedly, does involve BBC personnel. Who are they? What are their qualifications? Why was low-carbon, 24/7/365, dispatchable, pollution-free, energy-secure electricity from nuclear power not included in the script? Why was intermittent, not-fit-for-purpose electricity from wind power covered so extensively? Why was concentrated solar power, a tiny, single figure percentage of the not-fit-for-purpose electricity from photovoltaic sources, so ‘centre stage’ to the pro-renewables content of the Episode?

Dr James Hansen, one of the founders of modern global warming science, co-authored a study stating:
”…On the basis of global projection data that take into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, we find that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420 000−7.04 million deaths and 80−240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces…”.

Why would certain BBC senior executives deliberately preclude such vital information from many millions of viewers looking for hope and inspiration in minimising the effect of ‘Humans’ on ‘A Perfect Planet’. Nuclear power supplies 30% more electricity, in the fit-for-purpose form, than the not-fit-for-purpose electricity from wind and solar. It defies logic for the BBC to purport it has no anti-nuclear power agenda, with its slap-in-the-face content, to those of us who think nuclear power has a big role to play in decarbonising humanity’s use of energy.

Had positives about nuclear power been presented in the script to Sir David Attenborough, no doubt he would have followed the script and the audience would have received a balanced image of the future of energy supply.

Where do we go from here? Is it ever likely that the BBC will screen a ‘big’ documentary on the role nuclear power has already played, in the mitigation of climate change? Dr James Hansen: “…we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning…”

BBC: 22 December 2021

Please find attached the Executive Complaints Unit’s response to your recent complaint.

Yours sincerely

And the wording of the Reply:

22 December 2021 Dear Mr ……

A Perfect Planet (Episode 5), BBC iPlayer

I am writing to let you know the outcome of the Executive Complaints Unit’s investigation into your recent complaint about the fifth episode of the above series which is available on the BBC iPlayer. I have understood you to say the episode showed a bias against producing clean electricity from nuclear power and focused on wind and solar power. I have therefore considered your complaint against the BBC’s standards for due impartiality which are set out in its Editorial Guidelines.

I note in your correspondence with this Unit you also raised some concerns about the production company which made the series, the process by which the series was commissioned, and details and qualifications of the BBC staff involved in the production. My understanding is the questions you have asked concern information which is commercially sensitive and so I am not in a position to provide a response. As I explained in my email of 7 December, you can make a Freedom of Information request but the Act does not apply to material held for the purposes of creating the BBC’s output (TV, radio, online etc), or material which supports and is closely associated with these creative activities. I can confirm, however, that all content broadcast by the BBC has to meet its editorial standards and that is the basis on which I have investigated and assessed your complaint.

The BBC’s Editorial Guidelines refer to the concept of “due impartiality” where the word “due” means “adequate and appropriate to the output, taking account of the subject and nature of the content, the likely audience expectation and any signposting that may influence that expectation”. This means the content has to be judged in the context of the focus and scope of the programme. This episode looked at the way human activities have influenced the natural world and “destabilised our perfect planet”. Most of the episode focused on what people have done to create a negative impact on the climate and environment, the changes which have occurred as a result (such as the behaviour of species), and what can and is being done to seek to redress the impact of such activities.

The programme assessed a range of issues such as: the impact of an increase in drought conditions on elephants; the loss of parts of the Amazon rainforest; and how warmer ocean currents encourage turtles to swim too far north. Sir David then considered how carbon dioxide emissions can be reduced and this included the comments by Jeremy Rifkin which prompted your complaint. This is what was said:

Sir David Attenborough: Human activity is destroying the balance of our perfect planet, disturbing our oceans and disrupting our weather. But can we prevent the damage we are doing?

Jeremy Rifkin (Economist/Environmentalist): Now the human population is at seven billion, it’s moving to nine billion. And the problem is we are already using the equivalent of one and a half Earths. It’s not sustainable.

DA: Around 80% of the energy we use still comes from burning fossil fuels. It’s what makes us so dangerous. We can reduce CO2 emissions by consuming less or reusing some of our resources but the biggest saving we could make would be to stop using fossil fuels for our energy. And there are many people who think that we could exploit the natural forces of the planet to enable us to do that.

JR: The sun does not send us a bill. The wind has not invoiced us. Coal, oil, gas, uranium, they’re expensive. The sun and the wind is free.

Dr Asha De Vos (Marine Biologist): We live in a planet that’s incredibly dynamic. We all live in environments where there is some source of energy that we can tap into. There’s energy, there’s power all around us. And we need to start looking at these natural sources of energy that don’t have that negative impact.

JR: We have more energy than we’ll ever know what to do with. We can power the whole world with just a fraction of the solar and wind that we get every year, a fraction of it.

Dr Niall McCann (Biologist/Conservationist): We’re not going to start needing less power any time soon, we’re just going to have to shift how we generate that power from non-renewables to renewables.

DA: Volcanic heat. So far we’ve only tapped some 7% of its global potential. Or the wind in our skies. That could provide 30% of our energy by 2050. And the power of the sun, which is virtually unlimited. In areas where most life struggles to survive, there is plenty of space to gather the maximum solar energy. The northern Sahara, home to the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant. Here innovative technology is using mirrors to super-heat a special liquid to around 400 degrees Celsius. This heat is then stored in molten salt, allowing something not possible before, the ability to power steam turbines with the sun’s energy during the night. It creates green electricity 24 hours a day feeding Morocco’s growing energy needs and it has plans to supply Europe.

NM: We need to make enormous shifts in our society. This is starting but it’s happening in just small places. It needs to happen everywhere and it needs to 3 happen much, much faster. There’s really no excuse. The Earth has all the power we need.

As you can see, the programme identified numerous areas where CO2 emissions could be reduced if action is taken to “exploit the natural forces of the planet”. Reference was made to “natural sources of energy” such as solar, wind and volcanic heat, and I imagine viewers would have understood the emphasis here was on sources which are generally understood to be renewable, rather than finite.

I agree the process by which such sources of energy are converted to electricity cannot be regarded as free because of the costs involved in establishing the infrastructure of wind and solar farms, but I do not believe viewers would have been misled by what Jeremy Rifkin said when judged in context.

I also accept nuclear power is regarded by many countries as making an essential contribution to generating clean electricity. However, as I have indicated above, it is not regarded as a renewable source of energy and so I cannot agree that it was necessary to refer to it in the manner you have suggested when taking account of the context of the programme. As indicated above, I do not agree the single reference from Mr Rifkind supports your assertion of anti-nuclear bias.

There is no further right of appeal against this decision within the BBC’s complaints process but if you do wish to take the matter further, it is open to you to ask the broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, to consider your complaint. You can find details of how to contact Ofcom and the procedures it will apply at the following website: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/tv-radio-and-on-demand/how-to-report-a-complaint. You can also write to Ofcom at Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London SE1 9HA, or telephone either 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040.

Yours sincerely

…. …….
Complaints Director

Me: 27 December 2021

Dear Mr …….,

Being the Complaints Director for the BBC is not a job I would relish in respect of defending the palpable anti-nuclear bias of the BBC.

So, you do not agree the single reference from Mr Rifkind supports my assertion of anti-nuclear bias. That single reference was that uranium is expensive and in the context of: “…the biggest saving we could make would be to stop using fossil fuels for our energy…”, not one other single word or reference to nuclear power or uranium was uttered for the remainder of the episode.

As far as the BBC and Silverback were concerned, the ‘biggest savings’ consisted of wind, solar and a couple of other peripheral ‘free energy’ technologies. The ‘Authors’ of this Episode ignored the fact that to date, nuclear power has displaced the burning of fossil fuels and prevented 54 billion tonnes of CO2e emissions. That’s over 5.5 times more than all of wind and solar combined:

I shall be taking your insubstantial defence of anti-nuclear bias from the BBC to Ofcom and, in addition, I shall pursue the ‘goings-on’ between the BBC and Silverback through Parliamentarians of any persuasion, who might raise an eyebrow regarding the commercial and energy-agenda links between the unquestionable anti-nuclear hierarchy of the Silverback enterprises and the hierarchy of the BBC.

Yours sincerely,

….. ……

COMPLAINT ‘B’

Me: 24 October 2021

YOUR COMPLAINT:

The BBC’s palpable anti-nuclear power ‘policy’

A trailer for ‘BBC News at COP 26’, which will be ‘played’ scores of times before the event, contains commentary and film footage overwritten with important terms:

“…Climate change…..we explore the threats…..and the solutions…”

Footage of industrial-scale solar panels overwritten with “…alternative energy…”

Footage of wind turbines overwritten with “…carbon reduction…”

In the recently publishes ‘Net Zero Strategy — Build Back Greener’ the government is telling the tax-paying electorate that, by 2050, nuclear power plants (NPPs) will be generating 7.5X more electricity than solar and almost half of the electricity to be generated by wind.

As a licence-fee payer, you are accountable to me and millions of others to report government policies in an accurate way, to cut through the fog of political-speak and let us know what the future holds for us, without bias or distortion.

I would like to know who was responsible for commissioning this trailer, who decided on the content and who took the decision to exclude nuclear power.

As an ‘alternative energy’ [presumably that means an alternative energy to fossil fuels] and as a ‘carbon reduction’ technology, nuclear power is in a class of its own compared to wind and solar power plants (WASPPs):
Advanced, super-safe, Gen III+ NPPs, including the Rolls-Royce UK SMRs, will generate 24/7/365, low-carbon, dispatchable electricity.
WASPPs generate unusable, intermittent electricity which requires a duplicate generating capacity of gas-fired backup plant to transmute it into a usable form, and to ‘take over’ completely, ‘when the wind don’t blow and the Sun don’t shine’.

PS: no need to repeat your ‘agenda’ of ephemeral programmes (with their microscopic viewing/listening figures) which purport to ‘disprove’ your anti-nuclear power bias.

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