BBC Newsround is misleading our children on climate change impacts

For nearly 40 years the BBC has shown “Newsround” a children’s version of the news. This morning I caught a glimpse of a report on Rio+20 at around 7.40am, with examples from the Isle of Man. In the main bulletin at 5.30pm a much fuller report was given. This later report was again from the Isle of Man, but with a very different slant. (UK based people view here) I have made two separate complaints:-

Complaint about the 7.40am report

Newsround reported on the Rio+20 meetings – aimed at getting agreements to combat global warming. Then switched to the Isle of Man. Mentioned about pollution, coastal erosion and oil running out. Then has a High School Girl show us the impact of recent coastal erosion. This gave the following misleading impressions.

1. Pollution is solely about global warming. It is not.

2. Man-made climate change caused the erosion. If it did (through contributing to a sea-level rise of less than 30cm in the last century) it was a very minor effect. Coastal erosion, with beach build-up elsewhere is a natural feature.

3. If one believes that CO2 is causing adverse climate change then oil running out is a positive thing. It should mention that Rio+20 is looking to find ways to encourage us to leave the stuff in the ground.

Complaint about the 5.30pm report

1. Local coal supplies were running out, which an elderly lady was finding more expensive. Missed out that this was (a) a local problem (b) coal is the worst of the fossil fuels for causing climate change (c) there are abundant global supplies (d) so Rio+20 is looking encouraging making it more expensive to leave the stuff in the ground.

2. A schoolgirl pointing to cliff erosion, the implication that this was caused by climate change. It was not pointed out that in the last 20 years sea levels have risen by just 0.06 metres, so the 20 metres of retreat of a soft cliff will be approximately 100% due to natural coastal erosion.

3. A schoolboy saying he can no longer kayak in the sea due to raw sewage being pumped into the sea. This is a local problem. In most areas of Europe this is reducing by national government action.


Newsround shows quite contradictory messages through editing. It creates the impression that only global governance can solve what are local problems; creates the misleading view that nasty humans are the cause of all the environmental issues; and fails to point out that the “solutions” to climate change involve making fossil fuels more expensive. That means old ladies who continue to use coal getting poorer; children being increasingly denied holidays in warmer countries; and parents spending less time with their children due to having to spend longer travelling by public transport, as car travel becomes too expensive.