What biased BBC ‘forgot’ to tell us about Yellowstone Park

Written by Paul Homewood

Kate Humble and the BBC have been at it again. Hotfoot from their polar bear deception, they have now been up to their necks in global warming propaganda in Yellowstone Park.

The series ostensibly looks at how wildlife copes with the enormous extremes between winter and summer there. However, as the iPlayer screed shows, the underlying theme is climate change. This is the summary of Episode 3 : The Blazing Summer:

The story of animals surviving one of the harshest seasonal changes on the planet continues.

It is summer and the Yellowstone beavers have a new challenge. Will the young survive as the river dries up and the colony is forced to move home? As food becomes scarce, wolves have a surprising strategy to keep their pups fed and grizzly bears are unexpected visitors on a cowboy ranch.

By midsummer, the hot dry conditions create a new danger – deadly wildfires burn out of control and threaten to engulf a family of great grey owls. 2016 was the hottest year on earth since records began, and across Yellowstone scientists reveal the effects of rising temperatures on the animals that live here.

Here are a few selected titbits:

2 Min

“Early July, and so far in 2016, every month has been hotter than average in Yellowstone. If this trend continues, summer could reach record temperatures and push animals to the brink of survival.”

4 Min

[After discussing the hot summer and the young recently born]

“For this latest generation, the changing climate will make their lives even more challenging…….”

“In spring, the beaver family was affected by the unusually warm temperatures

[which supposedly brought huge volumes of melt water]

32 Min

Humble to a flower specialist:

“Does it concern you that we are seeing a march towards a very different climate?”

32 Min

“Climatologists studying Yellowstone have charted temperatures that are rising by nearly 0.2C every decade.

This seemingly small change is having far reaching consequences”

33 Min

Discussion of how pine beetles are thriving because of mild winters.

41 Min

“Climate data has revealed that July this year was the 7th month in a row with above average temperatures.”

Cue pictures of dried up river beds.

The relentless heat and the early thaw are a dangerous combination. They may create perfect conditions for wildfires”

“By mid August, five major fires are burning”

Cue pictures of family of grey owls in a tree, and another of trees burning.

“These are the worst fires in Yellowstone since 1998. Large scale fires used to sweep through the park around every 300 years, but scientists now believe that the warming climate could result in them happening every 3 to 5 years by the end of the century” 

And on and on!

You get the message. It is getting hotter in Yellowstone because of global warming, and wildlife is suffering.

But is any of this actually true?

Let’s start by looking at the annual temperature trends at Yellowstone. These are the official GISS figures, after adjustment, and include 2016. (GISS use MetAnn basis, ie Dec-Nov).




We certainly see the rise in temperatures in the last three decades, but we also see the all too familiar drop in temperatures between the 1930s and 80s.

By far the warmest year was 1934, and there is no substantive difference between temperatures in the last decade and those in the 1930s to 50s.

But what about the unusually warm temperatures in spring?



Certainly a bit warmer than some other recent years, but nothing unprecedented.

The warmest spring, again, was in 1934, followed by 1987 and 1992. There is no evidence at all there was anything unusual at all about this spring, or that there is any “warming trend”.

And as for those supposed record temperatures of summer? Nothing that has not been seen in may previous years, again notably the 1930s and 40s.




But what about the pine beetles? Surely they must be proof that winters are getting milder? Nope! The mildest winter was 1934. Although the last two winters have been relatively mild, there is nothing to suggest that this is part of any trend.



And while we are at it, precipitation last year was above normal, and what trend there is is to more rainfall.




Now let’s come to the topic of wildfires, which is one of the most common climate myths.

Unfortunately, the National Interagency Fire Center has not yet published data for 2016, but their previous data, which goes back to 2002, shows how much wildfire acreage can vary from year to year. It is simply impossible to derive any meaningful trends from such sparse data.




Not also that 2016 was supposedly the worst year since 1998. These are weather related events, connected to El Nino, not climate. The claim that wildfires were much less frequent in the past is, in any event, sheer drivel, as any forestry expert could have told the BBC.

(Humble’s comment in the programme that “scientists now believe that the warming climate could result in them happening every 3 to 5 years by the end of the century” is a common BBC trick. They only need to find one wacky, grant addicted junk scientist to spout some easily debunked claptrap, and they turn into a “scientists say” gospel truth).

The USDA explain:

Fire is the most dominant abiotic agent in terms of area affected across the landscape, but is also an integral part of many forested ecosystems. Between 1945 and 2000, fire suppression substantially reduced annual acreage burned. Since 2000, an increase in area burned has occurred, although it has not yet reached the levels recorded between 1925 and 1960.



It is well known by forestry experts that the programme of fire suppression after the war led to the build up of combustible material, which now makes fires much worse than they would otherwise be.

And it was the regular burn, prior to fire suppression, that used to keep the population of pine beetles in check.The whole programme from start to finish was little more than global warming propaganda.

It is understandable that naturalists in the field see changes over the last two or three decades that they have been studying Yellowstone. But it is the BBC’s job to give us the full picture, and put current events into a proper perspective. Not for the first time, they prefer disinformation to the truth.

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