The climate alarmists at the BBC have been out in force during COP28 with a story focusing on a couple of years of Mediterranean drought linking “climate change” to poor olive harvests. It makes a good short-term weather story, but what it has to do with longer term changes in the climate attributed to humans is a bit of a mystery. Olive oil production in Spain has been at record highs in recent years, while rainfall has shown little overall change for over 100 years.
The BBC claims that climate change means traditional assumptions that a poor harvest would be followed by a good one, “are no longer safe”. The authority of a UN environmental programme report is invoked to justify the statement. Spain is the world’s largest olive oil producer covering 70% of European Union consumption and 45% of the entire world. As the graph above shows, Spanish olive oil production has soared in recent years to record highs. The Mediterranean climate has always been affected by spells of drought followed by prolonged heavy rain. In addition, the olive tree often fruits well in one propitious year and takes a breather in the next. All these factors, none of which can be tied to long-term changes in the climate – human-caused or otherwise – help explain the short-term variation in harvest yields.
Rainfall across Spain has been remarkable stable for over 100 years. According to World Bank figures, average precipitation was actually marginally higher in 1991-2020 at 622.78 mm, compared with 618.95 mm between 1901-1930. In common with the rest of the northern hemisphere, the temperature has risen around 10C over the last century since bouncing back from the Little Ice Age (LIA). However, the effects seem beneficial, not least for olive growers. In a 2005 science paper investigating past Spanish climatic conditions, a team of scientists led by Professor Manuel de Castro of the University of Castilla-La Mancha noted much greater LIA climate variability between the 17th and 19th Centuries. In certain periods of the LIA, the risks were “more frequent” and of “greater magnitude” than during the 20th Century, “with a noteworthy impact on the societies of the time”. It was observed that the period stretching from the middle of the 19th Century to the present day has involved “a return to conditions of greater climatic regularity”.
None of this scientific and historical perspective is ever likely to appear in a legacy media story these days since copy about natural variations of the weather is ruthlessly hijacked to promote a collectivist Net Zero narrative. But this endless stream of intelligence-insulting, green drivel is starting to be more widely called out. In an excoriating article stating that the COP circus has achieved “next to nothing”, the veteran British journalist Andrew Neil recently poured scorn on “green grifters, renewable energy hucksters, two-faced fossil fuel executives, snake oil ‘scientists’, political and royal virtue signallers, billionaire hypocrites”, and “a compliant media addicted to green propaganda”.
Neil concluded his remarks by noting that climate change discussions are marred by green zealots ”constantly resorting to the most extreme predictions of global disaster. They scare the young but they are not backed by science.”
The BBC is just one offender among many, with the same Armageddon stories usually appearing across a variety of outlets. Often these co-ordinated truth-attacks are the work of shadowy, billionaire-funded activist groups such as CC Now, providing free, ready-to-publish copy to support Net Zero. The BBC now has an estimated dozen journalists working full or part-time on the green activist beat and the scale of their output is such that the investigative climate journalist Paul Homewood compiles an annual review of their more egregious howlers.
This year’s favourite has to be the story from the Norfolk village of Happisburgh where “punishing weather linked to climate change” is said to have eroded the soft sand cliff rock. No mention, of course, of the finding of the British Geological Society that it is likely the Norfolk cliffs have been “eroding at the present rate for about the last 5,000 years”. And also in Norfolk we celebrate the appearance of the rare bee-eater bird, an “unmissable sign”, no less, that the climate emergency had reached our shores. Alas for Thermogeddonites, bee-eaters moving a little further north are nothing new. One twitching archive alone listed 80 sightings between 1793 and 1957.
Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.