“It’s not often you get a top BBC journalist pooh-poohing the corporation’s top news programme, but that is what we saw a couple of days ago. The story begins with Monday’s Today programme, which told listeners in no uncertain terms that “there could be no insects left on Earth in a hundred years”. This story is based, of course, on the recently published scientific review of papers on insect populations that has been getting heavy play in the left-wing press this week.
The paper, published by two Australian researchers, claimed that insect populations across the globe are crashing and that disaster therefore loomed (most scientific papers these days seem to have similiar punchlines). However, within hours of the news splash on Monday, questions were already being asked about the reliability of the findings and since then, experts in the field have raised concerns too. One entomologist, Steven Falk, has since said “Will insects really disappear in 100 years? Of course not”, a position supported by Barnaby Smith of the Bumblebee Trust.
So it’s has been no surprise to find the mainstream media backsliding too. ITV’s Tom Clarke has written on the subject, saying that “making claims about the diversity or abundance of insects which aren’t necessarily supported by the facts risks undermining the power of the case”. Indeed.
But more amusingly, within a matter of hours of the Today programme’s hysteria-laden headlines, the BBC’s own Roger Harrabin had tweeted “Yes, insect decline is v worrying… but there will NOT be NO insects in 100 years, That’s loose talk – unless we’ve fried the planet by then. Cockroaches will outlive us.”
So there you have it: the BBC’s flagship news programme is engaging in “wild talk”. It’s official.
Andrew Montford is the deputy director of the Global Warming Policy Forum