Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Reinforcing a world view

Sometimes you really do wonder about the BBC – even if that is a forlorn exercise.

Have a look at the Australian press, and you will find that it is full of hope and optimism about the cereal planting season. The Australian, for instance, headlines, "Rain brings hope for bumper crop".

It tells us that, "for the nation's graingrowers, rain has never been worth so much" then conveying the Government's Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics forecast of a 25.9 million-ton wheat crop, the second-biggest on record – compared with compared the 13 million tons in 2007-08 and 10.6 million in 2006-07.

The strong world wheat prices mean the crop would be worth a record $8.6billion - $2.3 billion more than the bumper 2001-02 harvest, the paper says, recording that the rains have fallen and "the best weekend falls of rain occurred over much of the South Australian grain belt".

Conveying the views of Adelaide farmer, John Lush, celebrating the inch of rain that had fallen on his farm, the paper cites him as saying: "It looks as if farming has turned the corner at long last and grain prices will remain good … If we can grow a good crop, we will make good money."

Then we get Bloomberg reporting that, "the grain-growing regions in parts of Western Australia state, the nation's biggest wheat producer, may get more rain this week, adding to falls in recent weeks, as farmers sow crops." The piece also tells us that other areas are benefiting.

Now cut to a report on the BBC website, by Sydney correspondent Nick Bryant, and we see: "'Big Dry' hits Australian farmers" "More than 10,000 Australian farming families have had to leave their land as a result of the country's ongoing drought, new figures reveal," Bryant tells us.

The doom-laden piece continues in this style, with talk of bankruptcies, interest rate hikes and "the difficulties of farming water-starved land." Then, after telling us that, "One of the main reasons why global wheat stocks are at their lowest levels since 1979 is because of the ongoing Australian drought," Bryant concludes: "Normally, the country would hope to harvest about 25m tonnes of wheat - in 2006 the crop yielded less than 10m tonnes."

For the real agenda, though, you have to read a Reuters piece - a backgrounder headed: "Farmers face climate challenge in quest for more food". There, we learn that, "If the world keeps on emitting greenhouse gases at the present rate, computer models suggest southern Australia will become much drier."

Now we can see where the BBC is going: Australian bad harvest causes global food crisis; bad harvest caused by drought; drought caused by global warming. Therefore, food crisis caused by global warming – QED.

Wouldn't it be nice though if, just for once, the BBC forgot its agenda and gave us the news?


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