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BBC Climate Disinformation Reporter Attacks Kenyan Farmer

BBC Climate Disinformation Reporter Attacks Kenyan Farmer

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On 15th June 2024, the BBC Climate disinformation reporter Marco Silva published a hit piece on the Kenyan farmer Jusper Machogu, entitled “How a Kenyan farmer became a champion of climate change denial.” The reporter claims that Mr Machogu, a 29-year-old farmer with many thousands of followers on X for his campaign “Fossil Fuels for Africa,” holds dangerous views denying climate change. 

I don’t personally know Mr Machogu, and I am certain that he doesn’t need defense. I grew up without electricity and I recently explained how I questioned the official climate narrative. I do find it extremely disgusting that a senior journalist sitting in Greater London, using daily modern technologies powered by fossil fuels, in a country that became rich thanks to fossil fuels (and loot from Kenya), should write such a disdainful piece on one of the biggest media outlets on earth about a young man who appears to have knowledge, hard work, and passion to serve his community and people. I also find this piece below the BBC’s editorial standards which include values such as truth, fairness, accuracy, and impartiality.

The reporter chose to make ad hominem attacks on Mr Machogu throughout the piece. It is stupid for a journalist of a global broadcasting company based in one of the richest places on earth to write statements like these: “On social media, he (Mr Machogu) has become known as flag bearer for fossil fuels in Africa, but there is more to his campaign that meets the eye,” “Mr Machogu’s new-found popularity,” and “Mr Machogu began tweeting false and misleading claims about climate change in late 2021, after carrying out his “own research” into the topic.”

Clearly, the reporter doesn’t seem to think that Mr Machogu has the right to carry out his own research and make tweets about that. I don’t understand why a BBC journalist can have freedom of expression but a Kenyan farmer cannot.

What is wrong with Mr Machogu’s posting about “farmer content” like “weeding his land, planting garlic or picking avocados” in rural Kisii (southwest Kenya)? Aren’t we in the era of social media influencers, of those many who make videos about their lives, their workouts, their gardening, their pets, or their exotic vacations and conferences? 

What is wrong with using “the hashtag #ClimateScam” hundreds of times? Does the BBC believe that they should approve hashtags? What is wrong with posts on “There is no climate crisis?” Had the reporter applied a little bit more impartiality, he could have led his audiences to the global Declaration on “There is no climate emergency” signed by almost 2,000 scientists and professionals (myself also), including two Nobel laureates (John F. Clauser, Ivar Giaever) and top-notch scholars (Guus Berkhout, Richard Lindzen, Patrick Moore, Ian Plimer, etc.). 

The reporter could even have acknowledged that Mr Machogu’s clear aim is to reduce poverty in his chronically energy-starved country, as was seen in the excellent film Climate: The Movie (The Cold Truth), made by the UK director Martin Durkin and available in 30 languages thanks to volunteers. Instead, he did not provide the link to the film and described it as “a film crew from the UK travelled to Kisii to interview him (Mr Machogu) for a new documentary that described climate change as an “eccentric environmental scare.”  

Besides the quotes issued from Mr Machogu’s tweets, it was reported that Mr Machogu did not have a problem with raising some money to improve his conditions and help some people around him. The donations seem to be voluntary, like the way we do regularly to charities, groups, and churches, modest (more than $9,000) and well spent. Perhaps a comparison to the earnings of a climate disinformation reporter would have provided useful context.

It is very strange that the BBC is concerned about a small amount allegedly from “individuals with links to the fossil fuel industry and to groups known for promoting climate change denial.” Should the BBC be transparent about the huge amounts it has received outside the UK, for example from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, run by a person with major investments in technologies that benefit from climate alarmism? A quick search on the Gates Foundation website shows millions over the last decade. 

Do you know why these individuals are the problem? We learn in the piece that Mr Machogu interacts online with those who “promote conspiracy theories online – not just about climate change, but also about vaccines, Covid-19, or the war in Ukraine.” All things, apparently, where disagreement with an official British government line is to be shunned and suppressed, however false those positions are found to be. 

By judging “wrong” Mr Machogu’s tweet “Climate change is mostly natural. A warmer climate is good for life,” the reporter shows that he is the one who confuses science with dogma. Climate is influenced by a whole range of natural and anthropogenic factors. By characterizing Mr Machogu’s social media content as “denial of man-made climate change,” the climate disinformation reporter is directly spreading disinformation because Mr Machogu doesn’t deny anthropogenic causes of climate change.

The BBC certainly can do better than this. Instead, it chose to promote and practice advocacy journalism (i.e. propaganda), showing disrespect to its audiences. This BBC reporter should re-study its editorial guidelines, or do something else more useful. 

To Mr Machogu, bravo for your intelligence and courage! Well, you have missed the opportunity of making a career with the climate cult, for example as a United Nations Youth Climate Adviser. The BBC hit piece just showed you how pitiful that path is. May the wealth of your people begin to approach the wealth that their colonizers achieved by digging, drilling, and burning coal and oil in Britain!



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Author

  • Thi Thuy Van Dinh

    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

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