The BBC Gets It Completely Wrong Once Again

Hat Tip : George Marshall, ClimateDenial.org

In my humble opinion, Andrew Neil is completely beyond redemption. He has recently invited Global Warming sceptic Nigel Lawson onto the Daily Politics show. Nigel Lawson is no scientist, apparently, and so cannot really be expected to have a learned view on Climate Change, so why was he asked to “debate” with Professor Bob Watson, a proper scientist ? A certain lack of equality in the value of their views, there, I think. Why give equal weight to both, Andrew Neil ?

Back in Febriary, Andrew Neil invited arch-sceptic Fred Singer onto the Daily Politics show. Doesn’t Andrew Neil know anything at all about the history of this man’s involvement in anti-science lobbying in the United States of America ?

It is reported that Fred Singer “bullied” a researcher, Justin Lancaster with “unwarranted” lawsuits :-

http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/04/nobody_should_trust_s_fred_sin.php

http://www.desmogblog.com/national-post-promotes-singers-sleazy-attack-on-al-gores-mentor

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=S._Fred_Singer

Plus, Fred Singer has been documented by Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway as having taken part in long-term anti-science communications with the public :-

http://climateprogress.org/2010/08/10/merchants-of-doubt-distorting-science-while-invoking-science/

James Hoggan’s “Climate Cover-Up” book makes other aspects of the tale clear :-

http://hubpages.com/hub/Climate-Cover-Up-A-Review

Is this Fred Singer’s main mode of public activitiy – lawsuits and denial ? Doesn’t he do any actual science any more ? Or is he just a widely-travelled after-dinner speaker funded by various industrial special interests ? It’s “plausible”, a word he himself uses in denying the last 30 years of Global Warming. So why is Andrew Neil inviting him onto his TV show as an authoritative voice ? It’s ludicrous !

So back to the recent past and the introductory film for the Daily Politics show featuring the “debate” between Professor Bob Watson and Global Warming sceptic Nigel Lawson. To my mind at any rate, the BBC film was appalling. Narrated by the young Adam Fleming, it was dripping with Climate Change sceptic thought. Here’s what I wrote to the Crisis Forum :-

“Dear Crisis Forum, This is a really appalling re-write of recent history from the BBC :- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11574503 “Doubts over scientists’ climate change debate claims” : I counted at least 10 inaccuracies in a piece of film shorter than an ad break. Surely some of you have some energy left to complain ? http://www.joabbess.com/2010/10/19/bbc-licence-to-manipulate/…”

Here’s what Bob Ward wrote in response :-

“20 October 2010 : I think this was broadcast on The Daily Politics yesterday and was followed by a “balanced” discussion, chaired by Andrew Neil, between Bob Watson and Nigel Lawson – it is worse than the introductory report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-11576013. While I have high regard for the BBC’s coverage of climate change, The Daily Politics frequently exercises double standards by uncritically promoting the views of ‘sceptics’ while being fiercely critical of mainstream researchers. This approach appears to reflect Andrew Neil’s own views on the subject, as can be seen through his blog (eg http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/dailypolitics/andrewneil/2010/01/the_dam_is_cracking.html). I think it is worth drawing attention to the coverage of climate change by The Daily Politics for Professor Steve Jones’s review of the impartiality of the BBC’s science coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/news/press_releases/march/science_impartiality.shtml : Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science ”

Here’s what George Marshall, of ClimateDenial.org, had to say in reply :-

“21 October 2010 : On youtube there is ANOTHER dreadful interview on the Politics Show with Bob Watson and Fred Singer. The whole preamble and Andrew Neil’s handling is from a sceptic perspective :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rF2hley0SGA
. So I have a few questions. One is why Bob Watson keeps agreeing to go on this show? I realise that he wants to represent the science, but, to be honest, he does not do so well enough and seems to be poorly prepared and briefed to go against these people. In any case, by appearing he is accepting and condoning the phoney debate. It does make me wonder whether there are grounds for a specific approach to The Politics Show but (as we’ve discussed Bob). Certainly I am all in favour of people ringing them up and complaining. Overall though, I think it is better to have an overall strategy for dealing with this than launch into a single skirmish – but don’t want to discourage Jo or anyone who is seeing red. George”

So my appeal is this : Adam Fleming, young reporter for the BBC – what do you actually think about Climate Change ? I know you had to narrate an appallingly inaccurate script over the Daily Politics show film, but what do you personally think of the issue ? Tell us that you’re sane, and have read something about this. Recant from the sceptic BBC position. “Come out of her my people”, and be redeemed into scientific sanctuary.

George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

In the orange light-filled advertising corner : the oil and gas companies proclaiming new, untold riches beneath the melting Arctic. Technology will make us stronger, less polluting and improve the lives of the countless poor.

In the blue chain-smoking activist corner : Climate Change and Peak Oil are really, really serious, destabilising and horrible and we should all get depressed and go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

On the other hand, most people don’t fall in one camp or the other. We worry about Climate Change some days, but we’re too pre-occupied with trivia on other days.

We have a natural in-built “happy button”, according to recent research mentioned in New Scientist magazine, so we can’t sustain feelings of doom and gloom for too long unless we’re clinically unwell :-

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727791.000-how-to-be-happy-but-not-too-much.html

We’re born to be sunny, optimistic (Teddy Miliband’s favourite word) and relaxed, only reserving adrenalin and noradrenalin for times of stress.

So why does George Marshall try to convince us that everyone is dangerously susceptible to “apocalyptic” language ?

http://climatedenial.org/2010/09/29/collapse-porn/

People can cope with being given bad news as long as they have some strategy with which to combat the problem.

It’s not wrong to tell people the truth about Climate Change just in case they get scared and worried.

Alarm is a good thing – I’d rather a fellow pedestrian shouted at me to “look out !” if I’m about to be mown down by a car as I cross the street, rather than just watching on and wincing at the crunch moment.

Continue reading George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

Newsnight : Complain to the BBC

I don’t expect much from it in terms of any kind of sensible, relevant reply, but here’s my two eurocents’ worth, as loaded at :-

https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/

The BBC are undergoing a review on balance in Science reporting. They need to get Climate Change right, and that could start by one of their programme editors actually trying to understand what programmes like this do to an unprepared or semi-prepared audience.

The Newsnight audience have been left with the view that “maybe Climate Change is not so bad after all”, which is the worst take-home message they could be given.

See further down the post for e-mail traffic related to the Newsnight broadcast of 23rd August 2010.

Continue reading Newsnight : Complain to the BBC

Sceptic Backlash : Questions Answered

Last Wednesday’s “Sceptic Backlash” meeting ended with a lively Question and Answer session. Here it is as I recorded it :-

http://www.campaigncc.org/scepticsmeeting


Q. (from Christian Hunt, a plant in the audience from Greenpeace)

– You say it’s just the journalists who are the sceptics. What happens if another Government comes in and scepticism gets political footholds ? [ reference to Conservative Party Climate Change sceptics ]

A. (Phil Thornhill, Campaign against Climate Change)

– People shy away from the problem if they can’t find solutions. We propose a million Climate jobs – there are lots of ways of dealing with the crisis. That’s the kind of thing we should be emphasising.

Q. Andrew Neill interviewed Caroline Lucas and asked her about the Phil Jones interview with the BBC where he said there had been no “statistically significant” warming in the last 15 years. Has there been no statistically significant warming or not ? Why wouldn’t Caroline Lucas, head of the Green Party, say “you’re wrong” ?

A. (Phil)

– I wrote her a rather long e-mail. You can’t really debate Science in the popular Media. Most people don’t understand.

– The tip for answering this kind of question is – in 15 years, it’s hard to spot a trend against the background noise. It’s a difficult thing to explain.

– It’ a clear case of how once you start debating the Science it gets twisted. She should have said “this is a typical case of the misrepresentation of Science”.

A. (Ben Stewart, Greenpeace Media)

– She was fine to say “I’ll take a pass on that”.

Continue reading Sceptic Backlash : Questions Answered

The Guardian : Trumped by a Stuffed Toucan

[ Left to Right : Dr David Adam (The Guardian), Ben Stewart (Greenpeace), Tooki the Toucan operated by George Marshall (ClimateDenial.org) and Marina from Campaign against Climate Change]

On Wednesday evening, at the “Sceptic Backlash” public event, hosted by the Campaign against Climate Change, communications researcher George Marshall introduced the meeting to an unusual commentator on Climate Change…

http://www.campaigncc.org/scepticsmeeting

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/15/ben-stewart-greenpeace-stalking/

http://www.joabbess.com/2010/04/15/david-adam-liberal-pacifier/

Here is a transcript of what George Marshall said (as I have it) :-


– I do a lot of work around Climate Change communications and information.

– Climate Change is a large and technical issue. No one has the time to get totally on top of it. Even within the Science the specialists only look at their specialist areas.

– The average Media “punter” (somebody looking for information) is looking for a shortcut – their “ask” is “just tell me what’s going on”.

– Most people ask “Dave” down the pub (public house, bar). Friends and acquaintances in bars are the most important people in your social network, no doubt.

– And Dave says he saw this thing on telly (television)…

– The average person is just looking for a source of information that has some kind of authority…

Continue reading The Guardian : Trumped by a Stuffed Toucan