Guest essay by Eric Worrall
h/t Dr Willie Soon – according to leaked information obtained by the Carbon Brief, the taxpayer funded BBC is very concerned that “climate deniers” are sometimes not properly challenged on air.
- Man-made climate change exists: If the science proves it we should report it. The BBC accepts that the best science on the issue is the IPCC’s position, set out above.
- Be aware of ‘false balance’: As climate change is accepted as happening, you do not need a ‘denier’ to balance the debate. Although there are those who disagree with the IPCC’s position, very few of them now go so far as to deny that climate change is happening. To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday. The referee has spoken. However, the BBC does not exclude any shade of opinion from its output, and with appropriate challenge from a knowledgeable interviewer, there may be occasions to hear from a denier. There are occasions where contrarians and sceptics should be included within climate change and sustainability debates. These may include, for instance, debating the speed and intensity of what will happen in the future, or what policies government should adopt.
- Again, journalists need to be aware of the guest’s viewpoint and how to challenge it effectively. As with all topics, we must make clear to the audience which organisation the speaker represents, potentially how that group is funded and whether they are speaking with authority from a scientific perspective – in short, making their affiliations and previously expressed opinions clear.
Just in case you think providing a hostile reception to the occasional “denier” grudgingly allowed on air constitutes excessive leniency, the BBC provides further guidance regarding their green broadcasting initiative.
The BBC’s Greener Broadcasting strategy
In 2018, the Corporation launched a Pan-BBC strategy, Greener Broadcasting, to create a business that is environmentally sustainable and doing its part to tackle environmental factors that could impact our futures. The strategy is in three-parts: Ourselves, Our Industry and Our Audiences. Its goal, over the course of the current Charter period, is to create a positive environmental impact.
looks at creating a sustainable workplace, including our ways of working as BBC employees and our ways of running our buildings and operations.
is about working with other organisations in the production and transmission sectors as well as in our wider supply chain to see how, together, we can reduce carbon emissions and learn best practice from each other.
ensures that we, as the BBC, are informing and educating the public, allowing them to make informed choices about their own behaviours around sustainable living.
I think the advice to BBC employees seems clear. If they want to allow the occasional “climate denier” on air, make sure the “denier” is treated to a hostile reception, and make sure they don’t get an opportunity to interfere with the BBC’s mission to convince their audience make green lifestyle choices.
And that lovely word “potentially” in the advice – BBC journalists are encouraged to offer their own potentially unfounded opinions about how they think the guest “denier” is funded.