Friday, 18 August 2017

An inconvenient BBC

Perhaps I should not have been quite so astounded to hear on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme a week ago Lord Lawson, the former Conservative chancellor, being wheeled out again in the interests of so-called ‘balance’ on a climate change story.

In response to an interview with Al Gore an hour or so earlier, Nigel Lawson was largely unchallenged as he pedalled a series of untruths disguised as fact.

Despite overwhelming scientific opinion that human-induced climate change is heating up the atmosphere, melting glaciers and raising sea levels, Lawson was yet again given a prime slot by the BBC to shout down evidence in an unsubstantiated way.

He lightly dismissed the former US Vice-President Al Gore film The Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power saying it had "bombed" at the box office a week before it even went on general release (in the UK from today), adding that he would not "bother seeing it" either.

Listeners to BBC radio’s flagship news programme also heard Lawson, Britain’s most renown climate science sceptic, claim global temperatures have not been rising in recent years.

It was a lie which went completely unchallenged by the interviewer Justin Webb even though Lawson’s think tank, the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), was forced to admit immediately after the broadcast that the statement was based on data from an "erroneous" temperature chart.

Gore’s latest film describes how climate change is already having a significant effect on our planet but also says that the plunging cost of renewable energy might offer a viable solution.

The film points out the world’s average temperature has hit the highest on record for three years in a row – 2014, 2015 and 2016 – and highlights a significant increase in global extreme weather events.

But in his BBC interview Lord Lawson claimed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had "confirmed that there has been no increase in extreme weather events".

He then added: "As for the temperature itself, it is striking, he [Gore] made his previous film 10 years ago, and to the official figures during this past 10 years, if anything, mean global temperature, average world temperature, has slightly declined."

Afterwards the GWPF revealed the source of these supposedly ‘official’ figures was a meteorologist who works for a libertarian think tank, the Cato Institute, founded by US billionaire and leading climate sceptic, Charles Koch.

For the UK’s leading broadcaster, there are worrying parallels between the BBC’s ‘balanced’ or ‘impartial’ coverage of climate change and other major issues of the day, such as Brexit.

Today, it is Nigel Lawson being portrayed as a so-called expert on climate change. Tomorrow, it is po-faced, right-wing Tories such as Ian Duncan-Smith, Liam Fox and Jacob Rees-Mogg intelligently moving the Brexit agenda towards a cliff-edge clean break.

In a sense the BBC’s policy of ‘impartiality’ is actually giving credence and currency to more extreme views and, because of this, we are inadvertently being fed a distorted reality, which some would call ‘fake news’. Either way this is ultimately is going to be a disaster for us all.