Despite the supposed political neutrality of the BBC, one of their editors has been caught out taking a dig at Tories and backing the Greens on his Twitter account. Michael Marshall, deputy editor of BBC Earth is a new recruit to the Beeb, having jumped ship from New Scientist only within the last month, so perhaps he hasn’t got the memo on impartiality yet.
Ann had just written a piece for her Express Column regarding a dinner she had attended along with Conservative Parliamentarians Andrew Tyrie, Peter Lilley, Christopher Chope and Philip Davies, marking the anniversary of the passing of the Climate Change Act 2008. The Act was passed with overwhelming support – this doughty quintet were the only politicians to turn their backs on the green mania sweeping the country at the time and vote ‘No’.
As Ann writes: “Support for the then Labour Government’s bill was all part of Cameron’s campaign to “modernise” the Tory Party. It was the same campaign which saw him driving huskies and putting a ridiculous wind turbine on his roof so he was pretty displeased with the five of us but we were right. Oh, so right.
“The wretched Bill committed us, at huge expense, to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by a staggering 80 per cent. Yet that was supposed to be part of a global agreement and, as was easily foreseeable, there has been no such agreement but we have soldiered on despite accounting for about 2 per cent of all the world’s emissions. We have shunned the obvious answer of nuclear power in favour of vast, ugly, inefficient, bird-mashing wind farms which benefit none but those who take the subsidies from them. The phrase “political correctness gone mad” could have been invented for this stupidity alone.
“Meanwhile the science of climate change is robustly disputed where once it was regarded as having all the authority of Holy Writ. So much was this the case that Nigel Lawson, whose book An Appeal To Reason is still the best refutation of the doom mongers, found it difficult to get published. In 1930s Germany they burned books that challenged state orthodoxy: here we just try to bury them.”
From this, Murray managed to concoct hysteria and intrigue, writing in his blog “The race for the most confusing climate sceptic article of 2014 is a crowded field, but as the nights draw in a new front-runner has emerged with former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe’s latest effort in the Daily Express. It really does have everything: allusions to Nazis, dismissal of scientific inquiry, misinterpretation of policies.”
Marshall’s tweet, and Murray’s blog, themselves display an alarming amount of misinterpretation. But perhaps Marshall did get a memo after all – the one that insisted that so-called climate change ‘deniers’ should be excluded from discussions on climate change.
In a 2011 report on impartiality in science reporting, the BBC wrote “in their desire to give an objective account of what appears to be an emerging controversy, [editorial staff] face the danger of being trapped into false balance; into giving equal coverage to the views of a determined but deluded minority and to those of a united but less insistent majority. Nowhere is the struggle to find the correct position better seen than in the issue of global warming.”
And it quoted an earlier Impartiality report, in which the executive noted that “The centre ground in climate science has shifted markedly. One main reason for the change in global opinion was last year’s resolution of the most fundamental questions in climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s official climate change assessment forum. The IPCC concluded that it is beyond doubt that the climate is warming and more than 90% likely that this has been driven by human activity. Given the weight of opinion building up around the IPCC it makes sense for us to focus our coverage on the consensus that climate change is happening, is serious, but is manageable if tackled urgently…”
Consequently, Marshall presumably felt quite comfortable and in line with BBC policy in re-tweeting a tweet from his colleagues reading “Fossil fuels must be phased out “almost entirely” by 2100 to avoid dangerous climate change”. Featuring images from the IPCC, the tweet links to an article reporting that the Panel is now warning that the world must either produce electricity from low carbon sources by 2050 or face “severe, pervasive and irreversible” damage. In line with BBC policy, there are no dissenting voices, even as the British public face the prospect of the lights going out thanks to this discredited policy.