Magazine article The Spectator

The BBC's Climate Correctness

Magazine article The Spectator

The BBC's Climate Correctness

Article excerpt

It is only a matter of time before Nigel Lawson -- if he is allowed on the BBC at all -- has to have his words spoken by an actor in the manner of Gerry Adams at the height of the IRA's bombing campaign during the 1980s. In the case of Mr Adams, whose voice was banned from the airwaves by the government, the BBC stood up for free speech. But it is quite a different story with Lord Lawson. The BBC has effectively banned the former chancellor (and former editor of this magazine) from appearing on its programmes to debate climate change, unless he is introduced with a statement discrediting his views.

The BBC's Editorial Complaints Department this week ruled that the Today programme broke BBC guidelines in February by inviting Lord Lawson to a debate with Sir Brian Hoskins, chairman of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change. It bizarrely claimed that his views are 'not supported by the evidence' -- though he had pointed out, correctly, that the planet has not been warming for the past 17 years. Nevertheless, the BBC politburo warned, listeners should have been warned that Lord Lawson is in a minority and, therefore, his words 'should not be regarded as carrying equal weight to those of experts such as Sir Brian Hoskins'.

Lord Lawson is, of course, not a scientist. But a great many people speak on the BBC on subjects in which they do not have any formal qualifications: Al Gore, for example. Or Rajendra Pachauri, a railway engineer by training, who now runs the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Neither does the BBC seem to be worried about non-scientists addressing scientific issues when it comes to such things as fracking or GM crops, on which any green activists are welcome to speak, however bizarre their scaremongering theories.

What Lord Lawson is, however, is chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF), a think-tank that has no quarrel with the idea of global warming. Its aim is to appeal to reason, and to engage in mature argument rather than hysteria. Lord Lawson is advised by scientists who until recently included Lennart Bengtsson, a research fellow at the University of Reading. Professor Bengtsson was hounded off the GWPF board by his fellow scientists.

When people try to close down debate rather than engage with it, there is a pretty clear conclusion to be drawn: they lack confidence in their own case. The suppression of debate was shown again this week when Vladimir Semonov, a climate scientist at the Geomar Institute in Kiel, Germany, revealed that a paper he wrote in 2009 questioning the accuracy of climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was effectively censored by the scientist to whom it was sent for review. …

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