Paul Matthews’ article on the Gore/Stott/Lawson furore deals with the important question of whether a top climate scientist has been economical with the truth in an interview on BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme. Mainstream media coverage has entirely ignored the contribution of Professor Stott and concentrated on the question of whether ex-minister Nigel Lawson should be allowed to speak on the radio, or even whether he should exist.
Prominent would-be censors include physicist and BBC star science presenter Jim Al-Khalili who tweeted:
For Radio 4 Today to bring on Lord Lawson ‘in the name of balance’ on climate change is both ignorant and irresponsible. Shame on you.
To which particle physicist and BBC star science presenter Brian Cox replied:
I agree with @jimalkhalili . Irresponsible and highly misleading to give the impression that there is a meaningful debate about the science.
Tom Chivers at Buzzfeed repeated their opinions under the headline: “Scientists Are “Appalled” At The BBC Putting A Climate Change Denier On Radio 4’s Flagship News Show”
Al-Khalili told BuzzFeed News that he was:
“appalled at this blatant example of false balance”, which he said breached BBC Trust guidelines.
“Both the 2011 Jones report [into impartiality and accuracy in BBC science reporting] and the follow-up report for the BBC Trust in 2014 criticised the BBC for its often ‘undue attention to marginal opinion’,” he said, “particularly on issues such as anthropogenic climate change where there is now overwhelming scientific consensus.
“This obsession with false balance really has to stop.”
The subheading to Dr Burnett’s Guardian article reads:
Climate change is serious: the BBC needs to stop this obsession with ‘balance’ and reject the scientifically-discredited argument that Nigel Lawson exists.
Dean Burnett can argue that Lord Lawson doesn’t exist because, according to his Guardian bio, he:
“..is a doctor of neuroscience, but moonlights as a comedy writer and stand-up comedian. He tutors and lectures at Cardiff University. He is also the author of The Idiot Brain, the paperback of which is published by Guardian Faber on 2 March. Dean is now represented by Aitken-Alexander. Enquiries can be sent to Chris Wellbelove, email@example.com.”
Dean is a comedian you understand, who just happens to write science articles at the Guardian, which just happens to publish his books written under his Doctor of Neuroscience hat. So when he says that Lawson doesn’t exist, he’s being funny, because he’s also a stand up comedian. It’s not to be taken in the sense: “Those who oppose my world view must be annihilated.” That would be so uncool, so 1930s. We don’t beat each other up in the street nowadays like those primitive pre-war fascists and communists. We tweet, if we’re BBC science stars, and we blog about who shouldn’t be allowed to exist (media-wise) iif we’re astrophysicists and neuroscientists. And we blow away our opponents by making them non-persons, as in 1984. But in a jokey way.
The BBC put out an article about how brave they’d been to interview someone who doesn’t think Al Gore is a saint, and there was an article on the site of the BBC’s house magazine the Radio Times, with comments:
Radio 4 labelled “ignorant” and “irresponsible” for giving airtime to climate change sceptic Lord Lawson
The ex-Chancellor dismissed Al Gore’s environmental concerns as “clap trap” on the BBC radio show – and Brian Cox is one of many angry about his inclusion in the show
And the article signs off with the following false dichotomy:
”Was Radio 4’s Today show right to bring Lawson on in the interest of balance and free speech? Or should the BBC refuse to entertain the views of climate change deniers?”
The comments at the Radio Times are full of references to flat earthers, Holocaust deniers, the 97% etc.
There’s an article in the Telegraph headlined:
Brian Cox hits out at BBC for inviting climate change denier on Radio 4
which cites the article at Carbon Brief which claims that the Lawson interview “has already attracted widespread criticism from scientists,” citing the Telegraph article as its source.
I received a puzzling email from a doctor last week … referring to an interview my father Nigel Lawson had just given to the BBC, in which he said there had been no increase in ‘extreme weather events’ and that we should stop panicking about climate change.
Dr Messner, a registrar in trauma and orthopaedic surgery at an NHS teaching facility in Yorkshire, seemed to think my 85-year-old father’s opinions indicated that he was losing his mind to dementia. […]
I emailed back that surely any doctor with respect for the proprieties of his profession does not give anyone a diagnosis of a potentially terminal condition in one of their relatives without personally having responsibility for the patient…
Dr Messner responded by asserting his rights to freedom of speech under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights…
Actually, he has a good point about freedom of speech — and it covers abuse (which basically is what Dr Messner’s original email was). But it is a little spooky when a doctor in this country regards dissent from establishment views on the effects of climate change as evidence of mental incapacity.
Totalitarian regimes in the past — notably the Soviet Union — often treated dissent as a form of mental illness. Such dissidents would be consigned to psychiatric units, where they were drugged by doctors compliant with the prevailing political orthodoxy.
I would advise elderly patients at Dr Messner’s orthopaedic clinic not to engage him in discussions about climate change. They may get a diagnosis they hadn’t bargained for.
This is what we’ve come to. Lord Lawson, as president of a thinktank/NGO with views on climate change said something in a telephone interview which might not have been strictly accurate, but which didn’t affect the gist of his argument. (He could have replaced his statement that temperatures have declined by the statement that they have hardly gone up at all, and his criticism of Gore would have been just as valid. Spokespersons for Greenpeace, the Friends of the Earth etc. can be heard daily making wildly inaccurate statements about climate, without a public outcry.) And here we have calls in the serious press and science journals, including from two of the most well-known scientists in the country, for him to be banned from expressing his views on the BBC.
I’ll start believing in a split in the global warming juggernaut when I hear someone – anyone – in the warmist ranks stand up for Lord Lawson’s right to be heard, and even – dare I say it? – debated with.