Andrew Montford (Bishop Hill) and Tony Newbery (Harmless Sky) have put in a submission to the review of the BBC’s impartiality on science. It’s the anatomy of how government and activist groups take over an arm of a public broadcaster. There is no sneaking in the back door here.
The main problem facing government and policymakers was convincing the public that concern about anthropogenic global warming was well founded, and not just another scare story that would soon be forgotten. The Climate Change Communications Working Group (DEFRA, EST, UKCIP, Env. Agency, DTI, Carbon Trust) was set up, and in February 2005 received a Short List of Recommendations from Futerra, an environmental PR consultancy, on the means of conveying the required message to the media and the public . In August 2006, the IPPR produced a thirty-page report entitled Warm Words: How are we telling the climate story and can we tell it better? which developed Futerra’s recommendations. This concluded that:
Many of the existing approaches to climate change communications clearly seem unproductive. And it is not enough simply to produce yet more messages, based on rational argument and top-down persuasion, aimed at convincing people of the reality of climate change and urging them to act. Instead, we need to work in a more shrewd and contemporary way, using subtle techniques of engagement. To help address the chaotic nature of the climate change discourse in the UK today, interested agencies now need to treat the argument as having been won, at least for popular communications. This means simply behaving as if climate change exists and is real, and that individual actions are effective. The ‘facts’ need to be treated as being so taken-for-granted that they need not be spoken. (emphasis added)
Essentially, the communication technique recommended to the government to use on the people was the sophisticated tactic: “bluff them”. The truth is not what matters. There’s apparently no need to explain the uncertainties, and no reason to treat the voters as grown ups. Don’t mention the evidence.
That the BBC science-journalists weren’t appalled at the IPPR document and the in-house seminar held earlier the same year (see below) is testament to the feeble derelict state of university science and “journalism” training. Does no lecturer explain the core difference between a reporter and a copy-writer for an ad agency?
Where were the strikes and protests from journalists as they were being asked to be the lap-dog sock puppets of the ruling class, and feed approved newspeak to the masses?
The day the BBC stopped “investigating” was in January 2006
According to Montford and Newbery, the key event was a BBC seminar at Television Centre entitled Climate Change – the Challenge to Broadcasting, which was made up of ’30 key BBC staff’ and ‘30 invited guests’. The ‘key speaker’ was Lord May of Oxford (the Royal Society President who also happened to be a WWF trustee and environmental activist).
Richard North (of EU Referendum)* was at that seminar. He says:
I found the seminar frankly shocking. The BBC crew (senior executives from every branch of the corporation) were matched by an equal number of specialists, almost all (and maybe all) of whom could be said to have come from the ‘we must support Kyoto’ school of climate change activists. So far as I can recall I was alone in being a climate change sceptic (nothing like a denier, by the way) on both the science and policy response.
I was frankly appalled by the level of ignorance of the issue which the BBC people showed.
The BBC claim that seminar was given by “the best scientific experts”. But Richard North remembers hearing only “activists”, and even one of the two organizers — the International Broadcasting Trust (IBT) describe the guests as policy experts. The IBT, by the way, describe themselves as ‘lobbying Government, regulators and broadcasters’”. The other organizer was CMEP, Roger Harribin’s unit with an activist friend which is funded by big government (DEFRA ) and what do you know, the WWF.
How often are skeptics accused of being funded by “right wing think tanks” which are “fronts for big oil”?
Thus speaks the Kings of Hypocrisy who see nothing wrong with fronts being funded by taxpayer money and donations made supposedly to help polar bears.
Why were those with blatant aims to spend government money given the head seat at the table to direct the team who supposedly ought to be the ones putting those aims under scrutiny?
We can’t regulate for impartial fairness, just like we can’t regulate for “fair prices”. We need systemic protection and it goes right back to schools.
As long as we don’t teach every single science graduate what science is and how to reason, we leave science wide open to be exploited. As long as we don’t teach journalists the fallacies of logic and the history of tyrannies we can’t expect them to protect us against them.
*Thanks to Bishop Hill for the correction – Richrd D North is not the same Richard North of the EU referendum site.