BBC staff ordered to stop giving equal airtime to climate deniers

The network will stop airing "debates" featuring members of the anti-science fringe

Topics: climate change denialism, anti-science, BBC, Creationism, , ,

BBC staff ordered to stop giving equal airtime to climate deniersBill Nye (Credit: AP/John Davisson)

Good news for viewers of BBC News: You’ll no longer be subjected to the unhinged ravings of climate deniers and other members of the anti-science fringe. In a report published Thursday by the BBC Trust, the network’s journalists were criticized for devoting too much airtime (as in, any airtime) to unqualified people with “marginal views” about non-contentious issues in a misguided attempt to provide editorial balance.

“The Trust wishes to emphasize the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” the report reads. “Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.” So far, according to the Telegraph, about 200 staff members have attended seminars and workshops aimed at improving their coverage.



To illustrate the ridiculousness of having one fringe “expert” come in to undermine a scientific consensus, the report points to the network’s coverage of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which in September released a report concluding, with 95 percent certainty, that man-made climate change is happening. As was their due diligence, BBC reporters called a dozen prominent U.K. scientists, trying to drum up an opposing viewpoint. When that didn’t happen — probably because 97 percent of scientists agree that man-made climate change is happening — they turned instead to retired Australian geologist Bob Carter, who has ties to the industry-affiliated Heartland Institute.

To be clear, having one guy dismiss the consensus of hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists as “hocus-pocus science” wasn’t the “balanced” thing to do, and the only reason why people like Carter continue to be taken seriously is because news networks continue to suggest they should be.

Were every network to start doing what the BBC is, their unfounded opinions would cease to be heard, Bill Nye wouldn’t have to keep debating them, and maybe, just maybe, they’d all just go away.

Lindsay Abrams

Lindsay Abrams is a staff writer at Salon, reporting on all things sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @readingirl, email labrams@salon.com.

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