Interesting article Why the BBC should stand up to its climate campaign critics about whether the BBC should be campaigning on climate change. They have a charter, so they can go all lawyerly and examine whether they are acting in accordance with it. But the same question applies to scientists.
[Update: seems the BBC changed its mind
And perhaps unsurprisingly, some people are unhappy]
From the article: Peter Horrocks reportedly attacked the plans, arguing that “I absolutely don’t think we should [campaign on issues such as climate change] because it’s not impartial”. He added that: “It’s not our job to lead people and proselytise about it”. His views were echoed by Newsnight’s editor, Peter Barron, who argued that, “It is absolutely not the BBC’s job to save the planet. I think there are a lot of people who think that, but it must be stopped.” A recent BBC-backed report on impartiality appeared to support their criticisms, claiming that the broadcaster “has many public purposes of both ambition and merit – but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them”.
I agree with all of that, except for “because it’s not impartial”, on the grounds that I’m not sure whether such campaigning would be impartial or not (I agree that skeptics would say it isn’t, but they get their science badly wrong). OTOH… during WWII I’m pretty sure the BBC did its best to lead the war effort, and spent very little time presenting a “diversity of views” about whether Germany was right to invade Poland. No, climate change isn’t WWII.
The BBC certainly should be doing its best to present the science involved. My brief experience with watching cl ch stuff on TV is that production values and audience figures count for far more than accuracy (either way). Radio has done better. So I suppose I would argue that rather than navel-gaze about “partiality” they should concentrate on trying to communicate the science better, which I fear would mean getting people who understood it involved in the programme making (and I mean in the writing, making and editing, not just in being interviewed).
Should scientists campaign on climate change? Probably not.
[Update: this made it onto scitizen]