This week we saw another BBC documentary about climate change ,”Meet the sceptics”; that purported to go on a journey with the sceptics with an open mind and come to a reasonable and unbiased conclusion.
Guess what, it failed. Even before the documentary was shown it was being criticised by the sceptic community and those who feel the BBC itself are biased anyway. (see Delingpole - http://bit.ly/hpFJ6s, Ben Pile – http://www.climate-resistance.org/2011/02/mythologising-monckton.html, Biased BBC -http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/)
Last week we had the airing of another documentary, “Horizon: Science Under Attack”, by Sir Paul Nurse, the President of the Royal Society. This again met derision from the sceptic community.
A few years ago we had “The great Global Warming Swindle”, aired on Channel 4, again meeting derision from those that are convinced that climate change exists and that humans are contributing to it’s cause.
The most common accusation is that the documentary makers are not up front about the documentary they are making, whether it will be balanced or whether it is a polemic. Another complaint is that much footage is taken, generally many hours worth, and the documentary makers pick and chose the comments to fit into the slant of the programme they are making. Cherry picking comments and footage to fit a pre-conceived agenda and quoting people out of context.
Indeed many complaints and judicial goings on have been in action by the competing sides. Lord Monckton tried to get an injunction to stop the airing of “meet the sceptics”, to have a 3 minute or 500 word statement from him put into the programme. It was denied. (Press, Association, http://bit.ly/ii3lQf)
The British broadcasting regulator Ofcom received 265 complaints about the “great global warming swindle”, one of which was a 176-page detailed complaint co-authored by a group of scientists.
Ofcom ruled that the programme had unfairly treated Sir David King the IPCCand Professor Varl Wunsch. Ofcom also found that part 5 of the programme (the ‘political’ part) had breached several parts of the Broadcasting Code regarding impartiality. ( See BBC report - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7517444.stm)
Previous documentaries have received similar criticism, “Earth : The Climate Wars”, also was accused by various people from the sceptic’s camp including Lord Monckton and others. One complaint was partly upheld with regards to Dr William Nierenberg represented in the programme.
Whether its the met office, IPCC, Fred Singer, Al Gore or Lord Monckton, it makes little difference. The criticisms come thick and fast, minds are made up and any documentary that tries to air the differences and come to a conclusion is accused of bias, unfairness and cherry picking.
Are the criticisms fair?
The nature of any documentary is to collect a lot of footage and information and then edit it into a coherent piece showing what they have found. The argument by some that “oh they took 3 hours of footage and only showed 2 minutes”, is a ridiculous one in that it is obvious that they are not going to make the entire documentary based on your interview.
There also those who just see Channel 4 or the BBC as being Biased. This is also a ridiculous critique. These are not monolithic, borg like (sorry about the star trek reference!) organisations with a conspiracy against the world. A little common sense would be appreciated.
It never amazes me to hear the blogging keyboards’ deafening cries of BBC bias. Every government, left or right of the political spectrum claims BBC bias when it suits them, as do each side of the climate change and religious divide. If they all think the BBC is biased I would say that shows them doing a good job rather than a bad.
Much of the debate goes on in the sphere of the internet. The internet is a fantastic tool in life and like any area of life it can be perverted and corrupted.
With climate change it is hard to get sanity into the arguments, it is mostly frequented with polemic sites and bloggers who misrepresent facts to suit their arguments. Columnists do the same. The few that reference the information aupon which they base their point of view are the only ones really worth taking notice of, but it doesn’t seem that many care to check where the arguments come from.
Then there are the insults and extreme language used. I have no problem with extreme language in its context, it makes a point, but to use it as a matter of course just becomes a sad reflection on how low some commentators have to stoop.
Whether its Lord Monckton calling peaceful protesters “Nazis” on the recent “meet the sceptics” documentary; James Delingpole inferring that Caroline Lucas has a fascist agenda or Melanie Philips accusing Mohammad Sawalha of anti semitic language. ( http://www.5rb.com/newsitem/Melanie-Phillips-apologises-for-libel)
Indeed if you have the misfortune to participate in the comments pages of many of these sites you will soon come up against the blogging tirade. I’ve been called a Bloshevik, “warmist”, and fascist this week alone! That particular comment did amuse me.
As the bloggers, documentary makers and judiciary get hot under the collar, the science moves on like before, quietly doing it’s job trying to assess what is happening with our climate.
Sadly, whether the consensus is right or wrong, the battles will go on in the political sphere, and it seems the sceptics have the upper hand at present. The armageddon tactics of those believing in global warming have alienated many people. The world economy is now in crisis and will be for years to come, so any appetite for quick action on the climate change threat has fallen down the agenda.
The two sides of the fence are unwilling to countenance the others’ arguments and bury their heads in the sand. All the documentaries do is show the divisions rather than confirm or deny the science. Perhaps we should face the prospect that to have a one hour documentary on such a complicated issue is now pointless.
When it comes to climate science, have we seen the death of the Documentary? . . . . . . . . . Perhaps it is the same as the question, “is the warming of the earth as a result of human activity? . . . . Probably.