[To Jamie Angus, Editor, Today]
I’m writing with both a political hat on and as a former reporter for the BBC (and indeed we spoke numerous times when I contributed to your programme when I was based in SE Asia).
I have serious issues with Lord Lawson’s appearance on Today yesterday.
I know a ding-dong discussion makes for good radio but I look to Today to be authoritative first and entertaining second.
I’m not alone in feeling it’s highly questionable to put a scientist up against a lobbyist, for that’s, in effect, what Lord Lawson is. Many climate sceptic organisations are funded by vested interests. Research by The Guardian exposed a secret funding network linked to ultra-conservative figures in the US, notably the Koch brothers who have considerable oil industry interests, and Exxon
Lord Lawson’s group refuses to reveal its funding sources, as normally required of charities.
I do not believe that we should treat any science as settled. Indeed all science, including the overwhelming consensus on climate change amongst climate scientists, should be constantly challenged. However one must challenge science with science and Nigel Lawson is not doing that.
I’m not averse to hearing Lord Lawson (even though he plays merry hell with my blood pressure) but put him up against another lobbyist or a politician like Caroline Lucas. Then we know that what we are hearing is two sets of opinions based on a second hand understanding of science (or not). But to put Lawson up against a respected scientist gives his views an inappropriate and indefensible equivalence
Generally I think Today’s editorial line is excellent. (Personally, over Christmas, I would have balanced Polly Harvey’s lovely and challenging programme with something similarly polemical from a different part of the spectrum.)
However in this instance I wonder what the heck happened. I’ve sat in on enough BBC editorial meetings to know that this doesn’t really chime with the corporation’s values.
I can only assume that this was an attempt to provide a sort of balance but it didn’t. If you can’t find a climate-change-sceptic climate scientist then play out a clip of a non-sceptic climate scientist, say you can’t find a countervailing scientific opinion and then set up a disco with two politicos. That’s honest and though I am sure it was not your intention to mislead I don’t think that yesterday’s discussion was honest.
Climate change is way too important to treat in this way as I’m sure pretty much anyone whose home has been flooded lately will agree.
Best regards and with the greatest respect