I’m deeply disappointed that you interviewed Nigel Lawson on The Today programme about Climate Change. Is he an expert? Does his view back up the vast majority of peer reviewed scientific statements about climate change? No, he is still speaking arguments that are pushed by deeply vested interests quoting cherry picked data in a deliberate attempt to either confuse or derail this crucial debate. (We know the methods and the style – tobacco industries used them for years.)
It’s easy to see why any of your reporters can fall into the trap of giving “equal weight” to those who deny climate change is real and those who have established it’s already happening. Climate change is deeply, deeply disturbing. It’s something all of us are responsible for – and continue to create. Especially if, like me, you are middle class, and lead a materially comfortable and therefore unsustainable life. Many in your audience will want to be reassured by the possibility that it isn’t really happening and that our disturbing weather is just a freak.
The role of an independent news agency in these times is absolutely critical. It’s to report the science fairly. The science shows it’s real and happening. Fox News and other corporately owned “news” outputs may have their own agenda, but you, the BBC, should be telling us what’s really happening.
Are you feeling resistance to that? Are you feeling how difficult it is when people are living without power, and are flooded out of their homes, to add more “bad news” that this kind of weather isn’t going to go away, but increase?
I completely understand. What we need to see on the BBC is people grappling with how difficult it is to talk about. How can we, as a society, come to terms with the situation we are in? And we need you to be asking questions like – what kind of leadership is needed at this time? what is the role of the media? what helps us to come to terms with the enormity and challenge of our situation?
Confrontational or oppositional journalism isn’t going to help us get to helpful answers. We need to find ways to sit together in the difficulty of our shared situation, not attack people who are doing their best to create solutions, or to set up those in denial against those with real scientific backing.
Climate change tells us that the way we are living is causing immense disturbance to the ecological systems of our planet. Denying that this is happening and continuing with business as usual is like Nero fiddling while Rome burnt, or people on the Titanic pretending the water rushing through the corridors was a leak that would go away.
It is possible for us to respond to the situation we’re in. We’re not on the Titanic with the sides ripped away. We can still have an impact to create a more stable and liveable future for our children. Your role is to give us accurate information to help us make the changes to do that.
I suggest you start by creating a training programme for all your staff which brings them up to date on Climate science, and allows them to go through the feelings and processes that are a natural part of dealing with such a shocking and disturbing situation. Don’t just have scientists design the programme, it’s not just about facts – include people with psychological understanding of getting through loss and even trauma. That’s the severity of the situation we’re in and the kind of skills your staff may need to work through their own process of coming to terms with it.
All of us need to step up in these time, to find the wisest and most far sighted part of who we are, and work from that place. Not avoiding what’s difficult, not denying the truth, not colluding with the people who want to do those things.
Your role is vital. Please carry it out well, for all our sakes.
Wishing you well
ps I work for the Transition movement, which supports people to engage with Climate Change and the many other challenging issues of our time through understanding, connection and positive local action – and would be happy to help you design the training programme which could really make a difference for BBC staff.