Over on the WUWT TwentyEightGate discussion, commenter ‘mfo’ has distilled the salient points from the IBT’s submission to the BBC trust’s Science Impartiality Review. I have number them for easy reference in comments. Who are the IBT? They are the lobbying group led by Joe Smith of the Open University who set up the seminar where the BBC decided to stop giving the public balanced climate reporting which includes climate sceptical viewpoints.
“The International Broadcasting Trust is an educational and media charity working to promote high quality broadcast and online coverage of the developing world. Our aim is to further awareness and understanding of the lives of the majority of the world´s people – and the issues which affect them.”
“Our work focuses on three main areas of activity:
- lobbying Government, regulators and broadcasters
- dialogue with the main public service broadcasters
- research on broadcast and online coverage of the developing world”
The IBT is clearly an influential and partisan organisation and represents the bias it purports to be against. An example is the following submission to the BBC Trust, demonstrating extremist and autocratic viewpoints:
Submission by the International Broadcasting Trust to the BBC Trust’s
Science Impartiality review
In this paper we look in detail at the way in which climate change has been
reported across the BBC and we make a series of practical proposals…
1) Journalists and programme makers should resist ‘debate’ framings –
putting up opposing ‘pro’ and ‘sceptic’ climate change science opinion
- that carry with them the implication of a balanced debate between
equally informed players.
2)…this return to a ‘debate’ framing is a retrograde step in terms of
appropriate representation of the science, and even packaging and marketing
a programme in this way may help to further delay comprehensive debate of
actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
3) There have been many other instances in advance of the Panorama over the
last six and more months where broadcasters have sought to convene a
‘climate change debate’ despite the distortions such a framing creates in the
4) It is difficult to identify an appropriate collective noun: some deny a well established body of
science, but it has been suggested that the ‘denier’ term appears to be a rhetorical device that seeks guilt by association with holocaust denial. This is a shrill and inappropriate move. At the same time ‘sceptic’ is problematic as scepticism is a quality pursued in all good scientific and journalistic practice. ‘Contrarian is the term applied in this paper as it suggests a conscious decision to take a position contrary to the mainstream of opinion.
5) This is particularly important where public service broadcasters give space to climate contrarian claims on the science that have not been peer reviewed. They must demand of it the same rigour that climate science which feeds into the IPCC has been subjected to.
6) Alex Lockwood suggests, borrowing a term from computer science, that
‘climate disinformation online is a form of cultural and political malware every
bit as threatening to our new media freedoms, used not to foster a forum for
open politics but to create… a “multiplicity of fragmented publics” that harms
not only our democracy, but our planet.’ (Lockwood 2008).
7) Polling suggests that attitudes have shifted amongst a significant
minority of the public, with an increase of around 10% in the proportion of the
US and UK populations that are sceptical of climate change over the last
couple of years (see Leiserowitz 2010 for US figures and Spence et al 2010 for
8) Editors and programme makers have sought to allow this body of
the population to hear their views represented. While there are many areas of
political or ethical debate where such balancing is desirable, we argue that in
the case of reporting of scientific knowledge where there is a high degree of consensus amongst legitimate authorities, this leads to perverse outcomes
and serves to mislead the public.
The full document is available here: