Image credit: katykat, used under Creative Commons license
I've talked before about the notion of false balance in the climate debate, arguing that you can't create "fair" reporting simply by giving two "sides" equal air-time, with no regard to the relative weight of either evidence or expertise. It would seem that the BBC has fallen into that trap, as The Independent reports that an independent inquiry has found the broadcasting corporation has been presenting a distorted picture of current scientific opinion by giving climate skeptics too much air-time:
Climate sceptics who do not believe that man-made emissions of carbon dioxide are contributing to global warming have had too much air-time on the BBC as a result of its public broadcasting remit to be impartial, an inquiry has found. Inaccurate statements from those who challenge the scientific consensus on a range of subjects had frequently gone unquestioned in the BBC's attempts to be even-handed.
No doubt this news will be used by many climate skeptics as another excuse to play victim, and indeed the comments section at The independent is filling up with complaints about the thought police. But the BBC is right in paying the matter some attention.
It makes no more sense to give climate scientists and climate skeptics equal air-time, any more than it makes sense to give a professor of evolutionary biology equal airtime with a Miss USA contestant when discussing the intricacies of evolution. Even Lord Monckton, the skeptic with a classics degree, has confusingly argued that non-scientists shouldn't be looked to for climate science expertise—so it's time the world's media started vetting some credentials and presenting the true state of current scientific opinion.
More on Climate "Skeptics"
Beware False Balance in the Climate Debate
Climate Skeptics Playing Victim?
Skeptic Lord Monckton, with a Degree in Classics, Says Non-Scientists Shouldn't Talk Climate Science