Sorry, BBC: I will no longer debate climate-change deniers

The day the charade of ‘balance’ had to stop.

As the saying goes: it isn’t easy being green. For starters: Because we don’t get nearly enough air-time (lacking enough rich backers with the ear of the government, perhaps.

But this week, when I was rung up by BBC Radio, and they asked me to come on air to debate a climate-change denier, something in me broke. Really?, I thought. This summer?

So, for almost the first time in my life, I turned them down.

I told them that I won’t be part of such charades any longer.

I told them that the BBC should be ashamed of its nonsensical idea of ‘balance’, at a time when the scientific debate is as settled as the ‘debate’ about whether smoking causes cancer.

I told them it was a disgrace that they still give deniers of human-caused deadly climate-change airtime, when they wouldn’t do so for Flat Earthers or 9/11 conspirators.

I told them I would be very happy to come on and take part in a different debate: e.g. Is the Paris climate accord going to be enough, or do we need to do more?

Or even: is this civilisation finished, and if so, how should we now rethink our activism?

But I will no longer pretend to put up with the absurd notion that a straight up-and-down debate about the science can be justified.

Let me repeat: I would be more than happy to go on air to discuss climate in some proper framing. But not this framing. It is ridiculous, in 2018, as the world burns, and on Earth Overshoot Day of all days ), to be still presenting climate through the frame of: ‘Is anthropogenic climate change happening or not?’

It’s a dereliction of public-service broadcasting duty.

It seems that quite a lot of people agree with me:

And here’s the exciting thing. If we get some more momentum behind this idea, then it will force a change of coverage-methods on the BBC, which experts have been calling for for years.

If we all refuse to debate the climate-change-deniers, and press the BBC to catch up with the 21st century, then they will be forced to change their ways.

Because even the BBC can no longer defend the practice of allowing a climate-denier to speak unopposed.

Part of this article is adapted from an article published in the Guardian.

Rupert Read is an academic and Chair of the Green House think tank. He is a former spokesperson for the Green Party.

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