This blog is written by Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Posts appear Monday & Wednesday.
The BBC recently issued a document telling its journalists how to approach climate stories. That document treats the findings of a UN entity known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as gospel.
The “best science on the issue,” it says, is expressed by the IPCC, “which drew on the expertise of a huge number of the world’s top scientists.”
Cripes. Out here in the real world, it’s 2018. But the last decade may as well not have happened as far as the BBC is concerned. In the bubble in which BBC bureaucrats reside it’s still 2007, the year Al Gore and the IPCC were each awarded half of the Nobel Peace Prize – not for their scientific prowess, but for their role in raising the alarm about climate change.
The world was more innocent back then. The InterAcademy Council (IAC) – an international collection of science entities – wouldn’t strike a committee to examine the IPCC’s internal workings until two years later.
The release of the IAC’s August 2010 report should have been a game changer. After all, the report identified “significant shortcomings in each major step of IPCC’s assessment process” (see the first paragraph of Chapter 2).
The New Scientist magazine considered the report so devastating it called for the resignation of the IPCC’s chairman in an article titled Time for Rajendra Pachauri to go.
The Financial Times similarly ran an editorial that urged Mr. Pachauri “to move on.”
Geoffrey Lean, then Britain’s longest-serving environmental correspondent, said the report revealed the IPCC to be an “amateurish, ramshackle operation.”
Louise Gray, environment correspondent for Telegraph, began her account with these words: “In a damning report out earlier this week…”
Over at the Daily Mail, writer Fiona Macrae called it a “scathing report.”
Environmental studies professor Roger Pielke Jr. thought the report “remarkably hard hitting” – and was quoted by the Associated Press saying the IPCC might be redeemed via this flavour of “tough love.”
Precious few improvements have occurred since then. Being a UN bureaucracy, the IPCC is essentially a law unto itself, an entrenched culture with no meaningful oversight mechanisms.
But the BBC wouldn’t know that. Because rather than performing due diligence to determine how much progress has been made since 2010, the BBC chooses to behave as though the IAC report doesn’t exist. The IPCC’s fall from grace simply never happened.
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