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How the BBC mismatches scientists and activists

Simon Lewis in Nature on separation of science and policy debates

How the BBC mismatches scientists and activists

In Nature of 26th February, Dr Simon Lewis takes the BBC to task over its regular habit in discussing climate change of pitting the views of a well-respected scientist against those of someone with no scientific training. Recent coverage of the UK floods has highlighted the problem of activist-versus-scientist media debates, which ultimately mislead the public.

He argues that there is enough disagreement about the details of climate change to give the BBC any desired conflict based on scientists debating science with other scientists.

If climate contrarians such as the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, are to be wheeled out to debate climate change, then they should argue on policy responses with other activists who promote a different plan of action, for example the head of Greenpeace.

Simon believes that separating the science from the policy response in this way is crucial to avoid mismatching interviewees, with inevitably misleading consequences.

The Nature piece followed an invitation from the editor to write about the floods coverage after Simon’s trenchant criticism of media coverage on Twitter.



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