Environment correspondents
Feb 19, 2010
Bishop Hill in Climate: Sceptics, Greens, Media

David Henderson's interview on Newsnight Scotland was rather good, I thought. Henderson came over rather well, and in my opinion he's a better frontman for the GWPF than Nigel Lawson, with none of the political baggage with which the former chancellor is encumbered, while also being possessed of oodles of gravitas.

Henderson's opponent was Rob Edwards, the environment editor of the Glasgow Herald. He was splendid evidence of the futility of newspapers employing specialist environment correspondents. The issues of whether global warming is happening are of course all about physics. What the effects of any warming might be are also scientific questions. What to do about it is an area for economists to deal with. Clearly then, the global warming issue should be divided up between science correspondents and economics correspondents.

Unfortunately this is never the case. Almost without exception, global warming stories are handed over to environment correspondents distinguished only by their almost complete ignorance of both science and economics. The main criterion applied by media outlets when appointing journalists to these posts is that applicants be good environmentalists. As a result, dealings between the media and the likes of the CRU have been at best a supine acceptance of whatever story has emerged from the universities' press offices and at worst active cheerleading.

Edwards was a case in point. He acknowledged that he wasn't a scientist and said that bad things had happened at CRU, even suggesting that heads should roll. But his objective for the interview seemed to be to maintain the momentum of the global warming movement:

The bulk of the science hasn't changed...we all make mistakes...it's an incredibly complex thing...this delays the process of coming to a global consensus...

This really isn't the reaction of someone who is trying to take a long hard look at what Climategate means for the overall AGW hypothesis. An argument that the bulk of scientists believe in the "consensus" looks feeble in the light of the revelations that there have been successful attempts to close journals to sceptics.

And lest we we in any doubt as to his credentials as a green activist, here's some of his closing comments:

Last year I was lucky enough to go to Mali in Africa.. and we met lots of people there...government officials, tribal leaders, farmers etc and they all had one message which was in essence, "your pollution is killing us".

Well I'm sure they did - with a bevy of activist environment correspondents from the western media telling them that this is the case and plenty of development cash up for grabs, it would take the forbearance of a saint not to turn a blind eye to the fact that there has been a substantial greening of the Sahel in recent years. I wonder if Rob Edwards noticed that while he was there?


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