By James Delingpole Politics Last updated: August 27th, 2013
Personally I don’t believe in banning words – but I do believe in intellectual and moral consistency. You’d never hear an organisation as eggshell-treadingly right-on as the BBC use pejorative terms for Jews or black people or homosexuals or sufferers of cerebral palsy. So why, pray, does it feel it can persist in using the deliberately offensive term “denier” to write off anyone who is sceptical about Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming?
It was at it again this morning on one of its regular Scientists: Aren’t They Marvellous?!!! programmes, this one presented by a particularly fulsome and slobbering Jim Al Khallili. [The audio is here but for God’s sake keep a towel handy to wipe off all the drool. Oh, and a sick bag too.] Khallili was giving the O Mighty Genius, How Shall We Praise Thee? treatment to a dreary-sounding woman named Joanna Haigh who is apparently head of physics at Imperial College London. Presumably Freeman Dyson and Richard Lindzen weren’t available.
Anyway, when she’s not swanning around her department radiating goodness, light, truth and beauty (so various recorded tributes told us), Haigh is a fervent believer in the IPCC, in man-made global warming, sections on “climate change” in Geography GCSEs and so on. She also has no time for climate sceptics who, she said, she prefers to call “deniers”.
Once might have been forgivable. But Al Khallili used in his intro too, for all the world as if the very nature of climate scepticism is so outre and unacceptable that it is perfectly acceptable to dismiss such miscreants with whatever insults one will.
Complaining that the BBC is biased in its coverage of climate change, I admit, is about as pointless as grumbling that Hamas are a touch anti-semitic. Even so, maybe one or two readers might care to let the BBC’s complaints department, what that term “denier” is designed to signify.
Here is George Monbiot in a 2006 Guardian article: “Almost everywhere, climate change denial now looks as stupid and unacceptable as Holocaust denial.”
Did you see what George did there? If you’re sceptical about an unproven scientific hypothesis you’re in the same league as people who don’t accept that the Nazis murdered six million Jews.
The BBC is not the only member of the alarmist establishment which makes too handy with the “d” word. Even once-respectable scientific journals like Nature have started using it, prompting this elegant put-down from Lord Leach of Fairford.
The use of the term “denier” does your journal a disservice, both for its vagueness and for its insulting overtone.
What does a “denier” deny? Certainly not Climate Change: nor global warming since records began in the late 19th century: nor the likelihood of human influence on temperatures. What, then?
A “denier” denies certainty on a complex and still young scientific subject. A “denier” questions assumptions about the near irrelevance of solar, oceanic and other non-anthropogenic influences on temperature. A “denier” prefers evidence to model projections. A “denier” tests alarming predictions against actual observations. In short, a “denier” exhibits the symptoms of a genuine seeker after scientific truth.
I wish the same could be said of “consensus” writers – or that they showed the same restraint and courtesy towards different opinions shown by sceptics such as Watts Up With That.
Personally I’m not going to write into the BBC and complain. I’m delighted they’re still using the word so freely. Every time they do so, it marks them out for the unreconstructed, scientifically illiterate bigots the Cambridge Media and Environment Programme has helped them become. Nice work, Harrabin!