A BBC News journalist's willingness to report more than climate orthodoxy should be encouraged not condemned.
A news feature written by a regional BBC reporter has turned out to be a surprising hit on the corporation’s online news site. In ‘What happened to global warming?’ (1), Paul Hudson, weather presenter and climate correspondent for the BBC’s Look North in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, asked why the rise in global temperatures seems to have levelled off since the last record-breaking year of 1998. In doing so, he sent the BBC’s visitor statistics soaring.
Following its publication on 9 October, Hudson’s article was the most popular page on the BBC’s science pages for the next week. Climate-sceptical columnists and bloggers praised the BBC for taking seriously an issue that they have been flagging up for a while. The Telegraph’s Damian Thompson hailed it as ‘a clear departure from the BBC’s fanatical espousal of climate change orthodoxy’ (2). Everyone else, it seems, from the Guardian to Nature, are furious for the same reason: because the BBC is taking seriously an issue that sceptics have been flagging up for a while. Joseph Romm, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, called it an ‘utterly backwards piece of nonsense’ (3). Such was the volume of outrage that Hudson’s senior colleague, Richard Black, has been motivated to write a rare defence of BBC editorial policy (4).