SHOULD critics of renewable energy be allowed to voice their objections in the opinion pages of newspapers?
Doesn’t the protest against eco-taxes or the attack on wind and solar energy subsidies (and the redistribution of wealth from poor to rich that follows), contravene the media’s core principle of “accurate, fair and balanced reporting”, as green energy lobbyists complain?
And what about climate sceptics? Should they be permitted to express their doubts in the comments pages of newspapers? After all, probing the conventional wisdom about global warming has been branded as “deliberately misleading” by green campaigners who claim that any scepticism of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change climate consensus is violating the principle of the media’s own code of conduct.
The former climate change adviser, Ross Garnaut, has lamented that balanced reporting of climate change has seriously undermined the drive for political action: “If you take our mainstream media, it will often seek to provide some balance between people who base their views on the mainstream science and people who don’t. That’s a very strange sort of balance. It’s a balance of words, and not a balance of scientific authority.”
A growing number of climate scientists and environmental campaigners are conducting an organised campaign against the principles of fair and balanced journalism that epitomise open and pluralistic societies.
Political activists are concerned that any doubts, uncertainties and objections expressed in the media may hinder drastic political action. No wonder, then, that campaigners are employing strategies to discourage or intimidate editors from inviting critics to explain their objections. Occasionally, a probing editor or columnist dares to challenge these forms of coercion despite the threats of protest and intimidation. In such cases, a whole army of campaigners and bloggers will rush to assail the insubordinate journalist.
Science based on “consensus” is a tricky business. I am agnostic about it because the history of science tells us that today’s consensus can – and quite frequently is – tomorrow’s redundant theory.