Dear Mr Dimbleby,
I write to express my concern over the composition of the panel for the June 7th edition of Any Questions. The points I raise below are not mere rhetorical; I think they’re immensely important and I would very much like you to answer them.
How can you justify giving air time to someone like Delingpole? The man is a fool or a knave, perhaps both, and his so-called opinions have no place in any serious discussion of the implications of climate change. If your answer is, “To ensure a representative debate,” then I’m afraid I don’t believe you. I credit you with being sufficiently well informed to know that, in terms of scientific opinion, the debate has been over for a long time. But perhaps you don’t realise just how long a time. Are you aware of the latest research on the subject, by John Cook et al, published in Environmental Research Letters on 15 May 2013? Cook and his colleagues found that the 97% consensus, which only now is finding its way into public discourse, was already well established twenty years ago.
If you really wanted a representative debate, you should have surrounded Paterson and Delingpole with 47 committed climate scientists and one dissenting. Of course the Any Questions format makes that impossible, but the next best thing would have been to isolate Paterson among, say, two climate scientists and a pundit, all with converging opinions. Why did you not do so?
It’s difficult enough as it is for the layman to form an accurate picture of the causes and effects of climate change; by appearing to take people like Delingpole seriously, you contribute directly to blurring that picture. How do you square that with the role of public broadcaster?
I would go further. Even that most august and conservative of bodies, the IPCC, agrees that climate change will kill hundreds of millions of people if we don’t do something radical very soon to prevent it, or at least to mitigate the effects. In that context, the disinformation spread by Delingpole and his ilk, is tantamount to failure to render assistance to people in danger. Moreover, given the scale of the danger and the numbers involved, it is but a short step from there to an accusation of crimes against humanity. That would make you an accessory. How do you feel about that?