A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

As ever - The Guardian cheapening the debate.....

If you really want to enjoy The Guardian at its world-wearying worst, then, every Wednesday, the two 'Environment' pages of the tear-stained 'Society' Section will always oblige. These pages are little short of unadulterated green propaganda, larded (of course!) with snide comments about anybody who dares to attempt to criticise such an agenda. Here is a tiny gem from today's offerings under 'Eco Soundings' (2nd down), inevitably, and oh-so-predictably, on the 114 scientists who had the audacity to write to the PM about their concerns over the GM debate in the UK (see October 31 blog). (My own comments are given in italic within [square brackets]):-

'Letters of discontent'
[You can just feel the sneer behind the heading]

'Last week, 114 "independent" scientists wrote to Tony Blair saying they felt "demoralised" by the public hostility to their work, and that the GM debate had been hijacked by "antis".'
[Just admire the use of the scare quotes around the words "independent", "demoralised", and "antis" - classic stuff.]

'But who were the 114? GM Watch, a website that ferrets out humbug, has found that the majority of them work for research institutions or laboratories that have received tens of millions of pounds of funding from Monsanto and Syngenta.'
[GM Watch is a campaigning web site that attacks individuals in an 'ad personam' manner. Try it and see - you will be able to suck more humbug there than in any letter to the PM. But, of course, the site receives unqualified approval from the investigative 'Guardian' - note the word, 'ferrets'. And I just adore the: 'has found that' - every signatory to the letter gave their full affiliation, freely, openly and proudly. And then there is the inevitable - taint by association, the only motive allowable by 'The Guardian' being greed and money. Last, the ultimate ingredient - toss in the word, Monsanto, and mix lightly.]

'Others are well known consultants for the companies, several receive pensions from them, and some are leading lights in anti-environment groups. Very few, concludes the website, are genuinely independent.'
[And I suppose everyone who works for 'The Guardian', and for the ever-noble green organisations, are entirely "independent"? I particularly liked the desperate attack on the poor souls who are clearly not reaping the rewards of their "non-independence" (like yours truly) - those 'leading lights in anti-environment groups.' As it happens, and as was so well pointed out in a letter (2nd down, by Mia Nybrant) published in yesterday's 'The Guardian', these are groups just as deeply concerned about the environment, but, unfortunately for them, they have the temerity to doubt the rationality of the extreme environmentalist position promoted by the propaganda on these pages of 'The Guardian'. And what precisely is 'genuinely independent' - you note, not given in scare quotes? I know many of the signatories, and I can assure 'The Guardian' that they are an extremely independent bunch of thinkers, who have come to their positions because they personally believe in what they are doing. And how about some independent, balanced, journalism at the jolly old 'Guardian' then? Now that would make a refreshing change.]

Overall comment: this little piece exemplifies everything that is currently wrong with the environmental debate in the UK - never mind the arguments, just damn the individuals concerned in any way you can. It is cheap and nasty.

A totally and fiercely independent Philip (and don't anyone dare intimate otherwise!). Coffee - strong and steaming.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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