Sunday, 14 February 2010

Complaint number 1

I rattled off my first complaint about the programme by post . It rambles a bit, but the gist of it is that the title of the programme is not addressed by content. Since many people wont bother to listen to the programme they will only see the listings, there is a misrepresentation here that there is a fundamental scientific flaw to environmentalism. That is not what the programme concludes or even examines. Damage done. Here's the letter, no response from the BBC yet.

Dear Sir,

I am writing to complain about the programme Analysis: Are Environmentalists Bad For The Planet? broadcast on Radio 4.

When I first heard the broadcast I was incensed by the reporter's assumptions that environmentalism necessarily encompasses anti-capitalism and a host of other agendas. I think you have to define what you mean by environmentalists. An environmentalist can be somebody simply attempting to live a low impact lifestyle for themselves, or it can mean an environmental activist who campaigns for environmental values. That distinction is conflated throughout the programme.

I listened to Feedback on Radio 4 today when it was discussed and at times wondered whether the Series Editor was talking about the same programme. Her defence could be summarized I think that this was somehow encapsulating an internecine debate.

This brings me to the nub of my complaint. Are Environmentalists Bad For The Planet? This was a question, a suggestion. However it was not the issue dealt with by the programme. Mr Rowlatt makes clear in his summing up and in his blog that his real suggestion is that the urgent question of climate change might be used to bring in an agenda of other political issues.

Many people wont have listened to the programme, they would get no further than the title in the listings and conclude that there is some case that environmentalists and environmentalism are bad for the planet, that there is some fundamental fallacy in all environmentalism that makes it a worthless self-defeating set of values.

I have to put it to you that this is hugely biased reporting. The suggestion encompassed by the title is defamatory.

The issue of nuclear power was touched on and I suspect that you will try to use that platform to dismiss my complaint. However there are environmentalists who (albeit reluctantly and with some caveats) support nuclear. Most notably George Monbiot who wasn't mentioned. The question of whether nuclear power is a net solution or not is as your reporter discovered thorny and unresolved.

The programme touched on a number of contextual issues, such as our economic society's dependence on energy, and growth , in that light environmentalism cannot offer all the answers. Indeed challenging the necessity for economic growth would have to be considered a political and economic question, and would by necessity have to involve other issues, issues that Mr Rowlatt accuses environmentalists of “smuggling in”. It it is dishonest (particularly a few months before a general election) to then pretend as the programme does, that environmentalism is akin to millenarianism or some kind of apocalyptic prophesy.

Thanks to BBC iPlayer I have now listened to the programme twice and viewed the (somewhat inaccurate) transcript. I suggest the BBC , in the interests of restoring impartiality broadcast a programme entitled “Why environmentalists are good for the Planet”

Yours Sincerely

Hengist McStone

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