The Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival, which was taking place at the EICC, ended yesterday. One of the impressions that has stuck with me was of a liberal-minded panel of executives trying to placate a belligerent producer in the name of objectivity in television reporting.
The panel led by Justin Rowlat, the BBC's Ethical Man (he and his family tried to reduce their carbon footprint reality tv style), was supposed to be a discussion around the question How Green Is TV? but what happened was that the panel and the audience, which seemed to reflect the wider scientific consensus on global warming in the UK, had to persevere with the lone, shrill voice of the minority member.
Martin Durkin shot to infamy for his Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. The show was widely criticised in the scientific world for being strewn with misrepresentations and "seriously flawed data." One MiT scientist said that he was duped by the filmmakers, and that Dunkin's film is "as close to pure propaganda as anything since World War Two."
Dunkin, unrepentant, harangued festival delegates about the lack of proper scientific reporting and the green bias in television. As journalists are wont to, the conversation turned on what a taxi driver thought about global warming. (Why do a poll when you've got a taxi driver?) Like "most people," Dunkin said this model-man-on-the-street believes that man-made global warming is a sham.
Helen Veale, whose main motivation for being on the panel seemed to be to push her new eco-reality show Dumped (contestants compete to survive on a rubbish dump), quipped that's probably because he saw Dunkin's film. In fact, you'd think he more likely gets his global warming science from Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear (which inconveniently for the Beeb-bashing Dunkin is part of Auntie's stable). Anyway...
Panelist Nick Phipps, Executive Producer at Sky News, tried to raise the level of discussion. He mildly suggested that his friends from the British Antartic Survey - who have detailed studies of climate change - took serious issue with the mispresentation of data in Dunkin's show. Dunkin brushed it off by saying he'd answered that in an email interview with a Scottish newspaper.
Justin Rowlat pressed for a response to the criticisms of Dunkin's show. Dunkin's measured response?
"They're talking shit... we got a kicking from people who talk shit." Other Martin Dunkin gems included his assertions that man-made global warming is "green nonsense," "absolute bollocks" and "anti-capitalism dressed up again." Well, maybe he's showing more his true colours in that last comment.
After that display, I know whose Science I'll take, thank you. Bring on the green TV.