The BBC used Britain’s recent snowy cold snap to trot out the climate skepticism of Dr. Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool’s John Moores University with absolutely zero scientific expertise in climate change.
In a segment titled “How the big freeze fits theories of global warming,” exploring “how one of the longest cold snaps for a generation fits in with theories of a warming planet and global climate change,” the BBC oddly shoehorns Peiser’s climate change denialism into an otherwise decent piece explaining the difference between weather and climate and why the existence of snow and cold weather does not in any way negate the realities of climate change.
So what could Dr. Peiser – whose greatest achievement in science is getting an asteroid named after him – have to offer on the subject of climate change?
Standing out in a field lightly dusted with snow for the BBC camera, Peiser posits that, because the Met Office predicted a mild winter, “people are right to ask questions and to look into the complexities of climate.”
Below his name, the BBC lists Peiser’s affiliation with The Global Warming Policy Foundation, a new UK “think” tank founded by Lord Nigel Lawson, the former Conservative Chancellor and current global warming “critic.”
After Peiser’s 10 seconds in the sun, er snow, BBC host David Shukman immediately launches into a correction of Peiser’s misunderstanding of climate, noting that “the key thing is that there’s a difference between weather and climate. The weather is what you get day by day, month by month, like this cold spell. But the climate is the kind of weather that you get over a thirty-year period. And that is what the scientists say is changing. “
Then Rob Varley of the Met Office further explains that: “It’s absolutely undoubtedly true that, over the last 100 years, the world has gotten warmer and the science is really very clear that the world will continue to get warmer, and the fact that it’s snowy in my garden at the moment really doesn’t alter that one bit.”
Peiser is a confused skeptic, as even he acknowledges the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is caused by human activity. Peiser admitted to Media Watch in 2006 that: “I do not think anyone is questioning that we are in a period of global warming. Neither do I doubt that the overwhelming majority of climatologists is agreed that the current warming period is mostly due to human impact.”
According to an ISI search of publications, Peiser has published only a handful of research papers in peer-reviewed journals, mostly in sports medicine and astronomy journals. None of Peiser’s peer-reviewed work is related to human-induced climate change.
So why does the BBC think it necessary to include Peiser’s views in a piece on climate when he clearly has no credible expertise in the science of climate change?