One of the mildly annoying things about having a deeper knowledge of a specific subject is that your ears get overly sensitive. Due to my Delingpole filter (see ‘Deliver us from Delingpole’) I always check myself when I jump to some rash conclusion a question I might hear, say, a BBC reporter ask on the radio.
It is a common middle class habit, pottering around the kitchen in the morning making eggy bread for your children and shouting at the radio. I try and stop myself, life is too short, it’s only Radio 4, it’s only the Today program, it’s fluff, a stream of mildly Daily Mail style anxiety.
There are many ways a reporter could and should legitimately ask a question about a renewable energy story for example. There was a report on the Today program this morning about the big tidal turbine installation being proposed at Islay in the Inner Hebrides. (Full disclosure, I’ve just been there)
A new, large scale installation like this throws up many problems, for one thing, the connection of this remote generating source to the National Grid. That is a very good point, it’s a question that needs to be asked.
‘How much will it cost to connect this system to the grid?’
There you go, that’s a direct question, there’s no getting out of that.
Here’s what the reporter actually said.
‘But it’s obviously going to cost a fortune to connect this to the grid.’
Oh wait, that’s not a question, that’s a statement.
The spokesman he was interviewing did an excellent job countering the negativity and the key points came across very well. The reporter was just being provocative to get the required response. All good, ‘balanced’ stuff.
There was of course no mention of the cost of connecting a massive new nuclear or coal fired generator to the grid, they are built on the coast and require massive, expensive connections to the grid, and of course they need a constant supply of expensive, dangerous fuel, but I suppose that is so obvious no one is going to mention it. Oh, and just in case you truly don’t know, ‘traditional’ generator systems all receive massive government subsidies, tax breaks and ‘incentives,’ far more than any renewable project ever has.
The next question could have been:
‘How much electricity will these marine turbines generate?’
Perfectly legitimate question. Instead he made another statement.
‘But you’d need at least a thousand of these turbines to generate the same amount as a large coal burning plant.’
The implication being, ‘this is just silly isn’t it, it’ll never work, it’s just greenwash.’
i.e the official Clarksonian line.
Thankfully the spokesman again dealt with the chronic lack of understanding, and short term thinking the statement revealed explaining that the tidal turbines will produce very reliable, predictable zero fuel, zero carbon electricity which is just the thing the National Grid wants.
Now, if I’d been asking the same man questions for Fully Charged, I’d have been chronically biased in the other direction. I’d have said
‘So these turbines produce industrial amounts of power day in day out without burning fuels we have to import at vast expense.’
You see, very biased, very leading, very one sided.
But I don’t work for the BBC, Fully Charged is an independent production not reliant on the license fee. The BBC are meant to be balanced and for 99% of the stories they cover they are.
It is on the topic of specifically electric vehicles and to a lesser extent, renewable energy where they have shown a chronic, long term Clarksonian bias. They sneer and belittle, they josh and denigrate. This isn’t recent, this has been going on for years. I wish someone from the BBC could explain why.