Open letter to a multi-billionaire

I would like to suggest a way you might usefully employ some of the financial and managerial resources you have at your disposal.

I have no personal axe to grind and I am not asking you for money or a job.

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The world’s scientists have convincingly made the case for taking climate change seriously, but the battle for public opinion is going badly.

Reputable news media—even the BBC—cling to the notion that they are duty-bound to accord equal space to “both sides” of the argument, naively preserving the pretence that all opinions are of equal value and ignoring the fact that the debate as such is already over. The question now should be one of planning and organisation: how are we going to live with a climate gone haywire?

Yet irresponsible journalists, self-appointed gurus and—yes—some scientists, who ought to know better, continue to publish misleading piffle based on data that are out of date, misinterpreted or quite simply invented. And they get away with it.

The tabloid press and other forms of journalistic lowlife are ever ready to fulminate over the slightest allegation of a flaw in the scientific data, unscrupulously betraying their remit. And they too get away with it.

Science bloggers spend their nights searching out, analysing and refuting  spurious, error-strewn articles (in addition to somehow holding down fulltime jobs) but they are preaching to the converted.

The inexhaustible George Monbiot takes on Ian Plimer in a live TV debate and thoroughly routs him. But Plimer carries on as though nothing had happened and the media still report what he says.

It’s the same old story: the good guys fight fair and the bad guys fight dirty. And, as ever, they get away with it.

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Now, I’m not saying that we should fight dirty too, but I am suggesting that we could be fighting a damn sight harder.

More precisely, I’m thinking of the remorseless way Disney and Microsoft pursue licence infringements. I’d like to see you applying the same hardball approach to the purveyors of climate change drivel, ranging in scale and impact from the likes of Plimer to the mighty Sunday Times itself.

The Plimers never retract, never apologise. The ST apologised for its January 2010 “Amazongate” article, albeit six months later, when the damage had already been done.

But that’s too easy. And the matter is too important to be glossed over with an apology.

Whenever newspapers or publishers are exposed for peddling inaccuracy, misrepresentation and falsehood they should be punished and punished hard. We have to find a way of making them think very hard before they toss disinformation at the general public; and if they persist it should cost them money—a lot of money—in punitive fines and astronomical legal costs.

You have the muscle to do that.

What I suggest is that you let loose the lawyers. You don’t necessarily have to win cases—just make sure they are widely reported, last a long time and cost a fortune.

Yours sincerely,

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