A DISPIRITING tale of our times is smugly and gleefully told on the BBC website – where else? – under the headline Climate Change: How to Talk to a Denier.
Before we go any further, just consider the mocking implication of that headline – climate change ‘deniers’ are simpletons and must be carefully handled.
The narrative itself is about an American lad, Lance Lawson, who sounds a charming young fellow. Realising that his father was a climate change denier, he bravely set out to steer his errant parent towards the path of righteousness.
Lance’s father, Brian Anderson, apparently originally saw climate change as completely overblown and said unscrupulous politicians were ‘fearmongering’ for electoral gain.
But, as time went on, young Lance ‘started realising his father’s views weren’t backed by scientific evidence’ and he decided to challenge him.
‘Whenever he drove me to school, I would give my own argument, and he would downplay the evidence,’ Lance tells us. ‘It would force me to acquire new evidence, and that cycle helped expand my own understanding.’
Lance then asked his father, a religious man, to assume that climate change might be real, and if so, would Brian not have a moral responsibility to take care of what God had provided?
Brian seems to have had a Road to Damascus moment. ‘Lance spoke in a language that I could appreciate and understand,’ he is reported as saying. ‘You have to approach people in terms of where they’re at.’
With ‘time and patience’, Lance – now 21 – convinced his father that climate change was real, so much so that he was surprised by his own success.
‘One time, my dad came downstairs in the middle of the night, so enthused after watching a documentary about deforestation that he was like, “Lance, you won’t believe what’s going on in the rainforest!” It was a breathtaking moment, to see him so engaged.’
As with so many aspects of the parlous state the world is in, this tale for me has echoes of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, both in the story itself and the way it is presented.
For the BBC, of course, it is blatant propaganda of the type that Winston Smith – the hero of Orwell’s novel – might have concocted at the Ministry of Truth, where his job was rewriting history.
The article’s authors, Merlyn Thomas and Marco Silva, are described as ‘BBC Climate Disinformation reporters.’ No room for any compromise there. But are they fabricating climate disinformation or reporting on it, I ask myself. However, I digress.
As ever with the BBC these days, there is no question of any alternative view being tolerated, just an in-your-face diktat that man-made climate change is settled science and any dissenters must be dismissed as deranged, or simply ignored. How tragically divorced from the corporation’s original remit to impartially seek truth.
As for Lance’s story, I’m sure he is a dedicated son who loves his father and is sincere in his beliefs. But I couldn’t help thinking of the Parsons children in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the offspring of Winston’s conformist neighbour. The boy and girl are members of the Spies, the junior Party organisation which encourages youngsters to keep an eye on adults, including their own parents, for signs of political deviation.
The seven-year-old daughter ends up denouncing her father to the Thought Police for allegedly mumbling ‘Down with Big Brother’ in his sleep.
When Parsons and Winston meet in the cells beneath the Ministry of Love, Parsons is mortified by his supposed actions. He tells Winston: ‘Between you and me, old man, I’m glad they got me before it went any further.’
‘Who denounced you?’ said Winston.
‘It was my little daughter,’ said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. ‘She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don’t bear her any grudge for it. In fact, I’m proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway.’
All that said, I am sure Brian’s switch to climate change conformity is considered and genuine. But when it comes to conversions, I am always struck by the closing paragraphs of Nineteen Eighty-Four, where Winston finally submits to the Party.
‘O cruel, needless misunderstanding! O stubborn, self-willed exile from the loving breast … but it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.’
Presumably when it came to his previous wariness of the climate scaremongers, Brian also won the victory over himself.
After the saga of Lance and Brian, I’m sure we can look forward to many more inspiring tales from our national broadcaster about sceptics seeing the error of their ways. Because, to paraphrase Orwell: ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine the BBC churning out woke propaganda – for ever.’