The Guardian Engages in Climate Activism, Ignores Journalism Ethics

British paper promotes its own campaign demanding Gates Foundation divest from fossil fuels.

Not content to promote climate alarmism solely through biased journalism, The Guardian (UK) moved into full-fledged activist territory with an anti-fossil fuels petition campaign called #KeepItInTheGround.

The Guardian’s editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger publicized the paper’s campaign with a video he was in as well as a write up, on April 30. He said The Guardian started the “Keep it in the Ground” campaign in March to urge the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to divest its entire $43.5 endowment from fossil fuel assets. More than 190,000 Guardian readers supported the call on the Gates’ to “help stop climate change” by divesting.

“If the Gates Foundation were to divest, it would send a powerful signal to fossil fuel companies and to governments that business as usual is not acceptable,” Rusbridger said. He claimed this move was important because “proven reserves [of fossil fuels] are already far greater than we can afford to safely burn.”

The article asked readers to sign The Guardian’s petition and share their video “as widely as possible using #keepitintheground.” This was all part of an effort to “[h]elp us convince Bill Gates that his leadership is desperately needed.”

By creating a petition campaign, Rusbridger and The Guardian blatantly ignored journalism’s ethical guidelines against advocacy, a standard widely promoted by professional organizations in journalism.

DePauw University journalism professor and director of the Janet Prindle Institute for Ethics Bob Steele has described his “serious concerns” with journalism “driven by ideological bias or activist intentions.”

“Journalists have an ethical and professional duty to pursue the truth about significant issues and events and to strive to report that elusive truth as accurately, fairly and fully as possible,” Steele said in a op-ed Sept. 30, 2010.

Society of Professional Journalists, the largest journalism organization in the U.S., also mentions that advocacy and commentary should be clearly labeled by journalists.

The Guardian was already on board with climate alarmism before the divestment campaign. It hosts an alarmist blog about climate and has published opinion pieces attacking climate skeptics a “morally reprehensible” and a “crime against humanity.”

The newspaper’s website hosts a blog in its environment section called, Climate Consensus - the 97%. The blog’s very name references the misleading statistic about “consensus” on climate science. Alarmists have come up with the 97 percent claim multiple times, but has been criticized as having a definition so “fuzzy” that it includes well-known climate skeptics. It has also been misconstrued by the liberal news media.

The Guardian published an article Nov. 1, 2010, called, “Is climate science disinformation a crime against humanity?” Written by Penn State University associate professor Donald Brown, it decried climate skeptics as “extraordinarily morally reprehensible.” Brown even called on “the international community” to “find a way of classifying extraordinarily irresponsible scientific claims that could lead to mass suffering as some type of crime against humanity.”