Is the BBC capturing carbon?

By Andrew L. Urban.

I couldn’t let it pass without comment how the BBC’s Environment Reporter, Mark Kinver, seems confused between ‘carbon’ and ‘carbon dioxide’. On February 4, 2016, he reports that “Newly grown rainforests can absorb 11 times as much carbon from the atmosphere as old-growth forests, a study has shown.”

It’s not so much a convenient short handle for carbon dioxide but a lack of knowledge on his own specialist subject, it seems. He goes on: “However, they added that old-growth forests still needed to be protected as they locked away vast amount of carbon.”

His only excuse is that that once-reputable and reliable journal, Nature, makes the same error in the article Kinver references: “Land-use change occurs nowhere more rapidly than in the tropics, where the imbalance between deforestation and forest regrowth has large consequences for the global carbon cycle.”

It is, I recognise, a global failure of unstoppable proportions, and it pollutes public information and undermines understanding. Images of carbon particles as the subject of climate science are reinforced by tv news images of belching smoke, since tv news editors have no imagination to portray carbon dioxide.

But Kinver can’t be excused for the sloppiness of this typo: “In an article for The Conservation website…” It’s The Conversation; perhaps Kinver made a Freudian slip, as they say.

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