On Tuesday, shortly before wildfires swept through parts of south-east England, the Daily Mail published a comment piece by a writer called Stephen Robinson. “Why can’t the Met Office just tell us the weather, instead of spreading alarm and scolding us with doom-laden lectures?” he raged, accusing the UK’s leading centre of climate and meteorological research of being “woke” and “alarmist”.
Who was this author? Every morning, I pore over the world’s media looking for coverage of the climate crisis as part of researching the daily newsletter for Carbon Brief. I’m very familiar with the various journalists and commentators who are on this “beat”, especially those in Britain. But I’d never heard of Robinson before. So I did a quick search and found his LinkedIn page. It turns out that he’s a “speech writer and consultant” for “companies operating in the energy sector”. How did this person secure such an influential slot in the UK’s bestselling newspaper?