A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Monday, August 02, 2004

All BBC sound and fury, but signifying little.....

I have received various e-mails expressing genuine outrage at the BBC's coverage of the climate change debate last week, and it certainly does seem to have plumbed the depths. One or two of the comments made on the television programmes are beyond parody, and the BBC (television far more than radio) unfortunately seems to have lost any critical cutting edge and to have been presenting pretty blatant propaganda.

Yet, I would ask people to stand back a little and to deconstruct the sound and the fury. Having monitored this debate in the UK for over ten years, I have noticed that, during the last year in particular, the rhetoric has been growing in stridency. Indeed, the language employed in government, by the Green movement, and on the BBC has moved into what one physicist has so brilliantly dubbed 'the hysterical subjunctive'. The crescendo is now deafening at a truly Mahlerian fff.

But the reasons for this crescendo of howls should perhaps give those of us looking for a more rational approach to climate change hope rather than plunge us into despair. Throughout the debate, the volume of the hype has always increased markedly when the 'global warming' faithful feel that they are losing control. And just consider the present situation. It is now seven years on from Kyoto, and the Protocol is in tatters. Even if Russia eventually signs (which still remains to be seen), it is nothing but a thing of shreds and patches. It signifies nothing. Moreover, the British public remain resolutely uninterested in the topic, many regarding a little warming with delight. In addition, the government's foolish addiction to wind power has whipped up a new source of fierce opposition that is already blowing its plans off hill and mountain. Meanwhile, to the government's acute embarrassment, Europe is failing dismally to meet even its own miserable Kyoto targets. Further, some wiser climatologists are all too well aware that it is quite likely that we have now passed a small solar-driven peak in temperatures and that climate might suddenly start to prove unco-operative where the 'global warming' myth is concerned. And then, above all, the good folk of the UK are quite happy to mouth a few platitudes about 'sustainability', but, on the ground, they have no intention whatsoever of falling for a Green 'utopia'.

From David King downwards, what you are hearing are the howls of desperation. All myths have a 'sell-by-date', and the 'global warming' myth has been around for a long time. Moreover, listening carefully to many folk, I detect that people are becoming deeply bored by the myth and by the same old hype. The Beeb should note this.

It is thus entirely arguable that we must grit our teeth and let the government, the Green movement, and the BBC get 'global warming' out of their systems, because, I'm sure, another mighty myth is lingering out there, just waiting for its moment.

Cynical, I know; but.....

Philip, off to the Great Wen for the day.

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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