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.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Kyoto Karnival, or 'Coyote Charivari'.....

Yesterday proved to be one of wry amusement as all sorts of worthy souls tried to spin their way out of the fact that the 'coming-of-age' of the Kyoto Protocol was no 'Rose Adagio', but much more a Swan Song. Indeed, Kyoto fell off point a long time before its suitors arrived with their single roses.

But, before the fun, an excellent piece from the Foreign Editor of The Times, Bronwen Maddox, on the politics of Kyoto: 'Dire warnings on global warming are just hot air' (The Times, February 17, p. 36). Do not miss this thoughtful briefing.

But now for the charivari:

* First, a farmer pal e-mailed me with the following: "My local radio station spent most of the morning proclaiming the new dawn of the 'Coyote Protocol'. I laughed so much I've now got wobbly lines in the barley I was sowing." Howls indeed! It is, perhaps, worth pointing out that the Wily Coyote never caught the Road Runner - so you SUV drivers remain safe.

* Secondly, Greenpeace truly got its come-uppence at the International Petroleum Exchange (IPE), where some 35 protesters fell foul of what The Times (ever on the ball today) called, "the post-prandial aggression" of oil traders, who kicked and punched them back onto the pavement. One trader, with pint in hand, was heard to yell: "Sod off, Swampy!" Now, the idea of taking on the 'Rogue Traders' following lunch, when they are returning from the 'Slug and Barrow Boy' after a couple of jars, was surely not Greenpeace's wisest of moves. I gather that at least 27 of the Greenpeace protesters have been arrested and that two are (and, for once, I can genuinely sympathise with them) in hospital. Not their finest hour. One comment, however, was priceless - and quite untradeable: "I've never seen anyone less amenable to listening to our point of view." What a surprise! Case of the Bulls and the Bears, I think.

* One or two media broadcasts were also highly revealing. First, I thought Sir David King looked a tad uneasy when cleverly questioned on BBC News 24's 'Hard Talk' about the subtle changes in Mr. Blair's language on climate change analysed from his recent speeches on the subject (Blair even acknowledged us sceptics at Davos) and then, again, when asked about the UK's debacle on trying to increase its emissions allowance for the European Emissions Trading Scheme. It was also fun listening to the knockabout between the ever-feisty Melanie Phillips and George 'Savonarola' Monbiot on BBC Radio 4's 'The Moral Maze' (sadly, a most unbalanced show, for once - poor Melanie seemed to be pitched against three other panellists and a stand-in Chair. You can listen to the programme here). But best of all, on ITV 'News', I think, was witnessing an earnest young soul from FoE lecturing some poor benighted householders on how they could save the planet by spending a great deal of money on their houses. It was a seminal example of the self-righteous puritanism that can be let loose by Kyoto.

* But, in the end, the prize for the daftest comment must, of course, go to Klaus Toepfer, head of the UN's Environment Programme: climate change could lead, he declared, to the Earth "spinning out of control". All that's "spinning out of control", mate, is human hubris and political spin.

"What larks, Pip!" And, for those of you who don't know what a 'charivari' is: it's "a discordant mock serenade to newly weds", or "a confused noise; din".

Says it all.

Philip, toodle-pip. Coffee.

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

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