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, May 16, 2005

Guardianistas truly browned off.....

I don't often give much time or space to Paul Brown's apocalyptic reporting in The Groaniad. Brown is to the environment what Madeleine Bunting is to moral 'understanding' (witness Norman Geras' excoriating deconstruction of Bunting's latest horror, which "...is little short of an apologia for suicide bombing" - 'Bring out the Bunting', Normblog, May 15).

Today, however, I do have some sympathy for Brown (Paul that is, not Gordon). Despite all the Blair rhetoric, it is increasingly clear that the British Government is failing miserably to cut carbon dioxide emissions, while, of course, it, and Tony B. in particular, continue to lecture the world about the moral and urgent need to do so. If you are of Brown's ilk, then you really must feel extraordinarily sick at heart over the double-speak. Of course, this state of affairs is inevitable. What hasn't dawned on many poor souls is the simple fact that cutting carbon dioxide emissions significantly in the face of much-needed economic growth is well nigh impossible in the short- to medium-terms. It just ain't going to happen, folks. And energy efficiency is a nightmare in Britain, with its enormous stock of housing between 50- to 150-years old.

Thus, here is Brown reporting on the Royal Society's own latest emissions: 'Climate change policy in tatters' (The Guardian, May 16):
"The government has admitted it is not reaching its promised 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010. It looks likely to reach only 13%. Under the Kyoto agreement, which came into force this year, the government is committed to cutting all greenhouse gases by 12.5% and has said it will easily achieve this.

However, the Royal Society casts some doubt on this and says the government is overestimating the effect of the policies that it is relying on to reach these targets. Among examples are building regulations expected to reduce energy use in homes, but which are not enforced, and rising volumes of traffic."

In truth, the position is worse, as Brown rightly points out. Under 8 years of Labour and Mr. Blair, carbon dioxide emissions have hardly been reduced at all:
"...the scientists emphasise that most of the gains the UK has made in reducing emissions are nothing to do with Mr Blair, and happened because of the switch to gas before he came to office." [my italic]

Sadly, true. Time, therefore, I judge, for The Gloomiad to back nuclear power and to drop its own apologias for tilting at wind farms.

Philip, reading The Guardian with a peg on his nose. Nearly time for elevenses (or twelveses), Pooh.

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

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