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.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

You couldn't make it up.....

A breezy hat tip to Dr. Benny Peiser for bringing to my attention this stunning juxtaposition of statements in a Gloomiad classic (one which even includes an iconic Grauniad misprint - "Sic, O, sic! [Aside] If not, I'll ne'er trust printing"): 'Europe fails to cut greenhouse gas emissions' (The Guardian, June 18):
Statement A: "Europe is failing to tackle climate change, putting further pressure on Tony Blair to come up with a fresh initiative at the G8 summit and embarrassing the European commission, which is floundering over budget cuts and the constitution treaty. The latest figures for Europe's greenhouse gas emissions, seen by The Guardian but not due to be released until next week, show that the 15 countries who were EU members in 2003 increased their overall emissions by 1.1% in the year up to 2004."

Statement B: "Yesterday, the commission played down the figures, blaming a harsh winter for the increases. 'It was very cold across Europe. The number of days that people needed to hear (sic) their homes was much higher,' said a spokeswoman."

Talk about blind faith.....

Two other comments in this piece are also worth a side swipe:

(a) "One reason the US gave for not joining the Kyoto treaty was because the US administration said it would not deliver the cuts needed to avoid serious climate change." Well done the US, say I.

(b) "... global climate change spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth, said: 'If Britain and the rest of Europe cannot get it right, then how can anyone expect the US or developing countries to?' [my emphasis]

And there was I thinking European colonialism and arrogance was a thing of the past. Raj Quartets all round. It looks like Ronald Merrick is alive and well, and policing for the Greens: "Come on you naughty children. Do what Nanny Britain says, and all will be well."

This whole 'global warming' nonsense is encapsulated to perfection in a truly dire comment in today's The Observer, the Sunday Bible of The Latterday Church of the Global Warmers: 'Fiddling as the planet burns' (The Observer, June 19). It is just too dreadful to bother quoting. So, instead.....

"We will now all sing Hymn Number 5 from the 'Cool it Dude Hymnal' (CDH)" - "If you know you're doomed and happy, clap your hands", a sentiment brilliantly analysed by Andrew Marr, the BBC's bouncy Political Correspondent, in last week's The Daily Telegraph (June 15): 'Notebook' (scroll down to second item on the psychology of climate doomsters):
"... Speaking of which, there has been some rethinking about global warming that has made me squirm. I am not talking about whether climate change is happening - there seems to be just too much solid evidence that it is. No, the question is whether it is a disaster or a good thing, overall.

There are serious scientists who point out that cooling down generally hurts biodiversity more than warming up; that climate change could help boost rainforest growth and spread trees and agriculture to new areas of the world; that the seas around us could seethe with new life; and that with the political will, global warming need not spread hunger or create impossible human disruption.

This is not the place, and I am not expert enough, to assess whether that is true or not. Selfishly, I'm more interested in my own reaction, which is queasy and half-appalled. At some level, the thought of looming environmental catastrophe gets me up in the morning, a pleasant dirge in my heart. Once, I needed looming nuclear disaster to keep interested.

When that went, climate change came along just in time: any sneaking suspicion that everything might be all right after all is profoundly unsettling.

What's going on here? Is it native Scottish pessimism, getting close to my inner Private Frazer? Do some of us need the thought of impending disaster to keep going - as in Cavafy 's poem about a Roman city waiting for barbarian attack, which doesn't come: 'Now what's going to happen to us without the barbarians? / They were, those people, a kind of solution.'

Or is it that journalists, with our notorious inability to contemplate boredom, simply find mild progress too dull? Ah well, if by any chance global warming does prove to be beneficial, there's always viral mutation."

Says it all. Well done, AM.

Philip, off for a coffee in the garden on a lovely, glorious golden day, only the second of summer. Ah! But I must be gloomy, mustn't I? So: "The nights will soon be drawing in / My life is full of fear and dim....." (Hymn Number 7 in CDH). Tambourines at the ready? One, two, three.....

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

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