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, September 25, 2005

UK media in denial over the politics of climate change.....

Now, I am no Instapundit, nor even a Daily Ablution, but I think I know a key story when I see one.

On Tuesday last week, I reported the distinct cooling of Tony Blair, the British PM, towards the Kyoto Protocol based on the answers he gave in mid-town Manhattan on September 15 at the Clinton Global Initiative [see: 'Mr. Blair quietly kills off the Kyoto Protocol.....', my September 20 blog]. I even sent a verbatim copy of the Blair quotations to various British media outlets that have often responded in the past to information I have provided them. You would thus think that our media might have jumped at such a story. Yet nothing appeared. I also aired Blair's change of attitude, en passant, while appearing on the excellent 'Daily Politics' show (BBC 2), mid-week.

At last, today, certain Sunday newspapers have started to pick up on the story, if only in short, inside-news pieces - and this, remember, is ten days after Mr. Blair made his carefully-worded remarks. The Sunday Times is one such newspaper (see: 'News', p. 5), while The Observer is another, with 'Blair is accused of Kyoto U-turn' (on 'News', p. 2). The sub-heading for the latter is particularly amusing: 'PM moves closer to Bush's solutions.' The best coverage is probably in The Sunday Telegraph with 'Why Kyoto will never succeed, by Blair'. And the most hysterical? Of course, what a surprise, The Independent on Sunday, with the inevitable headline, 'Blair falls into line with Bush view on global warming', and vocabulary like "outrage", "undermined", "endangered", and "sold out". Yep, you can rely on The Indy. How about, for a change, "sensible", "politically realistic", "practical", and "economically sound"? [See also this parallel comment on the interesting Clive Davis blog: 'Blair & Kyoto redux', (September 25)].

In addition to all this, the ever-redoubtable Professor S. Fred Singer has let me know that the section of a typically-clear interview he did for BBC-4, in which he quoted Tony Blair's ("whom we much admire") statements from the Clinton New York conference, "where he pulled the plug on Kyoto", was cut from the final broadcast. He adds tellingly: "The BBC guy didn't like this at all." Quite.

I think this is all extremely illuminating. Much of the British media has invested enormous amounts of uncritical, emotional, soggy 'left' capital in support of the Kyoto Protocol over the last ten or so years. They have too willingly failed to apply critical journalism to the politics of climate change, with far too many commentators and news broadcasters allowing their own prejudices (not to mention their innate anti-Americanism - Mr. Blair is right about this too!) show.

Now, to their horror, these soggy left 'Green' pundits are finding themselves abandoned by the world, and they are sounding more and more shrill (and extremely shallow). They are increasingly in denial, often failing to pick up on the plate tectonic shifts in climate-change politics that have been slowly accumulating around the globe - shifts which that ever-consummate politician, Tony Blair, has more astutely grasped.

Anyone with even a smattering of understanding concerning the international politics of climate change knows that the Kyoto Protocol has been moribund for some time. Moreover, the world has moved on, shifted to the Pacific Rim, to technological solutions, and away from the 'command-and-control', socialistic, Old European formulae. The issues now (correctly) focus on energy, and on world energy needs, for growing economies. As Mr. Blair himself admitted in Manhattan, no country is going to opt for reduced growth, especially China and India - and most certainly not a UK under Mr. Gordon Brown.

As I have said before, it is time for the British media to grow up over the politics of climate change. The infantile foot-stampings of newspapers like The Independent should be left in the nursery. And, once again, Mr. Blair has demonstrated that New Labour is the only serious party on the British political landscape. Yet, even he is failing to make vital decisions over issues like clean coal and nuclear power.

The British media must recognise that 'global warming' is neither simplistic science nor the politics of the kindergarten.

Philip, looking forward to a time when interviewers finally recognise that the UK is but a small player in the climate-change game and that putting a windmill on the top of your house will do sod all about climate change. Sunday lunch. Yum! Yum!

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

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