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.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Guardian at last catches up with Mr. Blair.....

How to read The GuardianSee what happens when you abandon careful news reporting and analysis for hype. The Guardian (next in the hype stakes to the disgraceful Independent, which remains, nevertheless, in a league of its own) has been so obsessed with propagating its own brand of ecodoom on 'global warming' that it has failed to notice that the rest of the world has moved on politically, including Mr. Blair. It is certainly always wise to read The Groaniad with a peg on your nose.

Today, however, the light finally seems to have dawned in the dismal corridors of The Gloomiad: Blair signals shift over climate change' (The Guardian, November 2):
"Tony Blair appeared last night to undermine more than 15 years of climate change negotiations when he signaled a shift away from a target-based approach to cutting greenhouse emissions. Speaking at the end of the first day of a summit in London of environment and energy ministers, the prime minister said that legally binding targets to reduce pollution made people 'very nervous and very worried'.

He said when the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012, the world would need a more sensitive framework for tackling global warming..."

Precisely (though please, of course, ignore The Guardian's perjorative "undermine"). Where have the Gloomsters been? Blair has been saying this obliquely for the last two years (witness this blog) and quite openly for the last six months. For Blair, Kyoto is dead; long live dynamic technology. This has been the nuclear core of his argument for some time now.

Where climate change is concerned, Tony Blair exhibits a Baldrick-like cunning. He has no intention of either sacrificing economic growth or taking unilateral, hairshirt action. He has long recognised that the only way forward is to employ the threat of 'global warming' to promote international technological entrepreneurship, including carbon capture and nuclear power. He is well aware that countries like China will never accept Old European, 'socialistic', Kyoto-style emission targets and caps. Moreover, under the umbrella of 'global warming', he can manage the re-emergence of nuclear power in the UK, despite a hangover 1960's Pinteresque generation and a nuclear industry with a poor track record. His progress on these issues has been a consummate example of realpolitik. By contrast, David Cameron (Conservative leadership pretender) and the Lib Dems are lamentably naive (and potentially dangerous for the British economy).

Of course, in their concomitant Leading Article, the Guardianistas can't resist leaping onto their high horse (while completely missing the vault): 'Leading by example' (The Guardian, November 2).

"Leading by example!" Dangerous nonsense. Thank goodness Blair knows all too well that it would be outright madness for any one country to take unilateral action, which would simply weaken the competitiveness of the home economy. Neither he, nor Gordon Brown, will contemplate this for a moment. Moreover, as I keep (somewhat wearily) having to point out, by 2020 the UK will account for less than 1.5% of world energy consumption. What we do here is largely meaningless in climate terms.

"Look East, young gloomsters." The world has left you behind in a time warp.

Nevertheless, today The Gloomiad does try to balance its climate-change coverage a tad by allowing Myron Ebell no less, Director of Global Warming Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), some space: 'Kyoto is a far greater threat to the planet than global warming' (The Guardian, November 2). But then the Guardianistas had little choice after Our Very Own George, Savonarola Monbiot, had taken a swipe at Ebell in a previous piece.

Ah! That shuttlecock of balanced debate.

Philip, sometimes amazed at the naivete of campaigning journalists. I think I deserve a banana with my coffee this morning - politics, after all, is monkey business.

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

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