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, November 14, 2005

The UK media: time to grow up over 'climate change' politics.....

The mantraic criticisms of Mr. Blair just made by the ever-whinging WWF UK are rich indeed: 'Blair "failing" over environment' (BBC Online UK News, November 14). Leaving aside, for the moment, the sheer fatuousness of the concept of 'tackling climate change' (explained ever-so wearily, over and over again, on this blog), whatever one's personal position on the issue, one must admit that Mr. Blair is the only world leader to have placed climate change at the centre of the world's political agenda. If Blair had not included climate change in the G8 discussions, nobody else would have done so. And just watch what happens when Mr. Putin takes over: for 'climate change' read 'selling energy'. Pipe-dreams all round.

Luckily, however, Mr. Blair is also a political realist. He is well aware of certain abiding truths. No country is going to reduce growth; no country can 'deal with' climate change on its own without reducing its competitiveness; no country is going to opt to don a 'Green' hairshirt; few countries will now accept old-fashioned, socialistic-style European capping targets; and, the only approach to both 'climate change' and, far more importantly, a sensible energy policy is technological advancement - nuclear power, clean coal, the geological storage of carbon, and so forth.

The question one should thus be stressing [and this is the precise purpose of 'EnviroSpin'] is to ask why the UK media are willing to report so uncritically the wet and waffly criticisms of self-appointed groups like the WWF UK.

One element of the answer is, of course, simple: the sheer hatred of Mr. Blair exhibited by the UK's liberal media elite is now so extreme (and so utterly ridiculous and Pinteresque) that any issue, however large or small, will be used to attack him, from his wife's dress sense to his choice of holiday, from Baghdad to Kyoto. I have rarely encountered such malice, even in politics; as you listen to various interviewers and commentators, you can feel the vibrations of their arrogant loathings.

And the inevitable outcome is that, where climate change is concerned, the British media is failing to examine critically the issue in the light of world politics and economics. Newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian have morphed into little more than over-excitable Green undergraduate 'rags', while many other outlets adopt a wonderfully-naive and breathless 'Little Englander' approach - putting a teeny wind turbine on the roof of your thatched cottage will halt climate change in its tracks. Straws in the wind.

It is surely time for the UK media to grow up where the politics of climate change and energy are concerned. It's time to witness, for a change, the WWF UK and their ilk being mauled over totally uneconomic and utopian prognostications.

Meanwhile, this must rank as one of the more stupid protests: 'Greenpeace blockades Downing Street with tonnes of coal' (News and Reports, November 14). These poor souls appear not to be aware that clean coal (between 250 - 600 years worth available) - scrubbed of SO2, with low NOx burners, reduced mercury, fine particulates, and CO2 emissions - is going to be one of the big fuels of the future.

As a very sharp Canadian investor observed recently: it may well be time to put something into coal again. Technology is going to outdate extreme Green politics very quickly. I shall have to mine this seam again on 'EnviroSpin' later on.

Philip, increasingly interested in the gap that now appears to be opening up between the realities of world climate-change politics and the shrillness and Nutwood-style tweeness of much of the UK media on this topic. A morning cappuccino? And a slice of wry-bread toast. Carbon and marmalade all round.

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

WWW EnviroSpin Watch

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