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The problem with hidden agendas

Justin Rowlatt | 19:18 UK time, Wednesday, 27 January 2010

I'm used to my reports and blogs causing a stir but the Analysis programme I made this week for Radio 4 seems to have been even more incendiary than most.

analysis.jpg

It asks an admittedly deliberately provocative question - whether the green movement is bad for the environment.

But the actual programme is, I thought, more balanced and nuanced. It discusses whether some of the ideological baggage of the green movement can be a problem when campaigning on the climate issue.

Yet it led one contributor to the programme to describe me as dangerous. I've been called all sorts of things in my life, but that's a new one on me.

I've also had a clutch of critical e-mails. One described the programme as "an attempt to catch a currently fashionable vogue for smearing environmentalists".

Then there is the usual slew of angry posts on my blog.

This time even the producer has come in for flack. There have been pointed attacks on her article on the use of religious imagery by environmentalists. (But it has been posted up by Al Gore.)

So why is the programme causing such controversy?

A number of people thought it was plain biased.

"It's good old fashioned journo trick", reads a comment on one blog.

"Set up the straw man, conflate lots of ideas and different people's work behind it and deliver your own value laden conclusions as if you were taking the only rational position possible."

Is that fair? Judge for yourself, listen to it now.

Alternatively, you can read a full transcript here.

The more patient among you can wait until Sunday 31st, then you will be able to do it the old fashioned way and listen to the programme on the wireless. Radio 4 at 9.30pm. (You may it find a useful sleep aid).

But I will cut to the chase. I argue in the programme that green campaigners should be very wary of using the urgency of the climate issue as cover to push forward other, agendas - poverty or equality, for example.

Here's the conclusion: "I don't have a problem with people campaigning for those other agendas for their vision of a better society. For me the problem comes if the
fear of the consequences of climate change is used as cover to smuggle in other objectives for social and political change. That's because many people already
have a sense that there's something suspicious about the campaign to tackle global warming; they instinctively distrust the science and if they feel that the solutions people are proposing are less to do with carbon than pushing through a hidden agenda that will only serve to confirm their scepticism."

Now that's not that controversial is it?

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Justin Rowlatt.

    "For me the problem comes if the fear of the consequences of climate change is used as cover to smuggle in other objectives for social and political change."

    people have been asking for 'social and political change' for much longer then the current climate change debate; the demands for a saner environmental policy happen to be logically part and parcel of the demands for social/political change. to conflate these claims with the insinuation that the we somehow 'jumped on the bandwagon' is not just controversial, it is disingenuous.

  • Comment number 2.

    Justin Rowlatt.

    Don't complain when you have been caught bang to rights! Everyone has agendas. Nothing is entirely what is seems. But you know this as we do, but still you profess surprise!

    The problem with campaigning, as with oratory is that it is impossible to successfully campaign for more than one (or possible two things if you are a photogenic celebrity) at a time - even when in reality, things are complex and interrelated - this was a well known feature of persuasion from ancient Greek or Roman times.

    A year or so back climate changed look like a no brainier argument to tag whatever issue you wanted onto - the problem was that as in many things climate change does now stand up well to scientific scrutiny - how were the campaigning organisation to know - it sounded so good! The poor dears got sidetracked - and have damaged their (sometimes worthy) causes.

  • Comment number 3.

    Very much enjoyed the Analysis programme - a much better piece than the poor 'CO2 Bottle' experiment that was delivered last year on Newsnight & BBC.

    The contributions from Futerra (of 'the rules of the game' fame), Lord Giddens, Prof. Mike Hulme and John Gummer MP was fascinating and refreshing. Your questioning of John Sauven and Jonathan Porrit was a true highlight.

    As a useful reference - worth listening to:

    BBC: Turkeys Voting for Christmas (28/01/10)
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00qgyfc
    "Why is it that people so often vote against their own interests? Are pragmatic politics patronising or simply a turn off?"

    Nice to see the debate swinging from over the top warmist alarmism (press releases) to a more calmer appraisal of the science. Especially in regard to the recent IPCC woes (numerous), MET Office woes (numerous), CRU run in with the Freedom of Information Act etc..

    Seems there are more and more news stories that are making attempts on balancing the debate - all for the good.

    BBC: Temperature and CO2 feedback loop 'weaker than thought'
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8483722.stm

    Guardian: UK's top scientist urges care in presenting results of climate change
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jan/27/climate-change-uk-top-scientist-urges-caution

    2009 seemed to be about uncovering the truth and questioning 'seemingly' arrogant or out-of-touch institutions.

    2010 could be seeing a new Zeitgeist emerging!

  • Comment number 4.

    What is hidden about this 'hidden agenda'? Does it appear this way to you because you have started from the assumption that CO2-reduction is the basic meaning of environmentalism?

  • Comment number 5.

    @Michael Medley - excellent point. I think that it is what many people's perception of the 'modern era' of environmentalism is. Sadly.

    Being concerned about the environment should be non-partisan, but there has been a culture of 'us and them', whereby if you don't subscribe to 'being green' in a totalitarian sense you are in a sense quote "part of the problem and not the solution" - a very damaging trend, as it only polarizes people into 'camps'.

  • Comment number 6.

    Interesting to see this new study - seems a new thrust to the climate science:

    Guardian (29/01/10): Water vapour caused one-third of global warming in 1990s, study reveals

    "Experts say their research does not undermine the scientific consensus on man-made climate change, but call for 'closer examination' of the way computer models consider water vapour"

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/29/water-vapour-climate-change

    Could it be the old favorite - the Sun / Solar Cycles at work?

    NOAA: Stratospheric Water Vapor is a Global Warming Wild Card

    "Since 2000, water vapor in the stratosphere decreased by about 10 percent. The reason for the recent decline in water vapor is unknown."

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/20100128_watervapor.html

    Wonder if this is something Jasper Kirkby at CERN is looking into too?

    Fascinating times.

  • Comment number 7.

    I suggest various agendas have long been pushed under the banner of the Man Made Global Warming (MMGW) movement. Miliband's slogan 'Green is the new red' comes to mind.

    When I owned a small business I was taxed twice on the electricity the business used, the usual tax and then another tax on top with a name like Climate Change levy or something.

    I was taxed TWICE on electricity! Under the pretentious guise of 'saving the planet'. All because of the MMGW brigade.

    The reality of the various agendas being pushed under the MMGW banner is one reason why many, like myself, completely distrust the movement.

    Another reason is the disingenuous, bullying, manipulative methods of propaganda the movement employs.

    I believe man should care for the environment, but MMGW alarmism is shameful. The sooner the alarmists shut up the better. Then perhaps we can have proper debate, more effective programmes for caring for wildlife and the environemnt, and less taxes.

    But I am not sure the alarmists can afford the necessary intellectual honesty anymore. Probably they'll feel compelled to keep bullying everyone into line, with the help of unbiased news and media organisations of course.

    More tax, anyone?

  • Comment number 8.

    Frank2010 #7.

    "Another reason is the disingenuous, bullying, manipulative methods of propaganda the movement employs."
    "Miliband's slogan 'Green is the new red' comes to mind."

    and the Miliband brothers and the government they are part of do not use "manipulative methods of propaganda"?

    I suggest you're being seriously naive here.

    "When I owned a small business I was taxed twice.."
    "More tax, anyone?"

    no, quite happy to let you pay for it all. LOL

  • Comment number 9.

    Ecos have been hijacked by politicians and businessmen.

    Sadly the ecos chose to bet the ranch on climate change and now that it's officially toast there is going to be a backlash. People are saying screw you and screw your dolphins/meerkats/trees.

    Like playing poker: if you can't see who is the patsy then it's you.

  • Comment number 10.

    Responding to Post 8 by jr4412.

    You suggest I'm being seriously naive. But I did not assert or imply, as you suggest I did, that Miliband and the government do not use manipulative methods of propaganda. You appear to be reading into my post something which not there; and on the basis of that you accuse me being seriously naive. I suggest your thinking is distinctly blunted.

    And laugh as you will at businesses paying more tax, but between cutting profits or passing on costs to customers which do you think most bunisesses opt for? Bear that in mind next time you buy food, fuel, clothes or a CD. Dimwit.
    businesses

    if you think you're exempt from the consequences

  • Comment number 11.

    Sorry, this is a re-post responding to Post 8 by jr4412. [A re-post to clarify because I left some notes on the bottom I should have erased]

    You suggest I'm being seriously naive. But I did not assert or imply, as you suggest I did, that Miliband and the government do not use manipulative methods of propaganda. You appear to be reading into my post something which not there; and on the basis of that you accuse me being seriously naive. I suggest your thinking is distinctly blunted.

    And laugh as you will at businesses paying more tax, but between cutting profits or passing on costs to customers which do you think most bunisesses opt for? Bear that in mind next time you buy food, fuel, clothes or a CD. Dimwit.

  • Comment number 12.

    Frank2010 #10.

    "But I did not assert or imply, as you suggest I did, that Miliband and the government do not use manipulative methods of propaganda. You appear to be reading into my post something which not there.."

    from your #7:

    "The reality of the various agendas being pushed under the MMGW banner is one reason why many, like myself, completely distrust the movement.

    Another reason is the disingenuous, bullying, manipulative methods of propaganda the movement employs."

    you go on about 'the movement', so you (a) do assert and (b) explicitly so.

    "if you think you're exempt from the consequences"

    someone came up with the saying: 'nothing in life is certain except death and taxes'. so what's your beef?

    I won't deny that all sorts of people, whether opportunistically or simply because they're cynics, use the climate change debate to further their own aims. but to go from there and blame 'the movement' (and who would that be, anyway) is tosh. sorry if you cannot see that.

  • Comment number 13.

    Responding to Post 12 by jr4412.

    jr4412, you have gone from talking nonsense in Post 8 to making no sense at all in Post 12. The best I can say for you is that that's a very short journey in a very short space of time.



  • Comment number 14.

    Frank2010 #13, #7.

    "jr4412, you have gone from talking nonsense in Post 8 to making no sense at all in Post 12. The best I can say for you is that that's a very short journey in a very short space of time."

    yep, freedom of speech (sort of), freedom of thought, we are very lucky.

    "All because of the MMGW brigade. ... many, like myself, completely distrust the movement. ... the disingenuous, bullying, manipulative methods of propaganda the movement employs."

    confused, to say the least.

    "When I owned a small business.."

    and that, I believe, is the point. you used to be your own boss, and now? bile and rancour?

    anyway, yawn..

  • Comment number 15.

    Yah, jr4412, porridge too is like yellow beyond the great pale hippo, yet, somehow, let us never forget as well that nosh is best digital outplay. And then perhaps shall all turnips be good at navigation.

    Yah, jr4412, yah!

  • Comment number 16.

    (OT, sorry mods)

    Frank2010 #15.

    "Yah, jr4412, porridge too is like yellow beyond the great pale hippo, yet, somehow, let us never forget as well that nosh is best digital outplay. And then perhaps shall all turnips be good at navigation."

    you may not be a success in business but -- my word -- you've what it takes to write political speeches.

  • Comment number 17.

    Replying to Post 16 by jr4412.

    Agreed.
    :D

  • Comment number 18.

    Frank2010 #17.

    cool, back to #7 then.

    why do you conflate the aims and objectives of the business as usual crowd with the concerns (heartfelt I'd say, and genuine) of the ordinary people worried about climate change, worried about the deterioration of our shared environment?

    I see that in one of your previous posts (20th Dec) you assert that meat production has no impact on environmental concerns, were you serious?

  • Comment number 19.

    Who mentioned ordinary people?

  • Comment number 20.

    Frank2010 ##19.

    "Who mentioned ordinary people?"

    why you mentioned -- yourself!

    (#7)"I believe man should care for the environment.."

    are you saying that you are 'extraordinary', or, better perhaps, 'special'?

  • Comment number 21.

    Frank2010.

    we better leave it at that, you've had your moan about taxes and an ill-defined AGW 'brigade', you had your moment, well done you.

  • Comment number 22.

    You're getting yourself all mixed up again, jr4412. And it's tedious.

    To supposedly conflate various hard pushed political agendas with the concerns of ordinary people, as you accuse me of, is a very different thing to my asserting man should care for the environment. 'Man' means everyone, identifying no-one in particluar.

    How this confusion of yours equates to me thinking I'm special I'm not sure. But I'm sure on your foggy, swampy brain it is clear as mud.

    And concerning meat production, what I actually said is that eating meat is not contributing to the destruction of the planet. A perfectly straightforward point. Especially when you bear in the mind that MMGW is a fantasy for gullible dimwits.

    Now, as you obviously have nothing sensible to say, perhaps you might consider saving energy by stopping waffling gibberish at me.

  • Comment number 23.

    jr4412, just because you don't know who the MMGW brigade is doesn't mean no-one else does. And my point about taxes might mean nothing to you, but for some of us working one day week for the Government is enough.

    And if you want me to pay more taxes to make you feel more self-important you can go rent an ostrich to play ping-pong with.

  • Comment number 24.

    Frank2010 #22.

    tedious indeed.

    "To supposedly conflate various hard pushed political agendas with the concerns of ordinary people, as you accuse me of, is a very different thing to my asserting man should care for the environment. 'Man' means everyone, identifying no-one in particluar."

    (#7)"I believe man should care for the environment.."

    I see, when you wrote the above to mean "..everyone..", you meant excluding yourself. extraordinary!

    "And concerning meat production, what I actually said is that eating meat is not contributing to the destruction of the planet."

    and who is to make the decision who can or cannot eat meat?

    growing population with growing incomes == increased demand for meats == more cattle (and other animals reared fro their meats) == more pasture required.

    impact? forest clearance / changing land usage patterns to create more pastures; also, some voice concerns regarding the increased 'output' of methane by said animals.

    "A perfectly straightforward point."

    yes, IF one lives in la-la-land.

    "Now, as you obviously have nothing sensible to say, perhaps you might consider saving energy by stopping waffling gibberish at me."

    I did (#21), and and having rebutted your #22, I will.

    LOL

  • Comment number 25.

    Talking of methane output, jr4412, perhaps you might consider winding up now.

    To answer your 'points', though, I include myself in 'everyone'. You merely confuse care with the environment with MMGW alarmism.

    "Who is to make the decision who can or cannot eat meat?" - MMGW alarmists, evidently.

    My point is perfectly straightforward. Meat-eating is not destroying the planet. Only if you plug into a number of MMGW alarmist assumptions does it do so.

    And jr4412, a word to the wise, judging from your comments on here, if I were you I wouldn't go mentioning words like 'rebutted' or, indeed, any other kinds of butts.

  • Comment number 26.

    Look forward to hearing how the programme justifies its breathtakingly stupid claim that consumerism is an 'extraneous aspect' of the environmental cause.

    As for poverty being yet more 'extraneous baggage', Justin really lives up to his name of Ethical Man: good to see the BBC sharing a joke with the audience.

  • Comment number 27.

    What exactly is the problem with tying up socio-politico-economic issues with the climate issue? The economic system of capitalism which cannot function without growth and ever-expanding consumption, a political system dominated by big business are not extraneous factors but completely relevant to environmentalism. It seems pretty logical, therefore, to make that part of any analysis of the environment. I fear it is you who have the agenda, Justin, by conflating environmentalism with reducing personal carbon emissions alone and thereby atomising what should be inter-related concerns. Social change is not a hidden agenda, nor is it 'ideological baggage' but rather a completely complementary, and indeed necessary, factor to solving the question of climate change.

  • Comment number 28.

    Given no environmentalists left to attack the AGW (anti global warming) community turn on each other like rabid dogs. :>

  • Comment number 29.

    Justin Rowlatt - better late than never.

    The things the eco-loonies learnt from national governments and large coporations was how push their agenda by generating a mass scare through distorting the evidence, controlling the message, disengage from open debate and disparage critics.

    BSE equates to Global Warming

    Iraqi WMD equates to Global Warming

    SARS equates to Global Warming

    Bird Flu equates to Global Warming

    Swine Flu equates to Global Warming

    History will not be kind to those adherents of the AGW faith.

  • Comment number 30.

    Well done, Justin. It took you a while, but better late than never. Do me a favour, can you let Susan Watts in on the secret as well, please?

    You have helped to highlight the real agenda behind the whole anthropogenic global warming (AGW)/climate change debate - social engineering and the destruction of capitalism. Fascism, or more specifically eco-fascism, is alive and well. Some of us have been banging on about this for years, without any help from the BBC.

    'Useful idiots' (not my term), essentially caring, well-meaning people, have been brainwashed into believing that the world is coming to an end due man's contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere. They have been given a 'self-hate' complex. The problem, however, is this, there is no evidence to back up the theory of AGW.

    There is no properly peer-reviewed evidence available to prove that man is causing the planet to warm, none, zip, zero, not a carrot. Furthermore, there is no reliable evidence available to show that the planet is even warming at all. Recently, the 'Climategate' emails, as well as an investigation by John Coleman, the co-founder of the Weather Channel, have shown us that the scientists responsible for the AGW scare, all of them IPCC lead authors and/or contributors, have had to manipulate data in order to 'prove' that the planet is warming. Why would anyone need to manipulate data to show that the planet is warming IF the planet is indeed warming? Umm...me thinks me smells a rat.

    Details on 'Climategate' - http://wattsupwiththat.com/climategate/

    The most revealing part of John Coleman's investigation can be viewed here - http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/81559212.html

    The AGW scam is finished.

    Well done again, Justin. What you have done is very brave, especially due to the fact that there are a lot of eco-fascist lunatics out there, who knows, there may even be some within the BBC itself.

  • Comment number 31.

    Its funny, right wing 'nut jobs' (official scientific terminology) calling anyone who cares about the environment or the future a 'fascist'. I suppose people like the Israelis or the Palestinians sometimes call each other fascists too but then again everyone’s a fascist these days. sigh... I blame the internet, letting the frothing madness seep out from the American hard right into the UK. But then ordinary people always were \**@*, that’s why democracy never works.
    Don't blame the eco people for the fall of British industry or old fashioned 'capitalism'. The real cause - the most 'socialist' thing done in the UK in the last 50 years - ironically by Thatcher - was the introduction of Globalisation. Selling everything out to aid and protect foreign competitors while they come in, buy out, asset strip, and close our own companies. Their own countries would never let us do the same back to them (it isn't capitalism that makes the American economy so much stronger than ours, its protectionism).
    Let us not forget the Tories other great idea, the 'Arthur Daleying' of everything with lowest bid competitive tendering. Old Tory and NuLabour are just the same with their constant get rich, '@*** the future' schemes that benefit only themselves and the city. And though 90% of politicians are total liars that doesn't mean everything they say is a lie (that would be too easy). Global Warming is real, environmental science is real, don't you realize that to me as a scientist you are no more believable than someone selling creationism from a handcart. [/END RANT]

  • Comment number 32.

    Robert Lucien, good to know you are a concerned and honest scientist!

    HaHaHaHaHaHaHa

  • Comment number 33.

    Dear Ethical Man,
    The economic conundrum that is discussed has one simple answer - free trade. You are right to see that markets manage resources very well. Scarce resources go up in price so people will use less and/or find alternatives and recycling is encouraged. Free trade would allow third world and developing world people to trade their way to a wealthier lifestyle which means they will be healthier, less populous (as wealthier nations have less children) and they would be able to afford to look after their environment better (as they would have more leisure time and disposable income, afford cleaner means of energy production etc, etc.). Poor nations need not subsist on handouts from the developed nations. They can produce goods cheaper than we can. Let them, and they can then afford their own solutions to climate change. It would be a redistribution of wealth from rich to poor by choice and with almost no input needed from Governments. What developed nations get out of it is a lower cost of living which would allow our economies to not need to grow.
    Fixing the market as John Gummer puts it, is the wrong answer. This would price third world producers out of the markets and deny them the chance to earn their way into a better standard of living. Who are we to insist on that? Of course it has already been decided that their Governments will be given a massive welfare cheque. Welfare is not the answer. It is the statist solution to appease Governments for a problem that affects *people*.
    The dead giveaway that fixing the market is the wrong answer is that the whole political, financial and corporate spectrum is behind it - they would only be so if they knew it would not adversely affect their current dominant positions.
    Are you aware that Andrew Simms is a trustee of the European arm of Dr. Pachauri's Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)?
    http://www.terieurope.org/trustees.htm
    The biggest stumbling block of the eco-movement is hypocrisy. Is a jamboree with more than 30,000 officials jetting in to Copenhagen really the best example to set?

  • Comment number 34.

    Dull accountant man. #33.

    "Free trade would allow third world and developing world people to trade their way to.."

    no, free trade will result in affluent 'first world' companies and individuals cherry-picking all the promising enterprises before they can kick-start the developments you mention.

    but business as usual isn't the way forward anyway.

  • Comment number 35.

    Justin...this is another "hidden agenda" items of climate special interests groups. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is still a nascent technology - forget the billions required for the the "on surface" facilities like pipelines, compressors, CO2 strippers etc - there are doubts about the capacity of the reservoirs that are supposed to store the CO2 - a recent study (Ref: Society of Petroleum Engineers Paper SPE124430 and Offshore Engineer Magazine Dec 2009 edition) casts doubt on the reservoir capacities and estimates that we would require 5-20 times the reservoir capacity to store CO2 than previously envisaged. So while the surface facilties technology is developing and we are learning more on it, the sub-surface uncertainties are not understood even to possibly 1/10th of that(Oil & Gas geologists still are uncertain about reservoir characteristics even after 100 years of knowledge). We don't know how supercritical liquid CO2 injected into the reservoirs will be stored? We are not sure how much CO2 we can inject and store in the depleted reservoirs. So how can CCS be the touted as an answer to CO2 emission issues - I fear that politicians, green activists and other special interest groups will use CCS as a "magic pill" for our CO2 emissions problems and divert our focus from other means to control emissions. What would happen if CCS does not perform to its potential?? Hope next time you do a news item on "wow CCS" you also equally highlight the vast uncertainties in the very fundamentals behind CCS.


  • Comment number 36.

    @Justin Rowlatt

    I think that there might be a misunderstanding involving Solitaire Townsend's carbon fairy question.

    TOWNSEND: I was making a speech to nearly 200 really hard core, deep environmentalists and I played a little thought game on them. I said imagine I am the carbon fairy and I wave a magic wand. We can get rid of all the carbon in the atmosphere, take it down to two hundred fifty parts per million and I will ensure with my little magic wand that we do not go above two degrees of global warming. However, by waving my magic wand I will be interfering with the laws of physics not with people – they will be as selfish, they will be as desiring of status. The cars will get bigger, the houses will get bigger, the planes will fly all over the place but there will be no climate change. And I asked them, would you ask the fairy to wave its magic wand? And about 2 people of the 200 raised their hands.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/nol/shared/spl/hi/programmes/analysis/transcripts/25_01_10.txt

    That is a powerful question.

    My first reaction to reading this was I would have put my hand up.

    But I had the advantage over these anonymous greens. I had read the preamble. I knew she meant "is fixing climate change more important than converting people from their 'selfish' ways".

    But the greens didn't get that preamble. And without some sort of similar warning the question is basically the plot of Dorian Gray.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Picture_of_Dorian_Gray

    From her comments Solitaire Townsend doesn't seem aware of this issue. So I am pointing it out.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hate to tell you Jane but the whole reason 2 out of 200 would say yes has nothing to do with the preamble, its because they would tend to distrust people playing god. We could easily stop climate change just like that - say by inducing a partial nuclear winter. Say about 130 nuclear bombs a year would do it, a solution I might like but for some reason most greens don't like nuclear bombs.. Ok the radiation might kill a few tens of thousands a year but thats a drop in the ocean compared to the numbers that climate change will kill if it is real.

    Surely in reality if people go on the way they are the future doesn't look bright even if we could stop climate change, so I bet most would want both - teach people not to be so selfish AND stop climate change.

  • Comment number 38.

    Everybody joins a parade. One must be careful about if the individuals and organizations are enviornmental (AGW) or organizations and individuals who have joined because they have another issue but this is where the attention (media)is. Like a politican showing up at a sporting event. There for sport or there to be seen? This is true with most issues and it allows the reactionaries to be critical of groups by assigning agendas that are not of the primary group but those who have joined the parade. People with causes go where the media go....those with bait might catch anything. Like those who go to a football match looking for a fight...they give the fans and sport a bad name.

  • Comment number 39.

    @Robert Lucien #37

    You don't think Dorian Gray is playing god with his looks? He's certainly being corrupted by his new power.

  • Comment number 40.

    @Robert Lucien #37

    "Surely in reality if people go on the way they are the future doesn't look bright even if we could stop climate change, so I bet most would want both - teach people not to be so selfish AND stop climate change."

    I think you still don't understand what Solitaire Townsend meant with her carbon fairy question.

    She wasn't talking about any old way of getting people to be less selfish. She meant scaring them with a big bad climate change bogeyman. She meant "which is more important; fixing climate change or using climate change as a big bad bogey man to scare people into being good".

  • Comment number 41.

    As someone who works in environmental management and can therefore be seen as "an environmentalist", I have no objection to constructive, thought-provoking criticism of my priorities and assumptions. The problem with this programme was not that it challenged assumptions, but that - while stimulating in some ways - it just wasn't really very good. First, it was not totally clear whether the author was in favour of carbon as the single overriding priority, or not - he seemed both to advocate and criticise this position at different points. Overall, though, he did seem to argue that anyone who saw things in more complex terms was somehow wrong or biased. This seems very odd - in most policy areas, it is seen as a strength not to apply a one-dimensional analysis. And specifically in relation to carbon, there is a very active debate among environmental managers about the dangers (and ultimate impossibility) of trying to reduce everything to a single metric. Second, the programme seemed surprised that "greens" actually thought about their subject and came up with ideas that went beyond purely technical solutions. Shock, horror! Isn't that one of the things that distinguishes thinking human beings from duller species? And finally, the programme "shouted". The really effective Analysis and similar programmes, for example by Gerry Northam, achieve more effect through a much more tempered approach. I think Radio 4, and JR, can do better.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yes as soon as you put it in terms of the media bandwagon, I can see that you're right. Scientists don't generally see things the way the media portray, we didn't exactly create this bandwagon and we certainly don't control it. In fact it is now the bandwagon controlling the way many climate and eco scientists behave. - I don't even think they see it as using fear, focusing on the negative is usually a positive in science.

    In science & engineering we are trained to look on the black side, assume the worst, work from worst cases and correct from there. Its natural that most scientists will tend to believe in GW simply because its a probable worst case scenario. As I have said before if GW is false and we act it costs us almost nothing, but if its real and we do nothing we could be facing a total cataclysm. I'm a futurist and to me throwing away fossil fuels is only a step on the march to superior technology.

    All the media hype has caused as many problems as it has solved. The real biggest danger in a society like ours today is Luddism and the- GW climate change bogyman has definitely advanced that cause. But the real problem has nothing to do with global warming or science, it is that our society has become increasingly media obsessed, money obsessed, greedy selfish and shallow. While people don't believe in the future they cant be made to care about anything like global warming whether real or not. - This is really whats behind so much selfishness. Nothing big inspires people anymore, we have exchanged things like space exploration for war and consumerism and short term greed. Capitalism is an unbalanced equation - it always guarantee's disaster.

  • Comment number 43.

    Justin I agree overall with #41 right questions poor attempt at being ‘more balanced and nuanced.” and could have a better understanding of the issues, context and philosophy of those you were criticizing. Rather as others have said it came more across as a straw man fallacy.
    What surprises me considering the name of the show, is that it showed a particular lack of depth or understanding concerning
    philosophical/ethical issues.

    I would have thought by now you would have picked up that there is a convergence of ethical concerns for both environmental and social justice issues eg with things like the triple bottom line etc, not only as they are often intertwined but due the common ethical principles involved.

    I’ve asked the Philosopher Zone on the ABC Radio National to look at ethical issues underpinning Climate Change and the Ethics of Finite Resources. Maybe it would be a good opportunity for you to get involved as they agreed to look into it. Then maybe you could actually understand why many environmentalists have the views they do instead of the crude caricatures you present them to be.

  • Comment number 44.

    Justin saw this on another blog

    "For most consumers this is NOT about “being green” but rather it is a search for improvements in their health, wellness and future and that of their loved ones"

    On a similar not it isn't about being green or anti-capitalist etc but being ethical and a "search for improvements in their health, wellness and future and that of their loved ones"

    If the current system isn't going to do that, then it needs to be addressed, and if that happens to go hand in hand with dealing with climate change then so be it.

    BTW I woulnd't have put my hand up either at that meeting as it was similar to a false dilemma. Yes climate change is the biggest problem we face but it inn't the only problem. After all it is ridiculous and unethical to expect people in povety in the 3rd world to cut or abstain from increasing their emissions so they can remain in poverty or die from preventable causes while the developed world enjoys their wealth; even if done in a sustainable manner. So why would I just put up my hand to magically banish C02 when many other aspects of the current growth fixated economy and lifestyle is also harmful to peoples wellbeing?

    BTW if you haven't done a show on what the Zero Growth and eclogical economics groups are on about its about time you did.

  • Comment number 45.

    Justin,

    Keep up the good work, don't let the warmies grind you down.

    Your blogs and programs are as ever well put together and thought provoking.

    Kev.

  • Comment number 46.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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