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Are we doomed by democracy?

Justin Rowlatt | 11:31 UK time, Monday, 24 May 2010

Whatever your views on climate change you should be concerned by the question of how our societies respond to the issue.

If you are worried by the threat of global warming the fear is that democratic societies simply won't be able to take the radical action necessary to tackle the problem.

If you believe the threat has been exaggerated you should be worried about whether democracy itself will be sacrificed in the name of action on climate change.

Indeed, democratic principles may already be being overridden here in Britain in the effort to reduce carbon emissions, as I discover in this week's Analysis programme on BBC Radio 4.

My last Analysis programme proved very controversial. We explored the provocative idea that the green movement might have hidden political agendas that could prove damaging to the environment. It even got the Analysis editor a grilling on Feedback - listen here:

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The challenge climate change presents for and to democracy has been an issue I've been preoccupied with since the very early days of the so-called Ethical Man project.

The idea of Ethical Man was to see how much a well-meaning family could cut its greenhouse gas emissions without giving up all the trapping of modern life and moving to an isolated croft.

The project started out as an optimistic adventure into a low carbon world but ended up with a profoundly pessimistic conclusion - it is impossible for individuals to respond adequately; only a wholesale transformation of the entire world economy can achieve the carbon cuts the scientists say are necessary.

How did we reach this conclusion?

Our family did everything we could think of to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions - got rid of the car, stopped flying, turned down the thermostat, changed what we eat. Yet we only managed to cut our total emissions by just 20%.

Which is where the question about democracy comes in. Will people ever vote for politicians who will force us to make the sacrifices necessary to bring this transformation about?

The debate was thrown open a few weeks back when the visionary scientist James Lovelock dared suggest in an interview in the Guardian that maybe democracy might need to be suspended while societies grapple with the issue.

"I have a feeling", Mr Lovelock told journalist Leo Hickman, "that climate change may be an issue as severe as a war. It may be necessary to put democracy on hold for a while."

That was the jumping off point for our programme. Tell me what you think.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    I think Mr. Orwell penned a few worthy tomes around this.

    'Suspended democracy' sounds like it could join 'little bit pregnant', too.

    Certainly seems... odd... to see the words, 'war', 'democracy' and 'on hold' (for a while...cute) considering a few things that have transpired, and indeed are still so doing, in its name.

    But good that the BBC thinks it worth raising, objectively, of course.

  • Comment number 2.

    This was an important and frank discussion. Thanks for broadcasting it.

    Is there now way to make it available as a podcast so others might listen to it off-air?

  • Comment number 3.

    Ah, I commented too soon. I see it's now available to listen to via BBC iPlayer. Thanks.

  • Comment number 4.

    I listened to the radio programme with much anticipation. I was pleased that the issue was taken seriously in terms both of the science and the politics. There were various aspects with which I variously wholeheartedly agreed or disagreed. Three aspects, however, that I considered to be very weak were: 1) democracy is not one thing; democracy means different things to different people in different places; the UK has a system of representative democracy (hence no capital punishment despite the untested preference of the electorate). 2) Much of what is already taking place (erection of wind turbines, replacement of incandescent light bulbs, new hybrid and electric vehicles) is happening between government and industry, not by popular choice at the retail level (we will buy whatever is available)- this is about the relationship between government and corporations in which the electorate never get any say anyway. 3) Too often "the expressed will of the people" has more to do with the relationship between government and the popular press - were the red-tops to champion major lifestyle changes to ameliorate climate change, their readership would almost inevitably follow.

  • Comment number 5.

    Hi, So from the comments we must expect some sort of 21st century Oswald Mosley to emerge soon for our own good, and all for something that can't be found, human influence on climate change.

    The program found people so blinkered in the idea [and it is only an idea] that we humans are able to do anything about the worlds weather that they consider damaging peoples lives for it.

    The IPCC has lost any credibility, the UEA dept. has done the same with the added crippling of being shown to be manipulating figures for funds, no climate model from the 'chicken-lickens' works, even vaguely, and the 'chicken-lickens' are still running berserk getting increasingly desparate that the entire lie is collapsing around them, THEIR sky certainly is falling on them, along with brickbats from the likes of me, who was deceived by this lie for years.

    I swallowed the MMGW/AGW lie for years, then started reading everything when I found the internet, the entire AGW/MMGW concept as presented is a gangrenous lie.

    The CO2 scam is just a way for the EU to fund its expansionism, the way the US can have some control on Chinas expansion, the fact that my government has signed up to the CO2 scam dismays me, CO2 is not the problem, the 'Greens' are the problem, rare earth elements are the main-stay of the greening of man and to get just a few tonnes of these minerals we have to rip mountain sized holes in the planet, refine it with truly polluting elements that themselves in manufacture use masses of energy and leave us and our children a vile legacy, those lightbulbs, those Prius, and all those other 'do your bit' items are working in the exact opposite manner in which we are lead to believe.

    So we have a problem, people are thinking about a fascist solution to faked and demonised enemy, now, where in history can I find a parallel.



  • Comment number 6.

    Justin, do you have an electronic copy of the typescript of the programme available? I am keen to extend some of your lines of thought.
    With best wishes,
    Peter Hughes
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 7.

    As long as we have a capitalist democracy, we are going to have trouble responding to long term needs. The key is to make it too expensive for corporations, and governments, to ignore the long term. This doesn't require a dictatorship. But it does require a major change of attitude.

    You might want to look at this three minute satirical video on YouTube which effectively sums up the problem, talking about the BP Oil Spill, bankers and politicians...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1sIE1yb5Lc

  • Comment number 8.

    Great question.

    Can we have more questions like that please.

    Also nice to note the term 'global warming' has re-appeared in journalism, it was suspended in favour of 'climate change' for several long cold winter months I noticed. While we battled through the worst winter for 30 years not sight nor sound of the term 'global warming' could be found in any news broadcast.

    Is there some kind of unwritten journalistic law to ensure the public stays 'on message' which states.

    If the ambient weather is unseasonably hot thou shalt label the emperors new clothes ' Global warming' and if the ambient weather is unseasonably cold it shall be called 'climate change'.

    With media like that in a media age democracy is already effectively 'on hold' isnt it?

  • Comment number 9.

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

  • Comment number 10.

    #9

    Huraah!

    Another voice of reason!

    Co2 will indeed be the least of our worries as we start to scrap over what is left or finite resources in a world compelled to 'grow' in order to feed an economic model which makes no sense on even the most rudimentary of intellectual examinations.

    Lets not even talk about copper or rare earth metals and the like running low, essential incredients in green energy infrastructure.



  • Comment number 11.

    Hello, It was interesting to listen again to the Feedback programme about your analysis programme that went out in January. I notice the headline on the player reads "Radio 4 's Feedback Programme : Did Justin Rowlatt's Analysis have a Pro-Green bias? " That is very strange because in the recording it's pretty clear Roger Bolton's suggestion is of an anti-green bias. Is that an innocent mistake or are you making up headlines to confuse the issue of the bias in your January broadcast ?

  • Comment number 12.

    So my message appeared (I see) and then was taken off this board, confirming my worst suspicions about the freedom of political dissent in the age of so-called global warming. How very interesting!

  • Comment number 13.

    12. At 8:57pm on 26 May 2010, Hugh Sharman

    Well for now merely 'referred to moderators' which can mean a few things but need not be final. Though even reinstatement can be delayed long enough to serve the aims of 'moving on' in a semblance of objectivity should the gatekeepers play it with aplomb.

    Hence others may yet get to read your views and decide for themselves. I may not agree with you. For now, who knows save those who know 'better'?

    Though in light of the topic, that is as unfortunate as it is ironic.

  • Comment number 14.

    #13

    Hillarious, I read #9, it was up for quite a while so somebody must have complained about it, to be honest I couyld see nothing in it that broke the 'house rules' at all.

    Just avindictive individual frm the uni of easty anglia or something I suspect.

    Come on Mr Rowlat.. feedback on this please..some good points raised, or are you pretending you dont actually read your comments again?

  • Comment number 15.

    Justin Rowlatt,

    I am genuinely curious to understand how my contribution is causing your moderator such difficulty.

    As I did not make a copy myself, would you kindly email it back to me, so I can examine it for the offence it appears to be causing him/her.

    As reported by Roger Harrabin of the BBC today, my skepticism over the certainties of "warmists" appears to be shared by at least a sizable minority at the Royal Society and my fears about more imminent "peak fossil fuel production" is shared by experts much cleverer than I, all over the world.

    My analysis, if true, will of course cause enormous inconvenience and financial insecurity to the junketers, on secure tax-paid grants and salaries, as they travel from one agreeable COP to the next. But also, if realised more widely as true, can reduce the gruesome economic impact of the next financial tsunami bearing down on the World's already fragile economies.

    My mail is [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 16.

    15. At 9:35pm on 28 May 2010, Hugh Sharman wrote:

    It must be said, the limbo of 'referral', without explanation to the author or actual decision one way or another, seems to be dragging on for one heck of a time here.

    If reinstated, I look forward to finding out what caused such agonised internal contemplation for so long. And if warranted.

  • Comment number 17.

    Returning to the subject (rather than moderation process)

    Will the sky fall? A positive answer to this question is about as likely as the CO2 Global Warming fanatics being completely (or even partly) right. The causality is the other way round in the data. (i.e. Warming causes CO2 to rise, sometimes.) There is also absolutely no real evidence that a forced reduction in anthropogenic CO2 will necessarily lower planetary temperatures, it may even raise temperatures.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming by Carbon Dioxide simple does not sufficiently explain the observed facts. Thus it most likely to be wrong. The facts that the religious certainty of the pro CO2 fanatics is so insistent shows how flimsy is the basis for their religion.

    We are not talking Boyle's Law or Avogadro's Principle or even anything as self consistently complete as M-Brane Theory. The theoretical basis for the CO2-AGW empirical model is weak, almost to being vanishing weak. The evidence is almost non-existent. And what is more, there exist more competing models for how planetary climate may change and has changed over time.

    So the idea that democracy is a threat to taking steps that are probably unable to change the course of planetary climate is just a pointless speculation. It is like saying that democracy is a threat to the second coming. It is akin to the speculation of how many angels can stand on a pin head - a waste of intellectual effort. What is more it prevents us taking steps to do what we know is a good thing that is to maximise the efficiency in the way we produce and use energy and in that sense it actually harms our planet.

  • Comment number 18.

    17. At 10:27am on 30 May 2010, John_from_Hendon wrote:
    Returning to the subject (rather than moderation process)


    When the subject involves the notion of 'suspending' democracy, I'm not sure that this and someone's (possibly counter to that of the author) opinion being endlessly 'on hold' as opposed to 'banned' are mutually exclusive, TBH.

  • Comment number 19.

    To "suspend democracy" just because democracy will not provide enough power is what religious nutters and political extremests such as Zimbabwe's Mugabe's or the Iranian Ayotollah's do.

    And once these thermo maniacs or eco facists have control they will no doubt be free to carry out the only practical method of reducing mankind's CO2 emmissions in any volume - a massive reduction in activity.

    Would they consider implementing mass murder on a vast scale and a forceful return to a backward peasant lifestyle as with Pol Pot or perhaps Kim Il Sung's North Korea shows the way with the massive drop in GDP and consequent mass starvation once China and Russia withdrew aid in the 90's.

    Maybe they won't, but with no democracy with it's checks and balances it only takes a military coup or internal shift in power...and down on animal farm the pigs are in charge now.

  • Comment number 20.

    James Lovelock is not the only one to advocate "Suspending democracy".

    After all included in the draft Copenhagen agreement last year was an appendix detailing how a UN based worldwide Government was to be setup, initially mandated for climate matters, but of course CO2 control is all embracing. The decisions of this new World Government were to have primacy over national governments and it was to directly collect taxes, probably as a proportion of GDP. In the document at Copenhagen itself the word government had been replaced with an inocious sounding "Institutional Framework" instead.

    With appointments to this new government behind closed doors there certainly would be no democracy here and they would be free to implement the necessary measures without the bother of reasoned dissent.

    Rather like the EU in fact.

  • Comment number 21.

    It seems to me if you want to pursue the wartime national emergency analogy it would be more appropriate to talk of central planning of resources and rationing at least for the use of carbon based fuels. It might in effect mean nationalizing the energy sector. Nationalized industries have existed under democratic governments. However this would need to operate beyond national borders and so you’re back to global government/frameworks.

    The other issue which is hardly ever mentioned in these discussions is the unchecked growth in population and associated growth in demand.

  • Comment number 22.

    Lovelock was friends with his Gaia publisher Edward Goldsmith, who along with his brother Jimmy and ecological buddy John Aspinall were on the pathologically extreme right of British politics. No surprise these characters hated democracy. Goldsmith and Aspinall were alleged (by MI5 agent Peter Wright) to have funded an attempted overthrow of the British government.


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jan/09/politics.past

  • Comment number 23.

    #19

    Crickey, thats a tad extreme, anyway, dont worry all, we are all doomed anyway one way or another, so whether it be at the hands of democracy or dictatorship is purely a matter of changing the wallpaper in the livingroom of our lives.

    Cup of team anyone?

  • Comment number 24.

    Of course nature knows nothing of democracy, fairness or human rights. I think it was H G Wells who described nature as "utterly indifferent to fate of the human race". Does this make nature fascist?

  • Comment number 25.

    Justin Rowlatt,

    My note #9 appeared and was withdrawn (for "further consideration") one week ago today. I have since politely asked you to send me what I posted, so that I could examine it for any unwitting offense, edit this out and re-post.

    I have not even received that.

    Considering that the subject we are discussing is "...are we doomed by democracy" I only observe that the BBC's referral process, on this blog, seems rather Kafkaesque! Kafka knew a thing or two about these matters.

  • Comment number 26.

    25. At 09:51am on 02 Jun 2010, Hugh Sharman wrote:

    Maybe it's a Nick Robinson 'I don't read comments in reply to my broadcast-only opinions' thing?

    http://davidhiggerson.wordpress.com/2010/03/04/if-nick-robinson-wont-read-comments-on-his-blog-then-why-bother-blogging-at-all/

    Some things are best not forgotten, which is why I bookmark them. And then on occasion return, often popping a wee comment in to remind those who care, or should, that responsibilities exist and what might be inconvenient is not always best resolved by 'moving on' and/or resorting to bunker mode or such as the the rather quaintly coined 'watertight oversight'.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2009/11/copenhagen_countdown_17_days.html

    Of course, one can then be rather stymied by 'This entry is now closed for comments'.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/susanwatts/2009/01/restoring_science_to_its_right.html

    But it's still worth popping back. Plus keeping the page grabs, too. Pandora might have a notion or two to complement those of Kafka, as well. And not in a good way, if good folk do nothing.

  • Comment number 27.

    Actually it’s not democracy that gets in the way of taking care of Gaia. Nowhere in the world do we have a true democracy; rather, we have plutocracy – rule by the rich for the rich, where the bottom line is very green as in green-backs.
    That fact being stated, I can’t agree with James Lovelock that humans are too stupid to prevent climate change. No sir, most humans desperately want & would very much support endeavours to maintain the climate. But these persons are powerless; on other words, they have no say. They have no voice in our so-called democracies.
    It's not inertia and democracy that have caused a DEAD STOP to climate change; it's GREED: G R E E D!
    Neither are the elite too stupid to prevent climate change. With their cabon cruisers, private jets, far-off villas, servants, limousines, etc., the elite feel very little the impact of climate change. It’s the poor that suffer - the mother with a starving baby at her sagging breast.
    Some of us are evolved enough to handle a complex a situation such as climate change, but the evolved are not in the blue-blooded, powerful, elitist positions that make climate change irrelevant. In fact, these bluebloods do not so much as dirty their hands in the stripping, raping and multilations of Mother Earth. All they see, all they touch is profit.
    We are simply corrupt at the top, and this poisonous corruption seeps downwards to rain upon the poor - starve them, work them to death, kill them.
    There is no modern democracy. The best democracies, if we had at least one such thing – would never be fighting wars because war in itself is stupid. You'd think in the 21st century we would have learned how to talk to one another earnestly, careingly, compassionately...but the plotocracrats lie. They spin.
    There is a catastrophe now: the Gulf Oil Spill. No one really knows what caused it. BP is not talking, nor is it taking advantage of offers of help from the Russians (Mirs) or Iran (expertise). It's as though BP did something horribly catastrophic, and now, of course, comes the cover-up.
    BP oil is scavenging to save as much black gold as possible; the shoreline residents demand to be made whole. The shoreline residents work to save their livlihoods. Obama cries out; BP WILL PAY!
    But here’s fact: the elite do not give a care about working people; in fact, there are too many working people. Let them die and decrease the surplus population, and there will be less pressure on social programs.
    Incidently I agree with Mr. Lovelock: the planet is a giant, self-regulating organism – the so-called Gaia Theory. I weep for the oil-slicked creatures. I weep for the pathetic, ill-funded attempts to retain diversified species. I despise the elitist propaganda, their lies, their spin, their do-nothingness. I long for real democracy, but who am I?
    I am a person with moral conscience and standards. I am like millions, billions of other struggling people (4% of the elite control 90% of the resources, stripping mother earth, killing her – not gently or softly – but ripping, stabbing, mutilating and not caring, except for profit.)
    Are you listening?
    The whales are crying.
    People are dying.
    Mother Earth is suffering.
    The elite are buffering.
    What will we do
    When the rich are through!

  • Comment number 28.

    Think Bluesberry's comments are close to the mark here. It's our plutocracies or bureaucracies (in league with other vested interests) that play the major role in the 'mess upon a mess' that we live in (see Wittfogel's 'Hydraulic Empires').

    ... consider flooding as a case study. We're told its caused by climate change - yes global warming may well play a role here, but minor in comparison with the effects of landscape mismanagement. We find here in Gloucs that just 3% of land returned to water storage (dispersed through catchments) can capture & control any likely flood (& drought!) ... and at the same time by using this resource, enable huge increased food & renewable energy productivity - really huge in a manner that is globally applicable.

    When we discuss this approach with landowners, they mostly say 'we've always wanted lakes, or fisheries, or irrigation reservoirs, or hydropower - but the authorities have prevented this ...'.

    In this context, climate change becomes simply an excuse for inaction, or worse - inappropriate spending/taxation by the authorities .... and sadly, a media that seems clueless about all this.

    water21.org.uk

  • Comment number 29.


    Like the Americans, people in general will do the right thing, but only after they have failed with everything else. So no, people won’t vote in a politician that will ask us to make sacrifices. It will take some sort of tragedy staring them in the face before the mainstream will make corrections to the way they live their lives, but I believe they will do it.

    It’s not that surprising; scientists have pulled together enough studies to show humans haven’t evolved to deal with abstract problems that aren’t on the immediate horizon. The trouble is it will be too late to do anything about the initial consequences of climate change. All we can hope is that we have enough time, will and resources to cooperate to avoid the absolute worst of it.

    The interesting political question will be will the electorate ask the business as usual elites, who were in denial or just paid lip service to the problem to lead the way, or will they look to the hated ‘Greenies’ who said this was going to happen. In the end I think we will be lucky even to get that chance to choose, as by the time nature is giving us a kick up the backside, I’d imagine things will be getting away from us pretty quickly.

  • Comment number 30.

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

  • Comment number 31.

    30. At 5:11pm on 21 Jul 2010, kakawa wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.


    That's a pity. I wonder which one(s)? I presume it was OK enough to get through the mods initially, only to be removed subsequently. How does that happen?

    Given the title topic, still kinda ironic.

  • Comment number 32.

    I have followed James Lovelock's work for quite a long time and I agree with his views. I respect him very much and what he has to say.
    And he knows what he is talking about.
    He is a man of science BUT he is also using A COMMON SENSE in his predictions. A problem is that not many of us listen, especially not those, who have power to make a difference/change...
    And yes, we need an overgovernmental body, who knows what's best for Earth's and our future. Though, it will be to late for the vast majority of us, anyhow...
    aroniafly

  • Comment number 33.

    The situation calls for democratic action not suppression by polluters or their agents. The stakes are high. If the 2nd and 3rd worlds continue industrialization the entire planet will and already is being affected. US or World Polluters attempt to illegally evade US law by bribing poor countries in order to industrialize. The Power figures in said countries don't care if their people suffer they want riches. Remember what we informed you of in the 60's Communists are not poor people suffer under it. If another 1/3 of the Earths' population industrializes without regard to the effects of industrialization mankinds' suffering will increase. That is what is wrong with John S. Mill and his ethics those that gain do so at the expense of others. Gains should be mutual while losses should reduced not justified.

  • Comment number 34.

    We are doomed I feel by the causes of climate change, and those who are behaving irresponsibily.
    My view of climate change (and I would very much like to be proven wrong) is that at least one country has taken up a weather weapon of mass destruction. This country has the ability and is implementing ionospheric change, which is resulting in drought, fire, floods, landslides, and just about any other climatic catstrophe that the aberrrant mind can conceive.
    This is much better where war is concerned because who blames the weather. Rain happens. Floods happen. Droughts happen. Earthquakes happen....but I believe some are being made to happen by humans engaged in using a weather weapon of mass destruction.
    A country with this weapon knows from whence weather changes are coming; it has no need to change what it is doing because it is in control of the weather.
    The people of this country are ignorant to the device, have never voted for the device and would likely decry their politicians if they found out what was happening.
    The greatest power of this country is the unwillingness of other countries to accept that the weather weapon actually exists and that it is being used. Our salvation may lie in the fact that what is used for evil, can also be used for good IF this country chose a different path.
    The use of this weapon is unethical, a crime against humanity.
    Suspend democracy?
    If I am right, how has "democracy" played any part in what is happening with this weapon? Did the people vote for the use of this weapon?
    I think that, for example, the Moscow fires & high temperatures have been a result of weather manipulation, so have the Pakistan floods, and even the mud slides in China. Perhaps the Haiti earthquake was another example.
    It's about time that the UN take a good look at what HAARP, SURA, and other such weapons of mass destruction. What are these laboritories up to? Who is using them - though I think I already know? Who is in bed with these persons that want to play God?


  • Comment number 35.

    A 20% reduction is actually pretty impressive.

    Democracy, whether we like it or not is realpolitik. It may not be ideal, but the alternative is unthinkable.

    And I'd say things are actually moving pretty fast in this country. We have companies like Nissan promoting zero tail emission vehicles like the Leaf -

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

    and utilities companies using more renewables - I think Southern http://www.southern-electric.co.uk/ has the most renewables in its mix.

    But I think we really, really, really need to think about how our carbon output compares to that of China:

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

    Wikipedia may not be entirely accurate here, but it's fair to say that our carbon output is a midge compared to theirs. And the nature of democracy is likely to change rapidly, irrevocably and beyond recognition over the next 4 or 5 decades. Just you wait and see.

  • Comment number 36.

    If democracy were to be suspended, what do you all think would replace it? Democracy allows us freedom of speech(well at least an illusion of freedom of speech) For instance, what type of government could replace democracy in the UK and how could it control a population which is used to freedom of speech and action?

  • Comment number 37.

    I note that the Global Warming warring parties that populate the Environmental Blog have not found this topic on here yet. Nice to see some new names for a change!

    What would it take for YOU to spot and accept, within the short-term fluctuations, that real global warming/climate change was taking place?

    If it was operating through positive feedbacks there will be something like an exponential change in some measurable factors and, within 10 years or so, life would have changed fundimentally for most people on the surface of the Earth.

    What will you be looking out for during the (first) four or five years of progressive accelerating change?

    Assuming that you, as an individual, will not be able to do a damned thing about it, will you attempt to move to a potentially better location, or will you sit tight like the 'boiled frog' and just let it get you and your family?

    OR: is it more ethical to remove the source of the problem before it accelerates out of control? If we can only, as a first world family, reduce our footprint by about 20%, and if other parts of the world are increasing households such that by 2050 or so there will be more NEW households than exist in the present USA and Europe combined, then should the threat posed by these increases to ALL OF US be removed for the sake of ALL HUMANITY?
    Is the extirpation of a significant part of the world's population a sufficient and ethical a reason in order to save the rest of the world's population - and indeed, the world biosphere itself?

    Who should (hypothetically) be the ones sacrificed? Perhaps those most polluting? Perhaps those most breeding? Perhaps those with the greatest proportion of aged individuals? Perhaps those most consuming? Try putting the names of specific countries to these three or four catagories, then try to imagine the impact that this might have on a modern world society without them.

    Now do the same (hypothetically) making the world's poor the most expendible. Eliminating the largest aggregations of the poorest peoples on Earth will remove mouths, but will it address the problems posed in the para. above? The poor, populous regions of the earth might undergo classic Malthusian 'solutions', in any case.

    No, the REAL problems and REAL ameliorative solutions centre around just three or four large 'nations'. If these are unwilling to act in the better interest of the whole of mankind and the biosphere, then surely the ethical position of the world community is to act for the Greatest Good.

    TIME is the real problem. When do we realise that the time has come to act? And could the situation be redressed in the time available?

  • Comment number 38.

    Read in conjunction with my posting @ (?)37:

    Trees are all-important.

    Immediate Action:

    1. Plant trillions of trees across ALL the nations on earth.

    2. Stop completely logging-for-export, with Sharia-type sanctions for those flouting the logging legislation.

    3. Learn from Japan and Germany how to manage national forestry systems using both 'top down' and 'bottom up' management.

    4. Exact the same punishments for third-world wood-cutting for charcoal as is done to those killing for 'bushmeat'.

    Harsh treatment for critical times, and many poor people WILL die.

    There may (just) be enough time for the trees to grow, to save an atmosphere and allow life in general to continue.

  • Comment number 39.

    If the situation in Pakistan is a symptom of climate change, watch and learn. Those people unfortunate enough to have fled without their identity papers are being refused aid. This should be a lesson to ALL of us. We should all plan for events out of our control.
    Democracy is a system for the good times. When times are bad, democracy looses its foothold and other means of population control take over. Apart from climate change, we should all be looking out for attitude change, the sort that, thankfully, the second world war put an end to (for the time being)
    In times of financial and resource crisis, the strongest look for ways and excuses for eliminating the weakest so that they get a bigger share of limited resources.
    I strongly believe that there are suitable solutions for reducing the impact of climate change but I also believe that governments and investors are dragging their heels on releasing and risking their cash-stash.

  • Comment number 40.

  • Comment number 41.

    GeoffWard
    Signs of something significant happening:

    animal and bird migrating patterns changing dramatically
    major satellite disruption with ensuing consequences
    lots of aurora

    But, that has nothing to do with us.
    Space doesn't follow our rules and a rich wise man is no better than a poor fool.

  • Comment number 42.

    Grannie @ 41,
    I note that the mackerel population of the north Atlantic now has shifted north to encompass Iceland. Evidence of warming in the north Atlantic? Correlates with Arctic sea-ice & glacial melting.
    May be just coincidence. But . . . .

  • Comment number 43.

    GeoffWard at post 42

    'I note that the mackerel population of the north Atlantic now has shifted north to encompass Iceland. Evidence of warming in the north Atlantic? Correlates with Arctic sea-ice & glacial melting.
    May be just coincidence. But . . . .'

    Where did you get the information
    Who wrote the article
    When was the article written
    Why was the article written
    How did THEY obtain the information
    What was the MOTIVE for the report


  • Comment number 44.

    Hi,Granny (@ 43).
    1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8945000/8945384.stm etc (many)
    2. BBC correspondents (various).
    3. Last week / this week
    4. To create pressure in the EU (Common Fisheries Policy) to open negotiations with the Iclanders and the Faeroese for a conservation of stocks, sustainable, rebalancing of tonnages taken.
    5. Research & research papers from ICES.
    5. To highlight that a re-run of competitive overfishing will send the mackerel to the same Davey Jones' Locker as the N. Atlantic cod.
    Regards, Geoff.

  • Comment number 45.

    Hi Geoff (@44).
    Thanks for the prompt and informative reply.
    I didn't know that mackerel was included in the food wars, as so often we hear of mackerel being discarded back into the sea because it is the 'wrong sort of fish.'

    We all live and learn.

  • Comment number 46.

    44. At 1:41pm on 26 Aug 2010, GeoffWard wrote:

    Were it that certain paid 'news' correspondents/departments (summer hols cover can be tricky when operating on a shoe string) so responsive and factually comprehensive, not to mention considered if asked to stray into matters of opinion.

    One might hope that various readers may challenge them in equal terms to elicit such replies when they all get back.

  • Comment number 47.

    JunkMale at post 46

    Sometimes it is nice to have a discussion without a big argument. One can pick holes but lets play nicely, it's still the last days of the summer holidays.

  • Comment number 48.

    JunkMale at post 46

    Let's play nicely.


    What holes? Per demand (I thought it a heck of template to issue to GeoffWard. No silly pleasantries. And he responded admirably. Hence one that might be of value to deploy again to paid, specialist reporters) ... and example.. if you say so:)

    Apologies for any offence taken personally,

    JunkkMale (funny how many make that mistake, and when)

  • Comment number 49.

    I genuinely missed the extra k as I didn't see it until you pointed it out ;-) x
    None taken really, just didn't fancy a battle during the last days of the summer holiday, (unless it was to save humankind flora and fauna).

  • Comment number 50.

    everyone
    Take a look at this:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11100528

    Now that will be something, when scientists gather energy from the air (like pulling a rabbit out of a hat). I think it will work because even conjuring tricks are based on imagination; ingenious ideas; a pinch of science; a smattering of technology; skills; trial and error; practice; perfecting techniques; a desire to survive in a competitive environment. Even in the fairground, a fantastic amount of engineering skills are required. If one is hungry enough, an idea can become a reality.
    Both of these groups of people mentioned have to multi-task to survive their chosen lifestyle. Perhaps we need government that understands what it is like to live on the edge of extinction. Is visionary. Is willing and able multitask and muck in with the rest of us in our changing world. Is willing to lead among the people it supports.

  • Comment number 51.

    49. At 5:36pm on 28 Aug 2010, sensibleoldgrannie

    Chums again. I'm glad.

    I do appreciate much of what you share, especially in the battle to save flora and fauna.



  • Comment number 52.

    Democracy is a danger to society. We need a strong ruler who people fear. Like in Iraq with Saddam Hussain.
    He taught the country law and order.
    I would support the army taking over.
    The BBC leftitists will wet themselves at that fact.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hey Ethical Man -- I can’t believe that the British media bought wholesale an alcohol industry press release last week about how drinking had the biggest decline since World War II. What nonsense! The media should take a look at the real data next time and try to consider what the alcohol industry is up to – which is to distract British policy makers and the public from the disasters of the Licensing Act and youth binge drinking. Please read more about http://atodblog.com. ATOD stands for alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.

  • Comment number 54.

    Not sure anyone is in, or listening in the enviro department at Aunty.

    Mr. Black seems to have turned au revoir into adios and may even be in new employ now.

    This thread is gathering cobwebs.

    Maybe nothing of significance has taken place?

    Actually, there have been a few uni-directional pieces posted by others (more mea culpas via R4), but they seemed a tad phoned-in and bunkeresque in willingness to engage.

    Or maybe it's just long... very long school hols at the national broadcaster? And no cover possible on this minor beat. Apparently.

    Could be worse, mind: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/editorsblog/

    Darn funding cuts.

  • Comment number 55.

    we need a new topic

  • Comment number 56.

    Is there no 'topic of ethical concern' running loose and free in the world today?

  • Comment number 57.

    56. At 4:50pm on 11 Sep 2010, GeoffWard wrote:
    Is there no 'topic of ethical concern' running loose and free in the world today?


    :)

    Not, it would appear, during the summer months, at least. I wonder where they all go (as, surely, it cannot be far)?

    One also presumes the IT infrastructure is not... yet... solar powered.

  • Comment number 58.

    An odd phenomenon presents.

    That of 'closed for comments', which is more permanent than 'watertight oversight', being more final.

    And it seems to apply in an inconsistent manner; more on one blog than another.

    Hence for the remarkably short-lived windows that exist on the more frequent Nic R. political postings, there is the ongoing openness of Andrew Neill's multi-month, 2k+, mostly open to all, epic.

    And it looks like this fine thread will be the latter's mirror, as Richard Black's, fresh from his recharge, follows in the footsteps of another. If not in a good way. And without explanation. Pity.

  • Comment number 59.

    Is there an ethical man in the BBC?

  • Comment number 60.

    59. At 6:14pm on 19 Sep 2010, GeoffWard wrote:
    Is there an ethical man in the BBC?


    Or woman. Or any actual department which deals with matters environmental in much more than a broadcast only, post & bail basis these days?

    Popped over to Mr. Black's to see how the debate latest was evolving, and perhaps anything new/factual (from posters if not the author) on the solar flare stories we are being told how much to worry about.

    Closed for comments. Now, there's a thing. Happens a lot these days. It's in the genes.

  • Comment number 61.

    And.... repeat.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/09/something_new_and_not_altogeth.html

    * 246. At 00:24am on 26 Sep 2010, Paul Butler wrote:

    Mango #236

    Hmmm It looks as if your #236 got deleted. I'd be very interested to know why. Would Richard Black know?


    Anyway, to the subject, there's little useful I can add here, and it would be pointless anyway if it got deleted. Plus of course all the contextualising posts have been deleted as well!


    This entry is now closed for comments

    At least irony is alive and well, if little else seems to be.

  • Comment number 62.

    The ironies seem to compound these days.

    Again we have a blog 'closed for comments', after a a quick spate of selective 'referalls' that now will pass into the mists of time if reinstated, and be prevented from any reply to comments they inspired.

    Helen Boaden would be proud.

    As the topic did veer to a more topical issue, and any open enviro-outlets seem to be rivalling hens' teeth for rarity, as one denied a view I'd like to use, while I can, this thread to offer some further thoughts on the ill-starred 10:10 'pressure' ad.

    I've indeed started hearing it spun that it is lite greens teasing dark greens for their extremes. Certainly the suspicions regrading certain over-grotesque conceits gave cause to wonder.

    But, even if so, not sure the roll-out has been planned too well for the reveal. Maybe the current watertight oversight chez 10:10 is part of the deal? Their new 'explanation' is short on grace and long on self-justification. Few felt it suffered from not being funny (which is subjective). Many felt the message was poorly considered. But a shocking message was attempted, doubtless for PR.

    Even if so, and conceding the shock value coverage at least, I fear awareness for awareness' sake is lazy strategy.

    I also gather public money went into this too? Makes bed-time stories at its £6M budget almost seem rational. Love to discover which senior quangocrat is seeing the dream of walking down the aisle at the next ad awards suddenly scooting off early for the Dorset weekend cottage.

    Finally, with my creative hat on, if you want to stir things up, Peckinpah/Tarantino bloodfests are good (I think there was a great parody once), and if you are prepared for no Winterval cards from the sisters, young nubiles hauling out their wares like Glenda Jackson in a 60s BBC2 play (for the 'art') can be effective, too.

    Thing is, there is a slight danger that things can go awry. And like many others of an environmental bent actively involved in DOING stuff that works, and helps, I have been a tad dismayed at the effect this misguided effort has had so far. Even if it is played out as a spoof, I fear the gains are outweighed by the damage. Subtlety can play well, but one needs to consider the audience. Playing the boxes may be nice when it comes to post-performance plaudits from your mates, but if the plot doesn't sell to the stalls, you have soaked up a lot of investor money. And goodwill for the next show.

    Which is why I value opportunities to express my personal views without being referred. At least on a selective basis.

  • Comment number 63.

    Well, it's gone viral, and round the world.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2010/10/sick-green-psycho-stars-want-to-kill-your-children/

    hope as intended.

    Oddly not on the radar back home in some quarters.

  • Comment number 64.

    I am always impressed when a blog author returns to the thread they have instigated.

    Even if it is usually to address an area within a comfort zone.

    Then it does rather highlight when they are around, and what they are in any mood to engage with.

    Or not more content to see things closed for comments whilst getting acolytes to cite 'time limits'.

    Which, along with matters of contention, do not seem to affect other blogs in the firmament.

    Mods... here at least... I salute you!

  • Comment number 65.

    .
    Yes, it's good when a stale blog becomes awakened from the dead by posters that use it as a vehicle for the (ethical) issue of the moment.
    .
    There was scope for the Ethics Editor to raise this very totally obvious ethical matter (10:10), but he chose not to do so.
    .
    Why?
    .

  • Comment number 66.

    Oh, noes.

    I feel a 'closed for comments' imminent.

    At least, IF the author, or a minion, ever stumble this way again soon.

  • Comment number 67.

    65. At 4:18pm on 09 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:
    There was scope for the Ethics Editor to raise this very totally obvious ethical matter (10:10), but he chose not to do so.
    Why?


    No answer yet, but maybe a hint here:

    'My family and I spent a year trying to cut our carbon emissions and reporting on the exercise for Newsnight. Now I’m looking again in this blog at what individuals can do to tackle climate change.

    There was a period of 'reporting' (ie; awareness) that did also involve some participation, and indeed valuable information.

    But that was for a finite period. Possibly it was not as sustainable to live what one was often preaching others to do. Or live as one wrote. Even when paid, and given access to a great deal of support few others pursuing high enviROI green initiatives

    This then sort of got rekindled, only more the reporting only bit.

    But even that seems to have dwindled.

    Pity, because in the eco-arena I sense the ethics of all protagonists, especially the previously immune from spotlight messengers and their potentially less than helpful representations of critical and complex messages, are more than ever under the spotlight.

    Hence the bunker mode is a pity. At least here of all places.

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • Comment number 69.

    68. At 11:42pm on 15 Oct 2010, GeoffWard wrote:
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.


    Must find out what it is that dooms democracy first.

  • Comment number 70.

    .
    For God's sake, Justin,

    This is a time of your life where the world is FULL of ethical issues.

    Just pick one and post it.

    If the BBC has stopped you from commenting, just let us know and we will stop criticising you for your absence.
    .

  • Comment number 71.

    I asked Al Gore the question "what hope do we have of tackling climate change whilst the most polluting countries are stuck with elective democracies - that tend to reward short term think ing over long term vision".

    He started his expansive and fascinating answer by saying that "in order to solve the climate crisis we must first solve the democracy crisis. And I do believe that there is a crisis in the nature of the conversation of democracy." It's still available to hear on the RSA web pages: http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2006/earth-in-the-balance-sheet. It was in the questions at the end - mine is the first question.

    Left me feeling a bit hopeless though - what the world needs is a single benevolent dictatorship! A bit like the moment in his AIT film where he climbs on the scissor lift to show just how high temperatures might climb if they continue to track C02 levels...

  • Comment number 72.

    'what the world needs is a single benevolent dictatorship! '

    One is rather left wondering how that works out in practice.

    I lived for many years in one that came close.

    Have to say, the trains did run on time.

    Just a bad place to be an opposition MP. Or interested in much more than keeping your head down, striving and excelling.

  • Comment number 73.

    It is gratifying now, that there is much concern about climate change, however concern is not enough. It requires understanding.
    Understanding and description of climate change and the environment generally, must be in terms of physics, yet there is no widely accepted agreement of the fundamental physics controlling it. For example, physicists have long considered a Unified Concept of fundamental physics is the ultimate description, but as yet its formulation is not widely accepted. Still there is no compatibility between Relativity Physics, and Quantum Physics, the two relevant branches.
    A concept of Unified Physics is published by E Chandler. It unites these two branches, enabling long term climate change to be forecasted.

  • Comment number 74.

    Chandler wrote @ 73: "It is gratifying now, that there is much concern about climate change, however concern is not enough. It requires understanding.
    Understanding and description of climate change and the environment generally, must be in terms of physics, yet there is no widely accepted agreement of the fundamental physics controlling it. For example, physicists have long considered a Unified Concept of fundamental physics is the ultimate description, but as yet its formulation is not widely accepted ...."
    ..........
    As I understand it, there is no Unified Theory Of God, no Unified Religious Belief, no Unified Theory Of Society, or Unified Theory Of Economics; not even a Unified Theory Of Evolution .......
    ... but the world still carries on, doing what the world does ... warming (?)... cooling (?) ... warming (?) ... cooling (?), without waiting for The Great Unification Of Life, The Universe And Everything.

    Outcome doesn't demand that humans have a knowledge of the process.

    Now, if you want to talk about the *ethics* of man's role in the process ........this is your blog-site (even though we haven't heard from the blog-site-owner for months, and months, and months, and months..

  • Comment number 75.

    At least they would be hard pressed to go into 'watertight oversight' lockdown or 'close for comments' for being OT now:)

    To some, this may be viewed as an aid to understanding:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/oct/31/climate-change-computer-game

    To others, a bit of an ethical dilemma.

    I wonder, should the press release pass Aunty's way, what the response will be?

  • Comment number 76.

    '75. At 11:32am on 01 Nov 2010, you wrote:
    At least they would be hard pressed to go into 'watertight oversight' lockdown or 'close for comments' for being OT now:)


    Which I for one, appreciate, if only for the irony, as Mr. Black's latest gets to all of #32 before plug pull.

  • Comment number 77.

    "what the world needs is a single benevolent dictatorship!"
    I sincerely hope that is not a true wish Michael. Where I come from my country has been under many dictators and none have proven to be "benevolent" at any level.

    As for the trains I really do hope places like mine follow the same steps. But for that to happen people here would have to find leaders with minds that actually do work.

  • Comment number 78.

    Today, the 'news' guys are on strike.

    Apparently.

  • Comment number 79.


    With some blog Editors, it's hard to tell whether they are being paid and working or whether they are on strike.

  • Comment number 80.


    This Editor is the one to ask if it is ethical for them to go on strike .... if you can get hold of him - he may be on strike - if so, is the question rhetorical?

  • Comment number 81.

    If a tree fell in the forest...

    Pretty certain that, around here, one wouldn't get to hear about the fact, though eventually a personal opinion piece on why trees could be doing so may follow.

    Though if with comments enabled, soon closed.

  • Comment number 82.

    Hitler, Hitler, Hitler.
    Nazi, Nazi, Nazi.
    Godwin, Godwin, Godwin.

    ;-)

  • Comment number 83.

    That's torn it.

    And here was me hoping 'they' might ignore this thread long enough to let it celebrate its first anniversary, which would (have been) be a nifty book end to the preceding year the author spent being 'ethical' (in TV land you can pick up and put things down like that).

    Mind you, it may need an market rate talent to actually read to first.

  • Comment number 84.

    what,what,what?

  • Comment number 85.

    Ah! I have just read you hypothesis. Words loaded with meaning like a triple cheese burger and still not blog-stopped. Godwin's Law is sometimes referred to as 'racketing' where a negative behaviour is re-enacted time after time in a repeated and familiar pattern of goading attack from one person to another. Or in this case, the personification of blogspace.

  • Comment number 86.

    Strewth, Mr. Black's latest got to 22 before being closed.

    Interesting machinations at play for sure.

    My latest exchanges with those who oversee such matters refers:

    Dear Sirs,

    Thanks, again, for a prompt reply.

    It is clear that we have different views on this, and possibly entrenched enough that while polite exchange can still be valuable to try and understand each other's position a bit better each time, it can be necessary to appeal to other authorities. So thank you also for the ECU contact.

    Moderation is an unenviable task at best. One walks an unsteady path constantly along a fine line between various competing imperatives, from blog user frustration to blog owner legal constraints.

    The House Rules are not perfect in my view, but they do cover most eventualities. And have a few extras that need not be there, especially the catch-all 'off-topic'. I have fallen foul of this on many an occasion, and been frustrated at the variability in its application, from tolerating some threads that are almost totally comprised of OT comments, to deleting some comments that are not over retaining others that are complete wastes of time and space, but originate from 'approved regulars'.

    But this is the system you have instituted, for all its flaws, for good or ill. Pre-moderation is what you have opted for.

    Now you seem to be saying that this is not working, and OT or unacceptable posts are being allowed through, so the solution for a failure your end is to simply close the blog. That is making the many suffer for the few, and your failings. Not acceptable.

    Especially when it is clear there are some who, for whatever reason, have recognised this flaw and are exploiting your policy in this regard to create a shut down. These are people with access to the internet and time on their hands during working hours, successfully denying with BBC complicity reasonable exchange to the vast majority of licence fee payers who do not, and can only get involved with the national broadcaster they co-fund in the evening or weekends.

    Pulling the plug at 5.30pm because things 'have got demanding in terms of finite resources' seems to be playing to the needs and whims of a very restricted gallery to me. Maybe try specifying that posts are uploaded post this watershed such that dialogue is more likely to be between the genuine public, as opposed to paid trolls? Or some other solution that does not exclude those you are meant to serve.

    Hence I'd suggest this policy warrants a rethink as a matter of urgency.


    -----

    Your description of how News blogs are moderated is not one that we recognise. We would of course prefer posts to stay open for the duration of their natural life, but when there is a lot of behaviour that breaks the house rules, moderation can become very demanding in terms of the finite resources we can apply. We hope that you would agree that the BBC must, across the output, reserve the right to close posts at any time based on that criterion, as well as various editorial judgements including sensitivity and legal risk. If you remain unsatisfied with our response, it is open to you to address your complaint to the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit: ecu@bbc.co.uk or Room 5170, White City, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS.

    Yours sincerely.

    BBC News website


    ------

    To: NewsOnline

    Dear Sirs,

    Thank you for very prompt reply.

    Sadly, I am unable to accept it, as much for the corporate mindset and defaults suggested, as the total failure to answer my actual concerns.

    As far as I can now gather:

    a) Modding, already subject to mockery for being entirely arbitrary, is in fact pointless, or doesn't happen at all... or...

    b) The minute 'some' (from within the BBC or calling on a few mates outside) don't like the way a blog thread is headed, it's simply a matter of popping in a few loon posts and the whole shebang gets closed?

    That, I would humbly submit, is a pretty rare and valuable admission when it comes to the impartiality and oversight of so-called 'we seek your views' BBC blogs.

    Please advise as to whom I bump this up to next? Not Ms. Boaden's complaints line, as it is already on record that she doesn't actually read them, representing another interesting service standard for a £3.6B service organisation.


    ---

    Thanks for getting in touch. The post you link to had a high incidence of off-topic comment underneath and so was closed. Posts where comments remain within the house rules stay open to comments for longer.

    Yours sincerely,

    BBC News website


    http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/handle.shtml


    -----

    From: Audience Services [mailto:bbcaudienceservices@capita.co.uk]

    Complaint

    This blog has an enabled comment facility. Hence one presumes the opinion of the UK public, who pay the licence fee, is welcome, encouraged and facilitated.
    Hence please explain why this posting became 'closed for comments' on the same day it was posted, coincidentally at 'clocking off' time, before the majority of the population at work would have had any reasonable opportunity to return home, read and pass comment if so minded.
    It has happened before. Please reassure why it will not again.




  • Comment number 87.


    Moderator,

    please pass this up to the Editorial committee.

    This site is a JOKE.

    If the Editor/Blogsite manager is unable or unwilling to manage an obviously dead blog-site, then the Editorial Committee should replace him.... rapidly.

    **Ethics** (the theme of this blogsite) is too important a discipline for the BBC to treat it is such a lethargic fashion.

    I look forward to an explanation for this morbidity via the usual email.

    Geoff Ward.

  • Comment number 88.


    Can somebody at the BBC resurrect Justin from the dead (undead?).
    I guess he is the only one able to put an end to this disgraceful blogsite.
    This is not a year for giving Justin - the BBC's Ethical Man, and therefore the Public Conscience of the Corporation - a performance bonus.

  • Comment number 89.

    Always pop back after the latest 'It's my ball' removal at the other eco-blog.

    And always... interesting to see just how long and varied this one can be in comparison.

  • Comment number 90.

    "First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist; then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist; then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist; then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew; ..... then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me."

    Niemöller brings this certain ethic truth to you and your blog, Justin.
    When they come for you, Justin, you might wish you had blogged occasionally.

  • Comment number 91.

    As we 'celebrate' another 'Black out' next door on matters enviro, I am intrigued by this piece of feedback to a recent complaint, that does bear comparison with what happens, or does not, throughout the BBC blog network:

    Thank you for your complaint about the closure of Nick Robinson’s blog which has been passed on to me.
    Firstly I’d like to apologise. You were told in the previous exchange that you could complain about the decision to close Nick Robinson’s blog to the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit. This is not in fact the case, as the closing of a blog to comments is outside the remit of the ECU.

    Perhaps some explanation might help.
    The question of whether a comment is off topic is decided by the host of a particular blog not the moderators.
    Closing a post for comment is a decision for the host not the moderators.

    Blogs are closed for a variety of legal and editorial reasons. Most blogs close automatically after a set period, or they might be closed because the story has been superceded or updated and/or there is another area to comment .

    Judging whether comments are off topic is a matter of judgement which will vary from post to post. You rightly say that there are a small number of malicious commenters who sometimes disrupt comments with off topic material. The BBC is not “complicit” in this. In fact BBC hosts work hard to try and prevent this happening. However there are sometimes occasions where regrettably because of off topic material posts need to be closed, as in this instance. This does inconvenience other users. However there always remain many places on BBC Online where comments are open.

    I hope this puts your mind at rest. If you are unhappy with this response I suggest you write directly to the BBC Trust.


    It was about a political blog, but the rules (that seem so often broken as to be worthless) still apply, and a few claims made really stretch credulity to an extreme degree, especially given the factual evidence of one's own eyes.

  • Comment number 92.

    The long gap in this article (May, 24, 2010) made me wonder:
    1. Are we doomed by democracy, and is the first sign the disappearance of the ethical man?
    2. I am concerned that important countries simply no not respond to the issue, which leads me to believe that elites know something that the rest of us don't know, and they aren't about to tell us peons because that would be too ethical and of course, might cause panic.
    3. I am not worried about global warming, but I am afraid of information that the elites may be keeping from us - like a huge chunk of ice from the Artic or Antarctic (or both) is going to slip into the oceans and we will have tidals waves 100 feet tall, inundation of our coasts, buried islands, and a human death toll beyond the imagination. This should reduce the population and make several politicians more content.
    4. Democracy never existed anywhere. At best we have had plutocracy - rule by the rich for the sake of the rich. The rest of us are just servants. We are definitely expendable.
    5. See # 4.
    6. What has happened to the Ethical Man project, or was it hard to breathe amidst all the non-ethics?
    7. Agreed: only a wholesale transformation of the entire world economy can achieve the carbon cuts the scientists say are necessary, but can you believe the scientists? So much has been said and written; scientists contradict one another.
    There could even be a lack of ethics.
    8. Will people every vote for politicians who will force us to make the sacrifices necessary to bring this transformation about?
    No, people very seldom believe what politicians say, and they most certainly do not believe the western media tells them. Voting has gone down. Ethics has gone down...

  • Comment number 93.


    On behalf of Justin Rowlatt, Ethical Man, BBC.

    “The Truth, you can’t handle the Truth!” There are things out there that humans can’t handle.

    An interesting ethical dilemma has arisen in the world and for the BBC.
    Wikileaks has blasted the world’s media with an ethical problem of profound simplicity. Its impact is profound in its complexity:

    Should the world have secrets of truth whilst displaying attitudes of dissembly?
    Is the world a safer place with truth or with lies?

    Should the BBC support Governmental Truth, Governmental Dissembly or Both?
    Should the BBC support the Government or the People?
    Should the BBC be ethical in its promotion of the Truth, or should it be able to Dissemble on behalf of the Government?

    The last question is relevant because, today, the BBC Online News Headline is “Wikileaks founder Assange freed”. This is so absolutely and patently untrue that the headline beggars belief! Close-house-arrest, curfew, tagged, bailbond at 240,000 gbps, surveillance, accounts closed, appeal, etc, etc.

    **If you have an opinion on the global issue, or on the ethical behaviour of the BBC, please post your opinions below.**

  • Comment number 94.

    Meanwhile, over at Mr. Black's near sole 'interactive' discussion board for matters enviro, the latest thread - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/12/cancun_the_chihuahua_that_roar.html - not entirely without justification got onto matters of censorship... and promptly was shut down.

    Ironically.

    As of time of writing, it remains so, which is a pity considering the not untopical or minor matter of Mr. Huhne's (flexibly reported in some quarters: http://www.newssniffer.co.uk/articles/373085/diff/0/1 ) new energy policies and the possible ethical consequences.

    But of course this was all neatly 'explained', one is sure with all due impartiality, on the BBC yesterday by this fellow: http://www.climatechangecapital.com/news-and-events/ccc-in-the-news/ccc%27s-james-cameron-joins-the-prime-minister's-business-advisory-group.aspx

  • Comment number 95.


    Why no topic for comment *anywhere* on BBC blogs about the UK energy policies? ........ ever???

    80% emission reduction ...... how???

    Cancelled the Severn Barrage Scheme with plans fully developed over the last 30 years, ....the Morcambe Bay Barrage(?), the Wash Barrage (?) .......... why???

    No movement on nuclear power station re-build ....... why???

    Creation of **secure** energy sources from overseas (uranium, fossil) ...... why not???

    Alternative energy technologies & export sales structures ....... why not???

    There is a totally unhealthy desire to vacillate and leave contracts and opportunities to other nations and foreign companies ...... why???

    Switch to Russian gas & coal ......... why???

  • Comment number 96.

    [Comments which will be re-posted and developed if the BBC, at some time in the future, decide to invite comment on UK Energy Policy]

    Chris Huhne says these changes to energy provision are 'once in a generation' changes.

    Balls! Provision of updates and replacement of plant and distribution systems, and introduction of new technologies, is a continuous process - it must be so, otherwise you get Energy Gaps.

    If any energy gaps occur it is because governments over the last few generations (since 1946) have signally failed in their duty of planning and implementation.

    This, of course, is inexcusable.

  • Comment number 97.

    I believe the 'mot du jour' (or year which, whilst not actually being over, is cited in in some quarters as 'the 'est' on a few selective parameters) is 'unprecedented', often when describing something that has happened before, just... not recently.

    Hence when told way back when that global warming will ensure no more snow, some highly paid folk now move the terminology goalposts in excuse whilst still avoiding tangible contingency planning based on sensible science and engineering from folk who actually work in real industries using such skills, as opposed to those addicted to grants and honourifics as easier routes to fame and fortune in cultures that reward the meeting of targets and ticking of boxes assigned by PPE grads. Held to account by more of the same by mates in the media, through the Oxbridge degree seems to have been more in English of media studies.

    In this country at least.

  • Comment number 98.

    "Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal: US reaction" (HYS, Monday, 20 Dec. 2010)

    .................

    OK, this is an Editor's joke .... yes?

    The HYS Editor publishes a major Have Your Say feature WITH ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE TO HAVE OUR SAY.

    Doesn't the Editor KNOW how disgusted the BBC readers are with this site - there have been an avalanche of comments about dumbing-down and inappropriate 'chav'-quality topics.
    If this posting is the Editor's response, he/she has zero respect for BBC readers.

  • Comment number 99.

    With a few days to 2011 ahead, one wonders what the New Year may herald, and in terms of broadcast ethics, free speech, it's a worry...

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/richardblack/2010/12/cancun_outcome_splits_opinion.html

    This entry is now closed for comments - at 28. And the one chosen to pull the plug is noteworthy, from a favoured poster to one claiming to have inside knowledge not obviously accorded all:

    'However there is one approach that the BBC may have to implement. Scrapping BBC comment threads altogether to save money and/or comply with competition laws. Perhaps that is what your "birdie" meant. '

  • Comment number 100.

    That some poor devil is around, now, and to so quickly fulfill their role restores some faith.

    To you, dear mod(s), a very Merry Christmas. Well played! Such effort is appreciated.

 

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