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Environmental overload?

David Kermode | 12:34 UK time, Monday, 15 January 2007

Declan's kicked off what's to be a year-long series for us this morning, introducing us to our Breakfast 'low carb' family.

The idea has nothing to do with chips - and everything to do with emissions.

Breakfast logoWe have challenged the family, the Hawksworths who live in Castle Donington, to see if they can reduce their emissions (they got in touch when we asked for volunteers just before Christmas).

We'll return once a month to see how they get on and also, more importantly to explore some of the issues around climate change and global warming.

We had some encouraging feedback this morning - and a lot of interest in our carbon footprint website feature.

But it's fair to say we also had some scepticism around the science of global warming, with a few people getting in touch to dispute whether it is really a serious issue.

On the science, we have pledged to explore those questions, with the Hawksworths helping put the questions.

Others felt that it was unfair to single out a family for our 'low carb' challenge - we should be "going after big business" instead.

My answer to that final point is that we do - and will continue to - question businesses on their environmental credentials.

Last week, we challenged the boss of Marks and Spencer, Stuart Rose, on the issue of food miles.

Declan frequently puts similar questions to the CEOs and chairmen who visit his studio.

Finally, some got in touch wondering why we cover so many stories relating to the environment, CO2 emissions and recycling.

"Frankly I am sick of listening to Breakfast going on and on about green issues", was one such comment.

Maybe we do too much of it? And we must certainly think about the sheer volume of such stories we cover. But we get an enormous response every time we do.


  • 1.
  • At 01:21 PM on 15 Jan 2007,
  • JG wrote:

Green... emissions... yawwwwwwwwwwwn

  • 2.
  • At 02:17 PM on 15 Jan 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Considering if we reduced our CO2 levels to zero as of today China would cancel the benefit out within about 5 years it really isn't that big of an issue. Whats the point?

Who cares if such and such reduces their CO2 footprint, it isn't going to make the slightest bit of difference.

So given that yes you do go on about far far too much.

  • 3.
  • At 02:20 PM on 15 Jan 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

Who is Declan ? Does he have a surname ?

  • 4.
  • At 07:50 PM on 15 Jan 2007,
  • anon wrote:

The BBC is supposed to be impartial. On this issue it clearly is not, as it accepts the arguments of the climate change lobby without question.

  • 5.
  • At 11:33 PM on 15 Jan 2007,
  • David wrote:

Green issues clearly have their place in today's world but it would be preferable if the business news sometimes concentrated on news other than CO2 and that old favourite fat cats, and perhaps if Declan stopped clowning around and treated business as a serious subject, rather than a variety show.

  • 6.
  • At 08:11 AM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Declan (can't quite remember his second name) is the business guy off breakfast TV.

  • 7.
  • At 12:57 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

The reason the BBC have now shifted to accepting the reality of climate change is that the opposite view (that it is not happening and is not down to humans) is quite simply unsupportable given the evidence.

As things look right now, climate sensitivity looks like it'll be of the order or 3degC for a doubling of CO2 (based on research and current observations of the last 30 years of warming). If emissions continue as they are likely to, this could give over 3degC warming by 2100, and we're already experiencing effects from the ~0.6degC warming of the last 30 years, at 36% above pre-industrial CO2!

There's good reason to believe there could be more warming than the 3degC range, but precious little reason to hope for less. It's now looking very much like a prognosis of "bad" or "terrible".

I am now convinced that this is the most serious issue we face - without ANY exception. Since I realised the reality and severity of what we face, other issues in the news seem to be like fretting about the detail on a sand-castle while the tide is rapidly coming in.

I cannot see any attainable option for addressing CO2 emissions, nothing proposed so far is technically or economically convincing. I used to be a free-market, small-government adherent, but the market and democracy cannot solve this, so I'm left in limbo.

However it seems to me to be the duty of journalists to present the truth so that people can form considered opinion. Whether or not people will change behaviour and vote intelligently is down to individuals. And no, I am not holding my breath for a change that will actually reduce emissions.

PS. If we reduced emissions the Sea (which has absorbed most of our emissions so far) would begin outgassing CO2. Thus stopping levels from dropping as fast as we might hope. If we want to act we need to do so now because if we leave it until an unexpected dangerous response happens it will very probably be too late by then.

  • 8.
  • At 05:13 PM on 16 Jan 2007,
  • Bernard wrote:

Turn your tele off, don't leave it on standby. He-He.

Stop the cows farting. He-He.

Pay £10 more airport taxes. He-He.

C'mon folk. Global Warming is just another con. If the Worlds 'leaders' were serious about GW, Nicola Tesla's and others inventions would be implemented.

It'll never happen though. They cannot make money from free energy.

Global Warming = BS. Wether or not it is down to mankind.


  • 9.
  • At 12:13 AM on 17 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

The BBC, like every other media organisation has yet again jumped on an issue that 'it' conciders is morally repugnant even though the evidence is tentative. Remember how pollutants were going to block out thesun and cause a premature iceage that the media spouted in the 70's, and the damage the Y2K bug was going to do?

Yes the pollution of our environment must cease, but the causes of the current global warming are not proven, whatever selfrighteous environmentalists will tell you.
Manmade C02, NOx and CH4 emissions have increased, but to correlate the minuscule amounts we produce compared to the vast quantities produced by nature and then infer that these emissions are producing the current global heating is not good science.
To then produce misleading, or even inflamitary papers with diagrams such as the discredited 'hockey stick' diagram just shows how far some people will go to 'corrupt' the evidence for their own needs. One factor that has not been investigated by the media is that the Sun has increased its output over exactly the same time period as global warming has been taking place. May this not be the main cause?
Yes the climate is warming and climate belts may shift slightly, but would it not be far more beneficial to pour money and research into how to live with the consequences, rather than waste that money on trying to eliminate our tiny emissions which will ultimately have no affect.
There was a questionare in the New Scientist magazine about 20 years ago asking those who worked on global warming if they believed in their work. A good 70% of respondants said they didn't and were only publishing papers so they could get more funding. Enough said.

  • 10.
  • At 11:30 AM on 17 Jan 2007,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:


1) The Hockey Stick. Some 6 or 7 papers show broadly the same thing, that the current warming is likely outside the bounds of natural warming. Bear in mind that most of these studies relate to Nothern Hemisphere variability - which is naturally more variable than that of the whole globe. e.g. Moberg et al (Moberg, A. et al. 2005. Highly variable northern hemisphere temperatures reconstructed from low- and high-resolution proxy data. Nature 433:613-617.) But none of this work is without problems.

2) I'd be fascinated if you could provide scientific research citing the Sun as the cause of the most recent warming. Because the warming of the last 30 years has happened without any variance in the Sun that may explain it. I can find no peer reviewed paper that challenges that. There is no evidence that the Sun is causing the current warming, there is evidence it is CO2.

3) You'll have a hard time trying to refute the consensus based on current evidence. Citing something in Nature from 20 years ago is hardly relevant now.

The evidence is far from 'tentative'.

  • 11.
  • At 04:12 AM on 18 Jan 2007,
  • Nick wrote:


You don't seemed to have done a very good literature search concerning the suns' importance to global warming!

Three recent reports, the first by Prof. Mike Lockwood, from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory published in Nature shows that sunspot activity has doubled this century. Sunspot activity is linked to magnetic field, which in turn is related to the strength of sunlight reaching the Earth, and thus warming the climate. The suns' magnetic field has increased in strength by 40%, 2.3 times stronger than it was in 1901. This increased activity causes global temperatures to rise, resulting in a negative feeedback of warming oceans which inturn absorb less carbon dioxide.'Humanity's burning of fossil fuels may therefore not be the cause of global warming.'

Concerning the 'Hockey stick'. This, as you know, has been thoroughly disproven, as both the little ice age and the medieval warm periods have been left out to allow the straight handle to be produced. The Little ice age during the 17th Century concides with a time when very few sunspots appeared on the surface of the Sun, whilst the "medieval maximum" in the 12th Century coincides with the Sun being slightly brighter

A second report, by Stuart Clark published in last Septembers issue of the New Scientist, (issue 2569) proposes exactly the same hypothesis, again citing the Little ice age with the warmer period between 1420 and 1570 when the weather was so warm that the Vikings farmed into 'arctic wastelands'

Finally, and probably foremostly, Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, published the same results in 2004, citing evidence of Beryllium 10 from ice cores to show the sun's activity being greater than for the last 150 years. Be 10 decreases with the strength of the sun's magnetic field. Guess what? Be 10 levels are at their lowest for the last 1150 years.

Even David Bellamy conciders that Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth," he says. "I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not.
"Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock." (Daily Telegraph, 17/07/2004)

Please be scientific about this and have an open mind. If we jump to the wrong conclusion then....well.

  • 12.
  • At 09:34 AM on 18 Jan 2007,
  • Harry Jones wrote:

The BBC, as with the UK media in general, have picked up the global warming batton and are running like hell. Frankly, I switched of to this over 6 months ago - The new Global Warming religion is a little tedious to say the least. Will the Government perhaps soon offer legislation so that outspoken opponents to global warming can be silenced by the law! Probably - it's a massive money spinner!

I am in no doubt that the Earth is warming up but doubt that it is anything to do with us mere mortals - it has been getting warmer for thousands of years. In fact the UK was warmer in Roman times than it is now.

One piece of research that was published several years ago and has never seen the light of day in the media (they dont want to stop the bandwagon do they?) is that an increase in temparature CAUSES an increase in CO2 - NOT THE OTHER WAY ROUND!! The Hockey stick graph that was used to "confirm" the man made theory - was rubbished last year by a Canadian climate institute as being inaccurate.

The one thing that really switch me off to this whole media and Government driven hype is that the scientific report given to the IPPC who then started the whole story of doom and gloom, did not conclude that man was definately responsible for warming or contributing to warming - however it did after the polititians re-wrote the conlusion to say what they wanted it to say!

Come on BBC, you are public service broadcasters - report these things or are you all too scared after the Dyke/ Kelly affair and now have to do the Goverments bidding?? State broadcasting at its best!

  • 13.
  • At 08:27 AM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • Tony Rhymer wrote:

Dear Breakfast
Switched on at 7.00 am this morning to see your news round up of the severe storms and the damage caused across Britain yesterday and the inference that it is all caused by climate change. Followed at 7.15 am by Suzanne Reid interviewing Matt Alright about climate change, telling us all that if we don't take action now then by 2020 we are doomed, the clock is ticking and doomsday is upon us.



Come on BBC start practising what you preach not only will it save the Planet it will also save you money.


Tony Rhymer

  • 14.
  • At 09:39 AM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • mike wrote:

the issue that has not been addressed over the issue of global warming is ,regardess of all the efforts being made &people trying to reduce their carbon footprint,the fact that the world cannot sustain its present population never mind the huge increase over the next 10 yrs.
it is very unpallatable but its not the amount of co2 needing to be reduced it`s the world population that needs reducing.a scientist said to sustain the worlds present population needs another 2 worlds.that`s not going to happen so the worlds population needs to shrink by 2.thirds.
thats not going to happen either
so the outcome of this unsoluble issue is inthe end in the hands of god.

  • 15.
  • At 10:03 AM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • mike wrote:

the real issue that needs adressing is the over population of the world
the world cannot sustain the worlds population never mind the huge increase that`sf orecast
the world is in an insoluble situation
in my opinion the anwser is in the hands of the gods

  • 16.
  • At 11:58 AM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

I have no scientific expertise, however, how is it possible that last year was the warmest since the end of the 17th Century?. how could it possibly have been warmer in the 17th Century when I am continuously told that man made pollution (transport, Industry, household appliances etc)has caused the earth to warm up?, unless I am mistaken none of these man made pollutions were available during the 17th Century !!.

Listening to different sides of the story it is clear that Man has caused some impacts on the Earths climate, however, it could also be that natural cycles are also to blame for the warming of the Earth.

I only hear doom and gloom from the Environmentalists, unfortunately I have to take a slightly cynical approach to the media releases sent by these groups as they have to safeguard their jobs.

A question to all the Environmentalists why is it you never give balanced arguments?, and why if anyone disagrees with you, you call them Environmental terrorists?.

  • 17.
  • At 03:29 PM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • Brian wrote:

A recent report in the Daily Telegraph stated that there was concern that Met.Office temperatures for Bournemouth would now be taken from Hurn Airport (4 miles away). These temperatures could vary by as much as 10 degrees C. Global warming has supposed to increased by 0.6 degrees C. in the last 50 years. Think about it!

  • 18.
  • At 06:19 PM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Hello Nick,

My post from yesterday seems to have been "lost"(?), but as it's important to assert the correct science, I'll have another go.

Frohlich (SOLAR IRRADIANCE VARIABILITY SINCE 1978) found that since 1978 the change in the level of solar radiation was "not significantly different from zero", he also demonstrated that his results were more reliable than the data that does show a trend (such as the ACRIM dataset relied upon by Christopher Monckton in The Telegraph).

Furthermore as stated in "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences."(USCCSP) Were an increase in solar radiation the cause of the recent warming we'd have seen the stratosphere warm (page 5). Yet the stratosphere is cooling (e.g. page 8). A cooling of the stratosphere is a predicted consequence of increased atmospheric CO2.

Sami Solanki accepts that CO2 is driving the recent warming:
"Just how large this role [of solar variation] is, must still be investigated, since, according to our latest knowledge on the variations of the solar magnetic field, the significant increase in the Earth’s temperature since 1980 is indeed to be ascribed to the greenhouse effect caused by carbon dioxide.", my emphasis. Quote of Solanki from Max Planck Society.

So sorry, but extensive reading of the literature has informed my opinion. And I still consider that the Sun cannot explain the warming of 0.6degC since the 1970s. A warming trend that is intensifying (NASA GISS).

David Bellamy seems to have gone quiet on global warming, sadly many claims he made were factually incorrect. One example, he stated that "555 of all the 625 glaciers under observation by the World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich, Switzerland, have been growing since 1980" George Monbiot pointed out that he sourced this from a website "Iceagenow", then he changed their 55% to 555 by a typo. The statement is wrong with or without the typo. Monbiot quotes the World Glacier Monitoring Service: “..despite his scientific reputation, he makes all the mistakes that are possible..” It is a shame, Bellamy was a figure from my youth.

Hello Harry Jones,

Nobody claims CO2 drives glacials and interglacials, the lag you describe is no challenge to the theory, it is expected. One important factor - the current increase is definitely due to human activity, mainly CO2 emissions.

  • 19.
  • At 09:58 PM on 19 Jan 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

Well at least in this case the BBC have acknowledged that an alternative body of opinion, supported by evidence, exists to counter the 'sky-is-falling' doomsday scenario put forward by a powerful and well-organised lobby. That's more than can be said for the Corporation's preoccupation with the so-called obesity crisis / epidemic / call it what you will - there is plenty of data which suggests that the whole issue is a fabricated moral panic based on massaged statistics and born of a concerted effort on the part of governments / health lobbies and the diet and weight loss industries to present an extremely one-sided view - a received wisdom which Breakfast in particular, with its magazine-y approach makes absolutely no attempt to counter for fear of appearing politically incorrect.

Anyway, I digress. I think the jury is still very much out on the degree to which humans are affecting climate change, even if that change is now generally accepted as happening all around us. I very much concur with the point you made about the negligible impact of a single family compared to the endemic waste of big corporations, and although I suppose there is the argument that many families enacting small changes make a big difference, the impact of developing nations and the US, with their two-fingered attitude to the environment, will quickly counteract any environmental benefits brought about by imposing hardships on British people.

And the current Government's approach is very much geared towards forcing the general public to make sacrifices - normally in the form of taxes and charges to disincentivise poorer people to travel, consume, heat their homes etc whilst neglecting to appreciate that such measures will cause only minor inconvenience to the well-off, who are the real culprits, and will do absolutely nothing to temper corporate excess.

Either way, if human activity is responsible for climate change, we've embraced industrialisation and consumerism to such a degree that only a dramatic change in the world order (probably one which would see a return to the caves from where we came) would have a noticable impact. Surely then our energies and resources would be more gainfully invested in learning to adapt to the new reality of severe weather, be that rising sea levels, arid deserts or a perpetual deep freeze when the North Altlantic conveyor finally shuts down?

  • 20.
  • At 02:15 PM on 21 Jan 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Tony #13

Very good point! i never thought of that one, but now seeing your post i know exactly what you mean.

Certainly when my local news comes up towards the end of the hour in the morning there is always a news reader sitting in front of an empty office full with monitors with the XP login prompt and nobody sat there.

I'm not a 'greeny' but even i turn off my monitor when i'm not using my PC (although i leave the pc itself on) mainly because the screen uses as much if not more than the whole of the rest of the PC and my electrcity is metered so i don't want to waste it.

So yes a whole office deserted with the PC's AND monitors blazing away is a massive waste of energy and seems somewhat hypercritical.

  • 21.
  • At 02:04 AM on 22 Jan 2007,
  • Debbie wrote:

I am just wondering whether you are covering the story that's scouring the US… Al Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth' DVD. It's a movie about global warming.
The reason I ask, is because I just got home from a 'party' sponsored by some very dear friends of mine (which they hosted for many people), where the movie was played.
The movie was quite compelling as well as informative!, yet, the most 'convenient truth' came to me when I got in my electric car to drive home.
I scanned the radio dial to find a station playing music (rather than commercials or talk). I happened to decide to listen to my 16 year old daughter's station (which I rarely do... unless she's in the car, constantly pressing the buttons), but since it was playing a relatively good song (where the musicians weren't screaming, as they quite often do nowdays:), I decided to listen.
Right after the song was over, the DJ informed me that he was wondering whether I had seen an Inconvenient Truth or at least had heard of it.
He proceeded to say that Al Gore was using an Apple computer in the movie (which was very prominent many times during the footage), and I thought " what?".
He then informed me that Al Gore is on Apple's Board of Directors, and that GreenPeace has targeted the company as one of the worst companies contributing to pollution due to non-recyclable parts, etc. (which, by the way, may contribute greatly to global warming).
A convenient truth given to me at an inconvenient time... since I would have liked to have offered this information during the 'dialed into' nationwide conference call we all listened to at the party (after viewing the movie). So... I thought I'd write to you now and ask if you may know of a more efficient way to stop the insanity and help people become more conscious. Even those in politics! Is it not a 'fact' that Gore is on the board? Is it not a 'fact' that ALL computers contribute to pollution so bad, it's mind boggling. So it's not just Apple, it's all of them. You would not believe what some companies send to the landfill every day. And the boards inside the computers are highly toxic. Computers are definitely a mixed blessing. The only tech firm that I know of that is trying to do something is HP. They actually gave me a stamped return envelope to return my used ink cartridges for recycling. That's the only initiative I know of.
One could also argue about the air miles that Al Gore traveled to do this presentation, yet I suppose it's necessary to get the word out (though there may be other good alternatives!:) Yet, maybe using an Apple computer is a necessary tool to make an effective presentation. Some people think Gore can fly with an airline that uses newer jets that are more fuel efficient, and its entirely possible that Gore did not know about the issue with Apple computers. He can't know everything. What is important is his reaction and the action he takes if he didn't realize the problem. I think me and that DJ may be jumping the gun in concluding that because he is on the board of Apple he knows about the problem. The only thing obvious to some, is the product placement in his documentary.
I do think we need to focus on the end result though, and hope that traveling those air miles and using a Apple computer will enlighten enough people to make the changes necessary to make the tools environmentally friendly. I need to let off a little 'steam', and hope you don't mind me sending and posting my comments and views.
Unfortunately, the DJ was on the air way after my daughter went to bed!, but believe me when I tell you, I will certainly be 'announcing' all of this to her, as well as many others.
She'll probably look at me with those innocent and beautiful eyes of hers and say "Yea. So...? Common' mom... why are you so shocked?" and act as though she knew it all along (which she probably does).
No wonder they're all screaming!

If you have any questions about global warming, and want to actually get some facts on the issue rather than dumbed down "opinion", go see "An Inconvenient Truth".

The most shocking item for me: Out of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles, zero question the science. Out of the popular press, 53% of the articles question the science. Why do people deny global warming? Because if they admit the truth of it, they would have to do something about it. Now.

For me, it seems that most people are so far from reality that it will take the Greenland ice sheet melting, or one of the Antarctic ice sheets melting, raising sea levels and displacing hundreds of millions of people before the majority start to do something about it. Sigh. Myself, I'd rather we took action before London and the South-East is flooded.

  • 23.
  • At 08:22 AM on 23 Jan 2007,
  • andrew brown wrote:

I am totally fed up with this global warming by exhaust gas bollix.
CO2 comprises less than 1% of our atmosphere and an increase of .004% because of car exhausts or some other nonsense is completely unmeasurable.
We breathe out CO2! Trees apparently breathe out CO2 as well- which makes tree planting to save the planet a bit dangerous!
Termites and cattle generate more methane ( ? more damaging than CO2)in a day than the human race does in 60 years, or something.
On a more serious note, ask these scientists who imagine we're all going to die tomorrow, about sunspot activity and how that affects seasonal temperatures, weather patterns, and the rise and fall of ice levels at the Poles etc etc.
A few years ago we were all going to die from blindness due to the holes in the ozone layer, but miracle follows miracle- and by re-cycling a few fridges we are now all saved!! Glory be to the scientists!
It is worth pointing out that these same scientists are the ones who created the Atomic Bomb, Zyklon B, Agent Orange and God only knows how many other pestilential and obscene products for the mad dictators who pay them.
They witter on about global warming only it to get funding for their projects. None of them can possibly know anything useful- I mean they can't even get the weather report right for the next day! Yet we are expected to believe their prognostications about the next 50 years??

Give me a break.
Andrew Brown.

  • 24.
  • At 02:50 PM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • Jason Edgington wrote:

A whole massive long list of falsehoods in Al Gore's film have been exposed.

You just know anyway that they're not be honest when they keep saying over and over and over again that the argument is settled and there's a scientific consensus..... and then keep reading of yet more eminent scientists who've quit the IPCC in disgust at the falsification of data.

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