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Gore blimey

Craig Oliver Craig Oliver | 13:35 UK time, Friday, 12 October 2007

Climate change has joined a select band of issues where passions are at boiling point.

BBC Ten O'Clock News logoA few months ago a Channel Four documentary designed to debunk the "global warming industry" sparked controversy for having significant factual errors.

On Wednesday night's Ten O'Clock News we led the programme with a story about a High Court judge pointing out nine "errors" in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth - a documentary which unashamedly argues that the world faces catastrophe if we do not address the issue. The fact that Al Gore was the hot tip to win the Nobel Peace Prize added to the topicality of the story.

Al GoreToday he won the prize, and - unsurprisingly - it's a controversial choice, not least because the question being asked is: what has climate change got to do with promoting world peace?

The key point is that we live in a world where some documentaries are created to argue a very specific case - the producers marshal the facts to ensure their view is seen in the best light, emphasising certain points, while ignoring or underplaying “inconvenient truths”. This is a dangerous game - if you appear to be on shaky ground, your opponents will ask 'If you got that wrong, surely your entire case is wrong?' The truth is usually far more difficult, and more interesting.

Some may find it hard to believe - and I am already anticipating the response to this blog - BBC News will always try to give a full, impartial picture on climate change. That's why we have done pieces pointing out why the majority of scientists believe it is happening, why some believe it is happening but it may not be as catastrophic as Al Gore makes out, and others pointing to the flaws in Gore's case. It is a story - and a debate - that will run and run. And rightly so.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 02:18 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Anyone who fails to understand what climate change means for world peace needs to read 'The Revenge Of Gaia', by James Lovelock urgently.

When the sea levels rise, and major cities are under threat, this could make current problems of mass migration and the boxing day tsunami seem like child's play.

Not to mention wars over that most scarce of resources, clean water. As the earth becomes drier and more arid, the current problems and territorial wrangling in tropical areas are just a foretaste of what is to come.

  • 2.
  • At 04:26 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Mike Daly wrote:

The relevance of climate change to world peace is obvious. The potential threat to crops and water supplies could lead to mass migrations on a scale most people haven't started to contemplate. If this isn't seen as a recipe for conflict then I don't understand the human survival instinct.

The rantings about this subject on Have Your Say indicates that few understand how fragile our environment is and what climate change might really mean for us smug rich westerners.

Does Gore deserve the Nobel Prize? Probably not, but it isn't something I can control. I can try to be more thoughtful about my impact on the world I live in with 7 BILLION others. If only I can convince a few BILLION more that it isn't all a tax con.

  • 3.
  • At 04:49 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • Mike Daly wrote:

I agree with Bedd Gelert in post 1 and I wish we could get the message across to the smug rich westerners who think this isn't relevant to them or is just another tax con.

Even if all the scientists were wrong about human impact on the climate it still makes sense to treat our planet with respect. It's the only one we have.

Reduce your energy consumption and you save money. How about that for a simple incentive?

  • 4.
  • At 05:11 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • John Lish wrote:

"Some may find it hard to believe - and I am already anticipating the response to this blog - BBC News will always try to give a full, impartial picture on climate change."

Oliver, Oliver, we know you try. Its just that you're incompetent in reporting the science. This comment merely proves it:

"the majority of scientists believe it [climate change] is happening"

Quite. And what is the definition of climate change according to the IPCC Oliver? I'll tell you since you don't seem to understand this point.

According to the IPCC, climate change can be natural or anthropogenic, get warmer or colder, wetter or drier etc etc.

In short, it means anything and everything.

Only an idiot would deny that the Earth's climate varies over time. This isn't the issue at hand.

Nor is the idea that the Earth has got a little bit warmer since 1900. There's no objections to this either.

So Oliver, what exactly are you saying here? I've listened to environmental correspondents deliberately mislead the viewer or listener on various BBC media platforms.

Wednesday evening on Newsnight, their environmental correspondent when asked about Gore's misuse of the geological record re temperature & greenhouse gases correlation gave an answer that was designed to minimise the criticisms of Gore's film. He said that the case wasn't proven! What an idiot. The geological record is very clear in that there is a correlation between temperature rises and greenhouse gases concentrations. Its just that temperature rises precede increases in greenhouse gases concentration by 800 years (+/- 600).

The actual debate, which you and your colleagues consistently fail to address, does not involve questioning whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas or has it got a little warmer. Its about the actual extent of the effect of CO2 and other greenhouse gases on the climate.

This debate is where the science is not settled and only a moron would say such an unscientific statement. We have known that CO2 is a greenhouse gas for over a hundred years. We also know that the effect of CO2 depreciates as concentration increases. This means that 2/3s of warming from increases in CO2 concentration has already occurred. There is no time-lag in CO2 effect as the concentration increases has a near instantaneous effect. Feedbacks are a problematic issue which remains contentious as stated by the last IPCC report.

All of this is agreed by the scientists within the IPCC consensus. There is nothing controversial about my previous paragraph.

The debate includes whether the forcing given to CO2 increases is correct. The 3.7W/m2 used by the IPCC is not based on physical evidence. It is instead a rather simplistic one-shell model of a black-body sphere. A number of scientists question this and state that this doesn't reflect the actual atmosphere of the Earth.

A 3.7W/m2 forcing means that a doubling of CO2 from 280ppm to 560ppm would generate a warming of 1 degree Kelvin. A two-shell model would reduce the forcing to approx. 2.3W/m2 or 0.6K for a doubling of CO2. Even a two-shell model can be regarded as simplistic.

There are also other issues of debate which I could draw on as examples.

The BBC has fundamentally failed to inform its consumers of this real debate. Your simplistic argument on this blog Oliver shows that you don't understand the issues at hand. The BBC is prejudiced against real debate.

If a leader is not able to realise that climate change and global warming have a deep impact on citizens' lives, then he should not be leading a country. Al Gore has shown tremendous courage, leadership, acumen and skill by educating people on the dangers of global warming through his graphic book and brilliant film 'Inconvenient Truth'. Only a man of such foresight is a safe pair of hands to lead a country into the future for the sake of generations to come. So people pooh-pooing his award should be ashamed of themselves. Other world leaders should follow his example.

  • 6.
  • At 07:21 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • James Toal wrote:

Surely the only question that needs to be debated is whether climate change is a natural phenomenon or caused by mankind's actions. And a sceondary question is whether collective or individual efforts to prevent (sic) climate change is a sign of man's intellect or his hubris.
And as for Al Gore's Nobel prize: I think the most apt commnet came form the man who compared the Peace4 Prize to the Eurovision Song Contest. Now if he had opened his mouth about Iraq, or Darfur, or Burma, or Zimbabwe...but maybe they aren't Oscar material.

  • 7.
  • At 11:56 PM on 12 Oct 2007,
  • stating the obvious wrote:

"When the sea levels rise, and major cities are under threat,"

A warmer planet would mean less water due to evaporation

  • 8.
  • At 11:00 PM on 13 Oct 2007,
  • lester wrote:

al gore is just gleening what environmentalists have been saying for years, we dont need some discredited politrixian to tell us that we have screwed up again, all of the minerals and liquids we have mined haved turned the ecology of the planet into an unexploded bomb who no one knows when it will go off but again politicians can make fortunes out of telling us what we already know in the name of the planet.

  • 9.
  • At 11:52 PM on 13 Oct 2007,
  • Colin Glyn Hayton wrote:

Why cannot people see climate change as a natural event that as plenty of historical precedent, from my point of view a pressure group as caught the public's imagination, and focused on it's worst fears. Politicians eager for votes are also cashing in on this. The answer must lay in better cheaper technology, or a return to the Stone Age. For while Politicians come up with all sorts of green credentials, they still subsidise car plants in their own country's with Tax payers money.

  • 10.
  • At 12:07 AM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • billyquiz wrote:

Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Gore is more likely to promote war than peace, imho.

The reasoning behind environmentalism = peace isn't so hard to understand when you consider the likelihood of future conflicts IF (and that's a very big IF) climate change is as bad as some would have us believe.

The problem with the situation is that Gore and his supporters have become so dependant on using scare tactics that panic MMGW believers into unrealistic attitudes.

The cost of wheat has doubled in the last year and is set to double again during the next year. This is partially due to poor harvests (too hot or too wet depending on where you are) but is being made much, much worse by the rapid uptake of biofuels in Western countries. Many other grain crops are also set to increase in price sharply for exactly the same reasons. This is beginning to impact on developing countries and aid agencies who don't have the budget to absorb the increased cost. The awarding of the peace prize will only accelerate this problem. Then there will be hundreds of millions of people who will not have access to the most basic of foodstuffs which will ultimately end in strife and suffering throughout the third world (even Italy had their pasta strike recently as a protest against prices!).

It looks to me like we are creating a guaranteed humanitarian disaster now in the hope that we may be able to avoid a possible humanitarian disaster at some point in the future.

  • 11.
  • At 01:14 AM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • grania davy wrote:

It has caused much comment as it is not aappropriate and is purely political. A Gores research is flawed in a lot of areas and this makes people sceptical. Far better to educate people on a personal and corporate level about the waste of resources. So far we have seen very little positive about climate change, and it has come accross as a tax raiser, so why should people respond? Whatever your belief on the subject, the fact is we are hugely wasteful and if this is presented in a better way people will respond more positively. Simply attacking the individual is counter productive.

  • 12.
  • At 02:13 AM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Jack Hughes wrote:

Read what Paxo thinks...

"People who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that [global warming] is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago"

Jeremy Paxman, Media Guardian, Jan 31st, 2007.

  • 13.
  • At 09:18 AM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Ynda wrote:

The issue of pressure for clean water is actually solve-able due to Michael Pritchard's Micro-filtration bottle see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/09/12/nwater112.xml

I am expecting him to get a Nobel prize in about 10 years time.

The energy problem is also highly solve-able; my favorite is the prospect of micro-generation of electricity in your home.

Transportation is also solve-able: EVs etc.

The world's biggest problems are in fact: lack of oil (we're probably past peak oil production now and demand is growing) and global climate change.

The latter is an immensely complex subject and not easily simplified down to just carbon dioxide levels. Indeed, I am sure that anyone deeply into the issue knows this. Al Gore has done a splendid job of articulating why the problem is important and rightly deserves his Nobel prize. Resolving the problem is going to be very difficult though especially as the US, government (and media ) drags its feet on both appreciating the problem and doing something about it. After years of dis-information from the Bush administration, hopefully, Gore's Nobel prize will at least alert the US to the problem.

  • 14.
  • At 09:23 AM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Gary Ay wrote:

"People who know a lot more than I do may be right when they claim that [global warming] is the consequence of our own behaviour. I assume that this is why the BBC's coverage of the issue abandoned the pretence of impartiality long ago",

(Not my words)

Jeremy Paxman, Media Guardian, Jan 31st, 2007

  • 15.
  • At 12:53 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

"Smug rich Westerners" are only part of the picture. China is posed to surpass the USA in air pollution by the end of the year, if it hasn't already happened. Over 400,000 deaths in China are directly attributed to their air pollution problems. Have you seen a picture of Beijing recently, host of the 2008 Olympics? Their air looks more like a thick fog of smog, and reportedly it's so thick the residents only see sunlight a few times a year.

Yes, the smug rich Westerners need to reign in their polluting, not just for our own health but to lead by example for newly industrializing countries like China and India. Surely we can learn from our history of industrialization, and then use that knowledge to help the newly industrializing countries to avoid pitfalls of which we were unaware when our countries industrialized?

If Al Gore and the UN Panel receiving the Nobel Prize leads us in the right direction - of taking better care of our planet for future generations - then bravo to the selection committee for having the foresight to recognise the link between resources, humanity, and global warming.

  • 16.
  • At 01:41 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • dipti wrote:

ENVIRONMENTALISM AS RELIGION - a speech by Michael Crichton well captures some very 'inconvenient truths' . Here's the link

http://www.michaelcrichton.com/speech-environmentalismaseligion.html

As for Gore winning the Nobel, I don't think the question being asked is 'what does climate change have to do with world peace' . I think its more a question of 'Besides propaganda generated by his film, what exactly has Gore done to deserve the Nobel when there are so many scientists who have achieved much more. Does campaigning for a cause warrant a Nobel?'

  • 17.
  • At 04:11 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

There are as many scientists that disagree with Al Gores views as for his views. The climate is changing all the time. As for allowing this to be shown in schools without the alternative view is, in my humble opinion, wrong.

I agree totally that we should take care what we are doing and certainly we should stop or prevent waste by re-cycling as much as possible. We cannot prevent such as China or other Countries from having what we have already got, but more care should be taken over what we grow. If we are not careful, we will be growing bio-fuel and we will not be growing enough food to eat.

As for getting the Nobel Peace Prize for this will eventually prove to be a big mistake and the lowering of standards in the whole thing-this has already started by asking the question.

Which part of the environment are our extra environmental taxes going to plug?

  • 18.
  • At 06:17 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Joseph wrote:

As the BBC seems incapable or unwilling to discuss that scientists do have other opinions than that given by Gore, I have decided to help by giving the following link which higlights some other inconvienent truths:

http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2007/10/13/1191696238792.html

I imagine it will be a cold/hot day in hell before the BBC pick this story up and publish it.

  • 19.
  • At 07:52 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • Mr Angry wrote:

"When the sea levels rise, and major cities are under threat..."

That people believe this sort of nonsense is clear evidence that the propaganda works. Even the IPCC forecasts sea level rises of only 23cm over the next century. The BBC has done virtually nothing to combat such deception and misinformation.

"...that most scarce of resources, clean water..."

The most expensive source of fresh water is desalination, which costs $0.50/ton, and as you need between 75-125 tons per person per year to meet all basic needs, costs a basic $40-60/yr. About £30/yr per person for the raw ingredient (most of the costs are in maintaining the pipes and pumps). Most other sources of clean water are far cheaper, and will not vanish totally even if the climate does change. People are short of water because they are poor and cannot afford it, not because it is in short supply. The best cure for that is industrial development.

Such lies are told because 'otherwise the sceptics might win the debate', should people be told the truth. Hundreds of millions of living people depend for their lives on our oil-based technology. Will we destroy it all on a 'maybe'? A 'just in case'? Will we the rich nations salve our guilty consciences by sacrificing the poor to our latest media-driven fad? While celebrity 'Greens' jet around the world on the proceeds? Yes of course we will.

Beware of those who tell you they only hide things 'for your own good', lest the foolish be confused by inconvenient truths as to what they are supposed to believe.
I look forward to seeing the BBC's 'full impartial picture' when it appears - my advice to them is to do so sooner rather than later. This court case is only the start.

  • 20.
  • At 09:27 PM on 14 Oct 2007,
  • James wrote:

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE remember that science and consensus do not really go hand in hand when you have something as complex and under-researched as climate change (remember it has only been researched for a few decades which is not long enough to understand anything as complex as climate).

Furthermore the majority of climate change research is not actually scientific research; it is computer modeling rather than actual observation. On top of this most of the researchers refuse to share their data with other scientists - which is against the whole scientific process.

So, if some of us are "sceptical" of climate change, then I think it is perfectly understandable. What isn't understandable is why news organisations refuse to question the "results" that are coming out of the models and asking why the people don't believe their data enough to allow others to audit and review it.

  • 21.
  • At 09:04 AM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Reed wrote:

It would have been better had Gore's advisors picked out the errors beforehand. However I can spot "errors" not listed in the judges findings. Opinion plays a role in some of the judges points, I don't consider any of them to be serious.

The problem I had with parts of the film were really due to the simplification needed to convey a complex message to the public. That's a necessary evil. Were Inconvenient Truth to be absolutely scientifically accurate it would have to have been much longer and would have risked losing audience interest. Furthermore people who don't spend the time reading the actual primary science may see the "ifs" "buts" "maybes" and assorted caveats, and come away with the false impression that the basics are in doubt. When the real position is that despite the complexity of the science, a broad view of the literature shows that we are causing the current global warming and this is likely to be a problem.

It is interesting to compare gore's film with the Channel 4 documentary by Durkin. "The Great Global Warming Swindle" contained massive errors, and adjustment of graphs that undermined the whole thrust of it's scientific argument. The same cannot be said of Gore's film, which the judge found largely accurate.

The question "What has GW got to do with world peace" is a no-brainer. Climatic changes impacting agriculture are an obvious source strife.

I can't remember having watched a science documentary in a field with which I'm familiar and not wincing at some point or another. But most of these documentaries pass without shrill comment from a lobby group. Science is complex and you can't just drop the man-in-the-street in at the deep end.

  • 22.
  • At 02:14 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Martyn wrote:

An interesting debate - but consider this.

What percentage of peer reviewed scientific articles on climate change support the theory that man is causing global warming and what percentage oppose it?

What percentage of scientists are on each side of the basic argument about global warming.

If you ran an opinion poll asking the public these questions, would their answers reflect reality?

My experience is they would not. The public are far more likely to believe there are serious questions about the fundamentals of climate science, and the arguments are much more finely balanced than the scientific literature suggests.

So what is it that the media is doing wrong in order to communicate a pretty settled scientific view in such a way that many of the public think there is still an enormous amount of doubt?

And in that light - can the BBC remain so complacently certain it has got it all right?

  • 23.
  • At 04:21 PM on 15 Oct 2007,
  • Jon Anderson wrote:

Bedd Gelert and Mike Daly make the usual response of those who believe the sky is falling. Let’s inject some realism here: unsubstantiated claims about sea levels rising are no longer credible, and nor are assumptions about the world getting drier and more arid; it is, after all, just as likely to become more humid. Equally, more CO2 means more vegetation, so why assume that global crop failures are a foregone conclusion? Besides, in almost every way, we take much better care of the environment than we did even twenty years ago, and rightly so; but that probably doesn’t fit with the image of “smug rich westerners” that to some, always have to be seen as the culprits. As for the revelation that Earth is the only planet we have – well stone me, I hadn’t realised.

Back to the point: what’s the Peace prize got to do with climate change? Answer: nothing, really. Wars have been fought for centuries over the same things without having to be tied to some artificial cause or temporary political agenda. But then the Nobel awards committee is hardly accountable for it’s reasoning, having seriously embarrassed itself on a number of occasions. Who knows what they were thinking? If at all?

  • 24.
  • At 01:55 AM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ana Paula wrote:

Sure climate change threat peace but it was an inconvenient prize.

  • 25.
  • At 12:32 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

Martyn, the find of new dinosaur bones embedded in the earth from millions of years ago points most definitely to the changes that have taken place in our world,previously.

On July 15th 1999 the Testimony of Jack Kemp before the House of Representatives "The Kyoto Protocol, the idea of trading credits to facilitate implementation of that agreement, and the very concept of regulating the word's energy policies through an international treaty together constitute a huge battle over power--not just "power" in the sense of controlling the energy sources that drive the world economy, but political power in the sense of "who decides"; who decides how fast our economy should grow (or if it should grow at all), who decides etc, etc"

An article by Philip Stott, on 12th April 2001 holds one or two "facts", although I cannot verify any of them. "European politicians, who like to focus on country-by country comparisons which are, in geographical terms, meaningless, have carefully nurtured the myth that the USA is the main producer of carbon dioxide (CO2). But how can you compare tiny counties, like the UK (only 94,227 square miles) or Sweden (173,723 square miles), with the USA (3,732,400 square miles)? Any meaningful geographical comparison has to be with Western Europe as a whole, or at least with the 15 Member States of the European Union (EU) and even the EU, at 1,249,000 square miles, has well under half the land area of the USA."
"If we take the carbon dioxide emissions from consumption and flaring of fossil fuels for 1999 (1), we see that the countries of the EU emit around 925 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCe) per year, while the USA emits 1519.89 MMTCe per year. Correcting these figures by area gives us 0.0007 MMTCe per square mile per year for the EU and 0.0004 MMTCe per square mile for the USA. So the per unit area production in the EU is 175 percent that of the USA. And this does not include emissions from EU applicant states, like Turkey (49.96 MMTCe in 1999)"

"In 1992, an Indian economist Neela Mukherjee, produced a brilliant analysis showing that, when greenhouse gas emissions were properly analysed, the USA was not even in the top 10 of the culprits (2) But guess who were--both Denmark and the UK, along with Australia, Canada, Kuwait and the United Emirates."

"This fascinating, and corrective, analysis took a whole basket of so-called "greenhouse gases", such as methane and chloroflurocarbons (CFCs), not just carbon dioxide, and assessed these against other factors, such as population. Mukherjee then went on to suggest 'measures' of emissions and relative efficiency in economic activities, relating these to the per capita of each country studied."

"By contrast, the EU has cunningly ignored such subtleties, and above all has avoided being examined as an equivalent to the USA geographically, although it consistently claims to be so in political and military terms."

(Philip Stott is professor of biogeography in the University of London.)

  • 26.
  • At 07:39 PM on 16 Oct 2007,
  • Ynda wrote:

Anne,

I'm not really too sure what you point is. Is it wrong to talk about Global Warming in schools when 99% of all scientific literature says Global Warming is a major threat to our society? Surely, using this logic we should certainly stop teaching so many things in our schools. Religion should be the first to go. Then History, music and literature since there are conflicting views there too. Maybe even the teaching of English grammar? Um that leaves only... er Mathematics!

Global warming is complex, sure, hence the reason why we need to study it. Surely the accessible documentary by Al Gore is a great start into the subject.

  • 27.
  • At 04:27 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Anne: Per square mile? So if the UK claims this huge area of the South Atlantic, suddenly our pollution per square mile has dived, so we can be smug, then?

I also wouldn't trust anything from Spiked Magazine. Not surprised you didn't cite the source, they do tend to give the impression of the sort who have decided their argument first, then go and pick out the evidence. Even if that leaves them with one obscure paper from 15 years ago. I say obscure, as Google Scholar gives it two cites, and one of those was saying it is wrong.

  • 28.
  • At 07:18 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

My point is, there is more than just one side to Global Warming, if global warming exists at all. It wasn't that long ago that scientists said we were going to go through another ice-age. A Judge has already made clear that there are questionable points regarding the Gore article.

If you really believe that there really is global warming, then ALL countries need to cut back, even India and China. What is the point of them improving their way of living if they are cutting the life time of the planet down?

The trading emission scheme is a complete farce and MP's know it. It does not save the planet at all. Just work it out for yourself exactly how it works. In fact it can create more problems for the planet and contribute to Global Warming. I want children to question, I want them to work it out for themselves, I do not want them just to take what today's politicians are saying.

In an "Equinox" programme on Channel 4 (June 2001), based on research of Dr Santo Bains at the Oxford University? It revealed that at two points in the world's history there have been catastrophic releases of methane hydrates from the ocean floors, which came at a certain point in the warming of the oceans, raising the temperature of the Earth by some 8 degrees. So, should there be a far more drastic programme for the reduction in carbon emissions than we have seen so far? What can we do for that problem? Apart from some one sitting on the sea bed, plugging the hole from which the methane hydrates are emanating from, I doubt there is little else we can do.
As for the measurements? Ask one of the politicians to check them out.

  • 29.
  • At 11:21 PM on 17 Oct 2007,
  • Anne wrote:

My point is, there is more than just one side to Global Warming, if global warming exists at all. It wasn't that long ago that scientists said we were going to go through another ice-age. A Judge has already made clear that there are questionable points regarding the Gore article.

If you really believe that there really is global warming, then ALL countries need to cut back, even India and China. What is the point of them improving their way of living if they are cutting the life time of the planet down?

The trading emission scheme is a complete farce and MP's know it. It does not save the planet at all. Just work it out for yourself exactly how it works. In fact it can create more problems for the planet and contribute to Global Warming. I want children to question, I want them to work it out for themselves, I do not want them just to take what today's politicians are saying.

In an "Equinox" programme on Channel 4 (June 2001), based on research of Dr Santo Bains at the Oxford University? It revealed that at two points in the world's history there have been catastrophic releases of methane hydrates from the ocean floors, which came at a certain point in the warming of the oceans, raising the temperature of the Earth by some 8 degrees. So, should there be a far more drastic programme for the reduction in carbon emissions than we have seen so far? What can we do for that problem? Apart from some one sitting on the sea bed, plugging the hole from which the methane hydrates are emanating from, I doubt there is little else we can do.

  • 30.
  • At 12:58 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Ynda wrote:

Anne,

I agree that methane hydrates needs to be investigated. Very urgently. Climate events in the geological record often flip from one state to another and methane hydrates from the sea floor could be one reason. Another could be the release of methane from the warming Tundra as it unfreezes.

How does stopping Al Gore's film in schools become wrong in that context? If the kids are are taught a subject they will not ask questions and we will not educate the next generation into the complexities of climate change. How can we ask other countries to enter into agreements if we, the rich and supposedly educated nations, do not show a lead?

I'm afraid your obvious knowledge on the subject isn't leading to plans for anything except for in-action and no education. We have to start somewhere don't you think?

  • 31.
  • At 01:24 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Sietze wrote:

What I think is extremely damaging for the debate about the current warming trend in the Earth's climate is that - for the general public - the term "global warming" has become pretty much synonymous to "anthropogenic global warming".
.
However, the only thing about which real, rock-solid scientific consensus exists is the "global warming" part. The question whether or not Man is responsible is still being actively debated even within the IPCC.
.
But thanks to propagandists like Mr Gore the debate has now been effectively removed from the scientists and is now entirely in the hand of the media and scientifically equally ill-equipped politicians.
.
But hey, if we invest hundreds of billions in CO2 reduction now instead of addressing the fact that the oil that underpins our very existence has peaked, and in 10-15 years a big war breaks out because of this, Mr. Gore will still have his Peace Prize!

  • 32.
  • At 02:02 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Taking a further step back, let us state some FACTS:
1 - Increased atmospheric carbon dioxide increases rate of plant growth.
2 - Increased sea temperature leads to increased evapouration, leading to increased average atmoshperic humidity and increased precipitation in some areas.

So for Al Gore to have been rewarded for spreading the patent falsehood that CO2 is somehow world enemy number 1 astounds me.

Everyone should read the Michael Crichton speech which a previous commentator has provided the link for. It is almost entirely correct, although he does generalize a touch too much for my liking at points.

Just as religion is baseless except in the mind of a believer...so it goes with the man-made climate religion brigade. And neither group appear to have the capacity to challenge their own misinformed beliefs.

  • 33.
  • At 04:03 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

This blog article suggests that "we live in a world where some documentaries are created to argue a very specific case". Many of the following posts have raised specific instances of this.

I would ask why we are all surprised. Documentary programs on all manner of subjects have been doing likewise for years. You only need to watch any BBC Panorama episode to see a strong preference for the facts or opinions that give the weight to the story. Of course, to do otherwise would weaken the story and reduce ratings.


  • 34.
  • At 04:50 PM on 18 Oct 2007,
  • Heathen Imperialist wrote:

As for the "nearly universal" scientific consensus on global warming, I see a familiar and possibly problematic trend.

Many people know very little about evolution aside from its basic tenets and nearly universal scientific acceptance. However, if you look at the historiography of evolution, you will see that once upon a time there was broad and lively debate within the scientific community about evolution, with many diverse schools of thought. Then, in response to the evangelical resurgence in the mid-twentieth century, the scientific community decided it needed a united front to combat these religious "fanatics." The so-called modern synthesis of evolution was created and debate was killed. Any scientist who dared to realistically challenge the newly accepted, unified Theory of Evolution risked losing their reputation and being castrated from the scientific community.

I propose the same thing is happening with the global warming debate. Science has determined that a united (and preferably alarmist) consensus is needed in order to influence policy. As a result, any scientist who does not want to be regarded as a nut-job outcast must accept the "inconvenient truth" and tell everyone about the imminent danger we are in. This is troubling and contrary to the way science should operate. Scientists should always be free to promote any conclusion they come to, whatever it may be. If their research is shoddy or their results are invented/exaggerated, it is the duty of the rest of the scientific community to call them on it. We will learn a lot more about climate change by keeping debate open to diverse viewpoints and new, potentially contradictory research. After all, if scientists cannot figure out what the temperature will be tomorrow, how can they be so sure what it will be thirty years from now?

  • 35.
  • At 10:01 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

If you are so impartial then why is it in this very article you refer to the documentry debunking global warming as having 'significant factual errors.'

And yet when you refer to errors in Gores global warming piece you say 'nine "errors" in Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth'.

What are the speech marks around the word error for?

You are basically insinuating that it is not debateable about the errors in channel fours documentry and that the errors in gores documentry are.

This is blatent bias on this issue.

Apart from anything else it is obvious to see the BBC skewed perspective on this issue hence why you have always previous spoken of 'global warming' but when you relaised you were wrong you quickly and stealthily changed it to 'climate change' across your network.

Stop playing politics it isn't what we are taxed for. Get some perspective and start reporting the facts rather than your own ill informed distant 'opinions'.

To give you a example of this i have read your 'quiz' on the dangers of the internet where you speak of 'zombie' computers. There are no such thing! Nobody calls compromised home computers that send out spam etc 'zombies' and they never have done. They are called bots and a collection of them is called a botnet.

So if you got that so blatently wrong how much else do you get wrong about politics and climate change and everything else?

Judging by your 'internet dangers' quiz i'd say 75% of what you report is factually inaccurate.

  • 36.
  • At 11:44 AM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

Well, well. Al Gore, a politician not a scientist, is espousing a cause. He believes that there is a sufficient body of evidence to make his case, which he is arguing publicly and passionately, in a new way. He may also believe that if we wait until 100% of all scientists are in 100% agreement over 100% of the climate change issue, it will all be TOO D**N LATE, if something could have been done to mitigate things today. So he's doing what a leader should, taking a decision based on what he sees as the balance of probabilities, which includes the risk of inaction. If he turns out in 150 years to have been wrong, well more fool him and us who support him. IF he turns out to have been right, and at best his case is not fully proven, then he deserves every plaudit going for his work now.

Will he make a difference? Unlikely given that those who want to will always find a scientific rationale to support their way of life.

  • 37.
  • At 01:30 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Ynda wrote:

Heathen Imperialist,

Evolution... "Debate was killed"? What is the debate to which you refer: divine intervention vs some form of natural selection? Do you really believe belief in god has anything to do with science? (I am really struggling not to say something unscientific here) Since there is...

No Scientific Proof for god!

...then how can it be included in any scientific debate!

Of course the complexities of global climate change can be debated! It's a very complicated subject with warming and cooling trends and counter-trends. Almost all scientists agree that cooling mechanisms are being overwhelming by the warming mechanisms (mainly as a result of man's activities: industrial, transportational, agricultural and habitiat destruction): the result is global warming.

Please debate away with Real evidence and science, because the world needs it.

  • 38.
  • At 02:35 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Martyn wrote:

Sietze (post 31) is completely misleading. Of course IPCC continue to debate the ways and extent to which mans activity cause global warming - but not because it remains doubtful about whether it is or not, but because they are constantly trying to improve our understanding of precisely what is going on.

So far from not being sure if man is causing the warming observed, the IPCC say

"Human-induced warming of the climate system is widespread ... It is extremely unlikely ( natural external causes alone."

http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Print_Ch09.pdf

  • 39.
  • At 08:47 PM on 19 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Reed wrote:

I'm an ex sceptic who got into reading the science of Climate Change and now studies as a hobby. I'm an ex-sceptic because I found out I was wrong; by avoiding the media and commentators and learning enough to understand the actual science.

The reason there is a scientific consensus is that the vast bulk of the scientific research supports the theory that humans are causing the current warming trend, primarily by fossil fuel CO2 emissions. Without that theory there is no reason to expect a continued warming. Yet we are seeing the warming continue to unfold in the manner projected by Hansen/Reudy/Sato(NASA GISS) in 1988.

Without that theory there is no reason to expect the cooling of the stratosphere(CFCs do not explain it globally) and diurnal(night-day) temperature range changes as explained in Wild et al 2005 [From Dimming to Brightening: Decadal changes in solar radiation at the surface].

According to Overpeck et al (2005)[Arctic System on Trajectory to New, Seasonally Ice-Free State] "There is no paleoclimatic evidence for a seasonally ice free Arctic during the last 800 millennia." Yet there is very good reason to see this years Arctic minima, with the loss of perennial ice (a damping factor), as being the start of the final loss of the perennial ice cap, a fate that seems "increasingly certain." Serreze et al, 16/3/2007 Science. So seasonally ice free conditions now look inevtiable and could be here before 2020 (Maslowski - US Navy Postgraduate Research School 3/5/06 AMS EMSS Seminar). True, Amundsen went around the NW Passage in 1905, but it took his team 3 years because the Arctic ice then was in far better shape than the tattered vestige we have now.

Having had time to read the actual judgment. And re-view the film. These "errors" were very minor, I don't even think some are errors. One example: Anyone claiming millenial scale time-response of ice sheets is in a very tight spot when faced with current evidence. Hansen's warnings of metres of sea level rise this century are very plausible.

  • 40.
  • At 06:08 PM on 19 Nov 2007,
  • George Robinson wrote:

There are some very interesting comments here, and then there are a few that still deny what is happening, and would rather stick their heads in the sand. OK, if that is the way they think, let it be so!!
I just thought I would get my 4 pennoth in before this closes.
Just a few details that I have witnessed for myself.
Jakcobshavn glacier on the west coast of Greenland discharges about 7-8% of Greenlands total discharge of ice each year. Jacokshavn discharges approx 35 btns a year, so the total discharge is approx 470 billion tons. It is indeed impressive to sit and watch it actually move forward, 15 kms wide, a km thick.
All the maritime glaciers in Norway have receded to their lowest ever since the last ice age, and will possibly disappear completely within 50 yrs, or less.
1967-87 CO2 average 1.35 ppm yr
1987-97 CO2 average 1.44 ppm yr
1997-06 CO2 average 2.00 ppm yr
2006-07 CO2 2.57 ppm
Surely these figures must convince even the most avid sceptic.
Most EU countries are still using fossil fuels for their electricity production, and will continue to build more coal fired power stations as if nothing was happening.
When the oil crisis appeared in the early 70s, Sweden was very much depended on fossil fuels for her energy production. Very bold and courageous steps were taken. Huge investments were made in nuclear and hydro schemes, so that today fossil fuels are responsible for less than 1% of her energy production. Now major countries across the globe are dilly dallying about what to do, I use the old saying, they are running around like headless chickens, waiting for climate change not to happen. It could well be that many of the world leaders are actually sceptics, who knows??

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