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Planet Earth Under Threat

Evidence from the Earth: 20 November 2006

  • Kyren Burns
  • 20 Nov 06, 05:29 PM

Planet Earth Under Threat begins broadcasting at 9pm tonight on Radio 4. In the first of 8 episodes we look at how global warming is changing the Earth.

Gabrielle Walker finds out how global warming is changing the natural world, witnessing the melt-back in Greenland and the effects on corals in the Pacific, and learning how changing rain fall is causing suffereing to the lemurs of Madagascar.

But there is good news too: the red fox and the goose are on the march.

If you wish to comment on the programme please use the form below.

Update:

Listen again to programme 1: Evidence from the Earth.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 09:28 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • Nic Burn wrote:

Please could you provide a transcript of this amazing program.

Shocking, scary but real, ps, have you read the book of Revelation?

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  • 2.
  • At 09:38 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • pat wilkinson wrote:

We all know that travelling around the world is a great contributor to climate change yet your reporters are the first to get on a plane or helicopter and make the situation worse, surely these people around the world can be contacted without having to talk to them face to face.We all have to reduce our travelling.

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  • 3.
  • At 09:43 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • Nick Colford wrote:

How disarming of you to mention how counterproductive it is to fly around the world to make a radio programme on climate change. Saying that seeing for yourself makes all the difference is a reasonable justification for a TV programme where the viewer is taken with you. BBC radio "own correspondents" earn their keep out and about in the world; they investigate and develop stories. The gushing and naive interviews we got with a few splashes and rustles in the background don't justify the economic and ecological cost of such an approach. Do it over the phone next time and go and plant a few trees to make up for what you've already done.

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  • 4.
  • At 10:01 PM on 20 Nov 2006,
  • Peter Newbery wrote:

I fully support the previous comment, please provide a transcript - the wealth of evidence is stacking up

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  • 5.
  • At 12:02 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • joseph o'boyle wrote:

fabulously informative.
Slowed down while driving to listen to the riveting information/analysis.
The american contributors amazed me , as a nation they seem to be such environmental terrorists. Perhaps grand generalisations are not helpful.There are prophets in the middle of all that morass of american environmental disregard(we are not far behind) that is america.

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  • 6.
  • At 07:04 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Lucy wrote:

To those people who are complaining about the programmw travelling - you don't seem to mind Planet Earth spending 4 years constantly travelling, So many prevoius comments on the starving polar bear, dying because the ice is melting and food is scarce - I would suggest getting tht footage cost a few thousand trees. So why is this different? I find it very compelling to hear someone on location telling me for real something happening in front of their eyes. This is what travel should be used for. It is the nonsense travelling I object to, not travelling when it is trying to do good. Come on all you whingers - I thought this was a very important programme.

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  • 7.
  • At 09:30 AM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • julian Hector wrote:

We are all very aware of the issue of whether or not to travel to get the story for you from the location. Something around 500,000 of you heard the show last night, another 900,000 of you will hear it when we repeat it during the UK morning in 9 weeks time. The reach through this blog and the R4 website is excellent too. I hope the editorial content was relevant, memorable and offering an angle on natural history - And that you'll tune in to the other 7 episdies in the series where we cover: animals and planst moving, the time piece going awol, ice, biodiversity, natural cycles, conservation and the future. The series is very comprehensive. In the last programme we will take on our environmental impact as a series head on. So discuss, we'll lisen and we'll take your views into account in the last show - And we already are.

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  • 8.
  • At 12:08 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Roy Eastwood wrote:

The term 'climate change' was introduced as an alternative to 'global warming' to be used by reporters & others who should be reporting with an open mind in order to educate the public and allow us to make up our own minds, yet again the words 'climate change' have been misused to infer only 'man induced' climate change.

The programme will be gladly received by the government when calculating which new stealth carbon tax to apply, now we've listened to the BBC we'll feel so guilty that we'll gladly pay any 'carbon' tax to relieve our guilt.

Oh that we could all afford the 'carbon footprint of BBC reporters, presnters and government ministers.

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  • 9.
  • At 12:58 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Bob Davidson wrote:

The treason of the BBC is not the fact that it, like the rest of us undeniably contributes to global warming, but that it misses the more fundamental point. The evidence points at global warming being man-made (anthropogenic). The focus should therefore be on 'climate changers'i.e. populations and their ecological footprints. The BBC has a duty to properly define the problem and only then we can start to seek solutions. (For those interested in this - look up Hardinian Taboo and / or the Optimum Poulation Trust).

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  • 10.
  • At 02:04 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Frances Culshaw wrote:

Programmes like this make me hungry for my share of the carbon pie. I never travel abroad, but I'm starting to think I should get some air miles in before it's too late. I'd love to see the Arctic.

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  • 11.
  • At 02:33 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Trefor Jones wrote:

How interesting that in a 2004 article on "Snowball Earth", Gabrielle Walker is described as a " Globetrotting Scientist" - she obviously caused GW - what a way to engineer your own series!!!

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  • 12.
  • At 06:21 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Nick Colford wrote:

As one of the "whingers" I'd like to say that Lucy is quite right about me. I don't object to programme-makers travelling around the world if it produces content that could not be produced without the travel. It's this programme that I object to. The background sounds and the lack of discernible insight from the interviewer fail to make the case.

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  • 13.
  • At 10:21 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • Chris Wardle wrote:

If listeners really want to understand what is happening and will happen to the global climate then getting hold of a copy of Professor James Lovelock's latest book (who was interviewed near the end of the programme) would be a sensible move.

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  • 14.
  • At 11:38 PM on 21 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

What a load of depressing blog entries, you would think there were no redeeming aspects to our human civilisation. Why can't we celebrate the achievements of mankind, and be glad of them.

It is only our largely carbon based technology that keeps us from a cold, short, miserable existence, while your bloggers think it is the other way round.

Our ancestors lived short brutal lives, yes they were close to nature, I would rather keep a respectful distance.

The historical and Geological record shows that climate change has happened many times before, we were not the cause, why do we now think this time it must be us.

What a foolish arrogant species we are!

A final thought to all who think melting of the Greenland ice cap is unusual, how come the Vikings had successful all year round farming settlements on Greenland, something that would be impossible now, how do you explain this?

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  • 15.
  • At 09:40 AM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Other Bauer wrote:

May be this is a important program!

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Thank you. I listened to the programme, but didn't hear every word. I was hoping it would make more of the growing hot deserts (I'm sure they are) when there was talk about habitat change. Maybe this will be covered in a subsequent broadcast. I will be listening :-)

I don't think the argument about losing tundra to forest and little white fox to big red fox in Europe is going to help change the majority public into living a more sustainable lifestyle... But then it might and I don't have all the answers as to what a more sustainable lifestyle is... I was concerned about the bleeching of coral, but wondered if an adaption in the species is just araound the corner...

I watched the latest in the Planet Earth T.V. series after I listened. It was great!

I appreciate the concerns I read on the blog about travelling. My opinion is that BBC travel is justified when it is for quality news and documentary programmes.

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  • 17.
  • At 03:13 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Ayla Greenwood wrote:

In response to what John Cooknell wrote above, you are obviously missing the point of all the worry about climate change.

The point is that if we carry on without making any changes, by 2050 we may not HAVE the luxury of all our carbon based technology "to keep us from a cold, short, miserable existence" because
1 - there will be no fossil fuels left to run this technology
2 - the weather conditions will be so extreme that there will be no escaping them with the types of technology we use today.

You'll change your tune when the threat of of tsunami waves reaching as far in land as London, rain becomes ever more scarce causing world wide famine, not just famine in less developed countries and more horrors that I could spend all day listing become a genuine, immediate threat.

Also - I think perhaps it is time to do your research properly. Yes, climate change has been happening since the dawn of time. The fact that climate change is occurring is not the worry, it is the rate at which it is occurring. Never before has the climate changed so quickly and this is what suggests that it is us humans causing the change. You would be a fool to deny that such a sudden change in the amount of things being pumped into the atmosphere after the industrial revolution would have made a difference.

Ok, rant over. I didn't actually hear this show but in keeping with everyone else - please provide a transcript as I would really like to read it.

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  • 18.
  • At 03:21 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • Douglas Coker wrote:

I'm concerned this series is covering the same ground as Lynas, Kolbert and Attenborough (to mention but 3). (Mark Lynas "High Tide" 2004, Elizabeth Kolbert "Field Notes From a Catastrophe" 2006 and of course Attenborough's recent TV two-parter in which he finally declared he'd "got it" on global warming.)

Anthropogenic global warming, climate change and the end of oil are increasingly well established as the defining issues from now on in for humankind. I fear that some young media people may be under pressure to have work on these issues in their portfoilo if they are to progress their careers.

Cover the issues but move it along please. If Mark Lynas's new book "Six Degrees" is not given a six part series (done with computer graphics in the studio) I will be disappointed.

Douglas Coker

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  • 19.
  • At 09:30 PM on 22 Nov 2006,
  • ngfurnell wrote:

We can go by train to destinations in Europe quite quickly. We can reach Nice for example by TGV in about 10 hours. Destinations such as Paris or Bilbao are ones that we can easily reach by rail or sea. I would like to see a green tax on flights to such places being used to heavily subsidise the cost of getting their by rail or sea. Would this be robbing the carbon junkies to pay the green travellers?

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  • 20.
  • At 09:57 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

In reponse to Ayla Greenwood.

I do my research properly, and you never answered my question which is why did the Vikings sucessfully farm Greenland, about only 900 years ago, and the land that they farmed is now Permafrost.

Now either it was a lot warmer then, or they could farm Permafrost. As nobody wants to explain this, I have a bit of a problem with the credibility of all who say the "conditions in Greenland are unprecedented", there is direct evidence that it is not unprecedented, for even quite recent times.

I used to believe in human induced climate change,and to some extent still do, but the whole climate change/chaos industry is vastly overplaying any effect we have.

I agree we must find alternatives to Carbon Based fuels, but make sacrifices in what we do, what's all that about, I thought making sacrifices to the rain god went out thousands of years ago!

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  • 21.
  • At 11:07 AM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Hello John,

The Vikings and Greenland was in the Mediaeval Warm Period was it not?

And using Sunspots as a proxy it's reasonable to suppose that the MWP was as a result of high levels of solar actvity.

Yet in the last 50 years there has been no trend in Galactic Cosmic Rays, and since at least 1978 no trend in total solar irradiance. (Willson 2003 shows a trend - but as Frohlich 2006 shows this is an artefact of processing).

And in the last 30 years there has been an increase in temperature of around 0.6degC.

Sorry, but there is no evidence that the factors behind the MWP are behind the current warming. And many model attribution studies since the IPCC's last report in 2001 still show that the recent warming is largely due to CO2 emissions, and that CO2 emissions had a significant role in the climate of the 20th century before that.


Global Warming - the globally averaged change in temperature, indicative of changes in the Earth's energy balance.

Climate Change - the secondary practical effects of that change in energy balance upon our climate.

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  • 22.
  • At 12:05 PM on 23 Nov 2006,
  • Douglas Coker wrote:

Re the Vikings, Greenland the MWP etc try Diamond's "Collapse"

Douglas Coker

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  • 23.
  • At 12:08 AM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

So as I said Greenland was warmer in this period, and there appear to be lots of theory's why it was warmer.

Human induced global warming is an explanation of what is happening in Greenland now, but it has happened before and it is my contention that it is far more likely that it is not anything to do with us.

The current scientific consensus is exactly that, it is not truth or fact, just consensus. History is littered with the wreckage of scientific consensus, from the flat earth theory, to more recent examples such as the non existent millenium bug (what was that all about!), and the stated scientific consensus that mad cow disease was not a problem.

Only 3 generations ago scientific consensus was aligned with religion and we were required to believe the planet was created by a super being, a God. Over half the world still genuinely and honestly believe this.

I have read the IPCC reports in depth, and can see where they are coming from, but even scientists are human beings first and scientists second, and it is in our nature, deep in our physocological makeup, to believe that we can and do affect the planet. Their predictions, however scientific, are human predictions, they are not hard cold facts.

The historical record is not a human prediction it is a simple record of what happened, the last glacial period ended all the glaciers melted in less than 100years, there was a medieval warm period, there was a much colder period known as the little ice age, the romans did grow grapes as far north as yorkshire, sea levels have changed many times.

What does this prove ?, absolutely nothing, just as all the other evidence from the Earth, this proves absolutely nothing.

A final little thought for all the amateur scientists, the NOAA web site tells me sea temperatures have been falling for the past 5 years, as most (75%) of the human induced global warming is stored in the sea, what is the explanation for this. Just a clue the head of NOAA says his climate model might need a bit of adjustment. And by the way what happened to all the hurricanes the climate catastrophe believers (and NOAA) said we were going to get this year!


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  • 24.
  • At 11:29 AM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • Douglas Coker wrote:

John Cooknell deploys the tired old tactics of doubt sowing, cherry picking and general obfuscation. For those interested in exploring reliable sources on anthropogenic global warming and climate change try the following:
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/index/ Here Real Climate provide responses to common contrarian arguments. Then there is Ill Considered with more responses to climate change deniers here http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/03/guides-by-category.html Finally check out this http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/downloaddoc.asp?id=1630 Facts and fictions about climate change from the Royal Society.

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  • 25.
  • At 11:31 AM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • Kevin Satizabal wrote:

Please can I have a transcript of this programme as a style model for my AS English Language and Literature coursework? I will naturally cite you and your work!Thank you

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  • 26.
  • At 11:27 PM on 24 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

my last blog ! Answer to Douglas Coker

I thought that was what science was all about, doubt sowing, cherry picking and general obfuscation.

The climate chaos believers have no problem with doing this, read the blogs ! Tsunamis! where did that come from!

And you still never answered my question, by the way what does obfuscation mean?

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John Cooknell refuses to acknowledge at least two clear answers to his question, and then asks what a word he just used means! Nuff said.

From Garrit Hardin: (click him for full poem)


Ravish capacity: reap consequences.
Man claims the first a duty and calls what follows Tragedy.
Insult -- Backlash. Not even the universe can break
This primal link. Who, then, has the power
To put an end to tragedy? Only those who recognize
Hubris in themselves.

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  • 28.
  • At 12:16 PM on 25 Nov 2006,
  • Bob Davidson wrote:

Thank you Ed Iglehart

At last a return to Common(s) sense, (as in 'Tragedy of the Commons' by Garret Hardin - appararently the most quoted scientific paper). The recently departed academic - Jack Parsons wrote a book entitled 'The Treason of the BBC'. He describes his frustration with the BBC's inability to address the more fundamental issues and causes of climate change and global warming - i.e. us - climate changers. It is now even more important than ever that the BBC grasp the nettle.
Of course, if Hardin is right and 'Hardinian Taboo' still reigns - they won't.

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Bob Davidson, You're welcome, and thank you for stirring my memory of

As to "Why are Conservationists So Miserable?"

The burden of awareness.

Vaya con Gaia
ed
P.S. Off to check my neighbour's livestock on his quad bike. The grandest way to repay his neighbourly behaviour by riding around some of the most scenic fields I know. A fine birthday treat on the day I become a pensioner. It's also

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  • 30.
  • At 04:55 PM on 25 Nov 2006,
  • Nigel Jennings wrote:

Whether or not the burning of fossil fuels is causing the world's climate to warm, it would appear from evidence that a warming of the climate is taking place. As CO2 has the effect of retaining solar heat in the atmosphere it seems to me that the burning of fossil fuels if not the cause is making a contribution. So it is difficult for me to accept John Cooknell's view that "it has nothing to do with us".
Natural resources are being used in an unsustainable way worldwide. Not just fossil fuels - agriculture, fishing, forestry is slowly degrading the world's ecosystems. Is this also "nothing to do with us"?
Leading the way in the rape of the world's resources are the western nations. We should lead by example and the cutting of carbon emmissions is just one way of doing this.
It should also be borne in mind that in previous historic periods when the world warmed and coolled habitats were not as fragmented as they now are nor were there as many humans. Consequently climate warming is much more serious as flora and fauna will find it difficult to move with the climate and humans will find it even more difficult - as island nations sink under the waves who will accept the refugees?

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Happy Birthday Ed
Nigel - follow your instincts.
At least this blog demonstrates a small degree of "benign uproar". Still a long way to go. What are you going to do about it BBC?

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Thanks Bob, and here's a tour round my honorary stockman's rounds.

Julian, Regards and we'll hold you to your promises. In the nicest way, of course.

Small country, few people -
Hundreds of devices,
But none are used.

People ponder on death
And don't travel far.
They have carriages and boats,
But no one goes on board;
Weapons and armor,
But no one brandishes them.
They use knotted cords for counting.

Sweet their food,
Beautiful their clothes,
Peaceful their homes,
Delightful their customs.

Neighboring countries are so close
You can hear their chickens and dogs.
But people grow old and die
Without needing to come and go.
[translated by Stan Lombardo and Stephen Addiss]

Yet TAO alone gets things done.

Lao Tzu, ~450BCE
[and, also translated by Stan Lombardo from the original Greek into my own dialect]:

But when judges judge straight, for neighbors
As well as for strangers, and never turn their backs
On Justice, their city blossoms, their people bloom.
You'll find peace all up and down the land
And youngsters growing tall, because broad-browed Zeus
Hasn't marked them out for war. Nor do famine or blight
Ever afflict folk who deal squarely with each other.
They feast on the fruits of their tended fields,
And the earth bears them a good living too.
Mountain oaks yield them acorns at the crown,
Bees and honey from the trunk. Their sheep
Are hefty with fleece, and women bear children
Who look like their parents. In short, they thrive
On all the good things life has to offer, and they
Never travel on ships. The soil's their whole life.

Hesiod, singing around a campfire some time around 2800 years ago.
Translated by Stanley Lombardo
http://home.btconnect.com/tipiglen/tao.html

Vaya con Gaia
ed

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  • 33.
  • At 04:21 PM on 26 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

John Cooknell wrote:

"A final little thought for all the amateur scientists, the NOAA web site tells me sea temperatures have been falling for the past 5 years, as most (75%) of the human induced global warming is stored in the sea, what is the explanation for this. Just a clue the head of NOAA says his climate model might need a bit of adjustment. And by the way what happened to all the hurricanes the climate catastrophe believers (and NOAA) said we were going to get this year!"


As one of those amateur scientists, I really think you need to learn more before you offer opinions.

1) Check out the research, i.e. read the papers concerned. You will find that there was a substantially greater cooling episode in the 1980s (I think it was at least twice as big as the 2003 cooling). However, in line with modelling studies, the oceans have continued to warm since then. The recent apparent cooling needs to be understood, but it does not challenge the theory, or the models.

To quote from Lyman et al.
"These [past] increases provide strong evidence of global warming. Climate models exhibit similar rates of ocean warming, but only when forced by anthropogenic influences [Gregory et al., 2004; Barnett et al., 2005; Church et al., 2005; Hansen et al., 2005]."

And Lyman/Willis recently found "a net loss of 3.2 (± 1.1) x 10^22 J of heat from the upper ocean between 2003 and 2005." While Levitus et al previously found 6 x 10^22 J of heat lost in the 0–700 m layer from 1980 to 1983.

6 x 10^22 joules is almost twice 3.2 x 10^22 J. Even allowing for error ranges the cooling in 2003 was significantly smaller than that in the 1980s.

2) It wasn't just the NOAA who predicted an active hurricane season, so did Bill Grey, who doesn't believe in AGW. The mitigating factor is wind shear that stops the formation of hurricanes. This does not challenge the theory of a sea surface temperature/hurrican intensity link. It is an extraneous factor, outside the remit of that theory that has reduced hurricane intensity thie year.

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Thank you Cobbly.

So where are we?

1. GW and CH are not just figments of our imagination.
2. Although naturally multi-factorial, man has a major impact on conditions on the planet.
3. There are too many people, and those who can - naturally take as much as they can.

So why BBC - don't we start from this point with the next program?

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  • 35.
  • At 09:32 AM on 27 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Hello Bob,

I think that number 3 is the 300lb Gorrilla in the corner of the room. The party continues around it, and everyone politely ignores it's presence. But it's still there.

Granted many people don't use half as much as the wealthy minority. But if all of the 6 billion aim for a standard of living that the few (like us in the UK) enjoy. Then as what we're doing now is unsustainable. 6 billion with a 'western' lifestyle has to be more so. And the UN project a population of almost 10bn by 2050.


Having watched "Planet Earth, The Future" on BBC4 last night I was reminded once again that we're engaging in a game of "Global Jenga".

We keep pulling out the blocks because we make a living, directly or indirectly from removing the blocks.

We deny the risk of collapse because we make a living, directly or indirectly from removing the blocks.

This is an activity that is inherently stupid. Not that I think we'll change our direction or behaviour. But it's still stupid.

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Cobbly, I think that you are right. The Gorilla's in the scotch mist. It has been described to me as a psychological medical condition - only the prevalence is a bit different. The stupid behaviour is kinda like a form of global self-harm. The BBC can help by starting to take this fundamental root problem more seriously.
So, BBC what are you going to do about it?

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  • 37.
  • At 12:28 PM on 27 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Hello Bob,

I think that the BBC are in a difficult position here. They cannot be seen as opinion leaders, to do so would attract criticism of bias, and they are funded by the License payer. They do not have the leeway of a privately funded organisation.

I now think that the evidence is now accumulating to make a pretty sound case that what we are seeing is significantly attributable to the pressure of sheer numbers of people, although certainly not exclusively so. Up until only about 2 years ago I was a sceptic with regards anthropogenic global warming, my scepticism has been shattered. Like me, others are being shaken by the implications of the evidence. Views are changing. A realisation of the reality of climate change and the wider human impact has knock on effects in terms of wider political outlook as well.

All that said, I really don't think we'll do anything substantive about it. So it remains an interesting scientific issue for me.

Frankly I want an accurate reflection of the current state of science from the BBC, which I get, unless they allow 'people' like Viscount Monckton onto Question Time (Good Grief!). Likewise the BBC can only reflect debate that is current in wider public life. I don't think the Gorilla has been spotted by enough people for that debate to become widespread yet.

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Hey Cobbly
I agree that it is not exclusively the pressure of numbers, but this remains the most important factor and we all have to obey the fundamental laws of nature - i.e. lag, log, stationary, death. The difference is is that man, unlike most other species on this Petri dish has the potential ability to use and act on this intelligence.
All the evidence is there. This is beyond being an academic exercise. The planet is under threat - So what are the BBC suggesting should be done about it?

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  • 39.
  • At 09:51 PM on 28 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Answer to Cobbly Worlds re sea temps etc.

So the NOAA climate model that predicts hurricanes was wrong, so why should any of the other climate models be correct.

NOAA said they spent thousands of hours making it better than it was, but it was still wrong.It is based on a very secure data set of historical information but it was still wildly wrong. It was so inaccurate that a 5% chance came home, is it really a model at all?

At least the predictions of this model is tested every year, the other climate models have predictions that won't be tested for decades.

So sea temperatures are getting colder at all levels, and you have no explanation.

But you still believe, and that is your right.

I think that the question is still open, with the balance of probability being that climate change is largely nothing to do with human influence.

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  • 40.
  • At 02:29 PM on 29 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Hello again John.

Nobody knows what has caused this cooling.

Nobody knows what caused the cooling in the '80s.

Yet prior to and since the '80s cooling, the models have been able to track the overall trend in Sea Surface Temperatures (SST). And despite the '80s cooling, which bear in mind was twice as big as the once Lyman/Willis reveal, the long term trend has been one of continued warming indicating a substantial long term increase in energy stored in the oceans.

Given that this trend, an expected outcome of increased GHGs trapping energy, has continued through the '80s cooling.

What reason do you have for seeing this cooling as different?

And how do you explain the long term model agreement?


The NOAA prediction was in line with expectations from all centres making predictions. It is not based on a climate model. GCMs are not suitable for geographically limited short term work. Indeed they do not make 'predictions' they make 'projections' of long term change based on scenarios. This is an important and significant difference.

The NOAA and all other hurrican forcasts were made based on expected SSTs, which have proven true. However, I repeat, upper level windshear (not related to SST) has prevented hurricane intensification. That does not throw doubt upon the SST/Hurrican intensity link, which is generally accepted.

If you are prepared to do some trawling you can probably find SST base data freely available. I can't point you to it, but this is true of many other data sets. They are not typically 'secured' in the way you seem to imply.


Perhaps you could explain to me how Hansen's 1988 model projections have proven correct in predicting the increase in temperatures since then (allowing for the 1998 El Nino- cannot be accounted for in advance)?

Perhaps you might also like to address how the numerous attribution studies conducted in the last decade have been able to demonstrate model's ability to hindcast 20th century global average temperture?


I used to believe (without evidence) that the models were wrong. I am unable to explain the above 2 points. That is just a tiny subset of the reasons I now accept the science. Sorry, belief implies a lack of evidence. I don't accept without evidence. I've had my fingers burnt discovering how unfounded my former scepticism was. I consider that th models are able to produce good agreement with past gross climate indices. I consider that as we continue to increase atmospheric CO2 the atmopshere will continue to trap more outgoing longwave radiation, thus implying an increase in temperature. I do not consider that there is good reason to expect the models to underproject the changes to come.

When I get home later I will try to post some links for you.

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  • 41.
  • At 10:37 PM on 29 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Cobbly,

Thanks I have read most of these things before, but I did get a bit lost.

Perhaps its me, but I did go through the Y2K millenium bug expeirience, and this did affect my thinking about scientific projections or predictions.

When the Y2K bug problem science theory was first predicted/projected, I thought to myself what was this all about. No I do know a bit about this, being a bit of an electronic Geek, as well as having, mostly entirely practically useless, academic qualifications in Electronics.

After about half an hour I decided that there was no such thing, and said so to my colleagues and my employer.

My colleagues were also highly qualified engineering types, they all agreed with me, but decided to keep silent, and thought it better that I remained silent as well. As you didn't really want to rock the heavily laden money boat about to pass by.

Now at this point the Y2K Bug Myth develops to a point where Government, the media, says it is a threat to our economy indeed our very lives. The Governments chief scientist issued dire warnings and academic papers by the score were written on the subject.

I read a lot of these, and not one told me how to find or alter the software, so they were entirely useless. But the scientific community of which you are likely a part said nothing !

The Institution of Electrical Engineers actually issued a 600 page book giving information and tests you could perform on systems, but still never told you anything useful.

In this case, if the scientific community had any real practical knowledge it would have told us all not to worry, as it was all a Myth.

I never found a millenium software bug, I never even heard of anyone who found one, they would have told us from the roof tops if they had.

I and my colleagues were paid large sums of money for checking software that we knew didn't contain any millenium bugs. All to satisfy a scientific myth.

If they had used common sense they would have known it was all hype and Myth, as all the large Government and Financial computer systems had for many years made calculations into the next centrury for Pensions, Mortgages, share options etc.etc. so why anyone thougt they wouldn't cope with the date change was beyond me.

The most amazing thing to me, is that some people still actually believe that they were part of teams that fixed Y2K bugs, but when I ask them what piece of software they actually fixed they don't know.

With this expeirience behind me, I must admit to being sceptical of anything the scientific community says, however detailed their research is.

I much prefer to look at things using simple logic, as this is just as valid as any clever research.

Climate Change has happened many times before without human influence, so it is unlikely we are the cause of any particular climate change event. Human induced climate change is an explanation, but an unlikely explanation.


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John - I suspect Y2K was a sales opportunity similar to bird flu - and the media (including the BBC) were suckered by the corporate PR spin machines.
Use your own eyes to judge AGW - drive over the Oxfordshire Ridgeway on a clear day and witness the Didcot atmospheric puddle (unfortunately I live in it). Compare the temperature in London to the rest of the Country. Cobbly, this isn't my subject - do you have some better examples?

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  • 43.
  • At 11:15 AM on 30 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Hello Bob,

Your post wasn't on when I did my earlier post this morning.

I've never heard of the Didcot atmospheric puddle.

The Met Office's press release concerning this years anomalously warm summer. May to September, the warmest (~2deg C above the baseline average) protracted period of unusual warmth in the Central England Temperature record (350 years), does include reference to a study that attributes it to AGW.

However I tend not to concentrate on local variations like that. All that the theory predicts from enhanced greenhouse gas (GHG) forcing is an increase in global average temperature, (troposphere and land/sea surface) i.e. a global effect that may or may not be reflected in any one specific local example. The global temperature is used as an indicator of changes in the planet's energy balance. My physics background and approach means I'm not overly aware of the extent of current impacts.

Next year's Fourth Assesment Report by the IPCC will make very interesting reading. To some extent I feel people may as well suspend discussion of the issue until we get that summary of the state of knowledge. I may put aside some weeks to read it.

Y2K - yes, sales hype, it was obvious beforehand.

Avian Flu - I'm more concerned about that for myself than I am about climate change. The similarity with the 1918 variant is alarming, and that killed more than WWI.

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Thanks Cobbly
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine prepared an excellent paper on Bird Flu entitled 'A Big Flap'. It combines the science with some beautiful photography courtesy of the Welsh Red Kite Centre - please let me know if you (or anyone)would like a copy (I'll need an e-mail address).
I take your point, but remember that the risk is, and has been ever-present. I know that I'm repeating myself, but it is population growth and its implications that influences increased risk more than most other factors.
I hate to say it, but Big Pharma have you where they want you. If you are interested in protection from flu viruses, it's worth looking at the work coming out of Warwick by Prof Dimmock and his team. Again, I can provide a copy of his paper entitled "Protecting Influenza Virus - a new concept in antiviral", if you'd like it.

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  • 45.
  • At 06:55 PM on 30 Nov 2006,
  • CobblyWorlds wrote:

Thanks, but I'll decline Bob.

I've got quite a lot on. Which is why I won't be re-posting the epic fully referenced reply I gave to John Cooknell (Sorry). I posted it this AM and it's vanished.

I just had a very nasty brush with flu 10 years ago and am not overstating when I say it could have killed me. (For 3 days I was unable even to get to the basin for water.) The idea of a 1918 pandemic with something worse than normal flu worries me more than what happens to my nephews in 2050 after I'm gone Selfish? Yes, arguably.

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  • 46.
  • At 09:46 PM on 30 Nov 2006,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Cobbly,

As I have got older every part of my being seems to fall apart. I too have had the same flu expierience, weirdly, given my previous blog, at the Millenium, it was not pleasant. A not so gentle reminder of our mortality.

Thanks for thinking of me, I will manage without your detailed response as I can probably guess most of it anyway.

I used to travel on business extensively, sometimes to third world countries in Africa. I can only describe these places as a living hell, I have broken down and wept many times. I felt useless, hopeless and even now the tears well up at the sights I saw.

Most of the human degradation I witnessed was due to grinding economic poverty, people were dying because they were poor. They could not buy food or shelter. Sometimes this was made worse by war and gangsterism.

I never saw anyone die of climate change.

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  • 47.
  • At 05:13 PM on 11 Apr 2007,
  • Ayla Greenwood wrote:

John Cooknell, again I find myself chuckling at your failed attempts to back up your argument.

I think it's somewhat of a false analogy to compare climate change with the sufferings of people in the third world. The two things are not connected and there is no valid grounds for your comparison to be made on what-so-ever.

The false analogy is the typical last resort of the side failing to produce enough evidence to back up their claims.

As moving as I found your latest post, I do not think it supports your argument at all and it gives the impression that you are grasping at straws after exhausting all of your previous points.

Aside from all that, isn't the threat of climate change causing vast loss of life in the FUTURE part of the reason most of us are worried about it? That might help you to understand why you haven't seen anyone die of it just yet (and that's something to be thankful for - there's far too much tragedy in the world already).

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A bit late I know, but I thought I would just add I thought this program was informative and interesting.

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