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Hoping for the best

Peter Barron | 16:02 UK time, Friday, 22 September 2006

Every time we run an item about climate change - which let's face it is quite often - we get a number of complaints about media hysteria.

Newsnight logo"Oh no! Branson has just pledged 3 billion to fight Global Warming. ANOTHER excuse for Newsnight to champion the cause. It is becoming so tiresome."

"By your own standards tonight's item on global warming was a disgrace... One oversimplified interpretation of global warming is now force-fed to the public."

"Exxon funding groups critical of the increasing hysteria around climate change? Great news!"

Then you get articles like Tom Utley's in the Mail today, railing against the bien pensants of the BBC, using to dismiss concerns about melting ice-caps his own ice-in-gin-and-tonic theory. It goes like this. If the doomsayers are right why doesn't your gin and tonic overflow when the ice melts?

I remember debating that one myself - a little incoherently - over iced drinks in my student days about 20 year ago.

So are we at the BBC peddling some sinister international climate change myth, or are sceptics like Mr Utley in hock to the CO2 nay-sayers of big business?

Neither I think. For years on Newsnight we've reported concerns about the effects of climate change with caution, due scepticism and balance. But at a certain point I think you've got to assemble all the available evidence and decide whether the threat is real or not. I think we're past that point and that the threat is real.

It doesn't necessarily mean, as Mr Utley mocks, that his beloved Norfolk will be under the sea any time soon, it's much more likely surely that Britain will feel the strain from the refugees from the effects of climate change who will make their way to our shores.

So what explains the staying power of the sceptics' argument?

One possibility is that they're right. But I think the real reason is that subconsciously many of us hope they're right. If Mr Blair really believed climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism, for example, wouldn't he devote more of his energies more urgently to it?

And Ethical Man aside, wouldn't you and I change our lifestyles more than the bits around the edges we've done so far?

I think most of us have an inner George Bush, or a part which is in denial and believes it can 't be as bad as all that, that surely something will turn up.

I hope we're right.


  • 1.
  • At 06:32 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • There is an elephant pyramid in the room wrote:

Didn't we used to have Lions roaming London ?...No factories then...

...There's the real ethical bombshell, now it is time to think about the wholesale poisoning of us and everything else

Forget global warming, remember big Pharmas failure, remember GM is still on the march, remember that big food doesn't care a bit about you, that big money just uses you to generate its money then dumps on you

Big oil/pharma/money/war/food trades its money up and away from you

It is time to trade your money, no matter how insignificant the act may seem, down to the people around you wherever possible

Clearly, the big players are not to be trusted

  • 2.
  • At 07:28 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • David wrote:

Ah, you see, here is why silly people shouldn't be allowed to say things, either in the Mail or in this column. While it is true that melting ice-caps don't raise sea levels themselves, firstly they dump fresh water into the oceans, which as we hopefully all know is normally lightly salted. This changes the ocean currents, which is bad news for us as we're at the end of one of the warm ones. Secondly, what happens if the ice wasn't in the water to start off with, like Antartica, or the glaciers in mountain ranges?

  • 3.
  • At 08:50 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Michal Mudd wrote:

Or perhaps you could correct the idiotic Mr. Utley's gin-soaked challenge and tell him that his melting ice cube is taking up it's exact volume, whether solid or liquid, because it's floating in liquid in his glass.

The polar icecaps and various melting glaciers are situated partly on top of solid land masses, hence their melting liquid ADDS to bodies of water as they flow into them!

Mr. Utley probably also remains blissfully unaware of the mechanics of the Gulfstream that keeps his little island habitable. With increased freshwater influx from glaciers melting in Canada and Greenland, the wonderful engine that drives the warm current northward is very likely to be disrupted. In fact studies currently indicate that the Gulfstream has been losing steam, which could usher in a different climate for dear Mr. Utley. All is not lost however. At least he would be freed of any worries about needing ice cubes in his gin and tonic!

  • 4.
  • At 09:32 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Mark Croucher wrote:

The problem is that despite mounting hysteria from the climate change industry, there is no new evidence which is not statistically flawed. The world may or may not be getting warmer - 100 years of temperature records are not sufficient to ascertain trends measured on a geological timescale. Even amongst those who believe there is a rising trend in global temperatures, there is no consensus as to whether it is caused by human interference or not. The Oregon Declaration is signed by thousands of climatologists and meteorologists who simply do not buy into the climate change myth, and yet you rarely hear mention of it.

In itself this would be bad enough, but the government, and others around the world, are committing billions of pounds to 'meeting the challenges of climate change' when, in fact, it is far from certain that there is even a problem which needs solving. Is this not money which would be better spent on healthcare, public transport, education, third world debt or any one of a thousand other matters which are of more immediate concern?

We shouldn't forget that the Romans grew wine as far north as York, something not possible in modern times without extensive use of technology. Were the Romans undergoing man made climate change, or a simple fluctuation in the earths temperature? How about the temperature fluctuations in the middle ages? And am I the only one who recalls the banner headlines in the 70's and 80's which screamed 'New Ice Age by 2000'? The threat? Global cooling. The cause? Aerosols, CFCs and carbon dioxide.

Oh, and don't forget the hole in the ozone layer, which would lead to billions of deaths. Ever wondered what happened to it? Its almost closed.

I don't pretend a special knowledge of climatology, but I am an engineer, and I know when statistics spell 'nonsense'. Climate change statistics are no different to any other governmental statistic: they say what the government wants them to say.

So what's the answer to the 'ice in your G&T' question?

I think it's to do with the fact that the ice caps (at least in Antarctica! but possibly the North Polar icecap too) don't float, whereas an icecube in your drink does. Thus the icecap has a higher proportion of water (in a solid state) above sea level than a floating icecube or even iceberg, so that as and when some of it melts, that will bring the sea level up without affecting the relative height of the (base of the) ice cap.

Am I right?

  • 6.
  • At 10:06 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • City Slicker wrote:

Climate change not news worthy?

Fact the climate is changing at a unprecedented rate.

Fact this will affect directly or indirectly every man woman and child on earth.

How is this not newsworthy?

If you want gossip pickup "Heat magazine" BBC News is for the news.

  • 7.
  • At 10:51 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • Robert wrote:

The reason your G&T doesn't overflow when the ice melts is that the ice is already displacing its own weight of liquid because it is floating in it. If you were to fill the G&T to the brim and then let meltwater run into it from an icecube, then it would (obviously) overflow - this is the situation with the Greenland and Antarctic icecaps - they are currently on land, but if they melt all that water will end up in the sea.

Even the US is now waking up (post-Katrina) to the true effects of climate change - not just rising sea levels, but more extreme weather and possibly even a drop in average temperature for northern Europe.

  • 8.
  • At 11:31 PM on 22 Sep 2006,
  • John Smith wrote:

This debate is so obvious that it's almost an insult to both the BBC and the skeptics to reply. Nonetheless, it would appear that some remedial revision of the laws of physics may be required.

First, the ice cubes. I refer the honorable reader to the reply Archimedes gave earlier. 2500 years or so earlier. When ice floating in water melts, the volume isn't going to change - because it was floating. If the ice was so large that it did NOT float, the water will rise in relation to the excess, not the total.

Now, ice on land - which is most of it - isn't displacing any water at all right now. If that melts, the seas will certainly rise. The south pole (Antarctica) is almost entirely on land, so if that melts, it is very bad news. The north pole is mostly floating and so will not have such a direct impact, but is still very bad news.

How can that be, if it doesn't affect sea levels? Well, in part because it reflects a good deal of heat back into space. Ice is wonderfully reflective. On the other hand, open seas and oceans absorb heat. The moment the ice caps go, temperatures will rise much faster than they have been, for that reason alone.

Now, although the ice didn't raise sea levels, the temperature rise will - after a while. Water is most dense (takes the least space) at about four degrees centegrade. Ice, of course, melts at zero degrees centegrade, and will not rise in temperature until completely melted. In reality, the cold temperatures are not significant, but what it does mean is that when the north pole has melted and the oceans are warming faster, sea levels will rise dramatically faster.

Will Norfolk be flooded? Well, that's hard to say. It regularly was, until the current sea defences were put in place, and those are in a bad state of repair. You can still see the water damage on buildings far from the coast from where rivers surged backwards during particularly nasty floods.

The sea defences certainly weren't built to withstand rising sea levels and their lack of maintenance may make them unsuitable for even current sea levels under sufficiently bad conditions. Residents of Cley and Holt that I have talked to don't care what causes the next bad flood, they are much more concerned with the fact that denial is making such a flood guaranteed.

So, under current practices, Norfolk will indeed be under water within most readers' lifetimes, whether global warming continues or not.

How far will sea levels rise? That's even harder to say. The Cheshire plains were once a shallow sea - that's why there is so much rock salt there. If the current trend of global warming continues, Manchester will need to run canal boats along the streets.

Is that reasonable? Land levels have changed over time. Well, Manchester was largely brackish swamp when the Romans got there. The Manchester Ship Canal isn't totally level with the ocean - they do need a few locks, but not many. Land levels are therefore very likely about the same as they were when you'd more likely find coral than train tracks, and a fish in a school was more likely alive than in a Birdseye product.

Oh, and don't forget the hole in the ozone layer, which would lead to billions of deaths. Ever wondered what happened to it? Its almost closed.

Due, you may recall, to the Montreal protocol which essentially banned the substances which were causing the destruction.

I don't pretend a special knowledge of climatology, but I am an engineer, and I know when statistics spell 'nonsense'. Climate change statistics are no different to any other governmental statistic: they say what the government wants them to say.

The weight of scientific literature (from people who do have special knowledge of climatology) is against you. See if you're interested in broadening your horizons.

  • 10.
  • At 08:39 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Toni M wrote:

It seems that Ostrich Man is the last relic of the Neanderthal race. He knows more than anyone else and is caustically disparaging of those who've dedicated decades to study - while he went to the pub to conduct his experiments with G&T, blithered on about the ice not overflowing the glass as it melted and as he took large gulps from the glass!

Though he is consistently wrong, he does believes in science, so long as it supports his stone-age arguments about the right of his kind to do as they please. Effectively, he reduces all things to the dirt between his primitive toes... which is all he really knows about.

For one thing, the "ice cube-in G&T"experiment is invalid before it even begins, owing to the different density of alcohol, tap water and sea water, and that is before we even bother to explain the devastating effects of massive diution of ocean salinity on the NADW currents!

As to the other commentators, unless you have studied these subjects, and before you conclude that "you know stuff", go read-up on the NADW:

I should like to add that the melting of glaciers is a huge problem too. The combined meltwaters of the world's reducing mountain glaciers are major contributing factors to sea level rise, *in addition* to the melting of the polar ice caps. The extraordinary contribution to seasonal flow will increasingly lead to bank-bursting flash-floods inland, especially where this peak flow coincides with unusually heavy precipitation.

(For the Neanderthal reader: that means a great many more Boscastles, on a regular basis!)

Let's face it, though, we all secretly hope Tom Utley and his Neanderthal kin DO buy homes by the sea and I that they ARE in them, left behind by their more evolved neighbours, stubbornly refusing to believe they will be submerged, staring at the dirt between their toes, drunk on their many gin-experiments and still blithering on about about "bl**dy green wellied, anorak-wearing, tree-hugging environmentalists"!

Homo Sapiens can no loger afford to carry around such genetic dross in its genome!

BSc Hon. Environmental Quality & Resource Management

  • 11.
  • At 09:48 AM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Jennifer Watts wrote:

To Peter Barron, Editor, Newsnight re Global Warning.
As you wrote I do think we get alot of Media Hysteria in comments. However, it is a scary subject and one tries to do something 'good' to decrease the effects. Again, are we prepared to give up our cars, not fly, especially budget airlines, which gives opportunies, that otherwise could not be taken. We try to save water, not use aerosols, use the bath and washing up water for the garden, etc; etc; but I like the advantages. I admit, I could not be Ethical Man for 2 months, never mind 1 year, and his programmes are always hysterical, though the message gets through. An alternative product to oil? Like yourself, I just hope some brilliant scientist will come with an idea, we could all cope with, and hope it never happens. Regards, Jennifer W.

  • 12.
  • At 02:30 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Pam wrote:

Media Hysteria eh! If you haven't watched glaciers melt, hugh chunks break off and then float out to sea - don't comment. I have and believe me it focusses the mind about our poor stewardship of the world.
And before anyone comments on the pollution I caused getting to a site to watch such events - Yes I know and believe me I won't be doing it again - I've learnt!

  • 13.
  • At 03:32 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • BE wrote:

I won't argue about whether the 7 billion tonnes of extra carbon we are adding to the atmosphere each year because of our activities is having an effect. It does not require an Einstein to work that out.

I will argue that we must cut down our use of fossil fuels, in all sectors. Why, then? Because we are slowly killing ourselves with non-CO2 pollution. The WHO estimates that an average of about 3,000,000 people die each year because of illnesses linked to energy-related pollution. Add to that the cost of treating ten times that number who are ill from the same cause. This is why health costs have soared through the roof.

Just as one illustration of what fossil fuels are doing to us, when I was at school (in a city), we had 4 classes of about 30 kids in our form. Of the c. 120 boys, I remember only one who was asthmatic. Today, in many cities, 30 or 40 teenage boys out of 120 will have inhalers in their pocket.

This is because the free radicals from pollutants destroy the immune system, eventually causing the way to be opened (partially or wholly) to such diseases as cardiovascular accidents, cancer, tuberculosis, ebola, mutated influenzas, SARS, emphysema etc., as well as asthma. Who knows? It is not unreasonable to think that AIDS/HIV will be more likely to find a host in someone with a weakened immune system, either.

We cannot afford to allow this to continue and the only cure is to reduce our use of fossil fuels. My calculations suggest that a 60% reduction will help health services considerably. By coincidence, this is also about the reduction that the IPCC state would be necessary to stabilise the quantity of carbon in the air to current levels for the next decades (stabilise, not reduce).

So, forget climate change and let's cut fossil fuel use to preserve our health and reduce health-care costs to a more reasonable level. If, serendipitously, we happen to stabilise the climate change as well, isn't that a big bonus? If it is a myth, then we shall still have won by cutting down on fossil fuels.

  • 14.
  • At 07:48 PM on 23 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Peter Barron, editor of Newsnight: So what explains the staying power of the sceptics' argument? ...One possibility is that they're right. But I think the real reason is that subconsciously many of us hope they're right. If Mr Blair really believed climate change was a bigger threat than terrorism, for example, wouldn't he devote more of his energies more urgently to it? ...And Ethical Man aside, wouldn't you and I change our lifestyles more than the bits around the edges we've done so far? ...I think most of us have an inner George Bush, or a part which is in denial and believes it can 't be as bad as all that, that surely something will turn up. ...I hope we're right.

You are confusing a hope that something will turn up with denial. The former is praiseworthy if mixed with other positive steps, but the latter - denial - is very dangerous, pathological in fact. Please don't ever underestimate the ability of the human mind to hide the truth from itself; many have lost of thrown away their lives, and others', through denial. Ask any GP. Many smokers, for example, as is so clear now that no one is advertising smoking s being "healthy". Which is why recruiting smokers to argue against global warming is being so productive of voluminous nonsense.

You suggest that the US President is in denial on global warming. I would suggest that he is on several subjects, and that Karl Rove, who was the first to promote him as presidential material, recognised that he was highly susceptible to being in denial and exploited it. If you watch the footage of his most recent (15/9) Rose Garden press encounter, during which he reacted with rather frightening aggression to quite predicable questions that ran counter to his beliefs, it does really look as if he doesn't have integrated reasoning to fall back upon, and doesn't realise it.

In turn that could help explain why those, such as our PM, who see themselves as having no choice but to work with him, behave so otherwise inexplicably. One can literally not argue with denial.

But as for living in hope, well, how many of us don't rely on that? In the face of the evidence on global warming, which could bring all human endeavour to an end, by extinction or by chaos, if not even earlier by terrible religious folly, surely hope has to be our bedrock?

  • 15.
  • At 01:54 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • anon wrote:

"For years on Newsnight we've reported concerns about the effects of climate change with caution, due scepticism and balance."

You clearly do not read your own website.

  • 16.
  • At 08:13 AM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • P Waller wrote:

Re; Global warming debate.
If global warming is not caused by human activity and it is all just so much hokum, well, nobody can say definately that it is or is not.
However,should it be real and we go on with our endless debates and continue to do nothing, pretty soon we are going to know for sure.
By then it will be too late.
Can we take that chance?
Are we perhaps parasites that destroy the host, the planet we inhabit?
I hope not.

  • 17.
  • At 01:05 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Chris Reed wrote:

As the NASA Goddard Institute have noted, the last 30 years have seen an increase of almost 0.6degC.

Yet over that period there is no evidence of a trend in solar irradation that accounts for that trend, e.g. satellite measurements and neutron counts.

Diurnal temperature range has shown a gross global decrease. The implication being the the greenhouse effect has caused more of a warming trend at night. (evidence of trapped heat not being radiated to space at night).

With regards the melt of both the Arctic and the Antarctic Peninsular. The main issue is that of ice-albedo and the increased energy capture that the darker sea surface exhibits as compared to ice.

Furthermore as has been alluded to above, the melting of ice is a mechanism that involves latent heat, not sensible heat (that which manifests itself as a measurable temperature change). This is just one of the processes that mean that although we have seen some warming, we have in no way seen the full warming to be expected from our past emissions of CO2, because energy is being used to melt ice, not to bring about warming. We are increasing the greenhouse effect so rapidly that the planet's systems cannot keep up. We are in a period of 'transient response' not 'equilibrium'.

The BBC recently covered the reduction of perennial Arctic Ice in 2004-2005. This year is looking as bad in terms of total area if not extent, a difference that may explain the apparent change of loss-rate after 2000 .

In closing, I congratulate the BBC on their apparent change in slant on this story. It simply is not journalistic balance to give time to paid advocates of those with vested interests. The science is complex, but there really is no controversy. It's just that some try to create that impression. We really are warming the planet, and this is not likely to be a good thing.

PS The Oregon petition .

  • 18.
  • At 01:34 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Steven wrote:

Does it matter whether climate change is happening because of human activity, or because we are naturally in a period of the earth's history in which the tempterature is rising?

We need to work out how we are going to deal with these changing ocean currents, rising sea levels, and all the rest of it -- because they are going to happen. If we stopped emitting carbon dioxide tomorrow they might happen a little later, but that's all. The planet is not and has never been a static system, and if the human race is to survive it has work out ways to ride those changes, not kid itself that there's some mystical point of 'balance' that can be achieved. There is no such thing as living in 'harmony with nature'. All human life is to do with adapting nature to ourselves where we can (like in Holland, from whom we shall have to learn a thing or two about keeping the sea back) and adapting ourselves to nature where we can't.

It's what we've always done and what we'll continue to do until, inevitably, we can't adapt ourselves or our environment any more and the human race becomes extinct, as it's the destiny of every species to eventually become extinct.

So: stop worrying about whether we're to blame. Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. Stop beating ourselves up and realise: this is happening, what can we do to survive it? Can we tame these new forces of nature as we have tamed nature in the past, or do we have to work around them, as we have also done in the past?

Of course, maybe we can do neither and we're doomed; but at least let's go down fighting.

  • 19.
  • At 05:30 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Roland Gilmore wrote:

The Earth does not belong to man: man belongs to the Earth.
If the deluge does not come perhaps polar shift will result in our demise or perhaps it will be by the mutation of avian flu. The environmental threats we face are numerous.
The fledgling human race is about to learn a lesson a child can learn: that of responsibility for our own actions. Most people want to hear only the "good news" not the truth.
Personally, I first became aware/interested in these issues in the mid 1970s. For many of us the media, including the BBC, have been too slow off the mark to inform. Unfortunately, we are closer to midnight now but consciousness is catching up with reality partly as a result of your efforts. You are, belatedly, on the right track.

  • 20.
  • At 06:12 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

Don't get excited about it.
Let us fiddle while the earth burns.

  • 21.
  • At 06:56 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • JonT wrote:

I've kept a middle of the road view while I try and understand the differing arguments - but I would encourage all from both sides of the fence to go and see Al Gore's docufilm: "An Inconvenient Truth". Compelling, if a little schmalzy - it does make you sit up and think.
And then go and read a critique such as:

and you're not so sure again!

On balance I don't think releasing millions of tons of prehistoric CO2 can be doing the planet's climatic equillibrium any good - and once the icecaps have melted, all the cynics will be the first to complain why nothing was done as the disasters mount up around the globe. If we can patch the ozone hole through global agreement on CFC's then we can slow the increase in fossil CO2 the same way. We just need a global response - including the USA and Australia.

  • 22.
  • At 10:47 PM on 24 Sep 2006,
  • Raymond Seljestad wrote:

With regards to the cessation of the Gulf stream I presume you are reffering to;
H. L. Bryden, H. R. Longworth & S. A. Cunningham, Slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation at 258N, Nature, Vol 438, 1. desember 2005, s. 655-657.

According to Anne Britt Sandø of the Nansensenter for miljø og fjernmåling,this is oversimplified and only relays
5 different measurements in the years;1957, 1981, 1992, 1998 and 2004,

  • 23.
  • At 12:47 AM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Karen Kline wrote:

The evidence concerning global warming is overwhelming as depicted in Al Gore's excellent documentary "An Incovenient Truth." Anyone who continues to refuse to believe the facts must be an apologist for the oil industry and does not care about the planet. Here in Australia the people are very grateful that Sir Richard Branson is lobbying the government in an effort to persuade them to sign the Kyoto Protocol.

  • 24.
  • At 09:53 AM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Ofcourse the BBC is right to accept global warming as real and serious threat, there is now overwhelming scientific evidence. Thats why the main Science organisations (eg Royal Society in the UK) around the world have issued official statements to that effect.Over 99% of climate scientists accept this.
The fundamental reason is that carbon dioxide strongly absorbs infra red radiation that would otherwise be radiated into space-giving a 'greenhouse' warming effect. This will inevitably warm the earth, there are feedback mechanisms that may reduce this effect- but certainly not eliminate it. The increase in CO2 absorption of infra red radiation has been directly observed in the atmosphere by satellites, this is not only a laboratory effect.

  • 25.
  • At 10:00 AM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Mike wrote:

Personally, I think the BBC is too eager to print fundamentally flawed letters from people alledging that the global warming debate is pure hysteria, particularly when these letters make massively incorrect statements, or are designed purely to spread vague distrust with wooly, unbased statements, such as claiming all studies are "statistically flawed" - says who?

For example, the mention of the "Oregon Declaration" - the Oregon Petition was against the Kyoto Accord, and stated that it did not believe there would be "catastrophic heating and disruption", not that Global Warming was a myth. It also didn't require signatories to have a degree, or be a climatologist, or even be tracable. Only 1400 claimed to have a PhD, and when Scientific American tried to contact 30 such names on the list, only 11 still agreed with the petition, of whom only three had relevant expertise - This would suggest only about 200 qualified climatologists signed the petition agreeing that there won't be catastrophic climate change - which may well mean they think it will happen, but don't think it will be that severe.

  • 26.
  • At 01:07 PM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

Perhaps the biggest question which you and all other media fail to address is "Is our current economic system (ie that of capitalism) able to support a planet and its inhabitants?"

Capitalism and its uncaring scouring of the planet we live on may have provided us with our much cherished 'lifestyles' but its also put us in this dire predicament. You'd have thought that maybe therefore there would be some questioning of whether this same system in any form is capable of saving us from further disaster?

But no, instead all that's essentially being argued is that changes have to be made to it. Sadly it appears to me that our 'leaders' have dug a huge hole from which long-term there is no escape. If mankind is still around in thousands of years time it will look back with derision on a society that built itself on greed and personal interest and little thought for the most valuable thing we have in our lives, the very planet we live on.

  • 27.
  • At 04:10 PM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • johan wrote:

I think it's pretty undeniable that billions of humans and their industry are bound to have some effect on the planet, and no, I really just can't see that effect being hugely positive.

But, I do wish there was more discussion of the temperature trends that have occured over the earth in recent and not-so-recent history to balance out the view that the recent warming must be due to man.

There have been shifts before in average temperature etc, even dramatic (sorry I can't remember the exact facts offhand but I remember some facts about a mini ice age in the middle of the 17th century) but I rarely see those discussed or even offered as a counterbalance.

What makes me really bile is hearing every politician jumping on the bandwagon about being green. Seriously, there's a heap of opportunism going on around this issue and that doesn't help anyone.

  • 28.
  • At 05:34 PM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • i wrote:

you make good points BE, but the allergy/eczema/hayfever thing has more to do with diet than pollution, though i certainly agree with reducing pollution as well as reducing poisonous outputs into our food and environment - and getting into cleaner fuels

tricky though it may be to achieve, if you can remove cows milk/dairy products and wheat/soya/hydrogenated oil and fat from your diet, things like allergen sensitivity can be reduced or removed in a matter of days, plus, without the morphine like attributes of casein and gluten, you'll feel much more alert too

none of this is directed at you per se, BE, just at anyone interested in knowing that sticking to goats milk products, meat, vegetables, fruit and rice and potatoes makes a massive difference to your life

these ingredients are all pervasive, but it can be done

best to avoid anything artificial also

  • 29.
  • At 09:31 PM on 25 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

Mark Croucher wrote: I am an engineer, and I know when statistics spell 'nonsense'...The problem is that despite mounting hysteria from the climate change industry, there is no new evidence which is not statistically flawed. ...We shouldn't forget that the Romans grew wine as far north as York, something not possible in modern times without extensive use of technology.

No one grows wine. Anyone with skill can grow grapes on vines in areas far from the traditional areas using very simple technology which the Romans certainly had - greenhouses and heating.

...don't forget the hole in the ozone layer, which would lead to billions of deaths. Ever wondered what happened to it? Its almost closed.

Actually not, according to the World Metereological Organisation:

2006 Antarctic ozone hole nears previous record levels (posted on 22 September). The latest WMO Antarctic Ozone Bulletin, issued today, says that the current hole in the ozone layer over the region has exceeded that of last year, and is approaching those of 2003 and 2000, respectively the second largest and largest on record.

But it has no connection to global warming, only to your having your "facts" dangerously wrong.

  • 30.
  • At 12:42 AM on 26 Sep 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

Again our world leaders cannot agree what to do.
Last time we built bomb shelters in the back garden.
This time we should build room sized refrigerators driven by photoelectric cells.
This is not a joke. Can you be certain that it is not a joke?

  • 31.
  • At 10:25 AM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • J Westerman wrote:

I sympathise with the views of Mark Croucher (25/09/06) which are formed by his engineering background. Nevertheless it is the lot of politicians to have to make decisions without waiting for conclusive statistics. They have to make a judgement if delay could leave us in an irretrievably disastrous situation. In my opinion they are dragging their feet over this one.

  • 32.
  • At 11:02 PM on 27 Sep 2006,
  • the cure wrote:


J Westerman, whilst i've no doubt you WERE joshing with the refridgerator room bit, i'd just like to point out to those who actually might have momentarily entertained the notion, that much like all you cool cats running your car air-con the whole time, you may feel all frosty, but the fact is you're all making the planet hotter for everyone else (unless air-con just breached 100% efficiency)

gated communities and 'i'm alright' thinking won't help you in the long run !

but THERE IS A CURE for 'global warming', which is a hilarious 'psy-op' joke on you all, designed to make you feel guilty and 'right-on' when you pay ever more money for dirty fuels for you cars and heating

when on the 11th september 2001, the wtc was attaked, the u.s. ran its long mooted excercise designed to determine the real world effects of high altitude air pollution, all 'useless eater' flights were cancelled, and guess what ? america got hotter

make the fuel cleaner in jet aircraft

and then, IF things start hotting up, we got your solution right here pal...

"got global warming ?...send up the jets"


  • 33.
  • At 09:08 AM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • BE wrote:

"i" has introduced a complete non-sequitur to my earlier post. I did not use the word 'allergy' but I presume he is applying it to my citing asthma. He or she has not used 'asthma' in his post.

Asthma can have allergenic causes, but there are many other causes. See for a layman's article. Incidentally, it also cites a sharp rise in the incidence in the section on Epidemiology. I do not say that pollution is the only reason, but it is almost certainly a significant one.

What I do not appreciate is the way you have turned my post into an apology for promoting so-called "health" foods. This has nothing to do with climate change or fossil fuels, which are the subject of this debate.

  • 34.
  • At 09:06 PM on 28 Sep 2006,
  • i wrote:

BE, did not intend to upset you

however, it is perfectly clesr where you're coming from alluding to gluten, casein and chemical filled foods as being 'healthy' by implication, this shows how much you know, when you or someone you love has ALLERGIES, perhaps you'll remember the advice

  • 35.
  • At 08:51 PM on 29 Sep 2006,
  • I wrote:

BE, i got shirty with you, my mistake...i agree that pollution is bloody awful to have to suffer, but...

Did you know superglue is made from soya ?

Did you know woodglue is made from casein ?

These aren't mere coincidence, it is the natural glue in wheat, and the casein in cows milk, which stop the gut absorbing nutrients, physically coating and breaking the villi in the digestive tract

So most of what is put in, is wasted

This causes allergies, be it asthma or anything else

Pollution is still a bad thing, but it is vital to consider everything, lest one misses a vital component of the problem

So, sorry, but the above IS valid

While it is nice to know that Newsnight used to put the catastrophic warming case with "caution, due scepticism & balance" (would that be when you spent as much time interviewing sceptics like Professors Singer & Bellamy as often as the Greenpeace lobbyists or did that only happen in a paralel universe) I note you have ceased the practice.

This would be why the BBC wheeled on Attenborough to the Andrew Marr programme to give a specific assurance that by 2026 "much of Norfolk will be under water". While, in light of the refusal to reconsider or even allow anybody else on air to dispute this we must accept this as representing the very highest journalistic standard of the BBC we need not believe it to be anything other than a complete, politically driven, lie.

May we expect a retraction of this propaganda lie in 2025?

  • 37.
  • At 11:08 AM on 30 Dec 2006,
  • ramesh menon wrote:

the entire blog and its comments et al lack a "tropical perspective". what i want to emphasise is that people in the tropics have an entirely different attitude towards global warming. with india and china emerging as global economies on a race to the top...environmental concerns are easily given the go by! and all talk by developed economies to curtail fossil fuel use is seen as a concerted effort to thwart the "march to progress"(pun intended). i see it as nature's way of implementing survival of fittest! subtly yet surely.the larger perspective may b made yet larger to account for the argument
any takers?

  • 38.
  • At 09:04 PM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • towcestarian wrote:

Steven @ Post 18. At last someone talking a bit of sense.

Let's stop wasting billions trying to prevent it happening (from whatever cause - manmade or otherwise) and spend the money on pre-emtively dealing with its probable effects. Let's face it, Canute didnt stop the tide rising either.

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