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What's up with the weather?

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Mike Rudin Mike Rudin | 15:54 UK time, Thursday, 24 June 2010

To some, it's a massive conspiracy to con the public. To others, it's the greatest threat to the future of our world.

Over recent years, opinions about global warming have become increasingly polarised.

It came to a head late last year when hundreds of e-mails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit were published.

The so-called "Climategate" debate was born.

Despite governments, scientists and campaigners telling us the world's climate is changing, opinion polls suggest growing uncertainty about global warming.

It hasn't helped that recent weather forecasts of a barbecue summer and a mild winter have been spectacularly wrong.

Panorama's Tom Heap has gone back to basics to ask what we really know about our climate and how it affect us.

His examination of the topic comes just ahead of the third and final report into "Climategate".

Thus far, there have been two inquiries: the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee and an independent review by Lord Oxburgh.

Both found that there was no grand global conspiracy and no deliberate scientific impropriety or dishonesty.

The final report by Sir Muir Russell
has looked at whether the scientists involved could have been more open with their critics.

The e-mails, which talk of hiding and deletion, gave some the impression that information had been deliberately withheld. They also appeared to lift the lid on an apparently vicious and personal conflict.

We wanted to pin down what, if anything, is broadly agreed and certain about global warming.

Top Gear may have its "Cool Wall", but we have built a "Wall of Certainty". We tested it out on some leading scientists and asked them a few key questions about climate change.

We gave them just four options - certain, likely, unlikely or no way. The answers were fascinating.

First up was Professor Bob Watson. He chaired the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for five years, worked for former US Vice-President Al Gore, and is now chief scientific adviser to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Second was the leading sceptic Professor John Christy, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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Contrary to some of the newspaper headlines and blogs that suggest all global warming science is a con, they agreed that mankind is causing the planet to warm up.

We also hear from the scientist behind the graph which has become an icon in the climate-change debate. Professor Michael Mann regrets the way his so-called "hockey-stick graph" was put in the spotlight by politicians.

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And we find out that the leading sceptic Bjorn Lomborg, author of the best-selling book The Skeptical Environmentalist, accepts much of the basic science and agrees with the critical IPCC finding that most of the recent global warming is man-made.

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There is genuine uncertainty and disagreement about the exact scale and speed of human-induced global warming and crucially what we should do about it. But I was surprised to find how much agreement there is on the fundamental science.

Mike Rudin is producer of Panorama's What's Up With The Weather? You can watch it on BBC One on Monday 28 June at 2030BST and online.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

    Two points...

    1) I would not claim this is an organised conspiracy. I think there is an informal coincidence of people who share a common self interest in this. Governments use it as an excuse for tax. Business use it as an excuse to sell dodgy eco products and hyke prices. Scientists use it as an excuse for the next grant. 'Environmentalists' use it as an excuse for what they have always wanted - end capitalism, take us back to a 'year zero' type society. All of them happily prop up the multi-national global warming industry.

    2) The big issue is not whether fossil fuel causes global heating and we need to cut fossil fuels. Fossil fuels will not meet demand for much longer anyway. The issue is the use global warming as an excuse for taxes and forced reductions in quality of life. Give consumers non-fossil energy and they will buy it. No need for coercion, tax, return to the dark ages. Stop the coercion and watch the resistance disapear.

    Don't forget the great majority of ordinary people have now rejected the global warming hype. I don't think that is anything to do with science - it is to do with a rejection of all the tax and reduction in quality of life which has been tacked on to the science.

  • Comment number 3.

    Nice. To disprove the "conspiracy" you provide three videos that say "this content doesn't seem to be working". Very witty.

  • Comment number 4.

    RolandD: " 'Over recent years, opinions about global warming have become increasingly polarised.' Not as far as the BBC is concerned. There's only one side."
    You're quite right: there is only one side when discussing the difference between truth and falsehood.
    I'm personally glad that the BBC is at least trying to take a stand against those to whom the term 'balance' appears to mean "present the concept 'true' as being equally likely as the concept 'false'".

  • Comment number 5.

    Because anyone with an abrassive personality can claim anything and receive media attention the science was challenged. Because the political systems facilitated the banks robbing the treasuries there was no money to address these issues so the politicians were happy to have the science challenged so that they could take their usual cowardly positions in times of crisis. They now want ETS to refill the treasury. The ETS will do nothing to address climate change it will only provide funds for governments and oil and coal companies that have already bought the forests to be used as off-sets. The politics are not the same as the science and people like to confuse the two. Governments never do anything of importance until it becomes an undeniable crisis and then they deny that they knew the crisis was coming. They say they did not know about the banking schemes that caused the collapse even though the records clearly show that they did. Everybody gets the government they deserve.

  • Comment number 6.

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

  • Comment number 7.

    @jon112uk

    I also see an "informal coincidence" of those most vocal in "dispelling the myth of global warming" (or funding research to this effect), and those with vested interests in the Oil industry.
    If Governments wanted to use Global Warming as an excuse for taxes, they're doing an absolutely terrible job of it, as it more than justifies far more action than has been taken by any Government on the planet.

    When every climate scientists on the planet is in agreement that humans are at least partially responsible for global warming in the past hundred years, it seems ridiculous to me to ignore this or say that they're all motivated by the desire for grants? (Especially as there's currently far more money and fame in saying the there is no such thing as man-made climate change).

    As rniloc says, there *are* no two genuine sides to this discussion. That humans contribute to climate change is as certain as anything in science can be at this point, and it's as preposterous for people to say that they don't agree with it as to claim that there is no force attracting any two masses.

  • Comment number 8.

    The certainty board is a fine idea. Here's an additional question for it:

    1. How certain are you that global warming in the next hundred years will be dangerous if man's greenhouse gas emissions are not limited in any way?

    That is by far the most important question. Because it's well possible, logically, for all the warming in the last 150 years to have been due to man and yet for there to be no danger at all for the next 100 years. For the impact of CO2 and the other greenhouse gases as discovered in the 19th century is logarithmic.

    Another highly related question is:

    2. How certain are you that the feedback from water vapour and clouds combined is strongly positive?

    Without this there's no dangerous warming. A final question could be:

    3. How certain are you that Panorama has any idea at all about the real scientific issues on which are based policies whose impact will run into trillions of dollars?

    Based on the three videos, atrocious.

  • Comment number 9.

    The consensus highlighted in this article doesn't surprise me.

    I’ve been following the man-made global warming debate for many years, and have found that most folk agree that this whole issue boils down to ‘climate sensitivity’ – the effect that CO2 will have (small or catastrophic) on global temperatures.

    Both sides of the fence agree that CO2 has a warming effect, and both sides largely agree that the radiative effects of a doubling of CO2 levels (from pre-industrial times) will raise the temperature by around 1 degree celcius.

    Depending on how much one believes the surface temperature records (and there’s quite a bit of debate around that – urban heat island effects, opaque ‘adjustments’, theoretical ‘gridding’ extropolations over large areas where there are no thermometers, etc), we’ve already had around a 0.7 degree rise within that overall 1 degree rise. The reason it won’t have a greater impact is that CO2 has a logrithmic temperature effect, which means that eventually the atmosphere becomes saturated and the warming effect of CO2 essentially goes to zero.

    Now to the main area of disagreement...

    All projected temperature rises above this 1 degree are model-based 'positive feedbacks' that will create a runaway effect. These projected positive feedbacks are a theoretical guess, based upon the effects of what modellers believe increased water vapour will have on the atmosphere. No precedent, no evidence, no experiments; merely conjecture.

    NOBODY currently understands the effect that increased water vapour and subsequent cloud creation has (although CERN is due to release the results of their CLOUD research this year, which should throw more light on this issue).

    What we do know is that some clouds add to warming, and others cool. Throw in the effects of particulates and it’s complex as hell. The predictions from the models have not been borne out over the last 15 years where CO2 has continued to rise and warming has been statistically insignificant.

    It’s been warmer before – Vikings raised crops in Greenland and the Romans wandered around the UK in skirts, growing grapes as far north as Hadrian’s Wall. The warming that we’re experiencing now, as we climb out of the little ice age that brought regular London ice festivals on the Thames, is not unprecedented. CO2 has been hundreds of times higher in times past, with no runaway effect.

    Closing down economies on the basis of a misapplied precautionary principle, and returning people to energy-deficient dark ages, on the basis of such shaky science is idealogical western-guilt madness. Someone, somewhere is making large amounts of cash from it.

    For what’s it’s worth, I’m not against the development of alternative energies. We’ll need them at some point and I wholly support more research to turn these nascent and currently ineffecient technologies (subsidy farms) into something more usable. Some predict that we’ll have nuclear fusion sorted within 30 years.

    In the meantime, we have decades (probably more) of oil and gas left and centuries of coal – all of which will be handy producers of CO2 that will feed the foodstocks of our growing population.

    Incidentally, the ‘Hockey Stick’ has been comprehensively dissected and found to be deficient in many areas. Check out ‘The Hockey Stick Illusion’ by A.W. Montford.

  • Comment number 10.

    #8. Richard Drake wrote:

    "How certain are you that the feedback from water vapour and clouds combined is strongly positive?"

    The water vapour in the upper atmosphere has always bothered me in the models.

    Does anyone know is any serious scientific study was undertaken during the recent 'experiment' of grounding Europe's Aircraft (due to the Icelandic volcano)?

    I would be curious to know how the water vapour concentrations varied due to the lack of contrails for the best part of a week?

    The sky was definitely visually clearer (as it was after 9/11 in the USA), but what effect did this have? (And I don't mean what the models say - but what actual effect!)

    And can it be separated from the increase in upper atmospheric sulphur from the volcano?

    Th second issue is about the interchangeability of language (or the juggling with eels effect). Sometimes it is Climate Change and sometimes it is Global Warming - why? Of course climate change suggests that there can be other effects such as the increase in the diversity and distribution of climate, but why are we still talking about 'Global Warming'?

    Thirdly the closed nature of the models worries me, as do some of the (gross?) assumptions. Most of our heat comes from the sun, but the complexity of the workings of our sun are not well understood and only predictable in outline.

    The fourth thing that worries me is the idea that the thermodynamics of warming and cooling are interchangeable. (I am unhappy about the treatment of the entropy of the system.)

    And of course the data we have to go on is really very very poor.

    Returning to the point in #8 - What is the balance of probabilities that CO2 is causal, or the huge increase in air travel? Now that would really put a stop to travelling all round the World to conferences about global warming wouldn't it!!!!

    I still find the solar and planetary dynamics effects the most likely factor to be causal for temperature and climate change. It is to my mind the most logical and rational thing to look at as it is by far the most energetic if we want to understand how our planet's climate changes over time and around the regions of the planet.

    If we want to change our climate and make ourselves cooler we should first block out a proportion of the solar radiation - this will also be less expensive too and more likely to actually happen (c.f. CO2)!!!! (Making parts of the planet warmer by focusing more of our sun's energy might be trickier - but it is not entirely impossible!)

  • Comment number 11.

    There has always been climate change-I live in what was the floor of a glacial lake when the River Moriston was stopped from entering Loch Ness because Loch Ness was full of a big glacier!
    When the gulf stream stops as it will tomorow;next year;next century or next millenia Loch Ness will freeze solid in the winter as will the Thames and glaciers will again form on our mountains.
    Problem is Global warming along with Carbon footprints and renewables have been hijacked by big business.
    Remember that little more than 15 years ago it was "Alternative Technology" etc.
    If an energy company such as Scottish and Southern says its going to build a windfarm here in the nort west Highlands and help prevent global warming it immediately gets all its development costs paid for by the UK and European governments and the landowner who is often an oil rich Arab gets massive tax incentives plus a percentage of the profits.
    There is therefore a very rich and powerful vested interest in encouraging government to accept global warming as being an impending catastrophe.
    There is always climate change and at the moment things are getting hotter but I believe the true science of this has become completely obscured by the demands of those who are making vast profits out of our obsession with this issue.An obsession played upon by these very individuals.
    Phil

  • Comment number 12.

    I used to live under a cubic mile of ice.
    Edinburgh is a bit warmer now though because those wooly mammoths all ran around in V8 gas guzzlers.
    They got what they deserved, those silly mammoths.

    As far as predicting anything is concerned if the met office supercomputer can't even predict a 5 pony race at Kempton then it really aint going to be much use for anything else remotely more complicated.

    The volume of data it crunches is impressive, but the quality of the crunching software and the quality of the data determine the conclusion of its processing.
    Scientists couldn't even predict something as 'simple' as seawaves because we simply do not have the intelligence to program for anything except the totally logical and blatantly obvious.
    So we program for 20 parameters instead of 20,000, and our answer, like our answer for who is going to win the 2.30 at Kempton, tends to be wrong.

    The media milks it for all its worth though, and there's a group of 'believers', especially the young, who have swallowed the kool-aid propaganda which has been pumped out in the manner of a new kooky religion.

    But it aint so easy to fool us oldies.
    After a lifetime of government nonsense you build a natural cynical resistance to the state sponsored 'all knowing politburo machinery' as it trumpets out its' various announcements.

    "Our factories built more than five million tractors this year!!"

    Whatever you say comrades. whatever you say. you're in charge eh? :)

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    It interests me that climate change is mostly attributed to mankind's effect on the planet in terms of its basic chemistry. To clear something up, there is a finite amount of carbon on the planet, and it has a cycle, just as water has a cycle. At any one time, carbon is stored on the planet in the form of: rocks; plants; gases; human beings; animals; liquids; other miscellaneous solids, etc. No amount of human action on the planet is going to increase the available element carbon, unless we physically bring it here from outer space, or it lands in the form of a giant meteorite (I understand those are mostly iron and its crystalline forms anyway, so please don't panic). Human action may speed up the carbon cycle, but it will still go through its own natural process: atmospheric carbon dissolves into the sea, or is respirated by plants, whereupon it enters the rock/soil stage, is metabolised by humans and animals, is respirated by humans and animals back into the atmosphere. That's the natural cycle in a nutshell. Add to that, industrial output, and what you have is a slightly faster running carbon engine, but not a broken one. With the speed at which my garden overgrows every fortnight, nature is keeping up very well.
    No-one seems to have mentioned global warming in terms of physics. While studying, I was given to understand that 'entropy' refers to energy lost by a system or process that is unavailable to 'do work'. (Please correct me if you have the dictionary definition). Entropy basically refers to heat given off or occassionally absorbed in the action of work being done, i.e. movement. For example, when I prune my garden, by moving around I am heating the air around me 'kinetically', by the very action of moving around. When I move a pile of laundry, the same. By being physically active on the planet, every living thing is contributing to warming the environment through physics, release of energy which warms the air/surfaces etc, and (for example) through heat action, causes carbon atoms to move around through the cycle more quickly - regardless of whether your washing-powder is chemically carbon-friendly or not. You only have to go into an empty bar or nightclub and wait until it gets packed with people to notice the difference a lot of people dancing around does to the temperature in a confined space, and this is not because they have all smuggled in vast amounts of 'greenhouse gases'. (If you want to do this experiment, it is worth noting that the approxamate time taken for an empty nightclub to reach capacity in the current financial climate is rather long, or about two to three hours from opening time in Bournemouth on Halloween as a control figure).
    Modern technology allows more people to work and communicate from home, meaning less commuting, less physical output - less 'entropy' if you like, so the technology we are using is in physics terms offset.
    When I was a student, the concept of entropy in relation to global warming seemed to me like a great excuse not to do the housework too often. So in other words, the entropy created by all the physical research being done into global warming, the meetings, the press conferences, the expeditions to the desert and the Antarctic, all the energy expended, is in fact contributing to global warming.
    If you want to cause less warming up of the environment in physics terms rather than chemical ones, the best thing to be doing about it is physically 'NOTHING'.
    This is one of the reasons I am not now a scientist :)

  • Comment number 15.

    "Over recent years, opinions about global warming have become increasingly polarised."

    An opinion on an opinion on an opinion..... is it not, Mr Rudin?

    How many variables does it take to change climate? How long must a cycle be to be understood by science. When does a theory hold enough weight to be a prime candidate as accurate and significant? How little do we know of the Earth's eccentricities as it wobbles its way through space?

    Is the debate on anthropogenic climate change just another motion by scientists desperate to claim the high altar of worship?

    Yes I can see another conspiracy theory coming on Mr Rudin. And what a man to crack it huh?

  • Comment number 16.

    Climate change - er, isn't that what climates DO? And have done ever since the planet actually had a climate.

    There's no question that we need to be looking at more sustainable and environmentally friendly ways of living... but the 'eco-warriors' with shrill demands that ordinary people (who are not quite so passionate about being 'green') should adopt time-consuming and expensive practices that degrade their standard of living have done a considerable dis-service to the whole concept of living in greater harmony with nature. The tendency of governments to use it as an excuse for levying fraudulent 'green' taxes - which are not used for anything environmental - makes the situation worse. No wonder most people have little time for 'climate change' science and lump it all in with the opportunists whose main interest is in extorting money from them.

    By all means look for affordable, easy and sustainable ways to improve the way in which we use natural resources and eliminate pollution. But those who are keen on 'saving the planet' have the responsibility to take the lead in finding those ways - or they will prove that they are more interested in what they can make out of it than in the good of the planet.

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting to note all the commenters here that are obviously funded by 'Big Oil'.

    Sarc off/

    Following up on my earlier comment/scientific position against global warming alarmism, I thought I'd share another view that, to me anyhow, explains quite a bit.

    Organised religion is on it's knees in the UK, as people are seeing such corrupt and hypocritical power structures for what they really are.

    That being said, I firmly agree with social commentator and cartoonist Hugh Mcleod when he states 'The market for something to believe in is infinite'.

    Which leads me directly to a perspective shared by the late Michael Crichton...

    'Environmentalism is religion for urban atheists'.

    The crying shame of course is that such AGW religious fervour is drowning all other real environmental issues out.

    And I find it genuinely baffling that people accuse me of being a 'Big Oil' shill, whilst they can't see the rising centralising power of 'Big Carbon'. They seem to be oblivious to the eyebrow-rasing facts that carbon-trading was invented by Enron and is administered by the likes of Goldman Sachs.

    But that's religion for you I guess.

  • Comment number 18.

    "But I was surprised to find how much agreement there is on the fundamental science."

    I think that this would surprise quite a few people and really should be investigated further.

    The major difference between the two sides in this debate is not how much direct warming effect CO2 has (they agree, it is relatively small about 0.6 degrees this century) but the quantitive amount of consequential radiative forcing caused by increase CO2. Warmists say this feedback in the system is large, sceptics say this is small or possibly negative.

    I personally believe that whatever the science, and there is so much we do not know, the warmists substantially overstate this subsequent forcing since this would make earth's temperature very unstable, remember it is not just CO2 that cause temp changes.

    One likely possibility for damping down this forcing is cloud cover, it is said that just 2% increase in cloud cover would negate any changes due to CO2 and H2O has a much much larger "greenhouse" effect that CO2.

  • Comment number 19.

    The usual dishonest hatchet job by the BBC,
    in which the journalist misrepresents the skeptic position and then allows the climate scientist to shoot down the straw man.

    In the hockey graph, you don't say that the first part of the graph comes from tree rings, whereas the last part is measured temperatures.
    So the BBC is misleading its viewers.
    The mismatch between the two, which was smoothed out, was the key point of the infamous 'trick' to 'hide the decline'.

    You say 'critics claim the graph exaggerates the scale of recent warming'.
    No, critics say the graph downplays past variation of temperatures.
    Do you really not know this?

    Why didn't you interview Andrew Montford, who wrote an excellent book about the hockey stick illusion?
    Answer: because that wouldn't give the answer you wanted.

  • Comment number 20.

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

  • Comment number 21.

    Ah, the old Climate Change chestnut, again?

    Yes, the BBC, as a publically-funded institution, has a duty to represent both sides of a political argument - not just the one supported by facts!

    Remember, kiddies - if those pesky facts won't line up behind your deeply-held beliefs, it's not because you're wrong! Noooo... heavens forbid! It's clearly because the "facts" in question have all been made up as part of an evil "Lefty" global conspiracy!

    And if the media don't agree... they're obviously all biased too! Otherwise, they'd clearly be giving equal time and coverage to obviously-biased anti-GW climate-change sceptics (often with little or no background in climate science... or even any science) as they do to respected international scientific institutions, inter-governmental advisory panels and well-known experts in the field of climatology.

    On a more serious note; well done, BBC, for refusing to bow to political pressure from the sceptics. Whether they want to admit it or not, they simply don't have the weight-of-argument behind them that the Climate Change scientists do.

    There's no Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Scepticism. World leaders never travel half-way across the globe to discuss how the climate isn't changing. I don't recall any official, independent investigation - such as the inquiries mentioned in the blog - ever coming to the conclusion that any of the science so far is unsound, or that any of the data has genuinely been falsified.

    Hence; Climate Change Scepticism, whilst an interesting phenomenon, ought not to be given the same weight - or even anything close to the same weight - as Climate Change Science, on the BBC.

    Or anywhere else for that matter.

  • Comment number 22.

    Lisa (@14) says: "No amount of human action on the planet is going to increase the available element carbon, unless we physically bring it here from outer space, or it lands in the form of a giant meteorite (I understand those are mostly iron and its crystalline forms anyway, so please don't panic)."
    ........
    OK, so no panic then ....... and when the impact of this giant meteorite reaches us? Can I panic then?

  • Comment number 23.

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

  • Comment number 24.

    "Interesting to note all the commentators here that are obviously funded by 'Big Oil'."

    lol

    The article has been here for quite a few days and hasn't even hit 25 replies.

    Any paid posters for or against the issue must be away on holiday to enjoy the golf tennis and world cup footy for a week or two.

    Which on the thread evidence before us means that there's only a few nutters left in here to comment, myself included.

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    It doesn't take much Government propaganda (helped by the BBC) to convince a lot of the rightious middle classes that they need to do something. If you can add the slick PR of big business so much the better. Believe me people would be rushing out to B & Q to buy the latest designer portaloo if the Government backed up by well funded scientists claimed outside toilets would make our children healthier and help save the planet at the same time.

  • Comment number 27.

    Where were the "I don't know" and "nobody is really sure" sections on your simplistic Wall of science?

    Professor John was right to point out that the "BBC Wall" did not have a "don't know" section. For all the certainty postulated by various professionals on all sides (including the BBC), our knowledge on this subject is actually quite limited with many guesses and assumptions presented as facts.

    Willis Eschenbach in one of his posts on Antony Watts site included an interesting pie chart which illustrates why there is so much room for ongoing debate in climate science as the much vaunted "settled science" changes with more new discoveries.

    The three sections are
    "What we know" - approx 8%, "what we know we don't know" - approx 2% and by far the largest section entitled What we "don't know we don't know about climate" for the remaining 90%

    Link to Graphic:
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/current_state_climate_knowledge.jpg

    Full Article link, although it is the pie chart that is important here.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/05/08/climate-actually-changes-film-at-1100/

    How many of those who support the mankind induced CO2 warming gave anything other than certainty/near certainty answers? and how many of these "scientists" have made assumptions in arriving at their conclusion.

  • Comment number 28.

    7. At 8:49pm on 24 Jun 2010, Nathan Wong

    You are missing my point Nathan...

    Whether or not there is some increase in temperature is not an issue for me. The issue is the way 'gobal warming' is being used to justify other agendas - tax, dodgy eco-products, crazy spending on enviro-research, attempts to return us to the dark ages.

    I acknowledge the clear need to move away from fossil fuel.

    Example: If someone wants to offer the consumer non-fossil fuel for our cars we are ready to buy it - continue our way of life, fuel it differently. If you want us to continue paying 400% tax on our petrol or stop having cars then we resist.

    People are rejecting the dodgy dossiers which hype up the issue as an excuse for other things.

    Lets be clear - if you accept all the 'global warming' hype without question then you are the one in the (small) minority.

  • Comment number 29.

    @GeoffWard (#22) - if the giant meteorite comes, the resulting dust cloud will most likely trigger an extension of winter due to insulation of the Earth from the sun, so for the remainder of the population, they'll still have to wait around a bit longer for the global warming catastrophe.

    As with recurring ice ages, populations have been shown to go through 'bottlenecks' as demonstrated with mitochondrial DNA research, but those of course contain a lot of other factors, including disease, plagues, volcanic/earthquake activity, and the travel exploits of Genghis Khan :) Are we panicking yet? :)

  • Comment number 30.

    "There is genuine uncertainty and disagreement about the exact scale and speed of human-induced global warming and crucially what we should do about it. But I was surprised to find how much agreement there is on the fundamental science."

    In the scientific community, I would say that over 95% of the tens of thousands of scientists involved in climate science have accepted the existence of man-made climate change for well over a decade. The problem has been that well-entrenched interests have been given a platform to dispute the scientists' conclusions without actually having to produce either any evidence or a theory which explains all of the data.

    So we've had a series of "niggly debunkings" that didn't stand up - eg
    "The satellite data doesn't show warming, climate change doesn't exist"
    So the scientists go away, look at the data, discover why it didn't show warming (it needed correcting for decay in the satellite orbit), and discover that actually it did show warming. But in the meantime the "debunkers" put satellites on their list of trophies, never acknowledge that the correction was valid, and move on to the next niggle.

    This strategy has been very successful - it's delayed real engagement with mitigating the problem by 10-15 years, and may actually have committed all of us to the definitive experiment, where the carbon dioxide builds up to the point where severe climate change is inevitable.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just a quick addendum on uncertainty. If I drank five times the legal limit and then set out to drive home, there is no absolute certainty that I would kill someone during the journey. But I think most people would not want to take the risk of letting me, based on the evidence of what happens when drunks drive. The problem with climate change is that we can't wait until we've seen the accident - we've only got one atmosphere.

  • Comment number 32.

    @14 (Lisa): "No amount of human action on the planet is going to increase the available element carbon, unless we physically bring it here from outer space, or it lands in the form of a giant meteorite"

    Or, and this might sound like a CRAZY idea, digging up huge (and I mean huge) quantities of it from caches underground.
    True, we're not creating more carbon, but we are reintroducing massive amounts of it to the atmosphere.

    I'm not saying I know the impact, I'm just pointing out that we are having an affect on the carbon lifecycle.

  • Comment number 33.

    To my mind, it's pretty obvious that people's activities are (or at least should be) causing some climate change. The issue, as some people have said is - how much is that change, and does it matter?

    The Earth has certainly been far warmer than it is now, and relatively recently - people were growing wheat in the Shetland isles a couple of thousand years ago for instance. As far as we know the sea levels haven't dropped dramatically over that same period as things cooled, so why should sea levels rise dramatically if things warm up again?

    Personally, I think we need to be looking at alternate fuels and materials urgently - not because of climate change, but because of Peak Oil. I suspect that a shortage of oil will cut back on CO2 emissions long before they become a serious issue.

    However, most people nowadays could not imagine a world without oil, and the thought is scary, because we rely on it so much. Whether there's a few years before Peak Oil, or a century - it's coming...

  • Comment number 34.

    30. At 1:56pm on 25 Jun 2010, dinosaur wrote:

    ‘Over 95% of the tens of thousands of scientists involved in climate science have accepted the existence of man-made climate change for well over a decade’

    This is correct and the reason is that over the last decade governments have spent billions on research to support the theory of dangerous climate change caused by man. IF they stop supporting the theory they stop getting funded.

    The theory is almost certainly wrong and a distraction of money and effort from environmental problems that exist and could be overcome now.

  • Comment number 35.

    Sometimes I walk the dog in Norsey Woods Billericay. During the winter there are a couple of places where you can look across the Thames to Kent.
    Walking there 20,000 years ago I would have been on the border of a retreating glacier looking down at a nacent river born from the meltwater and flowing into the atlantic past Scotland.
    10,000 years ago I might have been looking at the estuary of a newly separated Britain as a ice dam in Canada broke and raised sea level hundreds of feet

    So try to tell me that global warming isn't natural!

    On the other hand we are unlocking hydro carbons at a enormous rate.

    Even allowing for the fact that much of the production is being locked up in plastics and ferilisers this has to be addressed.
    Crude is a finite commodity because we cannot find ourselves in a situation where there shortages and we cannot grow food or transport to places it is needed. And we have had two warnings now The price spike some three years ago and now BP getting out of its depth (sic) and causing too much damage

  • Comment number 36.

    An unbalanced program from Panorama. They've spent a long time choosing some questions that show the alarmist position in a good light.

    Why not ask some different questions like:

    Q) Which climate predictions have ever come true?

  • Comment number 37.

    @32 (Ian Yates): I agree.

    This is an illustration of 'industrial output' as I referred to in #14. The carbon extracted for industrial purposes then passes through man-made processes/systems before reaching the atmosphere. So the physical extraction of carbon adds volume to the cycle. (Full load instead of half load - still looking at the laundry pile here). We also ingest carbon and metabolise it as part of our daily life (Atkins Diet followers please feel free to dispute your share of responsibility, although the entropy created by your gym workouts would inversely offset this). The carbon cycle is not about to be switched off.

    As part of the carbon cycle, the atmosphere is a natural transitory state for carbon transfer. The respiratory systems of life on Earth dictate this - or in fact are dictated BY this - and to some added extent include dissolution, evaporation, and weathering.

  • Comment number 38.

    "I was surprised to find how much agreement there is on the fundamental science"

    Then, clearly, you haven't asked the right people!

    As for Lord Oxburgh's 'independent enquiry', you should know that it was anything but, with the questions having been set by the university he was supposed to be investigating. Perhaps you should try some investigating next time?

  • Comment number 39.

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  • Comment number 40.

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  • Comment number 41.

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  • Comment number 42.

    From my reading of the CRU emails it is clear that the players set out, in a way that seems clearly conspiratorial, to pervert the peer-review process, and were at least partly successful in doing so. This is the most egregious aspect of their conduct, since by instituting a process of "cheer-review", they were able persistently and wilfully to neglect the null hypothesis, and consequently were not led/forced to consider rival hypotheses to those that suited their preferred narrative - the "conviction" of CO2.

    As to the methods used by the scientists, for a condign appraisal it's worth reading Prof Kelly (of the Oxburgh committee), released to Bishop Hill under FOIA and linked below.

    He has much to say, including

    "(i) I take real exception to having simulation runs described as experiments (without at least the qualification of 'computer' experiments). It does a disservice to centuries of real experimentation and allows simulations output to be considered as real data. This last is a very serious matter, as it can lead to the idea that real 'real data' might be wrong simply because it disagrees with the models! That is turning centuries of science on its head."

    He concludes with:

    "My overall sympathy is with Ernest Rutherford: "If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.""

    I leave it to readers to reconcile the form of the Oxburgh Report with the markedly different tenor of Kelly's contribution to it as best they can.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 43.

    The problem is, if a report in favour of global warming is what brings home the bacon then that's what they'll crank out.
    There's a real USSR type government culture surrounding things like this climate change gravy train.
    Despite all the articles I've seen in the mainstream media I've yet to seen one which tells the reader that CO2 is a minute trace gas of around 0.035%(0.00035), which in laymans terms is one third, of one tenth, of one penny.
    So "massive increases" in statistical terms are going to be a real doddle to publicise and propagandaise with our media drama queens all screaming "WE'RE DOOOMED!" (like with that bird-flu farce).

    Meanwhile governments happily continue to help industry to destroy nearly every living creature on the planet, fishing grounds around europe for example have become complete and utter disaster zones.
    It's a funny old world so it is.

  • Comment number 44.

    The problem with science is that it does love its theories. They more often than not have gaping holes but the general principle is still stuck to like glue. Without wishing to pour any water on Charles Darwin because he made remarkable discoveries, but it is not just the "missing link" that needed explanation as he would have been the first to admit. Likewise with climate change.

    Nature is much too clever for us. Her empires contain no end of complexities that are far beyond human capability to replicate or recreate. We are on a voyage of discovery for a very brief period of time (even in real terms) and yet we are hell bent on destruction, expediency, power, control and luxury. We fail to see nature's simple messages for what they are, not what we may think they may mean.

    Science is on its own journey, seeking to destroy religion and perhaps be the replacement idol humans will love to worship. Anything that spells doom for mankind is a prime candidate for scientific "tales of mystery and imagination". Normally this would be on the fiction shelf, maybe in sci-fi, but certainly not in the section called "fact". Just like religion it is the "doom" from which we must save ourselves.

    The parallels are odious and conspicuous, and yet the BBC in honour of its favoured atheist artistes, swallows it hook, line and sinker. Mention a professor and the BBC immediately raid their Discovery videos. Had the BBC been around five hundred years ago, it would have been the mention of a cardinal that would have stirred it into action.

    Climate change, the New God, placing us all in the safe hands of science to control the order of worship. Them scientists been fishing forever for this moment, bait's in the water, are you so young and so stupid that you cannot see it is a trap? The BBC is already on the bank, breathing its last breath. Do you really want to be next?

  • Comment number 45.

    The water situation has nothing to do with "global warming". Go back and see that we have had warmer summers and colder winters (steam trains through winter snow, skating on the Thames etc.) but planning departments are allowing building on flood plains, which should soak up water and release it when it gets dry. Stop building on flood plains and maintain the status quo - clear the flood plains and let them do their work and you will have no more trouble!!

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    #34 'Over 95% of the tens of thousands of scientists involved in climate science have accepted the existence of man-made climate change for well over a decade’

    "This is correct and the reason is that over the last decade governments have spent billions on research to support the theory of dangerous climate change caused by man. IF they stop supporting the theory they stop getting funded.

    The theory is almost certainly wrong and a distraction of money and effort from environmental problems that exist and could be overcome now."

    Sorry Roger - here's my problem. I've spent most of my life on various forms of scientific research (not climate change), often on problems where the funders had an axe to grind (eg BSE). I haven't met any of these scientists who tell the funders what they want to hear. So I don't find it convincing that an entire disclipline (tens of thousands of individuals)could consist of people willing to do so.

    Perhaps you could answer this question for me -
    What evidence would persuade you to change your opinion?

  • Comment number 48.

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  • Comment number 49.

    @35 Steve-r, of course global warming (and global cooling) is natural, has been happening for millennia, and will continue. But you're confusing the term 'global warming' with 'man-made global warming,' just as others confuse 'climate' with 'weather.' We are having an impact on the environment, and scientists on 'both sides' agree, as Mike Rudin so clearly illustrates.
    Our full impact has yet to be determined: we have moved the goalposts, but we're still playing the game as though we haven't. You think we can win?
    @43 ady, yes, CO2 is a trace gas. I hope you won't mind me correcting you: the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is currently about 390 parts per million (ppm), and rising at about 2ppm every year; a continuing increase that is acknowledged as being due to humanity's activities (such as burning fossil fuels and destroying forests wholescale). The value of 350, by the way, is considered by some to be the upper safe limit; a limit we passed some years ago.
    But the fact that CO2 is a trace gas is irrelevant. If there were absolutely no carbon dioxide in our atmosphere at all, if it were possible take out what, to you, is a tiny, inconsequential thing, our home planet would be an ice world.
    To my mind, herein lies the real problem we all face. Too much reliance on 'common sense' (which is, in my experience, an oxymoron). The result is an inability to set unpopular policies that might address the problems.

  • Comment number 50.

    @ franksw, post #27;

    "For all the certainty postulated by various professionals on all sides (including the BBC), our knowledge on this subject is actually quite limited with many guesses and assumptions presented as facts."

    Quite true; but also, if you'll forgive me, something of a misnomer. It would probably be fair to say that a large part of all scientific "fact" is based upon guesses and assumptions. Believe it or not; scientists very rarely jump out of bed in the morning suddenly realising they know, as if by magic, the properties of certain types of particles or the movements of interplanetary bodies through space. They start with a guess or an assumption, based upon what they know through observation, develop a theory around that and then do whatever tests are necessary to prove or disprove that assumption.

    Consider what we know about the solar system, and the planets within it; you surely don't think somebody actually flew out to Jupiter with a tape-measure and a really big set of scales, in order to find out how large it is and what mass it has? Of course not; as mankind started to discover that there were other planets out there, scientists made educated guesses about them and then used scientific method to prove those guesses.

    Stephen Hawking, in Brief History of Time said something like (and I'm paraphrasing, here, I don't have a copy to hand); science - particularly advanced science, research into things such as gravity and energy that we can't physically perceive or measure directly but we can perceive and measure the effects of - bears many similarities to religion. In the sense that, a lot of the time, you've "believing" in things that you can't quantify or qualify, but you know must exist in order to explain the presence of other factors that you can qualify and quantify.

    The core difference, says Hawking, between science and religion is that for scientific theories to become widely accepted as "facts" requires that the theory in question can be used to predict future events. If you can use a theory to reliably say where Venus will appear at any one given time, for instance, its fairly safe to say that your "theory" of its orbital path is actually a "fact" for all intents and purposes - even though it is, when you get right down to it, still only a "guess" about something you can't possibly "know" for certain.

    The problem with using this methodology in the context of Climate Science, of course, is that there are so many millions upon billions of different variables which can affect the outcome of any one prediction, and it's simply not possible to take them all into account when developing these theories. (As you rightly say, there's a small chunk of stuff we "know" about the climate, an even smaller chunk that we don't know, and a whopping great amount that we don't know and don't even realise that we don't know it, yet!)

    Postulating the orbits of the planets in the Solar System is a doddle by comparison, then; there are so many fewer variables to take into account when dealing with objects up in space because, when you get right down to it, there isn't very much of anything in space. (Hence why we call it "space", I guess!) You're pretty much just dealing with the planet itself, and the emptiness its travelling through.

    Even then, scientific "fact" can get it wrong. Pluto, again, makes a fine example of this; its orbit was an undeniable "fact" for years, astronomers and other scientists were using the theory of it to predict where Pluto would appear in the sky at any one time with perfect accuracy. Until somebody happened to try it at one particular point in Pluto's orbit, and found that, for a period that represented only a tiny fraction of its complete orbit, Pluto wasn't where the theory said it should be.

    Does this mean that the original theory was "wrong", then? Despite all the thousands and thousands of times it had been correctly used to map Pluto's orbit? No, it simply meant that there was another factor previously unknown or "un-guessed", as it were, that needed to be taken into account. (I believe the current, widely-accepted theory is that there is another planet in the solar system, hugely heavy in mass but so small, comparatively, that we can't properly see it from here - and that this planet's orbit intersects with Pluto only very rarely, causing Pluto's orbit to "wobble" as it encounters the other planet's gravitational force). The "facts" we knew about Pluto weren't wrong, as such... there merely weren't complete.

    But so too it is with the Climate Change theories. Yes, there is plenty of room for debate around the existing theories, and re-analysis of the data we so far have. Yes the results of some of the experiments do seem a little ambiguous, and quite often, other data emerges which seems to contradict what we thought we knew.

    That doesn't mean, though, that when you find some data that shows temperatures have been falling in some areas for a few years, that this is "proof" that the whole Global Warming theory is nonsense. The polar ice caps often seem to be re-freezing, not melting, often at an alarming rate; that doesn't change the fact that they have been melting, quicker than we would expect, for some time.

    Those who point out the discrepancies - often using these to jeer at the whole subject of Global Warming or Climate Change in general - usually focus on those discrepancies but fail to offer any explanation for the rest of the data (other than to make vague, random bleatings about "bias" and how all the scientists who came up with the various theories we have are only doing so in order to keep their government funding).

    My apologies for being a little long-winded, here; all I'm really trying to say is that the amount of "guesses" and "assumptions" in this field don't, as you seemed to be suggesting, make the scientific "facts" we've learned from them any less valid. Or at least, if it does then most science must be "invalid" - including that which permeates our everyday lives and which most sane people wouldn't dream of questioning - for exactly the same reason.

    And that just because some of these theories don't turn out to be 100% accurate, every time, does not necessarily mean that the whole theory is completely wrong - much less that whoever invented it was "making it up to get money". It just means that we need further investigation into the unknown factors to find out why theories which seem completely accurate in most respects suddenly seem to fall down in certain circumstances.

    To this end; having loony-tunes political hacks accusing perfectly honest and respectable scientists of falsifying their figures, or accusing the BBC of "bias" because it won't take broadcast their own obviously-biased, unresearched talking-points as "facts" in the same way that they do tested, established scientific theory... well, it really isn't helping find out what's actually going on.

    If we could just shut up all the people trying to derail the debate for their own agendas by saying things, effectively, like "Hey, its pretty chilly outside today, that proves there's no Global Warming, and if scientific opinion says different that just proves that the scientists are all biased and only out for their meal-tickets, 'cos if GW really existed it couldn't possibly be cold outside"... then we might actually make some progress with our understanding of what's causing the changes in our climate.

  • Comment number 51.

    I know this will sound quaint and silly, but it's worth a chuckle.

    Maybe it's the wrath of God.

    Obviously any number of deeply religious muslims, Christians, and etc. will take in all the conflicted and uncertain explanations, and will point out that it doesn't matter if one is sincere in their Faith or merely defers to the supernatural when science and Natural philosophy aren't up to the task of explaining complex systems of Natural phenomena, like weather (which is about as "complex" or "chaotic" a dynamic system as one can get).... The observable fact is that something beyond most human understanding is occurring, and the results seem to be of a category reserved for biblical tales of wrath and destruction.

    Or maybe (heck, might as well shill for Disney while Prince Hal shills for Ralph Lauren) there's a Weather witch or Sorcerer underfoot, who's clownish apprentice has meddled with the Masters Things whilst the Master was away? Where is that Travis guy, anyway, and WHY DID it ALWAYS RAIN ON HIM? LOL.

    Or maybe the Earth revolves around the Sun, and due to our yawning ignorance of Solar Weather and other Solar cycles which occur on such a large timescale none of those scientists who understand the current, yet to peak, solar process and how it has and will alter the Earths weather.... are willing to go public with hypothesis for concern that modern humanity is so self obsessed and shallow it cannot accept it is utterly and completely powerless to do anything to alter or halt this dire solar event from happening (anything, that is, save try to survive the event and the aftermath.

    But heck, what do I know.

    Best.

  • Comment number 52.

    --To this end; having loony-tunes political hacks accusing perfectly honest and respectable scientists of falsifying their figures, or accusing the BBC of "bias" because it won't take broadcast their own obviously-biased, unresearched talking-points as "facts" in the same way that they do tested, established scientific theory... well, it really isn't helping find out what's actually going on.--

    I've got more interesting hobbies to pursue but here goes:

    The five-a-day program was never based on anything more than what my granny would know.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8605270.stm

    The safe booze limit was never based on anything more than what my granny would know.
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/food_and_drink/article2697975.ece

    But I bet all the advocates of these programs were pulling down a hundred grand a year each sitting on high powered quangos with more letters at the end of their names than Emperor Haile Selassie.

    It's not unlike the USSR.
    A ten year government policy gets the go-ahead then the quango rubber stamps it, takes the government cash handouts and tells us all, in the style of moses that it's been written on a stone tablet from god, honest guv, you can trust me, I'm a scientist y'know like.

    I have some essential(compulsory?) reading the scientific community might want to acquaint itself with ASAP.

    There's one story about a boy who cried wolf.
    There's another one about an emperors clothes.

  • Comment number 53.

    A quote confirming #49 (rniloc) from Julie Lloyd's 'Weather - Forces Of Nature That Shape Our World' sub-heading 'The Natural Greenhouse Effect':

    "

  • Comment number 54.

    #50 Khrystalar

    Having spent time designing and coding ephemeris style computer programmes a while ago, it is interesting to note that the original "terms" used for Pluto's (and indeed for planets from Jupiter outward) eccentricities were teased out of known data for planets with wobbly orbits closer to home. We still have very little "proof" of our guesses, although for our lifetimes at least, we seem to have arrived at reasonably good data. Mars, a planet of high interest, also has a truly eccentric orbit and understanding it is essential for accurate space flight. And so our ephemera are based on our knowledge of Mars and our best guesses further from home thus far. But that is just our own "planetary system" as seen from Earth. It is not the Earth as seen from the Sun for example.

    So your piece ends up suggesting that because we can forecast the weather IN CERTAIN AREAS with a high degree of accuracy (say better than 99%) then we know enough to forecast the weather anywhere on our planet, and you know the incompleteness of and defectiveness in that statement.

    Climate change is a certainty because it has been there all along. Anthropogenic climate change is a theory with not, as yet, one shred of convincing evidence one way or the other or any stations in between. And the hockey stick proves very little other than to suggest that even scientists have their hobby horses.

    I am concerned with the 'why' of that last revelation.

  • Comment number 55.

    A quote confirming #49 (rniloc) from Julie Lloyd's 'Weather - Forces Of Nature That Shape Our World' sub-heading 'The Natural Greenhouse Effect':

    "The main 'greenhouse' gases are water vapour, methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide, with a significant contribution made by ozone and chlorofluorocarbons. As a result of these processes in the atmosphere the Earth's average surface temperature is kept at about 15 degrees C/59 degrees F. Without them the temperature would be closer to -18 degrees C/0 degrees F, far too low to support life. The atmosphere keeps the Earth warm in a way which is similar, but not identical, to the way a greenhouse keeps plants warm."

    Whatever is 'creating' atmospheric fluctuations or changes in 'predicted' temperatures/climate, as others have said, we don't have all of the facts (people are still blaming chemistry or the media and politics, without including physics or indeed biology - I'm still waiting for the Entropy Police to join the debate!) - and have to concur that other unknown factors are involved - as in 'wobbles' of distant planetary orbits such as Pluto.

    I did attempt the nightclub temperature experiment again on Friday night, not sure how my scientific boiler-suit was interpreted, and when canvassing for opinion found the public response was 66% "What can I get you to drink?"; 31% "I love you, you're my best friend!"; and 3% "You have to help me, I don't understand women!" :)

    It's good to know that a small unrepresented percentage of us care about the pursuit of truth and science :)

  • Comment number 56.

    ...As you may have noticed in #53, my keyboard also has an eccentric wobble... :)

  • Comment number 57.

    There is no question that those emails undermined the integrity of the pro-AGW case, although of course it did not necessarily undermine the case for AGW itself. People are entitled to ask, if scientists are so confident they are right, why ridicule opponents and attempt to exclude those who held a contrary view from expressing it? It is also clear that some aspects of AGW have been overstated and based on flawed science and forecasting - the rapidly disappearing glaciers that aren't, for example.

    There is also the problem of the huge sums of money available in grants to scientists, and the temptation to conform to the scientific establishment view - overwhelmingly pro-AGW - in order to benefit.

    One does not need to read the more extreme green polemicists' blogs for and against AGW without being confused and irritated by the infantile name-calling and disinformation campaigns being conducted on both sides of the argument. The BBC has an important role to play here in uncovering the truth. When in doubt, subject the establishment to the most rigorous scrutiny and challenge them to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt, especially when the expenditure of huge sums of taxpayers' money rests on the result.

  • Comment number 58.

    This is one subject which will always be on our minds. When the Romans were here, they exported top quality wine. (That is fact). When the Normans came & started their census less than six hundred years later, it took them twenty years to complete it, as they had to construct boats in order the reach much of England, everywhere west of their HQ' in Colchester. Thats why the census (dooms-day book) is in two volumes. (That is another fact). Lets get this issue into perspective. Next we have the mini ice age, which finished off the French Royal Family & reduced Aberdeen to a population of ninety. (More fact). What the climate scientists are not so good at judging, is atmospheric switch mechanisms. The same applies to ocean currents. What we may find is that as fast we are trying to patch the atmospheric bucket, switch mechanisms may have re-directed the characteristics elsewhere. I have only been alive for sixty odd years, during which time I have witnessed heat waves, floods, gales, freeze ups, wet summers, dry summers, early springs, late springs & so on. Wait a minute though, we do have a resposibility for what we throw out, whether from chimneys, or outflow pipes, and we can see some of what we are doing. Thank goodness the nineteen fifties fogs & smogs have gone. Lots of our inland waterways & rivers are the best they have been for centuries. Lets get this into perspective. If I am not use to UK weather by now, I never will be. Two of my relatives were part of the East Coast event of the early fifties. As a child I remember a journey to the west country being halted when a principle road bridge was washed away. I was amused a few years ago when in read in the 'Astonomy' mag' that the planet Mars was also experiencing a warming effect. Our neighbours living on Mars, will have to stop using their 'gas guzzling' four by fours. As they would say in the 'Night Garden', "What a pip".

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    I am a bit of a film buff and the name Rudin comes up quite a lot in credits. Some of the films are worthy of note, material woven into a story that involves, primes the imagination, stokes the senses, and leaves one wanting to say "well done" at the end. There is so much a good writer can do with the human condition, the arrogance of some, the subtle humility of others, the strange paths we take whilst thinking 'A' when all along we were looking for 'B', and the many rites of passage we must tread.

    So I dug for a little more on the BBC about 'Rudin'. I find he made a series of programmes on 9/11 and 7/7, all similar to the work of his namesake in that they take human reality and create a story around an idea. Of course in the BBC Mr Rudin's case the events and players are real.

    But the BBC's Mr Rudin does not leave a pleasant taste in your mouth at the end. You see, just as all 'good' trailers hype beyond reason, Mr Rudin's films have no sense of the scale of human chaos and confusion, as he goes out of his way to suggest that everything is ordered, indexed, catalogued, and checked countless times. His films lack courage, they show no bravery, they lack the will to challenge authority at any serious depth.

    So, if I am reduced to suggesting that the BBC's Mr Rudin is an obsequious follower of protocol, you may understand why he will never challenge his namesake in getting to the heart of a problem. So let me please ask him one question - Given a completely free hand and with unlimited budget what film would you most like to create?

  • Comment number 61.

    I think some people are getting bogged down in semantics. Of course human activity has had an impact on the atmosphere over time. Yes CO2 release is contributing to some of that change. That being said, it is wholly unclear which actions cause what reactions in a global perspective!

    I believe the discussion needs to switch onto a track where we discuss what we can EFFECTIVELY do in a short while (biggest bang for the bucks) ala Lomborg! If you look at the theory of Energy Return on Investment, it looks absolutely certain that we no longer have the net surplus of energy we once had and the oil is running out or getting too expensive to extract. So the ratios of the 18th century of 50:1 net energy surplus, cannot be found in the developed world any more! Some suggest that we are at perhaps 3:1 currently and plunging towards 1:1 rapidly. Please see here: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Energy_return_on_investment_%28EROI%29

    At below 1:1 everything stops as we are using more energy to produce energy to spend. This will have an immediate impact globally, politically, economically and socially.

    So lets discuss what can be done to reverse the drop in net energy available. I would like to hear the scientists view on this, especially Bjorn Lomborg! Is this a viable track to look at? Do you agree with EROI and it's major premise?

  • Comment number 62.

    Global warming?
    Bring it on, we have had a great few weeks of sunshine and if this is at the expense of a few parts of the world having a rising sea levels...then so what.
    We have had a proper winter, freezing and lots of snow, and now a proper summer, very hot and sunny.

    Its time we started thinking about our country only.

  • Comment number 63.

    Panorama article that intriguingly is swinging towards the simple facts, albeit grudgingly where the sceptics are concerned.

    The CO2 content is still given in parts per million, which the vast majority of people don't have a clue about.(0.000379)
    If the planet gets warmer bad weather events like hurricanes will get worse, not exactly rocket science...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_8758000/8758352.stm

    The trace gas CO2 has gone up.
    If the world gets warmer the weather will change.

    The scepticism concerns the level of spin attached to these things and our drama queen medias personal interpretations.

    As a previous poster mentions, interpretations by
    "loony-tunes political hacks"
    won't help anyone, and simply clouds the issue.

  • Comment number 64.

    A BBC article penned by John Christy which sums it all up better than us muppets ever could.

    The title is a bit feisty though.
    "No consensus on IPCC's level of ignorance"

    I would have said:

    "We can state with 100% confidence that we really don't have a clue what's going to happen"

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7081331.stm

  • Comment number 65.

    To some, it's a massive conspiracy to con the public.

    Unsure if equating editorial decisions made in complement with more official pronouncements counts as 'off topic' given the above first line, which seems ironically prescient given the modding policy to erase dissent, backed by a threat of permanent banning if pesky questions keep getting asked and/or 'inconvenient' points get made.

    At this rate, a simple con seems the least of our problems in a democracy that celebrates free speech.

  • Comment number 66.

    #62: "Global warming?
    Bring it on, we have had a great few weeks of sunshine and if this is at the expense of a few parts of the world having a rising sea levels...then so what.
    We have had a proper winter, freezing and lots of snow, and now a proper summer, very hot and sunny."

    Sorry, Jon - there's no guarantee that the UK would get a nice gentle transition to a nice mediterranean climate. UK's current climate is mostly the result of sitting at the end of an ocean current that pumps warm water across the Atlantic from the caribbean to here. If that stopped (or changed direction a few degrees) then for our latitude the default climate is a lot less pleasant - think Leningrad.

    As a country which is a net importer of food (I think about 40% of what we eat), I don't think we can isolate ourselves if there's large scale disruption of global agriculture either, so that isn't a prospect we should be too relaxed about.

    And there's the small matter of oil refineries - these tend to be built on low lying coastal ground (convenient for delivering the oil by ship). The sort of place that would be first to get flooded if sea levels rise.

  • Comment number 67.

    So where are the geologists in your line up ?

    Lomborg is an economist - so really his only contribution can be to where's the best place to spend your money given uncertainty.

    You seem to have a strong editorial line in your article that established the New consensus as follows:

    1) Some facts undeniable - CO2 is a green house gas ( but omitting all the other gases - especially water ! ).
    2) The argument is over how bad it will be - not over the science or applied science that makes the predictions. There are people making very plausible arguments that its cooling we need to really fear, and the Sun's behaviour is making that a possibility that needs consideration.

    By the way the controversies of climate change have been wider than you report. It wasn't just the emails that were leaked - but the code also. Why no comment on it ? Also there have been clear proven cases of exaggeration and straight deception in the warmist camp.

    What worrying here is how close the line you are taking here is to the one seen in much of the rest of the media - ie the new fall back consensus. Don't you ever want to make an iconoclastic programme once ion your life that changes the debate rather than trying to persuade the public of the new official line ?

  • Comment number 68.

    The Great Warming Hoax continues.Is there such a thing as a peer-reviewed research paper that CO2 is dangerous and that it will interfere with normal climate processes?

    The alleged consensus of scientists has been disproved many many times . The IPCC is a political body and has been shown to use many bits of whimsy written by advocacy groups which does not give one confidence in the accuracy of the IPCC reports

  • Comment number 69.

    An interesting way to approach the story and I was hoping to see the "cool wall" of climate.

    Firstly, CO2 is not a greenhouse gas, because as it has been well established the "greenhouse effect" is caused by the reduction in convective currents and not by IR blocking. OK, climate "scientists" might tell us that although the "greenhouse effect" isn't the cause of the "Greenhouse effect", the "greenhouse effect" is in fact the only effect of CO2 ... which doesn't exactly say a lot for climate "science" if they use such dodgy science to popularise such ... dodgy science!

    (But to be more serious, CO2 also acts as an IR radiation emitter and has an important cooling effect by acting as a vector to help COOL the atmosphere.)

    But the main point I want to make is simple: we've just had the banking crisis of which we were told "no one predicted this". The truth is that the "consensus" in the city didn't predict it, because I used to have long discussions on forums several years before the crash with people with undoubted economic expertise on how the 1.3trillion personal debt and rising public debt was likely to lead to banking crisis. I even managed to persuade someone to get out of banking ... that's how seriously I knew there was a problem!

    The point I'm making is: that the reason all the city agreed, just as the reason so many climate "scientists" agree, was not necessarily because they are right, but because they all have a similar view on the "facts" and interpret them along with the group consensus.

    You have a group and in the absence of sufficient time to have got real data there is little hard data to tie down expert opinions to physical facts and that usually ends up with the experts just regurgitating the views of other despite the fact that there is little or no real data to support those views.

    That is why real science is based on physical experimentation. That is why real science is conservative with what it says (aka sceptical). Because unlike "experts" (and Top gear cool walls) physical data doesn't bend to "group consensus" and that is why real climate scientists ought to stop wasting their time on "cool walls" of the latest fad in climate forecasting and spend an awful lot more time on gathering concrete data and being a bit more honest on whether any of those climate forecasts have ever been right!

  • Comment number 70.

    The climate debate is fascinating and frustrating. The observations of modest warming and CO2 increase at the end of the 20th century are in fact widely agreed.The sensitivity of the warming effect may be less agreed the concept certainly
    But the extrapolation of these simple facts to the conclusion that we face catastrophic global warming is not 'science'. It is complex modelling with wide margins of error and as such it is a hypothesis about future events(unproven). Even recently the same problems quite significantly influenced the management of the swine flu epidemic.The predictions made at the start of the epidemic might have been based on science but were not accurate and cost a great deal of money.There was alot of politics involved.
    Zealots in all fields of science have used the prediction of catastophic outcomes for decades to influence policy makers but in this case a group of scientists rushed to predict a CO2 apocolypse which could only be prevented by reducing emmisions and this was simply several steps too far.
    Mann may regret the emphasis attached to the hockey stick graph but the emails make it clear the graph was intended for a purpose which was to help the IPCC promote the simplistic myth that decarbonisation would save us all from something dreadful.
    This was not science, it was scaremongering and politics. The media has not been helpful in distinguishing between the science and the politics and the different degrees of certainty attached to the models predicting global warming.There may be a retreat to the term climate change but the deabte is about warming (and exponential warming) As reported by the BBC prior to Copenhagen 2 degrees then 4 then 6 by then end of the century.
    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8279654.stm
    news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8364926.stm
    What is interesting is how much agreement there is about the science while the wild predictions are hotly contested the outcomes truly uncertain. Hence the campaign to label all doubters deniers

  • Comment number 71.

    I look forward to watching the full programme but it seems immediately that the BBC has once again sought out "experts" according to what their views are, rather than seeking out those with the greatest expertise.

    Imagine if in a progamme about terrorism Panorama had presented the views of two people who consider al Qaeda to be a major threat and two who said they were nothing to worry about. The producers would have been laughed at for including the views of two people that are clearly far away from the opinion of most experts, just in search of "balance". Yet this strategy of picking out talking heads according to their opinion and not their expertise has been pursued by the media on climate change in nearly every published story in the last decade, and it is sad to see that nothing is apparently changing.

    Bob Watson, Bob Ward and John Christy are all respected academics, but John Christy is one of only a small number of climate scientists who think anthropogenic climate change is not a great concern, and he is quoted in the media a disproportionate number of times compared to the number of scientists who agree with his view. Bjorn Lomborg does well out of writing books, but his views on climate change are far outside the mainstream and are not taken seriously by academics or policy makers, so what was the point of asking him if you wanted to know what most experts think?

    If Panorama truly wanted to know the spectrum of expert opinion on this issue, then why not just do a survey of a large number of academics and policy makers with relevant expertise to find where most experts' views lie, and pick a selection of them at random to be talking heads if that makes for better television? That would be a lot more informative. It would also prevent the programme's conclusions being biased by the producers' preconceived views leading them to pick particular experts, and opinions on the fringes being given disproportionate prominence.

  • Comment number 72.

    I might bring to your attention the recent news that the IPCC "Consensus" on Solar Influence was only one Solar Physicist who agreed with her own paper ? The same lady said in 1996
    "Moreover, what is known of the longer climatic record suggests that surface temperatures may have been systematically increasing since the late 17th century , well before the onset of the Industrial Revolution, when greenhouse gas concentrations first began their upward climb.Other natural perturbations, which have also varied during the past few centuries, might help explain the difference between the change expected from a simple increase in greenhouse gases and what has been observed."
    Surely she must be seen by post modern scientists as a heretic for that statement?

  • Comment number 73.

    Panorganda

  • Comment number 74.

    Global Warming could make the human race EXTINCT. The #1 kill mechanism is famine. See "The Long Summer" by Brian Fagan and "Collapse" by Jared Diamond.
    6 degrees C is the final extinction point for Homo Sapiens as reported in a bunch of reports and books.
    The book "Six Degrees" by Mark Lynas says: "If the global warming is 6 degrees centigrade, we humans go extinct." See:
    http://www.marklynas.org/2007/4/23/six-steps-to-hell-summary-of-six-degrees-as-published-in-the-guardian
    Lynas lists several kill mechanisms, the most important being famine and methane fuel-air explosions. Other mechanisms include fire storms.

    The following sources say H2S bubbling out of hot oceans is [probably] the final blow at 6 degrees C warming. [Note that a lot of "probablys" add up to "pretty close to for for sure."]:
    "Under a Green Sky" by Peter D. Ward, Ph.D., 2007.

    http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?articleID=00037A5D-A938-150E-A93883414B7F0000&sc=I100322

    http://www.geosociety.org/meetings/2003/prPennStateKump.htm
    www.astrobio.net is a NASA web zine. See:

    http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/2509/extinction-theory-falls-from-favor

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=672

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1535

    http://www.astrobio.net/news/article2509.html

    http://astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=2429&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0

    "Climate Code Red" by David Spratt and Philip Sutton says the following:
    Long term warming, counting feedbacks, is at least twice the short term warming. 560 ppm CO2 gets us 6 degrees C or 10.8 degrees F. We will hit 560 ppm before mid century.

    Per "Climate Code Red", we need ZERO "Kyoto gas" emissions RIGHT NOW and we also need geo-engineering because we have already gone way beyond the safe CO2 level of 300 to 325 ppm. We are already at 455 ppm equivalent and we have tripped some very big tipping points. We aren't dead yet, but the planet needs critical intensive care if we humans are to have a chance of survival.

    "Storms of My Grandchildren" by James Hansen, chief of NASA-GISS paints the bleakest picture: Earth goes Venus, becoming a completely dead hot rock at 800 degrees and our Mars colonies cannot survive because Mars is a dead planet.

    "The Vanishing Face of Gaia" by James Lovelock has identified a 9 degree lurch in the temperature that happens at 450 ppm equivalent.
    Looks like we are not going to make it. We HUMANS could be EXTINCT by 2050 because politicians are not considering sufficiently strong action.

    At 7 degrees C, some areas become uninhabitable because of heat stress. See:
    http://www.pnas.org/content/107/21/9552.abstract
    Deaths due to heat exhaustion ARE increasing NOW.

  • Comment number 75.

    Which experts should the BBC pick? See:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/what-do-climate-scientists-think/
    97% say the same thing. The best scientists are in the 97%. Journalists: It is high time to give up the "balance" nonsense. There is no balance. The science clearly says that Global Warming is real and dangerous.

    Reference: "Climate Cover-Up" by James Hoggan, the fossil fuel industry, notably the Western Fuels Association, Exxon-Mobil and Koch Oil Co have spent half a billion dollars so far to confuse everybody. They [the Fossil Fuels [FF] industry] have succeeded with a great many people. I recommend that everybody should get a degree in a hard science so that they [the Fossil Fuels [FF] industry] will not be able to fool everybody so easily in the future. Everybody needs laboratory courses to get in touch with reality. That goes for everybody who is not already a scientist. ALL college majors should require at least the "Engineering and Science Core Curriculum." All high schools should require 4 years of physics, 4 years of chemistry, 4 years of biology and 8 years of math of all students.
    In a technological society, everybody has to be a scientist in order to understand what they need to know to vote. Without that basic knowledge, you are just too easy to fool.

    Note that the Fossil Fuels [FF] industry PAYS scientists to say things the FF industry wants to hear. If a scientist wants to get rich, he works for the Fossil Fuels industry. Nobody gets rich on research grants.
    The Fossil Fuels [FF] industry "owns" a lot of the news media via paying for advertising.

  • Comment number 76.

    Flatulent sheep everyone....

    The emphasis on CO2 distracts real attention away from actually doing anything at all about our destruction of our planet.

    Scientifically, we don't have even half an idea on the effects on our planet of all the things we do and don't do. CO2 has an effect, but so does water vapour and so does where in the atmospheric column we emit. Below the clouds and rain will see accelerated absorption into plants. Above the clouds that is not so much the case. But the formulas and models are so crude and the subject so little actually understood that predicting any future climate effect from any particular change is near-nigh impossible. Likewise, a bit of extra volcanic activity or a change in solar radiation may have substantially greater effects than anything that we do. That does not mean to say that we should live as profligately as we do at present however - indeed we shouldn't, and in particular I have a strong suspicion that we should curtail the use of air travel as rapidly as possible until we can find ways of getting into the air that do not emit hydrocarbons and water vapour into the upper atmosphere (and particularly air travel for international conferences on climate change and the following of sports teams half the way round the world! - both events copuld eeasily have been 'attended' over the internet!)

    Many if not most things done in the name of reducing CO2 are not, and have not been, generally beneficial (e.g. cutting down rain forests to grow palm oil for bio-diesel.) The way that CO2 as the only 'cause' of Climate Change has been marketed has been hugely damaging to the planet's climate. It needs to stop NOW. The UN IPCC has serious questions to answer over its ill judged and anti-scientific behaviour.

  • Comment number 77.

    @ AsteroidMiner

    You are aware that posts like yours are exactly the reason why so many people are waking up to to the AGW scam I trust?

    BE AFRAID! Invade Iraq!
    BE AFRAID! Now invade Afghanistan!
    BE AFRAID! Get yourself injected with this bird/swine flu vaccine!
    BE AFRAID! Burn all your livestock before foot & mouth kills us all!
    Etc, etc...

    The population is awakening.

    PS. You might have better luck trying to persuade us with a decent scientific argument.


  • Comment number 78.

    There is nothing wrong with the weather, it's fine. It's people that are screwed up and the climatologists in particular, but we all need to make a living so I expect that it will be all right when they retire.

  • Comment number 79.

    I would have liked the same questions asked of everyone on this program.
    It seems to me that whether we are responsible for climate change or not, we still have to care for our planet. We need to find renewable energy sources. And use the extra carbon dioxide to feed lots of newly planted trees!!.

    I have a science background and what really dismays me is the lack of honesty and the way "results" have so much spin attached to support political and financial agendas. People are treated as if they have no ability to understand the truth and need to be spoon fed crazy mixed - up versions.

    We are all on the same side, it is the spin and dishonesty that puts in the divide

  • Comment number 80.

    I do wish the BBC would stop telling us electric cars are 'emission free'. The emissions happened at the power station.

  • Comment number 81.

    In future when dealing with this subject the BBC should headline the program PROPOGANDER so people will not be taken in and believe this is unbiased coverage.

  • Comment number 82.

    @asteroidminer and fellow alarmists

    Let me assume, for arguments sake, that the Earth IS warming, and 97% of scientists (as you claim) are correct that humans are guilty.

    Do you think nature is going to give us a second chance? We have as much chance of turning the tide as Canute. The damage is already done and we are being fried slowly and painfully, and desperate changes to our lifestyles will achieve precisely nothing. We are doomed.

    Is that alarmist enough for you? Or would a solar flare or a huge asteroid, or the appearance of deadly aliens be more realistic if not quite so effective at raising taxes, at getting science recognised as a "god", and at maintaining all those healthy research budgets and book receipts?

  • Comment number 83.

    #75. AsteroidMiner wrote:

    "Which experts should the BBC pick? See:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/06/what-do-climate-scientists-think/

    97% say the same thing. The best scientists are in the 97%. Journalists: It is high time to give up the "balance" nonsense. There is no balance. The science clearly says that Global Warming is real and dangerous."

    ----

    Pleeeeease! If you would look beneath the surface you would discover that this atrocious paper is being criticized even by the AGW believers as junk social science. But, given that you are still falling for the Big Oil conspiracy, it is clear that you choose not to look too deeply.

    I am pleasantly surprised by the level of scepticism on this BBC blog. Given the constant barrage of scary Global Warming stories featured on the network in the pre-Climategate era, I thought that might have worked better on regular viewers.

    I do miss those daily doomsday reports by David Shushkin (spelling?). They were rather entertaining.

    Unfortunately for the BBC, the conspicuous lack of coverage of the Climategate issues for so long revealed the network's hopeless bias on the subject and it will take a very long time to rebuild that lost credibility.

    Interesting article about the "Post-Normal Science" supporting all this:

    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/climate-change-and-the-death-of-science/


  • Comment number 84.

    Ah, the good old days, before CO2 was the villain:

    "The Age of Witch-Hunting thus seems pretty congruent with the era of the Little Ice Age. The peaks of the persecution coincide with the critical points of climatic deterioration. Witches traditionally had been held responsible for bad weather which was so dangerous for the precarious agriculture of the pre-industrial period. But it was only in the 15th century that ecclesiastical and secular authorities accepted the reality of that crime. The 1420ies, the 1450ies, and the last two decades of the fifteenth century, well known in the history of climate, were decisive years in which secular and ecclesiastical authorities increasingly accepted the existence of weather-making witches. During the "cumulative sequences of coldness" in the years 1560-1574, 1583-1589 and 1623-1630, again 1678-1698 (Pfister 1988, 150) people demanded the eradication of the witches whom they held responsible for climatic aberrations. Obviously it was the impact of the Little Ice Age which increased the pressure from below and made parts of the intellectual elites believe in the existence of witchcraft. So it is possible to say: witchcraft was the unique crime of the Little Ice Age."

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/32396573/Witch-Hunting-Maunder

  • Comment number 85.

    Dear Mike Rudin,

    Thank you for this show.

    Yes, we all agree that CO2 causes a bit of warming.

    Can you please make your next one about the real areas of scientific disagreement next time?

    Namely, the climate computer models.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 86.

    Could the climate change deniers answer me one simple question:

    Why are you so against all actions to switch to sustainable energy supplies?

    There aren't that many 'green' taxes and nobody makes you buy 'eco-products'. So what's the basis of the alleged conspiracy? What is its end-game?

    One day the finite fossil fuels we currently rely on will become economically unfeasible, so we'll have to switch to renewables and bifuels anyway.

    My opinion is that climate change deniers fall into one very neat camp: the sort of people who fear change and dig their heels in as soon as any is suggested (they will do this in response to all changes in their lives and attach the same behaviour to climate change solutions). They either perceive themselves as having something to lose (e.g. oil companies, or wealthy people with a superiority complex) or believe they are so important that the world is out to get them.

    Even if you don't believe in man-made climate change, you have no excuse whatsoever for not supporting a more sustainable way of living. There are not enough resources (energy, food, water, space) to maintain the human population as it continues to grow. Like every other creature that calls this planet home, we will need to adapt or die. Stop being selfish!

  • Comment number 87.

    @bigoll

    Great question!

    First of all, I don't deny that the climate is changing. It always has, and always will do.

    Your question: Why are you so against all actions to switch to sustainable energy supplies?

    Short answer: Because there is no short-medium term need to.

    Long answer...

    CO2 will not cause catastrophic consequences - CO2 emissions will only add around 1 degree of temperature rise (agreed by almost all, on both sides). All temperature rises beyond this is are baseless model-projection guesses. Pure conjecture.

    Temperatures have stopped rising over last 15 years - despite growth in CO2 emissions, temperatures (and CO2 concentrations) have been higher in the past with no 'runaway' effect. C02 is NOT a pollutant. Why do you think commercial tomato growers pump their greenhouses full of CO2?

    I agree that 'one day', fossils fuels may run out (although there is even some debate around that, as new research is finding that crust descending into mantle creates new natural gas supplies - but that's another debate..).

    That being said, there are decades (oil) and hundreds (coal) of years of fossil fuels still to be extracted that can power the world.

    Yes, we will need to figure out our energy supplies for the future, and yes, it's madness to ignore to power of the sun and the tides to harness such power. But these technologies are still in their infancy, supported by huge public subsidies that still can't guarantee 24/7 power - and don't remove any 'nasty' CO2. I'm all for more research and development in this area, but not wide-scale implementation. These aren't windfarms, they are subsidy farms.

    As an engineer who has followed this debate for many years, I genuinely find it fascinating that so many people are willing to support the idea of renewable energy 'right now!', whilst not appreciating that their lifestyles and jobs would be massively degraded as a result of energy supply failures.

    PS. You do of course realise that 'biofuels' have led to the deaths of millions in the third world as food prices have doubled there due to the conversion of previous food-growing land to the growing of much more profitable biofuel crop?




  • Comment number 88.

    It does not matter how many reports are carried out into the leaked Climategate emails by vested interests which, coincidentally find no problem at all with the unethical behaviour of a group of scientists at the heart of the IPPC decision making process. An organisation along with the CRU is an absolute joke?

    The BBC just don't get it, people are capable of reading the emails themselves and can easily draw only three conclusion:-

    1 Data was manipulated to show global warming.
    2 Uk freedom of information legislation and the will of parliament was perverted.
    3 There was a conspiracy by junkett scientists to prevent publication of scientists papers, where they did not accord with global warming alarmism.

    Last nights Panorama programme was just a propaganda programme, shame on the BBC who are defacto campaigning organisation for global warming alarmism.

    End the licence fee, because the blogs are better at disseminting information than the BBC will ever be.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ Daisy Chained, post #54;

    "So your piece ends up suggesting that because we can forecast the weather IN CERTAIN AREAS with a high degree of accuracy (say better than 99%) then we know enough to forecast the weather anywhere on our planet,"

    Umm... no it didn't, actually. My apologies if I've given you the wrong impression, although I honestly don't understand how I managed that as I thought I'd been perfectly clear in the third paragraph from the end. Let me try again.

    What I was suggesting is that just because you can't predict with 100% accuracy every time when dealing with something as vastly-complicated a our global weather system, this doesn't necessarily mean that your whole theory is wrong and that all the data you have is erroneous.

    At no point did I mention anything about 'knowing enough to predict the weather anywhere on our planet'. I don't think we do know enough to predict the weather, accurately every time, anywhere on the planet.


    "Anthropogenic climate change is a theory with not, as yet, one shred of convincing evidence one way or the other or any stations in between."

    ...except, of course, for basic chemistry, logic, and common sense?

    We know, from experiments in laboratories, that chemical elements have an effect on other chemical elements. All sorts of things interact with the common elements in our atmosphere, such as oxygen, hydrogen and carbon. And in all sorts of ways. And we're refining and pumping huge amounts of different gases and chemicals into our atmosphere on a daily basis. Including some which don't even occur - or occur very rarely - in nature.

    If we know that carbon dioxide - or any other gas or substance - changes the atmosphere around it on a laboratory level, it would be utterly ludicrous to assume that it suddenly stops having the same effect when the scale gets bigger. We are introducing these substances into our environment, ergo we are changing our environment.

    Anthropogenic Climate Change - "man-made", to use it's colloquial label - is a fact; if for no other reason than that it's a logical and physical impossibility for it not to be a fact.

    Now, the precise nature of these changes - exactly how much of the change we're seeing in our planet's climate is down to man's influence, etc. - is still the subject of much debate, and rightly so.

    But there is no debate as to whether Anthropogenic Climate Change exists - at least, not amongst anybody with even half a brain, who's capable of following the very simple logic I just layed out above. And I think that's borne out by the Panorama programme we're discussing; as Mr Rudin says, the sceptics on this issue generally agree on the underlying science. Of course they do; how could they not, and still retain any credibility?


    "And the hockey stick proves very little other than to suggest that even scientists have their hobby horses."

    The "Hockey Stick" in question - a well-known statistical graph, showing average global temperatures over the last 1000 years - shows that the earth's temperature has fluctuated up and down quite a bit since the turn of the millenium, but that there has been a particularly severe rise in temperatures since the just before the start of the 1900's.

    Curiously enough; this rise co-incides very neatly with the Second Industrial Revolution - the point at which man started making serious use of combustion engines, power stations, etc.; using vast amounts of fossil fuels for power generation, basically, and thus introducing an enormous amount of extra carbon into the atmosphere.

    Now, you're right - this doesn't necessarily prove that man's actions are entirely to blame for the recent rise. There's plenty of other theories, some of which have been mentioned here (Solar flare activity, for one).

    But it would be utterly stupid to discount that entirely as a possibility, as so many people seem to want everybody to. We develop mass power generation, start releasing masses of carbon into the atmosphere... then, a decade or so later, temperatures start showing a marked increase...? And that's not something we should be considering, when looking for an explanation for the rise?

    Which again, bears out what the programme said about there being a general consensus on the underlying science of the Climate Change theory; any scientist, even a sceptical one, is going to recognise the inherent logic of that situation. Yes, there might be other explanations; but nobody in their right mind is going to say that it couldn't be anything to do with our CO2 production, given the data we have.

    Or, sorry - I guess I should say, nobody in their right mind but without their own political agenda would say it couldn't. I'm well aware - as I pointed out before - that there's plenty of political hacks out there who simply don't want Global Warming and/or Climate Change to be true (mainly because they can't face the thought of possibly having to pay more tax, or reduce the quality of their lifestyles) who are fully prepared to repeat any mantra, no matter how illogical, ridiculous, or obviously-wrong, in the hope that enough people will believe it if they keep hearing it over and over again.

    So I'll say to the BBC once again - Well done! Well done for finding some sceptics who are actually scientists to interview and explain their positions - people who are actually going to deal in logic and common sense, not simply political talking-points, personal smears and lies about other scientists and pointless denials of the parts of the Climate Change theories that are quite obviously true.

    The BBC should not be using Licence-Payers' money to give a political platform to those who have no scientific background or even interest in this field, but who do want us all to believe that there's no Climate Change going on so that they don't have to pay any more tax, and who are prepared to tell any bare-faced lie they have to in order to make that happen.

    So Keep It Up, Mr Rudin!

  • Comment number 90.

    @Bigoll

    "Could the climate change deniers answer me one simple question"

    You then build up a Straw man argument and go on to beg the question, anyway the only way to deal with people who trade in insults is as follows:-

    1 The holocaust was caused in part by group think and only a fool and liar would deny the holocaust did not exist.

    2 There is no evidence or proof that the small amount of CO2 will cause dangerous global warming.

    3 There is evidence and proof that the temperature in the past has been much warmer than now. Polar Bears are still safe?

    4 Group think and greed has taken over to such an extent that any lie about the climate will do. We won't and are not being fooled, poll after poll shows that despite the propaganda and lies the Great British public and many people throughout the world dont want to buy the pup.

    Sustainable energy, you have to laugh the islanders on Eigg are on notice of power cuts?

  • Comment number 91.

    @ Morpheus68, post #87;

    "Short answer: Because there is no short-medium term need to."

    Thank-you, for your honesty. Although it may not have been exactly what you intended.

    But you've summed up, more succinctly than I probably could, exactly what lies at the heart of the actions of many of these so-called "sceptics" on the Climate Change issue - on a lot of environmentally-related issues, in fact.

    It's not actually scepticism at all; they may very well believe some, most, or all of the pro-AGW arguments. It's just that they perceive that, even if it is true, its unlikely to affect them directly. Sure, the sky might burn, or the seas might rise, or the ice-caps might advance across the surface of the earth. But not in their lifetime, surely...?

    So, why on earth should they be expected to pay any more tax, or do anything differently, just so that somebody else can reap the benefits? I'm Alright, Jack! And if there's problems further down the line, then future generations can jolly well deal with them when they happen.

    It's an entirely valid position, of course. But it's not scepticism.

    Those constantly bemoaning the fact that the BBC 'doesn't give more prominence to the sceptics', then, need to take a good look and ask themselves whether the people they want to see more of are actually sceptics in the true sense, or whether they're people who don't care one way or the other whether Climate Change is happening but who are adamantly opposed to having to do anything or give up anything unless there's a "Short-to-Medium-Term Need" for them to do so.

    Because, whilst the genuine sceptics should be welcomed, there's frankly no place in a scientific debate for these sorts of people - not on the BBC, nor anywhere else. They don't care about facts, or truth, or anybody else apart from themselves. They just care about keeping hold of as much wealth/power for themselves as they can.

  • Comment number 92.

    Although the programme was a bit light and contained some important omissions the fact that the BBC of all people even broadcast such a programme is in it’s self a watershed. It does appear that the scientific and political establishment, of which the BBC is a part, is beginning to quietly move away from warming, they have staked too much of their credibility on AGW theory to turn around and say that they were wrong, perhaps letting it fade away is the nearest that they will ever come to a retraction, I predict that in five or ten years from now warming will be all but forgotten.

  • Comment number 93.

    According to what governments and grant-hungry researchers have been telling me over the past 40 years I should now be:
    Shivering in an ice age
    Walking everywhere because all the oil has run out
    Dead from AIDS because of having unprotected sex
    Covered in melanomas because there's no ozone layer
    Gone mad from eating hamburgers
    Struggling to survive in a post apocalypse world (Soviet nukes, Millennium bug, take your pick)
    Lost a lung from passive smoking
    Sneezing all day with super flu
    Having heart attacks from eating fat
    Lost another lung from asbestos
    Drowning because the ice caps have all melted.

    Any wonder I find it hard to take GW the least bit seriously?

  • Comment number 94.

    @ ManmadeupGW, post #88;

    "End the licence fee, because the blogs are better at disseminting information than the BBC will ever be."

    By golly, you're absolutely right! I've had an Epithany, and now I see the light! I'll never trust a single thing I see on the BBC ever again!

    Hey... did you know, by the way, that The Holocaust never really happened? Yup; all made up by the Jews, apparently. And it appears that Hitler was really quite a nice chap, who was kind to small children and quite liked kittens.

    Oh, and you remember that terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre back in 2001? Seems that wasn't really a terrorist attack at all; George W. Bush and Dick Cheney organised the whole thing, so they could claim on the insurance money and then invade Iraq.

    Wow! And it seems that Elvis is still alive, and running his own Fish 'n Chip Shop on the Peckham High Road.

    Oh, and I wouldn't worry too much about your TV Licence Fee - you shouldn't have to renew it, because the End Of The World is coming. Next Tuesday. (Probably around tea-time).

    Quite a lot of new information to assimilate, here... but I guess it must be true, right? I mean... I read it all on blogs on the internet. There's no way anybody would put faulty information up on a blog on the internet in order to further their own particular political or social agenda, is there?

    Yes, you're quite right - let's burn the BBC to thr ground, and in future get all our information from www.heresabunchofstuffwejustmadeupbecausewereloonies.com

  • Comment number 95.

    Of course it is a factual certainty that humans add to conditions which create and lead to global warming.

    Anyone who disputes the reality of the effect 6+ billion people have on the planet and our weather systems, is basically not even worth having a conversation with due to their inability to grasp even the most basic realitys and facts.

    My concern is that in reality, what we are presently undertaking to alleviate our effects on the environment is basically less than 1% of what is needed.

    For each nuclear powerstation built and used in the west over the coming years will be negated more than 20 fold by new coal fired power stations in China, India and across many other countrys in Asia and South America.

    The west could reduce carbon emissions by 50% 0r 70%, but again these will just be replaced by other nations creating even more, hence we will NOT even maintain current levels of emissions or ANY lowering of overall world emissions, which is one reason why so many people just cannot be bothered at making any effort in their daily lives to reduce their own contributions.

    I personally think it is crazy to help other nations exist via aid, when the actual effect of this will just enevitably result in increased populations, increased economic activity for a greater number of world population and thus just add more and more emissions and other problems to an already seriously damaged world eco system.


    Until humanity as a whole can come to terms with instigating/implementing a voluntary reduction in world population numbers I think that much of what is being done is just irrelevent, because it does not solve the problem, it just extends it and eeks it out over more time.
    When we realise that its environmentally and ecologically and even nonsensical to sustain or attempt to sustain 6 billion people, then I think we may start to progress, because ultimately, sustainability is a numbers game, numbers of humans.

  • Comment number 96.

    Like many, my previous certainty regarding anthropogenic climate change has been shaken by recent revelations, but remember, just because some of the evidence has been falsified does not mean that the theory is wrong, how many dangerous criminals have been put away by dodgy evidence? There is too much at stake, not just climate change but many related issues, poverty, equality, responsible life styles etc, if the disinterested masses get conflicting messages on climate change then what hope is there for building a better society?

  • Comment number 97.

    @Khrystalar

    Thank you for misrepresenting my post so elegantly.

    I have young children, which puts them into the short-medium term future.

    The growing public scepticism, as evidenced here on this blog, of man-made global warming gives me hope for their future.

    PS. I note that you have offered no scientific rebuttal of any of my alarmist model-based concerns. Scary hand-waving doesn't count. Show me the EVIDENCE that doesn't contradict historic data please.

  • Comment number 98.

    The reason people are so turned off to 'global warming' is because of the flagerant hypocrisy of it all.

    Yes i accept man made global warming is true amongst other factors as would anyone with half a brain.

    BUT

    The taxes and laws brought in to tackle this issue are massively hypercritcal.

    IE: I drive a fast car so i am taxed to the hilt in the name of saving the environment.

    But i have no children so why am i taxed so much?

    If politicans were truly serious about global warming they would bring in legislation and taxes to deal with the levels of population.

    So why don't they? All i see in the latest budget is money being ring fenced to give to families in the form of tax credits.

    But every child a women has she increases her carbon output by 20 times. And she is rewarded for it.

    Its hypercritcal and stupid.

    Without having children i could drive a 5.7ltr 1970's V8 for the rest of my life and never get close to producing the level of carbon a person with a child does.

    So why am I being taxed in the name of global warming and they are GIVEN money?

    By this logic the government should give me tax breaks for helping the environment by not breeding and families should pay EXTRA tax.

  • Comment number 99.

    This is a highly amusing thread to read, so real... erm... ‘invested’ opinions here!

    The program was poor- it was heavily biased (obviously) but that’s what we’ve come to expect from the bbc on this issue.

    Few point for perusal-

    -no ‘skeptic’ worth his salt is against alternative energy sources, providing they make sense. For example, wind is useless and a colossal waste of money, geothermal is not and should be used more.

    -the science is not settled. When you actually boil it all down, the whole thing is based off the work of some 20 scientists, who peer reviewed their own work. The ‘consensus of thousands’ is smoke and mirrors.

    -statements such as 95% of all scientists agree are pointless. Science has not and never will be done on consensus opinion- it only takes one experiment to disprove a theory. Anyone pushing this point obviously has nothing else to back themselves up with.

    -the models don’t work. they have not, ever, reproducibly predicted future climate. And they’ve had decades to try.

    -no one knows how sensitive the climate is to co2, without knowing this we have no way of knowing what will happen, making predictions.... pointless

    -the world has warmed, all that is being debated is the extent, the uniqueness of it and the cause.

    -climate change and man-made climate change are two separate, but often conflated issues- a deliberate obfuscation on the part of politicians.

    And finally

    -anyone claiming people opposed or sceptical of the AGW theory is in the pay of ‘big oil’ is an idiot. The amount of money available to AGW research is staggering, also- I would suggest before responding to this point that those who still think that big oil is behind scepticism should go have a look at the primary funders of the CRU and the monies involved. It kind of destroys your (very poor) argument.

  • Comment number 100.

    Khrystalar @#91

    The idea that sceptics are only interested in what happens in their own selfish lifetimes does not stand up, if it were true then the rich would not go to such lengths to avoid death duties (UK death tax). Most people have children/grandchildren and we are all programmed to protect our line, AGW theory is seen by many as a misplaced fear that threatens our descendants.

 

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