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Science
CLIMATE WARS
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Two part investigation into the politics behind environmental science.
Tuesday 13 & 20 January 2004 8.00-8.40pm Rpt Sundays 5.00pm

As the planet emerges from another near record-breaking hot year, Gerry Northam delves into the politics that often underlies the science of climate change.

Manhatten Traffic on a Freeway
Could the Kyoto protocol be on a highway to nowhere? 

Here in the UK, the government's chief science adviser calls global warming a greater threat than international terrorism; but in the US a leading politician calls it "possibly the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people".

When the solutions to global warming could involve a major shift in the world economies and industrial infrastructure - to reduce our dependence on the fossil fuels causing the shift in temperatures - the science of climate change cannot be, and is not, left in peace. And international actions become as dependent on diplomatic twists of fortune as on what the experts have to advise.

Programme 1: The science

Two Harvard astronomers became the toast of Washington as they attacked the consensus view that global warming is a problem, and argued that humanity has survived similar episodes as recently as the Middle Ages.

Gerry Northam charts the genesis and fate of this research, how it has been taken up by Washington conservatives, and the highly enflamed debate that followed.


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.

Programme 2: The action

The Kyoto protocol was meant to be the first step towards stopping and reversing global warming, but when the US declared it would have nothing to do with it in 2001, the treaty looked dead. That's what the US administration argued at the time.

But with Russia perhaps on the brink of signing the protocol, despite a fog of words suggesting the opposite, and with the rest of the industrialised world and even individual states in the USA moving ahead with climate measures, it may be that Washington gets left behind.


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