Talk about Newsnight

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Thursday, 14 September, 2006

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Sep 06, 06:29 PM

icebergs_203.jpgA new report on global warming; former US president Jimmy Carter on Guantanamo; and is Clare Short about to lose the Labour whip?

Discuss Thursday’s programme here.

Would a hung parliament be good for Britain?

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:07 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Scott wrote:

Ok ok ... how much are we, the taxpayer, paying Paxman?

Four weeks off, three days on, and he's off again.

Newsnight isn't Newsnight without him. The rostering is silly.

Global warming and dissapointment of clare is on rise.

Logic is on the wane, irrationality is on the rise.

  • 4.
  • At 11:10 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Eric Carter wrote:

All the contributory factors to climate change have one root cause - there are simply too many people on the planet. Yet how many children is Newsnight's "Ethical Man" contributing to global overpopulation?

  • 5.
  • At 11:19 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • charles carter wrote:

"Ethical" man repeated the phrase "me and my family" several times in an ungrammatical way (eg "me and my family have done this..."). Can tax payers' money be used to employ people who can at least speak English? Otherwise why should we take this buffoon seriously?
Also, the programme appeared to argue that the problems of global warming can be solved if we (the UK population) reduce our carbon emmissions by 70%. This is absurd. The UK population could reduce its carbon emmissions by 100% and this would make no difference unless major polluters (such as China and the USA) made some effort to reduce their emmissions. No mention of this fact was made.
Viewers look to Newsnight as a bulwark against Dumb Britain. Sadly this evening's programme suggests that Newsnight is a fully paid up member of DB.

  • 6.
  • At 11:21 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • Stuart Coster wrote:

Is there really no-one out there putting forward an alternative view to the love-in on how we must respond to climate change played out on the programme this evening?

Can Newsnight find no-one to put forward the, on the face of it at least, perfectly plausible view that global warming is not actually something within our capability to limit - indeed that natural planetary cycles are more likely than human activity to be responsible for temperature rises.

And therefore that the vast amount of money and effort tonight's chorus of commentators were suggesting should be fruitlessly spent trying to halt global warming would be better invested on humans adapting to it.

  • 7.
  • At 11:23 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • NeoPlato wrote:

The issue of global warming.
The green parties of the world need to open their minds to nuclear energy. You cannot expect the public to cut back on their energy consumption by 70%, this is not a reasonable request to make. Especially not in the next ten years or so.
Nuclear energy produces no CO2 emissions, and must be the base of a hydrogen economy. Other green energy supplies (hydro-electric, solar, wind etc) cannot sustain the thirst we have for energy. the horror situations the public envision are as follows:
1.A chernobyl type incident. We have significantly advanced technology wise since that singular incident. There are triple if not more fail-safes involved in all aspects of nuclear energy production. It is no longer a wall of valves and gauge that have to be constantly checked, we use computers and motors to operate these functions nowadays. Ofcourse accidents can happen but in the current climate we cannot disregard nuclear energy for that issue alone, accidents will happen.
2.The disposal of nuclear waste. I have an idea about this and im no rocket scientist, how about putting it at the bottom of the mid-atlantic rift or perhaps back into the mines we took it from. There are solutions to this issue and if the green parties would take their fingers out of their ears they might hear them.
3.A terrorist incident targeting nuclear power generation. This is again an issue we will have to live with. The world is now a more volatile place and there is nothing we can do about that.
The point i am trying to make is that no party will be voted in if one of their policies is either to enforce draconian energy saving strategies or with a high tax rate to pay for research to cleanup the environment with nanotechnology or genetic modification. I wont go into details but enough research itno either of these technologies will significantly help us restore the environment.

The ramblings of a madman

  • 8.
  • At 11:47 PM on 14 Sep 2006,
  • David Cordingley wrote:

The shortness of the item on carbon emissions shows that you, like "ethical man", George Monbiot, Friends of the Earth and others, have not got the message.
There is no way the end can be put off by fiddling around with carbon emissions. We should do that anyway but the benefits from a low carbon emissions' world will only be appreciated if in the short term we find technological solutions.
I won't quote these here. They are well set out in Lovelock's latest book "Revenge of Gaia" (I think "Gaia" is a silly notion but this does not invalidate the stats or the efficacy of his proposals).
Whatever we do, China, India, Malayasia, Russia and the USA are going to double the (post industrial revolution) carbon burden in the next few years. This will raise sea level by 80 metres. Its possible it could take 100 years to end human civilisation but as all previous predictions of change have all been too optimistic, by quite large factors, it could be within a few years.
Enjoy life whle you can.

  • 9.
  • At 12:03 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • john wrote:

Global warming?

Go tell it to the Chinese/Americans/Indians etcetera.

  • 10.
  • At 12:31 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Stuart Rothey wrote:

I have seen no conclusive evidence that carbon emissions have a major effect on our climate.

Rather than bleating on about the dire effects of climate change and telling us "ad nauseam" what we should be doing to combat it,perhaps the BBC might care to produce a programme clearly demonstrating how CO2 is causing sea temperatures to rise catastrophically.

Giving us the considered opinions of scientists is not good enough. We need to see that the warnings of the pundits are based on more than mere speculation based an unproven hypothesis.

  • 11.
  • At 07:07 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Sandy Main wrote:

Global Warming may or may not be happening as a result of man`s activities, but the fact that there are now over 6 Billion humans all living in the (Tiny) Biosphere should be of major concern to each and every one of us, and in particular Governments and Legislators throughout the world so it is POINTLESS doing a programme where the feckless Justin Rowlat (who honestly reported that he has three children and a sister who is having her fourth? ) without addressing this major issue for humanity.
Population MUST be discussed.
Programmes like last nights, however interesting, remind me of the story of the "Emperors New Suit of Clothes"

  • 12.
  • At 11:32 AM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Simon Stainsby wrote:

Please stop "barking at the moon".
When I watch Newsnight I want the news debated.

I personally find it embarrassing when scientist, engineers and the public bury there heads in the sand, or are particular obtuse about the effects of climate change. Countless years of research has tired to get us all singing from the same hymn sheet, but there are still many hardened sceptics. I would say this is one of the first points in our planets history that we have the understanding and tools to be masters of our own destiny, and I think any program that raises awareness to the public is a good thing.

I think the conclusion from the report that consumers can only go so far to assist with carbon reduction is a valid point, and puts the onus on industry to improve their performance. Industry is a stubborn beast and this can only come about one of two ways. Either the government introduces effective taxation schemes to make them change, or consumer pressure forces them to make carbon reduction an integral part of their business strategy. My personal opinion is that carbon emission league tables should be introduced available for all to see, to give transparency to the whole issue. This would single out a pressure those companies under performing.

  • 14.
  • At 01:42 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • julian rowe wrote:

Dear Martha Kearney,
Last night's programme about climate change/global warming was interesting for all sorts of reasons unrelated to its declared topic.

The following report appeared in the Guardian earlier this year: seems like a pretty good plan, well thought through, workable and so on.
Rather a strong contrast to the current British approach to practically everything from threats from terrorism, global warming and not foregetting the price of fish, i.e: get in a paranoid flap, earnestly discuss the problem to death, do nothing essentially that has any discernible relevance, and so on. Oh, and set targets without working out how they are to be implemented and by whom: see any NIH/education report/budget over the last 7 years...

Read on.......

"Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy
· 15-year limit set for switch to renewable energy
· Biofuels favoured over further nuclear power

John Vidal, environment editor
Wednesday February 8, 2006


Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.
The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months."

Not rocket science, not difficult, - a practical approach to a soluble problem. Sigh.


  • 15.
  • At 08:31 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

On a BBC News24 round-table discussion programme, 'Dateline London', with London correspondents of major foreign media organisations, Simon Jenkins was asked how long he believed we have until "the lights go out". He said "50 years". I have never before or since seen a group of intelligent people so suddenly look so dumbstruck, and despondent.

To be candid things are desperate and almost everyone is in denial, and most of the environmental initiatives are simply intended to maintain that. But how can we, powerless in the face of no sensible choices for a solution, live, day to day in the face of that without some degree of denial?

What point is there any more, as huge nations switch to high-carbon lifestyles, and people switch to 4x4s, install garden heaters, and jet across the world for a weekend, or just to watch a football match, in recycling that glass bottle?

What upets me most is that every time there is a world summit where some decision might be made to change direction it gets hijacked by Middle-East related events. But then are there any proposals anywhere near ready to be placed on the table?

It seems to me we need a way to reabsorb and permanently store atmospheric carbon, in huge quantities, which doesn't mean trees. Otherwise children born today will likely end their lives in a post-civilisation chaos.

  • 16.
  • At 09:02 PM on 15 Sep 2006,
  • Carol Rae wrote:

Globle warming may be, more to do with
aspects of the solutions in that alternative energy supplies being used and modern technology. There is a total misconception that renewable technology is some how safe and does not produce any pollution.

Huge levels of radiation/nanoparticles/charged particles are mixing with other air bourne pollution; being created from
wind turbines,and so called power effeiciency in air extraction systems, incinorators burning toxins and producing very fine particles.. These then cross the blood brain barrier..
Not only that the resultant ion drive system which produce so called clean electricity for renewables creates electrochemical pollution, even clean air can be broken down into its consitituants... As in the case of gas burning coal or gas..
Hydrocarbons are being removed from the air vire wind turbines or solar panels.. (But most don`t understand the balance between the way the Earth
creates its own ion drive systems and the element/electrical balance.
Wind Turbines and other so called alternative systems still break into that same system.

+ Look no further than NASA using microwave "ion drive systems" to power saterlites and warming up the ionaspere.. Then we the man in the street are told not to use energy to warm up the world.

  • 17.
  • At 07:04 PM on 16 Sep 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

A truly shocking Newsnight on climate change. Well done.

But why does your poor Ethical Man and his wife and their children have to suffer so? Couldn't Newsnight at least swop him an alternatively-powered car and stand them a continental holiday via Eurotunnel?

And as you contemplate placing air travel out of reach, do let's think to ask what is to happen to all those economies just dragging themselves out of poverty through tourism or by growing produce that needs jetting to our markets.

Should we be building very high speed electric-powered rail links to the Far East (and thence to the Americas) and Africa, or building hydrogen-powered 'planes? The full order books for avgas planes, not to mention our PMs plan for one to go with the office, don't sound too much like those are currently being much contemplated.

  • 18.
  • At 12:42 PM on 21 Sep 2006,
  • D S A Murray wrote:

Contrary to the scientific "consenus" of The Royal Society, there is absolutely no sustained correlation between CO2 concentration and global climate change.

Our climate is controlled primarily by factors external to the atmosphere (eg, global tilt, solar output, etc). The greenhouse effect plays a role, but the effects of the tiny amount of CO2 are readily masked by other gases, most notably H20 (water vapour).

Of the 186 billion tons of CO2 that currently enter earth's atmosphere each year from all sources, only 6 billion tons are from human activity. Approximately 90 billion tons come from biologic activity in the earth's oceans and another 90 billion tons from such sources as volcanoes and decaying land plants. Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant. All the earth's life depends on MORE of it. The CO2 that goes into the atmosphere does not remain there but is continually recycled by terrestrial plant life and the earth's oceans.

  • 19.
  • At 04:36 PM on 02 Oct 2006,
  • D Baird wrote:

DSA Murray, You appear to have a standard anthropogenic climate change rebuttal. I have seen this at least once before. What a shame it is not worth repeating. Life on earth was getting along quite well without fossil fuel CO2, and was slowly sequestering it as those fossil fuels and limestone. What was stored over a very long time, we are releasing over a very short time. Added to that our industry and land management produces potent greenhouse gasses (methane and N2O). The only people suggesting this will have no effect appear to be cranks and lobbyists like the ones who told us smoking and asbestos were safe. I think the Royal Society consensus is sound.

  • 20.
  • At 10:29 AM on 13 Oct 2006,
  • D S A Murray wrote:

D Baird - lets keep to objective scientific facts and not resort to smears.

Major Causes of Global Temperature Shifts:

(1) Astronomical Causes

* 11 year cycle: Cycle of solar variability ( sunspot activity )
* 21,000 year cycle: Elliptical orbit of the Earth combined with tilt around the Sun ( precession of the equinoxes )
* 41,000 year cycle: Cycle of the +/- 1.5° wobble in Earth's orbit ( tilt )
* 100,000 year cycle: Variations in the shape of Earth's elliptical orbit ( cycle of eccentricity )

(2) Atmospheric Causes

* Heat retention: Due to atmospheric gases, mostly gaseous water vapor (not droplets), also carbon dioxide, methane, and a few other miscellaneous gases-- the "greenhouse effect"
* Solar reflectivity: Due to white clouds, volcanic dust, polar ice caps

(3) Tectonic Causes

* Landmass distribution: Shifting continents (continental drift) causing changes in circulatory patterns of ocean currents. It seems that whenever there is a large land mass at one of the Earth's poles, either the north pole or south pole, there are ice ages.
* Undersea ridge activity: "Sea floor spreading" (associated with continental drift) causing variations in ocean displacement.

Since the end of the Ice Age, Earth's temperature has risen approximately 16 degrees F and sea levels have risen a total of 300 feet! Forests have returned where once there was only ice.

From a geological perspective, global warming is the normal state of our accustomed natural world. Technically, we are in an "interglacial phase," or between ice ages. The question is not really if an ice age will return, but when.

  • 21.
  • At 09:03 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • D Baird wrote:

Re post 20, I would hope post 19 has not smeared anyone. Yes global climate is undergoing continual change but I think you put your finger on the issue in your last paragraph when you mention a geological perspective. On the geological temporal scale climate change means nothing to you or me. We, anyone we know or care about and any artefact that means anything to us will all be gone on the geological time scale.

Of all the factors influencing climate, anthropogenic ones are not dominant but there is evidence to suggest that that their effect may be significant to you, me and people that matter to us. Self interest is at the root of my concern over climate change or any environmental issue because my welfare is dependent upon environmental good and benefits. Subjective I know, but I am only human.

The balance of evidence is that anthropogenic climate change will have a serious adverse impact on us. Objectively, do you disagree with that? Given the current weight of evidence, advocates for no restraint on activity that we are confident is detrimental to us, appear quite petulant.

As for the statement that "Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant. All the earth's life depends on MORE of it." That does sound like sophistry to me, no offence intended. I believe that that line was used in some recent TV spots in the US, placed by a lobby organisation receiving funds from Exxon. Not what I would call objective. For your information, nutrients can pollute. Ammonia is a very important nutrient that is also a very unpleasant pollutant.

  • 22.
  • At 02:50 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • d baird wrote:

FAO DSA Murray
Nutrient Pollution, an example.
in case any one thinks this is just bunny hugging and of little value to you or I, your water company passes on the cost of cleaning the water to customers.
Otherwise, you may find the nutrient rich and eutrophic water rather injurious to human health.
The argument that because CO2 is part of a natural biological cycle, raising anthropogeninc emissions must be good, is a bit shoddy.

  • 23.
  • At 04:30 PM on 28 Nov 2006,
  • Ross Christy wrote:

I am a school boy and we are doing a topic about Globle Warming and i want to no what will happen if we dont do any thing about it and if we do, do some thing is it to late.

And what will be effected which country will go under water

Please E-mail me

  • 24.
  • At 11:00 AM on 21 Mar 2007,
  • Jordan Janevich wrote:

Dear Friends,

Most of the focus on the climate change debate is limited to outdated polluting technologies as being the root cause of all our problems on earth. Should the scientific community be researching alternative new technologies ie 'micro-waves' and its effects upon the stratosphere before making a final determination as to the root cause of climate change.

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