Talk about Newsnight

Ethical Man - Justin Rowlatt

"Ethical Man my a***"

  • Justin Rowlatt -
  • 17 Oct 06, 05:01 PM

plane1_203.jpgToday the National Trust is encouraging us all to contribute a diary to an online archive of a day in the life of Britain.

They want to know what you ate, where you went, what you listened to on your iPod. The idea is to compile all the humdrum events of one ordinary day to create a unique social history of Britain for future generations.

So how many of you will record how you thumbed through brochures looking for your next exotic holiday or for that matter flew off to some far-flung idyll? And now pause and consider whether that’s something you are likely to be doing in 20 years time – or for that matter in 10.

Because the most striking thing I’ve learnt since my editor appointed me Newsnight’s Ethical Man is just how polluting flying is.

In the weeks before the project began my family flew off for some cheap winter sun in the Canaries. When we worked out our carbon footprint that one short holiday was responsible for more carbon dioxide than heating my house for a year or all the emissions from the family’s estate car.

That message was banged home today in a report from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. It says aviation will consume an increasingly large proportion of Britain’s carbon budget even under the most conservative growth forecasts and concludes that current aviation policy is at odds with the government’s targets for climate change.

But are there ways we can neutralise the effects of our extravagant carbon consumption and continue to fly? That’s what I set out to find for tonight’s Newsnight and what’s more I flew all the way to Jamaica to find out.

I know some people will be shocked that a man who claims to be trying to minimise his carbon footprint took a plane. My wife certainly was, not least because since we are now living as an “ethical” family we’ve eschewed aviation, given up our car and took the train to France for our summer holiday.

“Ethical Man my arse,” she said when I told her that me and a cameraman were off to Jamaica for the weekend. You can see her full reaction tonight.

Watch the programme if you can and please tell us whether you think we were right to fly all the way to Jamaica for this item. Is carbon offsetting an answer to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions or will it just compound the problem by discouraging us from changing the way we behave now?

Answers on an postcard, please – or at least via the comments form below...

Click here to watch the report

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:56 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Tom wrote:

A real shame that you decided to do this, Justin.

Why cause that much damage simply for a small slot on the show? This hardly helps us meet the (considerably) large challenge of persuading people to consider the environmental impact before they book a holiday.

Unecessarily and irresponsible. Your attempts to justify otherwise are simply 'greenwash'!

  • 2.
  • At 06:42 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Helen Kimble wrote:

Why fly all the way there? You could get all the info you wanted for the programme from the net (even Google) and by phone calls or emails to authorities on the subject of carbon emissions from flights and the system of carbon credits & exchanges, etc.

That would give us enough background to discuss whether the system does encourage people to go on as before and swap carbon credits or debits - which i strongly suspect it does.

However, one more flight probably didn't make all that much practical difference, when we can see the vapour trails crisscrossing the sky all day and every day. But it's the principle!

  • 3.
  • At 07:04 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Brian J Dickenson wrote:

I do not have to watch tonights program to say that I agree with your wife.
Research my arse. Did you really need to fly to the Caribbean? I suppose it was at the license payers expense again.
We have had a deluge of information as to the effects of air travel on the environment, so why on earth did the ill named ethical man do this.
Nice little weekend jaunt I guess.
We see far to many apparently purposeless outside broadcasts already. It's about time the BBC got its act together.
I don't know who decides which comments to show, but I doubt that this will see the light of day.

  • 4.
  • At 07:49 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Jessica Wheeler wrote:

No, not impressed either. After all that wonderful, noble effort! Well, I assume there must be some inspired excuse - can't wait to hear it!

  • 5.
  • At 07:56 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Steve Johnson wrote:

I'll reserve full judgement until I see the program, but I fail to see how flying to Jamaica for the weekend can be considered anything more than frivolous, especially considering the subject matter. Sounds like a nice little freebie jaunt to me...

  • 6.
  • At 08:10 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • adrian flower wrote:

Top Man! The aircraft was no doubt scheduled and it would have flown to the Caribbean with or without you. dont let others make you feel guilty about life, enjoy it while you can!
Flying has become relatively cheap, so people fly. Curiously, the fuel that makes the carbon and other polution, is not taxed. (unless you fly a small private aircraft, in which case it is taxed like a car!) Only the airline profits are taxed like all businesses.
Aviation is a global business and there are factors at work so powerful that not even governments are going to be able to control them. E.g. the UK could not unilaterally introduce an aviation fuel tax, as the airlines would react by basing in other countries.
Until there is a glabally agreed way forward on this, we are stuck with market driven low cost flying. Carbon savings will have to come from elsewhere.

  • 7.
  • At 08:40 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • John Jones wrote:

I'm unconvinced about our approach to conservation. We have continuously, as a species, shaped our world around our ability to increase per capita energy consumption. However, inthis case does the micro arithmetic of carbon balancing on a family level truly scale upwards to the macro? A representative of the airline industry said this morning aircraft emmission acounted for less than 5% of the UK's carbon account. Its just a gut feeling, but the arithmetic feels all wrong if one flight can so dominate the family account. I'm willing to be convinced. However, the view there is a debit and credit account for carbon emmissions that has any true relevance to the apparent problem of global warming sounds way too simple for such a complex and interconnected system in which we live. In reality there is no increase or decrease in carbon. We live in a closed system. A small short term (in a geological/planetary timeframe) redistribition of a fraction of the world's carbon just might not be all that significant.

  • 8.
  • At 09:09 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Tom Smith wrote:

Wakened at 6.30 by my Teasmade and watched theTV morning news while drinking 3 cups of tea .7.3o washed & shaved. 8am fed my two cats and breakfasted on Grapefruit & porridge.After washing up the dishes,walked to the local shops for fruit and onions which I had forgotten at the Supermarket.12am prepared lunch;Plaice fillet grilled and mashed potato,steamed carrot,
leek& cabbage,followed by stewed apple & custard, and cheese & biscuits.PM made two phone calls and had a nap.Later went on line to check my e-mails and print out some.
5PM tea with crumpet and meat sandwich & piece of cake.After washing Tea things read the Birmingham Mail & did the crossword.
10.30 PM and so to bed

  • 9.
  • At 09:52 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Scott wrote:

During the three days after the 9/11 attacks, when all civilian air traffic in the US was grounded, the sky was clearer and average temperatures increased by more than a degree Celsius. It seems entirely likely that the cooling effect from aircraft contrails more than offsets the warming effect of the CO2 they produce, and you should feel no guilt at all about flying.

Also, I'm not sure I see the point of bowdlerising the title of this posting with asterisks while still keeping the uncensored word in the URL.

  • 10.
  • At 10:32 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Rafiq Hajat wrote:

I think that this whole episode smacks of ill conceived frivolity. To treat such a serious issue with such blase cavalierness is irresponsible, callous and inconsiderate when it is the poorest countries like Malawi who will have to bear the full brunt of global warming without the resources or infrastructure to wage a fair battle.
Fly to Jamaica for a weekend? - Please spare us!

  • 11.
  • At 10:33 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Will Brocas wrote:

It seems apparent that we need to travel these vast distances for business, leisure and also for further integration of humanity into itself, and hopefully aid us in becoming a more united species. But like most things it comes at this environmental price. Justin you will be justified if you aid in the understanding of the environmental issue and your report makes a difference to people. But bearing in mind what I said at the being, I would be interested in seeing the alternative ways of powering aircrafts (however Sci-Fi it may be) or emission saving techniques as our advances in telecommunications can only do so much. But it seems the plane would have flown and spent that CO2 with or without you on it.

I presume those energy efficient lightbulbs were manufactured in Jamaica and not flown all the way from China?

  • 13.
  • At 11:10 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • thom robinson wrote:

i am ashamed of ethical man this week. the idea of paying money to energy saving light bulbs is maddness. especially in the hotels. surely the point is that without the air travel the hotel would not be there and presumably not wasting this energy in the first place. it is another excuse in a huge world of capitlist world abusers. our species deserves to die by its own hand. our children will cry in shame.

  • 14.
  • At 11:36 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Chris Mallett wrote:

I agree with your wife and everyone else it seems.
Any sane person knows that there is only one way to reduce carbon emmisions and that is - to reduce carbon emmisions! Don't fly to Jamaica to make a point that could have been made in Britain.

  • 15.
  • At 11:46 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Doug Cormack wrote:

(Facts) One good volcanic eruption will spew out more carbon dioxide
than all the airplanes on the planet in any one year.
The activity on our sun has caused climate change past and present ,
think about it if it were switched off like a light bulb we would all be Ice cubes in seconds.

  • 16.
  • At 11:47 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Julie Stainton wrote:

Ethical wife was spot on! How shallow to try to claim necessity!After all the family effort I couldn't believe that you really went to Jamaica to see someone switch on a light and to hand out a few low-energy bulbs. The Jamaican clips added nothing useful - they just wiped out all previously-earned credibility.

I was hoping it was staged and you were actually in a studio only a bike ride from home. But, no, you did go all that way and indulged in all that pollution - and for just one weekend. I'd watched your ethical efforts with interest but now realise it was all one big game. All credibility is gone. What a waste!

  • 17.
  • At 11:50 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Mick Bee wrote:

Wrong, wrong, wrong - you cannot 'offset' carbon release (as emissions should be called). Long ago the earth's second atmosphere was primarily carbon dioxide and water vapour. Bacteriological action, over billions of years and by long extinct organisms, sequestered the carbon and released oxygen, the water condensed to form the oceans which further dissolved carbon dioxide. This led to our present third, oxic atmosphere in which life as we know it, including plants, could exist. Plants synthesied more carbon dioxide releasing more oxygen.
The fossil fuels we now release and burn are these sequestered reserves of carbon i.e we are returning our live giving third atmosphere back to the anoxic second atmosphere which could not support present life forms. Every ton we extract and release is a step back towards that atmosphere. The active, life giving oxic atmosphere we have enjoyed simply cycles carbon round and round, it does not sequester it out of harms way. We now witness (a unique human experience) this atmosphere changing process happening. Offsetting simply does not do what it says.

  • 18.
  • At 11:54 PM on 17 Oct 2006,
  • Robert Stanier wrote:

Yeah, your wife is right. And here's an email, just like she asked for.
The Independent did a thing yesterday about the government taking absurd amounts of flights. I would be interested in the BBC's equivalent.
I mean it's not just you. James Naughtie's always popping off to Washington to do a "special", like he really needs to be there. They go off to all these places and then do exactly the same show, but must believe that somehow the immediacy will infuse things. 9 times out of 10, it does nothing.
With your item, yes, it did make a better item. But how much better? That has to be the core question.
And the kind of meta-unethicality you exhibit is really the subtlest of temptations to keep doing what you were doing anyway.
But, it was a nuanced piece...
But then your wife was so lovely I thought I would complain on her behalf.
Why didn't you send her to Jamaica with a camera to give out some light bulbs and then you could have looked after the kids?
Then we really would have thought you were ethical man.

  • 19.
  • At 12:18 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Mork Anthony wrote:

Mike Scott and Doug Cormack are telling it to you like it is

What big business doesn't want you thinking about, is your toxic cars - both sitting in a new car is a toxic experience, and the complex toxic chemicals spewed from the exhaust are, well, toxic

Fossil Diesel is particularly nasty and harmful with its nanoparticulates

They also don't want you thinking about the crap they put in your food

They don't want you thinking about how they own government either

Ooh, and lets not forget the corrupt and failed big pharma, that's a biggie too

No, lets all feel bad about CO2, like it's the real problem we face, CO2 is FAR worse than pumping toxic chemicals into every eco system on the planet, or cutting down our beautiful rainforests for throw away shuttering ply

So lets all get caned with pointless CO2 'guilt tax', then everything will be FINE. not.

Fix your mistakes, greedy big business, and stop using your lobbyists to obfuscate and shift blame

  • 20.
  • At 12:37 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Borge wrote:

Well the truth about the global warming issue was spelled out tonight:

if we're serious we have to something – arguably within the next five years. If we're not doing something then whats the point of having global warming discussions?

Tonight's debate was another 'naysayer versus activist' pantomime. Couldn't you find a scientist? Couldn't you find someone from Tuvalu? You journalists seem to enter the same old dance with the issue, giving equal airtime to dissenters paid to split hairs - I thought we'd got past this? Previously these same people debated the basic validity of global warming theory - fullstop - long after any right minded person had figured out that something really was up with the climate.

The BBC should bloody well do a Newsnight programme from Tuvalu or from the melting icecap; let your anchorman sit in his swivel chair as the morning tide rises and laps around his ankles and have him conduct his interviews like that. That would focus the debate a little more intelligently and make it really hard for anyone to split hairs with him. Find ways in your programme to point out how this absurd the situation has become. Be more creative. Stop peddling the story 'as if' many of us are taking global warming seriously enough– when obviously we're not.

Pin down the public - especially those with some stake in the medium term – those with children. Ask them, demand to know 'Whats the point of scientists? Do we need them if we ignore their work?'

There's not much excellence in what you do Newsnight, its quite humdrum, which is bad given the importance of your role. Even Radio 5 sent one of its most irritating aggressive reporters to Bombay but he did actually pull the rug from under the prevailing style of debate. As most people here chew over the science of carbon, he found that people there don't give a damn, and he asked rightly, why are we are bothering?

Editors and journalists ought to respond to this the right way – simply take it as read that we're in for climate chaos, and start examining what our disaster plans are like – how much aid we're setting aside for ten – twenty, fifty years out. How many climate refugees we're planning to take in – how much investment we're expecting to make in policing resource wars. Journalists in general have some tough questions to ask but they 're acting more like backbench MPs, following an agenda and style of debate set out by leading politicians. Who on earth said that they have the inside track on this issue?

  • 21.
  • At 12:53 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Gill Brown wrote:

I felt very disappointed that you actually flew all the way to jamaica to make your point, I have long felt it unnecessary for reporters to fly all over the world just to stand in front of whatever was in the news at the time to report to us, I think it is unethical and irresponsible of the media who are so fond of critising others. Gill

I am amazed you even need to ask. Clearly it is impossible to justify any flight for a mere short report. Nothing can be added by going there rather than telling us from a studio here. Just as bad as all these reporters standing outside various buildings explaining what can not be seen any more from having traveled there (probably by car) than the same words from a studio, and file photo background. But what can you expect of someone that writes 'ME and a cameraman'! Unbelievable rudeness.

It is so blatantly obvious these cheap flights and the growth they have caused and are still causing are devastatingly polluting it really did not need any team of 'experts' to say so.

Nor is it at all hard to stop. No complex tax system needed. Start by preventing the stupid airport expansions. That is not rocket science. NEVER accommodate 'demand' for polluting. Doing nothing is so easy even this government should be able to do that!

More to reduce flights is also easy. Limit flight slots over UK airspace. Selling the rights to the highest bidder for each slot, each year, rather as they sell broadcast air waves frequencies. Every year reduce the quantity. Market forces will sort all the rest out, while all flights are forced down in quantity, full planes more likely.

People who ever get on any plane for a mere holiday or trivial 'work' trip like yours are the problem.

  • 23.
  • At 03:33 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

Utterly absurd. At the very least, the BBC could have sent one of its Americas-based correspondents to report from Jamaica. Flying there from London for the weekend was ludicrous and hardly essential for the report.

  • 24.
  • At 07:43 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • C Gowan wrote:

I've just come across a wonderful new invention which might have helped. Its called a telephone. You can use it to talk to someone in say Jamaica and they can give you information. They can also arrange for pictures to be taken and arrange for other people to talk to you which you can use as an interview. Ther is a rumour that there is a system wherby you link to something called a satellite and you can do all this at your desk. A bit far fetched if you ask me. Much better to spend thousands of pounds of license payers money on a pointless jolly.

  • 25.
  • At 07:52 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Raj wrote:


  • 26.
  • At 08:00 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Sirisha wrote:

Till I read this artcile I was cursing our govt for imposing big fuel taxes, especially, on the aviation fuel. e.g, a ticket that I wanted to buy yesterday was priced at INR 574, but the taxes on the tickets were INR 975 !
and so, even though the fare was INR 574 (quite affordable and better than train), i would eventually have to shell out INR 1549 for my trip back home !

I decided to take a train instead!!

  • 27.
  • At 08:03 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

What a bunch of whiners. Taxes will not solve any of this - I drive around 30,000 miles a year for my job, and another 10,000 personally. We ALREADY pay extortionate tax on this - emmissions based annual car tax, consumption based tax on all fuel (far and away the largest part of the cost of the fuel), every penny of which goes to the government. Do they spend it on roads? No, just a miniscule proportion. Do they spend it on improving the environment? No. Do they subsidise research into alternative fuels? No. All those Billions merely prop up other government inefficiencies. I'd love to be 'greener' - but until the government actually changes it's priorities, all this individual effort is like a fart in a tornado. Like the man says - the plane was going there anyway, so at least his trip avoided there being an empty, wasted seat - now that WOULD annoy me.

Here are some comparitive CO2 emission figures from the Railway Engineers Forum :-

CO2 Emission factor
Petrol cars 110
Diesel cars 106
All cars (Average)109
Bus 76
Motorcycles 94
Passenger Rail (diesel) 41
Passenger rail (electric no regen braking) 56
Passenger rail (UK – diesel and electric) 49
Air – short haul 180

Reproduced from Table 2 at

Lets not have any more of this "flying has 10 times the CO2 emissions of rail" nonsense or we're off to OFCOM with a formal complaint about factual accuracy and misleading the public.

  • 29.
  • At 08:15 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • James Ewart wrote:

People are condemning those who take flights to far flung parts of the world for such frivolous matters as holidays during this time of great awareness and threat from global warming. Whether the commentators like it or not there is now a huge industry called tourism and for many countries it is the main contributor to the economy. Tourism is a multi-facet industry it provides both good and bad.

Undoubtedly those in employment whether as the hotel gardener or the hotel manager or the shop assistant selling tourist trinkets are pleased to have tourism, to see aeroplanes landing at their airports carrying tourists with money to spend in their country and that employment it generates helps to support their family life. These people in many parts of the world have no alternative sources of income. They may be aware of and sympathetic to the problems of global warming but the problem of paying for this week’s housekeeping is far higher on their list of importance.

I think before people take the Imperial colonial line and imposing their western world requirements and ideology on the world they should first come up with suitable and successful alternative income streams for those people they wish to put out of business. I do not mean just to sit and pompously pontificate in the comfort of their homes in the western world but get out and do something positive on the ground to provide an alternative for those they wish to become unemployed in the tourism industry.

Sounds like 'Ethical' man got seduced by a freebie. Time to apologise & climb back on the wagon?

What kind of journalism 'requires' location trips to 'improve programme quality'? You could have researched this item & presented it from the studio - with illustrative pictures for those who can't concentrate on the spoken word. That would have been doing the item Ethically!

Meanwhile not only is there the issue of airtravel and its effect on climate change. There is the much bigger issue of hotel developments to accommodate foreign travellers.

Where do these developments source their water? Is there any water left for local people? How do they generate their electricity?
Where do they source the food they serve? Locally? Or do they fly it in from all over?
Where do they source their staff? And how much do they pay them?
How does a hotel buying land for development affect land prices for local people? How many local people have been 'relocated' for the hotel to be built & have 'nice' surroundings?

How does the influx of tourists affect local people, eg: If the hotel has a beach as part of the facilities - where do the fishermen who originally used the beach now go to fish? Eg: How many of the local people are now providing 'services' for tourists - whether as tourguides, making & selling souvenirs, service jobs in the hotel, providing sexual services . . .

Living Ethically is complicated, that doesn't mean it shouldn't be tried. Or that it shouldn't be presented in it's complexity. I assume that Newsnight viewers watch the programme because they think, and want to be informed. So how about the BBC presenting information in a _non_ dumbed-down form, for a change?

  • 31.
  • At 08:34 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Nilavra wrote:

Jamaica for the weekend? - Boy, when you fall off the wagon you really plummet don't you!

  • 32.
  • At 08:59 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Sharam Afrashteh wrote:

The problem of Carbon Dioxide emissions and global warming is far more serious that the public consciousness has yet grasped. We don't have time to debate and discuss whether carbon offsetting is the solution and wait for the government to act. We need to urgently inform all of the truth and the facts. There is a lot of vested interest to avoid action by both the blockheaded government and the media at the detriment of humanity and life on this planet. We need urgent and drastic direct action - NOW!

  • 33.
  • At 09:13 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin Hastings wrote:

Well, it just shows that in this day and age, we cannot live without air travel. Travelling by ship it would have taken you 2 weeks, as you can't take a train to the Carribean. As UK is in island, I find it surprising how some people suggest that we should use trains more frequently. Air travel has contributed to our way of life. We eat food that our ancestor never knew existed, we meet relatives that without air travel, we would have never had the possiblity of meeting and most importantly, we can give a hard time to our policiticans over Iraq. Without air travel, there would not be so many news reporters on the ground.

What some people suggest (making air travel expensive) will create a huge divide in social classes. We'll return to the 19th century, where only the elite will be flying and the working class will be happy if they get as far as Brighton. Please don't forget that travel opens people minds and we learn of things that we wouldn't have dreamed of.

What we need to do is to invent airline fuel that is not as polluting.

#10 - Rafiq - 'ill-conceived frivolity' is spot-on, but then that sums up the whole Ethical Man project, doesn't it?
How can anyone try to take this waste of airtime seriously after this?

  • 35.
  • At 09:44 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Thomas Jelley wrote:

You clearly know the answer so this call for comments is as pointless as the trip that prompted it.

  • 36.
  • At 09:47 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Tony wrote:

Am I the only one thinking that this is actually a spoof, and he didn't really go there? Quite a good way of opening up this sort of discussion.

I guess we will find out later!

And Kevin Hastings, it's all very noble and all that about travel opening up people's minds, but it would be interested to know what proportion of cheap flight passengers are going on a 'cultural exchange' and how many are simple jetting off for a bit of sun on the Costa, with breakfast every morning at the local British fry up cafe!

  • 37.
  • At 10:02 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Emily wrote:

I was disappointed at Justin's flight, but interested in the story behind it in carbon offsetting. However, seems to me that the people who, very responsibly, offset their CO2 from flying are still there, buying the tickets and sitting in the aircraft seats. Until we buy fewer tickets, airlines will continue to provide the excessive numbers of flights every day - we have to break the cycle of *demand*. Offsetting the carbon emissions makes the good feel better and allows the thoughtless to continue flying conveniently, regularly and cheaply.

What was the *point* of flying to Jamaica? I'm reasonably sure you could achieve the same so-called offset by distributing free energy-saving lightbulbs in a rundown estate in London or Glasgow. And that would at least benefit licence-fee payers.

I'm amazed you didn't cover the basic flaw in offsetting. Your flight will have put in two tons of CO2 or whatever *now*. The saving from distributing energy-saving lightbulbs or other devices will only be seen over a few years - rather like jumping into a eight-foot-deep swimming pool on the grounds that somewhere else, there's a small plughole that'll slowly let the water level drop to a point when you can breathe.

Breathtakingly stupid.

  • 39.
  • At 10:15 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Bob Hunter wrote:

Ethical man flies to Jamaica.

An excellent example of first world corporate unthink.

I suppose ethical man must obey the command of his producer/employer regardless of how incompetent it makes them all appear. I am stunned that the producer didn't see that this could have been an interesting piece of journalism without you and your team going there. A simple explanation of the normal high carbon reporting option followed by "and now over to Clayton Bryce in Kingston" to show the "ethical" alternative

Meanwhile your family put up with all the inconvenience of living "ethically" ...thats you for the doghouse mate.

  • 40.
  • At 10:32 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Very,very disappointing. Even if you need to be there, couldn't you hire a local camerman?

  • 41.
  • At 10:46 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Marcus wrote:

The biggest environmental impact of "ethical man", taboo as it may be to point out, is his breeding three new human western consumers into circulation.

  • 42.
  • At 11:22 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • fraser devlin wrote:

I really cant believe that im reading these posts and still seeing intelligent people justify the current and future western flying habits. There and many, many good solid economic and social reasons for flying, but none of them or even all of them stacked together outweigh the climatic catastrophe that awaits unless we change radically now. That doesnt mean the debate is polarised to unlimited flying or no flying. We need swift action to find cleaner and cleaner energy to fly these things, then restrictions on the number of flights allowed. everyone can still have a holiday but flying to Bergerac 10 times year to your second home is so morally disgusting its mind bogulling....And yes, there are many other sources of CO2 emissions to target too, but just because we cant solve everything doesnt mean we shouldnt solve anything...peoples understanding, priorities, behaviours, commerical and political demands are changing and its going to become endemic in next few years so the members of the flat earth society should watch out. And just who was that fop representing the aviation industry on the programme last night?? Flat earth, self interested ignorance personified. As Upton Sinclair commented - "Its difficult to get a man to undertand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it"

  • 43.
  • At 11:43 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • John Henderson wrote:

Jusitfied in that it got us thinking and talking? The plane was going anyway. Sometimes the 'average'man in the street only takes a story seriously if they see someone had done something ie gone there. If we don't travel and get to know others are we going to end up with more discussions such as the Muslim one that is raging at the moment? Offsetting therefore has to have a place.

  • 44.
  • At 11:46 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Alastair wrote:

What ridiculous hypocracy, a waste of the license payers money and it completely diverted attention from the very valid points in the programme.

I suggets the the producer of the programme is dismissed.

  • 45.
  • At 11:58 AM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Fisher wrote:

Phil Thompson (post 28) may be correct with his figures showing that the emmissions (per passenger km) from air travel are only about 65% more than those of cars. However, the crucial factor is the "per kilometre". A return journey between London and Jamaica is about 9000 miles. That corresponds to several months of car travel for the average driver. The cost of air tickets should reflect the distances involved.

  • 46.
  • At 12:01 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

What a silly diversion this is. Greenhouse gases caused by passenger aviation account for 2% of the greenhouse gases currently produced in Great Britain. Personally, I'm much more interested in the 98% nobody ever talks about. Can we talk about the 98%? Please?

  • 47.
  • At 12:40 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Mark Burge wrote:

Ever heard of video conferencing?

  • 48.
  • At 12:59 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • John Wood wrote:

A great bit of piss taking regarding the whole questionable practice of emissions trading by the affluent. Shame that it could have been filmed in the UK.

Many people have mentioned that the plane would have gone to Jamaica anyway. Correct but how long would the airline continue with a service where there were not enough bums on seats to make a decent profit?

  • 49.
  • At 01:00 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • lloyd patterson wrote:

Like so many other things at the moment (e.g. the veil debate), this is being seized on by the media to the point where I, for one, am tired of hearing about it. Yes, there's a problem; Moscow is choked with traffic every day, so is Beijing and Shanghai, (none of which were ten years ago,)and other cities on the Indian sub-continent and other parts of Asia too. Will they do anything about it? - no.
What are the proposals before the government in the UK? - increase taxes!
We pay tax on fuel to drive to the airport; we pay tax on the tickets to fly, and we pay tax on the (compulsory) insurance which we take out to cover the journey.
Surely these brains in University and government, whose salaries are paid by our taxes, can come up with something more original. Better surface public transport for instance?

  • 50.
  • At 01:04 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Matthew Reid wrote:

Unless someone can design, and build a solar powered speedboat to carry 300 people across the Atlantic in 9 hours then I am afraid flying will be the transport for the world until fuel becomes to scarce or tax makes it prohibitive. For all those of you concerned about this consider how your fruit and veg got all the way from Africa and South America next time you are tucking in to unseasonable produce. Tesco, Sainsbury's and Morrisons are all making vast profits on the back of wasteful plane based transport practices whilst at the same time bankrupting farmers in the UK..... I wonder how much carbon would be saved if we all used farmers markets selling local produce for a month or is that too inconvenient...

  • 51.
  • At 01:20 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Lucy Potter wrote:

Hang on a minute! hasn't Justin displayed the exact reason WHY we shouldn't be zooming off here and there on cheap flights. As John Bell from the Iona Community said this morning on Thought of the day - (Today programme) BBC Radio 4 - it's the more 'affluent' person travelling and using the cheap flights, not the poor.
So if Mr. Ethical has broken his rule, he's done it in front of his viewers who he's more likely to have a affect on, without having to redress the balance. Hopefully the affluent/intelligent people contributing to the comments on this webpage may think twice about that weekend trip. It's certainly made me think!
There have been so far 41 comments in disgust - maybe thats 41 people less likely to create more pollution, that's surely a good thing?

  • 52.
  • At 01:37 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

Good on you! It's also ethical to learn new things, meet new people, enrich yourself.

These are often things that travel is required for. You don't have to stop travelling to be ethical, you just have to choose the best way to meet your aims; taking into account the impacts on everyone else. That's real ethics.

I think cheap airtravel is great! It's helped me see the world and better understand other cultures, it's exciting and fun. Let's not stop it, but look to make it cleaner. Real, pragmatic ethics.

  • 53.
  • At 01:39 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Iwan wrote:

It is far far too late to worry about carbon offsetting. One saved seat on an already departing aircraft is 2 billion people's desire in the developing world.
The key to all our problems today is to reduce the human population by 80%. The debate should be about how that is done. That will save the planet.

  • 54.
  • At 01:44 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • A. Davies wrote:

If you pollute you, you clean it up.

The fundamental principle behind carbon offsetting is perfectly sound. Freedom of action, coupled with responsibility for the consequences. This is only fair, after all.

Critics of carbon offsetting say it isn't enough; we need to reduce carbon emissions, not just keep them as they are, and in this they are quite right.

But just imagine a carbon offsetting system which kicked into operation every time we polluted with carbon dioxide, every time we used our cars, our central heating etc. One thing is for sure; the substantial extra costs we would have to pay would change our behaviour. We would pollute less.

Imagine a carbon offsetting system, such as this, which was international. A system where every nation on earth had a carbon audit. If they produced more carbon than they could clean up, they would pay the countries which were cleaning it up with their forests etc.

You have, in effect, the free and fair international trade of carbon clean up (or storage) services.

World Public Opinion tells us from recent polls that 'The publics in these (33 polled) countries (which include the USA, China and India) not only believe that climate change is a serious problem, they are also willing to bear the cost of combating it.’

So all around the world, we are prepared to pay to save our skins! Hardly surprsing really.

And how would this international system operate?

The WTO is the international mechanism overseeing trade. The WTO could immediately recognise the free and fair international trade of carbon storage services. Indeed as the WTO's overarching aim is 'sustainable development' and global warming clearly prevents that ever happening, it is justifiable to say that the WTO is already mandated by its members to recognise this trade.

Yes, it's a big moment for the WTO. It's a big moment for us all, but in truth, when all the other current initiatives collectively still leave the need for a further 95% carbon reduction, a green WTO, looks like the only player on the block, with the muscle, to give us any real hope of tackling global warming.

  • 55.
  • At 02:04 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Joe Fyfe wrote:

Good work I say!!!! This whole carbon emisson debate is politically stoked so as to increase by stealth the taxes we pay. If (or unfortunately when) it is introduced the vast majority of monies made will simply go to the exchequer and nowhere near any potential environmental aid. How much of our road fund licence goes to maintain let alone build new roads? How much of our petrol duty goes on funding public transport? Ignore this "cause" and lets wait and see what the next one will be.

  • 56.
  • At 03:04 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • aled wrote:

Carbon offsetting; what aload of ballocks. Just use efficient light bulbs and don't fly, win win!
Tax aviation fuel at the same rate as my petrol is taxed,
I have to wonder if I can afford to take my children to rugby practice in the local town (I live in the welsh hills),and you luvies in the bbc wonder whether to take your third holiday this year. Grow up don't be so selfish, half the people in the uk didn't fly last year, I've only flown once in my life. Tax the poor to feed your middle class desires. The bbc constantly tell us travel broadens the mind, getting pissed on the costa is no more mind enhancing than getting pissed in Oswestry.
Crap show keep it up

  • 57.
  • At 03:06 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Mike Richards wrote:

Utterly pathetic. We've had months and months of 'ethical man' getting on his bike, dropping by festivals and prattling on about composting toilets. Then what? - he pops on a plane to Jamaica where he learns that fluorescent bulbs use less energy than conventional ones.

Apart from the fact we already know this - why was it necessary for Ethical Man + camera crew to go to Jamaica at all?

Doesn't Jamaica have its own English-language correspondents who could have popped round to that hotel to stare in wonder at a lightbulb?

What's next week's little stunt? My bet's on 'Ethical man sets light to a rainforest to protest at illegal logging'.

The sooner this wretched slot is binned next to the Newsnight weather the better. No, that's unfair, the Newsnight weather had more useful content.

  • 58.
  • At 03:21 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Frank Spinetti wrote:

I have to say that I approve of your decision to travel to Jamaica. The programme might not have been as good had there not been any dad-dancing.

On a more serious note, would it not be more ethical to invite people to turn their TVs off for fifteen minutes ? The time spent watching Justin Rowlatt could then be spent reading newspapers. If everybody switches the TV off at that point, there will be far fewer problems.

Is it logical to promote ethical living through the medium of energy-sapping television ?

  • 59.
  • At 03:29 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Charlie wrote:

Everyone seems to be complaining about your one flight, but surely you've saved up enough carbon emmisions to allow yourself one flight. Especially one that would fly whether or not you were on board.

  • 60.
  • At 04:28 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Neil wrote:

I dont see why everyone is getting so upset over this, the plane would have flown to Jamaica whether he was on it or not.

  • 61.
  • At 05:03 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Vic wrote:

I'm a big fan of crime reenactment to raise awareness and attempt resolution of. Nice work.

The volume of this issue is so great that the your contribution in an attempt to bring this to the attention of the masses is most justifiable.

Match and pace. Understand your evil.

If alternatives to flying are to become attractive to Joe Street there will be an incease in demand for an alternative transport modes to reach our overseas paradices. Are our rail & ferry providers preparing? I hope so!

The 2 days in a cabin with sea view when taking a ferry to spain is a great time to spend reading about the place where you're going and also to chill out and recouperate on the way back. Removing the post holiday need for a holiday!

I can only imagine the 18-30's version & hope for segregation for the sake of the kids.

  • 62.
  • At 05:37 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Laurence Penney wrote:

To all the people seeking to justify Justin getting on the plane because it was going to fly there anyway...

The point is that, had he not flown, he'd had deprived the airline of several hundred pounds. Extrapolate that over lots of people avoiding the flight, and the airline would cut back its services (hurrah!) and eventually go bankrupt (double hurrah!).

  • 63.
  • At 05:39 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Oh for God's sake how much more of this self-righteousness do we have to take? This is legitimate journalism, a serious attempt to see whether carbon offsetting can work and a legitimate part of the project. The bloody plane was going there anyway folks - Justin or no Justin! And as for the waste of licence payers' money, it pales into insignificance compared with some of the expensive junk that passes for light entertainment.

  • 64.
  • At 05:53 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

P.S. I am delighted that the asterisk culture is being undermined by the technicalities of the web. "Ethical Man my a***" may well be the title of the piece but my browser clearly says 'ethical_man_my_arse.html'. No escaping progress is there?

  • 65.
  • At 05:53 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

I really wouldn't worry about it Justin, in terms of the actual effects you and your family are having, its making no difference anyway.

Even if we accept that CO2 is a significant factor (something to doubt really) then the question is how do we respond? Your actions are the most trival and ineffective response possible. In fact, your whole behaviour can be described as unethical.

For example, if the world had signed up to Kyoto and implimented its recommendations in full, it would only postpone the effects of CO2 on the climate by 6 years. Costing billions upon billions of pounds and only postponing the consequences by 6 years. Doesn't this strike you as a meaningless gesture?

There is a far better way to tackle the issue of global warming in an ethical way: adaption and mitigation policies.

In order to afford this, we need economic growth to occur in order to afford these policies. This is especially true of poorer nations. Kyoto condemns the poorest people to continue in poverty - is this ethical?

And economic growth brings benefits that would have an impact on the amount of global production of CO2. Why do you think that the UN has been constantly revising downwards the projected global population figures (now set to stablise around 8 billion)? Economic growth. Stronger economies & better healthcare leads to reductions of birth rates. We seen that in Western Europe. Less people on the planet means there are fewer carbon footprints. Especially as the average carbon footprint per person (globally) has been falling steadily since 1987.

We do have a choice but its either we enrich and empower people to adapt to changing climate conditions or we can let more people die by pretending that small amounts of savings on CO2 emissions does any good.

  • 66.
  • At 06:18 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Just read Borge's comment about Tuvalu.

The tide gauge records show that sea levels at Tuvalu fell during the latter
half of the 20th century. Altimetry data from the Topex-Poseiden satellite show that Tuvalu sea levels fell even during the 1990s.

The overall sea level rise for the South Pacific area as a whole measured over the last 30 years showed an increase of 0.07mm a year. That is a 2mm rise in 30 years in total. No wonder the locals are panicing...

  • 67.
  • At 06:31 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Rinky Hubber wrote:

So he flew to Jamaica – tv’s a very dull thing without pictures! Its a shame some viewers didn't get the point and humour (irony) of the Jamaica trip - giving out energy saving light bulbs to locals so he can keep flying! Brilliant. Isn’t the point of Ethical man to change his lifestyle? The analysis on off setting schemes was spot on i.e its part of the solution, but only up to a point, somehow we all need to modify the way we live. Anyway, he’s funny, but so is wife Bee (she should get her own show). Anyway I hope he gave Sara back the bus fare he borrowed (she's the best). And its good to see students care about the future (and still have time to skip class and hang out at BAA’s office all day).

  • 68.
  • At 06:34 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • David Heron wrote:


Why don't you lead a 'normal' polluting life, and offset your carbon emission by planting the necessary number of tress through


  • 69.
  • At 07:07 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Russell wrote:

You already know the answer - your wife is right. The one good thing to come out of it for me is finding out that Plane Stupid exists, and I will be supporting it. Why couldn't there have been a studio debate with Joss Garman and a BAA rep.? That would have been much more interesting. As for the petrolhead who wrote comment 27; you obviously wouldn't "love to be greener" or you'd have already be driving your 40,000 miles in a Prius, or would be catching the train occasionally. You'd better hope that millions of those individual farts will make a tornado, because it looks like the neccessary change will only come about by a groundswell of individual concern and action.

  • 70.
  • At 07:25 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Paul D wrote:

Does this tree planting (David Heron) also take into account the millions that are being lost in forest clearences in South East Asia and South America every year?

We spent ages deliberating about whether Ethical Man should jet off to Jamaica or not. Of course we knew it was going to be provocative, and that some of our viewers would be upset, even disgusted. The response to the programme shows that we were not wrong. So why on earth did we do it?

There’s no doubt that there’s been a sea change in attitudes to climate change. I think it’s fair to say that most people now accept that the world is warming. But take a look around you, do you see much change in the way people actually behave?

I look at my friends, for example. They are – I like to think – a well-informed and well-intentioned bunch. They know that flying is very polluting. Yet admitting that they’ve had a weekend break in Prague or caught some winter rays with a cheap flight to the Caribbean will – at the very best - only bring the very lightest of blushes to their cheeks.

We decided that I should fly to Jamaica because we reckoned that lots of well-informed and well-intentioned people like my friends, people who haven’t stopped flying, would be appalled that someone calling himself an ethical man would consider going to Jamaica.

And if they are appalled by me flying then, as Lucy Potter (number 51) says, they “may think twice about that weekend trip”.

  • 72.
  • At 08:30 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Peter Sanderson wrote:

Carbon rationing has got to be the way forward, then you can spend your annual ration in whatever way you wish - even by flying! Check out

  • 73.
  • At 10:52 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • John wrote:

Justin Rowlett - continues to live under the delusion that he is acting ethically. He isn't.

  • 74.
  • At 11:06 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • David D'Rane wrote:

Ethical Man; having put your family through a green campaign for a year, in event for nothing, the least you could have done is to take them with you to Jamaica.You learnt nothing you could not have learnt on the phone.

  • 75.
  • At 11:22 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Edward wrote:

I don't care I don't care I don't care! I won't poke my nose into what you do because it's none of my business! Now would the busybodies who have left comments here please get lost and let others get on with their lives, please?

I too applaud Bee, Bea, or however you spell her name for telling her hubby the blunt truth. It does make him look a bit of a hypocrite, accepting the BBC free flight to bask 'n babble, when the family have been struggling with bikes and pavements for a year.

Quite frankly, I'm sick to death of Newsnight being a state-of-the-art, vibrant, trendy, with-it, up-front, and intrinsically empty programme full of silly soundbite activities.

I want it to remain what I have termed Old Newsnight with three items per night, not stupid technological innovations like peapods. I want Newsnight to keep a stable team of presenters that you know (at least from their screen behaviour). So just chuck out the waste and stick to the news.

  • 77.
  • At 11:31 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Nik wrote:

IT would have made alot more sense to use stock footage and a little green-screen trickery to give the impression of being there; and a little research online and via the phone.

Not a good image for an 'Ethical' Man - too much 20th Century thinking, not enough 21st.

  • 78.
  • At 11:53 PM on 18 Oct 2006,
  • Black dog wrote:

Such questions are invalid out of context: because I don't own a car, my family's energy footprint is comparable with that of an average Indian, saving on the power needed to produce and service it, the fuel it uses, and to distribute the same. Yet here where I live in Belgium, the government rewards car drivers for taking their vehicals off the road with free fares: and now they want to tax the one flight I make each year (included in said energy footprint)out of existance.
I therefore find myself in the position of the Swansea newspaper reporter, being disadvantaged for cooperating. And given the f-u attitude of God's own country, perhaps there's no point in the long run.

Justin hi,
could i join the chorus of disapproval, but from a different tangent?

I run an offset treeplanting company, How about speaking to some of my customers before you pass judgement on them? They will feedback to you as they do to me that offsetting their flight by having us plant a tree for them helps them to acknowledge that what they're doing is destructive to our atmosphere. This sets them on a clear path to flying less and is precisely the change in mindset that we need to make if we are all going to stop flying about the place.
The trees we planted today will be helping to keep your kids alive in 80 years time.
Your programme has brought the debate forwards a big chunk.
Do more like it.

  • 80.
  • At 02:59 AM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Mr D A Stewart wrote:

The ethical duplicity rides again!
When you had your carbon footprint measured, were you a percentage of the journey, or the whole plane journey to the Canaries. Duh!
I can't believe the BBC chose such a daft and selfish person to promote ecological behavior, at such a critical point in linier history. To have done this properly, he should have sat down, measured, and wieghed the odds by fifty-fifty, showing what can and can't be done, and what needs to be done. He should have projected to the public that ecologically "ethical" behavior can be done without too much pain, or the expence of ones liberty or pleasure.
He should show by example what the ordinary person can do, but instead, he has taken this opportunity for self-promotion, and, it seems, created a show about how long he can suffer. It seems he is trying to make it so bad for himself, that we will think it's ok that when he finishes his run of programs, he can leap out and buy himself a Land Rover. (Which has been advertised almost as much as his eco-friendly lightbulbs...)
This should be a positive program, but instead, it is giving the message that being "ethical" is hard work... Sit down, think about what is ethical; what is ethical for your life, what your presenting to the public as ethical, and what is really helpful ecologically. - I would like to ask the Ethical-Man, just why was your year so hard? Some people enjoy riding a bike, and as you live in London, why do you miss your car so much? Just because you should not fly, it doesn't mean you and your family can't go on holiday.. What's the matter with the train? Stop being so damn unhappy! You should feel good about yourself!
(And get rid of that bloody awful suit... It's getting painful.)

  • 81.
  • At 09:28 AM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Mick Bee wrote:

Ru Hartwell, Post 79. Can you explain to me how your off-setting works?

Does it go like this? I take a flight that burns fossil fuel. The fuel burn releases carbon into the atmosphere. The carbon released was originally part of a carbon rich atmosphere that was unable to sustain life as we now know it - it was anoxic rather than oxic. The change to our present atmosphere only occurred because most of the carbon was permanently locked out of the active oxygen carbon cycle about 3 billion years ago. See Post 17 and

So how do your trees, part of the active oxygen carbon cycle, overcome the returning of that sequestered carbon into the active cycle (our atmosphere) where it will not disappear but continue, in ever increasing quantities, to go round and round. It is a bit like bailing out a leaky boat by putting the water into more and more containers that remain inside the boat, it will still sink. Only we can't chuck the carbon overboard.

Or are you going to harvest your trees and launch them into space?

  • 82.
  • At 10:42 AM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Chris wrote:

The clip in which he explains how carbon offsetting works after emerging from the water with a snorkel on his head was particularly gratuitous.

Very pleased that he travelled all that way to do a short report. It highlights how holiday-makers have even less of a good reason to travel so far at the expense of the environment.

  • 83.
  • At 11:20 AM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Kevin Hanson wrote:

Poor Edward the Ostrich! (post 75)
Or should that be poor Edward the Ostrich's descendants. Fancy knowing that you're related to someone who couldn't give a toss about the crap he bequeathed to his own flesh and blood, let alone the rest of humanity.

Better you do the decent thing and go the way of the Dodo, Edward.

  • 84.
  • At 12:22 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Cloe Fribourg wrote:

RE Collected Eric #76: Hallelujah!!!! Finally someone who speaks (some) sense! Please, please keep our dear leaders on their toes. If we wanted dumbed down news we'd be watching the 6 or 10. We really don't need yet more journalists who simply follow the official scaremongering waffle. [I like the audio pods though, particulary when introduced by Paxman's sporadic sarcasm]

RE Ethical Man: Generally not sure about the point of ethical man but I did like Justin Rowlatt putting the Plane Stupid guy in his place ("you are incredibly arrogant" etc.). How about they used their energy to set up an organisation which would allow people of the same area to car-share more effectively? How about they lobbied local authorities for more sensible bus routes and fares? How about they lobbied local authorities for safter and more accessible park&ride? How about they lobbied parliament for fairer and more extensive rail networks? How about they lobbied local authorities to make sure that houses are build with effective insulation? How about actually doing something useful, that would help others AND reduce emissions? Revolutionary thought, I know.

  • 85.
  • At 12:57 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • John Finn wrote:

It’s no good – enough is enough. I can’t listen to any more drivel on ‘climate change’ from programmes like Newsnight. It was bad enough when they were simply urging the government or somebody or other to act, like some latter day King Canute, to “stop”, “tackle” or “combat” Climate Change. More recently though, we’ve been fed regular slots featuring some imbecile called “ethical man” and his crackpot wife, but Tuesday night really plumbed the depths. I am referring to the ‘debate’ between some token presence from the aviation industry and what appeared - from the level of his argument- to be a particularly bolshie 10 year old. It was chaired by Jeremy Paxman who’s clearly getting madder by the day. None of the three participants had the faintest idea what they were talking about. At some point. Paxman asked what must be the stupidest question ever which went something like “Why should millions of Africans die just because ‘we’ want to travel abroad on holiday?” What!!. Where on earth does this come from? I can only assume from some study with the usual plethora of ‘could bes’, ‘may bes’ and ‘up tos’. There is actually good reason to believe that Africa would, for reasons I’ll go into later, be one of the least affected regions in the world in the event of CO2-enhanced global warming. But first, for the benefit of the 10 year old, here is a brief background to the “Science”.

The earth warms due to the incoming solar radiation it receives from the Sun. It cools by convection, evaporation and by emitting Infra-Red (outgoing Long Wave) radiation from the earth’s surface. If the earth receives more radiation than it gets rid of – it warms up. If it gets rid of more than it receives - it cools down. Over the long term the Incoming is broadly equal to the Outgoing, implying that the earth’s mean temperature is more or less stable though there are millions of factors which, over hugely different time-scales, can disturb this state.


Without the so-called greenhouse effect the earth would absorb and emit energy at a mean temperature of –18 degrees C. This is 33 degrees C lower than the current mean global temperature of around 15 degrees C. To put this in perspective, global temperatures during the last Ice Age were around 5 or 6 degrees lower than they are to-day. In other words. the greenhouse effect is absolutely essential for the continuation of human life. So how does it work?

The earth’s atmosphere includes a number of gases – i.e. the ‘greenhouse’ gases – which warm the atmosphere by absorbing some (around 73%) of the IR radiation which is emitted from the earth’s surface. The most abundant and dominant greenhouse gas is water vapour though, because it’s individual molecules are short-lived in the atmosphere, many scientists refer to water vapour as a feedback. Other greenhouse gases include Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Methane plus smaller quantities of N2O, Ozone ..etc. It might seem reasonable, therefore, to think that any increase in CO2 concentrations could cause the earth to warm. But there are a couple of key questions here, i.e. does it and more importantly by how much. It might be useful here to use an analogy (not mine thanks Richard C.) to illustrate a crucial point. Imagine you are shining a torch. Now cover the torch beam with a sheet of paper. The paper will absorb some of the light and reduce the brightness of the beam. Keep covering the beam with sheets of paper until the light can no longer be seen. At this point covering the torch will have no further effect. All the light will have been absorbed (to the naked eye, at least). Now back to the CO2 increase. As we have previously implied CO2, as a greenhouse gas, can absorb IR radiation – but not all IR radiation. CO2 only absorbs in a narrow band about a peak absorption wavelength of 15 microns (wavenumber : 667 per cm). If we look at plots of the earth’s radiance emission and GHG absorption, it’s quite clear that the CO2 absorption band is already at (or very close to) ‘saturation’ point. That is, all the IR radiation which can be absorbed by CO2 is already being absorbed by the existing GH gases in the atmosphere or to refer back to our analogy we’ve already covered the torch with enough sheets of paper to prevent any light shining through.

When atmospheric CO2 concentrations were at pre-industrial levels (around 280 ppm), in the first 100m of the atmosphere (See Dr Jack Barrett’s paper at, the earth’s emitted radiance was apportioned as follows;

72.9% was absorbed by GH gases; 22.5% escaped through the IR window (i.e. that region which is outside the GH gas absorption bands); leaving a remaining 4.6% for absorption in the next layer.

Doubling CO2 concentrations (to 560 ppm) alters the ratio as follows:

73.4% absorbed by GH gases; 22.5% escapes through the IR window (i.e. that region which is outside the GH gas absorption bands); leaving a remaining 4.1% for absorption in the next layer.

This is an increase of 0.5% absorption of total radiance (in the lower 100m). Bearing in mind that 73% absorption equates to a temperature increase of 33 deg C it’s hard to see how doubling CO2 can possibly result in an increase of any more than a few tenths of a degree.

I can well imagine some of the better informed readers will be pointing out that the reported rise of 0.6 degrees in the past century is already more than a “few tenths of a degree”. Others might want to draw attention to the much larger increases being forecast by IPCC modellers. If I have tine and can be bothered I’ll deal with both these issues (failing that I’ll respond if I’m specifically asked), but I did promise a comment on Africa, so here goes

The atmosphere in the tropics, including Africa, consists of high concentrations of water vapour – the dominant greenhouse gas. The absorption bands of water vapour overlap those of carbon dioxide. Hence the addition of CO2 will not have the same impact as it might in other parts of the world. Also – radiation energy and therefore wavelength varies as a function of the temperature of the emitting body. Basically the higher the temperature – the shorter the wavelength of the emitted radiation. Peak CO2 absorption wavelengths occur at colder temperatures, i.e. in the extreme latitudes towards the poles. In a nutshell CO2 should, theoretically, be most effective in the cold dry regions of the Arctic and the Antarctic. Ah - I hear you cry – isn’t this exactly what’s happening. Well - Yes and No. The Arctic has certainly warmed in the past 30 years, but it has only just reached the temperatures it reached in the 1940s. Check GISS station data for confirmation. The Antarctic, on the other hand, has actually cooled over the past 3 decades. Forget what you hear about Antarctic warming. This only refers to the Antarctic Peninsula – a small finger of land which juts out into the Southern Ocean. The climate of the Antarctic Peninsula is extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in ocean circulation. The large mass of the Antarctic interior shows a definite steady cooling trend.

Right that’s all for now. But for any interested ‘layperson’ it ’s worth reading the following

Two papers by Richard Lindzen (Professor of Atmospheric Physics at MIT)

‘Global Warming: The nature and Origin of the Alleged Scientific Consensus’ and the more recent ‘Understanding Common Climate Claims’ .

Also this highly readable and hugely significant paper by Ross McKitrick

‘What is the Hockey Stick debate about’

You’ll find all 3 on the web.

From Emily above:
Offsetting the carbon emissions makes the good feel better and allows the thoughtless to continue flying conveniently, regularly and cheaply.

George Monbiot likens it to the medieval practice of selling indulgences, which was one major factor behind the reformation

Well worth a look at this newest apology for careless consumption

This is a reply to Mick Bee (post81).

O.K. It goes like this Mick.
We grow the trees. After 80 or 100 years they are harvested as timber, cut into rectilinear blocks as large as practicable and saturated with preservative. Then they are buried in the peat on which they're growing or in the sea. In either of these anaerobic situations flowback of CO2 to the atmosphere will be markedly slowed down. Think of how well preserved the keel timbers of those viking longboats up at jorvik, are).

Then the next crop of trees is grown in the same location and the process is repeated.

What we are creating here is the worlds first Sequestration Farm.

I could write a lot more about this vision but I'm not sure this blog is the best place for us to continue the discussion. Could you email me directly from the website link on my name. I would really appreciate that.

  • 88.
  • At 01:13 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Ian McQ wrote:

Again a very uninformed highly un scientific artical.

I think the true debate can only be brought to the table when they stop feeding us midless statistics

As a true "scientist" with no commercial interest in the Global warming 'market' (is this the science community the program constantly refers to?!) I can not be anything but horrified by comments like;

"if we save 10% of the CO2 emmisions of 1990 levels we will stop an envirmonmental disaster"

Well c'mon - 10% to prevent a disaster! What is this based on!? If you said 90% maybe that would seem feasible. How has this figure been produced?

Paxman was apualing again for not asking such questions and even sided with the chap from Plain Stupid expressing the point

"taking flights to Prague contributes causing loss of life to millions in Africa"

What a load of rubbish - what is this based on?

Half the guys informing us of this rubbish couldn't even tell us how water boils let alone what a heat transfer coefficient is and yet they spurt out poxy statistics regarding one of the worlds most complex issues.

Another point we forget, what a tiny insignificant nation we really are. What difference do we make to the entire planet?!

Also, around 90% of all CO2 production on the earthis naturally occuring. How is Britain saving 10% of a man made 10% remainder going to make any difference?

lets have the facts and the real debate please and be dictated to by idiots like George Monbiot and anti-capitalist fools with no scientific credentials.

  • 89.
  • At 03:24 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Will Brocas wrote:

Now I have watched the program, I can continue from my original comment (post 11)
Justin, I presume the intension was to cause as much provocation and subsequent negative response as possible. I have certainly reviewed my opinions on flying as I certainly attend to travel a lot in the future, and will bare it mind during my studies which cover a lot of environmentalism.
Thus if the spending of your 2 tons of carbon (which is shared amongst everyone who was on your plane, presuming the BBC didn’t give you a private jet, and would have been spent anyway) makes enough people who watched the program and those who are involved in this debate choose not to fly then that may off-set your 2 tons and maybe more. Therefore your flight is justified.

The other thing I've learnt from your series of programs so far is that "Behind every great ethical man is an even more ethical woman"

Brocas (89),
The 2 tonnes of carbon are per seat/passenger, not shared around the plane as you seem to think. A picture is worth a thousand words:

  • 91.
  • At 05:34 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

This is guy is a fool. He obviously doesn't give a damn and is a lazy reporter. His wife is far closer to the mark.

I guess this series just serves to demonstrate the danger of people who will fool themselves just enough to feel comfortable.

It is better to be honest and realize that what little you are doing really isn't enough - you aren't 'saving the planet'!

  • 92.
  • At 06:06 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Charlotte wrote:

I did take part in the One day in History campaign and wrote about how I have never been on a plane in all my life. It was inspired from a report I had seen on Channel 4 News about people expoliting the cheap plane tickets. I then thought how is was slightly ironic that the journalists and the experts trying to emphasise this point usually are the ones responsible for the increase in people flying. With journalism I suppose it just comes with the job, if there is a big meeting at the UN then get your anchorman out there sharpish. Whereas I have an uneventful student life in which I travel about 3 miles everyday and holiday 3 times a year, all of which are in the UK. I am definitely not trying to say I'm magnicently green, I do that travelling by car! But the point I made in History blog was beautifully displayed by Justin Rowlatt, 'ethical man' himself.

To be honest I side with his wife, and I have throughout the enitre series of 'Ethical man' so far. When they changed their gas supplier, I think, 'ethical wife' said that she had tried to get them to change to exactly the same supplier before and Mr Rowlatt had denied. But once Newsnight was there and it was part of his job Mr Rowlatt thought it was a fantastic money and energy saving idea.

However I do think it is a great mini series that will show people alternative ideas to help the energy problems we have. Personally though I shall not be taking up the recycling my *cough* excrement to use in my garden. Unless I was feeding a company of people I was not particularly fond of, then I would have the personally joke of knowing what their food was grown in. I am slightly twisted...

From Ru Hartwell:
"After 80 or 100 years they are harvested as timber, cut into rectilinear blocks as large as practicable and saturated with preservative."

You know, of course, that "preservative" is just an euphamism for "poison"?

I can't imagine any sort of tree-lover or environmentalist taking such an idea seriously.

Ed (93),
I was thinking more in terms of wax,oil or clay or even charring the surface of the timber. Its about stopping air and accompanying bacteria etc from entering and starting the process of degradation that leads to the flow back of CO2 and worse, methane to the atmosphere.
This is one little problem that we've got 80 years to solve.
Believe it or not, when we survey the varying passions above, we're all on the same side.

Tom (40) asks why Newsnight flew a cameraman to Jamaica instead of hiring one locally. The Ethical Man slot has a distinctive visual style and format familiar to a small team working together regularly. That familiarity is not easy for a cameraman who has probably never seen Newsnight let alone Ethical Man to replace, especially in a frantic 48hours of filming with no producer for guidance.

Justin and I flew to Jamaica and back on half empty flights, that carbon was going to get burned with or without us. We spent 48 hours on the island and we were working flat out for at least 30 of them, a lot of work goes into creating the impression of so much leisure. A lot of the blogs that this piece has generated suggest that we didn’t need to go there to make the points made in the film. In a sense that’s true but by extension we don’t ever have to go anywhere at all. We could save a skipfull of carbon and license fees by having Justin sitting in an unheated room lit by a jar of glow-worms and recording himself on a mobile phone. But how much of that would you really want to watch?

Ethical man is not an exercise in environmental piety, it’s a reporter personally exploring the issues and how they affect our lives and the choices we make. Carbon offsetting is one of these issues and the film explored the attractions and contradictions of the idea. The Jamaica section was a key part of the whole film. It’s funny how many bloggers are hopping mad about us flying to Jamaica but make no attempt to address the carbon offsetting issue.

I can’t help noticing a subtext in some of the angrier blogs that is infuriated by the idea that Justin and I might have enjoyed our time in Jamaica. Well actually, yes we did. Sorry about that.

Tom (40) asks why Newsnight flew a cameraman to Jamaica instead of hiring one locally. The Ethical Man slot has a distinctive visual style and format familiar to a small team working together regularly. That familiarity is not easy for a cameraman who has probably never seen Newsnight let alone Ethical Man to replace, especially in a frantic 48hours of filming with no producer for guidance.

Justin and I flew to Jamaica and back on half empty flights, that carbon was going to get burned with or without us. We spent 48 hours on the island and we were working flat out for at least 30 of them, a lot of work goes into creating the impression of so much leisure. A lot of the blogs that this piece has generated suggest that we didn’t need to go there to make the points made in the film. In a sense that’s true but by extension we don’t ever have to go anywhere at all. We could save a skipfull of carbon and license fees by having Justin sitting in an unheated room lit by a jar of glow-worms and recording himself on a mobile phone. But how much of that would you really want to watch?

Ethical man is not an exercise in environmental piety, it’s a reporter personally exploring the issues and how they affect our lives and the choices we make. Carbon offsetting is one of these issues and the film explored the attractions and contradictions of the idea. The Jamaica section was a key part of the whole film. It’s funny how many bloggers are hopping mad about us flying to Jamaica but make no attempt to address the carbon offsetting issue.

I can’t help noticing a subtext in some of the angrier blogs that is infuriated by the idea that Justin and I might have enjoyed our time in Jamaica. Well actually, yes we did. Sorry about that.

Tony Jolliffe Newsnight cameraman

  • 97.
  • At 11:23 PM on 19 Oct 2006,
  • Mark Scott wrote:

Please stop these low brow features. This is supposed to be a news show, not infotainment.

  • 98.
  • At 12:04 PM on 20 Oct 2006,
  • Steve wrote:

John Finn seems to place great store in Richard Lindzen's findings. It should however be remembered that he is funded by the oil & coal industries. In addition, he boasted that he would take bets that the climate would be cooler 20 years from now. However, when challenged by several leading climatologists he backed down. His assertion about the capacity (or lack thereof) of carbon dioxide to absorb more radiation is not widely accepted.

Have a look here:

  • 99.
  • At 03:16 PM on 20 Oct 2006,
  • Scott wrote:

One does begin to wonder if this Plane Stupid and anti-flying bagonwagonism isn't just some socialist subversion to have us turn inwards, become islationist (were are an island after all albeit with a tunnel to France) and ban all trade with foriegners which will involved the transportation of goods through the use of transportation that pollutes the environment.

As for the Ethical Man rubbish, what a bore.

  • 100.
  • At 03:33 PM on 20 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

There seems to be an acceptance that people have a 'right to fly',

- why is it okay (or at all necessary) to travel half the globe just to go on holiday??

Shouldn't we holiday closer to home? I'm not saying we should all resign ourselves to only ever holidaying in the U.K. (not that there is anything wrong with that). Where is the great attraction in spending your 'time off' on a beach in jamaica rather than a beach in spain? Do you really appreciate the difference? I doubt most people do.

The majority of popular holiday destinations about the world are made so indistinct (because it seems thats what people want), that those trips are (in my view) unjustified - given the known evils plane travel alone.

Holiday in Europe, go by train or fuel efficient vehicle. Don't skip several countries just to go to a popular resort, enjoy what we have locally and support our neighbors in doing so.

Why do you want to go there (to your holiday destination) anyway? If you truly long to go to Jamaica (or any other distant place) specifically to experience its distinct culture and environment, then do go - but be aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it and think about how you are doing it. And for the sake of all humanity don't waste any of it 'non-dancing' in a club with a cheap alco-pop in your hand!

It is true that tourism dependent regions would suffer, however popular tourism is not sustainable and these fragile dependancies should not be established or continued for the long term economic stability of regions anyway.

Why is it justifiable in the name of business?

I don't think it is, probably. Unless you need to be somewhere to perform a physical task or out of sheer practicality. Modern and developing communications technologies (video conferencing etc) make many conventional business trips unnecessary.

I personally have managed to stop driving to work. It simply wasn't necessary to commute given the capabilities of the computers at work and my own at home. It may be nice to be there more often but the long drive and my concern for the environment far outweighed the minor and only occasional benefits. Now I spend more time on social trips and I am far better off for it.

Most environmentally beneficial changes are also greatly beneficial to the health and happiness of people.

Joe (100)
I couldn't agree more. A right to fly? What could be more absurd? By what right do one fifth of the earth's people feel we have a right to consume some four fifths or more of an unsustainable annual resource harvest, the rape of the Earth, where trees are cut down faster than they grow, limited resources are ripped out of the Earth and end up in landfill before you can say "huh?", and every single day sees another 200,000 mouths to feed, clothe and house?

Vaya con Gaia

  • 102.
  • At 01:07 AM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Borge wrote:

I am tempted to join John Finn, John and Steve in discussion of the scientific validity of climate chaos theories, but for a non-climatologist isn't that rather pointless? Most of us can't master the physics, maths, biology and chemistry of global climate change models within the next few years so logically we have to listen and respond to scientist's consensus.

Therefore, as I think more scientists consider climate chaos is real than not real, I and you are obliged to make a choice:

either take them seriously - heed the warnings and act emphatically to do whatever we can to head off implied disaster (and don't kid yourself that flying less is enough...)

or (second position) deny the science (even though we're not trained up climatologists...) and keep flying, spraying, burning knowing that we're taking a huge gamble.

That second position is ok – its not my opinion that we should pillory people who dissent like that– its simply that they should be up front about their stance and the evident gamble they are arguably taking (with their own future and with that of their neighbours, their children, fauna, flora and so on).

My point is there's actually no room for sitting on the fence – even if you go along with the scientists you have to do something or you're guilty of being in the second position as we have no time left. The ball is rolling toward the precipice – the longer we delay starting our chase – the further and faster the ball rolls.

Of course - not going along with the scientists is truly absurd - unless you happen to be a climatologist with global climate trend expertise. Yes you are entitled to an opinion but unless its backed up by rigorous analysis its not worth much. We're talking about model's of the future of an entire planet's global climate patterns – and you think you know better?

Act – or do nothing (knowingly). I accept the science and I'm doing nothing. I'm flying.

  • 103.
  • At 05:52 AM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Jenny wrote:

The lady who is your wife is a star, and she was dead right about the trip. May we please see (and hear) her more often in this Ethical Man thing? After all, your whole family is involved in it.

You did show some of the hypocrisy in a new way. I'm certain you could have done it without flying though. I keep asking why the BBC cannot use local reporters. You could make a good point through doing that.

I'm glad someone mainstream has said why growing trees is not valid offsetting, as you did very clearly, but the lightbulbs thing really isn't either. 800 lightbulbs in a hotel covers less than one planeload of tourists. The people making a living trading carbon and offsets are just exploiting people's concerns. It might even be blunting resolve.

Ethical Man (and woman, and children) need to get much tougher on a much wider range of carbon emissions, now you've demonstrated that one family can only cut so little.

Look at why so many "green" groups are so conflicted on the subject. Look at France's carbon levels in the light of the country having so much nuclear power plant, and still building. See if anyone is investigating permanent recapturing of carbon from the air. What happened to France's electric cars, and Iceland's hydrogen buses? On another tack, how much is cooling - fans and air conditioning - going to be costing in carbon as Britain gets too hot for our buildings, designed to keep us warm? And all the money the government is spending on insulation; is any of it going on keeping heat out, or are they stuck in an outdated rut?

  • 104.
  • At 09:24 AM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Leo Septimus wrote:

Justin,you have shot yourself in the foot.I dont think even the Saatchi brothers could get you out of this one.Next time you take a holiday,make it a long one.Preferably to somewhere like Middlesborough.

  • 105.
  • At 01:38 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Joe wrote:

Borge (102)

I think its not only that people don't understand the science of climate change, its also that they simply wont believe it.
The problem is that, until all the major car manufacturers, power providers and travel companies actually look concerned about it, many people will not actually consider it. Why should they? People have a short life-span and cant imagine bad things happening in the developed West, bad things only happen in 3rd world countries don't they?

I secretly hope for a warning in the form of a small natural disaster - we're in line for much worse according to the science.
It wouldn't need to be much, it would need to be close to home. Something scientists will say: " that was due to global warming..."
-That'll shake the fence.

I liked the logical path and direction of your post but didn't expect your apparently illogical and contradictory conclusion:

"I accept the science and I'm doing nothing. I'm flying."

Wouldn't you be interested if the airlines began to improve the fuel efficiency of their planes? Thats what will happen if public pressure comes to bare...

We (the public) need to force some change. Efficiency of vehicles, buildings, manufacturing etc. will change under pressure.

...As in motorsport, just as a new restriction is imposed (i.e. moto gp has to go from 990cc to 800cc for the next season), the technology is forced to change and the 'restricted' technology soon starts to outperform its predecessor.

If you accept the science then surely you must accept that things cannot go on as they are - also, we now have a great opportunity to better ourselves and our technology!

  • 106.
  • At 02:59 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Monica Coty wrote:

Give poor Justin a break-it's obvious he's been trying to do his bit,and as someone who regularly forgets to turn light bulbs off I'm not sure I'm in a very strong position to criticise him.

For anyone interested in a very thorough investigation of science and the media and the idea of 'balanced' reporting, Stephen Schneider's page at
is well worth a visit.
" We live in complex and confusing times, and rationality (that is, knowing enough about what might happen and how likely it is, and being willing to change our current beliefs given challenging new evidence) is the only way to clearly define our values when it is time to make policy — and that is the job of all citizens, including journalists and scientists."
Vaya con Gaia

  • 108.
  • At 09:50 PM on 21 Oct 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

Watched the flying report and found it was interesting that environmentalism is the new refuge of fascism. Anyone in any doubt, simply watch the wild-eyed anti-airline activist, who kept spitting the line "science dictates it" as a justification for any actions regardless of legality or democracy.

Tony Jolliffe,

'we didn’t need to go there to make the points made in the film. In a sense that’s true but by extension we don’t ever have to go anywhere at all.'


This flying nonsense is a very recent short lived concept. It is no 'right' at all. The sooner it is all put a stop to the better.

May I add to Mr Jolliffe, the same probably applies to almost every car trip to film any report, usually well after any event just so a reporter can stand in front of a 'relevant' building to spout words that could have been said anywhere.

For thousands of years we were perfectly happy rarely going further than the local market town. Our current behavior is the anomaly. End it.

James StGeorge 109

...and for thousands of years we were happy without television or sanctimonious blogging on the internet.

Tony Jolliffe Newsnight cameraman

And until quite recently, we walked to work. If you look up 'commute' in a pre-1950s dictionary, you may find no reference at all to travelling to and from work, a practice virtually non-existent before the twentieth century and powered transport.

And Ivan Illich had some very perceptive analysis on the illusions of speed and accelerated mobility:

Slow down and enjoy home.

  • 112.
  • At 03:57 PM on 22 Oct 2006,
  • bacco wrote:

Justin give in an let the ethical lady, that is your wife, to take over. You are of no use anymore I'm afraid. Having said that most of the people who have strongly criticised you do the same thing regardless(excluding myself), hypocrisy in other words. I wonder how it feels to be on a plane because I have never being on one!

  • 113.
  • At 10:30 AM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • wenzel wrote:

if enough ethical people flew to Iceland to whale watch, Iceland would not have had to return to whale slaughter. Eco tourism has a role to play in the world, but we got to get there first!

  • 114.
  • At 07:25 PM on 23 Oct 2006,
  • Bob Biddlecombe wrote:

Can anyone be ethical in a market economy? Presumably if Justin didn't burn the fuel on his transatlantic trip, the demand for oil would be marginally reduced, the price of oil would reduce slightly and as a result someone else would consume a little more.
Without a world tax regime rationing fuel, the only ethical act is to buy as much oil as possible and store it, i.e. buy an oil well and then not exploit the resource.

Tony Jolliffe

You seem a little rattled, conscience pricking? Or the fear of an end to 'jollies' to Jamaica?

Hello Ed I,

'Slow down and enjoy home.'

Exactly! When you think of the trouble and effort, let alone expense financial and planetary, compared to enjoying one's home, these desperate to travel people must be mad!

Laughing my head off at the half term reported delays at Stanstead, strikes in Spain, etc. serves them right. :-)

  • 116.
  • At 01:40 PM on 24 Oct 2006,
  • Polka wrote:

I didn't even see the programme but from reading all the above it made me think...

Could it be possible that in asking viewers to watch the said episode, to find out if the flight to Jamaica was justified, the BBC was simply using the debate to raise viewing figures and thus income?

TO JOHN FINN, thank you for balancing out the debate and providing links to the Climate Change articles - I think it is difficult for the public (myself included!) to formulate their thoughts accurately on the topic, when information they receive only comes from the media and not facts provided directly from climatologists. Ultimately, whether climate change is happening or not, is it not a good thing that people are becoming more aware or the natural environment and hopefully reconnecting to it? After all, it is our only home and respecting it a little more can't be a bad lesson.

  • 117.
  • At 12:51 PM on 25 Oct 2006,
  • Rich wrote:

It just didn't make sense. You made all the right points, lived the correct life in being mindful, and then undid all your good work. It even felt like you knew you doing the wrong thing and weakened your report in doing so. The report from the Carribean was unnecessary within the framework of the piece. It just left me confused, why did you bother?

I have to smile at what ethical man and his family have given up to try to prevent global warming problems.
What about families like us? Live in an 1880 terraced house which has had all that can be done in the way of insulation etc. years ago. We have no washing machine, no tumble-dryer, no gas or electric stove, cannot afford to buy or run a car so walk everywhere. In an emergency we do use a taxi. No garden to water. Wash dishes in cold water. To save money rarely use heating. Use energy-saving light bulbs. What do we cut out? - fridge-freezer, microwave oven, T.V. or electric light?

Wow I booked a flight today to my families second home in Spain, to do some work there and spend some time with my Dad.

Upon checkout I saw the tree donation and carbon trust donation box - ticked the boxes - felt great about myself because heard that if fly need to plant tree to compensate and also i could donate to cover the carbon cost.

That reminded me of this show and site - then suddenly a guilty feeling came across me while reading these comments and checking out the film.

I am not an expert in any of these fields - nor am I totally ethical or environmentally friendly just my two cents from my limited, skewed, point of view. Nor am I experienced in commenting in blogs like this.

Was the trip to Jamaica justified?
Hard to tell, but if the intention was shock tactics, increase viewings, stir debate, and further prevention - then I would say it has succeeded but just by a hair.

Will some people stop watching, sure, a handful of ‘holier than thou’ ‘do gooders’
but now more people may tune in to see the next instalment of jovial hypocrisy – it has to be a bit entertaining doesn’t it…. to hold the (3 second) attention span of our young folk

This has also brought together a lot of opinionated people (i'm not excluded) who are attacking each other (but i thought we were on the same side?)

Is this a waste of time and money?
Not totally, this programme has raised awareness and I have learned something and found some interesting websites and points of view (which i will share with others).

I think people like me will definitely reconsider short trips abroad or consider more ethical alternatives.

To all critics of this programme series:
I bet you are all hypocrites (me included) and have you raised awareness as much as this programme? How much have you done? Are you totally balanced, integrated, enlightened and ethical?

Sad to hear people saying this programme should finish, well ok then, what do you suggest?

Maybe this has all been orchestrated so we make our own conclusions?
Or Justin was just fed up and wants to return to is old lifestyle (or at least a reminder of)?

To be honest I wouldn't blame him. I reckon he's done more than average affluent joe and his mates (from childhood) have probably flown around a lot more than him.

Perhaps one way to teach is by being a hypocrite?
But it is sad a 6 months work wiped out in one weekend - could’ve at least covered some more stories in the area for 2-3 weeks guys (assuming accounts ok with that) and taken Bea/Bee along with you for some down to earth guidance.

Or is it all greenwash?!
Big corporations making us think they are doing something useful meanwhile lining their pockets even more.

Is it all pointless?
Offsetting - makes us feel better about ourselves but doesn't actually reduce anything except our bank balance.

There is still some debate whether or not carbon reduction actually does anything as in John Finn’s post. I will read the link that was cited in reply to John's post. This does remind me of other conspiracy theories though (eg. Cancer, Aids, Cholesterol, Fluoride).

Also I agree that some positive action can be done not just the ‘plane stupid’ way - but it’s good to have groups like that IMHO if at least to show us the other extreme!

Cut population by 80% Nature's self balancing plan no doubt (Cancer, Aids, Poverty, Pollution, 'Natural Disasters', Tsunami anyone?)

Why do people go abroad, well some people like to see other climates, cultures also health reasons, to hospitals, funerals, sandy beaches clear blue water etc. But as usual with 'Crazy Wisdom and Truth' this is a paradox (unless Eco Tourism is valid).

Carbon rationing could be good – need to read about that.

Being someone who works from home a lot and runs a website I don’t use a car so much so can ration myself a break – and work from the villa in Spain? Can’t I?

Stay indoors, don’t go anywhere, don’t travel, don’t explore, yea right! Consume products only from your homeland yea right! Where's my cuppa PG Tips?!

Humans want to expand (and then contract?) so this expansion is inevitable

Post 118. Sad but true - are you happy though?

Ed - great posts will check out those links

Has anyone thought perhaps we are all made of light (particle and wave) and perhaps will see you on another ehtichal parallel dimension?

Let’s get a popular scientist to talk about Quantum physics and parallel dimensions - that will shut you lot up (I doubt) Or let’s talk to Bush & Branson about Space Expansion plans eg. Hotels, Trips.

Also lets hear alternative ways of being ethical - group meditation and visualisation is very effective.

Well i feel better now (less guilty) I've spurted out onto here, and taken a few links.

Wonder if anyone will reply after this or have they all used their carbon allowance watching the film on their wind up mobile phone or eco-internet café drinking tea from Brixton.

Good job Justin, Tony BBC - it worked imho ;)
And you guys knew this was risky but still did it – so you got some big cahones!

Being a journalist aren't you allowed to dive into the deep end and not take sides, but it did go against the whole 'point of the programme' (as we are led to believe) so I can understand why people are so moved.

Sometimes you have to take a chance, and better the devil you know…than the devil you don't

In my opinion time is money - there is nothing wrong with donating money to a trustworthy charity rather than travelling (flying?)to Africa to do some voluntary work - but charity starts at home.

So i agree screwing in lightbulbs in Jamaica, you guys could have done a bit more come on (and justified a longer stay)... or done a bit more in the UK

  • 120.
  • At 09:52 PM on 11 Nov 2006,
  • DJ wrote:

Please do not be taken in by the likes of "John Finn". The more I read his post, the more suspicious I became so I did a little research of my own.
First, I googled Professor Jack Barrett and it turns out he is a member of the Scientific Alliance. This turns out to be a lobby group set up by the British Aggregates Association (which represents quarrying businesses) and a former adviser to Tony Blair, Mark Adams.
The Scientific Alliance's website says it is "committed to rational discussion and debate on the challenges facing the environment today". Really?
Why pass itself off as a scientific body when it is quite clearly a lobbying front for the quarrying industry and certain political interests?
I then googled the quoted paper and soon found the Energy and Environment journal in which it had been published is not a science journal. It's a social science journal with an openly admitted political agenda.
Writing in 2003, Richard Monastersky quoted Energy and Environment's editor, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, a reader in geography at the University of Hull, as saying she "sometimes publishes scientific papers challenging the view that global warming is a problem, because that position is often stifled in other outlets. "I'm following my political agenda -- a bit, anyway," she says. "But isn't that the right of the editor?"
In other words, Finn was quoting from a paper that was not what it appeared to be - it was not a rigorous, peer reviewed paper from a respected scientific journal with expertise in environment and energy.
Finally, I looked up Richard Lindzen - who turns out to be a paid consultant to both the tobacco and oil industries!
If I can find out all that in 30 minutes, then the BBC should be able to as well and at least put a warning on posts like the one from Finn. Better still, remove them as they're quite clearly pretending to be something they're not.

  • 121.
  • At 12:07 AM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Gilli wrote:

"Is carbon offsetting an answer to the challenge of reducing carbon emissions..."

Unless I have misunderstood the concept, I totally disagree with it. I choose not to fly because of the massive carbon emissions, I do not think this gives someone else the right to then 'use up my carbon emission quota' - this is not reducing the carbon emissions at all, it is simply allowing those who don't care to continue polluting.

  • 122.
  • At 02:43 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • ramanujam wrote:

i think living ethicaly is a very good subjet because now a days people want more and more advanced life, in fact living or posseding somthing in new technologie makes more happier than having a halthy dinner with family!! more of them looks for tecnologie wealth than their own health, including mee !! we don't have time to do some thing very simple with out harming but still i'm speaking i don't know how to start an ethical life ,,,

  • 123.
  • At 02:52 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • soso wrote:

I think it's very good to protect the environment but the life of ethycal man is more excessive.

  • 124.
  • At 02:53 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • ramanujam wrote:

taking off cloths is not an ethicallife eachone have their own point of vu some think that live like adam and eve without cloths is the only way of living thicaly !!! but we can't stop anyone's freedom some likes to do or want 's to restar their life

  • 125.
  • At 02:57 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • tia wrote:

I am not agree with everybody thinking.OK this emission is hypocriticale but not ridiculous or dismissed .Actually i think this is a great idea to show to people how can we live ethically , what can we do for our environment ? And i think live 1 year ethically is very dificult so Justin is more courageous that you because you say but he does...not to forget is same way this emision is hypocritical.

  • 126.
  • At 02:58 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Dorian & Aurélie wrote:

I think that the supresion of planes is not envisagable. Indeed it would be necessary to find a mean of exchange and that appear me impossible.
People will always choose planes with the train for comfort, speed, ...

  • 127.
  • At 03:02 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • robert-marie wrote:

I read your article on internet about to reduce CO2 emissions and I will express my opinion. From my point of view things could change for the better if everybody behave ethically like reduce CO2 emissions(stop flying for example),however it creates economical problems. Although for flying less you should reduce the small journeys, and with this fact you reduce the carbon cosumption whereas in the same time you reduce the profit of the small companies and favorit their monopols thus one step after an other the smaller companies are runout of business.
Please take note of my letter and share it with other readers in one of your next issues.

  • 128.
  • At 03:08 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • dalyemma wrote:

Hi Justin Rowlatt,

After the text, we can say that using less airplane may be one of the way of living ethically. Cars are too responsable of the pollution. Therefore, we must reduce the petrole consumption, by taking publics transports. It's important to prevent the futur generation because our world is dieing.

  • 129.
  • At 03:10 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • vaness wrote:

now,living ethically is an authentic debate which everybody in this world is concerned.This year,we can see all transformation because of global warmings.People don't care about our planet,and consider it like a geant bin.So it's now that we must react because after,it will be too late!
So,i propose to people to be carefull of Earth like:
-avouid to waste water,first matiere,electricity
-don't pollute like throwing away plastic,metal because the most of them could be recycled
-more walking,for not using transport

  • 130.
  • At 03:52 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • saloua habiba wrote:

I not agree with Ethical Man - Justin Rowlatt because i think is not good idea sprerd this live in internet,create a blog

  • 131.
  • At 03:57 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • saloua habiba wrote:

I not agree with Ethical Man - Justin Rowlatt because i think is not good idea sprerd this live in internet,create a blog

  • 132.
  • At 04:03 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • backto wrote:

I think that the plane is not well for the planette because CO2 pollutes the atmosphere.
More planes ons not of system of attérrissage without thus being able larger their gasoline they pollute.
I advise to travel by the plane in the event of urgency or country or there is no road if not to take the car.

  • 133.
  • At 04:08 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Kevin.G wrote:

we can't be v ethical in a capitalist society. because we have somme "obligation" and we don't able to get always the car or some "ethical trnasport". if this journalist must "burn the fuel" on his travel for the good cause.
i thinlk we must to create a "ethical taxe" on the airplane travel or the oil in genral is a good solution

  • 134.
  • At 04:11 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Kevin.G wrote:

we can't live ethicaly in a capitalist society. because we have somme "obligation" and we don't able to get always the car or some "ethical trnasport". if this journalist must "burn the fuel" on his travel for the good cause.
i think we must to create a "ethical taxe" on the airplane travel or the oil in genral is a good solution

  • 135.
  • At 04:11 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • sabrina wrote:

It is a good idea to reduce airline's traffic but it is always better than travel on car.In a plane you are hundreds whereas in your familly car you are four or five.

  • 136.
  • At 04:12 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • Nico wrote:

I am agree with this article because the planes pollute. Because no stop living, take advantage of the planes for leaving in the other country. And for the end the cars pollute less the planes.

  • 137.
  • At 04:13 PM on 26 Mar 2007,
  • marc alcin wrote:

I read your article about reduce carbone emission and I am agree, reduce carbone emission is a good idea. Take the plane for anythinks is not nescesary but plane is indispensable for long fly.

In Iran, Putin Warns Against Military Action:

  • 139.
  • At 12:33 PM on 09 Dec 2007,
  • Bby wrote:

Was the trip to Jamaica justified?
Hard to tell, but if the intention was shock tactics, increase viewings, stir debate, and further prevention - then I would say it has succeeded but just by a hair.

Will some people stop watching, sure, a handful of ‘holier than thou’ ‘do gooders’
but now more people may tune in to see the next instalment of jovial hypocrisy – it has to be a bit entertaining doesn’t it…. to hold the (3 second) attention span of our young folk

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