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Side by side

Daniel Pearl | 11:06 UK time, Thursday, 26 October 2006

BBC Ten O'Clock News logoViewer Jamie Woolley wrote to The Editors yesterday, saying:

    I was concerned by two reports on the Ten O'Clock News [on Tuesday] or, rather, how they were juxtaposed. A report about consumption of the Earth's resources was swiftly followed by a piece about the bouyant state of British 4x4 manufacturing. While over-consumption cannot be laid solely at the door of the car industry, there was a complete lack of irony in the reporting. It's the same in the press - the liberal press is hard on the aviation industry for their contributions towards climate change yet still carry travel supplements. I realise the role of a programme like the Ten O'Clock News is to report on the news, not comment but sometimes, where one issue has a direct impact on the other, I wish the dots could be a little more joined up.

Jamie's comment is well made. One thing we've been trying hard to achieve on the Ten is to pull together different strands of a story - so perhaps the irony of climate change and 4x4 stories being on the same programme is something we should have pointed out.


  • 1.
  • At 04:08 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Ritter wrote:

...or the irony of watching the BBC1 Six O'Clock news covering global warming stories and then a few minutes later on the same channel..... Holiday 2006, showcasing exotic locations, which one has to travel by...err plane (one of the major causes of Co2 pollution).

Perhaps we should ban Holiday programmes on the BBC?

BBC Holiday 2006

along the same lines, maybe the BBC should stop making Top Gear as it engages in the glorification of driving cars (major causes of Co2 pollution)

BBC Top Gear

Ironic? BBC News just needs to report the facts. Not pursue an agenda.

Is this another argument against having ads on the international version of the BBC site?

Other news websites have ended up with some unfortunate juxtapositions...

  • 3.
  • At 05:40 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Graham King wrote:

I wonder what the contribution of 4x4's actually is to global CO2 emissions. I don't have any precise figures to hand, but let's say that a 4x4 emits about 25-30% more CO2 than an equivalent passenger car. But on a global scale that is 25-30% of not very much at all. Didn't Newsnight's Ethical Man, Justin Rowlett, point out the other day that one long-haul flight contributes more to his annual CO2 footprint than his entire year's motoring?

A quick calculation shows that for my family over the past year, driving an SUV would have added 4% to our overall Carbon Footprint. To implicitly link SUV's to global warming is a gross simplification -- SUV's are a symptom of the complex system of modern consumer driven life that has to be broken down if the CO2 issue is to be resolved.

My hopes are slim! Ehtical man has shown a 30% improvement in his Carbon footprint as a result of extremely drastic changes in his lifestyle that would be infeasible or at least extremely limiting, and very expensive, for most of the UK population. A 30% improvement on the part of every household in the Western World is only a fraction of what is required to stabilise the global situation.

Also remember that the carbon footprint of individuals does not account for other major contributors such as deforestation (granted this is partially driven by the same consumer system).

Global revolution is required if this issue is to be resolved. My prediction is that what will actually happen is that technology will be devised that allows us to deal with the new realities of a warmer global climate. Unfortunately, the poorer residents of the poorer nations will suffer most since they will not be able to access the new technologies. Environmental devastation will be rife, with accelerated deforestation on higher ground to make way for environmental refugees from nations such as Bangladesh and others who dwell in coastal regions.

Perhaps we should be looking to invest heavily in devise ways in which we will be able to deal more effectively with this future global reality rather than trying to make a belated attempt to halt an inevitable process?

  • 4.
  • At 11:54 PM on 26 Oct 2006,
  • Trebor Rowntree wrote:

What were the BBC supposed to do. Mention that there was a connection between the two stories, in case some viewers didn't notice it? Aside from looking odd, what would that accomplish? - almost all stories can be connected somehow. The BBC should report, the viewers should watch and form their own opinions.

  • 5.
  • At 03:08 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • James wrote:

Is the irony not irrelevant? You're there to report the news, nothing else.

  • 6.
  • At 08:59 AM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Bobby Henderson wrote:

I find it strange and disheartening that so much coverage has been given to the Christmas savings fiasco at Farepak Hampers and a high profile MP such as Jack Straw is getting involved, yet the thousands of hard working people who have lost their company pensions have to fight to even get a mention.
I do sympathise with the people who have lost their Christmas savings, but we who have lost our pensions can't afford Christmas, are selling our houses to make ends meet and look forward to a bleak retirement without enough money to live and yet the government choose to ignore us!!

  • 7.
  • At 12:56 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • Ian wrote:

Graham King misses the point. As usual with the kind of we're not so bad really arguments he seems to assume its an either or situation. Fact is we need to do everything in our power to reduce humanities carbon footprint.

But he is right in saying that a radical change in our economic behaviour will be needed if real impact is to be made.
The Americans at least understand that this change will/would mean a radical change in the economic drivers of our society and they seem to feel the view aint worth the journey. I have faith that they will act only when the billion dollar costs of the increasingly frequent disasters start to really hurt their economy.
And Grahman is probably also right their instinct will be to fix the problem not change their life styles. Despite the fact that I disagree profoundly with them I find most educated Americans I know refreshingly honest about this.

Personally I think that the crisis point passed at least 10 years ago (other think as much a 50 years ago) and in the short term countries like Bangladesh will indeed pay the highest price.

(Millions if not billions of humans will die).

But think on this if all the ice melts and it will eventually its only a question of timescales the sea level will rise 85m (276 - 278ft) we will need some pretty serious technolofy to deal with that. So we had better start making those radical changes sooner rather than later.

So considering all this the UK's bouyant 4X4 market is at best irrelevant and at worst obscence.

  • 8.
  • At 02:02 PM on 27 Oct 2006,
  • shaun smyth wrote:

There seems to be a lot of confusion about the role of 4x4's on pollution, as well as the impact of speed.

The use of diesel brings overall consumption down (my Peugeot 307 uses 5.0/100 litres/km) and many SUV's are equiped with them nowadays. A big BMW is quoted at 8/100, and with a filter for the soot particles as well, it can be using less fuel and causing less pollution than many smaller cars.

The blaming of "speed" as a major factor has always seemed odd, as most people have forgotten that gears were invented at almost the same time as cars. Explanation; In 5th gear (at 1900 revs per minute) I am travelling about 120 km per hour. OK? When in town I'm obliged to be in second or third gears, to be able to travel at 50 or 70 km per hour. (Limitations respected) Due to a lower gear the revs per minute are substantially the same. 60 is exactly half of 120, so I am travelling EXACTLY HALF THE DISTANCE FOR THE SAME CONSUMPTION. eg. I am producing twice as much pollution in town by going slower over the same distance.

Differences can also be due to increased acceleration as obstacles are more common in towns. The most polluting object is a car stuck in a traffic jam. 0 kilometres for the fuel burnt - not the person who is shooting up the motorway.

I am not a lover of 4x4's however, as I think that because of their size most of their owners drive like idiots. Have you ever followed a 4x4 entering a motorway at 40km/hr with people arriving at a legal 120Km/hr behind you? I have, and it was nearly me the redcurrant jam in the sandwich. (or would it have been rude to interrupt his telephone conversation?)

  • 9.
  • At 10:26 AM on 01 Nov 2006,
  • Adam Ross wrote:

The above post makes a mistake in speed/distance/time relationships and hence the argument is undermined. Consumption levels for cars are expressed in l/100km. This means that you need to compare distances and not speeds to calculate relative consumption. It is irrelevant how fast you are going if the rev count is the same in both situations. If I'm going at 50km/h it will take me two hours to burn X litres of petrol. If I'm going at 70km/h it will take more like one and a half hours to burn that same X litres of petrol. Presuming that people use their cars to get to places (rather than to drive for a set time) they will still be travelling the same distance and hence if the rev count is the same travelling at 120km/h in fifth as 50km/h in third the consumption will be the same too.

  • 10.
  • At 09:29 PM on 24 Jul 2007,
  • Lee Lyall wrote:

I despair. I watched an hour of so-called news on BBC1 this evening (24/7)and got virtually nothing except floods, floods, down the Thames Valley. Then I turn on my computer and find that frightening heatwaves have been plaguing much of the rest of Europe. Shame on you. Whatis this? Incompetence or censorship?

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