Climate Change, the Television Media and Mad Scientists

Some of you may know that this week has seen the big Climate Change Conference in Paris. For those who want to see a world that is not being destroyed by man’s follies there has been plenty of anticipation that the many disparate parties, who last time dismally failed to reach any valued agreement, will come up with a joint plan to save us all.

There were marches around the world on Sunday at the start of the conference as the leaders made their pleas for a climate change deal but many of these demonstrations seemed muted and less worthy of media airtime than usual. In Paris, because they were banned from holding a march for obvious reasons, demonstrators laid their shoes and boots on the ground in the Place de la Republique.

Many activists could be forgiven that the media, particularly the likes of Sky and the BBC, had no interest in the subject of climate change. It wasn’t entirely their fault. First of all, there was the debate on air strikes in Syria which, though it only involved a small change in military tactics, actually entailed a good deal of ministerial hand wringing, conscience pricking and the odd accusation of terrorist sympathising.

The media coverage took a slightly bizarre turn on the BBC on Thursday night as talks in Paris no doubt went on into the night. Caroline Lucas, famed Green advocate and the only in her party who seems to have a coherent thought, was on the panel and you would have naturally thought that the issue of climate change would be discussed.

Of course, proceedings were again hijacked by the question of the Syria vote and whether it was going to end with us all being blown to bits. Yes, it’s an important question but it was surprising the BBC QT producers decided to fill all but the last ten minutes with the issue. Even then, when the subject was changed it was a question about the NHS that sneaked in front of climate change, leaving Lucas, when time was finally called, to utter a strangled plea that perhaps next time the programme could start with the big green issues.

It was disappointing but the bizarre part was still to come. This Week follows Question Time on Thursday night and did indeed have Climate Change on their running order. No less than Mr Corbyn was on show to talk about the weather, the warming of the planet and the end of the world as we know it. This was not THE Mr Corbyn but his brother Piers who happens to be a meteorologist. Rather than debating what is happening at the talks, Mr Corbyn’s slightly dottier brother began a tirade against the 97% of scientists who believe that climate change actually exist.

No it doesn’t, said Mr Corbyn. And he should know – he’s looked at the evidence. There is absolutely no proof that the planet is warming up. In fact it’s cooling. His excuse for everyone else being wrong was that it was all down to money, people jumping on the climate change bandwagon, telling the world what it wants to hear and earning a boat load of cash in the process. Most of the CO2 increases we experience, said Corbyn, come from the sea and man is not responsible for that. In fact, man has very little to do with the rising CO2 emissions at all and trying to reduce them in our industrial processes is both pointless and wrong.

Brother Corbyn does come across as something of a cross between your demented granddad and someone who has spent too much time looking at data. Therein lies his problem.

While the UK government says it is committed to the climate change agenda 100%, it has been cutting subsidy and support for all sorts of green initiatives. Only last year, the Daily Mail wrote an article on Mr Corbyn’s views on the state of the climate change science, including his famed graph that showed temperatures cooling rather than meeting predicted targets set by the climate change supporters.

“The graph…blows apart the ‘scientific basis’ for Britain reshaping its entire economy and spending billions in taxes and subsidies in order to cut emissions of greenhouse gases. These moves have already added £100 a year to household energy bills.”

It’s curious that the BBC chose to raise this issue now when it was first reported back in 2014 by the Daily Mail and other broadsheets and disturbing when there were other issues to discuss that are more current on climate change issues. Like Corbyn’s planet, there has been some cooling in recent times and the rhetoric has become more cautious by the media and politicians.

The UK wasn’t the only place where media coverage was usurped by something more important. By Wednesday, when we in the UK were deeply enraptured by the Syria debate, American networks were following minute by minute accounts of a mass fatal shooting in California. The coverage continued right through Thursday and deep into Friday with hardly any other news covered as journalists fought to understand and analyse every small piece of information that came their way. Again, it’s not entirely their fault – people are more likely to tune into a gun and terrorist story than one about the weather.

It is supposedly one of the most important issues of our generation and solutions have to be agreed and kept to. If news of the conference has dropped off some of the front pages or been consigned to the newsroom archives because of other events it, unfortunately, gives the opportunity for reluctant politicians to brush the problem under the carpet. The Conservative slip that ‘we need to get rid of all this green crap’ could be more of a concrete policy than we think.

The drive for greener technologies, though, is much more important than a climate change conference that may or may not reach a useful accord. It is an opportunity for people and nations to be energy secure and independent, it’s a chance to reduce our impact on the environment and cut down on finite resources, it’s a chance for us to switch from fossil fuels to safer energy sources, and it’s a chance to make sure that we make the most of all our resources by recycling all that we can.

That’s not a climate change con, as Corbyn says and some Tories think, it’s just plain common sense.

Thankfully, though not for those involved, climate change found its way back into the TV media headlines in the second week of talks in Paris. We have the curiously named Storm Desmond to thank for that and the havoc it wreaked across parts of the UK including Cumbria. If climate change is such an important issue, then it shouldn’t take such a catastrophic event to bring it into the media’s eye line.

By Steve M

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