Channel 4: about as wrong as you can be

Yesterday’s Channel 4 programme – Great Global Warming Swindle – supposedly debunking global warming has got it all wrong. Now – I’m all for scepticism and testing out arguments properly. So just because nearly every reputable scientist in the field believes global warming is real and a major problem isn’t a reason to close our minds on the subject. But if you are going to question it, you really need to do better than recycle old arguments that have long since been debunked.

What did the show have then? New evidence? No. New arguments? No. Rather just the same old sensation-seeking half-stories that have been rolled out and debunked many times before. There’s a good summary of the details of all this at In The Green.

So sorry Channel 4 – you get an F for fail for that programme.

0 thoughts on “Channel 4: about as wrong as you can be

  1. I’m sorry Lynne, but I have to disagree. The C4 programme may have gone on about an hour too long but the crucial point is that the CO2 level changes occur many years after the temperature changes, not before them. This means that CO2 levels are probably an effect of climate change, not a cause. I’ve followed your link and the ‘explanation’ really is special pleading – ‘we can’t explain the first sixth of the data but after then CO2 could explain it …’ (then again it might not) where as solar insolation and ocean storage of CO2 can explain the whole process.I am a professional geoscientist and like to think that I am reputable. All I ask is that you keep more of an open mind and question the evidence a bit more. This topic is a lot more complex than our media (and our politicians) would like to portray.

  2. The programme was a polemic, intended to counter the more usual pro-AGW polemics. Climate science is extremely complicated, still controversial, and the version of greenhouse science that you usually see presented in the media is as grossly simplified and one-sided as this programme was. Yes, many of the points can be answered, and those answers can in turn be answered by the sceptics (I can do that for your linked article if you like), and so on. It has been going on for decades, and the victories have not all gone one way. If the general public had seen that debate they might be a little less convinced, but instead they’ve been told there is no debate and this is how it works.There is a risk that the definition of a reputable scientist becomes one who supports the “consensus”. There are a lot of scientists, myself included, who don’t agree that the science is settled, and don’t like being called disreputable for doing so. Science is not supposed to be about consensus; that’s politics.The point of the programme was not that it raised any unanswerable points, but that they are points the ultra-simplified version we have seen presented up until now has not let us see. It will hopefully motivate people to enquire further, and listen to both sides before judging.

  3. With respect to the professional anonymous geoscientist, it is not a crucial point that rises in temperature tend to cause a rise in C02, because it is not a point that is disputed.It is a known positive feedback mechanism that is included in climatology models.Durkin made the same argument in his 1997 documentary, and it hasn’t become any newer or better since.

  4. With the greatest of respect, and without wishing to get into an extended technical scientific discussion here, the point is disputed, as it is presented in exactly this form in An Inconvenient Truth, and the I have heard the argument repeated by a number of non-scientist ‘laymen’. It is a persuasive piece of evidence when misleadingly presented.As I noted, the purpose was to counter the pro-AGW polemics for a general audience. Educating the public to the point where they could follow the actual dispute would be unwatchable. The point being made was that the graphs provide no evidence either for or against CO2’s effect on temperature, so why did Al Gore show it? Didn’t he have anything better?And why didn’t he show the corresponding graphs going back 600 million years, that show no relationship despite CO2 levels more than 10 times the present? Because his purpose is not to inform but to persuade.My hope would be that this documentary might induce some people to find out more, and to start following the line of string that leads them to the true scientific debate.

  5. LynneI welcome your criticisms of the Channel Four film. Climate change is too important to let the ‘sceptic fringe’ to take a lead.The LibDems have supported charging according to CO2 emissions in order to tackle climate change. The next mayoral election will see Ken Livingstone putting a proposal to charge high-polluting cars including many 4x4s £25 to travel into central London, whilst cutting the cost of the congestion charge on greener vehicles. However, Geoff Pope on the London Assembly has been criticising the extension of the C-Charge to the west, saying it was a mistake. In my view Pope is wrong – the western extension makes the emissions-based charging proposals extremely logical, by extending the zone to include the area with the largest concentration of high polluting cars driving in it. Will you be supporting Ken Livingstone’s emissions-based charging scheme including in the western extension area? Thanks.

  6. The London Assembly LibDems opposed the western extension because it positively encourages the very large number of Kensington and Chelsea residents who own cars to drive them into central London. They get 90% residents’ discount on the congestion charge, but have to buy a whole week at a time (for £4). Having bought a whole week they might as well use the car every day ! Setting up the scheme this way has to be madness.The Mayor should be using state-of-the-art “tag and beacon” technology (as in Oslo, Stockholm and Singapore) which TfL have already trialled successfully in Southwark. He should work with London Boroughs to target congestion ‘hotspots’ such as outer London town centres. The new technology is much more flexible and can be used for smaller but more effective traffic reduction schemes. The Mayor has admitted to me in the Assembly that all that is holding him back is the Labour government’s refusal to take road-pricing forward this side of a General Election.

  7. Geoff Pope writes: ‘The London Assembly LibDems opposed the western extension because it positively encourages the very large number of Kensington and Chelsea residents who own cars to drive them into central London. They get 90% residents’ discount on the congestion charge, but have to buy a whole week at a time (for £4). Having bought a whole week they might as well use the car every day! Setting up the scheme this way has to be madness.’Except of course that traffic is visibly – and statistically – down. So all you have done is oppose a traffic reduction measure.But putting that to one side, Geoff’s comments studiously don’t address the question here about emissions-based charging. Geoff Pope’s comments don’t stack up over the 90 per cent discount in terms of emissions-based charging. The proposal for emissions-based charging – which would see many 4x4s and other Band G cars paying £25 – explicitly includes the abolition of the residents’ discount for Band G cars. See the press releases and coverage when it was announced. http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=9871As you state that ‘The London Assembly LibDems opposed the western extension because it positively encourages the very large number of Kensington and Chelsea residents who own cars to drive them into central London’ because of the discount, doesn’t this logically mean that you would support the western extension if the discount is withdrawn? As Ken Livingstone is indeed proposing to withdraw the discount for the worst offending cars in terms of climate change, you have ended up opposing an extension that will in fact ensure that a very high number of 4x4s are affected.As David Cameron is backing this principle in terms of air travel it would make sense for you to back it in terms of cars – but excluding the cars in the western part of the zone as you have done means cutting out the highest concentration of the problem. As Ken Livingstone will put this to Londoners I hope that the Liberal Democrats will back him. Geoff/Lynne, will you end your opposition to the western extension and back the emissions scheme to charge band G cars £25 across the whole zone?

  8. I would also like a clearer answer from Geoff Pope – and any kind of answer at all from Lynne.I think there is a big hole in the position set out by Pope – he opposed the western extension, which means he opposed the vital piece of the jigsaw that will catch the worst concentration of these hideous Chelsea Tractors. He’s gone on about the residents’ discout, but that would be abolished in the move to the emissions charge. Geoff Pope says he and the LibDems are against the western extension of the congestion charge. So are the Liberal Democrats/Geoff Pope/Lynne Featherstone for or against the application of emissions-charging in the western zone? An answer would be nice.

  9. Lib Dems put forward the original proposal for charging 4 x 4s double the standard congestion charge when I was there on the London Assembly. Ken said it couldn’t be done. Well – as with lots of other Lib Dem policies Ken at first opposed, Ken is now rather keener on it! Another example is pedestrianising Oxford Street. Something he slagged the Lib Dems off for even suggesting. Plus ca change!Anyway – the reasons for opposing the extension aren’t just about 4 x 4s – there were lots of reasons. The original zone had a work / live logic. The new zone was to be made one big zone rather than a separate zone – which would have been more palatable. There were a lot of issues around the traders on the new proposed boundaries. There were areas that were cut off inappropriately. And Geoff has explained in his comments current problems with the scheme.Just because congestion charging and charging polluting vehicles more makes sense on some occasions, that doesn’t somehow mean that any and every scheme involving them is therefore a good idea. That’s the sort of crude one-size-fits-all and damn the local circumstances arrogance that means Labour so often gets things wrong. Trying to give a green tinge to a wrong policy doesn’t make that policy ok after all.Regrettably Ken appears to be more interested in his tax raising powers as opposed to problem solving. I remain committed to problem solving based on solutions that fit the local circumstances.

  10. LynneI am sure your point-scoring against Ken Livingstone is very interesting to you but it’s of no interest to me at all. Perhaps you have been seduced by Westminster’s yah-boo political atmosphere.But more to the point, you haven’t answered the question. It would be really nice if you did. It will affect how I perceive the LibDems when it comes to the Assembly elections.Thanks

  11. The answers given here seemd to me to answer your question Shepp. Isn’t the answer simply that the Lib Dems agree with taxing 4 x 4s more but think the congestion charge expansion is the wrong way to go about doing this? Perhaps you don’t agree with that answer, but it is an answer isn’t it?

  12. Gillian, Lynne did not answer the question from Shepp.She has not said if she/the LibDems support the application of the emissions based charging scheme (which will charge 4x4s eye-watering amounts whilst cutting the charge for green vehicles) across the whole congestion charge area, east and west.It’s a fair question and I hope that Lynne will clarify it (and Geoff Pope for that matter.I am surprised that you say the LibDems don’t support this. I think that would be a mistake.Lynne, can you clarify?

  13. On the polluter pays position – of course more polluting vehicles should pay more – but as Gillian spots, the extension of the congestion zone isn’t necessarily the best way.I think the issue around 4 x 4s muddies the water about the problems with the extension of the zone. As I have tried to point out – the original arguments against the extension of the zone were about how well it might work in terms of reducing congestion – which is in my view is the criteria to judge it by. And if the extension doesn’t work on those grounds, then throwing a green veneer on it doesn’t make it all ok.Outside of that – yes – congestion charging should be geared to higher charges for more polluting vehicles.

  14. The western extension of the congestion charge has reduced traffic, so on this criteria it has worked. You can’t describe the policy to charge 4x4s and other band G vehicles as a ‘green veneer’ – it’s already one of the most radical transport policies ever introduced, getting people back onto public transport. Expanding it westwards has extended the benefits.But putting that to one side, it isn’t muddying the water to ask about emissions charging – it’s key. By introducing an emissions dimension and abolishing the residents’ discount for Band G cars it will be a massive weapon in the attempt to reduce emissions because Kensington and Chelsea has one of the largest concentration of these cars anywhere. I can’t see why you won’t support this. Genuinely, you haven’t answered my question about whether you support emissions charging across the whole zone including the western zone. Can you please let me know your (and your party’s) view on this?

  15. Shepp, I think you are muddying the waters yourself by insisting that emissions charging has to be seen hand in hand with extension of the congestion charging zone. They are separate policies – you can have one, the other, both or neither.Just because you insist on having both or neither doesn’t mean everyone else has to go for that too.My own view is yes to congestion charging, and even yes to the western zone – if it was a separate zone, and yes in general to emissions charging.That means though I’m against Ken’s policy.That view does not fit the way you insist on asking the question. Does that mean you think my view is invalid and should not be allowed?