More Climate Wars

by | Sep 24, 2008

Ben has an article on Spiked-Online today, about the BBC’s recent ‘Climate Wars’.

Iain Stewart, professor of geosciences communication at Plymouth University, introduced last week’s instalment with the words: ‘Global warming – the defining challenge of the twenty-first century.’ The programme examined the arguments made by the two putative ‘sides’ in the global warming debate, to show ‘how [the sceptic’s] positions have changed over time’. But Stewart misconstrued scepticism of the idea that ‘global warming is the defining issue of our time’ with scepticism of climate research. In this story, ‘the scientists’ occupied one camp (situated conveniently on the moral high ground) and the bad-minded, politically and financially motivated sceptics the other. But there was no nuance, no depth and no justice done to the debate in this unsophisticated tale, and it did nothing to help the audience understand the science.

Read on at


  1. jnicklin

    If people understood the science, they would not be prone to believing in catastrophic AGW. That would be counter productive to the intent of the program.

    In order for the AGW or more recently MMCC proponents to continue their bid to influence how we all live and what we can and cannot do, they must keep the general public ignorant to the science. They do this by inferring that the science is settled, experts agree, and its just too complicated for non-experts to understand, so take their word for it. Those experts who disagree must therefore be bad, probably paid off by the corporations. Why else would they disagree with the settled science.

    I’d like to see a documentary that deals with so called “settled science” from the dawn of recorded history and compare it to what is known now. The result, I’m afraid, is that it wold show that for most of our history, we have been wrong about much of what we accepted and still accept as the settled science. AGW will be shown to have been an example of where we got it wrong. The Earth’s climate is too complex to fully understand at this time yet some “experts” believe that they do indeed understand all of the complexities and nuances. That is called hubris. Skeptics, on the other hand have maintained a more open-minded attitude to the science, there is no party line, only a search for the truth. Isn’t that what science is supposed to be about?

  2. geoff chambers

    Excellent article. You rightly emphasise the importance of the Precautionary Principle as a justification for action to prevent Global Warming. Has no-one ever pointed out that the Precautionary Principle is not a scientific law, but simply a debating tactic, used to override an opposing argument, and is logically flawed, and possibly void of sense?
    In a situation where two opposing courses of action are being proposed, and there is no objective basis for choosing one or the other, the precautionary principle is invoked to put the opposing arguments to one side, and propose one course of action “to be on the safe side”. But since both sides to the argument are equally justified in invoking the principle, the sidelined pros and cons must always come back into play.
    The GW alarmist says: “Though I can’t prove the imminence of catastrophic effects of global warming, the possible dangers are so great that we must act, without waiting for proof.” But the sceptic can reply: “I can’t prove that the actions you propose (carbon taxes, reliance on renewables) will cause economic cartastrophe, but the possible dangers are so great that we must definitely not act” etc. And the only way to resolve the question is to go back to the discussion which the Precautionary Principle is designed to avoid. I can’t help thinking this pseudo principle was invented in order to avoid debate on the substantive scientific questions.

  3. Stefan

    The Precautionary Principle is more about intuition, and like geoff says, it can’t be used as a debating tactic, except if you believe that the other side is mean, evil, selfish, reckless, greedy. Then you can claim, oh, well, YOU obviously don’t care, whereas we, the environmentalists, do care, so we must be right to invoke “precaution.”

    But logically, the principle of precaution has to be used with caution. Action may have worse unforeseen consequences than inaction.

    What it comes down to, is environmentalists have a sort of “shadow” (to borrow from psychotherapy) where they imagine that other people are greedy selfish and uncaring. If they were objective about themselves, they would see that the difference between themselves and the “greedy” consumerists and CEOs of corporations, is not that great. Many things advance by competition and “greed”. A desire to save the world is just as much about ego as is the pursuit of money is about ego.

    And environmentalists are by no means free of “greed”. Environmentalism often comes across as a very weak and distorted and watered down Buddhism. That may be why they are often accused of being “religious”.

  4. CuckooUK

    I was amused when Iain’s narration showed a picture of a global warm-monger, follwed by a picture of a sceptic and he said “In the climate wars there are winners (picture of warm-monger) and losers (picture of sceptic”

    Biased? The BBC! Never! lol

  5. JMW

    “Climate Wars”: The warm-mongers’ answer to “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”.


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