Home > Uncategorized > BBC's naive 'Meet the Climate Sceptics' ignores that our governments today richly deserve the mistrust that makes collective action impossible

BBC's naive 'Meet the Climate Sceptics' ignores that our governments today richly deserve the mistrust that makes collective action impossible

In the not-unsympathetic hour-long presentation that BBC broadcast on January 31 (after surviving a legal challenge), climate ‘skeptic’ Christopher Monckton (the Viscount Monckton of Brenchley) says something about climate science that I can agree with and that is important:

The central question is this: it’s not whether CO2 or other greenhouse gases can cause warming, because we’ve known for 200 years that they can.

It’s not whether we are causing the CO2 in the atmosphere to rise, because we are.

The only question that really matters is, given the rate that we are adding CO2 to the atmosphere, is how much warming that will cause, if it continues.

In other words, Monckton is correct that the core climate science issue is about what is known as “climate sensitivity”; that is, how much warming is going to be triggered by the rapid ramping up in atmospheric CO2 as we use fossil fuels.

Climate science skeptics like MIT’s Richard Lindzen and company adviser Pat Michaels agree and suggest that climate sensivity will be low (though in this film Lindzen rather jaw-droppingly suggests that “I can live with 5 degrees; you can live with a degrees” Fahrenheit increase in avergage global temperatures!).

The producer, Rupert Murray, suggests that the skeptics wrongly overstate their case and underplay the risks. Murray leaves unstated his premise (and that of the climate scientists he includes) that, if one accepts more conventional views of climate science, then one must also agree that government-imposed restrictions on personal freedom are necessary in order to moderate the threats posed by our use of fossil fuels.

Interestingly and sadly, rather than examining whether there may be common ground in policies that reduce climate risks, Monckton and other prominent skeptics like Lindzen and Michaels (and British commentator James Delingpole), all also appear to make the same assumption that the only possible policy responses are those that reduce personal freedom. Thus, rather than a focus on the content and merits of policy alternatives, we have a rather frantic search to find reasons to dismiss climate risks, and to question the motives and sanity of those who are concerned about them – all, of course, while ignoring the question of what economic interests benefit from the status quo. This behavior is, of course, also mirrored by many of the “warmers”; both sides have their own “Bootleggers and Baptists” coalitions lined up.

Not surprising when so much is at stake, and all are fighting over the use of government. Thoughtful people among the skeptics will acknowledge that the climate is a shared commons that can only be managed via collective action; thoughtful people among the “warmers” likewise should recognize that government itself is a commons that continues to be mismanaged for the benefit of elites and the expense of most citizens (witness our financial crisis and the BP disaster).

As Nobel Prize-winner Elinor Ostrom coninues to point out, trust is a sine qua non for effective management of common resources. Unfortunately, however, that trust is precisely what we are missing the most – and for good reason, as our politicians, bureaucrats and leading corporations have proven themselves unworthy of it.

It should not go unnoticed, however, that a policy to destroy public trust and foster our love of partisan acrimony is one that would be very effective in protecting the interests of those who benefit from the status quo. Creaming the commons while socializing risks is an inherent aspect of corporate business models (starting with the state grant of limited liability to shareholders).

Here’s a link to the video; my apologies that I couldn’t figure out how to embed it here:


[Update: It seems that he BBC has forced the removal of all non-BBC postings of the program, and only viewable via servers located in the UK. As skeptic Anthony Watts puts it: “the BBC does not allow people outside of Britain to watch the video; some sort of cranial-rectal problem I’m told, a proxy server in the UK is needed to view it if you live elsewhere”. Here is James Delingpole’s take on the the program – prior to actually seeing it: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100074116/meet-the-sceptics-another-bbc-stitch-up/. And here is one take by a relatively perceptive viewer: http://frank-davis.livejournal.com/140337.html.]

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