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Question Time and questioning the Times – how the climate of opinion has changed

Last night I channel hopped into Question Time, the BBC’s late night political panel show, and caught the beginning of the question they had about climate, etc.. And I can report that, although maybe only temporarily, there has been, I think, a definite change of atmosphere in the argument about climate change.

Melanie Phillips and Marcus Brigstocke said, respectively, yes and no, to the question about whether global warming was a scam. Neither Brigstocke nor Phillips said anything I haven’t heard either say several times before. Brigstocke made much of the fact that the articles he agrees with about melting icecaps were all “peer reviewed”, which Melanie Phillips wasn’t able to come back on, as she was surely itching to do. But Brigstocke wasn’t the sneering, jeering, arrogant shit I’m used to. Melanie Phillips was heard reasonably politely, and the general tone of the event was thoughtful and hesitant rather than dogmatic and intolerant of dissent. David Davis made a point of criticising the use of the word “denier” to describe people who might disagree with you. Science, he said, can’t work like that. Science is never settled, he said. Nobody objected to those claims in any way.

But it wasn’t so much what they all said. It was more how they said it, and the general atmosphere of how it was received. The audience was the usual pro-warming crowd, but its partisanship was not the monstrous thing I usually see on Question Time, and it included at least two brave souls who thought quite differently, because they said so out loud. First, there was the questioner, who dared to use that word: scam. And at the end there was a bloke who claimed, mentioning those familiar (to us lot) historical stories about the medieval warm period, that “only one point of view is allowed”. But as he himself proved, both by how he spoke and by how he was allowed by all others present to speak, i.e. without jeeringly self-righteous interruptions, that he was a bit out of date.

Put it this way. A mere wordsmith like me struggles to get across what the change was. But a theatre or movie director would have known at once that something quite big had happened, and would have been able to itemise quite a few more specifics to back up that observation than I can, to do with body language, tone of voice, crowd noises, and so on and so forth. I hesitate to say that “things will never be the same again”. But I do think this might now be true.

Listening to Brigstocke talking about the problems he said the Inuits have been having, and about retreating icecaps and water that is less saline than usual because of so much ice melting into it, made it clear to me that the question now is: How much evidence is there, still, for the global warming thesis, that has not been taken out, not contaminated (so to speak) by those wretched CRU conspirators. (Later: in connection with that, see this. Even later: I’m not completely sure, but I rather think this may be one of the very best pieces yet on all of this. And whatever you do, don’t miss the final paragraphs about all those bewildered environmental correspondents. Real Samizdata quote of the year stuff.) Who, by the way, have now been thrown to the wolves by many on their own side, if this show was anything to go by. It’s not just Monbiot. Only total fanatics are now trying to defend these people. Marcus Brigstocke never breathed a word in their defence; he merely claimed that there was plenty of other evidence for his and their opinions besides the rubbish they’ve now been caught trying to foist on us. Whether the earth is being cooked is now, more than ever, open to debate. But the goose of those silly CRU pseudo-scientists is, I would now say, irrevocably cooked.

In other climate-of-opinion news, see this excellent piece by Gerald Warner about the still-in-motion attempt by large swathes of the BBC to bury this story, and about how the internet, Fox News, political turmoil about this in the USA, Australia and New Zealand, etc., is making a nonsense of this.

By way of illustration of what Warner says, and talking of total fanatics, and talking of (to quote the headline over Monbiot’s first admission, linked to above) “Pretending the climate email leak isn’t a crisis”, see this ludicrous piece in the Times. The Times, seems to be behaving an order of magnitude more insanely over Climategate even than the BBC, only deviating from total Kremlinoid madness in at least allowing commenters to write the news that the Times team of enviro-fanatics are so unwilling to pass on. The only story these enviro-fanatics have allowed anyone apart from commenters to mention is about is how much of a frenzy us climate sceptics are getting into about a non-story, which is something I suppose. Says guest enviro-fanatic Stuart Parkinson:

But what these emails clearly do not show is any sort of systematic campaign across the environmental sciences to create evidence for climate change. …

Oh yes they do sunshine, as the commenters, many of them Americans, on this daft piece of self-deception then queue up to tell him.

The Times and Fox News are owned by the same tycoon, Rupert Murdoch. In this video clip, Murdoch denies wanting to shape any agendas and I believe him. He’s a businessman, selling whatever sells. Funny how so many people don’t seem to get that.

As Warner says, where the hell would we now be without the internet? I say: who knows? Just rejoice.

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9 comments to Question Time and questioning the Times – how the climate of opinion has changed

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Warner signs off his cracker of an article with this:

    Hot tip: better tune in promptly to the BBC News tonight, or you may miss the death of Queen Anne.

    Heh, as Glenn would put it.

    BTW, one of the people whom I will listen less reverently in future is David Attenborough. I love the photographic genius of the guys he works with in his nature programmes, but it is clear that DA is a fully signed up member of the “let’s wipe out most humans to save the Earth” point of view. Frcrissakes.

  • Roue le Jour

    The BBC is following the strategy that worked so well at keeping Britons in the dark over Edward and Mrs. Simpson. Pity about that damned interweb thingy.

    Can we have David Bellamy back now?

  • steve

    Can we get the term “moon bat” changed to “Monbiot”.

  • You’re spot on – there was a big shift in the tone. I noticed it immediately.

    For those who have a passing interest in this fiasco, it has been ashtonishing – everyone I’ve mentioned it too has expressed WTF? And gone away to find out more – almost all thought the whole GW thing was a ploy to raise taxes using polar bears.

    As someone who is very interested in this subject [on the basis that it has brought science into disrepute], I think that the CRU has behaved appallingly.

    And the BBC are still in la-la-we-can’t-hear-you mode. It’s like a weird Alice in Wonderland scenario where there are over 9m links on Google since Sunday [when the term Climategate was coined], yet there are only 3 references to it at all on their website.

    Andrew Neil cleary knows his stuff and has been very forward about bringing it front and centre during the DP and This Week.

  • NPR hasnt really changed its tone much. Their operating presumption is that human-caused global warming is real and that the science is settled.

    What jumped out at me in their Wednesday broadcast is that they now refer to that position as the ‘consensus view’ of climate change, even as they report on Climategate:


  • The Ambling Dutchman

    Here’s an innocent question for you all.

    Is there any reason why ONLY the CRU is being raked over the coals about hiding data?

    I’m sure that there’s more than one university / climate research group that’s been contributing papers and articles to AGW. Where are their data, algorithms and programs?

    To me, it’s become even more important that all the others step up to the plate to show that they are true scientists.


  • That link is quite instructive, Darryl – a piece of sneaky propaganda if there ever was one.

    Dutchman, it’s not just the CRU: there are similar scandals in Australia and NZ. The reason we mostly hear about the CRU is because this is where it all began, and also because they are most central in climate research. Also, IIUC, many of the e-mails involve people outside the CRU and the UK.

  • Paul Marks

    It is quite possible that C02 emissions ARE a problem (in which case this is an argument for nuclear power – which, oddly, most “climate change” people are opposed to), but demanding that something be “peer reviewed” is wildly bad.

    No scientific advance could occur if something has to be “peer reviewed” (read “accepted by the established and powerful”) in order to be heard. Science advances by haveing established opinions challenged – not by giving established opinions a veto power (which is what “peer review” is).