Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ask a silly question...

Why does the BBC treat us like morons over climate change?

'They' certainly are not doing themselves... or the cause of sensible science and/or reporting (of most topics, but especially contentious ones) many favours these days. Both with what they decide to include and... as important... leave out.

I am currently a climate neutral for now, erring on pessimism with a hint of 'man surely can't be helping much' to shape my interests. Hence I am in the process of finding out.

What doesn't help... me, my quest, or, IMHO, the cause being so avidly espoused by many with the best of intentions I'm sure, is having any contrary views either ignored, drowned (sorry) out or patronised.

The latest piece in this blog for example, and the comments in reply, left me high and dry (sorry again) and very confused. However, it did seem unusual that one set of information and hence views was reported upon, yet another was not. I'd have preferred both to be factually and objectively referred to and then let the hounds of the blogosphere run wild with link, fisk and opinion to taste. By erring in one direction, my attempts at understanding were inevitably shaped by the strenuous reactions. I can see how maintaining balance can be tricky, and serving up every contrary view an exercise in frustration and futility, but even on a factual basis alone (Newsnight's Susan Watt's 'edit' of Pres. Obama's speech for example) there is a growing form book. And I find it is having a highly diversionary and hence unfortunate effect. Because it hands open goals to blogs such as this. As do measurements of what 'will' happen, in hundreds of months or tens of meters. If what 'might'... 'doesn't', then there is a bit of fancy tap-dancing going to be required, and make genuine efforts all the harder.

So, most crucially (on top of a few other examples of 'narrative enhancing') my eyebrow is now by default very much cranked at anything in this area that Aunty originates.

Not optimal for the national broadcaster I have relied upon for decades, and am required to pay for.

I wish 'they' wouldn't do it.

Addendum - I was replied to, and so have responded, hopefully in a manner to make all 'sides' think more and pontificate less:

Thank you for some considered and supportive comments. It is refreshing not to get howled out for admitting to still be on a journey, but to be fair I pretty sure some who similarly confess to feeling the causes of climate change may lie at ma... personkind's door, and accept the many remedies proposed, would suffer a similar fate in less supportive arenas.

I have a little saying, which I probably nicked, that is 'not all that is green can be viewed in black or white', and I try and allow this to be my guide, with a willingness to listen to any argument so long as it is well presented... in a civilised way. If I see 'treehugger' I switch off just as much as I would with 'denier'.

For instance, I have to say that what Jonathan writes above was well put and does make good sense, but without having seen the piece in question it's hard to get a good handle on the context.

Hence, if it was about dealing with the consequences of climate change, man-made, worsened or otherwise, I may owe the reporter some apology. Because, of course, Jonathan, and by extension the piece, is quite right: to afford the same level of protection the barrier will need raising by that amount if the sea level rises by that amount. If that is all that the reporter was demonstrating, I also cannot argue. This not quite the same as using hard shoulders for rush hour overloads. Though both are coping strategies, at best.

In this regard I would commend the newer blog post (and, I am sure, any comments it generates) a few further on, reporting about the Copenhagen conference, where the issue of ''tis/t'isnt' absolutes is discussed in the face of trying to understand the future and prepare for it sensibly with what we have available. I sometimes have trouble with political rhetoric that seems better able to balance environmental checks with growing economies and populations, and media who can seamlessly go from finger-wagging reporting of much of the sacrifices required by us all, to gushing irony-free over a celeb who has just landed in their private jet having done something, somewhere 'to raise awareness'.

I guess this story struck a chord because I do get frustrated with absolutes, and especially being told what I believe, or at least what I should, by folk whose qualifications and indeed agendas I have come to doubt are quite up to the importance of the task.

Only the other week I attended a local climate change seminar (run by an energy agency funded by the council, funded by DEFRA, funded by the DTI, funded by HMG, funded by the EU), where the whole thing went downhill pretty fast.

I must confess to have been one of the causes. I had gone to get some tips and info on things I could do to save energy and money. What I got was a bunch of cards which I had to express my feelings about. The very first said 'London will be under 100m of water by 2050'. I merely opined that I wasn't sure if it might or might not, and that anyway seemed an awfully high figure that was being taken as read. As I say, all downhill from there as various protagonists hurtled to their two extremes and we ended up with a stalemate.

My point being that if the guys running this had not been quite so keen to make a point they obviously were already convinced about, by pushing the extremes, there might have been a much more fruitful and productive session for all. And, to take JohnT's point, if this is what is being done with possibly more cynical adults, I do concern myself with how my sons are being educated, in a balanced way, on the issues. Re-everything for sure, and totally do not waste, but do also get to grips with the consequences of reductions, and how that impacts on iPods & holiday trips.

Too often I fear such as the BBC leap on anything on this globe that is a bit odd, or different, weatherwise, and then infer a rather huge series of leaps from climate change to manmade cc, to pots of money 'preventing' it, first going on some talking a lot in sunny venues, and then throwing what's left at anything remotely 'green', and that's that.

Which, as this blog rather suggests, bogs more subtle discussions down when a few stick their hands up with doubts, and has the surely less than salutary result of putting average folk like me either off thinking about it, or possibly worse paying greater heed to those that say there is nothing to worry about. Especially if painted doomsday scenarios do not come to pass. This Chicken Little has not been proven wrong... yet. So caution does still seem prudent. But if a deadline passes, human nature will tend to interpret those who set that deadline as flawed goods, and be more resistant to 'revisions'.

I fear I do have concerns, and hence see and accept some changes to our lifestyles, but so far I am not best impressed with many from the politico-media establishment's efforts in helping me understand the issues enough to figure out what's best for me to support... for my kids' sake. For them, short to long term, I do have to weigh pocket and planet, the realities of which many commentators (especially those index-link pensioned ones) seem immune to. In this, I do not feel we are well served so far by the messengers who have taken it upon themselves to share the message, which patently is having trouble getting across, much less sticking, outside of some rather well-insulated (now there's a DOING initiative really worth throwing money at, rather than TV ads and magazine spreads about assessing my footprint. Stick more wool in my Mum's loft!) quarters.

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