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Sir John Houghton and George Monbiot discuss global warming with Melvyn Bragg at the start of the Millennium.

Listen to all the carefully expressed statements of uncertainty...:-)

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Reader Comments (24)

George Monbiot, environmentalist, journalist and Visiting Professor, Department of Philosophy, Bristol University.

Visiting Professor????

Well not according to Bristol University he ain't!

Oct 28, 2010 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Fascinating to listen to that. May it be kept for the anthroplogists, sociologists, psychologists, and epistemologists to swap comments on as they research for the PhDs on the Great CO2 Delusion of the late 20th and early 21st centuries.

If I am right in what they will be doing, it will sound a bit to them like a kindly Dr Bragg encouraging two of his patients to open up about their fears, while occasionally trying gently to point them to a more sensible point of view. It is as if they each had their own nightmare vision, something to inspire a Hieronymus Bosch, and from it they speak of floods and famines and mass migrations, not to mention tempests, droughts, and disappearing glaciers. Their remarks when pushed gently for some justification deserve a thorough Fisking, and perhaps that will be part of one of those PhDs I see appearing in my own, somewhat more banal but much more cheerful, vision of the future. A vision which does include, though, many people engaged in deep study of what has led to this modern millenarian cult, and of why it has been so astonishingly successful to date.

Oct 28, 2010 at 4:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Moonboot is/was a Visiting Professor of something at Oxford Brookes Poly (err, Uni). I cannot find a link.

I think he did a BSc in botany once.

He is not top of my list as an authority on stochastic non - linear processes, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, computer modelling, climatology.............

His real ability is to promote himself. He is a snakeoil salesman.

Oct 28, 2010 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterEpigenes


Good analysis.

I am intrugued by the accorded status of Monbiot back then. A ordinary degree and the odd honourary doctorate does not accord the status of Visiting Prof. You need a high level profile, a good and long connection with the institution and the authority from up on high to be become a Visiting Prof.

A Visiting Fellow is some what different, a man and his dog could be accorded that in university circles.

Oct 28, 2010 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Googling for 'Monbiot Bristol Philosophy' brings up several sites (including Monbiot's own) all of which include EXACTLY the same boilerplate:

"He has held visiting fellowships or professorships at the universities of Oxford (environmental policy), Bristol (philosophy), Keele (politics) and East London (environmental science)"

What a clever chap.

Oct 28, 2010 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

George Monbiot has difficulty in understanding that correlation does not indicate causation, but full marks to Melvyn Bragg for demanding evidence: we need more of the evidence-based approach and less of the cherry picking. How sad then that in the ten years since this was broadcast, evidence has become increasingly unimportant and that it was climategate which dented the unalloyed adoration which climatologists enjoyed amongst the Establishment.

Oct 28, 2010 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterFZM

Melvyn's subject this morning was the unicorn. So, not the first time he's discussed a mythical beast then.

Oct 28, 2010 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterDreadnought

Interesting listen... 500,000 green jobs indeed, the Thanet wind farm created 28 ...

Where the hell would we get 500.000 jobs from? We do not make anything in the UK anymore. Any manufacture would be offshore. 250,000 loft installers? The German and Spanish did what George wanted and are now in the deep stuff. Only made sadder that the UK is starting ten years later and hasn't learned a thing.

Anyway our friend Damian is carrying on with his reds under the bed theme... this is obviously the result of some meeting with Guardian Towers...

IPCC vice-chair: Attacks on climate science echo tobacco industry tactics

Not a shred of evidence, if he really thought if was a valid story he would hold off. Get a team of "Fred Pearce"'s on it and blow it sky high...

Really lazy hackneyed journalism... get your red button out mate... the Guardian used to a be good paper.

Oct 28, 2010 at 5:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

Fabulous. 150 million REFUGEES by 2050 from 1/2 a meter of sea level rise. And Monbiot's statement that climate change was already causing more refugees than the aggregate of all conflicts.

Oct 28, 2010 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoddy Campbell

Thanks, a good refresher of where we've come from. Very interesting. Melvyn Bragg asked a lot of acute questions, both Houghton and Monbiot came across as monolithically negative doom merchants and Melvyn Bragg didn't sound too convinced to me. Also a reminder of the innocent days at the end of the last century where they couldn't pull out the Hockey Stick to dismiss the Medieval Warming period, I noticed a lot of painful waffle when MelB mentioned that. Goes to show how stategically needed the HS was/is.
"Global pollution, means global solutions" was their motto, they were - and are - just a couple of charlatans getting off on the idea of global control by means of scaremogering.

Oct 28, 2010 at 5:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve2

Always interesting to hear Sir John Houghton. You won't really understand this man unless you understand his spiritual motivation - and his willingness to 'reach out' to the similarly-inclined to get their support. Just google 'John Houghton christian' and have a good read. Most illuminating.

Oct 28, 2010 at 6:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

And yes, Monbiot has a talent, no a genius, for self-promotion. He really should go into politics...

Oct 28, 2010 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBBD

Melvin Bragg did a good job of asking awkward questions and pushing them for evidence - albeit without the having done enough study to back up his scepticism with facts.

If the same interview were conducted today on the BBC the interviewer would be even more alarmist than the guests. The BBC's idea of balance: Interview an alarmist government minister - and for balance invite an even more alarmist green activist to join the discussion.

Oct 28, 2010 at 6:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

If it were no so important there is no doubt I would be bored to death by all of this. I can hardly bear to hear any more, even this load of old "tut" from the past, risible as it is.
As it is, we have just got to plug on as best we can.
More important than commenting here is to tell all your friends.
Melvyn came over very well and had obviously done his research. Has anyone sounded him out recently? An influential man amongst the luvvies. Could be useful if he dared to have an opinion now.

Oct 28, 2010 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

Ahh the nostalgia, the brave predictions, the certainty of their cause.

Such a wonderful laugh ten years later. In 25 years this recording will be real howler and in 100 it will be banned because too many would die of laughter listening to it.

Oct 28, 2010 at 8:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred

George Monbiot (in our time - 2000)

"When we turn our kettle on in Birmingham, we are helping to flood Bangladesh"

Oct 28, 2010 at 9:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

George Monbiot is a legend in his own mind; way past his time. He is beyond his shelf life. His sell by date has expired. Historically . . . history.


Oct 29, 2010 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Whitman

Yes, yes, but since then things have changed. Most importantly we've had "An Inconvenient Truth", probably the most seminal scientific work of any millenium.

So much so that -

CLIMATE change documentary An Inconvenient Truth will be included in the national curriculum as part of a bid to educate students on environmental sustainability across all subjects.

We really are decending into lunacy in the Antipodes. It would be hilarious if it wasn't so mind-numbingly stupid. Tim Blair sums it up

Oct 29, 2010 at 4:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

Barry Woods wrote:

George Monbiot (in our time - 2000)

"When we turn our kettle on in Birmingham, we are helping to flood Bangladesh"

OMG ... before my family emigrated to Canada (via Llanelly) many more moons ago than I care to disclose, we turned on many a kettle in Birmingham.

Thank goodness we emigrated before 1971 (when Bangladesh became a country, although not recognized by Pakistan until 1974)

But I cannot count the number of kettles turned on by our family (which has expanded) since we emigrated ... oh, Monbiot .. the guilt, the guilt. How could you do this to me?!

Oct 29, 2010 at 7:55 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

I went to a lecture a couple of weeks ago given by Bob Bradnock, a geographer from King's [who was on the same Newsnight programme as the Bishop recently.] He works on Bangladesh, among other places, and went carefully through the whole CAGW scare, and demolished every argument, Bangladeshi floods, polar bears, Maldives, glaciers, hockey sticks, etc etc. It was wonderful! There is a glimmer of sanity out there and it's OK to turn the kettle on....

Oct 29, 2010 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Just to pass on a little something for the weekend..
Delingpole has a visitor to his site who has done a surprisingly good set of graphics about the cost of the UK reducing CO2 by 80%.

Some wag has suggested using these as posters for school children....and suggesting passing the graphics to politicians, most of whom have a similar understanding of climate change as a 10 year old

Oct 29, 2010 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered Commenterconfused

They come across as a couple of salesmen who have worked out their patter in advance,

Oct 29, 2010 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermrjohn

Messenger wrote:

There is a glimmer of sanity out there and it's OK to turn the kettle on....

Thank you, Messenger, for lifting the weight of guilt off my shoulders ;-)

Another "glimmer of sanity" may well lie in the fact that Judith Curry has accepted an invitation from the journal Climate Change to submit an article for their "special issue" on Framing and Communicating Uncertainty and Confidence Judgments by the IPCC:

Uncertainty and the IPCC AR5

Oct 30, 2010 at 4:44 AM | Unregistered Commenterhro001

Although for the global warming believers not much has changed in the message in the past 10 years or even as John Houghton said in the past 50, some things have.

For example I don't think anyone refers much to ice cores as providing evidence any more and I think the hype on sea level was a bit more confident then. At that time there were few confident enough about the facts to have the confidence to challenge the Houghton et al narrative.

There had beyond doubt been significant warming in the 1990's; we didn't know the hockey stick was an artifact of man(n); the models looked plausible and we took the claims of the world wide support of hundreds of thousands of scientists as a statement of fact.

All that has changed since and it shows, with even the most convinced of believers now a bit less confident and a bit more aware that what they say will likely be challenged

Oct 30, 2010 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiggerjock

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