In a special Radio 4 series the BBC’s Environmental Analyst Roger Harrabin investigates whether the arguments surrounding climate change can ever be won. He questions whether his own reporting – and that of others – has adequately told the whole story about global warming.
Roger Harrabin has reported on the climate for almost thirty years off and on, but last November while working on the “Climategate” emails story, he was prompted to look again at the basics of climate science.
He finds that the public under-estimate the degree of consensus among scientists that humans have contributed towards the heating of the climate.
But he also finds that politicians often fail to convey the huge uncertainty over the extent of future climate change.
At this crucial moment in global climate policy making, he talks to seminal characters in the climate change debate including Tony Blair, Lord Lawson, Sir Crispin Tickell and the influential blogger Steve McIntyre.
Just six months ago, public trust in climate science looked assured as nations moved towards the climate summit in Copenhagen. Now a recent BBC poll suggests that less than half of the British populace accepts that humans are changing the climate – the fundamental premise of government policy on energy, transport, planning, construction; and a major influence on policy in taxation, agriculture and foreign affairs.
This first programme in the series examines what happened to cause this swing in public sentiment.
It asks whether the scientific reviews underway – two down, two to go – will restore public faith in climate science.
It examines the sceptics’ argument that mainstream scientists have under-estimated the role of natural cycles in the recent warm period. And it considers whether changes in the output of the sun might even be leading the Earth into a period of cooling.