Here’s a transcript of an interview with Philippe Verdier, former weatherman on France Télévisions, which was broadcast on the BBC World Service on 16th October 2015. Since then, of course, Verdier has actually been dismissed
by the TV channel, whereas at the time of the interview, it was still unclear as to whether or not this would happen.
However, the interview is still interesting, not only for the rather curious phrase “this freedom of speech idea” used by the interviewer (as at least one other blogger has noted), but for the way she also handily sums up the catastrophist position in a nutshell: “the vast majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that it’s going to have a devastating impact on the whole planet”.
As the subsequent treatment of M. Verdier demonstrates, deviate from that narrow interpretation un centimetre and, whatever views on climate change you may otherwise have, the outer darkness of denierhood will be your fate.
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Philippe Verdier: France Télévisions, the French public TV, decided not to put me on the air any more, because of my book Climat Investigation – so I don’t know the exact reason of that, I’m not sacked, I’m just waiting for the decision and the explanation from France Télévisions.
Rebecca Kesby: So you’ve been quoted, though, in the papers as someone who denies climate change –
Philippe Verdier: It’s subtle difference.
Rebecca Kesby: – in your book, but it’s not accurate, is it, ’cause you’ve actually said that there might be positives to climate change. What is your position?
Philippe Verdier: In my book, I just want to put some criticism about the official way of speaking about the climate change from the IPCC. We know the apocalyptic view of climate change, but in western Europe, in the UK, in France, we also have positive consequences of climate change, and I wanted to talk about that also, not instead of negative consequences.
Rebecca Kesby: Well, you say there are positives for countries like France, but what about countries like Australia, which is facing terrible drought, or other countries which face their terrible floods, and so on. You’ve already said you’re not a scientist, but the vast majority of climate scientists agree that global warming is happening and that it’s going to have a devastating impact on the whole planet, which will impact France negatively, in the end.
Philippe Verdier: France is one of the 20 countries the least touched by negative impacts of climate change, and because we’re living in a very rich country, we’ve got possibility to have very quick adaptation to new changes.
Rebecca Kesby: What about thousands of refugees that might be heading for France, when their countries are either flooded or barren?
Philippe Verdier: I was shocked when I listened [to] some politicians and some protagonists of the COP21, the UN climate change summit, talking about the refugees in Mediterranean Sea, saying that was obviously linked with climate change. There are many reasons – maybe some are linked with climate change, but that’s not the only reason. So just be prudent about that.
Rebecca Kesby: Mm, some people might accuse you of being an opportunist, really, with all of this, with your book and with your open letter that you wrote to the President, drawing attention to it. Obviously, this big climate change meeting is happening in Paris in December – it’s a huge event, and perhaps you’re being opportunistic, to bring up this, now.
Philippe Verdier: Maybe you’re right – I’ve not all the possibilities to release my book in this period, you know. There is a summit in December in France – that’s the opportunity to talk about climate change, maybe in a different way, maybe in another way, maybe in a [inaudible] way, and I have to do that right now, because in some weeks or some months, it won’t be possible any more.
Rebecca Kesby: So, I mean, some of the things you’ve said is that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has blatantly erased data that is contrary to what it believes. I mean, what’s your beef? Who are you most annoyed at? Is it the IPCC, or the French government?
Philippe Verdier: Maybe both. Um, from the IPCC, there are some part of the information with very, um [inaudible] not opening, because each dot in the report is controlled by government. I hope that today has a free possibility of expression of science will be possible – that’s not possible yet.
Rebecca Kesby: I mean, that’s really the crux of this, for you, isn’t it, this freedom of speech idea, that you talk about in the book. But then others would look at you and say: you know, you’re known as “Mr. Weather” in France, people trust you, and –
Philippe Verdier: That’s true.
Rebecca Kesby: – what you have to say, so your view would shape people’s views on how they see the world, and some might say that this stance that you take in your book is going to misguide people as to what’s happening.
Philippe Verdier: I don’t know, that’s not a point of view from me, it’s – I’m [a] journalist, it’s an investigation, with other witness of the climate change, other part of official reports explaining very precisely, with accuration [sic], the fact that UN are not the right place to talk of solutions to solve the problem of climate change. Because, for 20 years, the UN tried to have solutions and they failed.
Rebecca Kesby: So if not the UN, who?
Philippe Verdier: Maybe the right place should be the World Trade Organisation, because all decisions should be economic and financial solutions, and that’s not yet the case.
Rebecca Kesby: Do you want your job back?
Philippe Verdier: Yes, absolutely. And I want to cover the COP21 – that’s my direction, in France Télévisions decided to do, before the release of the book, so I hope to be back and to present the weather forecast and to cover the COP21.