Not surprisingly, in these days of rapidly rising prices, barely affordable energy (with prices subsidised by those yet unborn, who will have to foot the bill) and chaotic governance, people are taking to the streets to protest. The problem with the protests, however, is that much of it is itself chaotic, if the BBC’s reporting of protestors’ unhappiness and demands is to be taken seriously.

The BBC reported on the protests in its increasingly semi-literate manner (“Protests held over climate crisis and energy rises”). Of course, it means that people are protesting about energy price rises. Reporting on yesterday’s events, we are told by the BBC that:

Protests have been taking place across the UK on a day of action highlighting issues including the increased cost of living and the climate crisis…

…Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR), Just Stop Oil and the Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) were also among those marching in London on Saturday….

Then we move to some specific complaints by individuals, singled out by the BBC to be interviewed:

A woman called Meg, a member of Doctors For Extinction Rebellion, who was taking part in the march said: “This is a climate emergency and people are already dying, more are going to die from the effects of climate change.”

The problem I have with Meg’s complaint is that it simply isn’t true, at least not in terms of the bigger picture. Climate/weather-related deaths are around 1% of their levels 100 or so years ago.

And, as I noted in Losing The Plot, a study published on the Lancet Planetary Health website, and titled “Global, regional, and national burden of mortality associated with non-optimal ambient temperatures from 2000 to 2019: a three-stage modelling study” demonstrates (despite the contrary spin given to it when the Guardian reported on it) that 8.52% of “deaths related to non-optimal temperatures” were explainable by cold temperatures, and 0.91% were explainable by hot temperatures. A human inhabitant of planet earth is almost 10 times more likely to die of cold than of heat. Furthermore, the:

study also explored the temporal change in temperature-related mortality burden from 2000 to 2019. The global daily mean temperature increased by 0·26°C per decade during this time, paralleled with a large decrease in cold-related deaths and a moderate increase in heat-related deaths.

In other words, climate change, in the form of warming, from 2000 to 2019 saved a lot more lives than it cost.

On the other hand, it is true to say that a lack of face to face GP appointments is costing lives. Another story this week on the BBC website, which is sadly not an isolated occurrence, is headlined “Dying patient should have been seen in person” and we are told

NHS officials ruled a man who died after his ear infection was not picked up in GP telephone consultations should have been seen face to face, a BBC Newsnight investigation has found.

David Nash, 26, had four remote consultations over three weeks during Covid restrictions but was never offered an in-person appointment.

His infection led to a fatal abscess on his brainstem.

…David first spoke to the practice on 14 October 2020, after finding lumps on his neck.

He sent a photograph but was never examined.

With David worried the lumps might be cancerous, the GP asked a series of questions about his health and reassured him that while she could not rule it out completely, she was not worried about cancer.

She suggested he booked a blood test for two to three weeks’ time.

In those three weeks, David would go on to speak to another GP and two advanced nurse practitioners but never face to face or via video call.

That tragic case occurred during the first year of the covid epidemic, when there was a particular reluctance on the part of health professionals to see their patients. Since then, the NHS has decided that saving the planet trumps patients’ needs when it comes to face-to-face appointments.

And then there’s the astonishing number of GPs who don’t work a full week. My local GP practice has thirteen GPs. Of those, five work a two-day week; one works a two and a half day week; three work a three-day week; and four work a four-day week. None work a five-day week. No wonder it is so difficult to see a GP. No wonder accident & emergency wards in hospital are so busy – they’re full of people who can’t see a GP.

As for Meg, a member of Doctors For Extinction Rebellion,the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Who’s next?

A man, giving his name as George, criticised the Conservatives’ record on fossil fuels and their financial record.

“No government can run if it’s spending more, like vastly more, than it’s bringing in,” he said.

Perhaps it’s unfair to pick on George, since it’s difficult to get across the full complexity of one’s views in two lines, but it does seem strange to criticise a government for not doing enough to reduce fossil fuel use (given that the process of swapping fossil fuels for renewables is extraordinarily expensive) and then go on to criticise it for spending more than it’s bringing in. If George had his way, the government’s financial position would be even more parlous.

Anyone else?

Retired Army officer Mike Grant, 62, said: “The climate crisis hit the UK with a vengeance this summer. The science has been clear for years but now we are seeing what that means in reality.”

Unfortunately the BBC reporter didn’t go on to ask him what that reality is. I assume he’s referring to the hot dry summer just gone that wasn’t as consistently hot or dry as the summer of 1976. Yes, the drought might have caused some problems for farmers and crops, but it certainly wasn’t all bad news. While on holiday in Wales in August my wife and I met some farmers from Cambridgeshire. They were perfectly philosophical about the weather, telling us that their sugar beet crop had suffered greatly, but that their wheat harvest was spectacularly good, so that one balanced out the other. And the winery we visited in south Wales had enjoyed a bumper year too.

Next?

And architect Simon Clark, also 62, said: “The fossil fuel industry has openly enslaved our society, allowing it to create havoc in the environment whilst making record profits with complete impunity.”

Well, Mr Clark is entitled to his opinion, of course, but talk of the fossil fuel industry enslaving society seems more than a little over-done. On the contrary, I would suggest that the fossil fuel industry (whatever else it might or might not be responsible for) has facilitated an unprecedented improvement in living standards and quality of life all over the world. The good it has done to humanity exceeds the harms it has undoubtedly caused along the way. Enslaving society? Liberating it, more like.

As for creating havoc in the environment, what’s the alternative? Try reading Saving The Planet By Trashing It and For Peat’s Sake to see what the alternative looks like.

Record profits with complete impunity? That would be renewables companies you’re think of – they trash the environment, earn windfall profits from constraints payments and by enjoying market prices instead of taking up cheaply priced contracts for difference, and don’t pay any windfall taxes, unlike fossil fuel companies in both the UK and the EU.

I am proud that I live in a country where people are free to protest, and I am concerned that constraints on those freedoms seem to have been slipping in recently. Long may the right to protest be upheld. But I do wish people would understand what they are protesting about before they go out there and shout. It would be nice if BBC fact-checkers had educated us about the claims made in the protests, instead of simply parroting them.

15 Comments

  1. always wished I or somebody I know would be interviewed/asked for comment by the BBC, no luck so far.

    I think the BBC is biased & don’t trust the interviews they choose to air (wonder how many they take & then whittle down)

    Like

  2. dfhunter,

    I don’t trust the basis on which the BBC selects clips from selected interviewees. Like you, I’ve never been asked anything by them, nor have I ever been selected to participate in any of the myriad of opinion surveys that, inter alia, seek to tell us what the British people think with regard to climate change and renewable energy. I suspect the BBC had to discard quite a few quotes before they were able to print some that supported their agenda.

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  3. More of the same:

    “‘I’m tired of the lies’: the young activists leading the way on climate action
    The Guardian is committed to giving a platform to young activists as the climate crisis becomes a very real, present-day phenomenon”

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/02/climate-crisis-young-people-activism-around-world

    No doubt these youngsters are well-intentioned and sincere, but it’s a pity that they’re being encouraged to campaign (and even litigate) in favour of polices that will make life worse for them and others of their generation.

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  4. from the head post – “Protests held over climate crisis and energy rises”

    from the BBC link –
    “Protester Lily Holder, 29, who was on a London march organised by Enough is Enough said: “It’s time to funnel our collective rage into something active and productive.”
    She was among a group supporting striking unions, like the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), at King’s Cross.
    Some 50,000 workers from four unions are taking part in a strike on Saturday, resulting in the worst rail disruption of the year so far.
    “This is an opportunity to express a shared sense of disillusionment in our Tory government,” she said, adding: “The people want and desperately need change – and they need it soon. This winter is a frightening prospect and is going to show the true cruelty of our government.”

    I wonder if Lily will vote Labour!!!

    ps – wonder if all those asking for pay rises in line with inflation will take a pay cut if inflation falls in the future?
    would hate to own/run a business in today’s anti profit culture. certain charities must be laughing all the way to the bank.

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  5. One of the delightful things about this blog site is the almost lack of party politics within it. May it remain such, unlike most other climate sceptical sites. I’m not suggesting that when government or opposition pull a stupidity we don’t criticise (with extreme prejudice) but let’s be even handed.

    I recognise that there is a large number of right-of-centre sceptics, but please remember there are a few of us cloth-cap pulling types who also find climate change policies stupid. I still find it difficult to believe, that the Climate Bill sailed through the Commons with only 6 (just 6!) voting against.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been puzzling about a snappy answer to the slogans here.

    Proposal:

    “The act is vile, the language is stupid”

    Vile may sound too strong but it’s visceral. All such acts, whether in Madame Tussauds or on the Dartford Crossing are vile – pompous and destructive interruptions to the lives of the innocent.

    The language is stupid is because:

    1. The science is both clear and unclear. As in Mark’s original post deaths from extreme events from 1920 show a clear signal. From this we can know that there is either a very small problem or no problem at all. That is clear. On the other hand, the science is not clear. We don’t understand the earth’s climate as a system. Anything like. A great field for science as a process to continue to seek to uncover.

    2 The demand is both simple to state and impossibly complex to realise – without causing major harm to humanity, especially the poor.

    The act is vile, the language is stupid.

    Any improvements? Snappy if possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. As Richard alluded to not long ago, but via a Twitter report – this is on the front page of the BBC website, suggesting that the BBC considers it to be news of some importance, worthy of being drawn to the attention of the public, rather than being buried in local news, as so much stuff is:

    “Madame Tussauds: Protesters throw cake on King Charles waxwork”

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-63374080

    Activists appear to have thrown cake into the face of King Charles’s waxwork at London’s Madame Tussauds.

    Video footage posted on social media showed two protesters wearing Just Stop Oil T-shirts throwing cake in the King’s face….

    The BBC then obliges the protestors by quoting them verbatim. Why is it so keen to give them the oxygen of publicity?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mark – I think we know why, they love the “MMGW” meme & give it & any aligned all the oxygen they can at every opportunity.
    so, it comes across as a “noble cause” in the reports & interviews with the nutt*rs.

    ask the public (like they do when it suits & answers are agreeable) & I wonder ?

    Like

  9. Richard D,

    I can’t think of anything snappier than Jit’s suggestion but XR and its chums love fake quotes, so whichever slogan you go with should be attributed to Gandhi (or, better, Ghandi), Einstein, Orwell etc.

    A very unsnappy example:

    First you give us headlines; then you agree with us; then you defend us; then we lose, mostly cos we’re arseholes.

    — Tony Ghandi Benn Hallam

    Liked by 1 person

  10. There have been a number of articles in the Guardian lately justifying the actions of Just Stop Oil and similar Extinction Rebellion protests. But this one is remarkable in a mainstream newspaper:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/nov/18/outraged-xr-just-stop-oil-disruptive-climate-crisis

    Apparently car drivers who confront those blocking the roads are especially angry because they are reminded of the “climate crisis”.

    “On the videos of drivers confronting activists, the drivers’ fury feels about more than their vehicles being blocked. British motorists are used to obstructions and delays. The anger suggests resentment at being reminded about the climate crisis.” Yeah right!

    But the article gets more delusional and dangerous as the writer then advocates escalation:

    “……XR and similar groups are not disruptive enough. Last year the Swedish environmentalist Andreas Malm published How to Blow Up a Pipeline, a seductively well-written and well-researched book that argues climate activists should abandon their longstanding “commitment to absolute non-violence”, and instead “escalate” their campaign by “physically attacking the things that consume our planet”, such as fossil fuel infrastructure.”

    He says “It’s not hard to find things to worry about in Malm’s argument” but his objections are not that it constitutes terrorism:

    ” Wouldn’t the sabotage have to be on an enormous scale? How are governments and voters likely to react, given the fury already aroused by XR? ”

    Of course if we really just stopped investing and developing hydrocarbons the price of oil and gas would rise way above recent levels. Can the UK government cap increasing energy bills for ever?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. potentilla,

    Thanks for drawing my attention to that. I had spotted the trend in the Guardian recently to defending Just Stop Oil activists, and had grown so tired of it that I hadn’t bothered reading the latest nonsense. And nonsense it is.

    My respect for the Guardian dwindles by the day. Some of its journalists are still capable of producing some interesting and informative articles. Even on the subject of the climate it occasionally produces something enlightening. Regrettably, however, its whole ethos is now suffused with climate alarmism, and reason and logic have gone out of the window. Increasingly it’s looking like the High Priest of a cult.

    Like

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