Why did the BBC sack the Met Office?

Independent, 25 August 2015:

I have no doubt that right-wing Tories are determined to undermine any institution that expresses concern about climate change, and ultimately to repeal the UK’s Climate Change Act.

The Met Office is one of the three organisations that provides data on global temperatures, and its Hadley Centre is a world-renowned institution that provides  forecasts about global warming. It is therefore entirely predictable  that a Daily Mail columnist would seek to propagate criticism of the Met Office, but the truly worrying aspect is that the programme was broadcast on Radio 4,  three weeks before the BBC discontinued its contract with the Met Office, an arrangement that has been in place since 1922 (Storm over BBC decision to end contract with Met Office  August 24).

It is very difficult to know whether the BBC is undermining the importance of climate change because of political pressure, or whether its editors are scientifically illiterate, but coverage of climate change on BBC News is lamentable.

Between 2007 and 2013, a period when the scientific approach to climate change became a world-wide consensus, coverage of environmental issues on BBC News fell from 1.6% to an almost unrecordable 0.3%.

This cannot be defended on the grounds of balance, but it does explain why the current Government has adopted environmental policies which are a betrayal of future generations.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

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Coal is dangerous, but shale gas is no answer

Independent, 11 August 2015:

Obama may have finally woken up to the dangers of using coal as an energy source, but he seems to think that shale gas is the solution (Obama ignites war on coal to hit climate change targets August 3).

In his State of the Union message in 2012 Obamasaid os fracking: “We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my Administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy source” 

The problem of course, is that shale gas is still a fossil fuel and it is now 25 years since it was first proposed as a “bridge technology”, a metaphor implying that the bridge will lead us to the promised land of  renewable energy. In reality annual emissions of carbon dioxide have risen by 60 per cent over this period, and the bridge is taking the world in the wrong direction.  Renewable energy (excluding hydro) accounts for just 2 per cent of global primary energy production, whilst in the UK,  fracking is being subsidised at the expense of renewables. 

There is little hope for civilisation until our political leaders wake up to the dangers of all fossil fuels, and not just coal.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire

Fewer people does not mean more CO2 emissions

The Guardian, 4 August 2015:

Your leader writer fails to recognise the complexity of climate change (Fewer people means more carbon: the population paradox August 3)  Carbon per capita may well increase with economic prosperity, but globally carbon emissions are still a function of total population and are increasing fastest in underdeveloped countries.  Every extra mouth has to be fed and agriculture is one of the main producers of greenhouse gas emissions.

Furthermore it is not just carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change. Methane is the second most important greenhouse gas and is generated from raising livestock as well as rice-fields.It has risen from an historic level  of 500 parts per billion (ppb) to around 1800 ppb and is currently increasing by 6 ppb per annum.This is not all due to agriculture, but to argue that population growth will not impact on climate change is highly misleading.

Dr Robin Russell-Jones
Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire