Where was the debate about the climate?

Channel 4’s leaders’ debate on climate change was a pointless and pathetic exercise.

Ben Pile

‘It is the biggest issue on the planet’, said Krishnan Guru-Murthy as he introduced the Channel 4 News Climate Debate. Cue a montage of floods, storms, fires and a burned Koala (because, of course, none of these things ever happened before climate change). If Guru-Murthy was right, then the issue had surely been settled before the debate had begun. And what is the point of a debate between party leaders whose statements on climate change are identical in every significant respect? The show may have self-identified as ‘debate’, but it lacked anything that qualified it as one.

This General Election was called to resolve a parliamentary impasse over Brexit. But the Green Party – adamant anti-democratic Remainers, unwilling to accept the referendum result – believed that the election should instead be about something else, and declared it a ‘climate-change election’. Channel 4 News, notable for its overt Remain bias, seized the initiative and last week announced that party leaders had been summoned to the studio for the event.

Conservative leader Boris Johnson declined the invitation, leading to hostile reactions from the climate commentariat who claimed the Conservatives were not taking the issue of climate change seriously. Channel 4 News placed ice sculptures in the places nominated for the prime minister and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who also declined.

This childish empty-chairing stunt casts serious doubts on the broadcaster’s claims to be merely representing the ‘biggest issue on the planet’. Clearly, Channel 4 News thinks far too much of itself. Excessive self-regard in this case led to an editorial team deciding, not unlike the Green Party, what voters’ priorities should be. Why not a leaders’ debate about jobs, housing or the economy? The typical answer from the green-minded is that without a planet, there will be no jobs, no houses and no economy. This glib rejoinder does more than merely presuppose the least-plausible worst-case scenario as a fact. It tells us that climate change is a figleaf for our utterly intransigent political and media class.

Who decided that ‘climate change is the biggest issue on the planet’ anyway? When? By what means? Only very few individual MPs have ever deviated from the political consensus on the climate since the 1980s. And as I pointed out recently on spiked, no party in Westminster is offering the public an alternative, against which to test the legitimacy of that cross-party political consensus. MPs have waved through all kinds of far-reaching climate policies, recently lowering the UK’s emissions-reduction target to Net Zero without even a vote.

The point here is that Britain has never had a debate about climate change of any consequence. Never. Political parties and broadcasters, through their own deterioration, have formed a consensus between themselves, and have excluded from their ranks, departments, institutions and from the airwaves any possibility of debate. Moreover, this consensus exists to displace from the public sphere any debates of actual consequence. Jobs, housing, the economy… political parties have long struggled to identify coherent ideological positions on these issues, from which they could devise and contest a policy agenda.

Channel 4 News is equally disoriented about its purpose and role in society. The editorial team has increasingly sought to use the broadcaster’s public-service remit to try to set rather than report the political agenda – to use the publicly owned station as a vehicle for campaigning. It’s an affliction that all British broadcasters seem to suffer from, echoing the uniformity of political parties, which compete only to best represent the consensus that exists between them.

The debate itself was as pointless as it was predictable. The Green Party’s Sian Berry insisted that the other parties would agree with her (they did) but would fail to take the issue seriously enough to make policies that would save the planet in time. Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson argued that ‘Brexit is a climate crime’. Jeremy Corbyn claimed that Labour would kickstart a ‘green industrial revolution’ – the exact same claim that Labour prime minister Gordon Brown made shortly before the economic crash.

In many ways, the ‘climate emergency’ has saved each of these mediocre leaders of mediocre parties from themselves. There was plenty of moral grandstanding and vacuous pledges as they desperately fought to find ways to best each other on the climate issue while offering absolutely nothing to the voter. If the climate emergency didn’t exist (it doesn’t), they would have to invent it.

Britain badly needs a debate about climate change. But last night’s bizarre spectacle was not it. All it revealed is that our political parties, politicians, broadcasters and ‘journalists’ are no longer fit for purpose.

Ben Pile blogs at Climate Resistance.

Picture by: Getty.

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Jon Hubs

10th December 2019 at 8:49 pm

How about trickle down enviromentalism, the richest can give up their co2 producing luxuries and the poor can reap the benifits?

Darth Saddius

4th December 2019 at 7:19 pm

Something I’m not clear on from the article. A debate about which aspect of this issue exactly? It seems there are several possible aspects which could be discussed.

1) Anthropogenic climate change. do the laws of physics and the data support the hypothesis that is is taking place or not?
2) If it is accepted that anthropogenic climate change is happening is it a serious threat or not to human well being?
3) If it is accepted that anthropogenic climate change is a) happening and b) poses a serious threat to human well being what should the response(s) be?
4) Political, cultural and ethical issues of climate change?

I’m not sure which debate is being asked for here and I’m genuinely curious. I didn’t see the program by the way.

Lord Anubis

2nd December 2019 at 12:09 pm

Just for fun, An idea copied and pasted from a tech site.

Solution to this problem is simple — go nuclear. Not only to reduce CO2 level, but even more because of cheap desalination. Desertification and irrigation are too often overlooked as mechanisms for rising of sea levels, but the math is simple: you lower the water table and levels of inner seas (Aral, Caspian), you rise the level of the world ocean.

Each square meter of land holds about 50t of underground water, meaning that turning of a million of km2 of deserts into pastureland drops the sea level by about 15cm.

At about 1m of irrigation, it’s 1e12 tonnes p.a. for 50y. Advanced reverse osmosis uses only about 1.5 kWh or some 5 MJ per tonne of water. So it’s 5e18 J p.a. or about 150 GW. It’s huge, but feasible, and the value of reclaimed land is in $T range, while 150 GWe of nuke power cost less than $500B.

These calculations are very, ve-ery approximate of course, but they at least prove that the scheme makes at least order-of-magnitude sense. The process of inundation could be not only stopped but reversed.


Makes sense to me…! Especially since a million Km^2 isnt actually that much on the global scale

Australia alone could irrigate over 7million Km^2 this way, (Drop sea levels by a metre??) and would also have the Uranium to do it, and there are far larger arid/desert zones around the world.

And the potential value of the reclaimed land is almost beyond comprehension.

Jane 70

1st December 2019 at 11:08 am

Britain has never had a debate of any consequence about mass migration, muticulturalism, austerity policies or the imminent advent of AI either: the establishment has imposed its own consensus
The public has been excluded in all cases, perhaps to a lesser degree on the AI question, but even so.
Corbyn wants to open the borders, without actually confirming this, while at the same time planting millions of trees; the Greens want to open the borders, without actually confirming this,while at the same time blanketing the country with wind farms.
This is all right -on magical thinking,presumably designed to placate a supposedly credulous electorate.
C4 is openly biased,smug,condescending and selective.

steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 2:04 pm

What’s amazing is just how far behind public debate is the media and politicians — on this subject if anything even more than on all the others to which this observation also applies.
Nobody with any intelligence and curiosity now accepts the ridiculous anthropogenic climate change (non-)model. Just look at on-line discussion.
The internet is stuffed with actual scientists pointing out (1) the long lag between temperature changes FOLLOWED by changes in atmospheric CO2, and over all time-scales, including over geological and prehistorical times by using standard proxies for temperature, (2) the several modes of ‘solar forcing’ other than by heat that actually drives climate, notably the interaction of magnetic fields and high-energy particles, impacting on cloud formation (white cloud reflecting heat away from the earth), (3) the for some time now cooling global temperatures as we enter another cyclical grand soar minumum, and (4) the repeated fraud of multiple ‘adjustments’ to cherry-pick temperature data to try (but still fail) to reconcile with any anthropogenic model.

steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 2:46 pm

Re the solar minimum we’re entering, here’s a piece from electroverse.net, showing the earth warms and cools through complex natural cycles.
Professor Valentina Zharkova’s ‘Expanded’ Analysis still Confirms Super Grand Solar Minimum (2020-2055)
July 2, 2019 Cap Allon
Professor Valentina Zharkova’s recent paper ‘Oscillations of the Baseline of Solar Magnetic Field and Solar Irradiance on a Millennial Timescale’ has been accepted for publishing in Nature. It confirms a Grand Solar Minimum (GSM) from 2020 to 2055, as all four magnetic fields of the sun go out of phase, while also suggesting centuries of natural warming post-Minima.
Zharkova’s team’s expanded ‘double dynamo’ calculations match-up almost perfectly with the timelines of past Grand Minimas: the Maunder Minimum (1645–1715), Wolf minimum (1300–1350), Oort minimum (1000–1050), Homer minimum (800–900 BC); as well as with the past Grand Maximas: the Medieval Warm Period (900–1200), the Roman Warm Period (400–150 BC), and so on…
Coming as somewhat of a surprise however, Zharkova’s full and expanded analysis reveals the sun, following its next GSM cycle (2020-2055), will actually enter a 300+ year spell of increased-activity warming the earth at a rate of 0.5C (0.9F) per century, running until the next GSM cycle (2370-2415).
Succeeding that cooling period (2415-onward), the world, according to Zharkova, will continue on with its warming trend, again at an average of 0.5C (0.9F) per century, until the year 2600 when the sun will flip to a prolonged cooling phase running for the next 1000 years (and likely propelling Earth into the next ice age).

Michael Roberts

30th November 2019 at 12:37 pm

It appears that under the Paris agreement, US$100,000,000,000 a year will be extracted, principally from European taxpayers, in an exercise in taxation without representation. The “fund” will be “administered” by the UN and disbursed to its member states on terms written by the UN (its own members) and paid directly to the unelected recipient governments who must spend their windfalls wisely on projects that will mitigate the impact of a non-existent climate crisis. The obvious way in which to control activists and the population in general who react badly to events that can be blamed on climate change is to buy more guns, tanks, missiles and shiny new population monitoring equipment plus the “personnel”, i.e. armies, to operate them. The climate lobby has already drafted for the recipients of European largesse lengthy lists of the things that can be blamed on climate change, without there being any need to demonstrate a connection between the assumed cause and the outcome to be mitigated.

Peter Lavington

30th November 2019 at 12:12 pm

UK produces about 2% of global CO2 emissions. I would like to hear from green politicians to explain how UK moving to zero emissions will make any significant difference to total global emissions?

Boyden Osborne

29th November 2019 at 8:59 pm

I didnt watch it, for reasons already stated above.

Just one thing.

Was there any mention of the Paris Climate Change agreement, that everyone lost their Methane over it’s signing a few years back. Or are we living a different world now?

I thought at the time, signing a peice of paper, that’ll help.
Let’s wait and celebrate its successful implementation, across the world.
But winter came and the populism warned, and now it’s probably a McDonalds straw.
Most hot air comes from the ones tasked with stopping it!

Pollution is one thing that is real, be it air born, in the water or in the soil, let’s get that under control and the rest will follow. That’s the most serious thing affecting our health. Climate Change, blah blah blah BS.

But fossil fuels are on the decline, and hopefully soon the middle east can be left in peace.

Weather is different every year, next year will be different to this, Theres plenty of history of flooding around the country.

Hey rather than Wiping out the livestock farming, why dont they suggest a cull on all domestic animals, see how positive a response that gets.

Remember the 87′ gales and the following climate crisis….

I did hear that Labour were pledging to plant 2,000,000,000 by 2040, where?

The environment, the ecology the bio systems need protecting from developers but mainly from and the local and central government.

The local government here said they would not build a road through the wensum valley, but now that the 12mile NDR, ( known locally as the road to nowhere & Near Death Roundabouts) has been completed 40% overbudget at 205M+ (though still no payments made for the land and woodland it consumed) they now say it has to built to complete the road to the A47. 2mile viaduct at £150M+ because the politicians say I will bring more to the local economy than building a tunnel.
The road has great spin, When talking environment, its The Broadland Northway ( only the council call it this ) Daily accidents on the roundabouts, are on the NDR, and recently a death on the road was reported as the A1270.

This country has seriously lost the plot with who in the “General public” and in the media gets a voice.

One last thing, how are all the XR keeping warm this winter, oh sorry I forgot, they are only there to highlight the problem, not offer solutions.

Climate Chris is on a cycle like the weather.

Remember in the 90’s MTV ran an environment campaign, with the slogan ” If your not part of the solution, your part of the problem” XR tank note!

fret slider

29th November 2019 at 7:26 pm

[ If the climate emergency didn’t exist (it doesn’t), they would have to invent it. ]

If anyone invented it – for political control purposes – it was Maurice Strong. Strong was Secretary General of the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development, best known as the Earth Summit, and it was there he informed us:

“‘Population must be stabilised, and rapidly’. ‘If we do not do it, nature will, and much more brutally. We have been the most successful species ever. We are now a species out of control.”

The green ideology is riddled with misanthropy.

steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 2:13 pm

Isn’t it an extension of the ‘identity politics’ (‘PC’) backlash by Marxists against the mass of ordinary people they scapegoat for the failure of their political philosophy?
Greenies are watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside.
Leftism is elitist-separatism in disguise: pretending not to be status-striving by ‘projecting’ this on to everyone else and feigning egalitarianism themselves. Enviro-cant is an extension from a downer on seeking status to just breathing.
I predict implosion and laughing-stock status for the lot of ’em in the not-too-distant future.

George Orwell

29th November 2019 at 6:50 pm

They can’t debate it because the ‘science’ is wrong.
The surface temperature enhancement for all planets with atmospheres is caused by atmospheric mass being convected up and down and not by so called greenhouse gases.
Such gases simply cause a miniscule adjustment to the convective circulation that we would never be able to measure relative to natural variability.


Joseph Brown

29th November 2019 at 6:01 pm

I’ll just leave this here


kejadi kejadi

29th November 2019 at 5:23 pm

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Dominic Straiton

29th November 2019 at 5:04 pm

Channel4 exists to channel money into the pockets of a select few producers, directors and presenters. Its a massive con. Channel4 “news” has nothing to do with journalism. Its as embarrassing as Jon Snows Timmy Mallet socks.

Ven Oods

29th November 2019 at 1:45 pm

Channel 4 News is just right-on shit. I had hopes, years ago, for Guru-Murty, but now he’s just as smug as Snow.
I could bear Matt Frey and Cathy N rather better, but can’t sit through the items featuring the other two.
In the interest of impartiality, I find Huw Edwards just as unwatchable.
Smug gits, all of them.

Mark Houghton

29th November 2019 at 7:24 pm

Cathy Newman? So what you’re saying is………
Did you see the car crash interview she did with Jordan Peterson?

steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 1:48 pm

She once complained on social media about my pointing out that she wouldn’t know any science if it inserted itself into all of her orifices. She apparently could’t even figure that it would be far more unnatural for men to have insertions into their orifices when she complained of meezodgenannynonny.

Ven Oods

7th December 2019 at 5:15 pm

Re: did I see Cathy…
I opined that she was more watchable, only to be reminded of her going tits-up in that interview.
I think she’s suffering from whatever the C4 version is of Stockholm Syndrome (Snow-Murthy Syndrome?) Shouldn’t someone rescue the poor woman, before it’s too late?

Eric Praline

29th November 2019 at 1:39 pm

“Ben Pile blogs at Climate Resistance.”

Not very often.

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 1:17 pm

I didn’t watch it.
Was there any err .. you know , actual ‘science’ discussed ?

Kevlar Head

29th November 2019 at 6:04 pm

I didn’t watch either as I could predict what the so called debate was going to be like. Not really a debate unless you throw in some of the alternative theories such as this:- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-zaQWAaPAg

H McLean

29th November 2019 at 7:28 pm

+1 That channel is excellent and should be watched by everyone.

Bella Donna

29th November 2019 at 12:58 pm

If these climate change scammers really cared about anything they would turn their attention to immigration control.

K Tojo

29th November 2019 at 12:55 pm

I’m not sure if “Britain badly needs a debate on climate change” as Ben Pile says in his final paragraph. Debates tend to be won by masters of rhetoric with victory going to those best able to stir the crowd with the strength of their conviction. We have already seen this approach working with Extinction Rebellion and with Greta Thunberg’s tearful “last chance to save the planet” appeals.

What we really need is fot the MSM, especially the broadcast media, to stop systematically ignoring and belittling climate change sceptics. Serious, widely publicised, investigative journalism is needed. The BBC in particular should be forced to show genuine impartiality on this issue rather than hiding behind the false assertion that “the science is settled”.

Perhaps when people eventually gain a clearer picture of what it will mean for their lives if Western governments are panicked into implementing Extinction Rebellion’s fanatical zero-carbon plans they will demand to know the truth about the whole climate change issue.

Liz Davison

29th November 2019 at 12:35 pm

The Green Party don’t seem to be making much headway. The LibDems are now forced into being greener than the Greens because their big policy (abolishing Brexit) has proved a dud. So the Green vote will be more split than before. Glad the PM refused on grounds of prejudicial likelihood from C4 but noted that creepy Gove volunteered in his place but thankfully was refused as he’s not PM. How that must still irritate him. Just as well, because he’s become fond of promising lots of crazy eco policies recently and surely there are some Tories who think the climate change question is just that and not an unarguable fact.

Jerry Owen

29th November 2019 at 1:21 pm

I think the Green Party is going to be stuffed by the LibDems at the GE, who in turn will be stuffed themselves by the voters because of their anti democratic manifesto.
To cap it all it seems Swinson’s seat is none to safe.
Could be a win win win !

H McLean

29th November 2019 at 12:33 pm

As any good Robert Downey Jr fan will tell you, Krishnan Guru-Murthy is a loathsome condescending prick. I wouldn’t have made it past his introduction. I wish Boris had taken part, just to piss on their chips.

James Rooks

29th November 2019 at 2:56 pm

Haha he’s definitely a bottom-feeding muckraker! I loved it when Guru-Murthy got put in his place by the excellent Downey Jr.

bf bf

29th November 2019 at 12:32 pm

There is no (warming) climate emergency. What they should have been debating was how we are going to cope with falling temperatures (as measured not modeled), vastly reduced crop yield’s both in quality and quantity (despite a 15% greening of the earth due to slightly [by historical standards] increased level of CO2. We are entering a solar minimum that could well be as bad as the Dalton minimum or god forbid the Maunder Minimum or “little ice age” of the 1600 to about 1780.


steve moxon

30th November 2019 at 1:44 pm

Spot on.


29th November 2019 at 12:29 pm

>>If the climate emergency didn’t exist (it doesn’t), they would have to invent it. <<
So – they did

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