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BBC Christmas Lecture–The Only Thing Missing Was Greta!

January 4, 2021
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By Paul Homewood

 If you thought the first episode of last week’s BBC Christmas Lectures was bad, just take a look at the third and final episode, which is supposedly about our atmosphere!

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https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000qplx/sign/royal-institution-christmas-lectures-2020-planet-earth-a-users-guide-3-up-in-the-air

Presented by Tara Shine, who describes herself as an Environmental Scientist, it begins by telling us the make up of the Earth’s atmosphere, but quickly turns into little more than a political dissertation.

Following the short introduction, she tells us how much the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased since pre-industrial times, and informs us that the planet has warmed by about 1C since.

And then categorically states:

“So CO2 is causing our planet to warm”

Nowhere is there any acknowledgement of the Little Ice Age, or that at least part of said warming might actually be natural.

Then we are treated to the emotive segment of the show, with Shine claiming that rainfall in Chad has been decreasing in the Sahel because of global warming. If she had bothered to read HH Lamb, she would know that the opposite is the case- the multi year Sahel drought took place when the Earth was cooling in the 1970s.

To make her young audience feel guilty, she then speaks to a young woman from Chad, who proceeds to wheel out the usual woke nonsense about indigenous people and suchlike. But her key contribution is to claim that Lake Chad has shrunk in recent years because of global warming.

In fact, the reason for the shrinking is not related to rainfall, but to massive irrigation projects. NASA, for instance, estimate that the amount of water diverted for irrigation quadrupled between the 1960s and 80s.

Despite this, recent satellite measurements show that the lake has increased in area sevenfold since the 1990s. But facts like these spoil a good story don’t they!

And, of course, while we’re on the topic, Ms Shine forgets to mention the fact that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere has led to a greening of the planet in general, and Chad in particular. Or that food production there has tripled since the 1980s.

Tara Shine then proceeds to play the Climate Justice card, reminding us that we in Britain emit much more CO2 per capita than in Chad, who suffer most from climate change – how unfair, she moans.

To illustrate this, she put one black ball in a bucket representing Chad. The next bucket gets to be quarter filled, which is India. Our bucket is half full, and the end bucket, representing the Great Satan, is full up. Strangely, she does mention that China’s per capita emissions are already higher than ours!

But does any of this matter, she asks. We, she says, are already all seeing the effects of climate change. Wildfires, she claims, are more frequent because of global warming.

In fact, a study published last month found that the opposite is true, and that wildfires have been reducing in intensity in the last two decades:

January to December 2020 global total wildfire carbon emissions

And, apparently, we are now seeing more extreme weather in Europe, including storms, floods and heatwaves (though curiously no mention of fewer cold waves!). She provides no evidence whatsoever to back this up, probably because there is none, as even the IPCC have been forced to admit.

In full climate-apocalyptic mode now, Shine plays a silly game to gull her impressionable audience into believing that global food production will be badly hit by rising temperatures. Maybe they would have preferred to hear the truth, which is that food production has been rising in leaps and bounds in recent decades.

Leaving all traces of objective science behind, she then launches into a long eulogy about renewable energy – (look at this “lovely wind turbine” she says at one point.). Then claims we have the technology (electrolysis) to store surplus wind power, for when the wind stops blowing. She omits to tell her audience of schoolkids that, while the technology may exist, it is horrifically expensive and not practicable at the scale needed.

She also mentions biodigesters, planting trees and restoring peat lands, as if they were going to be game changers, rather than a sideshow.

Finally she talks about making communities more resilient to climate change, with things like flood defences. (I think she means “resilient to bad weather”!).

In fact, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, which she wants us to feel guilty about, we are all much better able to withstand weather disasters, both in the affluent West and poor countries like Chad. That is why the number of deaths worldwide from disasters is now microscopic in comparison with a few decades ago.

Nowhere in the programme does she mention the enormous cost of climate policies, which have to be paid for by ordinary families, many of them poor. Does she not think this money might be better employed?

And nowhere is there any recognition that UK emissions are tiny in global terms, and that Asia and other parts are still busy ramping up their own emissions.

Her finishing statement sums up the blatantly political nature of the lecture:

 “We know what to do, we just need to do a lot more of it, and we need to do it with greater urgency. We have the solutions, we have the knowledge, we have nature and science on our side.

It’s up to us to take action, and to use our voices. And every time we do, we create a ripple that keeps on growing.

It starts here.”

They might just as well have let brought Greta on for an hour. At least it would have saved them some money!

39 Comments
  1. ianprsy permalink
    January 4, 2021 6:40 pm

    Any adult allowing children to watch that excrement should be prosecuted for child abuse.

    • Ian Magness permalink
      January 4, 2021 6:46 pm

      I rather think the presenters of these lectures should be arrested first. They are responsible and, via their positions and academic backgrounds, must be deemed in law to know better and have a duty of care to youngsters. They should be followed by by the BBC and the Royal Institution being prosecuted.

    • Curious George permalink
      January 5, 2021 1:31 am

      “We have the knowledge.” I doubt it. Does she realize that everything on her dinner plate was brought there by carbon dioxide? To be precise, everything except water and salt.

  2. Harry Passfield permalink
    January 4, 2021 7:07 pm

    Anyone calling themselves an ‘environmental scientist’ (the degree for which is…?) who claims that ‘climate’ is changing our ‘weather’ – instead, as it normally works, weather changing climate – should not be allowed out, but most certainly not allowed to influence children.

  3. geoff bancroft permalink
    January 4, 2021 7:14 pm

    The Atmosphere one was the worst of the 3 lectures for distorting the truth. She has some amazing references……
    Dr Tara Shine is an expert in the field of climate change and climate justice with a passion for communicating her science and her positive vision for the future. She has advised world leaders, governments, multilateral agencies and civil society organisations on climate change, environmental policy and development assistance. Formerly Special Advisor to the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice and Adviser to The Elders, Tara has recently been announced the incoming Chair of the International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED). She knows the inside world of the international climate change negotiations as well as the role that business plays in shaping and delivering sustainable development.

    Everything that she said was wrong, it was supposed to be on the atmosphere but oxygen, nitrogen and water vapour hardly got a mention, it was all the pollutant carbon dioxide. She never mentioned photosynthesis being the basis of our survival, I am just appalled how someone so obviously shallow in basic knowledge gets to such high office. The demonstrations were risible, they were just amatuer, if only I could have been in the audience with the opportunity to debate, but I have noticed these climate change ghurus who make their living from spouting this nonsense are extremely reluctant to respond to challenges in open debate.

    I actually liked the one on the oceans, but I am not inclined to accept that whale poo is the driver behind ocean balance!

    • GeoffB permalink
      January 4, 2021 7:16 pm

      Geoff B and Geoff Bancroft are both me…wordpress seems to pick one or the other at random.

    • January 4, 2021 9:41 pm

      I just lost the text a long and thoughtful rant I was penning. What if she and the good “professor” Jackson not not write their scripts but merely mouthed the words of others? Give that their qualifications then she is guilty like Jackson of a grave moral turpitude.

    • January 4, 2021 10:13 pm

      Nearly everyone seems to overlook or ignore the fact that most ‘greenhouse’ i.e. radiative gas is water vapour. Which means that messing about with the likes of carbon dioxide is not going to achieve anything noticeable, no matter how much resource is put into the so-called fight.

  4. Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
    January 4, 2021 7:28 pm

    brought Greta on for an hour. At least it would have saved them some money!

    I wonder?
    At this point, what does it cost to get an audience with St. Greta?

    U. S. news is carrying stores of how much Obama and ex-officials get for appearing in front of groups for a “discussion” or whatever it is that they do.
    “Janet Yellen has made at least $7m from speaking fees, records show
    Incoming US Treasury secretary was paid for events at Goldman Sachs, Barclays and others” . . . ” $292,500 from a single speech for hedge fund Citadel.”

    I took a wrong career path.

  5. Malcolm Skipper permalink
    January 4, 2021 7:35 pm

    After the first ‘lecture’ I managed to find a free download of Michael Faraday’s book “The Chemical History of a Candle”, a compilation of the six lectures he gave to ‘juveniles’ for the (first?) RI lecture. (Six lectures on a candle?!!!) Real science, he starts with the familiar – a candle – and draw his audience into observing, thinking and questioning, as well as informing – and he encourages them to go and do their experiments. Worth a read.

    https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/14474

  6. fretslider permalink
    January 4, 2021 7:37 pm

    The BBC is now The Propaganda Service

    Defund Auntie

  7. grammarschoolman permalink
    January 4, 2021 8:05 pm

    So will there be an official complaint from anywhere?

  8. stuart brown permalink
    January 4, 2021 8:11 pm

    Paul, I did try and warn you! December 30, 2020 9:22 pm on the Chris Jackson thread.

    From her website: “Dr Tara Shine has dedicated over 20 years of her life to the pursuit of fairness between people and between people and the planet.”

    The atmosphere is roughly one part per million of the Earth’s mass. The planet doesn’t care about fairness and could wipe us out with a burp.

  9. Gerry, England permalink
    January 4, 2021 8:13 pm

    I think their website shows how the Royal Institution has dumbed down and obviously ignored its ‘Science Lives Here’ claim with the drivel it served up for the Christmas Lectures. They refer to themselves as ‘Ri’ which says a lot. A future lecture will be on climate models but I suspect missing from it will be any reference to the inaccuracy of all of the climate models bar the one from Russia.

    • January 4, 2021 9:45 pm

      Dumbing down need not turn scientific knowledge on it’s head! She deliberately twisted established scientific knowledge for political ends.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        January 5, 2021 8:31 am

        Worthy of Lysenko. Evil woman.

    • David V permalink
      January 5, 2021 2:08 pm

      When I was at school RI stood for religious instruction – says it all…

  10. January 4, 2021 9:24 pm

    Tara is a climate change policy wonk and propagandist, that magic word “policy” getting dropped to fool people into thinking she is scientist. This is a well used trick, seen in energy policy academics being presented as experts in energy, and similarly in recent times for public health policy.

    Those magic words “policy”, “geography”, “energy” and “health” provide many useless left wing academics with generous taxpayer-funded salaries, and massive influence via the patsies in the media.

  11. January 4, 2021 9:45 pm

    Dr Hannah Fry, who presented the 2019 Royal Institution Christmas Lecture on The Hidden Power of Maths, including a section on “How to Bend the Rules” (ironic?), is, at this moment while I write this comment, presenting a new Horizon programme on BBC2 titled “Feast to Save the Planet”. This is where “guests” at the dinner table have their food origins analysed to check the Carbon Footprint of their meal. Dr Alice Roberts presented RICL in 2018, she has become a real Climate fanatic, and with Chris Jackson in 2020 it seems that just every presenter is becoming this way inclined. Where is the money coming from to persuade them all to do this…….. I suspect it is from the BBC Licence Fee payers…….. Do we have a choice….. yes fill in the BBC Questionnaire and let them know at the end as I did, that we may not be paying it any more…….

    • Ariane permalink
      January 5, 2021 12:54 pm

      Frank, what evidence is there that Dr.Alice Roberts is a ‘climate fanatic’?

  12. donald penman permalink
    January 4, 2021 10:27 pm

    I used to watch these because I have always had a strong interest in science but no longer regard them as worth watching along with BBC horizon.

  13. st3ve permalink
    January 4, 2021 10:57 pm

    This is the danger – those who have been around a while to hopefully form a (semi-) balanced view are no longer interested in these dumbed down Faraday lectures, whilst the juvenile cannon fodder has these un-validated politicised cash-cow diatribes spooned into their un-knowing expectant mouths.

  14. January 4, 2021 11:03 pm

    In my town Catholic schools tend to have the highest teenage pregnancy rate
    .. as the pupils rebel against all the preaching.

    Quite a few of the kids I speak to act in the same way about green preaching.

  15. January 4, 2021 11:49 pm

    Tuesday 9:45am and 00:30am Another Radio4 climate sermon
    @Jane_Burston Director of @CleanAirFund
    about tackling #climatechange and #airpollution
    I’m suspicious when activists try to equate these 2 things
    cos burning wood and straw is NOT cleaner for the air than coal never mind gas.
    Same for liquid biofuels

  16. Broadlands permalink
    January 5, 2021 1:08 am

    “Following the short introduction, she tells us how much the amount of carbon dioxide in the air has increased since pre-industrial times, and informs us that the planet has warmed by about 1C since.”

    Yes…CO2 is up almost 50% . Global mean temperature is up 6%. Up ‘about’ less than one degree C… in well over 200 years. And that’s supposed to be an existential crisis and a climate emergency???

    Of course not. It’s all those very scientific (constantly adjusted) climate model predictions that create the panic. Coupled of course with a few carefully chosen photos of polar bears, bleached corals and melting glaciers. Where is an objective media journalist to be found?

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      January 5, 2021 2:31 am

      The temperature is up by about 1 part in 300.

    • Nancy & John Hultquist permalink
      January 5, 2021 4:22 am

      “Global mean temperature is up 6%.”
      Did you quote that or calculate it?
      Celsius: Such as 1 divided by 16.
      Fahrenheit: 1.8 divided by 60.5
      Kelvin: 1 divided by 289.15.

      Only one of the three calculations can be correct.

      • Chaswarnertoo permalink
        January 5, 2021 8:33 am

        K

  17. January 5, 2021 6:48 am

    “BBC Christmas Lecture–The Only Thing Missing Was Greta!”

    Sorry, but the most important thing missing was science.

  18. January 5, 2021 7:55 am

    I refuse to watch or listen to any BBC proselytising programmes. I have my blood pressure to consider (and also my “mental health” – rolling my eyes).

  19. January 5, 2021 8:42 am

    and yet at the bottom of it all is the assumption but not the empirical evidence that fossil fuel emissions change atmospheric composition.
    https://tambonthongchai.com/2021/01/04/a-montreal-protocol-for-the-climate/

    • Ariane permalink
      January 5, 2021 1:05 pm

      Anthropogenic CO2, ‘ozone-depleting’ whatevers or hydrofluorocarbons – just another stick to beat down humanity.

      • January 5, 2021 1:17 pm

        Sad but true what with the Anthropocene and all

      • Ariane permalink
        January 5, 2021 1:26 pm

        A possible Degree topic: Philosophical and other implications arising from the term Anthropocene.

      • January 5, 2021 4:20 pm

        The ego of the humans.

  20. Phoenix44 permalink
    January 5, 2021 9:21 am

    Not a science lecture but a political one. I suggest reporting the BBC fir breach of charter. Even if her claims were true, what if anything we do about them is political.

    The BBC should not be allowed to get away with blatant political advocacy.

  21. LeedsChris permalink
    January 5, 2021 11:08 am

    You only need to ‘google’ to find articles that relate to Lake Chad to find that rainfall is increasing… The open access article by Churchill Okonkwo, Belay Demoz and Sium Gebremariam (published in the Scientific World Journal, 2014, finds a trend to increased rainfall over the period from the 1970s to 2010. A very recent article by Bin Pham-Duc et al in Scientific Reports (2020), includes reference to the fact that “since the 2000s, groundwater, which contributes to ~70% of Lake Chad’s Annual water storage change, is increasing…” and notes an increase in mean annual precipitation since the beginning of the 1990s. Both these articles are open access and can be downloaded. This is after a minute of searching…

  22. A man of no rank permalink
    January 5, 2021 3:09 pm

    Thanks for your summary Paul, saves us wasting our time watching it. Outrageous that the BBC can broadcast so many distortions of the truth.
    What always bothers me is that dear Tara, and so many of her mates, ask for urgent action. Well, what was the this past year? With Covid measures reducing man-made CO2. Surely Tara should be happy that our life styles have changed so much and how much further do they want us to go?

  23. Is it just me? permalink
    January 5, 2021 3:21 pm

    More than ever now – this whole environmental junket, coupled with CV-19 ‘crisis’ is one enormous, orchestrated fraud to ‘restart’ global humanity in the form of slavery. Bankers, working with big pharmaceutical companies, media, governments and technocrats are working together to reduce our liberty, end global currencies (and replace with digital) and transhumanise us with regular body-altering ‘vaccines’ – effectively turning us into compliant, supplicant citizens who do just what the uber rich and powerful want – or else we face an inability to ‘transact & travel’ (just like in China). Our assets will be seized, nature monetised and debt will be a major instrument of control. Orwellian, dark, scary stuff.

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