Jason . . . and Earth – The Climate Wars now showing on BBC2September 10, 2008 at 3:48 am | Posted in Climate change, Environment, Global warming | 5 Comments
Tags: BBC2, Climate change, Earth - The Climate Wars, Global warming, Programmes, Television
According to the BBC, “Dr Iain Stewart presents a definitive guide to the history of climate change” in Earth – The Climate Wars. The series has come to my attention because Sunday night’s programme has cropped up in conversations this week. Actually, several people seem eager for me to turn on the telly (for once in a blue moon) to catch this 3-part BBC2 documentary series. It is airing at 9pm on Sundays 7, 14 and 21 in September 2008. As a low-TV viewer, I thought I’d better find out what’s generating this level of interest …
For BBC Press Office briefings (known as Programme Information) follow these links, or read the three texts inline at the foot of this post:
- Part 1 on Sunday 7 September 2008
- Part 2 on Sunday 14 September 2008
- Part 3 on Sunday 21 September 2008
The day Part 1 aired, this article by Naomi Oreskes and Jonathan Renouf was published in the Sunday Times:
A shadowy scientific elite codenamed Jason warned the US about global warming 30 years ago but was sidelined for political convenience
Professor Naomi Oreskes is a historian of science, researching the history of climate change. Dr Jonathan Renouf is producer of Earth – The Climate Wars.
Of course, now I am intrigued to learn more …
BBC Programme Information
Earth – The Climate Wars Ep 1/3
Sunday 7 September
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWO
Global warming, and how to combat it, is arguably the greatest challenge faced today. It has provoked intense debate, changed the way people see the planet and created headlines around the world.
People now know how important the issues are. But when and how did scientists first discover global warming? Why has it led to such a furious debate? And who should be believed?
Presented by Dr Iain Stewart (Earth – The Power Of The Planet), BBC Two’s new three-part series, Earth – The Climate Wars, is a thorough and definitive guide to the history of climate change.
In the Seventies, the world seemed to be falling apart; from acid rain to overpopulation and resource depletion, ecological concerns were big news. And it was at this time that climate-change first became a hot political issue. But it wasn’t global warming that frightened scientists, it was the complete opposite: a new ice age.
Iain traces the history of climate change from the beginning and examines just how the scientific community managed to get it so wrong back in the Seventies.
Dave Keeling is one of the great unsung heroes of climate-change science. His painstaking measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere – from as early as 1958 – gave the world the first hard evidence that levels were increasing.
It wasn’t long before concern started to grow that global warming was a reality that could affect the human race in catastrophic ways. In the first episode, Iain looks at the early development of scientific research into the phenomena and uncovers the climate-change science pioneers, including a shadowy, secret organisation of American scientists known as “Jason”, who wrote the first official report on global warming as far back as 1979.
However, almost as soon as global warming became an issue of official concern, along came the first sceptics. Iain investigates the origins of the sceptic movement in the Reagan administration in the USA. He shows how most of the arguments that are still being used by the sceptics today originated in a little-known report written in 1981.
By the late Eighties, global warming had become a serious political issue. Margaret Thatcher became the first world leader to argue for action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. It looked as if the world was uniting to take action. But it turned out to be a false dawn because, in the Nineties, global warming would be transformed into one of the biggest scientific controversies of the modern age.
Earth – The Climate Wars Ep 2/3
Sunday 14 September
9.00-10.00pm BBC TWOFeature
Global warming, and how to combat it, is arguably the greatest challenge we face today. It has provoked intense debate, changed the way we see the planet and created headlines around the world.
We now know how important the issues are, but when and how did scientists first discover global warming? Why has it led to such a furious debate? And who should we believe?
Dr Iain Stewart (Earth – The Power Of The Planet) continues his definitive guide to the history of climate change.
In the second film he investigates the global warming “backlash” – the intense debate about the reality of man-made global warming that raged during the Nineties and into this century.
At the start of the Nineties it appeared that everyone was united. At the Rio Earth summit the world signed up to a programme of action to start tackling climate change. Even George Bush was there – the first George Bush that is. But the consensus didn’t last.
Iain examines the scientific arguments that developed as the global warming sceptics took on the climate change consensus. The sceptics attacked almost everything that the scientists held to be true. They argued that the planet wasn’t warming up and that, even if it was, it was nothing unusual. Certainly whatever was happening to the climate was nothing to do with human emissions of greenhouse gases.
This film looks back in search of the scientific truth, exploring everything from the “medieval warming period” to the “urban heat island effect”.
Iain also looks in detail at the experiments undertaken to establish the pattern of the Earth’s temperature over the last 1,000 years. He follows the development of the political and economic battles as the scientific evidence about global warming grew in strength.
As the science became more settled, Iain reveals the strategies pursued by the sceptics and their political allies, including the George W Bush administration, to remain on the fence in order to delay action to tackle climate change.
Throughout the film Iain interviews some of the key global-warming sceptics, and discovers how their positions have changed over time.
Earth – The Climate Wars: New Challenges Ep 3/3
Sunday 21 September
8.00-9.00pm BBC TWO
Today the scientific debate over whether global warming is happening is all but over. Even many die-hard sceptics now concede that the planet is getting warmer, and humans are largely to blame. But there are still many unanswered questions, as Dr Iain Stewart (Earth – The Power Of The Planet) discovers as he concludes his definitive guide to the history of climate change.
Iain investigates why there is so much confusion over what changes global warming is going to bring, and why this has led to uncertainty over what should be done about it.
Understanding how the climate works, and predicting how it will change in the future, is one of science’s greatest challenges. Iain discovers how, 60 years ago, scientists began their experiments with little more than a dishpan, a Bunsen burner and a turntable. Today they rely on massive super-computers to model the effects of greenhouse gases on the climate. But still they struggle to understand the complexity of the climate system.
Iain journeys to Greenland to meet scientists who are trying to fill in the gaps in the climate models. He also discovers how scientists are becoming increasingly concerned that their models are underestimating the speed of changes already under way.