back to article Climate change apocalypse NOW

The long-running saga of drowning dogs and weeping rabbits finally drew to a close this week, with the pronouncement by Ofcom that last year’s "Act on CO2" advertising campaign was "not political". Critics fear that this ruling now gives the green light to government "information" campaigns that otherwise look, sound and feel …


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  1. hplasm

    Just keep complaining.

    If one or two handwringers can spoil everyone else's innocent fun just because They Don't Like It, then nearly a thousand voices should be heard.

    It's their job to listen to complaints- particularly when they could concern a new cult.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    "The ad led significant numbers of viewers – some 939 at last count - to complain..."

    939 is a significant number in TV viewing figures is it? You could argue that it may be a large number compared to how many people normally complain when a TV program or advert shows something disagreeable like Bill Odie stamping on Kittens or some such nonsense, but I still wouldn't call it a significant number compared to how many people watched the adverts.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The title is not required, and must contain whatever I see fit, even if that's nothing.

      See, what you've done there is you've decided that the word "significant" is related to the number of viewers there normally are watching an offending piece- this could often be in the millions. Quite why you've chosen to do this only you can know I suppose. (But I've got a couple of ideas..)

      Whereas the significance being referred to here is not in relation to the total number of television viewers, but instead the average number of complainants there are for any particular TV show or advert, which is significantly less than 939.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      X is significant to J.F.O.

      The actual number of complaints doesn't matter so long as they as they align with the authors criticism.

  3. DaWolf

    are you taking the mickey?

    "mild 2.2 degrees Celsius"

    seriously, if you think that an average change of 2.2° is mild, when it varies across the planet and in some cases is going to be colder, and in some places massively hotter, you really shouldn't be talking about this.

    Yet another sceptical article from elreg, what a surprise!

    1. Eponymous Howard

      "Yet another sceptical article from elreg, what a surprise!"

      Dude, you misspelt "moronic" as "sceptical".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Jobs Horns

      it is more akin to talking like a Murdock

      I'm still waiting for an article (any article, please...) covering the barking-mad stories from the over side of the climate change coin. I'm okay with the fact that the reg is looking out for everyone's interests by warning against catching a blood disease from the "self-harming chicken-little" crowd, but mobs of "foaming at the mouth conspiracy dogs" also carry a lot of nasty infections as well.

      Come on Reg, you used to be such a great friend to hang out with; always seemingly drunk and ready mock and gesticulate madly at any arses you meet, but never spilling a drop from your Martini glass... good times.

      What is worse is than our loss is that it was probably us that failed you Reg by not bringing in enough visitors or not clicking through on enough adds, and now you're reduced to dropping your kacks and singing show tunes to get the attention that your witty banter used to demand on its own. Or maybe its all because of that Hippy Jobs being so mean.

      Damn you Jobs! JOBS!

      1. BlueGreen

        descent into trampy raving elegantly drawn

        FWIW (= whatever you want) I find myself backing away from my formerly beloved reg. The tech articles are an increasingly mixed bag and the climate stuff, carefully spun to annoy, is just doing my head in. Evanescent I fade, unmissed.

        1. The Other Steve

          Evanescent I fade, unmissed.

          You're right, you won't be missed.

    3. Jane Fae

      Really? I mean REALLY?

      i wrote "mild" and i meant "mild" - and i did that from the persepctive of having read both the IPCC FAR and the Stern Review pretty much cover to cover - plus various helpful documents from the US DOE, the UK government and the like. Bonus points for you if you did the same: points away if you haven't.

      You also need to pay attention to the detail: I am not taking issue here with the judgement delivered by the ASA, as with the poor quality of the complaints. If you read the ASA report, you will see they are in such general terms, and critical of the whole climate change edifice to the extent that they don’t really add up. There IS a consensus that extra CO2 causes warming…and there is also conssensus that a chunk of the current increase is anthropogenic.

      Now go find me a decent model that puts quantifiable bounds around those two measures. And the difficulty is you can’t. What you get (courtesy of Stern) is 13 different reviews that come up with the range I quote. You also have the IPCC stating that a 2 degree rise in temperature is not ideal, but manageable. So whilst it would not be ideal, I think it justified as being termed “mild” by comparison with some of the other scenarios out there.

      And again, if you know your climate science, you will know that a projected increase in atmospheric CO2e to 1000 ppm above pre-industrial levels is presently considered way outside likely outcomes. Not impossible: but a very extreme outcome, when the majority of medium-term projections out there right now are suggesting an increase of 450-550ppm.

      So what’s my point? DECC, then Act on CO2, then ASA and finally Ofcom have all agreed that the ad in question was OK “because” scientists have said it “could” be possible. Sure: I agree it “could”. But this strikes me as a very very bad principle indeed. Becauze you end up saying that you can say pretty much stick anything in an ad and have it deemed non-political if one of the outcomes you highlight “could” just remotely happen.

      As for being a sceptic…? Yes, in terms of the detail: no, in terms of the trend. It might help if you check out my publishing record OFF the record before you toss that sort of word across my bows in future.

      I’d certainly describe myself as an expert on the issues around climate change (though not a scientist)…and the fact that I am likely to be publishing extensively in that field over the next 12 months suggest that others agree with me.

      1. Eponymous Howard


        **I’d certainly describe myself as an expert on the issues around climate change (though not a scientist**

        Everything that's wrong with modern journalism in one arrogant assertion.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: FMOB

          Jane Fae is an well-known expert in statistical analysis and is the co-author of a study of carbon trading.

          I think she is rather modest.

  4. Robinson

    Yea right...

    "seriously, if you think that an average change of 2.2° is mild"

    It's certainly a lot less than the temperature change between day and night, or cloudy and sunny. But it's just a kind-of astrology, because 2.2 is a random, wild guess, based on incomplete information, implausible chains of inference and demonstrably useless computer models. This is all notwithstanding the fact that there's been no statistically significant increase in temperature for the last 15 years (to quote Phil Jones of ClimateGate fame). Make that 16 years. I think he said that last year.

    In all other sciences this single fact would falsify the hypothesis. But as we know Climate Science is "special" (as in School) and therefore you're basically allowed to get away with saying absolutely anything as long as it's got "due to man-made global warming" after it. I say global warming, but they changed the term in a very Orwellian way to "climate change". No... wait, they've now changed it again to "climate disruption".

    I'll give you disruption; my booted bony foot on all of your backsides.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hot flush

      "there's been no statistically significant increase in temperature for the last 15 years"


      This is from direct readings over 140 years. As expected, they fluctuate a lot year-on-year, but the trend is upwards.

      I'm not saying this proves AGW, I'm just disagreeing that we aren't witnessing average temperatures increase.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Statistically significant is a math term

        ...and it doesn't mean "we aren't witnessing average temperatures increase".

        What his statement implies is that saying there is an established trend *over the last 15 years* is not sound from a statistical standpoint (i.e. no way to say it's not just noise). Looking at the chart and saying I see a trend there is a different thing.

        Also, it's not *really* average temperature - they use the min/max average for a day as their basis of analysis.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        re: AC hot flush

        "there's been no statistically significant increase in temperature for the last 15 years"

        "This is from direct readings over 140 years. As expected, they fluctuate a lot year-on-year, but the trend is upwards. I'm not saying this proves AGW, I'm just disagreeing that we aren't witnessing average temperatures increase."

        First and foremost, an upward trend over the last 140 years does not show statistically significant increases in temperature. Statistically significant. The simplest way to explain this to someone uneducated like yourself is to say that the Earth has been this warm or warmer before, therefore it is not statistically significant. That is a broad brush, but I don't feel like doing into pages of depth on a tech news forum.

        In analytics, they call this the trumpet of doom phenomenon. The temperature went up today, it went up yesterday and the day before! Based on this localized trend the temperature will never stop going up and we will all burn to death.

        Who are you to claim that the last 140 years is a complete cycle? All evidence points to the contrary.

        It's a shame that most people are too short memoried or too young to remember the 70s when temperature had a localized cooling trend and we were all going to freeze to death.

        CO2 and Temperature correlate. That is all we can say based on the evidence collected by the world at this point. We cannot say they have a causal relationship, because there is evidence that points to either side of the causal relationship. The largest store of CO2 is the oceans. When the temperature rises, the oceans release CO2 into the air. This causes melting of ice, which cools the oceans and reabsorbs the CO2.

        The only danger we would be supposedly in, is if we somehow pushed the natural system off one end or the other, so it could not automatically adjust to back to equilibrium. But there is no evidence that this is even possible, or at what point that would occur. It's a shame that the cult of global warming has effectively killed positive things like efficient use of energy by wrapping it up in their ecoterrorist agenda.

    2. DrXym


      Yeah you tell them it's all a conspiracy by the liberal left. Or something.

      Never mind that scientific consensus backed up by a wealth of studies is virtually unequivocal in stating that a) global warming is occuring, b) it is caused by manmade activity. There seems to be a class of people who prefer to pretend it's all some kind of hippy conspiracy and can therefore be safely ignored.

      The weird part is trying to understand this mentality when the stakes are so high.

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    This story

    is rather like the 'greenland ice cap melting will raise sea levels by 20 feet' stories that went around the media.... in some cases accompanied by pictures of London being flooded.

    what they failed to add was the phrase "it will take 1000 yrs to melt it at current melting rates'

    Anyway... if the dogs are going to drown due to global warming, I'm off to start on next doors bloody little yapper dog....

  6. David Pollard

    1000 ppm?

    "... for an outwardly cataclysmic rise in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 above the pre-industrial baseline of 1,000 parts per million ..."

    This looks more like 750 ppm to me in the Executive Summary of the Stern Review. The chart on page v also sums up quite well the range of serious effects that are likely to cut in as the average temperature rise goes above 0.5 degrees.

    1. Jane Fae


      First, i am going to aplogise for mis-reading a figure. The range should be 2.8 to 17.1. The figure comes not from the Exec summary, but from table 1.1 in "Part I: Climate Change – Our Approach". I am not saying that 2.2 - or even 2.8 - per se, is a wonderful outcome. Just that for the most extreme outcome currntly being modelled, the range of associated tempeatures is so wide as to be almost meaningless in practical policy terms.

      If you look even at the mid-range of current forecasts (450 ppm to 550 ppm) you are predicting a change ini temperature between 0.6 and 9.1 degrees celsius.

      1. GrandpaChris

        Pure human arrogance to

        think that burning stuff stored underground over the last 150 years would NOT change CO2 levels. We are weak.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    @Mystic DaWolf

    "seriously, if you think that an average change of 2.2° is mild"

    It is not only mild but beneficial.

    You also seem to be clairvoyant. Maybe you should be betting on the horses and becoming a millionaire since you can predict regional variations in climate several decades away. You're wasted here.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I complained to the ASA...

    I was one of the 939 complainants. I remember getting my first reply from the ASA informing me that they were undertaking an inquiry into the AoCo2 ads, advising me basically not to discuss my dealings with them (the ASA) until the inquiry was complete. What on earth they imagined I might have to run to 'the media' with is anyone's guess.

    Even back then, I was fairly sure the ASA would prove themselves totally incapable of effective non-partisanship on the issue of AGW (or whatever we are calling it this week).

    And so it proved. The climate chage gravy train rolls on. Sigh.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Yes, it's political

    Because even if you think human emissions are driving climate change, then the policies that we adopt to respond to this are by definition POLITICAL. Urging people to make a pointless gesture that reduces UK CO2 emissions by an infinitesimal amount is a political choice. Ignoring such demands and choosing to spend money in the future on adaptation is also a political choice. Political decisions should be discussed democratically.

    The climate change activists want to bypass the political process - probably because they know they'd never pass a popular vote, and have no real popular support beyond a few Volvo drivers. They prefer to rant away on message boards like this.

    So the ASA is simply backing the political argument it favours.

    1. Tim Parker


      "The climate change activists want to bypass the political process ... They prefer to rant away on message boards like this."

      I have been intrigued in the number (and nature) of the slightly more extreme posts and arguments, with regard to the climate change debate, between the two nominal sides - and I believe I see a higher propensity to rant from one section.. though not in the direction you seem to be indicating. I'd suggest that most of them detract from the real debate, regardless of their inclination.

      "probably because they ... have no real popular support beyond a few Volvo drivers."

      Thank you for helping me make my decision a tiny bit easier... insightful argument by the way...

  10. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    over-population "could" be a cause of future famine

    Ah, the good Doctor Smith and Reverend Malthus *will* have the final say...

  11. jake Silver badge

    During the meanwhile ...

    Why, exactly, is CO2 seen as a major issue, yet nobody complains about Nitrous Oxide or water vapor as greenhouse gasses? The scientific ignorance being displayed is astonishing ... But then the political haymakers like it that way, don't they?

    Call me when they are growing decent wine grapes around Hadrian's Wall ... or they are forecasting a Frost Faire on the Thames.

    Until then, I'll continue pointing & giggling whenever I notice a so-called "green" person tossing a mercury laden CFL into the trash ...

    1. mmiied

      I will anser that

      I work with some pepol who work in the carbon credits market and on an industral scale there is a lot of work done in reducing N2o and other emisions but to simplefie matters they are all traded and messered as equivlent tonnes of co2 so thay all talk about co2 even when it is somthing else they are dealing with

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not other (more important) greenhouse gases?

      Simple, those gases are not generated by industries that the liberal left despises.

      Global warming was invented by the British government to deal with a coal miner strike.

      Hydrogen cars produce water vapor as a biproduct instead of CO2. Water vapor, based on their own arguments and models, contributes more to global warming than CO2. The process is also less efficient, meaning more water vapor is produced per mile than CO2.

      Inconvenient Truths.

  12. Rogerborg

    Try raising kids in this, uh... climate

    They get indoctrinated early at school: the three Rs are now Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

    Being the last of the responsible parents, I have to keep checking with Son #1 on what doom-gabble he's being fed, and instruct him on scientific method: that you only need one counter-example to disprove a theory, and climate voodoo has been punctured again and again. At this point, it's really no different from any other organised religion.

    1. Tim Parker
      Thumb Down


      "and instruct him on scientific method: that you only need one counter-example to disprove a theory, and climate voodoo has been punctured again and again"

      If you believe that the totally of the scientific research into climate is reducible to a single 'theory' that can be proved false by a single counter-example - then I would suggest that you re-evaluate reality... your opinion, though possibly correct, does not count as 'scientific method' no matter how deeply you believe in it. This is not even wrong.

      "At this point, it's really no different from any other organised religion."

      What, precisely, isn't ? The opinion of people based on their analysis of available data ? That is a double edged sword you're holding there...

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      You might also look into something called the "Life" channel which is being shown in UK (and apparently South African) schools.

      A chunk of their programming seems to come from the UK Dept of Education but also from "Commercial companies who want people to hear about their social response ability programmes"

      I don't know why but for some reason the phrase "Creepier than creep Eric Schmidt" popped into my head.

    3. Eponymous Howard

      Er, no...


      , and instruct him on scientific method: that you only need one counter-example to disprove a theory,


      That's Popperian falsification and although to is a fearsome powerful tool in the scientist's armoury, it is most certainly not scientific method.

      In fact it is more valuable in the guidance it gives in how to construct a proper hypothesis (not theory, a term you misuse) than in the real world practically of complex systems.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    some 939 at last count - to complain...


    A program that annoys100,000 of people might have 300 of posts on a forum and maybe 5 people writing to ASA.

    1. Jane Fae


      So, like, that means i only annoyed 10,000 people?


  14. Yamal Dodgy Data

    3.. 2.. 1.. Prepare for the regular onslaught of eco-trolls at the Reg

    Jane's a brave author,

    Now that the William Connolley clique has been k-lined from Wonkipedia for doctoring Hal Lewis (and dissing the Reg !),

    there'll be a lot of frustrated wikifiddling eco-loons about.

    Lets hope the moderatrix hits them on the head with s127 of the Communications Act 2003 :-)

  15. EWI
    Dead Vulture

    And then there were three...

    <i>I’d certainly describe myself as an expert on the issues around climate change (though not a scientist)…and the fact that I am likely to be publishing extensively in that field over the next 12 months suggest that others agree with me.</i>

    I fully agree with the poster above who commented that this neatly encapsulates everything wrong with the original article. The arrogance is breath-taking - maybe the Reg should actually ask some real climate scientists to write on climate science, or is that too much to ask?

  16. towerhil
    Thumb Down

    Basic grasp of marketing needed

    I work in PR and I can tell you that several agencies are actively employed in trying to debunk climate change using the same techniques we used with the tobacco industry to debunk the cancer risk. This is largely to blame for the backlash against the human component of climate change, which is significant. It's made possible by things like commentard columnists' willingness to repeat untruths verbatim without verifying their context or accuracy, the reluctance of human beings to be scared of anything that isn't a tiger or a Darth Vader and a general tendency to abdicate responsibility for personal culpability.

    Although the arguments about sustainability also include economic sustainability (decentalised, green energy is going to have to happen for economic reasons too) humans need simpler messages before they take action. What they don't do is 1. Research possible problems themselves 2. Bother to understand complex or qualified arguments that are outside their current scope of interests 3. Change their behaviour unless the evidence in unequivocal. Carbon's a handy hook to hang the issue on, just like the decline of the otter 30 years ago (now reversed, by taking action) actually indicated the breakdown of a longer food chain in which they occupied the top spot.

    The sustainable level of carbon emissions is about 5 tonnes per person. The average schmo in the UK produces about 10 tonnes and could become sustainable if they made different choices, like what they buy, if/how they holiday. Sailors used to shoot dolphins that came up to their boats for sport and Bernard Manning had a television career, so look at an issue only on the basis of whether it's fun or currently legal to do rather misses that class of important distinction. A carbon scare is no bad thing if it refocuses our choices so they include responsibility for their consequences and can lead us to sensible energy policy. The flat-earthers who dismiss man's impact on climate won't be the first people to blame the crop failures on an angry sun-god and they won't be the first to be wrong either, but it'll be an expensive dogma once fossil fuels prices start hitting a painfully crunchy price bracket.

    1. Veldan



      Yes, because we all know that smoking and cancer are just like global warming/climate change/climate disruption/quick change the name before people catch on. Also people who deny GW/CC/CD/QCTNBPCO are all ignorant and just don't know what's good for them, or perhaps they are even evil and leading the lambs to the slaughter like those tobacco lobbyists.

      Not like free will or personal choice play any part in this.


      Oh wait, i see what you did there!

      Perhaps you'd like to back up your own statements before spewing more garbage?

      Maybe even look into how such a large chunk of people have bought into this poorly researched (meaning, not properly peer reviewed nor democratically handled) hype before you say "humans" (suggesting the general masses) are all so slow to move and accept things.

      The great thing about "real science" is the idea that we don't believe ANYTHING until it is proven. Just like innocent until PROVEN guilty, you need to PROVE that GW/CC/CD/QCTNBPCO is actually undeniably real before we make life altering changes.

      Hyperlinks or it didn't happen? Your move... =P

  17. Spotthelemon

    Stern Review

    I strongly suggest people read the Stern Review for themsleves

    it is available at

  18. Robinson


    Stern's report was one of misrepresentation, alarmism (unwarranted) and untruth. For example (just the one example of which there are many):

    Stern now works for a company engaged in carbon trading. He released an alarmist report the consequences of which he stood to personally benefit from financially. How can you take the man seriously?

  19. EWI

    @ Robinson

    Speaking of untruths, Leake (whose column you link) has had some whoopsies on climate change in the recent past:

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