Magazine article The Spectator

Global Scepticism

Magazine article The Spectator

Global Scepticism

Article excerpt

Great news, guys. Thanks to Live Earth (BBC1 and BBC2, most of last Saturday), recycling is up by almost 6,000 per cent, the icecaps are regenerating, Kilimanjaro has got its snow back and polar bear experts are reporting that the latest batch of cubs are whiter, cuter and fluffier than at any time since records began.

Furthermore, no fewer than 98.8 per cent of 15- to 24-year-olds now agree with the statement: 'Man-made global warming is the greatest threat to humanity ever and if my parents disagree I promise to chop them to pieces with sharp knives like the fascist, Gaia-raping pigs they are.' Actually, I can think of two encouraging things that came out of all that nonsense over the weekend. The first is what it revealed about public attitudes to global warming: that, despite all the propaganda, we're not nearly as panic-stricken as Al Gore feels we ought to be. As became swiftly clear whenever one of the rock acts tried to steer the entertainment in a more overtly eco-conscious direction, the punters were mainly there for the music, not the right to have another 30 quid added to the price of their cheap flights to Alicante.

Equally heartening were the BBC's attempts to adopt a politically neutral position. You might argue that this battle was already lost the moment it decided to broadcast the event virtually non-stop from midday on Saturday till the small hours of Sunday morning. You might be right.

But I thought it was terribly sweet the way, stung by the recent report lambasting its slavish endorsement of Live 8, the BBC instructed its presenters to strike a more sceptical note.

Not that Jonathan Ross needed much encouraging. His tone, throughout, was like the one Terry Wogan adopts towards the Eurovision Song Contest: delighted, japesome contempt. He took especial pleasure in goading his comedy guests into being rude. 'You know Madonna's written a special song for the occasion?' he asked Stephen Merchant. 'Let's hope she doesn't play it, ' said Merchant.

Better still was the response he got from Ricky Gervais and Chris Rock. 'I pray that this event ends global warming the same way Live 8 ended world hunger, ' said Rock mock-solemnly to much hyena cackling from Gervais. 'And I hope it ends it like "Ebony and Ivory" ended racism, ' added Gervais.

These men are the two most popular comedians on the planet. If they think this way, doesn't that give hope to us all?

Having used up a whole column on Doctor Who the other day, I apologise for returning to it so soon. …

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