Greta Thunberg was the “guest editor” on Radio 4’s Today programme his morning. Unfortunately, much of the ensuing debate will be about her, not what she said.
Indeed, we seem determined not to focus on the problem of climate change itself — and will seize upon any distraction in order not to do so. That applies as much to the ultra-greens as it does to the denialists — with the former peddling grotesquely exaggerated versions of the actual problem, which only serves to provide fuel for the latter.
Miss Thunberg, however, is assiduous in sticking to the mainstream science — and even then the most likely projections not the worst-case scenarios. She effectively communicates the fact that our best-available understanding on the subject is worrying enough.
But very soon the agenda needs to move on from the problem to the solutions. That’s the balance we really need to see from the broadcasters — as opposed to offsetting Thunberg on Monday with Charles Moore on Saturday. To live up to its name, the Today programme should give a platform to someone like Michael Liebreich, who can speak with authority about the clean tech companies who are changing the world right now by bringing down the price of low carbon energy.
We do of course need to hear the ‘other side’ of the climate debate. But calibrated against the likes of Extinction Rebellion, the real other side is the leading edge of research and development, innovation and entrepreneurship where a better future is taking shape.
Given the Left-leaning nature of the green movement, it’s not entirely surprising that Right-wingers should be sceptical of environmentalist claims and demands. However, that does not excuse ignorant arguments about needing to wait for new technology — not when the breakthroughs we need are already being made. These advances are the result of the practical experience that comes through deployment not delay.
It’s not that every experiment works. But when it comes to changing the real world, learning comes through doing and always has.
On this issue more than any other, we need to hear a lot less from the talkers and a lot more from the doers.