Monday, June 15, 2009

A waste of space

Gazing though the window at the torrential rain, interspersed with flashes of lightning and rolling thunder, we read also on the online edition of The Daily Telegraph that a month's rain is set to fall in a day in eastern England.

Yet the very same paper gives over valuable space in the print edition to an extraordinary "puff" for the Met Office – written, of course, by that airhead Louise Gray – heralding the production of "the most detailed set of climate change projections ever produced" that will "show the risks of sea level rise, droughts and floods in Britain over the next 80 years to within 16 miles of your front door."

This is the Met Office which told us in early May that we are on track for "barbecue" weather this June, July and August, with rainfall be "near or below average". This was just at the time we were reporting that it was "snowing all over the world".

Even though this is the third year running the Met Office has got is spectacularly wrong, inviting comments from Booker in June about another planet, this did not stop The Sunday Times giving house room to the Met Office's attempts to offer an 80-year forecast, reporting this in glowing detail on 7 June.

That, however, invited a rejoinder from no less than The Daily Telegraph leader the following day, recording how preposterous it was, to issue a weather forecast for 71 years hence when the Met Office cannot guarantee getting it right 71 hours from now.

One ventures that Mz Gray and the editorial team on her paper should occasionally read their own leaders, although a newspaper that has just appointed Geoffrey Lean as environment editor is clearly not in the market for sensible coverage of climate change issues.

The great problem is that, apart from skewing the agenda, there is – as we pointed out earlier - a huge "opportunity cost" in devoting so much space and resource to the climate change obsession. The paper can ill-afford to waste its valuable space on such matters, when there is real news to report.