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I’m finally saying what I’ve been told not to say about climate change

Veteran BBC analyst Roger Harrabin was encouraged not to ‘sap the will of the public’ by reporting the full extent of dismay among climate scientists. But Rishi Sunak’s rowback on net zero has changed all that…

Wednesday 20 September 2023 16:12 BST
<p>Floodwaters cover a village in Kastro, central Greece </p>

Floodwaters cover a village in Kastro, central Greece

For more than three decades I have asked environmentalists if they are optimistic about tackling these vast problems: climate change, ocean acidification, nutrification of the seas, persistent chemicals, plastic waste, biodiversity, antibiotic resistance. “Yes, we’re optimistic” they would typically boast.

Over the years, that positivity has drained away in mealy-mouthed phrases, from: “I’m quite optimistic”, to “I have to be optimistic”, to “I’m still striving to be optimistic”, and “It’s very hard to remain optimistic.”

The natural world offers little comfort. Leading scientists admit that, although their temperature forecasts have been fairly accurate, they failed to predict the savagery of the weather’s response.

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