Monday, February 26, 2007


Overweight adults are already being denied some medical services in Britain. This criminalization of fat is therefore a harbinger of worse discrimination to come. I suppose however we should be glad that the social workers now seem to have given up on witchcraft scares as a way to attack families. At least fat is not imaginary. Progress of a sort, I guess. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if they concentrated on (say) children of drug addicts instead of on ordinary decent families? Social work schools are covens of Leftism and the ingrained Leftist hatred of ordinary decent people happily getting on with their lives is always the best predictor of whom social workers will target. You can be sure that no social worker will ever mention how small the difference is between the average lifespans of slim and overweight people. A "crack" baby, or a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome, on the other hand, DOES have serious problems.

Note further that dieting normally promotes weight GAIN so the intervention described below is as ill-conceived as it is authoritarian

An eight-year-old boy who weighs 14 stone, more than three times the average for his age, may be taken into care if his mother fails to improve his diet. Connor McCreaddie, from Wallsend, near Newcastle upon Tyne, has broken four beds and five bicycles. The family claims to have a history of intolerance to fruit or vegetables. On Tuesday his mother and grandmother will attend a formal child protection conference to decide his future, which could lead to proceedings to take him into care.

Connor could be placed on the child protection register, along with victims of physical and sexual abuse, or on the less serious children in need register. The intervention of social services is a landmark in the fight against youth obesity. The boy's mother, Nicola McKeown, said: "If Connor gets taken into care that is the worst scenario there could be. Hopefully, we will be able to work through it and come up with a good plan and he will just be put on the at-risk register or some other register. That wouldn't be so bad because, hopefully, there will be some help for us at the end of it."

Two specialist obesity nurses, a consultant paediatrician, the deputy head of Connor's school, a police officer and at least two social workers are expected to be on the panel deciding what action should be taken. One National Health Service source said: "We have attempted many times to arrange for Connor to have appointments with community and paediatric nutritionists, public health experts, school nurses and social workers to weigh and measure him and to address his diet, but the appointments have been missed. "Taking the child into care or putting him on the child protection register is absolutely the last resort. We do not do these things lightly but we have got to consider what effect this life-style is having on his health. Child abuse is not just about hitting your children or sexually abusing them, it is also about neglect." The source added: "The long-term health effects of obesity such as diabetes are well known and it is concerning that Connor is more than twice the weight he should be. There has to be some parental responsibility."



I know very little about tennis so I had to read a long way into the article excerpted below before I understood what was going on. Apparently men's tennis is of greater interest to the public than women's tennis so more people go to matches between men and more people watch men's tennis on TV. So male tennis players earn more for the tournament organizers so the organizers have always paid men more in prizemoney -- which seems fair. But it is not EQUAL! And The Left never cease in their efforts to pretend that unequal things are in fact equal. So money earned by men is now going to be taken off them to be given to women. Equal pay for work of UNequal value, in short -- just the opposite of what feminists have always claimed they want.

One of the last bastions of sporting inequality - Wimbledon's prizemoney allocation - is about to crumble. The All England Club, which has offered greater rewards to male players than women for the past 123 years, is poised to follow the Australian Open's equal pay policy. The crusty home of tennis met this week to discuss prizemoney in the face of withering fire from recent champions Venus Williams and Lindsay Davenport.

The Australian Open and the US Open have led the way in the battle for tennis equality, while the French Open employs an ad hoc approach. Roland Garros offers equal prizemoney -- but only from the quarter-finals onwards. But Wimbledon has stubbornly resisted calls to follow suit. Roger Federer last year earned $1.6 million for his fourth successive Wimbledon victory, $74,000 more than Amelie Mauresmo pocketed. Wimbledon has found itself under increasing pressure to modernise [Ancient Leftist propaganda: Leftism is "modern". Leftism is "outdated" would be more accurate] its pay scale.

The All England Club was expected to confirm a ground-breaking pay scale overnight. If so, Women's Tennis Association boss Larry Scott will have achieved one of the most monumental changes in international sport. Wimbledon has traditionally used stronger television ratings for men, especially in the early rounds, as the basis of its argument.

Reliapundit has more.

The incorrectness of SUVs

Britain: 'Chelsea tractors' [4X4s, SUVs, 4WDs] are seen as symbols of wanton environmental destruction. But class hatred, envy and gender are distorting the facts, argues Bryan Appleyard

I was queuing to pay at a motorway service station. Violence was in the air. A small, bald man, a lorry driver, was shouting at a young woman. He seemed to be angry because she and her passenger had laughed at him. He had stopped when she had stopped, specially to shout at her. But after a few tense moments his real grievance became apparent. She was driving a 4x4, a BMW, and, as his articulacy crumbled under the weight of his anger, it became clear what was the real issue: he hated her for her car.

In Richmond owners of 4x4s will soon have to pay 300 pounds a year to park their cars. Ken Livingstone, who thinks drivers of 4x4s in London are "idiots", plans to introduce a special 25 pound congestion charge. The Church says Jesus wouldn't drive a 4x4. The Alliance against Urban 4x4s continues its campaign of so-called "subvertising" - sticking fake parking tickets headlined "Poor Vehicle Choice" on the cars they hate. The alliance has also carried out "a daring protest" at Chelsea football ground aimed at the players' big 4x4s. Mothers using a "Chelsea tractor" to take their children to school are abused for their crimes of congestion and emission. If Jade Goody were a car, she'd be a 4x4. "Basically," says Sian Berry, a Green party spokesperson and central figure in the alliance, "they are a disaster for fuel economy."

Meanwhile, there is an academic campaign to establish that 4x4s are unsafe. Students from Imperial College London have watched cars at key sites in the city and discovered that drivers of 4x4s are more likely not to wear seat belts, and to use mobile phones while driving. Other studies have shown that 4x4s are more dangerous to pedestrians. Car insurers have said that 4x4 drivers are 25% more likely to be involved in an accident and are also more likely to be at fault. Each fragment of evidence is turned into a screaming headline about the iniquity of 4x4s.

These cars have become emblems of all our environmental crimes. They represent 7.5% of the UK car market and 100% of British car loathing. The very idea that in town, or even in the country, anybody should use a car in which all four wheels are driven is regarded as a crime comparable to logging the rainforests or clubbing seals. Across Europe, owners of 4x4s (or, as they are also called, Sports Utility Vehicles, or SUVs) have become eco-pariahs, malevolent planet-warmers. If you happen to be sitting in a Range Rover Sport, a BMW X5 or, worst of all, a Porsche Cayenne Turbo S in London, it is best not to catch the eyes of any pedestrian.

The environment is the issue, but not the only one. Berry admits that, if they made a 4x4 as green as a rainforest, she'd still go after them on grounds of safety. But darker forces are also at work. Class hatred is plainly expressed in much of the anti-4x4 rhetoric, as is envy. A City bonus boy driving a Cayenne is, in the eyes of many, the distillation of social injustice. The high driving position - significantly called the "command" position - and the sheer bulk of the vehicles can, to people who can't afford them, seem like the engineering of arrogance.

Sexism is also involved. It's largely women who do the school run and, if they do it in a monster SUV, the resulting congestion is seen as a peculiarly female failing. But there are two more twists of this particular knife. The 4x4 off-road tradition is, in essence, masculine. These new luxury SUVs, however, are absurdly easy to drive. In some cases you can drive over a mountain with no special skills or muscle tone. The electronics do all the work. Women, infuriatingly for some, can do the tough stuff as easily as men.

In fact, secondly, they can often do it better. As I was to learn while Land Rover's experts were giving me an off-road lesson, women are better at this surprisingly delicate art than men. They listen to their instructors and do what they are told, which for men can be as difficult as stopping to ask for directions. Off-roading often requires the driver to do exactly the opposite of what he would do on-road - selecting higher gears, using less power to preserve traction - and men find it harder to quell their instinct to go for high revs and too much power. The real fear of that man in the service station and, perhaps, of men in general when they see a woman in a powerful machine, was that he was being outclassed as a driver.

And, on the subject of 4x4s, it's a case of left and right unite and fight. Right-wing tabloids rage against 4x4s as eagerly as left-wing eco-warriors. These are not cars; these are social history.

Is the loathing of 4x4s justified? This is complex: few people fully understand the issues, the engineering or history. But the place to begin is with a figure - the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted by a car per kilometre travelled.

Atmospheric carbon is the substance most likely to end human life or, at least, our reign over the planet. We toss 27 billion tons of carbon dioxide (over 7 billion tons of pure carbon) into the air every year. This traps heat and causes global warming. The UK emits just under 2% - about 550m tons. Of this, about one fifth - 110m tons of CO2 - comes from vehicles. The critical figure for judging the green credentials of a car is, therefore, the weight of CO2 it emits.

So, for example, the Toyota Prius, with a hybrid electric-petrol drive, emits 104 grams per kilometre. The latest Land Rover Discovery diesel emits 244g. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S emits 378g. Even this, however, does not look too bad next to the Bugatti Veyron, which emits 547g, or the Ferrari Scaglietti, which manages 475g. For perspective, a Ford Mondeo diesel emits 159g, and the European Union target for average emissions across each manufacturer's entire fleet is 130g. What these figures show is that 4x4s are, indeed, higher-than-average emitters, but they are not the highest. Fast cars are much worse. And people carriers can be pretty bad. The Chrysler Grand Voyager, for example, emits 303g. Luxury cars are just as bad. The Mercedes S600 Pullman emits 355g and the BMW 7 series rises to 337g. Why, then, are 4x4s singled out? "Because," say the weary executives at Land Rover who have heard it all before, "4x4 fits neatly into a headline."

This is fair enough. The Richmond parking scheme, for example, was universally reported as an attack on 4x4s, but in fact applied to all high-emission vehicles. The term 4x4 has supplanted "gas guzzler" as the supreme automotive shorthand of hate. It's better than mere words - it's a term that catches the eye before it engages the mind.

The rational answer is that the SUV sector has boomed. In the UK in 1996, 78,000 were sold; last year it was 176,000. This is slightly down on the year before, but, for a number of reasons, it is not clear yet whether it represents a real change. Sian Berry points out that this growth represents a reversal of the general trend towards lower-emitting cars that has persisted since the oil shocks of the 1970s. Individually, 4x4s may not be the worst offenders, but they are in danger of becoming the most numerous. Attacking 4x4s, therefore, is a way of reinstating the trend towards lower emissions and of drawing attention to the issue. The fact that 4x4 does fit neatly into a headline is a definite plus.

But there is a serious problem with this argument. At the Westminster offices of the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership, a body that advises the government on emissions, a self-confessed "tree-hugger", Alex Veitch, hands me a chart. It tracks market share against CO2 emissions. The big peak - between 6 and 18% market share - accounts for vehicles emitting between 130 and 200g. The line drops very steeply indeed above 200, where almost all 4x4s live. In other words, if all 4x4s were taken off the road tomorrow, the effect on emissions would be minimal. The real task, as Veitch sees it, is to drive down emissions of the middle market - the Mondeos and Vectras. "If you focus on 4x4s, you miss the more important point that this is all about low-carbon cars. You might persuade people not to buy a 4x4, but they may just buy a high-emitting saloon."

But for green campaigners the demonisation of the 4x4 is the perfect strategic tool. "We've kept the debate up," says Berry. "Our school-run event really drew it to people's attention. Every time the evidence comes out, like the stuff in the BMJ [British Medical Journal], it backs up our case. Then groups like the Church of England say: what would Jesus drive? Every time it gets into the media, we've got spokesmen ready all around the country to make our case. We're not ranty eco-warriors wanting to wipe out the cars; we say, here's something silly and something can be done about it. Local radio stations feel safe having us on a phone. It's a touchstone issue."

Almost nobody, campaigners say, actually needs four-wheel drive because almost nobody uses them to go off-road. "It's for middle-class people in boring city jobs," says Berry, "who need some way of believing they could get back to nature at any time." This fantasy element would have startled the originators of four-wheel-drive cars. In spite of the current research, the truth is, four-wheel-drive cars are intrinsically safer because of their ability to cope with poor road conditions ? if they're currently less safe, then it is the drivers who are at fault. For this reason, engineers in the 1950s thought that four-wheel drive was the technology of the future.

Yet, almost from the beginning, glamour was attached to this obscure engineering device. The American wartime Jeep was just so damned sexy. "The British were used to small, round cars like the Austin 7," says John Carroll, the editor of 4x4 Magazine, "then this stark, angular thing comes along driven by guys who look like film stars. No wonder there were so many war babies." After the war this sexiness survived mostly on film and among off-road hobbyists and collectors. Carroll himself has "about 12" old 4x4s he uses for off-roading, or what petrol heads call "mud plugging". And it was for mud-plugging that in 1947, on his farm in Anglesey, Maurice Wilks, the chief designer of Rover, built the Land Rover. He had taken one look at the Jeep and was convinced he could do better.

And he did. Down at the Land Rover Experience Centre at Eastnor in Ledbury, I drove HUE166. Built at Solihull, this was the first of a pre-production batch of 48 Wilks-designed Land Rovers. It is a joy. Its drive train makes it shimmy weirdly on the road, it is noisy and slow. But there is an almost tangible rightness about it. And, when I later drove a Freelander and a Defender - the current iteration of the original "Landy" - on Eastnor's off-road circuit, I endured a blinding revelation. Serious off-roading, like sex, is about as much fun as you can have without laughing. And - a deep, dark fear, this - it may be even more like sex in that women do it better.

Four-wheel drive cars intended for road use did not take off in Britain until the Range Rover appeared in 1970. Pricey and luxurious, this was a car for the lord of the manor, to distinguish him from his gamekeeper in his original Landy. Yet it was just as capable off-road, and it had plastic seats, bungholes and a floor that was level with its sills, so that its interior could be hosed down after a day of mud-plugging.

The move to on-road four-wheel drive was accelerated by rallying technology and, crucially, by the Audi Quattro, a high-performance car that made four-wheel-drive sexy for urban hot shots with no love of mud. But it wasn't until the late 1990s that the modern 4x4 was truly born. Manufacturers like Toyota, BMW, Audi and even Porsche invaded the market with four-wheel-drive machines. Meanwhile, the Range Rover had lost its bung holes and become a stately cruiser and, in Sport form, a fast two-ton supercar.

Their main market was America, where the love of big cars endures. In fact, over there these cars weren't even seen as big. In the 1970s the US government had reacted to oil shocks by imposing fuel-consumption targets on manufacturers. These never worked. Many big cars were simply classified as trucks to escape the controls, fuel consumption did not fall, and interstates became infested by monstrous vehicles like the Cadillac Escalade, the Chevrolet Suburban or, a favourite with British footballers, the Lincoln Navigator. These scarcely came to Britain, where big 4x4s were to remain a niche, though growing, market....

If this were a novel, the blonde, hippie-ish, Tufnell Park-dwelling Sian Berry would be contrasted with tall (6ft 3in), dark, corporate Phil Popham, the managing director of Land Rover. In fact, if this were a novel, they'd probably have an inter-ideological romance. Popham joined the company in 1988, straight from a university course in business studies, and became MD last year. Laid-back and, unlike many of his type, relaxed about time, Popham has all his strategy ducks in a neat row. He has big points to make and he makes them coolly and without digression.

The first is that 4x4s are justified by their "breadth of capability" - the wet-grass gymkhana argument - and their general ability to get around. The second is the "dust-to-dust" cost argument, the true environmental cost of a vehicle from build to scrap. Large amounts of carbon are emitted when a car is built, so, with over 70% of all Land Rovers still on the road, the company can claim its green credentials are much better than emission figures suggest. The credibility of the Prius has been eroded by figures showing its dust-to-dust may be damagingly high.

The third big point is that, because of their ticklish position, 4x4-makers are reducing emissions faster than any other sector. Land Rovers are now mostly diesel. The fleet used to be 75% petrol; this year it will be 80% diesel. Diesel can cut consumption, and thus emissions, dramatically. A petrol Range Rover Sport emits 352g, a diesel 271g. Land Rover is also launching a carbon-offset scheme to offset the carbon production of new cars from build through the first 45,000 miles. Money from sales will go to Climate Care (, which will invest in carbon reduction around the world.

Mild impatience crosses the Popham features when I point out this is clear evidence that the company is rattled by the campaigners. "We are doing this in addition to substantive improvements in fuel efficiency. There must be a recognition that we're on a long path of continuous improvement." The problem with offsetting is that it is open to an obvious criticism: why not do all the beneficial offsetting things and stop emitting as well? At this point we enter the only possible future for Land Rover and, ultimately, for all car makers: new drive-train technology.

Lexus already makes a petrol hybrid SUV - the RX400h - which emits 192g, low for a big 4x4 but not that low for cars in general, and almost twice as high as the Prius. At Land Rover, Mike Richardson, a tweedy individual who reeks of old-school British engineering, is in charge of the low-emission future. Nobody will say when the company will produce its first diesel hybrid, but I suspect it will be sooner rather than later. The cost will be high. Richardson says it currently looks like 3,000 pounds per car. But it has to happen, as all the other low- or zero-emission technologies (fuel cell, all-electric) are a long way off....

There can be no doubt that the days of the high-emitting car are numbered. If you are convinced by the arguments for human-caused global warming, this is an unconditionally good thing. But the anti-4x4 frenzy has all too often been misguided, sectarian and even - as I saw in that service station - potentially violent. It is riddled with irrationality and prejudice. Yet it has succeeded in putting pressure on the car makers - and that, I suppose, was always the point.

There is another point made not by green politics nor emission figures. It is made instead by the gleam in the engineers' eyes and by the weird rapture that overcame me while driving HUE166, or while, at the wheel of a modern Defender, I peered down a vertiginous, rock-strewn slope into an icy pool of incalculable depth at Eastnor. The original Land Rover in all its iterations is possessed of something supremely pure; it provides, to make better use of BMW's slogan, the ultimate driving experience. Even Sian Berry says she never puts a fake parking ticket on a Defender. She says it's because they genuinely go off-road and they last a long time.

More here

The bugs the NHS can’t beat

Last week’s horrifying statistics reveal hospitals are no nearer to killing off super bugs, says Sian Griffiths

How would you feel if a relative was about to go into hospital? A friend told me recently that when she heard her mother had to have an operation her first thought was: “Oh no, she’ll get MRSA.” Certainly the headlines in the papers last week seemed to justify her fears. Deadly hospital superbugs killed a record 5,400 people during 2004-05, according to figures released on Thursday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

And now as well as MRSA there’s an even more lethal infection stalking the wards. Deaths involving clostridium difficile rose 69% — up from 2,247 to 3,807 — while deaths from MRSA climbed 39% from 1,168 to 1,629. In other words, clostridium difficile (commonly known as C diff) was a cause of mortality on two in every 500 death certificates and MRSA a cause of death on one in every 500.

Hugh Pennington, a microbiologist, says that C diff, which can thrive when the balance of bacteria in the gut is disturbed after antibiotic treatment, causing diarrhoea and vomiting, produces a “toxic poison and is very often the last straw”.

The ONS figures are worrying enough, but campaigners warn that the real statistics could be even higher because of underreporting on death certificates. Nor do they take account of victims who survive such as the actress Leslie Ash, who announced last month that she is suing the Chelsea and Westminster hospital in London for £1m compensation after being struck down by a superbug during treatment there. Three years on, she is unable to walk unaided. Papers lodged at the High Court say her career is all but over.

No one is more furious about last week’s ONS report than agony aunt Claire Rayner. Not only did she contract MRSA after a routine stay at a National Health Service hospital six years ago, she has now been infected once again. Last week Rayner, 76, told The Sunday Times she is being treated for MRSA, which she believes she caught recently at her local hospital while waiting for treatment to a wound to her knee. “I think I got MRSA from sitting for four hours with an open wound in a busy A and E department,” she says. “But I am glad it is not C diff. Things are simply not being done properly. Hospitals should smell of carbolic and antiseptic and soap, not lavatories and vomit.”

Rayner is president of a campaign for better NHS care. Thousands of families have contacted the Patients Association helpline to share their stories of filthy wards, unclean toilets, sticky floors and serious, sometimes fatal, illnesses caused by the superbugs — strains that are resistant to many antibiotics.

Katherine Murphy of the association says it took one call last week from a woman who had lost a close relative to C diff, probably contracted at the local hospital. “She went to the coroner’s office early on a Monday morning and he said to her, ‘You are the first this week, but last week I had four deaths from C difficile caught at that hospital’.”

According to Kerry Walker, 31, who is considering legal action against the Southern general hospital in Glasgow, where she believes she contracted an almost fatal bout of C diff during a caesarean, the bug will be even more infamous than MRSA.

It is three years since the then health secretary John Reid called for MRSA infection rates in hospitals to be halved by 2008. That same year Rayner nursed her husband Des at home with a private nurse rather than risk him entering hospital. With last week’s figures soaring to such terrifying heights, many families must feel tempted to make similar decisions.

The problem for hospitals is that the superbugs are highly infectious and easily transmitted, particularly to patients with open wounds. And as hospital trusts struggle with funding deficits, cleaning contracts are high on the list of things to be shaved back.

“Fighting hospital-acquired infections is simply not a priority for ministers who are more preoccupied with cutting operation waiting times,” says Murphy. Pennington partly agrees: “More and more patients is a reason why staff just don’t have the time to do things such as basic hygiene.” The government insists its target of halving MRSA infections (as opposed to death rates) will be met by 2008 and that they have already fallen by 11% in two years. “We are not losing the battle on MRSA,” says a spokesman. “The challenge is for trusts to go further faster.”

Rayner, however, advocates that patients take charge of their own hygiene: showering before an operation and carrying antiseptic wipes. Somehow I don’t think that will reassure my friend. It sounds like the boy trying to stick his fist in the dyke — too little, too late.



More parents appear to be turning away from school in favour of teaching their children at home because they are unhappy with state education.
A government-commissioned study into home tutoring indicated that about 16,000 children in England were now being educated at home, which researchers said implied a threefold increase since 1999.
Home tutoring has become increasingly popular since evidence emerged that home-educated children frequently perform better in national tests, GCSEs and A levels.
In 2002 a study of home-educated children found that 64 per cent scored more than 75 per cent on the performance indicators of primary schools assessment, compared with 5.1 per cent of children nationally.
All parents have the right to teach their children at home. Unless a child has been removed from school, parents in England are not obliged to tell the local education authority. While the authority may monitor the children who have been deregistered from school, parents also have a right to refuse access to the child.
The study of nine local authorities found that home-educating parents had removed their children from the state system because they were worried about bullying, poor behaviour and quality of provision. Others thought that the special-needs education on offer for their children was not up to scratch or that they were required to start formal schooling too young, the study by York Consulting, for the Department for Education and Skills, said.
“Some of the parents interviewed felt that standards of education had declined,” the report said. “This, coupled with a view that the current education system is overly bureaucratic, inflexible and assessment-driven, prompted some parents to home-educate.”
Most parents who took their children out of school were white British, but religious and cultural reasons had also prompted Muslim, Christian, Gypsy and traveller families to teach youngsters at home. Overall, 65 per cent of those being home-educated were of secondary age, compared with 35 per cent who were of primary age.
The study found that some parents used formal and highly structured methods, including following the national curriculum, using online tutors and hiring professionals. Others were less conventional.



A letter to "Nature" magazine from Mike Hulme, Tyndall Centre, School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia. He was awarded, jointly, the Hugh Robert Mill Prize in 1995 by the Royal Meteorological Society


Your coverage of the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group included some exemplary Editorial and News headlines: "Light at the end of the tunnel", "What we don't know about climate change" and "From words to action" (Nature 445, 567 & 578-583; 2007). These convey the message about knowledge, ignorance and action that would be expected from a leading journal writing for a scientific readership.

Communicating science to wider, public audiences, however - in this case on matters of important public policy - is an art that requires careful message management and tone setting. It seems that confident and salient science, as presented by the IPCC, may be received by the public in non-productive ways, depending on the intervening media. With this in mind, I examined the coverage of the IPCC report in the ten main national UK newspapers for Saturday 3 February, the day after the report was released.

Only one newspaper failed to run at least one story on the report (one newspaper ran seven stories), but what was most striking was the tone. The four UK 'quality' newspapers all ran front-page headlines conveying a message of rising anxiety: "Final warning", "Worse than we thought", "New fears on climate raise heat on leaders" and "Only man can stop climate disaster". And all nine newspapers introduced one or more of the adjectives "catastrophic", "shocking", "terrifying" or "devastating" in their various qualifications of climate change.

Yet none of these words exist in the report, nor were they used in the scientists' presentations in Paris. Added to the front-page vocabulary of "final", "fears", "worse" and "disaster", they offer an insight into the likely response of the 20 million Britons who read these newspapers.

In contrast, an online search of some leading newspapers in the United States suggests a different media discourse. Thus, on the same day, one finds these headlines: "UN climate panel says warming is man-made", "New tack on global warming", "Warming report builds support for action" and "The basics: ever firmer statements on global warming". This suggests a more neutral representation in the United States of the IPCC's key message, and a tone that facilitates a less loaded or frenzied debate about options for action.

Campaigners, media and some scientists seem to be appealing to fear in order to generate a sense of urgency. If they want to engage the public in responding to climate change, this is unreliable at best and counter-productive at worst. As Susanne Moser and Lisa Dilling point out in Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007), such appeals often lead to denial, paralysis, apathy or even perverse reactive behaviour.

The journey from producing confident assessments of scientific knowledge to a destination of induced social change is a tortuous one, fraught with dangers and many blind alleys. The challenging policy choices that lie ahead will not be well served by the type of loaded reporting of science seen in the UK media described above.

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