TV review: Hot Planet

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WHILE browsing the BBC's Points of View message board the other day (a pursuit I justify as valuable research into the mindset of the nation, but really it's because I gain perverse pleasure from getting needlessly wound up by reactionary bozos) I was staggered by a comment from an irate licence payer who accused a recent Newsround feature encouraging children to support climate change measures as tantamount to paedophilic grooming.

Just consider that for a moment: out there somewhere is a person who regards the BBC as a massive eco-friendly paedophile ruining young lives with its lies about global warming.

But it was a pertinent comment in that it encapsulated a growing propensity in some quarters towards disproportionate attacks on the BBC, as well as an ignorant, hysterical resistance to the facts about global warming. Call me old-fashioned, but I've always been inclined to err on the side of considered scientific consensus concluded from overwhelming bodies of evidence, rather than forming an opinion just by making stuff up and burying my head in the sand whenever anyone disagrees with me. I appreciate that some people may regard this attitude as idiotic.

Then again, some people may also regard documentaries such as Hot Planet as hysterical evidence of the BBC's leftist pro-green bias, rather than a rare example of valid scaremongering designed to educate viewers about the reality of our endangered environment.

Scheduled to coincide with the Copenhagen summit, Hot Planet admittedly often felt like a hectoring lecture on global warming aimed at the studiously dense ("below the Earth's surface it is incredibly hot"), and wasted valuable time trawling through the well-known basics. But I cannot deny the importance of its message, the occasional insights it provided nor the sincerity with which it was delivered.

With so many doom-laden prognoses to get through, it was probably wise to secure the services of friendly yet concerned scientists-cum-presenters Iain Stewart and Kathy Sykes. The latter spent most of the programme travelling the world interviewing various climate scientists and looking at innovative ways of saving the planet. Her carbon footprint must have been enormous.

But how else could she astound us with that vast solar power station in Spain, that ingenious electromagnetic train in Shanghai, the Utah canyon due to be filled with a million tonnes of , or the plastic trees that could save our forests?

The hope offered by these tantalising innovations was dashed by the revelation that they are so prohibitively expensive and impractical, they will never be in widespread use until it's potentially too late. But at least someone's trying.

With the help of sparing graphics, it detailed the catastrophic worst-case scenarios that apocalypse-porn-baron Jerry Bruckheimer has been warning us about for years, while the boffins, including tonsorially ambitious IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri, calmly refuted all the usual counter-arguments, when really they clearly wanted to turn to camera and shriek: "For God's sake, people, wake up!"

Yes, it was often patronising and superficial as most modern mainstream science programmes are, but given its intensely worthwhile intentions, for once those sins could be forgiven. And if it encouraged some people to take stock and investigate the subject further, then its work was done.