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Burn Up

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Even oilmen believe our planet is burning up

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I am sitting in the office of a man who was, until recently, chief executive of one of the biggest oil companies in the world: a man who made his company billions of dollars. I listen, make the odd nervous note and reflect that it's been a long road since I wrote one of Britain's best-loved films, The Full Monty.

As a scriptwriter, I have met lots of powerful people, but my reaction is always the same. When I went to the Oscars, I sat next to a pleasant, elegant woman and chatted happily to her until somebody pointed out it was Claudia Schiffer. After that, I could not utter another word.

But today it isn't because I am star-struck that I am terrified; it is because the oil man is telling me the opposite of everything he should say. Over the tinkle of teacups, he is predicting the end of civilisation.

My friends give me uncomfortable looks about my new film, Burn Up, because I have a Cassandra-like reputation for writing fiction about things that later become fact.

Many years ago, I made a film called The Darkest Light about a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Two years later, it happened for real.

I wrote the script for another film called Yasmin that suggested disaffected British Muslim youths could turn to terrorism. A year later came the London suicide bombings.

I'm not boasting: I just listen to experts who prove frighteningly accurate.

So given my track record, my friends are keen to know what happens at the end.

Once I had decided to write a drama about climate change I spoke to everybody who was prepared to talk.

Surprisingly, this turned out not just to be the usual environmental suspects such as Greenpeace, Friends Of The Earth or WWF, but people in the oil industry.

And these weren't disaffected whistle-blowers, but some senior figures who were prepared to step out of the shadows and tell me just how scared they were.

The oil man predicting an apocalypse was one of them. I had gone to his office expecting him to tell me global warming was at best an uncertain science based on dodgy data, at worst a Left-wing conspiracy designed to tax us all to death.

Oil companies pumped out the oil that was producing the carbon dioxide, so why would he tell me any different?

Sure enough, that's how the interview started. The world was 'going through a 40-year transition period from a carbon economy to a hydrogen economy' where oil would smoothly be replaced by other sources of renewable energy.

He talked on convincingly. The tea-lady brought round the trolley. I felt reassurance waft over me: the environmental scaremongers were wrong.

Then I looked up. A '40-year transition period'? I cleared my throat, and nervously suggested that Sir John Houghton, the scientist who led the first Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, had told me we had at best ten years to stop the increase in global temperatures, otherwise we were in danger of runaway climate change. Ten years tops. Not 40.

The CEO stopped in his tracks. 'Oh, you've talked to him, have you?' His tone changed.

He sat down heavily and said: 'Well, I know John and he's right, and if you want to know what I really think, I think we're fiddling while Rome burns.' He was the first of many to come to the confessional. People who for the sake of their careers shouldn't even have returned my phone calls were opening their hearts to me. Why such dangerous honesty towards a writer?

I found the answer at a conference of the Tipping Point organisation which puts artists and scientists together to learn about climate change.

We met at Oxford's Sheldonian Theatre, in which were placed signs reading 'politics', 'business', 'the media' and 'science'. We were asked to stand under the sign we thought offered the most hope of progress on the issue.

With some giggling and shoving, 200 people crowded underneath the various signs. When this musical chairs for adults finally stopped, there were just two people under the 'science' sign. Only one of them was a scientist.

We were aghast. The room was full of eminent scientists from across the world, yet none of them had the confidence to stand under their own sign.

Why? ' Because nobody is listening, ' they answered. 'For 15 years we've been warning about rising sea levels, melting icecaps, changes in sea currents, weakening monsoons, the acidification of the ocean. Yet nobody is listening to us.'

It is extraordinary. There are thousands of scientific studies by climatologists, oceanologists, biologists - every ologist imaginable - charting the current and future effects of climate change. Yet half the population of this country still doesn't believe it.

Today, there's a lot of talk about renewable energy and the G8's latest pledge of cutting carbon emissions by 50 per cent by 2050. But we've got ten years to turn this around, not 40.

Sir James Lovelock, author of the Gaia theory on the ecological balance of the planet, told me it was like the days of appeasement before the Second World War when Hitler was rearming, polishing the boots of his stormtroopers and annexing countries while much of the British Establishment chose to look the other way.

I was so frightened by what I heard that I put solar panels and a wind generator on my roof, changed to a green electricity tariff, cycled everywhere.

Did it make one jot of difference? No. But if I couldn't change my behaviour knowing what I now knew, how could I expect a government to change?

As I dug around the oil industry, I came across another extraordinary elephant in the room that nobody dared mention, but which will become crucial in the fight to prevent irreversible warming: Peak Oil.

This is what they call the moment when we start running out of the stuff.

When I started on this journey, three years ago, oil was 50 dollars a barrel and the Peak Oil theorists were dismissed as alarmist fringe elements. We were apparently at least 50 years away from Peak Oil. Anyone who dared to say different was simply laughed at.

But then I met a man employed by the oil industry to collate data on oil reserves, and he told me that already we are not producing enough oil to meet demand, and even if output were increased, it would be used up by growing demand from China and India.

So, I asked, what did this mean?

'A global crash,' he said, 'at a guess somewhere between 2008 and 2010.'

I left his office on a beautiful, globally-warmed day with house prices soaring and the financial markets blossoming. Clearly, the man was nuts.

But who is nuts, now? Oil has hit 147 dollars a barrel, house prices are plummeting and the stock markets are going through the floor. And yet, still, is anyone listening?

Somehow, I had to turn a mass of complex science and politics into something people would want to watch, but how could I dramatise carbon dioxide, an enemy you can't see, smell or touch?

It would be like Spooks without the terrorists, The Wire without the drug dealers.

I found the answer in men like John Ashton, Tony Blair's 'climate tsar'. A former diplomat, he now shuttles between China and Europe, patiently negotiating, encouraging, persuading the Chinese, soon to become the world's biggest emitters of CO2, to sign up to emission reduction targets.

You are unlikely to see his name anywhere, for that is certainly not his style, but if we ever get ourselves out of this mess, it is people such as John who will have saved us.

And that's what gave me the key to Burn Up: the lies and duplicity of the denial industry pitched against people desperate to prevent runaway climate change.

I concealed a mass of factual science and politics inside the Trojan Horse of a racy thriller.

And where does this leave me? What does Cassandra have to say about the chances of humanity solving this most dangerous of puzzles?

You might be surprised to know that I believe there is still hope.

As Rupert Penry-Jones's character says in the film: 'Oil. Oil is everything.' Its all-consuming use has caused the problem and now its scarcity might just save us.

A spiralling price that triggers a global power-down could buy us the time to stop the warming. In fact, it's happening right now.

Will it work? We're about to find out.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
I'll paraphrase for you:

He may be right but I think we need more credible sources than writers of fiction

Haha.

Writer of fiction about pant shitting says pant shitting may be real and credible. Buy my shit.

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"But who is nuts, now? Oil has hit 147 dollars a barrel, house prices are plummeting and the stock markets are going through the floor. And yet, still, is anyone listening?"

The clearest proof of AGW I have ever heard. :lol:

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My friends give me uncomfortable looks about my new film, Burn Up, because I have a Cassandra-like reputation for writing fiction about things that later become fact.

Many years ago, I made a film called The Darkest Light about a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak. Two years later, it happened for real.

I wrote the script for another film called Yasmin that suggested disaffected British Muslim youths could turn to terrorism. A year later came the London suicide bombings.

I wonder if Simon would accept a commission to write a script where I become the pampered love-slave of a billionaire blonde hottie.

Worth a try.

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
I wonder if Simon would accept a commission to write a script where I become the pampered love-slave of a billionaire blonde hottie.

Worth a try.

A whole tribe of cockthirsty blonde billionaire hotties who don't menstruate in sync and are very placid.

With ******ing massive jugs which produce steak and chips flavoured milk?

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Guest DissipatedYouthIsValuable
So that was you spying on my pacific island !!

Maybe. Or perhaps I'd been 'cheesing' Southpark style.

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Forget everything, the trailer is flipping fantastic

http://www.ecorazzi.com/2008/06/11/neve-ca...ously-dramatic/

The difference between 40 years and 10 years is below any error margin. Doesn't mean 40 years is right either he since changed it to 2035, 2050, 2040, 2070, 2012

The CEO stopped in his tracks. 'Oh, you've talked to him, have you?' His tone changed,

2001

http://www.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/CiS/houghton/lecture4.html

I remember in 1990 when the first IPCC report came out, the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher showed a lot of interest. I was invited to present it to her cabinet at the time. As I walked out of that meeting, one of the cabinet ministers asked me, "When's all this going to happen?" I replied that in 20 or 30 years we can expect to see some large effects. "Oh" he said, "that's OK, it'll see me out". But it won't see his children or grandchildren out....

Studies by economists suggest that, providing the action is phased over, say, 20-50 years in a sensible manner, for instance to take account of the normal timescale for infrastructure replacement, the cost of stabilising carbon dioxide at say 400-500 ppm would be, on average, less than 1% of countries' GNP. This is substantially less than estimates I mentioned earlier of the economic cost of the damage if we do nothing, even if the unquantifiable damages are ignored.

2005

http://www.creationcare.org/files/houghton_interview.pdf

Ball: Global warming is a long term problem. What is the urgency? Why do we need to start addressing it now?

Houghton: It's happening now. We can see a bit of it now. But it's a slow process. The earth only warms up slowlybecause the oceans take a long time to warm. Thirty to forty years until we see what we've committed to already.We are already committed to a lot of global warming because of what we've done so far. We won't see a lot of thatfor thirty to forty years. So why we should take action now is because we are doing things now, like buildingpower stations and energy infrastructure that will last for 50 years. We don't want to suddenly tear those down andhave the build something new. We want to phase it in in a way that is sensible and economic and cost effective. Ifwe have to do that in a hurry in 50 years times, then the cost of that will be enormous. So, the cost of doing it nowis small. We have the technology to do it now so we should get on with it now

Edited by maxwell

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I'll paraphrase for you:

He may be right but I think we need more credible sources than writers of fiction

He quoted a credible source in the article.

What are people saying here exactly - that the fact that the article's author is a writer of fiction instantly invalidates his argument? What was he meant to do, think to himself "Well f#ck me, I've spoken to lots of people who would seem to know what they're talking about, and they all think we're shagged. Ah well, better not make a film about it, people might not believe me!"

Edited by jmoid

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Hopefully this will not happen before 2010 - but I am a believer that we are at or around peak oil. Unfortunately for us as a species, peak oil = peak food. Peak food = complete break down of most societies who are not self sufficient = less people. Add to that a black swan such as human/bird flu, Ugandan wheat rust, or collapse of bee population - then the next few years will be a very dynamic & wrenching time..............as we used to call it in the military 'a dislocation of expectations'.

Fortunately for mother earth and about every living thing on the planet bar humans; peak oil = peak food = less people.

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In this age of goverment propaganda and mis information it's very hard indeed to tell what true and whats not.

Sure i could be wrong but Goverment loves the idear of global warming as they put fule taxes up and with peak oil they can blame it on someone else.

Bush controls OPEC and the saudi royals and just about anything he and his thugs can get their hands on and they are behind much of what we see today.

We are all being conned and time to cut taxes on petrol if the limiting factor is now the supply.

Personal carbon taxes could be coming to a home near you.

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As a rabid doomer /peak oiler I have set my timer on to view this tommorow night. The acting looks a bit 'suss' in the trailer but I'll give it a shot.

It will be interesting to see how it's presented.

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Guest anorthosite
Hopefully this will not happen before 2010 - but I am a believer that we are at or around peak oil. Unfortunately for us as a species, peak oil = peak food. Peak food = complete break down of most societies who are not self sufficient = less people. Add to that a black swan such as human/bird flu, Ugandan wheat rust, or collapse of bee population - then the next few years will be a very dynamic & wrenching time..............as we used to call it in the military 'a dislocation of expectations'.

Fortunately for mother earth and about every living thing on the planet bar humans; peak oil = peak food = less people.

My avatar invites your avatar to "jump in his car"

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A whole tribe of cockthirsty blonde billionaire hotties who don't menstruate in sync and are very placid.

With ******ing massive jugs which produce steak and chips flavoured milk?

Hmmm I doubt that steak and chip flavoured milk would make a decent rice pudding!

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In this age of goverment propaganda and mis information it's very hard indeed to tell what true and whats not.

Sure i could be wrong but Goverment loves the idear of global warming as they put fule taxes up and with peak oil they can blame it on someone else.

Bush controls OPEC and the saudi royals and just about anything he and his thugs can get their hands on and they are behind much of what we see today.

We are all being conned and time to cut taxes on petrol if the limiting factor is now the supply.

Personal carbon taxes could be coming to a home near you.

Global warming = horseshit

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Guest anorthosite
Global warming = horseshit

Given Cells new take on global warming in anither thread I would agree. It is a horseshit situation to get ourselves into and we really should deal with it.

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Given Cells new take on global warming in anither thread I would agree. It is a horseshit situation to get ourselves into and we really should deal with it.

Deal with what, you are being sold the emperors new clothes by academics who get millions of dollars in public money to further their research.

Global warming isnt what it is being sold to you as, it is an inconvenient untruth!

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Guest anorthosite
Deal with what, you are being sold the emperors new clothes by academics who get millions of dollars in public money to further their research.

Global warming isnt what it is being sold to you as, it is an inconvenient untruth!

Can you offer evidence instead of denial statements?

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Can you offer evidence instead of denial statements?

There is a lot of evidence and some of very eminent research scientists are being quashed by a large body of self interested academics who want to further their own aims

The rise in temperature is being tracked by CO2 etc not the other way around.

It has happened before just the cycle is very long.

Have a google and see.

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Much more money is given by energy companies to groups trying to disprove climate change - just like with smoking and cancer

I am a scientist and dont work for any vested interested party on either side and from all of the info I have seen I think that this is just all smoke and mirrors. Next they will be warning us of an ice age and wanted to spend billions in research.

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I was a scientist for a bit a long time ago and studied climate change a bit at university (over 20 years ago)

I have no idea whether it's really happening but feel we should go with the vast majority of climatologists just in case they're right - the costs of dealing wiht ti now aren't really so high and the costs if they're right and we do nothing are catastrophic in most peoples' thinking - not that I personally care about the end of the human race

Go with the flow you mean like all of the buy buy buy at any cost housing sheeple

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Deal with what, you are being sold the emperors new clothes by academics who get millions of dollars in public money to further their research.

Global warming isnt what it is being sold to you as, it is an inconvenient untruth!

Much more money is given by energy companies to groups trying to disprove climate change - just like with smoking and cancer

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A whole tribe of cockthirsty blonde billionaire hotties who don't menstruate in sync and are very placid.

With ******ing massive jugs which produce steak and chips flavoured milk?

And you claim to be a Doctor, well FM, maybe you should see a shrink. :rolleyes:

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  • 399 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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