Episode 14 The Big Questions

Episode 14

Nicky Campbell presents live moral, ethical and religious debates from Ashton Park School in Bristol. Topics include Britain's role in Afghanistan, parenting and faith in science?

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Good morning, I'm Nicky Campbell, welcome to The Big Questions. Today


we're live from Ashton Park School in Bristol. Welcome, everyone, to


The Big Questions. On Tuesday, British troops handed


over control of Helmand province in Afghanistan to the US Marines. The


Ministry of Defence estimates our military presence there has cost ?25


billion. Others say it will turn out to be much more. What is undisputed


is that 448 Britons lost their lives and 600 were seriously injured. Was


it worth it? Eight YouGov poll published today found only 25%


thought it wasn't only 13 for the Afghan government would be able to


maintain peace. Yesterday, 7 million men and women casted their votes for


eight presidential candidates, from tribal warlords to a chat show


host. Can Britain be proud of its role in Afghanistan? Jonathan


Foreman, so many lives lost. Linz lost. What a cost. -- limbers. Can


you look at the families of those people squarely and say it was worth


it? I think if those families and the general public were actually


able to see some of the things I have been able to see in Afghanistan


recently and see how that country has been transformed for the better,


it would give them some conflict. -- comfort. This country really has


been transformed with economic growth and 1 million children who


have been educated who wouldn't have been. Formally and girls going to


school who wouldn't have gone to school. And we fought off people who


murdered women for teaching girls how to read. We've had many failures


and many things have gone wrong. It's all very fragile. But is the


balance sheet positive? Definitely. The country is vast to different.


It's more prosperous, the people are better educated, there's more


justice. It's been transformed for the better. We worked with a lot of


other people to do it but it was something that was really worth


doing. It's one of the great aid efforts of our time. But unfinished


business? Very much so. Will it turn back to what we had previously? The


thug regime from before? It could easily happen. It's very different


now. The population is much younger and much better educated. Much


better literacy. Half the population is under the age of 25. There were


no elections before and they are about to go into their second. These


people who grew up without radio. They have mobile phones when nobody


had mobile phones before. Is that the crowning of a democracy? It's


the education, that's the biggest one, I think. Many aspects but


education is the biggest thing. And the fact that we have deliberate --


liberated, to a degree, half a population that was oppressed, the


women under the Taliban. Sophy, you served out there -- he served out


there as Wing Commander. Is he right? I don't think we can say that


yet. Every life lost is a big deal, clearly not just for the families.


But in terms of the commitment politicians and senior ministry


people make. So I don't think it's the right time to make that final


assessment but it is encouraging what happened yesterday and nobody


can deny that seeing over 50% of the population take part in the


democratic process is very encouraging. I have to say that.


What do you say to those men and women serving under you, what did


you say, when they came to you and asked, why are we here?


Interestingly, the men and women who served alongside me around my rank


or below mine at the time did not generally question. We were in the


start of a very difficult operation and actually the military way is to


do what you are tasked to do, not question the motives. Probably where


it was questions -- questioned was higher up. The senior people who


were leading and had relatively poor levels of resource and commitments


in the MoD that perhaps on the ground didn't feel like they were


being met. I think the really difficult questions were being asked


at that sort of Brigadier level, where they were drawn to wrestle


with an almost impossible task. At the more junior level we just wanted


to do what we code and make sure people didn't die in the process as


much as possible. -- do what we could. How was the question


answered? I don't know that it was because we all know that we deploy


with not enough troops for the task in hand in 2006. 2001 is quite


different but if we're talking about 2006, it's difficult. That's a very


important point to make because the invasion in 2001 was to try to drive


Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan where it had been given a home by the


Taliban, by the Taliban government. And I think the question that has to


be asked is, did we stay too long? Now, everything Jonathan said was


true. I saw wonderful things in Afghanistan, all over Afghanistan.


Changes that had been made. Whether those changes will stick, of course,


is another matter, because nobody has missed -- has mentioned


corruption. It's probably one of the most corrupt countries in the


world. It is a dreadfully corrupt country. And, as a consequence, the


efforts that have been made, gigantic efforts by the Americans,


British, Canadians, 36 countries from the UN were in Afghanistan and


are there trying to work. That corruption was undermining


everything that was going on at the same time, and my worry is that we


stayed too long. The British Army, your great colleague, who does these


wonderful reports from Afghanistan, he wrote a book called Butcher And


Bolt, and that was the slogan of the British Army on the north-western


frontier of Afghanistan. You get in there, kill as many of your enemy as


you can and then get the hell out. And that is based on history. We


lost a lot of people over 150 years. And I think we've got to ask that


question. I think we went in there without enough good intelligence,


certainly when we went to Helmand province we didn't have the


intelligence we should have had, and as a consequence, a lot of people


died and I don't think we gave the maximum value to the Afghan people


we could have done. I would agree with all, too. I don't think in his


book he is recommending we do that, David. He would probably argue,


though he is not here to say, one thing that would make Afghanistan a


disaster is leaving too soon. Bolting is the problem. It's leaving


when things are half finished, it's running away that could threaten


what has been achieved by a tremendous amount of sacrifice.


That's what would be so awful, is if all these people who have given


their lives, and also the incredibly brave Afghans, and people forget


about that, too. Its 350,000 Afghans in their Armed Forces and those very


brave... But we had the green on blue killings? Those getting into


the papers because it sells newspapers. But no one talks about


the achievement or the hundreds of thousands of Afghans who aren't


killing troops and to fighting for them, defending them, fighting with


them. It is interesting what Jonathan and Kim have said, because


what they said about us leaving earlier, because nobody said when


was the right time to leave Afghanistan. We didn't deceive --


decide to leave until now and then it was 2014, what made, which


doesn't seem to need to be a logical way to decide. So I don't think this


year is about anything but that. The great problem, it seemed to be, all


along, was that it was right next to Pakistan, and Pakistan was the


barracks for the Taliban. 2 million Afghan refugees living on a dollar a


day in terrible refugee camps in Pakistan. If somebody comes up to


you from the Taliban and says, he is $50, you plant that landmine and


blow up some infidels. -- here is $50. That's very difficult to turn


down and that situation pertains still today and has done all along,


and I think we've got to take that into account. There's only so much


we can do. In the end it's got to be the Afghan people who determine the


future of their own country and not the forces. Anna, I will be with you


presently. I just saw the gentleman's can shoot up. We have to


wait for the microphone to come to you. -- hand. I think we need to


look at the question. You are saying we have handed over control to the


US Army, so where is the success of what we have achieved? We haven't


handed over the control to the Afghan people. The other point is,


if we are so proud of what we have done there, will we do this again?


The answer will be no. Yes, but that's... Once but not several


times. That's a very important question. Because what sort of


policy, foreign policy, does Great Britain want to follow in the


future? It's condemned for intervening on behalf of people who


have been murdered and suppressed by their own government and have no


other way of fighting back. And if we don't do it, who does it? I


really don't understand that. There's so much hypocrisy about this


around. You mentioned Bosnia and Kosovo a little earlier. When people


were murdered. That was before the programme, by the way! I'm sorry!


But it took the RAF. And other people to sort out those murderous


regimes killing their own people. It's the 20th anniversary of Rwanda.


Who was supposed to go in and sort that out? Good Samaritan, you know,


how can we cross the other side of the road when gay men are having


rubble dropped on them? Women are having acid thrown in their faces


and not being educated? It was a slave state for women who were


there. They were third class citizens. How better is it getting?


How much better is it getting? They passed the law in 2009, and this was


under the Hamid Karzai government, that if your wife doesn't have sex


with you once every four days, you have the right to starve her. Yeah.


And that wasn't the Taliban. It certainly wasn't. And there's


certainly a misconception that in the Hamid Karzai era things have


completely changed for women across Afghanistan. They haven't. But they


have been huge gains, huge gains in the city, particularly with women


being educated and the amount of knowledge they have about the


democratic system, participating. Yesterday, 30% of the voters were


women. Does that make you feel incredibly... It was incredibly


inspiring? Yes, but not only the women, but the defiance of


everybody. Talking to voters, we're finding out people voting because


they want to say no to the Taliban and they want to say, actually, we


don't want your kind of government, we want an elected government that


we participate in. And that in itself it worth it for me, anyway,


in the last ten years. APPLAUSE


Should we have stayed longer? Should British troops have stayed longer?


Should Americans be there for the long road ahead? I think in a


limited way, yes. We need to sustain our support. Talking about


Afghanistan as the most corrupt country in the world but it's not by


default and it wasn't always that corrupt. If you look at 2004, 2005,


the ministries were doing quite well, some better than others. They


were doing well with the NSP and Solidarity programme. And the


corruption, incidentally, coincided with the increasing levels of aid


coming in, so we have to be very careful, I think, in assigning


labels of corrupt country to a place where we have actually contributed


quite a lot to that escalation, I think. Have we? Does this go back to


the Soviet invasion and the sponsoring and financial aid that


was not pumped into the country but into the Mujahideen to fight the


Soviets? Have we partially solved a problem that we partially created?


We have not spent enough time looking at accountability


mechanisms. We need to reduce the amount of aid we are giving to


Afghanistan but do a lot more with a lot less for a longer period of


time. I saw your hand up a few moments ago, I did not forget. Don't


worry about democracy own, it is fine! At what cost? We have seen


over $40 billion has been invested. We say Afghanistan is a corrupt


country but there are many more countries which are more corrupt. I


think China and India... Just one point, China is not a democratic


country. Yes, there was an election yesterday but China has not seen an


election for so many years and I don't Inc in future there will be an


Afghanistan. Can you intervene in China? No way. -- I don't think in


future. At what cost? You have got so much unemployment... Can I ask


you a question? I am delighted you are here. In 2001, there were no


girls being educated. In 2012, there were 2.9 million girls being


educated. Do you celebrate that? Of course not but there are many more


countries... You mean of course. In India, 700 million people live below


$2 a day. In India, 70% of women in some provinces are illiterate. If


you see by the number and not by the country, India has more problems


than Afghanistan. Would you go and intervene over there? Who wants to


respond? I think it is absolutely the case and it is inevitably true,


there are examples all over the world of great injustices and


inequalities. You take opportunities to do the right thing and when the


opportunity presents itself, and it means as an international committee


you can do the right thing, you don't say, we can't possibly help


you because somebody over there is also suffering. You take that


opportunity. Gilbert, you had your hand up. I think we are getting


bogged down in a few details. Of course, I agree that the increase in


education is phenomenal. All of these things which move towards


democracy are great. However, we are going way away from the main


question, which is Canberra to be proud of its role in Afghanistan? --


can Britain be proud? I am not sure if we are in a position to say


proud. It's as like we are about to wash our hands of it. Was it worth


it is kind of the question? I think so. We have just had elections,


there will probably be a second round in May, there have been some


elections and it looks like a new and date will come in. We lost --


new candidates will come in. The UK lost interest in Iraq quite soon


after withdrawal. We mentioned Kosovo, we don't really hear about


Kosovo, there is a Serb minority who are not really interested in being


part of Kosovo. My point is we are getting very into detail and it


feels like we are about to go, OK, there have been some achievements,


now we are leaving. I feel like Afghanistan is going to leave the


press and I think Britain's commitment has to be longer and more


interested. OK, Oliver... We have an amazing amount being done for


women. Some people think there is a bit of cultural imposition going on.


As a way of spending $40 billion, is that the best way to spend it in


terms of making the world a better place? That is the upper estimate.


Something like that. Frankly I find it hilarious, we have four or five


people from the military establishment all related to it,


that is who you all are. Anybody talking off the record, I have


spoken to security services and military, all of the speak up 's --


these people speaking off the record would say something quite different.


After 911 we had to get in and sort out Al-Qaeda, we did not have to


invade Afghanistan, it could have been done on the quiet. Of course we


did not have to invade it. If Soviet Russia could not subdue it, what on


earth made anybody think we could do it? The reality is of the record,


everybody agrees it is completely insane to try to invade... What


about the transformation of society? For that money, you could spend it


in Africa, you couldn't spend it in China because we would get nuked by


them, but you could probably spend it in India and if you look at what


you have bought for your money, it is ridiculous. The last word, Kim


Howells. What do you think Afghanistan will be like in 20


years? I hope it will be better. To return to this point, what we think


of the record, I am speaking perfectly honestly and I am sure


Jonathan is as well. This is just a slur, of course. That people don't


actually believe these things. The men and women who went into


Afghanistan went there to try to make a difference. I am talking


about the senior people. I was a government minister. I am talking


about MI5 and MI6. I chaired the intelligence and Security committee


that overlooks MI5 and MI6. We all know about chairs of these


intelligence committees like John Scarlett, who is then made head of


MI6. There were great failures of intelligence gathering and I said


that in my contribution. We could have done much better on that front.


The notion that on the quiet you can sort out Al-Qaeda, in 2001, it is


just fantasy. It is a nonsense, a conspiracy theory that is out there


on the internet. It is rubbish. Are people who went in there did drive


Al-Qaeda out of that country and they did us all a service, they kept


those bombers off our streets for a very long time, people tend to


forget that. We must leave it there, thank you so much. If you have


something to say about that debate, log on to bbc.co.uk/thebigquestions


and follow the link to where you can join in the discussion online. Or


contribute on Twitter. We're also debating live this morning from


Bristol: Should the state stop interfering in parenting? And should


we have more faith in science? So get tweeting or e-mailing on those


topics now or send us any other ideas or thoughts you may have about


the show. On Monday the charity Action for


Children, backed by six cross-party MPs and peers, launched a campaign


to make the emotional abuse of a child a crime, just as physical or


sexual abuse is. Dubbed the Cinderella Law, it could result in


prison sentences up to ten years for anyone over 16 who harms a child's


mental health or intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural


development. One Tory backbencher called it "a charter for whiny


kids". Should the state stop interfering in parenting? Max


Wind-Cowie, do you not think this is real progress in our society, to put


emotional abuse alongside physical abuse and sexual abuse as a criminal


offence? I think it is a mark that as a society, we have lost track of


what it means to abuse to some -- abuse do as opposed to accidentally


cause harm. We are all extremely concerned about the welfare of


children, how they develop and grow up, making sure they are as happy as


possible. This marks a kind of extraordinary overreach on the part


of the state, saying not only are we going to judge or actions as a


parent but we are going to judge your feelings, look into your soul


and say that you either do or do not love your child sufficiently, and


the way in which you deal with or engage with your child, for most


parents that will change over time. I remember being a teenager, I am


sure there were times when my parents did not like me very much


and I would not want to judge them for that retrospectively and I


certainly would not want to send them to prison. It is about saying


to parents, if you are not able to feel what we think you ought to


feel, and if we can't see that you feel that, we are going to come


after you and I think that is profoundly dangerous. Matthew, you


are champing at the bit here. Oliver wrote a book based on the line in


that Philip Larkin poem which I can't quote but I can arrive phrase,


they mess you up, your mum and dad. What are we talking about here? We


have confusion over the proposed bill. Neglect is the single biggest


form of child abuse in the UK. Social workers will say the most


common form of neglect they have to deal with is emotional neglect. The


Children's Society, we see this neglect. Neglect is a persistent and


consistent way, sometimes deliberate, of neglecting or abusing


a child. It is sometimes in terms of humiliating a child I make


persistent level, persistently excluding a child, persistently


exposing a child to degrading behaviour. The impact of that are


substantial. At the Children's Society we see everyday, children


who have either low well-being, expressing mental health problems,


or behaviours as a result of being emotionally neglected. Not


cuddling, not talking, not encouraging? Children are protected


by physical neglect by the law they are protected by sexual abuse by the


law, this is to bring in protection against emotional abuse. We would be


the last country in Europe to have a law which protected children


properly and that is a good thing to be doing for our society.


APPLAUSE No one is arguing that some children


don't have the fickle relationships with their parents and sometimes we


might look at parents and say, you are failing to show the right amount


of support and affection. Do you not think and shredding that in law has


a number of difficulties? First of all the practicalities of how you


are going to assess whether or not what a parent is doing is justified


or not, and whether they are doing so with good intentions. Secondly,


for a variety of reasons, lots of parents at various points will have


emotional difficulties of their own. If you think about postnatal


depression for example, something which is commonly experienced by


lots of women and which can affect their relationship with their


bonding, with their child. You not think it might make it substantive


li harder and more difficult for parents who are struggling and in


difficulty, to speak to their doctor, therapist, and say, I am


having a real difficulty engaging with my child. If you are going to


come after them and say, not only does this mean that social services


might be involved at they might go to prison for ten years... I


actually don't think that full so I am a parent, we all know that


parenting is a challenging part of life.


What about sending your child to boarding school at the age of seven


or something like that? Is that not emotional abuse? At the moment


social workers work within a framework where there is a clear


civil law definition, the proposal is to also make it a criminal


offence. We don't see sending HL to boarding school as being a civil


offence and it would become a criminal offence # red sending a


child to boarding school. The point is the consistent and


deliberate, sometimes, treatment of parents which can stunt a child's


ability to thrive in life and cause high risk behaviours. There is a


high threshold but the right to protect a child from being abused


and elected must be a primary concern as a society. Lauren


Devine, is this straightforward legally? I don't think it is. The


first thing to mention is that we already have section 47 of the


children act 1989, the underlying framework for the civil law that


social workers will implement when they conduct an investigation on the


grounds of suspected abuse. I think there is a difficulty in trying to


extend that in a supportive fashion into the criminal law. Immediately


you have operational problems. How would you adequately define and


worse than that, prove emotional abuse of a child? The problem is the


definition. The world health organisation, for example, publishes


a very long and comp rancid definition of child abuse including


-- comp rancid definition of child abuse including emotional abuse --


comprehensive definition. They are putting the number that


they believe to be abused at around 10%. If you take that any other form


of abuse, may also by definition include an element of emotional


abuse, you are talking about potentially temper sent families in


the UK affected by this law. I also think it would be profoundly


dichotomous to bring onto the criminal statute books a law which,


as has already been pointed out, a parent who may be struggling and is


wanting support services, which is how section 47 is built, they are


support services, they are supposed to be supportive, the intention is


children are taken away from parents as a last resort, not as a first


port of call. Bringing in the police, it may well send a message


to society that we will not tolerate emotional abuse of children, but we


all agree as a moral axiom it is not desirable to abuse children in any


shape or form so I'm not sure what it would achieve in a real sense.


Robert Matic Lee, how would we prove what is opinion and fact --


problematically. The Law commission has published its report which the


government has decided not to act on, talking about the scandalous


cases that happened ten or 12 years ago involving Sally Clark, in


relation to women who were accused of killing their babies, released on


appeal and it was the expert evidence that was called into


question. If we can be that uncertain about using expert


evidence in the case of physical abuse, where would we sit with


emotional abuse? A fascinating point. I had just went up. A quick


point. I think it should be clear to everyone that emotional abuse is


every bit as harmful as sexual abuse or physical abuse but in a similar


way to what she said, and I'm sorry, I can't remember your first name, I


think it would be very difficult to enforce because while there are some


things that are obviously emotional abuse, there are other things that


are entirely subjective. You made the point about boarding school.


What one person's emotional abuse could be, that could be completely


okayed to another child. And on that point, was in the 60s you were at


Eton, at boarding school? The 70s, 80s? You are a -- you are ageless!


But you must have seen boys who were breast. -- who were their -- who


were distraught. The key thing here is that the scientific evidence was


overwhelming. That emotional abuse, which is hostility, lack of love, is


incredibly harmful. If you take, even in extreme mental illnesses


like schizophrenia, emotional abuse is a bigger cause of schizophrenia


than sexual or physical abuse in a survey of 41 studies. And overall,


the evidence is absolutely clear that genes play a very small part in


explaining why one sibling is mentally ill and not another, why


one of your offspring is mentally ill and not the other. It really is


about the kind of care you receive, and particularly, you need love,


particularly in the first three years, and they knew not to be --


you need not to be the object of hostility, favouritism and bad


behaviour. It's not easy. I take your point that we are getting into


a very grey area of definition. But what is important is that we


signalled these kinds of laws are more than anything else signals, in


the same way that they should be laws against parents hitting their


children, and it's ridiculous we don't have that law. It would hardly


ever be forced, in the same way when it comes to emotional abuse. Very,


very few prosecutions would be brought specifically for emotional


abuse or being consistently hostile. The concept would be hard to prove


but we need to send out a signal saying, it is how you care for your


children that is critically important for their mental health,


and the solution to this is to reduce the number of low income


people because we have a very unequal society and that is a major


cause of mental illness. And secondly, we need to support


parents. Sure Start Centres were turned into a crash facility. If


they had been a way to help parents interact with their children and


help them because they had been messed up in their terms and it


passes down the generations, but what we are in the business of is


trying to break the cycle of abuse and damage to children. So a more


child-centred society and then more parent centres? Yes, let's put the


meeting of the needs of children ahead of the profits of a tiny few.


But they might be parents watching now, thinking, my goodness me, and


my filling all the emotional needs of my child. -- there might be.


Absolutely. There are lots of ways which parents can influence to a


detrimental way their children. We know that parents are divorced and


families that experience family breakdowns have a profoundly


negative impact on that are relevant of children and we, quite rightly as


a society, are not going to go around looking parents who are


unable to sustain their marriages because we recognise there are other


factors we have to take into account, too. The problem I have


with the framing of this debate and the idea we're going to legislate


this is that it is making love bureaucratic. Of course children


need love, of course they do. But there is a situation where we are


saying that the state can be punitive about that. In a society


like that where we have a slightly less brittle approach to our


children, which is entirely about what your parents do, and it is a


very small, isolated unit, which is the nuclear family, and we say if


they mess that up in that tight unit, then it is going to go wrong.


If we can find ways of binding children into more meaningful


relationships with their extended community, teachers, preachers, we


might have something better. Strong language. I feel quite faint! It's


only right that children need protecting from any form of abuse,


but how are we going to fund this and where will the resources come


from? So that's a point about the economics and politics of it. One of


the things I'm looking at with my own research is the amount of annual


spend on our current child protection system and whether or not


it's possible to quantify in any meaningful way the extent to which


children can be seen to be positively benefited by the current


system. If we go back to this point about things being child-centred, I


would like to ask the question, if we do criminalise emotional abuse,


given all the problems we have just identified, how would we be able to


measure in an identifiable way how many children it could positively


benefit, or would we be able to make that assessment? Or would we simple


beep -- simply be putting an unworkable law onto the statute


books? It's simply about sending out a, that is all. But I learned it is


very bad to make criminal laws on the basis of, something must be


done, firstly, and sending a signal, especially when there are the risks


we have heard. And I want to say, I don't recognise the cause of data


with schizophrenia. I question whether you are right that emotional


abuse is the cause. Can I just replied to that very quickly? A


child who has had no adversity is... Sorry, somebody who's to --


has had five or more adversities is 193 times more likely to have a


mental illness than somebody who has had no adversity. And secondly, the


main genetic psychologist in this country was quoted in The Guardian


saying very recently, I have been looking for the genes for 15 years


and I cannot find them. That's not particularly scientific. I just


think we should be careful about quoting individuals. My main point


is that there are risks. What you need incremental law is certainty.


If it's going to be hard to define, even if the intentions are right, as


I'm sure they are, you might not get a far, but there are huge risks and


people might not come forward for help. And the police, bless them,


are not very good social workers. We have professional social workers in


this country who would do a much better job at family dynamics. The


police tend to over police laws, especially with new laws. We've seen


that. That is a risk with a law like this. Do you think there's a danger


down the road of the challenges like historic emotional abuse cases, and


we know without going to individual cases at the moment, that there's a


lot of historical cases of sexual abuse, and they are evidently very


difficult? Yes, and justice must be done whenever it is. Despite working


for the Catholic Herald, he speaks very loudly, because that faces a


big litigation risk, so it's hard to hear lectures from that side. But


you can identify physical and mental harm without Trent to define what is


emotional abuse in a one-year-old to a three-year-old. It's hard enough


to get the definitions right. Someone's right to liberty, that's


what we are talking about with a criminal offence. So I'll be very


cautious about moving it away from well-trained professionals and away


from a civil law. -- I would be very cautious. The point about having a


child centric policy and the economics of it is very important.


When you think about people who maybe have several children and use


the welfare system and vilified in the press and tabloids, it's always


about how awful the parents are and what they are doing and there's very


little focus on what is actually right for those children regardless


of their parental circumstances. And we'll have a role to play in


thinking about the needs of children before we go on blaming and


criticising the parents. Self-righteousness? Yes. We are


going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much for your


participation in that debate. You can join in all this morning's


debates by logging on to bbc.co.uk/the big questions and


following the link to the online discussion. Or you can tweet using


#bbctbq. Tell us what you think about our last big question, too,


"should we have more faith in science?"


If you would like to be in the audience at a future show, you can


email us. We're not on for the next two weeks because of the London


Marathon and Easter, but we'll be back from York on 27th April, where,


as well as the live morning show, we'll be recording a special on


atheism in the afternoon. We're also recruiting audiences in London for


11th May and Walsall for 25th May. This week a report from the


Independent Panel on Climate Change, a group of leading scientists from


across the world, warned our world is facing serious risks. Death,


injury and illness from storms, flooding and rising sea levels,


mortality and morbidity from extreme heat, malnutrition and death from


food shortages, disruption and loss of livelihoods, breakdowns of


infrastructure networks and key services, and mass migrations,


leading to global instability and conflicts. Yet despite the evidence


amassed by scientists around the globe, around six out of ten Britons


are not convinced that man-made climate change is happening at all.


Should we have more faith in science?


Professor Tim Palmer, will society, professor of climate physics at


Oxford University. -- Royal Society. Do you despair that people


don't buy this mandate? I don't spare. The problem with climate


change, it's a scientific problem but it has great implications for


society. People are concerned about things like, maybe, wind turbines,


or green taxes or perceived infringements on their freedoms to


drive gas-guzzling cars and things like this. I think the important


point, however, is to try to disentangle these issues from the


basic science. And the basic science, which I and my colleagues


on the intergovernmental panel you mentioned, are just trying to


approach the problem from these totally policy neutral objectives. I


have no political agenda. I trained as a physicist and I believe my


expertise is relevant to this problem, which is to say, as we emit


ten gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere every year, we are


looking to double carbon dioxide to its preindustrial values later this


century, what is this going to do to climate? What is it going to do to


sea levels, drought, flooding around the world? Incidentally, not just


for the next two years but the coming centuries and potentially


thousands of years. And the question I think people have to try to get to


grips with, and I realise it's a difficult one, is to try to leave


aside the policy issue and say, do I think these are genuine risks that


we are putting on our climate system that are going to be very


detrimental to society? Are these serious risks we need to consider


and take seriously? Now, the question then of what we should do


about it is for politicians and policymakers. In this debate it


relieves important to separate out these two issues, the science and


the policy. We have a general discussion in the next 15 minutes


about science and faith in science and scientists tell us the


scientific method with hypothesis what is happening and why it is


happening. They do not have an agenda. Science covers a huge range


of different topics and disciplines. I used to be a particle visitors,


the goals and methods are very difficult to zoology which in turn


of a different to the social sciences. I think we have to


distinguish what kind of science and how good is that particular kind of


science. Lets leave out the social sciences for this debate. I was


making a value judgement. The other thing is that a particular science


is very good at doing what it does well. Physics is Bjerregaard


measurement was a bit is no good at setting ethics or political policy,


or teaching the appreciation of music. The problem is with the


climate science, as Professor Palmer pointed out, politics has got


interwoven with the scientific assessment. That is not his fault. I


would be interested to question him on this because the introduction to


the report is not just written by scientists, all additions do get


involved, it would be interesting to hear some perspective. It is


important for people to read the reports, read the IPCC, or a report


which came out recently by the Royal Society which tried to set out the


science. I don't think people should have blind faith in science but what


they should do is look at the evidence that is put out by IPCC,


the Royal Society and make up their own minds. Do you despair... Lots of


despair this morning... Are you angered when you see debates on


settled science like evolution or climate change or atomic theory or


whatever... Or that homoeopathy is fake. And juicy equivalents on the


broadcast channels, the BBC has been criticised # red and use see full so


you might see Nigel Lawson against Professor Walker.


It is frustrating but I like to get even. I think faith is the wrong


word. We should have more confidence in science. When we get on a plane,


we want to know it has been checked by the engineers, not that someone


has rested, prayed over it or a politician has asserted that this is


the best plane ever. It is confidence in the scientific method.


The method is more than just hypothesis, experiment and


conclusions. It is continuing scepticism, it is declaration of all


your interests, it is having it criticised before you get your


funding and before you can publish it, and it is continual building on


the work of others. It is completely different from the way politics and


religion works and it is why we must rely on it when we are asking


important questions like vaccine safety, whether certain treatments


work, whether we should have confidence in what the doctor is


offering, what the crack is offering. There is a difference


between evidenced -based treatment and others. And whether we are


listening to whether there is a business interest on climate


change, a politician like Nigel Lawson, and the overwhelming


Georgie, the overwhelming consensus of scientific opinion. Of course


there are mavericks in science, but is important. I think we should be


voting for politicians to say, I am going to make, on these issues, the


policies based on what the evidence is. Drug laws are interesting. A


very good example. Professor Nutt says one thing and he is


marginalised. The Labour government did some good things for science but


this was very bad, they prevented independent scientific advice from


being independent by saying that if you argue with what we say the


sciences, we will sack you. That is what happened to him and it was very




I want to move on to homoeopathy shortly. I would be interested to


see if Professor Palmer thinks this is a peculiar problem in science.


The earth is not a system we can experiment with repeatedly, as we do


with other physical systems. We rely a lot on modelling, there are


massive feedback problems. It would be interesting to hear, do you think


there are challenges that we don't face in other kinds of sciences? You


are right to say we can't do an experiment in the laboratory to see


what climate change will do but we can get evidence from past climates


and we have to use the laws of physics to tried understand what is


going on. A key point for me which distinguishes good science from bad


science or even non-science, is an ability to estimate and quantify


uncertainties. You mentioned the word risk, this is an excellent


word, it describes precisely how climate science tries to deal with


the challenges that were mentioned. We tried to frame the problem in


terms of the risk, what is the risk of exceeding two degrees, up to five


degrees in the coming century. Five degrees being the difference between


the last ice age and the present day, it is calamitous. Other types


of astrology, for example, you don't get any indication... You will meet


a tall dark stranger, but with what Rob ability? -- what probability.


The Nigel Lawsons of the world are adamant that there is no danger


whatsoever, but we will have dangerous climate change. -- there


is no danger that we will have. There is no indication there is any


uncertainty in that view and it should be a hallmark for people


listening to potential science. Are they giving credible estimates of


the uncertainties that undoubtedly there are? Homoeopathy, you


mentioned it earlier. Where is Ian? Hello. Homoeopathic practitioner.


How does it work? What is the science of it? Can I move it on


because we haven't got a lot of time? There are many forms of


science and different points of looking at it. Long period of time


we have gathered a huge amount of evidence on the medicines we use


from all sorts of sources, including our patients, who get better. We


record that evidence and we match it against the individualised cases


that we take of the people who come to us was that everybody is an


individual foot of It is not placebo?


What is happening in the body? If a person is unwell and not functioning


properly and explains what the circumstances are, and we find the


right remedy for that person by matching those two things I have


talked about, if the remedy is the right one, the person will begin to


get better from their own healing process. The body can heal itself.


They get better on their own, don't they? People do use homoeopathic,


people make money out of selling it, but it is usually used, and I


hope it is only used for conditions that are self limiting. So people


not feeling great, a touch of the nerves, and people get better. If I


jump up and down and cost three times and I have a cold, a week


later I will not have a cold. It won't be because of what I did, it


is because of our immune systems. You cannot say scientifically that


because someone gets better after they have paid you money for a sugar


pill, that the sugar pill has cured them. There was a 2010 report which


said it is just a placebo. I don't think all of the evidence was


gathered in that parliamentary report. What is going on in the


body? The body is a whole mechanism. It is holistic? We can't say it is


neurological. It is part of a whole process that takes place. The


healing is from within. This is the sort of...


It is not science, it is nonsense or it is anti-science and it can be


dangerous. It is not just harmless. People who have serious conditions


that need evidence -based treatments to reverse the disease process rely


on homoeopathy or snake oil or faith healing, then the risk is that they


don't get the treatment they know. The placebo effect is powerful, I


understand people benefit from it, but it relies on deception. It is


most strong when people are deceived into thinking they are getting


something when in fact with homoeopathy, they are getting


something that has been practically infinitely dilutive so there is no


molecule level. Many of your colleagues in Bristol who work in


the Bristol homoeopathic Hospital, they have trained medically, they


have moved to homoeopathy because they have seen the powers. There are


always a few mavericks. Many more than a few mavericks. Without


mavericks who wouldn't have a programme. Quickly if you could... I


agree with this guy that healing comes from within, and I would love


to see scientists work closely with people that meditate on a regular


basis, in connection with changes in spiritual consciousness. Right at


the end there, the gentleman with the tide. -- tie. I would say I have


faith in science of the 19th century, when they body said they


would pay for it. Who pays for science now? Quite often with


pharmaceutical companies, somebody who pays money...


APPLAUSE The companies which pay for the


science, they say this is a science we could pay you for. Oliver first.


Very gentlemanly of you. To go back to something, arguing about what is


and isn't a science is not the most productive way forward. Six out of


ten figure at the start of the segment, a lot of the people who


doubt that we are making man-made climate change, they don't think


they are doubting science, they have faith in what they see as an


alternative science, which says climate change is not man-made. It


is not a case of is this science... It is a Menorah TV but they will say


it is still science, Einstein was a minority view -- it is a minority


view but they will still say. The way to tackle the debate is not to


say, let's have more faith in the scientific consensus but less faith


in everything, let's put everything on the table. The IPCC does


fantastic work with scientists and policymakers. Should we have Tim up


against Nigel Lawson? Not this sequel views in the media thing,


large collections of media talking... That is what happens,


consensus statements in science. Otherwise you're just saying


anything goes. The basis of science on contentious public policy issues


is you create a consensus statement. We had it over MMR, a


fraudster alleged that MMR caused autism and bowel disease. Andrew


Wakefield. It caused a lot of work to be done and consensus statements


came out from people who wanted to agree, because there are prizes to


be got for breaking an initial consensus. I am not saying these


consensus discussions don't happen. Particularly with the IPCC, the


science is compensated and the policy is so compensated. I am sorry


to point at you, isn't the problem that so many policymakers and


politicians, your good self accepted perhaps, cannot look beyond the


electoral cycle? I don't think that is the problem. I'm sure a lot of


politicians would like to make decisions aced on proper science,


good sciences -- based on. The problem, it seems to me, is we get


confused about this. I hate wind generators. The dam things are


across our landscapes, polluting our heels and lovely areas. But I


believe in what the professor is saying about climate change --


polluting our hills. I think we are coming up with bad solutions. I am


conflicted, of course. I don't want to see my landscape destroyed in


south Wales. Now we have these terribly inefficient subsidised


white windmills everywhere. It doesn't make me a reactionary. It is


important to remember that scientists are human, they have self


interest, they have politics, the leaves, prejudices, that is why over


history, circumstances change -- they have politics, beliefs. They


all believed in eugenics. The IPCC, they don't come into trying to prove


climate change. It is a review of the scientific literature on


climate. Scientific literature means it has been through a peer review


process. It has been scrutinised by other scientists. All IPC is saying,


what is out there in the scientific literature about climate and over


woman A, the view is that it is a serious problem -- overwhelmingly.


Thank you very much. As always, the debates will continue online and on


Twitter. We'll be back on April 27th from York. But for now it's goodbye


from Bristol and have a great Easter break. Thank you for watching.


Nicky Campbell presents moral, ethical and religious debates from Ashton Park School in Bristol. Questions include can Britain be proud of its role in Afghanistan, should the state stop interfering in parenting, and should we have more faith in science?

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