Saturday, March 17, 2007

DEBATE: "Global warming is not a crisis"

A high profile New York debate last Wednesday night between warmists and skeptics saw the warmists routed, say reports on the debate in Scientific American, Newsday, and on a cock-a-hoop Senate Environment and Public Works blog. Said Newsday's Ellis Henican, 'The Climate's Just Perfect for a Debate':
This issue will never be resolved in one brainy evening, even one as pointed and personal as this. In the previous five IQ2 U.S. debates, there hadn't been all that much mind-changing in the room. But this time, there was. Before the debate, not-a-crisis got 30 percent of the vote. After, the number rose to 46 percent. The is-a-crisis tally dropped from 57 to 42. The undecideds dipped slightly, from 13 to 12.
Oddly enough, one of the warmist participants' blog accounts is more subdued than the other accounts. "So are such debates worthwhile? On balance, I'd probably answer no," concluded Real Climate blogger and NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt, voted by the audience to be on the losing side on Wednesday.

Arguing for the motion, that global warming is not a crisis, were author Michael Crichton, British biogeographer Philip Stott, and MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen. Ranged against them were warmist scientists Brenda Ekwurzel, Richard C.J. Somerville, and our friend Mr Schmidt. Notes the Senate EPW blog, who look forward to Al Gore appearing before them next week to testify on global warming:

Before the start of the nearly two hour debate the audience polled 57.3% to 29.9% in favor of believing that Global Warming was a “crisis”, but following the debate the numbers completely flipped to 46.2% to 42.2% in favor of the skeptical point of view...

After the stunning victory, one of the scientists on the side promoting the belief in a climate "crisis" appeared to concede defeat by noting his debate team was ‘pretty dull" and at "a sharp disadvantage" against the skeptics. ScientificAmerican.com’s blog agreed, saying the believers in a man-made climate catastrophe “seemed underarmed for the debate and, not surprising, it swung ag ainst them."

The New York City audience laughed as Gore became the butt of humor during the debate.

"What we see in this is an enormous danger for politicians in terms of their hypocrisy. I’m not going to say anything about Al Gore and his house. But it is a very serious point," quipped University of London emeritus professor Philip Stott to laughter from the audience.

The audience also applauded a call by novelist Michael Crichton to stop the hypocrisy of environmentalists and Hollywood liberals by enacting a ban on private jet travel.

"Let’s have the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), the Sierra Club and Greenpeace make it a rule that all of their members, cannot fly on private jets. They must get their houses off the [power] grid. They must live in the way that they’re telling everyone else to live. And if they won’t do that, why should we? And why should we take them seriously?" Crichton said to applause audience.
The ScientificAmerican.com’s blog also declared the global warming skeptics the clear winner of the debate in a March 15 post titled: "Debate Skills? Advantage: Climate Contrarians."
"The proponents [of a climate crisis] seemed underarmed for the debate and, not surprisingly, it swung against them, particularly when Schmidt made the fatal debating error of dismissing the ability of the audience to judge the scientific nuances," ScientificAmerican.com’s David Biello wrote. The advocates of climate alarmism "were faced with the folksy anecdotes of Crichton and the oratorical fire of Stott," Biello wrote at ScientificAmerican.com. Biello concluded, "…the audience responded to Crichton's satirical call for a ban on private jets more than Ekwurzel's vague we need to throw ‘everything we can at the climate crisis.’

By the final vote, 46 percent of the audience had been convinced that global warming was indeed not a crisis, while just 42 percent persisted in their opinion that it was." Biello also criticized climate "crisis" advocate Richard Somerville as "perplexed" and "hardly inspiring."
Some money quotes from the winning team:
LINDZEN: "Now, much of the current alarm, I would suggest, is based on ignorance of what is normal for weather and climate."

"The real signature of greenhouse warming is not surface temperature but temperature in the middle of the troposphere, about five kilometers. And that is going up even slower than the temperature at the surface."

CHRICHTON: "I mean, haven’t we actually raised temperatures so much that we, as stewards of the planet, have to act? These are the questions that friends of mine ask as they are getting on board their private jets to fly to their second and third homes.

"Everyday 30,000 people on this planet die of the diseases of poverty. There are, a third of the planet doesn’t have electricity. We have a billion people with no clean water. We have half a billion people going to bed hungry every night. Do we care about this? It seems that we don’t. It seems that we would rather look a hundred years into the future than pay attention to what’s going on now. I think that's unacceptable. I think that’s really a disgrace."

STOTT: "The first Earth Day in America claimed the following, that because of global cooling, the population of America would have collapsed to 22 million by the year 2000. And of the average calorie intake of the average American would be wait for this, 2,400 calories, would good it were. [LAUGHTER] It’s nonsense and very dangerous. And what we have fundamentally forgotten is simple primary school science. Climate always changes."

"Angela Merkel the German chancellor, my own good prime minister (Tony Blair) for whom I voted -- let me emphasize, arguing in public two weeks ago as to who in Annie get the gun style could produce the best temperature. ‘I could do two degrees C said Angela.’ ‘No, I could only do three said Tony.’ [LAUGHTER] Stand back a minute, those are politicians, telling you that they can control climate to a degree Celsius.”

“And can I remind everybody that IPCC that we keep talking about, very honestly admits that we know very little about 80% of the factors behind climate change. Well let’s use an engineer; I don’t think I’d want to cross Brooklyn Bridge if it were built by an engineer who only understood 80% of the forces on that bridge."
The full transcript for the debate can be found here, at the debate organiser's website. A debate podcast should be available here early Thursday morning, NZ time.

UPDATE 1:
More comments on the debate, this one from an audience member:
I attended it, and must say that the characterization recently distributed which described Crichton, Stott, et. al. as being "humorous" and "entertaining" is false. They were cogent and salient and stuck to the facts (though Stott indeed has an engaging preachy style). Lindzen of course was dry and direct with no attempts at humor. Crichton did talk about enviros and their jets etc., but he talked much more about science, epistemology, his own conversion to skepticism, and the need to prioritize enviro/social ills. It was the other side that attempted (unsuccessfully) to be entertaining and wax poetically, by describing earth as a human-body-like organism, and by characterizing global warming investigation as an episode from "CSI." The bloggers were right about who won, but wrong about how and why they won.
UPDATE 2: Another site to get the podcast of the debate, when it appears.

UPDATE 3: The co-debunker of the 'Hockey Stick,' Steve McIntyre, has excerpts from the transcript showing Real Climate's Gavin Schmidt to be, well, a real plonker. He starts with a patronising CSI reference; gets the audience groaning by telling them they're too dim to understand all the science; then Richard Lindzen spots him making up quotes; and later, in the question period where the influence of cosmic rays is being debated, he offers this powerful rejoinder to the studies suggesting their possible impact:
GAVIN SCHMIDT - ….So any change that there might have been because of cosmic ray impacts on climate, can‘t possibly have an impact on what‘s been going on in the last changes.
PHILIP STOTT: But the most famous astrophysicist working on it say that it has.
GAVIN SCHMIDT Uh, he is drunk.
Posting on his blog he says he was "misquoted." Possibly believable if he hadn't already shown himself to be such a pretentious twat.

RELATED: Global Warming, Science

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