Oxford Union debates are a big deal. Remember when David Lange leaned toward Jerry Falwell and told him “I can smell the uranium on your breath”—a line still much-quoted today? That was from an Oxford Union debate of around a quarter-of-a-century ago. Oxford Union debates are a big deal.
Which makes the latest debate in which warmists were whacked by the Union a fairly big deal too.
Leading the skeptic team to a 135-110 victory in a debate on the motion “That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change” was Christopher Monckton, a man who more than any other gets under warmists’ skin. The SPPI blog [via Watts Up With That] describes his presentation:
Christopher Monckton said that real-world measurements, as opposed to models, showed that the warming effect of CO2 was a tiny fraction of the estimates peddled by the UN’s climate panel. He said that he would take his lead from [his team-mate] Nigel Lawson, however, in concentrating on the economics rather than the science.
“He glared at the opposition again and demanded whether, since they had declared themselves to be so worried about ‘global warming,’ they would care to tell him – to two places of decimals and one standard deviation – the UN’s central estimate of the ‘global warming’ that might result from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentration. The opposition were unable to reply. Monckton told them the answer was 3.26 plus or minus 0.69 Kelvin or Celsius degrees.
“An Hon. Member interrupted: ‘And your reference is?’ Lord Monckton replied: ‘IPCC, 2007, chapter 10, box 10.2.’ [cheers]. He concluded that shutting down the entire global economy for a whole year, with all the death, destruction, disaster, disease and distress that that would cause, would forestall just 4.7 ln(390/388) = 0.024 Kelvin or Celsius degrees of ‘global warming,’ so that total economic shutdown for 41 years would prevent just 1 K of warming. Adaptation as and if necessary would be orders of magnitude cheaper and more cost-effective.
He’s quite right, of course. Even if the warmists’ worst fears were to be granted credibility (and the likes of Richard Lindzen offers a substantial challenge, suggesting for example that the effect of doubling CO2 would be a temperature rise of just 1.0 degree Celsius), even total economic shutdown would not allay them.
Yet the only “action” that warmists call for is government action to ban or to shackle private action, ruling out (both in their own minds and, if they are successful in their calls, in reality) any possibility at all of human beings adapting to a changing climate freely and individually, i.e., in exactly the way that human beings have successfully adapted to changing climates right across the millennia.
Face it, when people are left free to make their own choices for themselves, they are able to make better choices for them than a screaming hippy with a clipboard would make on their behalf. And since the time period in which people might be required to adapt would be substantial (we’re talking decades, if not centuries here) then the time required for people to, for example, change the places in which they live and work, is more than sufficient for that to be done in a civilised manner, with the necessary changes being flagged by price signals. (So don’t worry, Al Gore will have more than enough time to sell his sea-level apartment in San Francisco before he starts seeing the tide in his living room.)
Furthermore, warmists often forget, or have never considered, that under all but their most catastrophic scenarios, the future generations who they say will benefit tomorrow from banning or shackling private action today will (unless the warmists are successful in shackling producers completely) be several orders of magnitude richer than we are today.
Furthermore, as economist Robert Murphy points out in ‘The Economics of Climate Change’
it is rather absurd to argue about the impacts of present tax policies [or cap-and-trade schemes] on global temperatures in the year 2150. Yet, it is precisely these projections that provide the foundation for policy recommendations.
“Many critics have raised this objection before, but it bears repeating: We have no idea what the world economy will be like in the 22nd century. Had people in 1909 adopted analogous policies to ‘help’ us, they might have imposed a tax on buggies or a cap on manure, needlessly raising the costs of transportation while the U.S. economy switched to motor vehicles. This is not a mere joke; ‘serious’ people were worried about population growth, and the ability of large cities to support the growing traffic from horses. Had someone told them not to worry, because Henry Ford's new Model T would soon transform personal locomotion without any central direction from D.C., these ideas would probably have been dismissed as wishful thinking. As famed physicist Freeman Dyson has mused, future generations will likely have far cheaper means of reducing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, if the more alarming scenarios play out.18
“In the climate change debate, people often forget that under all but the most catastrophic scenarios, the future generations who will benefit from our current mitigation efforts will be much richer than we are. For example, Nigel Lawson points out that even under one of the worst case scenarios studied by the IPCC, failure to act would simply mean that people in the developing world would be "only" 8.5 times as wealthy a century from now, compared to 9.5 times as wealthy if there were no climate change.19”
To translate, this means that even if the scare-mongers were correct, they intend to strangle prosperity now – right in the middle of the deepest depression in seventy years – simply so that your future generations one-hundred years from now might be able to afford an extra Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster while they orbit the planets.
Makes no sense to me at all. And it made no sense to 135 Oxford Union voters either. My hat goes off to their very sensible British souls.