Spectator Climate Debate

The Spectator have organised a debate about climate change on Tuesday 29 March at the Royal Geographical Society, London, SW7 (1800-2030hrs).

The motion is:

The global warming concern is over. Time for a return to sanity.

The number of people in the UK who do not believe in global warming has doubled in the last two years, according to a poll from the Office for National Statistics. Does this represent an alarming success in a war against science? Or the common sense of a British public who can see the claims of the climate alarmists dissolve before their eyes?

My first impression was: £30 a ticket!?! You must be joking.

My second was the unbalanced make up of the “for” and “against” speakers:

The “for” panel is made up of a politician (with a chemistry degree), an ex-politician and a social anthropologist. The latter two now represent the same organisation.

The “against” panel constitutes a climate physicist, a science writer (with a physics PhD) and an ex-Government Chief Scientific Adviser (academic career in physical chemistry).

What are they actually going to be debating? I don’t see enough of an overlap between the panels (one very political, the other very scientific) for there to be much room for constructive debate.

In fact, I’m quite surprised that it is the Spectator that have organised this event. Given their previous on climate issues, these panels look skewed towards the case for climate change.

By this, I mean that the “for” panel looks a bit limited and homogeneous – if they stray too far into scientific territory they’ll be in danger of looking out of their depth. By contrast, the “against” panel are more diverse and have much more up-to-date experience on the key issues (climate science, science communication and science informing policy).

I assume it’ll end up just being a lot of rhetoric about “climategate”-this and “hide the decline”-that but I’ll be very interested to read reports after the event.

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6 Responses to “Spectator Climate Debate”

  1. omnologos Says:

    Am going to miss it but on past performance (Chrichton et al vs Schmidt et al in NYC), the science guys will end up making a heartfelt political appeal, and the political lot will keep repeating we need to go back to the basics of science.

    Likely pivotal point: the meaning of “concern”…

  2. JamesA Says:

    The fact that such a debate is even taking place will be seen as a victory for the GWPF and their masquerade of scientific legitimacy and the Spectator in their masquerade of being in any way relevant to this discussion. I’m afraid I don’t share your optimism on a scientific argument necessarily going the way of ‘against’, as the deniers’ tactics will probably be based around a Gish Gallop, the tried-and-tested debating method of pseudosceptics the world over. Even if the motion isn’t carried, they will take any minute point that ‘against’ doesn’t have the time or expertise to address as evidence that the science isn’t decided and the other side were being dishonest for saying that it was.

  3. jg Says:

    Thanks for reporting this. It has been helpful to me to discover yet another “think tank” in your link to the GWPF. I was amused by their article on the link between Earth’s rotational speed and climate change, as well as their claim that climate scientists are in the pockets of the reinsurers. How’s that paying out?


  4. hengistmcstone Says:

    The wording of the motion is clearly slanted towards the “for” camp, with phrases like climate alarmists and the unchallenged assertion that the global warming concern is over. Not only that the moderator will be Andrew Neil a skeptic and protege of that paragon of fairness Rupert Murdoch.

    The fact is there is no global warming debate in the public arena. What would the starting point for such a debate be? Observation , causation or solution? The answer would depend on where you stand (but imho it clearly ought to be the last of those three). We can’t even agree on the language to be used with many people insisting they be addressed as skeptics when they would seem to be activists.

  5. Henny Moore Says:

    An amusing detail is that the url and the advertisment in today’s Daily Telegraph has the title “The global warming hysteria is over…”. The chairman is also somewhat parti pris of course. That, together with the fact that two of the speakers have repeatedly demonstrated that they don’t understand and of the physics behind the interaction of atmospheric carbon dioxide and heat trapping – nor, indeed, even the principle of thermal equilibrium – makes it unlikely that any light will be cast by this debate.

  6. Spectator Climate Debate – The Results! « Our Clouded Hills Says:

    […] mentioned the Spectator debate last week but I didn’t go along as I was giving a talk in Manchester on Antarctic […]

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