Some may argue that the debate was a bit "stacked"; the question to be debated was not phrased in terms of, "is man-made climate change real?", but in relative terms "That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change". The deniers are using this debate as evidence that Global Warming is fiction. But a debate is about arguments, not facts. Its about who can come up with the most interesting, unexpected argument that the other side is unable to rebut.
So who took part in the debate? Proposing were well known climate deniers and Thatcherites Lord Lawson of Blaby (Cons), James Delingpole obsessive denialist blogger,
Lord Leach of Fairford (Cons) and Lord Monckton. Against were Labours Lord Whitty, Zara McGlone, Secretary of the Oxford Union, Rajesh Makwana and Mike Mason.
I suspect if they had someone like Caroline Lucas/Tony Juniper/Jonathan Porritt the result would have been very different. I'm not sure I would believe a Labour peer if they told me today was Friday. I have not heard of any of the speakers against the motion; Whitty 'Voted moderately against laws to stop climate change'. Climate Care is part of J.P.Morgan, and is focused on emissions reduction credits. So half of the team were not very Green.
Lord Lawson of Blaby, Margaret Thatcher’s former finance minister, opened the case for the proposition by saying
that the economic proposals put forward by the UN’s climate panel and its supporters did not add up. It would be better to wait and see whether the scientists had gotten it right. It was not sensible to make expensive spending commitments, particularly at a time of great economic hardship, when the effectiveness of the spending was gravely in doubt and when it might do more harm than good.
At one point, Lord Lawson was interrupted by a US student, who demanded to know what was his connection with the Science and Public Policy Institute, and what were the Institute’s sources of funding. Lord Lawson was cheered when he said he neither knew nor cared who funded the Institute.
Zara McGlone, Secretary of the Oxford Union, opposed the motion, saying that
greenhouse gases had an effect; that the precautionary principle required immediate action; that Bangladesh was sinking beneath the waves; that the majority of scientists believed “global warming” was a problem; and that “irreversible natural destruction” would occur if we did nothing.James Delingpole, denialist blogger for the Daily Telegraph, seconded the proposition, saying that –
politically speaking – the climate extremists had long since lost the argument. The general public simply did not buy the scare stories any more. The endless tales of Biblical disasters peddled by the alarmist faction were an unwelcome and now fortunately failed recrudescence of dull, gray Puritanism. Instead of hand-wringing and bed-wetting, we should celebrate the considerable achievements of the human race and start having fun.
Lord Whitty, a Labor peer from the trades union movement and, until recently, Labor’s Environment Minister in the Upper House, said that
the world’s oil supplies were rapidly running out; that we needed to change our definition of economic growth to take into account the value lost when we damaged the environment; that green jobs created by governments would help to end unemployment; that humans were the cause of most of the past century’s warming; that temperature today was at its highest in at least 40 million years; and that 95% of scientists believed our influence on the climate was catastrophic.
Lord Leach of Fairford, whom Margaret Thatcher appointed a Life Peer for his educational work, spoke third for the proposition. He said that
we no longer knew whether or not there had been much “global warming” over the 20th century, because the Climategate emails had exposed the terrestrial temperature records as defective. In any event, he said, throwing good money after bad on various alternative-energy boondoggles was unlikely to prove profitable in the long term and would ultimately do harm.
Mr. Rajesh Makwana, executive director of “Share The World’s Resources”, speaking third for the opposition, said that c
Far from slowing down, global emissions have increased by 40 percent since 2000, and continue to accelerate at 3 percent a year. According to reports based on existing pledges to limit emissions, we are currently on track for a rise in global temperatures of 4 degrees Celsius – twice the limit leaders aspired to at Copenhagen.
For those who deny that climate change is a consequence of our impact on the planet, despite what common sense and science tells us, I say this: the pursuit of economic growth is responsible not only for increasing levels of environmental pollution, but for the unsustainable over-use of the world’s natural resources. The pursuit of growth at all costs has created a competitive and commercialised world where accumulation is valued over sufficiency, where the self-interested needs of the few are placed before the needs of the planet, and where there are more people living in poverty and higher levels of inequality than ever before.
Why do we seem so unable to mitigate climate change? The simple reason is because we are addicted to economic growth, and governments are not willing to contemplate a comprehensive alternative whilst they are too busy competing with each other for economic advantage. It has also been calculated that if everyone consumed at the same level as most of us in this room consider normal, we would need three and a half planets the size of earth to sustain our economic activity. As far as I know, economists have yet to locate these additional two and half planets.
Lord Monckton, a former science advisor to Margaret Thatcher, concluded the case for the proposition. He drew immediate laughter and cheers when he described himself as
“Christopher Walter, Third Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, scholar, philanthropist, wit, man about town, and former chairman of the Wines and Spirits Committee of this honourable Society”. At that point his cummerbund came undone.
He 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 Lord 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. Lord 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.
Mike Mason, founder and managing director of “Climate Care”, concluded for the opposition. He said that
the proposition were peculiar people, and that Lord Monckton was more peculiar than most, in that he was not a real Lord. Lord Monckton, on a point of order, told Mr. Mason that the proposition had avoided personalities and that if Mr. Mason were unable to argue other than ad hominem he should “get out”. [cheers] Mr. Mason then said that we had to prepare for climate risks [yes, in both directions, towards cooler as well as warmer]; and that there was a “scientific consensus”.
The President thanked the speakers and expressed the Society’s gratitude to the Science and Public Policy Institute for sponsoring the debate.
Ukip report this as their victory.
The USA blog Daily Kos covers this here.
For myself, 10 years ago the scientific argument was interesting. Now the evidence is so widely accepted the debate should have moved on, but for some, here mostly Thatcherites, they cite the 'medieval warm period' as though that was overwhelming evidence! They only accept warming if they can feel it, the idea of global average temperatures is of no interest. They are essentially anti science, unfortunately much of the media does not have a scientific background.
And the scientists must learn to be more readable. Please translate 'Failure to substantiate hemispheric warmth greater than the present consistently occurs in composites because there are significant offsets in timing of warmth in different regions; ignoring these offsets can lead to serious errors concerning inferences about the magnitude of Medieval warmth and its relevance to interpretation of late 20 th century warming.'
A recent study said that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had understated mankind’s overall contribution to climate change, so its worse that we thought.
As for the 'disputed consensus', 97% of the actively publishing climate scientists (as opposed to the scientists who are not publishing actively) (75 of 77 individuals out of the 3146) agree that human activity, is a significant contributing factor to global climate change.