Friday, 28 May 2010

Oxford Union Society Debate Climate Change

Last week, members of the historic Oxford Union Society, carried the motion “That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change” by 135 votes to 110.

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.


neil craig said...

I assume the reason nobody from the green party spoke was because they have always refused to debate the question. It is perverse pf anybody on the alarmist side to then object to the quality of speakers you can produce.

In any case you all know for an absolute certainty that catastrophic warming is a total 7 deliberate lie promoted by thieving fascist parasites to get power 7 money.

Adrian Windisch said...

What a classic comment, everything in it is wrong.

Don't assume we were asked and refused. So its not perverse to object to the speakers. There are many Green speakers who would have done very well, including Caroline Lucas, Jonathan Poritt & Tony Juniper.

There are no deliberate warming lies. Misinformation exists being spread by people like you, read the post more carefully and you will learn something.

There are fascists in the BNP & perhaps Ukip, but none in the Green Party.

weggis said...

"There are fascists in the BNP & perhaps Ukip, but none in the Green Party."

Have you counted them?

neil craig said...

The Green Party have always, following the lead of Al Gore, specifically refused to debate with sceptics on the grounds that "the science is settled".

Neither UKIP nor the BNP have ever refused to debate with the greens. That alone proves who is more fascistic. I have previously clashed with Adrian who, while claiming falsely to be an enhineer, told Iain Dale he should not allow free debate on his blog on precisely those grounds.If he has some evidence of fascism in the BNP he has an obligation to produce it. He demonstrates that dishonesty & fascism dominate the green movement.

Adrian Windisch said...

As always Neal your comment so wrong it is quite amusing. I understand the internet term for this sort of thing is 'troll'.

You say I have falsely claimed to be an engineer; I have a Degree in Civil Engineering from Westminster Uni and a Masters Degree from Soton Uni, I even offered to post you a copy, you didn't respond as I recall.

You repeatedly claim the Greens have refused to debate, as always there is no evidence. We always debate, local people have seen me in many hustings at elections.

Your definition of fascism seems to be based on who debates things with you, I suggest you study some history. Just google Bnp and fascist and there is your evidence. They were founded in 1982 under the leadership of John Tyndall, a longtime Nazi sympathiser and National Front chair. Tyndall was on record as stating that "Mein Kampf is my bible".

As for Ukip see

I dare say a conversation with Iain Dale is important to you, I can't recall it. I don't read his blog any more, he just advertises his products and spouts the Tory line. In the old days pre Cameron he had something interesting to say, no longer. Looking at it today he is defending Lord Young!

neil craig said...

Adrian you made no such offer & indeed none would be needed for you to post to me because an address is available via my blogs.

It is a matter of fact that the Greens have (like Gore) repeatedly refused to debate sceptics on the ground that "the science is settled".

Hustings are not an exception from principle but simply because they are a way of persuading voters 7 a condidate invited would have to be a fool to refuse. Even so I can attest to a Green candidate specifically refusing to answer a question on their polict on nuclear power on the grounds that the candidate recognised me as having shown knowledge of the subject which would allow me to unfairly point out factulaminnacuracies.

What the National Front were in 1932 is irelevent to the BNP today. Fortunately for the greens since so many of their politicies were foreshadowed by Mr Gitler. I note that you make no attempt to factually substantiate your claims of current BVP fascism.

By comparison the Green's refusal to debate IS evidence of fascist attitudes, as is their opposition to individual freedom of choice & support ofever growing state power. The fact they have been responsible for more deaths than Hitler supports a worse accusation.

Adrian Windisch said...

True to form Neil, you don't even try and prove a single point, but just repeat your usual rubbish.

You claim a Green once refused to answer your question, this leads you to assume no Green will ever debate anything. You are totally wrong.

You state 'the Greens have (like Gore)', while I admire the film made by Al Gore, he is not a Green, he does not represent me or any Green.

I offered to post copies of my certificates to you, you have forgotten. If you did get it, would you fully apologise for the smear? How about giving a donation to a good cause as recompense.

I mention the Bnp in 1982, you say 1932 is irrelevant. ??? I assume when you say 'Mr Gitler' you refer to Hitler? And 'BVP fascism' is Bnp? Hitlers policies were to blame others for Germanys problems, much like the Bnp and Ukip. Hitler went on to invade his neighbours, I doubt Ukip would want to do that. The Greens want fairness , and promote renewable energy. There is no similarity. Why let facts get in the way of an argument?

I suggested you google Bnp and fascism, the links are too many to mention. Though I suggest the recent court case on excluding non whites from membership is relevant.

I see last year the deputy leader of the Bnp spoke at an international fascist rally.

Do you really need more evidence?

neil craig said...

No I state a Gren election candidate at a hustings once publicly refused to discuss a major party policyon the grounds that his opponent knew the subject. Not quite the same.

Your adniration of Gore's lying film speaks volumes of your concept of truth.

Of you send me the copies & they did substantiate everything you claimed on Dale's blog I would certainly publicly acknowledge it. I will give £100 to the charity of your choice if that is so on condition that you do the same for everything you have said that isn't so & for every "environmentalist" world catastrophe that has turned out to be false over the last 40 years. I think the X-Prize foundation would be due about £4,000.

It would be exceedingly fair of the Greens to publicly blame themselves for the country's problems, perhaps even slightly more than fair since there are a lot of idiots around - where was it they adopted that tactic?

Since you have produced no actual evidence I think more would be reasonable.

weggis said...

Sounds like Neil is beta testing Microsoft's new Auto Bullshit Generator, but it doesn't seem to come with spellcheck or grammar check!

Adrian Windisch said...

Cheers Weggis, its more than a little confusing. Is Gitler really a typo for Hitler? I can picture a man bashing a keyboard in a rage. Bit like Gordon Brown.

I think he is weasling out of apologising for his nasty smear & paying something to charity by linking it to something irrelevant. He likes to give out personal attacks, and to blame Greens for things that are nothing to do with us (Al Gore or DDT).

If only we were as powerful as he thinks, the world would be a much better place.