A Rare Global Warming Debate (and guess who won?)
Last night, a debate over the prospects for catastrophic climate change was held between Dr. John Christy, , noted climate scientist and Alabama State Climatologist, and Dr. William Schlesinger, President of the Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies and former dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
The debate was videotaped here.
The Event was held in Hickory, North Carolina and was co-sponsored by the John Locke Foundation and the Reese Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources at Lenoir-Rhyne University.
After making a few opening remarks about how nearly “all scientists agree” and that it’s time to stop discussion and get on with making dramatic changes to curtail CO2 emissions and change our lifestyles, Dr. Schlesinger said that he was not going to further discuss the science. He then went to a series of slides showing scary scenarios about the future. So about two-thirds of his talk was hypotheticals with no actual defense of the hypothesis that human-induced catastrophic global warming is in the process of occurring.
In “skipping over the science,” Dr. Schlesinger flipped through a number of slides that he had prepared to explain in more detail, including the now discredited “hockey stick” graph showing 900 years of little temperature change and then the last 100 years of dramatic warming. If he really believed in the graph, he should have stopped and explained it.
Dr. Christy noted that the medieval warming period occurred naturally and was warmer than it is today. The logical thing for Schlesinger to do would have been to call up the hockey stick to counter Christy’s claim. He did not. It was quite clear that he was ready to use the graph, and I have to imagine that he would have if he could have gotten away with it.
Christy carefully went through data—temperature records, sea level rise, melting ice caps—to show that the alarmist case is exaggerated on all counts. But Schlesinger chose not to rebut despite having plenty of time to do so. He wanted to assume the problem to get to the public policy and the new world that he favors.
I’m biased. I saw science-up from one presenter and alarmism-down from the other. (Schlesinger did start with a number of very basic propositions that Christy, as other skeptics, did/do not contest.) But the 250 people in attendance, including a large number of students, clearly saw the weaknesses of alarmism. And I bet that very few, if any, of the crowd woke up with a climate nightmare last night.
Over a hundred questions were turned in on cards for the Q&A; unfortunately we only had time to get to about 10 of them. In the coverage of the event in today’s Hickory Daily Record, it was reported that the audience seemed to favor the “skeptic” side.
As noted before at MasterResource, this is why the other side does not really want to debate. Let there be debate!