A Free-Market Energy Blog

Don’t Debate the ‘Climate Crisis’? (Mann, Dessler, etc. want to assume, not discuss)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- September 23, 2019

[Editor note: A ‘clarification and apology’ associated with this post is here. The author failed to note that Andrew Dessler also stated, “I debate in the peer-reviewed literature.”]

“Doesn’t the wholesale reordering of our society demand at least a little bit of public debate? We think so.” (Heartland Institute)

“In a public debate, advocates can use all kinds of rhetorical tricks, as well as outright lies, to advance their cause. There’s no way to counter them in that forum.” (Andrew Dessler)

“All of the noise right now from the climate change denial machine, the bots & trolls, the calls for fake “debates,” etc. Ignore it all. Deniers are desperate for oxygen in a mainstream media environment that is thankfully is no longer giving it to them. Report. block. Don’t engage.” (Michael Mann)

Tonight, John Stossel is poised to host a debate in New York City between the climate alarmists and three chosen skeptics. It begins with the science and economics of the enhanced greenhouse effect and continues with public policy.

But will the other side show up to the Heartland Institute’s CLIMATE CHALLENGE: BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY, BIGGER DEBATE? LIVE from Times Square tonight (September 23, 2019) at 7 pm – 9 pm ET.

The event is advertised as follows:

On September 23 in the Big Apple – on the same day and in the same city the United Nations will convene its Climate Summit before its General Assembly session – The Heartland Institute will host a debate on what is happening to our climate and what we can do about it. That’s a debate long-delayed, but never more important than now.

We’ve cordially invited some of the country’s most-prominent advocates for taking immediate action on climate change: Kevin Trenberth, Michael Mann, Don Wuebbles, Katharine Hayhoe, Brenda Ekwurzel, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. They blame human activity for global warming,  insist it will be catastrophic to life on Earth, and demand big changes to the way Americans live, work, eat, travel, and build.

If those claims are correct, then it’s time to make the case to the American people – who are skeptical of the scope of the problem and have not been asked their consent to those proposed solutions.

The Heartland Institute will bring three prominent scientists who have often defended their findings and views from the “climate realist” side in public: Patrick Michaels, David Legates, and Willie Soon. Doesn’t the wholesale reordering of our society demand at least a little bit of public debate?

We think so.

Alarmist Tweets: Don’t Debate!

The word from the ultra-alarmists is: give no quarter!

Michael Mann:

Honored to be joined by colleagues @KHayhoe, @BrendaEkwurzel & others in refusing to grant any legitimacy to this sad attempt by the climate-denying Heartland Institute to try to make themselves relevant….

All of the noise right now from the climate change denial machine, the bots & trolls, the calls for fake “debates,” etc. Ignore it all. Deniers are desperate for oxygen in a mainstream media environment that is thankfully is no longer giving it to them. Report. block. Don’t engage.

Andrew Dessler, who retweeted Mann above, explains why:

In a public debate, advocates can use all kinds of rhetorical tricks, as well as outright lies, to advance their cause. There’s no way to counter them in that forum. It is much harder to get away with that crap in papers, which is why so few skeptical papers get published.

Why Duck Debate?

Why don’t the alarmists want to debate the extent of the believed-to-be climate crisis? Surely the burden of proof is on those who wish to use the government coercion to override the voluntary decisions of energy producers and consumers.

The short answer is: their case is very complicated and requires the view that the science is settled where it is not. Their case is also burdened by history, going all the way back to Robert Thomas Malthus himself. Pierre Desrochers and Joanna Shumkt have documented all the scares from soil deficiency in the 1940s and 1950s to the population bomb of the 1960s to Peak Oil and Gas in the 1970s to, yes, global cooling (Stephen Schneider, Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, etc. feared a new Ice Age from coal emissions of SO2).

The skeptics of Malthusian alarm have long wanted, in fact begged, the other side to bring their intellectual case into battle. To engage in direct head-to-head, science-to-science exchange, whether between scientists or between politicians.

The Heartland Institute took out newspaper advertisements to try to get Al Gore on stage. Alex Epstein tried to engage then Obama science advisor John Holdren on the same. And way back, Julian Simon could never get Paul Ehrlich to debate, turning to (and winning) a famous bet instead.

Judith Curry noted the impasse back in 2010:

Debating science with skeptics should be the spice of academic life, but many climate researchers lost this somehow by mistakenly thinking that skeptical arguments would diminish the public trust in the message coming from the climate research establishment (Editor’s note: see Climate skepticism ‘on the rise’, BBC poll shows for an alternative view). Such debate is alive and well in the blogosphere, but few mainstream climate researchers participate in the blogospheric debate.

Andrew Dessler

Take Andrew Dessler, the hot-headed, talented climalologist at Texas A&M, whose books artfully downplay and dodge the skeptics argument.

After a Twitter call for a skeptic to address his science class, I offered to visit in return for gas money to present a case for climate optimism and free-market energy policy to address weather/climate challenges…. Crickets

Dessler tweeted (September 11) to not engage with Heartland or otherwise debate:

In a public debate, advocates can use all kinds of rhetorical tricks, as well as outright lies, to advance their cause. There’s no way to counter them in that forum. It is much harder to get away with that crap in papers, which is why so few skeptical papers get published.

Dessler retweeted this from Michael Mann:

Honored to be joined by colleagues @KHayhoe, @BrendaEkwurzel & others in refusing to grant any legitimacy to this sad attempt by the climate-denying HeartlandInstitute to try to make themselves relevant….

All of the noise right now from the climate change denial machine, the bots & trolls, the calls for fake “debates,” etc. Ignore it all. Deniers are desperate for oxygen in a mainstream media environment that is thankfully is no longer giving it to them. Report. block. Don’t engage.

Michael Mann? The perpetrator of the faked “Hockey Stick”? The central figure of infamous Climategate?

One of the Tweeters retweeted by Dessler, Alan Robock of Rutgers University, states: “I also was invited and turned them down. I also don’t debate gravity” (9-14-19). I remember Alan–he debated and didn’t do well against Patrick Michaels in a 1997 CEI conference I attended.

Final thought: President Trump should discuss multi-disciplinary climate issues in the 2020 election. And maybe the Presidential debate on energy/climate can can be held under a wind turbine, a strategy that might get approval from the dodgers. After all, it might be too noisy to hear.

8 Comments


  1. David Appell  

    Rob, you aren’t honest about what Dessler wrote, and I think you know this. He (obviously) made his point over two tweets, and you only quoted the second of them (“3/” below), out of context.

    In full:

    “I would never ever agree to participate in this. As an actual scientist, I debate in the peer-reviewed literature. 2/

    “In a public debate, advocates can use all kinds of rhetorical tricks, as well as outright lies, to advance their cause. There’s no way to counter them in that forum. It is much harder to get away with that crap in papers, which is why so few skeptical papers get published. 3/”

    https://twitter.com/AndrewDessler/status/1171955544036392963
    https://twitter.com/AndrewDessler/status/1171955545370234880

    Come on, you can be better than this….

    Reply

    • rbradley  

      David: The long quote in the text repeated a sentence twice, so I took out the second ‘There’s no way to counter them in that forum.’ Dessler is saying that his scientific opponents are purposeful deceivers and even liars and full of “crap.” That is very clear in his own words. Is this your view? Does it apply to, say, Judith Curry or Roy Spencer or John Christy?

      Reply

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