Munk Debate: Skeptics score a win against alarmists

By Terence Corcoran

The audience shift at the Munk Debate followed a global trend

On Tuesday night about 1,100 people participated in a sold-out global warming debate that, in the end, turned downtown Toronto’s new concert hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music into a microcosm of a larger tranformation that is sweeping the world. The debate pitted two well known global warming activists of international repute against two well-known skeptics. The skeptics won, shifting the audience’s support away from the drastic global warming action demanded by activists and toward the moderate reponse of the skeptics, a move that is rapidly becoming a trend everywhere. If global warming is a problem — and many have growing doubts about that — it is not a crisis that warrants draconian policy intervention in Copenhagen or anywhere else.

In polls and in science debates, in political discourse and in the buildup to Copenhagen, the foundations of support for global warming action are in decline. A new Harris Poll yesterday found a big drop, from 71% to 51%, in Americans who believe that the release of carbon dioxide and other gases will lead to global warming. While many people are not sure, those who do not believe that carbon dioxide emissions will cause global warming have increased from 23% to 29% since 2007.

Australia is in political turmoil over carbon emissions policy. In the United Kingdom, the leading scientist charged with assembling temperature data has resigned pending an investigation. The recent leak of emails from Britain’s Climate Research Unit, at the University of East Anglia, where the words “trick” and “hide the decline” are found, is gradually snowballing from being a skeptical bloggers’ dream event into a mainstream political scandal. From Daily Show host Jon Stewart to Canadian Environment Minister Jim Prentice, there is a sense that all is not right with the global warming file. “I take from what’s happened at the East Anglia institution is that there were some serious allegations of impropriety and some serious questions about the quality of the scientific work that was done there,” said Mr. Prentice yesterday.

At the Munk Debate in Toronto Tuesday night, the email scandal was barely mentioned and so had little direct impact on the results. Before the debate, the 1,100 people in the audience cast ballots, with 61% supporting the resolution that “climate change is mankind’s defining crisis and demands a commensurate response.” At the end of the debate, support had fallen to 53%.

Had the email exchange among leading scientists been explored, the outcome might have been even more significant decline in support for extreme climate action. Support might have collapsed completely had there been a way to have a fact checker interrupt the debate to review the various clashes over science and the statistics.

On the activist side were two leading climate activists, Canadian Green Party Leader Elizabeth May and British author and columnist George Monbiot. The miracle is that these two grandstanding professional agitators held on to as much of the audience as they did after two hours of cheap theatrical tricks, ad hominem attacks, dubious science claims and frequent dips into Stephen Lewis’s tear-filled pool of emotive personal anecdotes of poverty and disease. They rarely got the science or the economics right.

Trying to bring rational argument to all this were Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool it: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide To Global Warming, and Lord Nigel Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s former finance minister and also the author of An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming. They stuck to their core arguments and, for the most part, successfully defended their positions against exaggerated claims and counter arguments that were questionable or just plain wrong.

Too bad the audience had no way of knowing what was fact and fiction. A fact-checking referee would have helped verify Mr. Monbiot’s and Ms. May’s frequent stretches and exaggerations.

Peer reviewed economics: Mr. Lawson, for example, got into a slugging match with Mr. Monbiot over a British economic report, the Stern Review, which claimed that climate change would bring massive economic decline. The report, said Mr. Lawson, was politicially generated rubbish that had never been peer reviewed and had been dismissed by all serious economists. Mr. Monbiot then introduced the preposterous idea that while the Stern Review had not been peer reviewed, it was itself a summary of a lot of other peer reviewed papers, and therefore was above reproach, an “uber-peer reviewed” report.

Global water stress: The Lomborg argument is that while global warming is a real global issue, it is not one that should be allowed to divert attention and money away from more pressing and real crises. Mr. Monbiot claimed global warming would only make the plight of the world’s poor all the worse. He said — citing official United Nation’s science reports — that 2.3 billion people would be subject to new “water stress” as warming advanced, meaning they would not have access to minimum quantities of water. Mr. Monbiot reacted vehemently when Mr. Lomborg said the opposite was true — that studies showed that global warming would also relieve water stress on 3.3 billion people.

The audience had no way of knowing that Mr. Lomborg was right. The official UN report says that “using the per capita water availability indicator, climate change would appear to reduce global water stress.” The research paper supporting that finding shows, for example, that while as many as 2 billion people might experience more water stress by 2050, as many as 4.3 billion will experience reduced water stress.

Food production: The audience also had no way of knowing that Mr. Monbiot was also wrong when he clashed with Mr. Lawson over the theoretical impact of global warming on food production. Mr. Lawson said the UN reports that food production would increase if the global temperature rose by 3 degrees Celsius. Mr. Monbiot disputed the number, claiming that the world food production would begin a “net decline” if the temperature rose above 3 degrees. The actual report is far from categorical, although the general conclusion is that climate change is not a major driver of food production (relative to technology and economic and social factors).

The audience did see through Ms. May’s antics. Many groaned when she tried to link climate change with AIDS in Africa. At one point the moderator, Rudyard Griffiths, had to cut Ms. May’s sound off when she would not stop one of her many attacks on Mr. Lomborg, who is obviously still a thorn in the sides of green activists. For a while, it looked like Ms. May was going to do a page-by-page assault on Mr. Lomborg’s books, which she had piled up on a nearby table along with other material.

The declining alarmist case hit bottom in the dying minutes when Mr. Monbiot, in Stephen Lewis mode, brought in a personal story that linked climate change with the slaughter of 96 people in Kenya (see Mr. Monbiot’s closing statement). Nobody groaned.

The debate, on the whole, was a conceptual and disjointed mess, as are most global warming debates. Which may be why the activists lost the Munk event and are losing the global event.

To be published in tomorrow’s National Post.

CRU hacking reveals global warming alarmists true nature

By Kristin McMurray
A hacker broke into the computer at the University of East Angila’s Climate Research Unit (Hadley CRU) and published over a thousand confidential emails on the internet. (Hat tip: Telegraph UK and Watts Up With That). Some of the contents include:

  • Manipulation of scientific evidence
  • Doubts about global warming
  • Suppression of evidence
  • Fantasies of violence against prominent Climate Skeptic scientists
  • Tactics on how to remove dissenting scientists from the peer review process

Couple of the star examples taken from the Telegraph UK article:

Manipulation of evidence:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

Suppression of evidence:

Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?

Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

Fantasies of violence against prominent Climate Skeptic scientists

Next time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat
the crap out of him. Very tempted.

Private doubts about whether the world really is heating up:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

Attempts to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP): ……Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back…


BREAKING: Hadley CRU has apparently been hacked – hundreds of files released

Watch out, Al Gore. Run for the hills, Obama. Better stick your head back in the sand, Suzuki.

It is being reported that Hadley Climate Research Unit has been hacked and a ton of revealing files and personal emails have been released by the anonymous hacker. The files contain data which shows just how the alarmist “scientists” have been, and continue to, distort climate science to further their agendas.

If these turn out to be real and accurate files, it will be a massive blow to the alarmists and a major victory for all of us realists. It confirms much of what we’ve been saying all along and already know, but will likely become viral and widespread knowledge quite quickly.

Here is a sample of what was said in the emails between these scientists:
– From Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at East Anglia University, to Ray Bradley, Michael Mann, and Malcolm Hughes, three U.S. scientists who have produced the controversial “hockey-stick graphs” that purport to show rapidly increasing temperatures in recent decades. Nov, 16, 1999.

“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (i. e. from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

– From Kevin Trenberth, a lead author with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to Michael Mann, on Oct 12. 2009. The email, titled “BBC U-turn on climate,” laments a BBC article that reversed its long-held position on man-made global warming.

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. … Our observing system is inadequate.”

– From: Michael Mann, Oct 27, 2009

“Perhaps we’ll do a simple update to the Yamal post… As we all know, this isn’t about truth at all, its about plausibly deniable accusations.”

– From: Edward Cook, June 4, 2003

“I got a paper to review (submitted to the Journal of Agricultural, Biological, and Environmental Sciences), written by a Korean guy and someone from Berkeley, that claims that the method of reconstruction that we use in dendroclimatology (reverse regression) is wrong, biased, lousy, horrible, etc. … If published as is, this paper could really do some damage … It won’t be easy to dismiss out of hand as the math appears to be correct theoretically (…) I am really sorry but I have to nag about that review — Confidentially I now need a hard and if required extensive case for rejecting.”

– From: Tom Wigley, Sep 27, 2009

“So, if we could reduce the ocean blip by, say, 0.15 C, then this would be significant for the global mean — but we’d still have to explain the land blip. I’ve chosen 0.15 here deliberately. This still leaves an ocean blip, and i think one needs to have some form of ocean blip to explain the land blip (via either some common forcing, or ocean forcing land, or vice versa, or all of these).”

– From: Phil Jones, Feb 2, 2005

“The two MMs [Canadian skeptics Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick] have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.”

Stay tuned.

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British ‘Lady’ whines Aussies are revolting on climate change

“Baroness Valerie Amos is only ‘surprised’ that Australians question climate change because ‘Her Ladyship’ would not be used to questioning from commoners back in feudal England,” Citizens Electoral Council leader Craig Isherwood said today. The new British High Commissioner to Australia, Baroness Amos told The Age on 13th November, “I have been surprised that the science itself is being questioned [in Australia] … In the UK, there is a degree of political consensus…” Mr Isherwood responded, “Her Ladyship has weighed into the climate change debate in Australia, because the British, who fabricated the fraud of man-made global warming, know they are losing. “Their tactic to get away with the fraud was to cow people into not questioning it, by screaming ‘consensus’, but it hasn’t worked. “Now, in the countdown to Copenhagen, the British and their key assets, including Kevin Rudd, are lashing out at heretics, I mean sceptics, and resorting to an all-out fear campaign around wild claims of rising sea levels, Italy running out of pasta, and so on.” A leading world authority on sea levels, Dr Nils-Axel Mörner, past president (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, has slammed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports on sea levels, pointing out that he had been an expert reviewer for the IPCC in both 2000 and 2006 and when he read an IPCC report, “it had 22 authors, but none of them—none—were sea-level specialists.” In an interview with EIR magazine on 6th June 2007, Dr Mörner pointed out that from 1992 to 2002, satellite data indicated no sea level rise at all: the graph “was a straight line … no trend whatsoever.” Then in 2003, IPCC publications showed a 2.3 mm per year rising sea level trend, for the same data set! Mörner: “those people in the IPCC, choose Hong Kong, which has six tide gauges, and they choose the record of one, which gives 2.3 mm per year rise of sea level. Every geologist knows that that is a subsiding area. … That is terrible! As a matter of fact, it is a falsification of the data set.” Mr Isherwood pointed out that the intention of the British oligarchy’s climate change fraud was global population reduction, on a mass scale: “For over 200 years, since the days when the British East India Company paid Parson Thomas Malthus to write his Essay on the Principle of Population, the British oligarchy has demonised human population growth, and devised political campaigns around free trade, eugenics, and now environmentalism, to reverse the ‘threat’. “The good news is that it is the anti-population agenda which is bringing the climate change alarmists undone, because nations with the biggest populations like China and India are refusing fraudsters’ demands that they destroy their food production in order to cut carbon dioxide emissions, so the Copenhagen pow-wow is fast turning into a big non-event. “It is time to kill off this anti-human scam once and for all, and instead solve the real global crisis—the collapse of the economy—with industry and infrastructure, along the lines of the recent Russia-China agreement, so we can give humanity a future,” he concluded. Click here to read more about the fraud of global warming.

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