About three years ago, Christopher Monckton, Third Viscount of Brenchley, issued an open challenge to Al Gore to debate the issue of global-warming. Not surprisingly, Gore has never responded to that challenge. Gore’s personal grasp of the scientific issues involved in so-called climate change varies from “non-existent” to “vague”. Monckton, who has emerged as one of the leading voices, if not the leading voice, advocating sanity in an increasingly skeptical world would mop the floor with the former vice president were that contest to happen. Yet, if we are never to enjoy that particular debate, we do have this one: Monckton joined three skeptical colleagues in a debate against four alarmists held before England’s Oxford Union Society. The motion put forth was: “That this House would put economic growth before combating climate change.”
Monkton was joined in support of the motion by Lord Lawson of Blaby, Margaret Thatcher’s former finance minister; James Delingpole, a blogger for The Daily Telegraph; and Lord Leach of Fairford, whom Margaret Thatcher appointed a Life Peer for his educational work. On the other side, Zara McGlone, Secretary of the Oxford Union; Lord Whitty, a Labor peer from the trades union movement and former Labor Environment Minister in the Upper House; Rajesh Makwana, executive director of “Share The World’s Resources”; and Mike Mason, founder and managing director of “Climate Care” spoke in opposition, that is to say, in support of conventional “climate change” wisdom.
An audience of about 250 undergraduate students served as the jury for this debate. Given the overwhelmingly liberal climate that permeates institutions of higher learning, one could reasonably expect that the majority of such an audience would be predisposed to accept climate change orthodoxy. Monckton and his compatriots faced an uphill battle: convincing a group of idealistic young students that predictions of climatic disaster that their teachers and the mainstream media have advanced so confidently weren’t grounded in scientific fact, but rather represent an obscure and increasingly unsupportable theory.
The climate change proponents weren’t able to enter any scientific facts that supported their position into evidence. McGlone, Whitty and Mason all pointed toward “scientific consensus” regarding climate change as “proof” that global warming is a problem that requires emergency action. At one point, Lord Whitty declared that 95% of scientists agree that mankind’s influence on the climate would result in catastrophe if left unchecked. Challenged by Monckton to offer evidence of this assertion, Whitty revised the figure downward a bit, to 92%, but never was able to come up with a source for either number. This is climate change advocacy at its best, or rather at its worst. Proponents of the hypothesis grab entirely unsupportable, ridiculous numbers out of thin air and eventually such twaddle is repeated and referenced enough that it becomes a “fact” in the eyes of those who desperately want the doomsday scenario to be true.
Monckton was at the top of his game. When his turn came to speak, his cummerbund somehow came undone. Knowing Monckton this was a rather unlikely “accident,” but rather a bit of theater designed to make a point. He held the garment up to the audience and said:
“If I asked this House how long this cummerbund is, you might telephone around all the manufacturers and ask them how many cummerbunds they made, and how long each type of cummerbund was, and put the data into a computer model run by a zitty teenager eating too many doughnuts, and the computer would make an expensive guess. Or, you could take a tape-measure and… measure it!”
Indeed, actual measurements haven’t been too kind to alarmists as compared to the dire predictions of their increasingly unreliable climate models. Makwana, for example, repeated the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s prediction that the average planetary temperature would rise by seven degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. A decade into the twenty first century, the actual temperature rise has been 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit, which is basically baseline noise in the grand scheme of things. McGlone said that Bangladesh is in danger of disappearing beneath the waves of encroaching seas. Yet, Professor Niklas Nils-Axel Mörner, a prominent oceanographer from the University of Stockholm who has spent forty years studying the oceans, says that sea levels have been stable for the last thirty years. In fact, speaking in Copenhagen at the most recent IPCC conference, Mörner strongly criticized the “very weird” climate models that predict massive flooding in Bangladesh, saying that those predictions were utter nonsense and incompatible with basic principles of physics.
And so the debate went, back and forth, featuring conjecture and hysteria on one side, while Monckton and his allies relied upon common sense and science. I have long held that if you put an unbiased, open-minded group of ordinary people in a room and let both alarmists and skeptics present their cases for a sufficient period of time, there is no doubt that the vast majority of such an audience would quickly realize what utter nonsense climate change alarmism is. But, the jury at the Oxford Union Society could hardly be described as “ordinary.” This was group of earnest, young students who still live in a sheltered world in which educators have all the answers and those who disagree with those answers are fools at best, or greedy, self-serving liars at worst. It’s hard to imagine the skeptical – realistic – point of view prevailing among such a group. So what was the final tally when all the votes were in?
In favor of putting economic growth before combating climate change: 135.
If we could only find a way to convince the United States Congress to educate themselves about this issue even half as much as the students of the Oxford Union Society did last week.