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Spectator debate

Spotted on the Spectator website:

On Tuesday 29 March, The Spectator is hosting a debate on the motion 'The global warming hysteria is over. Time for a return to sanity'.

SPEAKING FOR THE MOTION are Lord Nigel Lawson, Chairman, Global Warming Policy Foundation and Dr Benny Peiser, Director, Global Warming Foundation.

SPEAKING AGAINST THE MOTION are Professor Tim Palmer, Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics, Oxford University and Simon Singh, Science Writer.

Details here.

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Reader Comments (60)

The Spectator also carries this ...

Debunking the Antarctica myths

How many swallows do we need to make a summer?

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

Your Grace,

Apologies for my previous post (above): thats what comes of reading out of order.

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterAJC

So Simon Singh is for Global Warming hysteria and against a return to sanity. Says it all really.

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

Lord Lawson and Dr Benny Peiser can do no better than to point to the initial media hysteria created over these two new papers in Nature.

You just need to look at the reaction from all quarters to realise that these scientists involved in these two papers have been jumping to pre-defined conclusions.

It is that attempt to mislead ordinary people over the science and the media hysteria that follows that has led to huge increase in public scepticism.

We need to get away from the dodgy science, the alarmism and the ad-hom attacks in order to properly debate this subject.

If Palmer of Singh resort to using the d-word in this debate they will have lost the audience.

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterMac

Mac - where are the links for 'these two papers' ?

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered Commenteralleagra

You know what this means right?

Simon Singh, poster child of UK 'skeptical' community, scrouge of the numpties is reading up furiously on Skeptical Science!

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I mention the debate on the Steig thread (below). I commented there that the motion is, in my view, poorly worded: using "hysteria" and "sanity" allows Palmer and Singh to focus on whether such terms are appropriate rather than on relevant issues such as the dearth of evidence. Far better to have kept it neutral.

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Ignoring the chance to make witty comments about people favoring insanity and hysteria, it will be great if Singh does his homework for this debate. There is nothing wrong with his line of reasoning, it's his premises that are wrong. Like many people he assumes all climate scientists conduct themselves with great probity and competence. Once he looks into it more carefully he may discover the truth is different.

Feb 17, 2011 at 3:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Andrew Neil is chairing the debate, so it should be a fair contest.

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I agree the debate is terribly badly worded. But the most important point for me here is Roy's: that Simon Singh will, we can hope, be looking into this area more than he has before. Thats where the Bishop's very reasonable and fact-based tone on Singh's blog post on Horizon recently can only help.

I always go back to Michael Crichton's testimony of how he had very conventional views on the environment and global warming until looking into it for a year or so solidly when I think of someone like Singh. But not everyone has the courage of a Crichton. Worth looking again at that short interview in 2004 with Kirsty Wark for inspiration - and praying that Mr Singh has similar change of heart.

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Tim Palmer is into modelling and predicting climate change; so it will be interesting to hear him defend his model and discuss predicting versus projecting (noting that the IPCC does not predict, it only projects). Terry Oldberg's article at is very relevant wrt predictions versus projections.

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

So let me get this straight. Singh and Palmer will be arguing that

"global warming hysteria is not over" and
"now is not the time to return to sanity"

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

I'm booked in. Looking forward to an interesting evening.

Pub afterwards anybody? Met up with Dung, Peter B and Atomic back last summer and a jolly time was had by all. Also managed to shake Josh's hand....only just back to washing :-)

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

No they won't, Geckko - the motion is obviously a trap. But it gives them a free pass to argue that the motion must fail because "hysteria" is an absurd way to describe recent scientific findings and climate scientists have not abandoned sanity. That puts the onus on Lawson and Peiser to defend the motion's wording rather than deal with the real issues. I hope (and expect) both sides to rise above such trivia. But the motion was poorly drafted. A pity.

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Bit over-broad and tilted to the left for a debate question, isn't it?

Feb 17, 2011 at 4:56 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

I agree with Robin Guenier and I'm a bit surprised that Nelson (assuming he had input) has agreed with that wording.
I have an awful sense of foreboding about this, as I always do when I see the sceptical view put forward by high-profile "amateurs" (no offence intended) like Lawson, Monckton, and Delingpole. Benny Peiser will need to have all his wits about him because Palmer will rely on his scientific background and go for the jugular. Singh will simply go for the testicles.
We keep missing one vital point in all this: in this sort of situation scientists start with a built-in advantage because they are scientists and the natural reaction of most of us is -- or at least was until recently -- to assume they know what they are talking about. Unless you are going to match them PhD for PhD you are going in with one hand tied behind your back.
That said, good for the Spectator sticking its neck out!

Feb 17, 2011 at 5:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterSam the Skeptic

As it happens I wrote to Simon Singh a few days ago. I was intrigued as to how a science writer with serious scientific credentials could be taken in by this farce, and genuinely thought I'd missed something along the way. Here's what I wrote, no reply as yet, maybe I won't get one, he's pretty busy, but I just wanted the source of his certainty:

"Hi Simon,

I’m one of the many hundreds of thousand “climate numpties” you referred to recently. You sound quite certain that there is global warming, that it is caused by man, that it will be disastrous and that there is, as the mot du jour puts it today, a “mountain of evidence” supporting your views and indeed contempt for those who haven’t come round to your way of thinking. I have asked the Chief Scientist, who also mentioned the mountain of evidence, and he pointed me to the IPCC AR4 report as his evidence. I don’t believe he’s read anything more than the SPM because there is no mountain of evidence in the work of WG1, the group that does the science. So maybe you could help me, you sounded very certain and so must have read the mountain of evidence, or at least part of it. Can you please direct me to one paper that has produced any empirical evidence that the unexplained rise in temperature in the last 150 years or so is connected to humans burning fossil fuels? I can’t find one, nor can I find one that has defined any mathematical relationship between CO2 and temperature that can be tested by observation, so I’m definitely a “numpty” and would be obliged if you’d lift the scales from my eyes with the evidence that’s convinced you. Please don’t point me to the IPCC report, there’s no empirical evidence in there, unless you want to quote a specific paper.

I like your site by the way and I’ve signed the petition. I understand if you don’t want to get into a dialogue you’re probably very busy, so just the papers that you’ve read that have convinced you would be helpful, but please not the MetOffice or IPCC documents, I assure you there’s nothing in them that is remotely scientifically provable, just assertions.

Kind regards,

Numpty Morrow (I take it the use of this epithet stems from the fact that you’re from the McSingh family!)

Feb 17, 2011 at 6:06 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

An end to hysteria would be most welcome.
"Ted Turner: Global warming could lead to cannibalism
Billionaire environmentalist says world has too many people."

Conflation of two unproven hypotheses to justify a third is proving to be par-for-the-course.

Feb 17, 2011 at 6:08 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Sorry, my bad.


Feb 17, 2011 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

I quick look at Tim Palmer's lecture;jsessionid=CDE6A72373EC7396FFB1BA65A9770AAB is worthwhile. For those without the hour and a bit the abstract and the presentation linked at the end give some insight.

Feb 17, 2011 at 6:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterHAS

geronimo. We all seem to get referred to AR4 for the mountain of evidence. I've asked lots of experts at the Met Offiice, DECC, Defra etc and they all refer to AR4, but nobody has ever said where in AR4 it is to be found. Funny that! You'd think as the evidence is so strong, it would stick out a mile, but they've hidden it away too well for us scientific numpties to find.

Feb 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

From the abstract to Tim's lecture :

Putting this new science into practice, however, is not straightforward, and will require new computing infrastructure hitherto unavailable to climate science. Hence, I will conclude with a plea to the governments of the world. Let's take the current stalemate of opinion as justifying a renewed effort to do all we humanly can to reduce existing uncertainties in predictions of climate change, globally and regionally, so we can move the argument forward, one way or the other, for the good of humanity. This will require a new sense of dedication both by scientists and by politicians around the world: by scientists to focus their efforts on the science needed to reduce uncertainties, and by politicians to fund the technological infrastructure needed to enable this science to be done as effectively and speedily as possible.

Feb 17, 2011 at 7:08 PM | Unregistered Commentermatthu

I've remarked from time to time in the past that live debates are not a very good way to deal with technical questions. Nothing I've seen recently has tempted me to change my mind. Though I confess to enjoying certain kinds of gotcha quips that are funnier in live debates than in written exchanges, so maybe something good will come of this.:-|

Feb 17, 2011 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Newman

Philip Bratby: I'm convinced that people like Singh and Goldacre haven't read the IPPC AR4, nor has the Chief Scientist, nor has Paul Nurse, or that bloke Oxburgh who didn't strike me as much more than an actor, and of course, Prince Charles hasn't read anything. Not only haven't they read the "overwhelming evidence" their new meme is that somehow or other, sceptics, or deniers, have managed to foil policy initiatives with anti-science and misinformation. This despite the fact that there were no sceptics, or sceptical information, at the Copenahagen and Cancun conferences. They appear to be trying soundbites out, like "The science is settled," the "overwhelming evidence", the "vast majority of scientists" the scientific consensus etc.

Feb 17, 2011 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo


Thanks for providing the quote. In theory there is room for some agreement here. Prof Palmer recognises the uncertainties and wants funding to research and model them (lets not be cynical) while the politicians such as Lord Lawson may want to explore how that very uncertainty should be reflected in robust/resilient policies - in marked contrast to the "certainty" paraded in the Climate Change legislation of the naive Mr Miliband jr. Unfortunately public debate does not often lend itself to finding the common ground. But I do sense a change in the momentum of the whole debate.

Feb 17, 2011 at 7:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterjheath

Phillip and geronimo: When Steve McIntyre was over last July he came to meet a few friends in the City, including a senior lawyer who was pretty new to the AGW debate - though sympathetic to my view that the needs of the poor in Africa may well be being overlooked in the rush to 'mitigate'. Anyhow, this friend quizzed Steve about the IPCC and what he felt about the assessment reports and Steve came out with this memorable statement: in his view AR5 should consist of 300 pages on feedbacks and 60 on the rest.

The next day I was again with the great man and an open data, open source guru - and when I quoted this back to him he groaned and forbade me from quoting him. Being the compliant chap I am I said, on the contrary, I will definitely use the 360, because it's such a great number to choose - longitude and all that, global coverage. More important than the precise numerology, the hockey stick breaker was I think making here the most central of all the points in that trip. Why on earth hasn't the IPCC insisted that the most central and uncertain area of the science gets the maximum coverage? Instead of one and a half pages, is it? We should never cease to bang this drum, until some measure of rationality prevails.

Feb 17, 2011 at 7:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Clarification: it was the working group 1 report, the scientific assessment, that Steve was saying should be 300 pages on feedbacks and 60 on the rest. He wasn't making recommendations for WG2 and 3. But I have a feeling they would soon be transformed too if such transparency took hold in the foundational volume.

Feb 17, 2011 at 8:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Thought at first we were a bit lightweight. Nigel and Benny put up a good show at the Science and Technology committee though. Singh and a lackluster Palmer... mmm... might be worth going to see!

Palmer has Physics degree! - he should have spent more time listening and less time looking out the window at clouds ;) Singh, well, we've done that haven't we - he should know better.

Feb 17, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterGSW

Phillip Bratby (Feb 17, 2011 at 7:00 PM) asked about evidence for CAWG in the IPCC AR4 WG1 papers and the lack of references to them in support of this ‘meme’. Well, here are a few ‘clippings’ from WG1, plus some other peer-reviewed references, that may be of interest to show just how candid the WG1 people were about their uncertainties… though they seem to have been ignored by the subsequent groups that built upon their findings.

Note that in reviewing these reports, I couldn’t find one examples where CAGW had been verified by the Scientific Method (i.e. predictions tested against real-world data). There is widespread use of model ensembles to ‘bound’ the uncertainties, though I suspect this approach may be fundamentally flawed if these models do not include all physical processes and their interactions with sufficient fidelity.

——————————————————- What Explains the Current Spread in Models’ Climate Sensitivity Estimates?
Using feedback parameters from Figure 8.14, it can be estimated that in the presence of water vapour, lapse rate and surface albedo feedbacks, but in the absence of cloud feedbacks, current GCMs would predict a climate sensitivity (±1 standard deviation) of roughly 1.9°C ± 0.15°C (ignoring spread from radiative forcing differences). The mean and standard deviation of climate sensitivity estimates derived from current GCMs are larger (3.2°C ± 0.7°C) essentially because the GCMs all predict a positive cloud feedback (Figure 8.14) but strongly disagree on its magnitude. Clouds
In the current climate, clouds exert a cooling effect on climate (the global mean CRF is negative). In response to global warming, the cooling effect of clouds on climate might be enhanced or weakened, thereby producing a radiative feedback to climate warming.

Therefore, cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty in climate sensitivity estimates. Understanding of the physical processes involved in cloud feedbacks
The sign of the climate change radiative feedback associated with the combined effects of dynamical and temperature changes on extratropical clouds is still unknown.

The role of polar cloud feedbacks in climate sensitivity has been emphasized by Holland and Bitz (2003) and Vavrus (2004). However, these feedbacks remain poorly understood. Conclusion on cloud feedbacks
Despite some advances in the understanding of the physical processes that control the cloud response to climate change and in the evaluation of some components of cloud feedbacks in current models, it is not yet possible to assess which of the model estimates of cloud feedback is the most reliable.
8.6.4 How to Assess Our Relative Confidence in Feedbacks Simulated by Different Models?
A number of diagnostic tests have been proposed since the TAR (see Section 8.6.3), but few of them have been applied to a majority of the models currently in use. Moreover, it is not yet clear which tests are critical for constraining future projections. Consequently, a set of model metrics that might be used to narrow the range of plausible climate change feedbacks and climate sensitivity has yet to be developed.
9.6.4 Summary of Observational Constraints for Climate Sensitivity
Structural uncertainties in the models, for example, in the representation of cloud feedback processes (Chapter 8) or the physics of ocean mixing, will affect results for climate sensitivity and are very difficult to quantify.
4.1.1 Equilibrium Sensitivity and Transient Climate Response
We understand in much more detail why models differ in their equilibrium climate sensitivities: the source of much of this spread lies in differences in how clouds are modeled in AOGCMs.
4.2.1 Cloud Feedbacks
Differences in cloud feedbacks in climate models have been identified repeatedly as the leading source of spread in model-derived estimates of climate sensitivity (beginning with Cess et al. 1990). The fidelity of cloud feedbacks in climate models therefore is important to the reliability of their prediction of future climate change.
Structural problems in the models, for example in the representation of cloud feedback processes or the physics of ocean mixing, in particular in cases in which all models make similar simplifications, will also affect results for climate sensitivity and are very difficult to quantify.
Clouds are the largest source of uncertainty in quantifying the extent of climate feedbacks.

clouds have competing effects between reflecting sunlight (low clouds mostly) and influencing the outgoing infrared radiation (high clouds mostly). It is still not clear how these two effects will balance out, and thus the magnitude and even the sign of the feedback is not well constrained.

Feb 17, 2011 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

You can bet Singh is just itching to use his 'numpty' term, as many times as possible.

David Allen Green would probably 'tweet' about it afterward. Ben Goldacre would probably stick Nigel Lawson with one or other phallic designation.

I am suddenly reminded of Charles de Menezies. Just a few wires sticking out his pocket 'proved' that he was a terrorist.

Feb 17, 2011 at 8:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

A brief reference to Palmer in this EPA video. - Very long, but humorous exchange when Lindzen suggests Climate Scientists aren't the sharpest Tool in the Box.

Feb 17, 2011 at 9:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGSW


I'm booked in. Looking forward to an interesting evening.

Pub afterwards anybody? Met up with Dung, Peter B and Atomic back last summer and a jolly time was had by all. Also managed to shake Josh's hand....only just back to washing :-)

I'm also booked. See you there, and yes to the pub afterwards!

Feb 17, 2011 at 9:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter B

Don't really know much about Prof Palmer, but from what I googled up I'm inclined to be favourably impressed. He's a physicist by training and meteorological/ atmospheric physicist, modelling uncertainty, by specialty. He seems to speak with an pleasant and unassuming candour.

There's a short video clip here

and a better audio download of his part of the introduction to the Roy Soc 2010 Handling uncertainty in science meeting (I think Judith Curry attended?) which he jointly organised (from about 5:30 mins in)

He seems to accept that scepticism is respectable over the interpretation of the data, if perhaps not going so far as to admit sceptics as full auditors and appellants for scientific honesty. Which is a lot better than touting the 'deniers of science' meme as perpetuated in the media and latterly with renewed vigour by the BBC and Royal Society president. But his main argument is that it has been impossible to eliminate risk of serious outcomes- the old precautionary principle, sadly.

Feb 17, 2011 at 10:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterPharos

Much as I like Lawson and Peiser, it's a shame we sceptics cannot field a scientist who has published in the field of climate science. Lawson is great at making economic arguments but does not know the science in any detail - which was evident when he went in front of the select committee. Peiser is a figurehead and is close to Lawson but is a social anthropologist - which doesn't count in my view. This is the problem with climate science. Where are the sceptical scientists ?

Feb 17, 2011 at 11:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterFred Bloggs

Having Lord Lawson on the panel may be indicative of where the debate will lead - to one of policy not of the science. Lawson's argument is that even if you take the UNIPCC's scenarios are a perfect forecast, the mitigation policies will not improve the situation. This is also the position of Bjorn Lomberg and Roger Pielke Jnr.
I contend (on my blog) that, you can even assume that we have a toolkit of economic and regulatory policies out there in theory that can successfully contain emissions to 600ppm with much less cost than the catastrophy and can still fail to save the world for future generations. That is due to an inability to identify, and implement the optimal policies and then micro manage all the projects to keep them on track. All this dynamically and objectively on a global scale.
It does not matter how great your knowledge of climate science. To maintain that the current mitigation policies will work requires an extreme naivety about real-world global politics and its ability to deliver on complex, undefined, projects on time and within budget.

Feb 17, 2011 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterManicbeancounter

his main argument is that it has been impossible to eliminate risk of serious outcomes

Models can be created to present almost any scenario one could wish for, from data of almost any quality, so a modeled extreme risk can always be presented to serve an agenda - 'garbage in - Gospel out', as a more modern saying goes. Surely if vast sums are to be diverted to serving an unproven model's parameters then those same sums are unavailable to help reduce risk of serious outcomes from proven dangers?

As to cutting back our civilisation and technology to satisfy an unproven model in an attempt to control the planet's cimate... madness. Or maybe religion: sacrifice people so the sun will rise the next day, and the next day will be like yesterday, forever and ever.

Feb 17, 2011 at 11:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterDerekP


Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore

Kensington's taking sponsorship now from climate alarmists?

Feb 17, 2011 at 11:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

Which pub ?

Feb 18, 2011 at 12:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods


You can bet Singh is just itching to use his 'numpty' term, as many times as possible.

David Allen Green would probably 'tweet' about it afterward. Ben Goldacre would probably stick Nigel Lawson with one or other phallic designation.

I habe an interesting story pending, about tweeting!
You will be very interested in who and what are doing it.......

Feb 18, 2011 at 12:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Maybe if you read this, you may understand why people keep quiet.

Feb 18, 2011 at 1:06 AM | Unregistered Commenterarthur

I don't trust in any scientific theory that is so heavily entangled with activists groups and policy makers who fund scientists for their research and who's influence within and over the media make possible that their views are seen and heard by the public, this isn't science, everything about "climate change" from start to finish has absolutely nothing to do with science. Nothing what so ever, zilch!

There are millions of Terabytes of information on "climate change", "anthropogenic global warming", billions of different data charts with thousands of variations, millions of videos with different views and opinions, trillions of articles, sites and blogs and tens of thousands of books each one refuting the next one you come across, This is not science, it's statistical quackery!

The first time I heard the term "climate change" I thought it was interesting enough but gave it little thought, as I own a small library of reference books that I read from time to time, I noticed in a book called "The Earth" in it there was a whole page titled "Climatic Change" it briefly discusses the warming and cooling of the Earth and how climate researchers must look for evidence of change in global temperatures,

Quote: "This includes interpretation of particular events such as droughts, cool and rainy summers or mild winter temperatures. This analysis, and predictions of climatic changes and their effects in the coming years, are important areas of work for climate research in the future."

This is an honest and fair description of the basics, where climate researchers interpret events and make their predictions accordingly (including "mild winter temperatures"), the article also infers that climate research is not set in stone by giving the example of how some researchers announced the beginning of a new Ice age in the 1960s following a cooling and fall of of the Atlantic temperatures in the northern polar region, climatic change is described as an ongoing study of variable climatic events that will continue into the future (nowhere in this book or any other book that I can find does it mention that freezing cold snowy conditions are caused by an anthropogenic global warming effect).

Even if you were oblivious to all the media campaigns of fallen polar bears and the nightmarish future "climate change" has in store for us all and If, like me you like to search, and read up on various different subjects, then it's only a matter of time before you find your self in front of a computer typing into a search engine "climate change", The first impression of "climate change" I got was after an hour or two of reading a mixture of sites, was that there was a "scientific consensus" on "climate change" (What?) then after further reading you'll soon find out that "climate change" is a new name for "Global warming" but not just any form of Global Warming but a particularly unusual and rare form of "Global warming", a form of "Global warming" of unimaginable scale and unprecedented in the history of our planet, called "Anthropogenic (Man made) Global warming".

So how was this Anthropogenic catastrophic event being caused? well, because some have made a correlation between both the rise of Earths Human population who produce Co2 and the rise in global temperatures with the rise of Co2, Interesting Construct for a Hypothesis but clearly observing a correlation does not make the suggested outcome a fact!

I'll give you an example; I've noticed a correlation between the rise of Earths Human population planting and managing more forests and all kinds of plant life, and as the planet has been coming out of an Ice age there have been more comfortable conditions for even more plant life and therefore there is an increase of Co2 from these various plants and forests released into the atmosphere at night and through out winter.

I'll give you another example; I've noticed a correlation between the rate of the rise of earths oceans globally to the rate of distance the moon travels from Earth every year, I could even throw in some temporary aperture measurements, sophisticated charts and calculations that prove my hypothesis,
I could even pay a fee to have my hypothesis peer reviewed and published it in a scientific journal.
Even tho it's an hypothesis about "climatic change" meaning that it's a Construct of my research using a small part of the scientific method in researching climatic changes of Earths climate, I would still have to produce reliable evidence that can be reproduced more times statistically correct and in favor of my hypothesis by an independent body, still, It would have nothing what so ever to do with "climate change" even tho the subject i was researching was about "Climatic change" they are two completely different terms.

So is there a "scientific consensus" on "climate change"? NO! "scientific consensus" apparently means "climate change".

Feb 18, 2011 at 4:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSparks

Dave Salt. Thankyou. There is no settled science and no evidence for the certainty.

Feb 18, 2011 at 7:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

I wonder if anyone from - The Carbon Brief - will be attending? and twittering about it

An no, they are not sceptical.........

Take a look at Watts Up With That today

Feb 18, 2011 at 8:27 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

This is getting really nasty now........

Coming to a sceptic near you.

Feb 18, 2011 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

@ Fred Bloggs

it's a shame we sceptics cannot field a scientist who has published in the field of climate science.

The evidence from Climategate is that sceptics are not allowed to publish in the relevant journals, and further, that any journal that accepted such work for publication would be blackballed and subjected to organised vilification by people like Phil Jones.

Feb 18, 2011 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterJustice4Rinka

WRT the Johnny Ball story, which made BBC radio news this morning, you can see where the term 'hysteria' came from. Such nice people, warmists...

Feb 18, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

"the motion must fail because "hysteria" is an absurd way to describe recent scientific findings and climate scientists have not abandoned sanity"

Whilst I understand your point, I must point out that (allegedly) Jolly Jim Hansen is a scientist. But I suggest that almost all his recent statements (including talk of 'death trains' and so on) are hysterical under any definition of the term.

He may be amongst the most hysterical (and least sane) but there is a plethora of other examples of 'scientists' coming out with hysterical comments about 'tipping points' and the like. And that's before we even start to consider all the dodgy papers with tendentious and alarmist press releases talking about what 'might' or 'could' happen and the dreadful shroudwaving 'projections' of what will result from a failure to build more windmills. Now.

And then the said 'scientists' (having carefully hidden all their data) describe sceptics as anti-science!

Feb 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

My concern is that the panel is divided along political vs. scientific lines. Lawson and Peiser are not shy about the political/policy implications of climate science while Palmer and Singh are identified far more with the science. Politically, they're likely to present themselves as disinterested parties.

There is the potential for those against the motion to make much of the politics of those in favour, which could lead the audience's eye away from the core issue - the distinct lack of empirical evidence to support hysteria.

It's to be hoped that the audience will be more discerning, but it is my experience that an apparently scientific argument invariably trumps a political argument. Lawson and Peiser will need to concentrate on the science and avoid venturing into politics if they are to win the debate.

Feb 18, 2011 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson


I think you may have misunderstood me. My point is that the motion is poorly drafted, giving Palmer and Singh an opportunity to argue that it must fail because "hysteria" is an absurd way to describe recent scientific findings and climate scientists have not abandoned sanity. That would put the onus on Lawson and Peiser to show that the phrasing is justified. And, as you suggest, given the history of this matter they might well prevail – although they might struggle to establish insanity.

But surely a debate on such lines would be an opportunity missed? Better surely for both sides to focus on the real issues? As I said, I hope (and expect) they will. But it’s unfortunate that the Spectator has created this uncertainty.

Feb 18, 2011 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobin Guenier

Re Pub to meet.

Perhaps we could trespass on the Bish's hospitality nearer the time to allow us to issue a general invitation to anybody to meet afterwards in a suitable venue.

Looking at the map, I'm sure any Imperial College alumnus should be able to recommend a good local.for us.

Feb 18, 2011 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

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