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« The madness of dim George | Main | UEA footdragging - Part 3 »

A kind of debate

I'm due to appear at a debate in Glasgow sponsored by UKIP tomorrow. The motion is:

This meeting believes there is no evidence of catastrophic warming remotely as catastrophic as the regulations, taxes and other costs imposed to ameliorate it

Unfortunately, the organisers haven't been able to get anyone to oppose the speakers for the motion - myself, Jim Sillars, and Christopher Monckton. This is not for lack of trying. The list of people who have spurned the opportunity is extraordinary:

  • All 129 MSPs
  • All 5 party organisations 
  • SEPA
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Civil Service
  • The Carbon Trust
  • NERC (a quango you've never heard of but it gets £500 million a year to promote alarmism & did previously call for a debate)
  • Scottish Renewables
  • Renewable UK
  • Any of the 5,000 RenewablesUK conference attendees, in Glasgow that day to "network" for windmillery "business opportunities"
  • WWF
  • Friends of the Earth
  • Stop Climate Change Scotland (an umbrella organisation covering around 90 other alarmist groups)
  • Professor Ann Glover (former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Scottish government, now to the entire EU, who once claimed that global warming would increase day length)
  • Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • Glasgow University
  • Strathclyde University
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
  • The BBC
  • Channel 4
  • Glasgow Skeptics (spelled that way to avoid being confused with sceptics)
  • The environmental correspondents across the Scottish press.

However, we will be going ahead regardless, so for anyone in Glasgow who wants to attend, the meeting is on the upper floor of Yates. 134-136 West George Street. Tuesday 30th October 7:00pm for a 7.30 start.


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Reader Comments (44)

Why didn't you try the Julia Slingo and the others who signed her petition, it would give them a chance to put the "deniers" in their place, and show that the scientific community can hold their own against our "pseudo-scientific" views. They might even show us some of the hundreds of independent lines of evidence they're forever telling the public about.

Oct 29, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Did you send an invitation to Senna the soothsayer

Oct 29, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterAnoneumouse

Change the topic to 'homeopathy is good for you', see who reises to the challenge in that case

Oct 29, 2012 at 10:54 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Thinking it is herd mentality taking over: people are afraid to appear to disagree with "heroes" like Attenborough.

Oct 29, 2012 at 10:58 AM | Unregistered Commenterhuth

Bishop - leave three empty chairs on stage to represent the absent opposition.

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

Why not put in your own man to put the case for the CAGW lobby. Put the case as fairly as possible using the factors you know would be raised. Indeed, you could send a draft of the alarmist case to those who turned you down and ask if there might be anything that you had left out that they would like you to include. Indeed, the political sketches of Bird and Fortune spring to mind with the Bird character playing the alarmist (or supporting politician) and Fortune the sceptic. I feel sure Lord Monckton would be a whizz at doing the John Bird role.

David Grogan

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Grogan


Perhaps it could be suggested to the alarmists that if they won't come, Messrs Bird and Fortune will be asked to represent them - that might bring them round!

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Surely the fact that NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) will not oppose the motion "This meeting believes there is no evidence of catastrophic warming remotely as catastrophic as the regulations, taxes and other costs imposed to ameliorate it" is very significant.

Clearly, if they do not oppose the motion they find it reasonable.

Let's shout this from the rooftops and forward it to every MP
With an opportunity for their public response; a public debate may still be on the cards.

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

Um, do you mean 'NERC, the Natural Environment Research Council'? This is the body set up to co-ordinate research on the natural environment in the UK, rather than anything to do with alarmism.

This might be an interesting debate on policy in the face of deep uncertainty, potential massive social change, and long term, high consequence risks. The inclusion of Lord Monckton does rather suggest that it would mostly be about who has the better rhetoric, rather than who has the best evidence. I'm not surprised nobody wants to play. Get someone who knows about the science on the sceptical side, or enjoy preaching to the choir.


Oct 29, 2012 at 11:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

Monckton on Climate Change and More.

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhilW

surely someone from BP would be willing to argue in the negative. they will no doubt be in Glasgow for the RenewableUK Conference, so it's not too late to approach them:

28 Oct: Forbes: Jeff McMahon: Renewables Growing Fastest But Can’t Compete Without Help: BP
Renewable forms of energy are growing far faster than any other form of energy, a BP economist said in Chicago last week, but are unlikely to significantly impact the world’s reliance on fossil fuels without continued government interventions, such as a price on carbon…
But renewables make up such a small slice of the world’s energy portfolio now—only about 2 percent—that even at such a blistering growth rate they are unlikely to significantly displace fossil fuels in the next two decades.
“Renewables by 2030 get to a market share that’s roughly equivalent to what we see today for nuclear and hydro, in the ballpark of six to seven percent,” Finley (Mark Finley, BP’s general manager for global energy markets) said…
Finley’s appearance was sponsored by the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago and Young Professionals in Energy
Most of the growth of renewables occurred in wealthy developed nations—such as the United States, Germany, Spain and China—that subsidize renewable energy.
“What we can observe is that renewables are growing very rapidly already around the world, most typically in places where the governments can afford the subsidies needed to help these fuels compete. The key challenge going forward is: when things grow fast, subsidies get expensive fast. So can these forms of energy achieve economies of scale that will allow them to compete without subsidies?
“That is the real question.”
And part of the answer to that question will depend upon pricing carbon, whether through a carbon tax or a cap and trade program. Europe has a price on carbon, via cap and trade, but it burned more coal last year because its price on carbon is so low in the wake of the recession and because it needed coal to make up for the disruption of oil exports from Libya.
BP expects government policies to continue to affect the growth of renewables, Finley said, but as subsidies become more expensive, a price on carbon will become more important, in the long term, than subsidies.
“The other big issue of course is climate change, and a price on carbon, all else being equal, seems like it would help the cost competitiveness of most renewable forms of energy. We do believe that there will be continued government policy action to deal with climate change—haltingly, and maybe not as coordinated as we would have thought ten years ago—but we do continue to believe that there will be some action on the climate front…
Another corporation in the business of economic forecasting, Lloyd’s of London, has predicted different criteria for the success of renewables: energy demand in the Third World will bring the price of oil far higher than the price of renewable energy…

the writer omits that it was NATO's attack on Libya that caused the disruption of the oil exports which resulted in Europe's NEED to use more coal. our Al Qaeda rebel friends in Libya - even with the arms & cash provided by our Gulf allies - didn't have the wherewithall to achieve the disruption on their own. in fact, i thought the whole dirty business was part of an ill-conceived and ongoing plan to create chaos in oil-producing countries in an attempt to drive up oil prices and make renewables more competitive. does that make me a conspiracy theorist? the GFC has had the last say, anyway.

BBC: Nato Libya mission: Facts
Nato flew 26,500 sorties since it took charge of Libya mission on 31 March 2011
9,700 strike sorties
5,900 military targets destroyed
600 tanks or armoured vehicles destroyed
400 artillery/rocket launchers destroyed
16 countries provided air assets
Source: Nato

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Has anyone else seen this?

According to experts of the International Committee GEOCHANGE on Global Geological and Environmental Change, the main cause of the significant growth of geological and atmospheric disasters is powerful energy emissions and displacement of masses in Earth’s core.

According to experts, these processes began in 1998 and are currently in an active stage. The International Committee GEOCHANGE unites more than 350 scientists from 89 countries. Basic information on the causes of the growth in natural disasters is given in the Committee’s report published in the “GEOCHANGE Magazine” journal.

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

if Big Oil BP turn you down, you can always ask Big Oil Shell:

28 Oct: UK Telegraph: Emily Gosden: Shell attacks ‘ridiculous’ effects of European energy policy
Royal Dutch Shell has attacked the “ridiculous” impact of European energy policy, warning that governments are erasing the environmental benefits from expensive renewables by allowing coal use to increase.
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Mr Brown, Shell’s upstream international director, said the UK and Europe were “missing a trick” in their policies.
“There are a lot of subsidies going towards renewables. Gas and coal are having to compete to be taken into power generation,” he said.
Because cheap gas is reducing coal demand in the US, there is “a lot of cheap coal in the marketplace”. As a result, Europe is burning more coal, while demand for gas – which emits much less CO2 than coal – is declining.
“You have this ridiculous situation where cash-strapped Europe is putting a lot of money into renewables to reduce CO2, meanwhile allowing … the power generators to take much more coal and back out gas,” he said.
All the benefits you’re getting from the renewable energy are being counteracted by far too much coal.”
Mr Brown said the EU’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS), designed to reduce emissions by placing a price on carbon, “doesn’t work”. “CO2 is priced at such a low level it’s meaningless,” he said. “We want a higher CO2 price…
Germany is one of the most high profile cases of a country that has invested heavily in renewables to curb carbon emissions – but is now burning increasing volumes of polluting coal.
The UK has also seen an increase in coal-fired generation as the economics have become more attractive than burning gas – although many of the most polluting coal plants will be forced to close over the next three years…
A spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said it agreed that “the EU Emissions Trading System needs to be strengthened” and so was pressing for Europe to adopt a 2020 emissions reductions target.
This was also why it had introduced the carbon price floor in the UK, which will push carbon costs above current ETS levels, he said.

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Doug McNeall
I've read most of Monckton's papers and a lot of his speeches.
He appears to be pretty well-versed in the science. At least every time I've seen one of the fanatics try to take him on they end up either tongue-tied, embarrassed or spluttering.
Anyway, the motion doesn't mention 'science' which is totally irrelevant to this argument.
The reason none of the Renewables people dare turn up is that they know the argument is lost. Even the major generators admit that they would never dream of building wind-driven power stations if they didn't get a fat bung from the taxpayer.
One of their executives was silly enough to say so to my face while trying to get my support by offering large sums of money to the local community if the project went ahead. He stopped short of making the offer personal but only just.
As for the politicians and civil servants, as long as the global warming teat is producing milk why wouldn't you keep sucking on it. A rational debate with both sides properly represented has all the makings of a major disaster, especially since it might help the taxpayer to wake up and realise that he is the teat.

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Surely they could have formed a consensus to select a nobel prize winner or two for the debate?

Oct 29, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe

UKIP is to be congratulated on the motion. Not the old chestnut/red herring "I believe that global warming is happening" but the key tradeoff in terms of current science and policy. If nobody is willing to oppose this motion then we should walk free of every carbon regulation or renewable scam. That's all.

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

28 Oct: Telegraph: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: Europe left behind as shale shock drives America’s industrial resurgence
The wonders of US shale gas continue to amaze. We receive fresh evidence by the day that swathes of American industry have acquired a massive and lasting advantage in energy costs over global rivals, demolishing assumptions about US economic decline.
Royal Dutch Shell is planning an ethane plant in the once-decaying steel valley of Beaver County, near Pittsburg. Dow Chemical is shutting operations in Belgium, Holland, Spain, the UK, and Japan, but pouring money into a propylene venture in Texas where natural gas prices are a fraction of world levels and likely to remain so for the life-cycle of Dow's investments.
Some fifty new projects have been unveiled in the US petrochemical industry. A $30bn investment blitz in underway in ethelyne and fetilizer plants alone.
A study by the American Chemistry Council said the shale gas bonanza has reversed the fortunes of the chemical, plastics, aluminium, iron and steel, rubber, coated metals, and glass industries. "This was virtually unthinkable five years ago," said the body’s president, Cal Dooley.
This is happening just as other clusters of manufacturing - machinery, electrical products, transport equipment, furniture, etc - are "re-shoring" back from from China to the US. A 16pc annual rise in Chinese wages over the last decade has changed the game. PricewaterhouseCoopers calls it the "Homecoming".
The revival of the chemical industry is a spin-off from the greater drama of America’s energy rebound, though a very big one. As many readers will have seen, the US energy department said last week that the country will produce 11.4m barrels a day (b/d) of oil, biofuels, and liquid hydrocarbons next year, almost as much as Saudi Arabia...
Europe is going in the opposite direction, drifting towards energy suicide...
Germany seems to think it can power Europe’s foremost industrial machine from off-shore wind in the Baltic, without the high-voltage wires running from North to South yet built or on track to be built. "It is a religion, not a policy," said one German official privately, warning that his country is already "very near blackouts". He fears an almighty national disaster...
What we have (in Britain) is a very big gamble on off-shore wind, a very long way from where most people live. It will supposedly supply 17pc of UK electricity by 2020, equal to all other off-shore wind projects in the world combined. Let us pray that it works...

not sure i agree with everything Evans-Pritchard writes, but recommend reading it all.

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

When, after they had declined, I found RenewablesUK was running a conference in Glasgow on the same day, with 5,000 people attending to network I asked them to extend the invitation to any of the attendees without success.

Some years ago the boss of NERC offered an open challenge to sceptics to debate publicly. A number of people accepted but then he went into purdah. Apart from "raising awareness" NERC also does fund about 20 bits of research annually - for example finding out whether bees prefer a good view. However I assume that takes up fairly little of their £500 million.

Empty chairing is a good idea Peter.

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

I suspect that one of the reasons that none of the other political parties wish to debate (apart from the obvious - that they'd lose), is that by taking part they would 'legitimise' UKIP's presence in Scotland.

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulH

This is not for lack of trying. The list of people who have spurned the opportunity is extraordinary:

All 129 MSPs
All 5 party organisations ...
... "

I'm not a Scot but I did live in Scotland for 12 years and had most of my education there. If I were still resident in Scotland I would be angered by the refusal of all MSPs and political parties to propose any speakers to oppose the motion. The Scottish government is doing huge damage to the country with its policy of despoiling the gorgeous countryside with wind turbines and pylons. If MSPs and their parties believe that such a policy is really necessary they should have the guts to debate the subject openly with those who disagree with them. In a democracy that goes without saying.

Devolution was supposed to bring government closer to the people thereby giving the people of Scotland a more effective voice. It was never meant to be a job creation exercise for a cowardly political class who hide from anyone who disagrees with them or even has some doubts about the correctness of their policies. The MSPs are drawing their salaries under false pretences.

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

The empty chairs would make a good pic to convey this difficulty in getting people to speak for the 'other side' of this debate. It took months to find such speakers for the recent Orkney Science Festival debate on a very much gentler version of the motion. I guess, from the short notice you have given us here of the debate, that cancellation had been on the cards until recently. Presumably, you gave a lot more notice to potential participants? But even if not, for those who claim this is such an urgent crisis, that the case for alarm is so strong, surely someone from that list should have been willing and able to take part at short notice? Or is saving the planet from the worst crisis ever not worth talking about any more? Have enough of the centres of power and influence been won over? Is it now quite clearly a case of 'climate rebels' (see versus 'the establishment'. I think it is. Empty chairs, or chairs with tubs of lard, toy windmills, and piles of pound notes on them?

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Yep 3 chairs but not empty put a hockey stick on each with a certificate saying they all won the Nobel prize written in crayon !

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM | Unregistered Commentermat

@mat LOL seconded

Oct 29, 2012 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterUranusIsOnTV

I trust the sponsors have got their PR machine working. This should be picked up by the MSM.

On past experience I do not expect see a single word.

Oct 29, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The problem is with the motion itself. When saving the planet, the cost (in their eyes) is entirely inconsequential, particularly as their remuneration comes out of that cost.

Oct 29, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Perhapd Doug McNeall ought to go. It is a poor tactic to refuse to debate on the grounds that you already discount the other side's arguments or their authority. If the science/policy aspects are so damn clear, why won't anyone explain them?

Oct 29, 2012 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda


It was never meant to be a job creation exercise
I was educated in Scotland and lived there for most of my adult life. Scottish politics to my knowledge has always been a job creation exercise.
And if your face didn't fit ...

Oct 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

What about cardboard models of Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt and Richard Black in the three empty chairs? One photo would do for all of them.

Oct 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Incredible isn't it? Not one warmonger prepared to debate.

Oct 29, 2012 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

I have just sent the following to one of our local list MSPs (SNP): with alink to this post.

"If, as we are told, there must be an energy revolution in Scotland, to save the planet, and ensure future renewable supplies, could you please explain to me why no single member of the Scottish Parliament is willing to debate with UKIP on the value of the existing and proposed economics of these policies?"

Oct 29, 2012 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

Depressing, but not surprising.

It couldn't have anything to do with the fact that whenever a genuine debate has occurred the side that supports AGW has lost.

Could it?

Oct 29, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

"Surely they could have formed a consensus to select a nobel prize winner or two for the debate?"

I assume most of the panel are from the EU, so they're all Nobel Peace Prize "Winners"

Oct 29, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersteveta

I and a few associates are having the same difficulty getting someone to speak against a similar motion for a debate at the Church of England's General Synod in February 2013. The CofE and other churches have blindly followed the AGW religion, so we are challenging this.

Whilst sad that the pro-AGW'ers refuse to debate, it is not surprising, on two counts, (i) they believe the subject is non-debatable or has moved beyond debate to 'action', and (ii) there is a rapidly growing realisation that the 'science' underpinning their belief is crumbling - they never anticipated that boring stuff like observational data, evidence, real science, or even the weather would show up their pseudoscience.

Perhaps you could ask Mike 'Hockey Stick' Mann? After all, his current libel court cases don't seem to be taking any of his time up. I wonder why :)

Oct 29, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterilma630

You don't expect the "environmental correspondants" of the Scottish press to actually do anything surely?

All they do is recycle press releases from FoE, WWF and any other alarmists who send them stuff.

Oct 29, 2012 at 4:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Perhaps those unwilling to participate might read this:

The AGW is 4 in an uncertainty of 17! Also Stephens, one of the good guys, who found that the perpetual motion machine in the models was offset by double low level cloud optical depth in hind-casting, has missed another astounding error which i am currently setting out to publish: this explains the falure to get the energy balance.

Oct 29, 2012 at 5:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlecM

I suppose, er did anyone ask, I mean......... that the famous Penn State Nobel prize winner wasn't he able to speak - or maybe some of his chums from the CRU/UEA were available?

Nope? thought not.

On and on, they, the alarmists go and if you read Tom Nelson's round up - they're constantly banging on, about "we should be having this debate",
And, "we should be facing those evil realists down",

And yet, when the opportunity arises for these 'nobel' men of alarm-ism, to speak out - er dead silence is all we get.
For me, their continued absence from all public debate and obvious unwillingness to confront the realists and pure scientists in a public forum. It not only demonstrates, firstly, how shaky is their faltering position and how rickety those scientific suppositions are, secondly and quite evidently, it affirms what we all know well to be the truth of it: CAGW = fiction.

Oct 29, 2012 at 6:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

Go ahead with three chairs, each with a tub of lard

Oct 29, 2012 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Bates

Simply asking any pro-AGW supporter to discuss any aspect of the subject in a public setting will inevitably close down that discussion. This should be a mandatory requirement to anyone presupposing to speak with authority on AGW matters. Would anyone from the BBC, the Met Office, Government, or any lobbyist organisation care to take up the offer?


Oct 29, 2012 at 7:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave_G

Chris Huhne - expert in the field and currently resting?

Oct 29, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

It's not surprising that there's no-one willing to debate the real science.

Scientific debate should never be decided by consensus. It should be “decided” by empirical evidence that validates, or otherwise, the hypothesis in question.

Joseph Postma’s new paper (22 October 2012) looks for empirical evidence of a GHE, and finds none. He puts forward cogent arguments as to why this lack of evidence is to be expected. All should read this ground-breaking work, which also cites my paper (March 2012) on pp 47-49:

Oct 30, 2012 at 3:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug Cotton

I have just sent this email to the blog author, but thought that I should post it as a comment here as well.

Dear Mr Montford,

It has been pointed out to me that in one of your most recent blogposts ( you indicate that Glasgow Skeptics have "spurned the opportunity" to oppose the speakers for the motion tonight.

This is incorrect, as we were not contacted, and so were not ever in a position to spurn the opportunity. Furthermore, Glasgow Skeptics is not a facilitator for groups to come to in order to find speakers; we organise talks ourselves, on a wide range of issues, and for this we seek out speakers ourselves, and don't rely on other groups or universities to do the legwork for us.

Of the 50-60 talks we have arranged to date, only three have been even remotely related to climate change, and only one of those three was actually tackling the science of climate change itself (the other two discussing the politics and the psychology of climate change denial). Any of our former speakers can of course be contacted by anybody, and asked to make an appearance, but that would have precisely nothing to do with us.

As your list is presently incorrect, it would be most appreciated if you could remove us from it.

Many thanks,


Oct 30, 2012 at 4:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterIan Scott

Well, they did find a warmist to oppose the motion, or rather to trot out the old chestnuts like 97% of scientists agree, worst case scenario etc etc, summed up with "If you don't want 4 metres of sea level rise vote against the motion". As might be expected Lord Monkton tore this into very small shreds, but 4 people still voted against.

Oct 30, 2012 at 11:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

I am happy to accept that Ian Scott is an honest man and that Glasgow Skeptics has not been contacted regarding the UKIP debate, however this misunderstanding has occurred.
But does he not see a degree of illogicality in an organisation which purports to be skeptical (sic), organises its own discussions on a very biased pro-AGW platform — (sorry, Ian, but "the politics and the psychology of climate change denial" tells us all we need to know; "denial" is the giveaway word) — but runs a mile at the idea that it might be interested in debating the economics of the matter with others than its own tight little membership?
No doubt Mr Scott is one of those who consider blogs such as this to be little better than echo chambers but if that is the case what on earth can Glasgow Skeptics be?

Oct 31, 2012 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

A recent Slate article made me realize what I should have known since day 1, namely that organized skeptics are mostly lonely males who have replaced religion with a surrogate called 'whatever the mainstream scientists say'. To fight obsessions like astrology or homeopathy I presume it's easier if you have your own orthodoxy at hand. Cue Pharyngula, the BA, Simon Singh et al.

Oct 31, 2012 at 3:54 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

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