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« The open society and its enemies | Main | Curry in Scotland »
Tuesday
Apr012014

Worthington versus Tol

I was interested to see a Twitter exchange between Bryony Worthington and Richard Tol last night in which the noble baroness revealed a deep-seated wish for a public debate with Richard Tol.

thington: @RichardTol perhaps can have debate at more convenient time. Do you stand by your comments in FT about UK? or were they a kind of bad joke?

Tol: @bryworthington I'm happy to debate the impacts of climate change in the UK and elsewhere.

In intellectual terms this would be something of a David-versus-Goliath outing, but I'm sure it would score highly for entertainment.

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Reader Comments (47)

The problem with a debate is it isn't about truth or science. It is about sound bites, rhetorical devices and theatrics. As been shown before, the great unwashed never notices the retractions and corrections. All they see is our guy trouncing yours in a tribal contest.

Apr 1, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterChrisM

Yes we have had offers of debate before from warmers who either rescind them (e.g. James Cameron) or make them secret (e.g. RS, Sir Paul Nurse). In reality they can't afford public debates as it would expose their poor position and ignorance.

I have seen Bryony Worthington debating in the House of Lords, I think "David and Goliath" is being kind to her.

Apr 1, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Science is not advanced by "debate" but by analysis of data from the real world. The real world data does not appear at present to be providing support for the AGW theory, perhaps there is something wrong with the theory....

Apr 1, 2014 at 9:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

No way would a lightweight , "appointee" like Worthington go into this without being told to do so.
Tol has trampled on someone's flowers.
Good, we need more decent people like Tol to come forward on this, I think Tol has had a bigger effect on them than they care to divulge.

Apr 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterC777

As a soundbite; the temperature in the UK has not risen for 21 years, so what catastrophic climate change are you talking about?. Is that plain enough Baroness Worthington?

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeilC

I thought we'd decided that Roman circus-type entertainment as too barbaric for modern tastes. In an equal fight, there'd be metaphorical blood from the Baroness all over the arena. I imagine that Worthington will run for the safety of the BBC and the inevitable hand-picked audience, to equalise things.

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Lohse

Not so sure David v Goliath is an apt analogy. Only, if you mean Worthington represents the combined forces of Government and 'BIG Green Industry' - that may be somewhat nearer the truth I suppose. However, the green loons would see it the other way round, Tol v the good little green fairy in the form of the English Lit' Graduate.

I am not sure that Baroness place-woman would benefit from any amount of rational explanation and cogent argument, there are some people and some zealots - put it this way, you'd glean better conversation from the Sphinx.

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.

I could envisage this being a pretty tedious affair that fails to add to the wider debate. It would go something like this:

Worthington:
Consensus, blah blah, thousands of scientists, blah blah, 97% blah blah.

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeckko

Baroness Worthington v Dr Bjorn Lomborg on Channel 4 News on Monday 31 - probably only available for the next 24 hours or so:
http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/
- click on Climate change report debate. Run time: 5:22

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterQuercus

Thanks Quercus. Just what I needed.

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:16 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

"Kirstygogan ‏@kirstygogan - Hats off to @bryworthington for taking @BjornLomborg to task as a merchant of doubt on climate action. @Channel4News"

So the twitter exchange starts off with Kirsty. Either Kirsty did not watch the Lomborg Worthington segment on Channel4 or Kirsty is as clueless as Worthington.

Lomborg has it right. Deployment of costly inefficient technology is not only senseless but wrong. Research and successful development of product needs to proceed deployment.

Worthington: "I don't follow. I also don't understand where those numbers come from..." Why in the world are the most incompetent placed in leadership?

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul in Sweden

Thanks Quercus, a beautiful gem from Bryony- "figures out tomorrow Will show that the EU has decoupled economic growth from emissions". She must be refering to the fact that emissions have increased whilst growth flatlines or shrinks!
As Bjorn kept repeating - huge expenditures for zero outcome - and Bjorn is not skeptical of global warming,

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

Worthless v Tol? Oh yes please!
I'll even bring my own popcorn.

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

I worry about the David vs Goliath analogy - remember who won.

As for:
Worthington: "I don't follow. I also don't understand where those numbers come from..." Lomborg said he sent her a set last time they debated!

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

@Commentergraphicconception - Apr 1, 2014 at 11:00 AM
"As for:
Worthington: "I don't follow. I also don't understand where those numbers come from..." Lomborg said he sent her a set last time they debated!"

Yeah, they were short debates and I watched them both together and then did something else and sat back down.

Don't see the point of going back to the vid again and pull out the exact wording with the same sentiments which she used again in this current debate as it essentially says the same thing. She does not understand that from way back in Kyoto if everyone was on board and everyone met their targets it would cost a whole lot of money and absolutely nothing would be accomplished even if atmospheric CO2 was the magical thermostat that is claimed by the Church of Global Warming.

These segments are too short, needlessly. Being right does not matter. The UK is stuck with insane commitments and can not focus on solutions so that they can meet their obligations and commitments to EU and UK Climate Change Policies. It is hopeless. -Paul

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul in Sweden

What an arrogant ignoramus Worthington is. She makes a mockery not just of climate science but the UK's honours system as well. Her strategy is a common one deployed today by politicos - just keep talking any old BS and try and grind down your opponent.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Also from that Channel 4 interview, what an excitable little fellow Jon Snow is....Just the sort of unquestioning mug the IPCC wants.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Piqued, I clicked Quercus's link:

"The page you are looking for is not available now."

Or is that just 'cause I'm in Oz?

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:30 AM | LevelGaze

LG,

It could be due to location, I have just watched it in the UK. Forgot to add ill-mannered to Worthington's list of qualities earlier, I do apologise.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

Quercus - thanks for the link to Worthington verses Lomberg on Channel4 News, which I have just watched.

As an aside, did I hear Jon Snow correctly when he stated that yesterday's report we are on for a 4C rise in temperatures by 2100? If so that's 0.46C per decade! Surely he meant 4C rise from pre-industrial temperatures? Irrespective, I think one of the key problems we sceptics have is thinking that we are arguing with rational people.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:34 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Mike Fowle

"what an excitable little fellow Jon Snow is"

I am afraid that Jon Snow has bought into the whole CAGW meme, hook, line and sinker! He is a complete believer and that comes across in Channel 4 News.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Steve Jones,

Yes, that's probably it.

Pity, I'm a sucker for brainless blondes.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

Poor Taste Joke:

Q: How do you make a blonde's eyes light up?
A: Stick a torch in one ear.

I shouldn't really say that. I married a blonde.
Or she was, when I got her.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterLevelGaze

Having witnessed Bryony's debating skills I would very much look forward to watching her debate Richard Tol.

She is not the sharpest tool in the box.

Watch this drivel. And in front of an adoring audience too.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceHmoYzcw0I

Oh dear.

Apr 1, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

SR - OMG, no, not Bryony's Rushlight Awards speech - I wouldn't wish that on anyone, it is mental cruelty.

Apr 1, 2014 at 12:19 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

Well I just started watching the C4 vid and the first item refers to import of grain maize from Ukraine necessitated by crop failures in UK for past 2 harvests. Sounds plausible - but we don't grow grain maize here, only the forage varieties. It's too cold.

Apr 1, 2014 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterfilbert cobb

lapogus:

As an aside, did I hear Jon Snow correctly when he stated that yesterday's report we are on for a 4C rise in temperatures by 2100? If so that's 0.46C per decade! Surely he meant 4C rise from pre-industrial temperatures?

He said '4 degrees' but I guess he could have meant Fahrenheit. Not from pre-industrial but 'over the next hundred years'. And he implied that, based on WG2, this was certain. For me the 16-year pause means that 0.5 deg C - and that either up or down - wouldn't a great surprise. Nor would a bigger value in either direction. We know that little about the climate system IMHO.

Bjorn Lomborg was another great choice to represent climate dissendents in the MSM debate, just like Dr Curry on Radio Scotland. Very cogent, very cool. I think the overall result is much better than we had with AR4 in 2007.

Apr 1, 2014 at 1:35 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Steve Jones: "(Baroness Worthington) makes a mockery not just of climate science but the UK's honours system as well."

Quite agree. It would be interesting for someone to compile a list of all the dead beats the last government ennobled. I am not claiming that other governments have not done so, but Labour seemed to specialise in putting their advisers on the public payroll and promoting people who were actively harmful as well.

Apr 1, 2014 at 1:49 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

Well, she completely failed to say anything of substance, preferring instead to attack Bjorn Lomborg. I did enjoy the comedy "glances to camera" though... they made I larf, they did. So, yes, looking forward to a discussion between Worthless and Tol.

Apr 1, 2014 at 2:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterElftone

Richard Drake -
"He [Jon Snow] said '4 degrees' but I guess he could have meant Fahrenheit. Not from pre-industrial but 'over the next hundred years'. And he implied that, based on WG2, this was certain."
I do hope he was using WG1 rather than WG2 for such things. But WG1 does indeed forecast a mean of 3.7 K increase *for the RCP8.5 scenario*. Hardly certain; the mean is 2.2 K for the RCP6.0 scenario.
[Fine print: 5-95% ranges (for RCP8.5) is 2.6-4.8 K. Change in temperature is projection of 2081-2100 average, compared to 1986-2005 baseline.]

Apr 1, 2014 at 2:24 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Warning to Richard Tol. Never wrestle with a pig - the pig loves it and you just end up covered in sh1t!

Apr 1, 2014 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterScooper

Sadly, you all seem to have missed the point, perhaps because you are already aware of much that they are all talking about. Put yourself in as completely ignorant of the case: there is an American with a weird twitch in his eye talking in manic tones; there is a well-dressed English lady, talking in quiet, moderate tones, acting and reacting suitably coy and flummoxed. The actual content of the discussion then becomes utterly irrelevant; this, I am afraid, is how the average viewer will see it.

Apr 1, 2014 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

RR is partially right, but Worthington has one disadvantage that she isn't aware of.

She thinks herself part of the tiny beleaguered Warmist crowd, she imagines herself the Rebel Alliance but is, in fact, THE EMPIRE.

To the average non-leftist viewer she appears one of the bien-pensant ruling class. Well-dressed, quango-ed for life, above money, self-righteous, enobled, a 'good' sort and most of all, supercilious.

Our ruling class.

Apr 1, 2014 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

Who is David and who is Goliath? What is Tol's position?

Apr 1, 2014 at 4:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeN

Good point, Stuck-Record; however, she may be well-dressed, but she is not well-dressed in a businessy sort of way, like so many other female politicians. She looks as if she just dropped in before she meets her friends for a cup of latte, then they are just going to go wild over shopping...!

It is only if they bothered actually listening to what she had to say, then the story would be different.

Apr 1, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

HaroldW: Thanks for that. I agree that Snow probably meant degrees K. I thought he implied that the four degrees came from WG2 but he might have meant from the IPCC generally or I suppose a recent press release. It was the certainty - and the fact Lomborg seemed to agree with it (though this was an impression that the time-lag with New York probably invalidated) - that was most striking. The RCP8.5 scenario isn't anything like certain surely - isn't it way more emissions than what is normally called 'business as usual'? Factor in Nic Lewis's critique of climate sensitivity estimates and the confidence seems even more unsupportable. But Jon Snow probably hasn't studied Lewis in detail.

The most important point, in any case, is that Bjorn Lomborg's points stand even it is going to be 4degK more by 2114. Breakthroughs in the price of green energy (and presumably increased use of nuclear) would be what to target.

Apr 1, 2014 at 5:02 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Apr 1, 2014 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent.


Richard Tol is of Dutch nationality.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Tol

Apr 1, 2014 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterKevin Lohse

Mike Fowle. We could start with Baroness Cathy Ashton. She went to school not a hundred yards from where I live, was never elected to anything & is now the most highly paid female politician in the world. Don't know where she stands on climate, though.

Apr 1, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Mike Fowle. We could start with Baroness Cathy Ashton. She went to school not a hundred yards from where I live, was never elected to anything & is now the most highly paid female politician in the world. Don't know where she stands on climate, though.

Apr 1, 2014 at 6:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterTom Mills

Tom, I am sure Baroness Ashton believes firmly and even passionately in whatever the EU tell her to believe. So, she'll be a catastrophist.

Apr 1, 2014 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered Commentermike fowle

If Bryony Worthington is keen on debating climate change policy why doesn't she persuade her fellow peers to have a proper debate on the subject in the House of Lords? Perhaps she could persuade the members of the other house to do the same.

Apr 1, 2014 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

The challenge has been issued and accepted, all that is required is a venue and a live feed to the internet. GWPF could do this, or the Graun ?

Apr 1, 2014 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

She'll bottle it, if there's ever an inkling of a date & venue being set.
What it needs, is a person in a position of power, be it political or in the media, to set things up, she'll soon find her "Diary full".

Apr 1, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

RR, I've only seen Worthington speaking once in the House, but she came across as petulant teenager who wasn't getting what she wanted.

I've not seen Tol speak, but he certainly seems to have knowledge and intelligence on his side. That may not be enough of course, but the mention of Worthington challenging any skeptic to a public debate made me wonder if it was just an April fools joke.

Apr 1, 2014 at 9:04 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

The Baroness's biography from Wiki says it all - English literature degree, environmental activist (including with Friends of the Earth) then a Labour peer -

Bryony Worthington was born and grew up in Wales,[4] and graduated in English literature at Queens' College, Cambridge,[5] before joining Operation Raleigh as a fundraiser. In the mid 1990s, she worked for an environmental charity, and by 2000 had moved to work for Friends of the Earth as a climate change campaigner. She then worked for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, implementing public awareness campaigns and helping draft the Climate Change Bill, before becoming head of government relations for the energy company, Scottish and Southern Energy. She left to form Sandbag in 2008.[6]
She was raised to the peerage as Baroness Worthington, of Cambridge in the County of Cambridgeshire, in 2011, and sits on the Labour benches.[7]

Apr 1, 2014 at 10:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBob MacLean

Kevin Lohse: you may be right. But I wasn’t talking about Richard Tol; I was talking about Bjorn Lomborg, (who may be Swedish, not American) – however, the actual nationality was irrelevant to my argument, it was the likely perceptions of the exchange that the viewer will receive.

It would be good to see the worthless baroness in a proper, full-length debate. That she achieved that title at all is really rather depressing, as I now contribute to her income via my taxation. She, and the many other dead-beats in the Nether House (it now being full of a**eholes) does reveal the utter sham of B-liar’s government, and does really make you appreciate the value of the hereditary peers, few of whom had particular axes to grind, and few of whom had much political intent.

Apr 2, 2014 at 1:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

If the climatocracy can be goaded into actually debating, it will be a first. They will wish it had never happened, and will likely pretend it didn't.

Apr 2, 2014 at 2:33 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

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