Debaters agree: Global warming not a crisis

“Is Global Warming a Crisis,” the Centennial Institute debate proposition for Scott Denning of CSU and James Taylor of the Heartland Institute, yielded an illuminating rather than heated exchange with Taylor saying no and Denning in backhanded agreement. Facing off before an audience of 500 at Colorado Christian University on Oct. 20, the two argued their cases with data, analogies, humor, and the inevitable slide presentations. Click to view the Denning slides and the Taylor slides.

Denning defused suspense at the outset by sidestepping the “crisis” description popularized by Al Gore and other politicians. But he insisted the human-generated increase of CO2 in earth’s atmosphere will increase surface temperatures by 2100 at about the equivalent of one 4-watt light bulb per square meter worldwide, making it imperative to reduce CO2 emissions. His solution: “the magic of the free market,” transitioning us smoothly to a new energy economy—provided policymakers cooperate by “putting a price on carbon.”

But that latter condition seemed to me a fatal disqualification to the whole scenario, since it implicitly endorses cap-and-trade, a decidedly unfree approach.

Taylor’s rebuttal built on the key points that (1) context is crucial (recent warming trends being minor in perspective with historically much-warmer and high-CO2 epochs in earth’s history), (2) solar influence is more explanatory for past climate cycles than CO2, (3) computer modeling of the sort used for Denning’s light-bulb prediction is discredited by recent research from William Gray and Richard Lindzen, and (4) the prohibitive economic sacrifices of pricing-out carbon are unjustified in light of the foregoing, especially with China and India determined to continue their own burgeoning emissions.

The bottom line for this (admittedly non-neutral) observer: Carbon-dioxide worriers didn’t come close to demonstrating urgency to warrant such drastic measures as the Waxman-Markey energy tax now before the US Senate and the Copenhagen Treaty due for international action before year-end.

“First do no harm,” the policy verdict recommended by Chris Horner at Centennial’s climate debate last April, was convincingly seconded by James Taylor at the October debate—and this is the only wise guide for America’s unilateral and multilateral actions on climate issues at present.

Here’s more about the Oct. 20 debate from CCU partner journalist Jean Torkelson, with photos by Ryan Masterson.

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