An official climate debate could be great

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s proposal to hold a TV debate on climate change science makes a lot of sense.

This idea is very different from the Red Team exercise that he mentioned previously, which has seen a great deal of discussion, such as here and here. The Red Team exercise would be a highly technical scientific debate. In contrast a TV debate would be designed to, as Pruitt puts it, reach the American people. It could also be a great teaching tool.

How to design such a debate raises some challenging issues. These include how many debaters should participate and who should they be, what the format should be, and at what education level should the scientific issues be discussed?

Taking the last issue first, some detractors are likely to say that the average American cannot understand the scientific debate, because it is simply too technical. It certainly can be technical, but consider this. Many States have adopted the new, so-called Next Generation Science Standards and these have climate change science being first taught in middle school, which is defined as grades 6 through 8. So the average 12 to 14 year old is expected to understand the basics of climate change science.

The average American has more education than middle school. My guess is that many of the people who are likely to watch a climate change debate will have attended some college, although they may not have taken much science there. So I would shoot for a high school level, or perhaps a bit more. If someone cannot present their side of the climate debate at this level then they should not be on the stage.

The number of debaters is not a trivial question. There is a broad range of opinion on both sides, so having just two or three people is probably not a good plan. For example, on the skeptical side there are Lukewarmers who accept the hypothesis of human caused climate change (but think it benign) as well as hard line Skeptics who do not accept it. So it might be best if there were two teams but the team members did not have to agree among themselves. If this seems complicated, that the debate is complex is an important point to get across.

As to format, long speeches should be prohibited because it is important to have as much back and forth as possible. Debate matches are a common collegiate exercise so it is likely that there are a number of well tested models to choose from. But as with the Presidential debates, in no case should there be judges or scoring. The object of this exercise is to let the American people see the debate, not to pick a winner.

Who should debate is also a tough question. While it might make sense to have leading scientists, it is far more important to have articulate communicators. Some scientists do have experience with television and radio and they might be best. But the public does not care how many unreadable papers a speaker has published. They just want to understand what is being said. So perhaps the debaters need not even be scientists; they might even be teachers.

A very tricky issue is whether or not to allow slides. Much of the debate concerns data from observations and from climate models. This is why in the climate blog world slides and graphs abound. But most of these displays take a long time to understand, which defeats the purpose of a live debate. Perhaps it should all be verbal.

All things considered an official TV debate on climate change science might be just what the American people want and need. They need to see the scientific debate in action, to see that the science is far from settled.

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About the Author: David Wojick, Ph.D.

David Wojick is a journalist and policy analyst. He holds a doctorate in epistemology, specializing in the field of Mathematical Logic and Conceptual Analysis.

  • David Wojick
  • rhetorical1

    Do it, the TRUTH will win

  • MarcJ

    Funny how those government-paid drones supervised by the United Nations socialist panel changed the name of their Global Warming hoax to the new Climate Change scam – after the 21 consecutive years of “unexpected” global cooling.

  • If you want to see a very simple, inexpensive, but conclusive demo-experiment, with all the physics and chemistry, stoichiometry, etc. explained clearly for all show the real role of CO2 in the atmosphere go to: http://sciencefrauds.blogspot.com and read the lead piece, “CO2 Is Innocent.” You can clip it, print it, take it to your local Physical Science teacher and have it validated, do and have a simple, inexpensive weapon that should win this stupid war.

    If you want to see who I am go to WorldCat.org and input “Adrian Vance” to the search routine and see 400+ titles appear for all my published science films and computer programs for the most prestigious publishers in the school market and that does not include my 20 books or work in ten national magazines where I was on the masthead of two.

    Adrian Vance ([email protected])

    • D. A. Dyer

      Is the science frauds blog yours, Adrian? Good job to you or whoever manages the site. However, I could find no mention of one of the greatest scientific frauds of the 20th century – the (psuedo)science of eugenics. (http://bit.ly/2wv2MSL).

      • Yes “Science Frauds” is mine at: http://sciencefrauds.blogspot.com and while I did not want to omit “eugenics,” it was a mess to sort out with so many players, important side stories and issues, I stepped away and thought, “…maybe in a month…” etc. And, I have been waiting for something to pop on the “designer baby” issue as that is boiling and related. I will get there and thanks for the tip.

  • MarcJ

    In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said: “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

    To resume this-comedy in 3 acts performed by the US-taxpayer-paid ($25 billion per year) drones supervised by the UN socialist panel:

    1) New Ice Age panic in the 1970’s; remedy = our unilateral disarmament plus
    nationalize everything and establish a United Nations-supervised world
    socialist government “to spread the wealth around”, as proclaimed in 2009 by
    our Marxist Muslim ex-President from Kenya B. Hussein Obama; when that ice
    failed to show up the same criminals invented

    2) Global Warming scam in the 1990’s; remedy still the same. After 21 consecutive years of global COOLING as dictated by the 30-year solar cycle the same bunch of
    criminals declared

    3) Climate Change hoax; remedy – see above.

    Our former (thank God!)
    Marxist Muslim President B. Hussein Obama from Kenya bestowed $50 million of
    our money to the United Nations Climate Change fund organized by that criminal
    Paris Conference comedy. Mr. Trump – PLEASE – nullify this waste of our money
    and stop that socialist conspiracy! Yes – he did it

    • Biologyteacher100

      What Plant do you live on? We have just had three record warm years in a row for the first time in the climate record going back to 1880. 9 of the 10 warmest years occurred since 2000, with the only exception being the super El Nino year of 1998. Just take a look at the data.

      • don lavrich

        so what can man do to stop it, or cool the planet down? does he think he is God ? God is laughing at you fools. I think that He has everything under control, so don’t worry your little minds over it, because there isn’t one thing that you can to prevent what happens. this global warming crap is nothing but a monetary scheme, to take more of our hard earned dollars from us.

      • MarcJ

        Interesting new method of measuring temperatures: You just “refine” your computer models and “recalibrate” your thermometers RETROACTIVELY. Like they did for that Paris Conference.

  • D. A. Dyer

    The sooner the better!

    • Manado Jones

      Sooner or later the earth will survive man!

      • D. A. Dyer

        I don’t think you have to worry about that, Manado. Are you aware you could put the entire population of Earth (about 7 billion people) on Long Island, New York, which is about 1377 square miles of land area (about 38 billion square feet, equal to about 5 square feet per person standing room) on a planet with 197 million square miles of surface area?
        Kinda dispels the idea that people can affect the climate on this huge planet, also!

        • Manado Jones

          We aren’t talking about the earth’s surface, but the atmosphere. That thin sliver of film that surrounds the planet, which controls our climate. You better believe people can affect that. I just watched a video of the Beijing marathon, where runners wore gas masks, and had to be hosed off after the run, because the air was so toxic. The Chinese are very serious about pollution and climate change.

          • D. A. Dyer

            The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole because it is true of a part of the whole. Thanks for providing some incentive to look into this issue more fully. Beijing, with 19 million people, has worse pollution than Shanghai, with 24 million. How can that be? The general consensus seems to be the burning of coal to power the industries in the industrial areas surrounding Beijing.
            So two conclusions: the pollution in Beijing does not necessarily represent the pollution everywhere on the planet; the pollution in Beijing could be reduced dramatically as China adopts natural gas and/or nuclear power for energy until sometime over the next century or so when more efficient, less polluting sources of energy are developed and become sustainable.
            Interestingly, to your point, Los Angeles has a serious pollution problem as well with its population of about 13 million in the metropolitan area. However, LA lies in the San Fernando valley and the pollution just hovers over the city. Drive a few miles up and over the mountains out of LA and the air is clear and clean.
            Have a great day!

      • Sol_of_Texas

        Manadto — So you believe it is possible to preserve earth just the way it exists right now? What happens as the sun exhausts free hydrogen and can no longer sustain itself as a hermonuclear power plant? What will happen to the Terran biosphere then?

  • John T. Koszalka

    All this bickering about climate, while the Good Lord watches, and says to himself, “will my children ever get it.” “I’M IN CHARGE OF THE CLIMATE.”

    • Manado Jones

      The Good Lord watches, and says to himself, “I’ve given my children a brain! Why don’t they use it! Why are my children destroying my Great Creation! Why are my children slaughtering my animals, poisoning our oceans, rivers, atmosphere?

  • lia watson

    al gore is bunk!!! that fool spouts one thing and does another: PRIVATE JET TO THE CLIMATE CONFERENCE IN EUROPE: MEGA MANSION IN CA:
    In order to determine the effectiveness of the environmentally-friendly remodel and learn whether the self-appointed spokesman of the environmental movement has amended his energy-devouring ways, the National Center for Public Policy Research obtained Gore’s electricity usage information through public records requests and conversations with the Nashville Electric Service (NES).
    In powering his home, Gore still greatly outpaces most Americans in energy consumption. The findings were shocking:
    • The past year, Gore’s home energy use averaged 19,241 kilowatt hours (kWh) every month, compared to the U.S. household average of 901 kWh per month.3,4
    • Gore guzzles more electricity in one year than the average American family uses in 21 years.5
    • In September of 2016, Gore’s home consumed 30,993 kWh in just one month – as much energy as a typical American family burns in 34 months.
    • During the last 12 months, Gore devoured 66,159 kWh of electricity just heating his pool. That is enough energy to power six average U.S. households for a year.
    • From August 2016 through July 2017, Gore spent almost $22,000 on electricity bills.6
    • Gore paid an estimated $60,000 to install 33 solar panels. Those solar panels produce an average of 1,092 kWh per month, only 5.7% of Gore’s typical monthly energy consumption.
    No matter how the numbers are viewed, Al Gore uses vastly more electricity at his home than the average American – a particularly inconvenient truth given his hypocritical calls for all Americans to reduce their home energy use.

  • Manado Jones

    My biggest beef with Trump is his disregard for the environment, unless it threatens his own property. Trump has hinted that he does not believe in man-made climate change, tweeting that the “concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese” in 2012, but he has asked the Irish government to build a 200,000 tonne sea defence stretching two miles along dunes at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel Ireland in Doonbeg. THE APPLICATION CITED GLOBAL WARMING AND RISING SEA LEVELS TO JUSTIFY THE WALL.

    The Irish Government rejected Trump’s sea wall. They thought it would be unsightly and Environmentalists said the development could endanger the tiny narrow-mouthed whorl snail, or Vertigo angustior, which has survived since the Ice Age but is now classified as “near threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The construction of sea walls is one of the biggest threats to the snail, which requires precise conditions in dunes and wetlands to survive.

    GOD BLESS THE IRISH.

    Every great President has understood that if you damage the environment, there can be huge economic consequences. Donald Trump is not and never will be one of our great Presidents.

  • Biologyteacher100

    CFACT often presents “disinformation” on climate. I don’t see how the debate can be moderated in real time to make sure that no one lies or misleads

  • don lavrich

    God has it all under control. there is nothing man can do to prevent climate change. the climate has been changing since the beginning of time, and it will continue as long as this earth exists. this global warming crap is nothing but a money making scheme by a few of the elite. its just another excuse to bilk the tax payers out of their hard earned dollars. anyone that believes this crap, has just been brainwashed by our public schools which are run by socialists. remember every time socialism is tried it fails miserably there are quite a few examples out there even in our own country, such examples are, Detroit, California, Chicago. wake up and do some research, it might surprise you how the liberals took advantage of so many people through the years. its no wonder democrats are losing races everywhere. the American people are waking up to all the crap that they have been feeding us . thank God Donald trump is our new pres. he has waken a lot of us up to what has been going on for so long.finally its retribution time against the liberals..

  • Paul Saunders

    I think the debates must allow slides of data because the climate Alarmist liars cannot lie their way out of plots of valid data. An all verbal debate gives the Alarmist liars (polar bears going extinct, no Artic ice by 2014, No Warming pause, etc.) too large of an advantage.