Settled silence

If man-made climate change is indeed the most urgent threat facing humanity, then experts should embrace the opportunity to make that case and convince non-believers.

Unfortunately, the most strident advocates for climate-change remediation seem uninterested in coming to the table. Not just uninterested; they seem hostile to the very idea of debate. On Monday, the 603 Alliance – a grassroots organization dedicated to advancing constitutional government – will host a forum at the NH Institute of Politics on the science and policy implications of climate change. This event was initially conceived as a debate.

We organized it because we believe that public discourse is essential, and that people deserve to hear both sides of the argument. But no one will be there to make the case that climate change is real, that it’s man-made, and that urgent action is required.

The 603 Alliance invited all the presidential candidates polling at 1% or higher. Several of them politely declined our invitation without specifying a reason. Others did not respond. We invited a number of experts – including climate scientists and professors of environmental studies. But the experts we contacted refused to participate unless the reality and urgency of anthropomorphic climate change were conceded in advance.

A representative from one organization told us that they “don’t feel comfortable offering [speakers] for a debate about the science when it is settled that climate change is happening and humans play a role.”

Other responses asserted that climate skeptics are simply manipulating the public to win elections. They accused us of organizing a “circus”, and insisted that only published, peer-reviewed authors are qualified to address the topic. A final response captured the essence of all the others: “This is not something that any serious climate scientist will participate in, simply because there are not ‘2 sides’ to the debate.” But there are two sides. In fact, given the multitude of questions around climate change, there are many facets to this topic. Judith Curry, who holds a PhD in geophysical sciences, has stated that “the climate change problem provides much scope for disagreement among reasonable and intelligent people.” John Christy, who holds a PhD in atmospheric science, has that climate change claims are highly exaggerated.

Both have written numerous peer-reviewed papers, and both have testified before Congress. Richard Lindzen, Nir Shaviv, Lennart Bengtsson, Willie Soon, and other prominent scientists have all expressed similar concerns about the group-think mentality and politicization surrounding climate change.

And there are others. It does not help that the public debate so often devolves into hyperbole, such as when a member of Congress declares that we will all die in 12 years if we don’t embrace immediate and drastic changes.

The 603 Alliance has lined up two excellent “climate skeptics” who will be speaking at our event: meteorologist Joe Bastardi and UK politician Christopher Monckton.

Unfortunately there will be no experts on stage to represent the other side. A rational society should welcome debate; and as new data become available, we ought to be open to modifying our beliefs to reflect that new information.

What we have seen through this process is the opposite; an insistence that the debate is over, all the facts are in, and that we have nothing more to learn. That is a dangerous position to take.

Those wishing to attend the free 603 Alliance event on Monday can learn more at www.603alliance.org.