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Skeptic v. Warmist: Actual climate change debate at Colorado State University

A lot has been written about the need for public debate between alarmists and skeptics on the science of climate change. Earlier this month there was an actual debate, at the Colorado State University, Pueblo, Colorado. The slides are available online and they tell a remarkable story about the emptiness of alarmism.

The debaters are two scientists who have long been active in the debate. On the alarmist side we have Scott Denning, Director of Education, Earth System Modeling Institute (ESMEI), Colorado State University. Modeling is central to climate alarmism so this seems like a good choice.

The skeptical scientist is Howard Cork Hayden, Emeritus Physics Professor, University of Connecticut. I have known Hayden for decades and have learned a lot from him. His operation is called The Energy Advocate. He has a great monthly newsletter plus lots of other stuff.

To my knowledge there is as yet no video of the debate, but Denning’s slides are here and Hayden’s are here. The differences are telling.

Deming’s title is “CLIMATE CHANGE SIMPLE, SERIOUS, SOLVABLE” and as he presents it, climate alarmism is indeed simple, too simple by far. He has 40 slides but virtually no science. All he does is to first briefly explain the greenhouse effect, then present the usual IPCC model forecast of significant warming due to our CO2 emissions.

The climate change debate is not about the basic greenhouse effect. It is about what warming, if any, the increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration might bring and whether or not it is dangerous. Deming addresses none of this, which is certainly simple, but also useless.

He simply equates the increased CO2 concentration with global warming. The validity of this equation is what most of the debate is about, but there is no hint of this in his presentation. It is as if the debate did not exist. He even suggests that this entire issue was settled over 100 years ago, which is simply laughable.

He quickly moves on with a bunch of slides about all the damage this assumed warming will cause, especially wildfires as they are a hot topic in Colorado these days. This is indeed standard alarmism, skip over the science and go right to the imagined damages. He then finishes with a bunch of slides about how we can easily restructure the global energy system, if we just work as hard as our parents and grandparents did. I am not making this up.

Hayden’s slides are all science, probably too much. He has 99 slides, many of which are complex graphs that would take several minutes each to understand. But his points are all well made. Physicists and climate scientists in his audience will have no trouble following this stuff.

He begins with the paleoclimate evidence that CO2 does not control temperature or climate. He then takes a tour of IPCC trickery. To finish up he looks at the CO2 increase’s actual role in the greenhouse effect, in considerable technical detail. Real science and plenty of it.

The differences between these two presentations could not be starker. The alarmist is all scares and activism, with almost no science. The skeptic is all science and no scares.

So as debates go this one was not very good, because the alarmist did not actually debate, but that is the message. When it comes to alarmism, keep it simple, even if it is not. And by all means hype the scares.

Deming’s title is Director of Education. One hopes that his presentation is not what education looks like at Colorado State.