NPR Public Radio recently broadcast a debate on global warming. The debate was conducted in New York, part of a debate series known as Intelligence Squared U.S. (based, like many fresh cultural ideas, on a British format).
Three experts argued in favor of the motion "Global Warming is Not a Crisis"; three others argued against it.
During the debate, Richard Somerville (on the "It's a Crisis" side) admitted that water vapour has a much bigger greenhouse effect on temperature than carbon dioxide. But then he said, "but we can't do anything about it". So... carbon dioxide is the boogy man only because water vapour is outside of our reach?
In a vote before the debate, 30 percent of the audience agreed with the motion that global warming was not a crisis. Less than one in three. Almost twice as many -- 57 percent-- believed it was a crisis, and and additional 13 percent were undecided.
Ninety minutes later, 46 percent agreed that global warming is not a crisis, 42 percent still believed it was, and 12 percent were still undecided.
Think about it. The number of people who believed that global warming was not a crisis increased by a full 50% as a result of 90 minutes of rational debate-- now that's headline material! And worth of discussion in every school across the country.
So is the corollary -- the number who believed global warming is a crisis declined by over 25% in 90 minutes -- one in four who walked into the meeting believing global warming was a crisis walked out believing it was not.
NPR spun the results this way:
"The debate seemed to affect a number of people".
Indeed. Another unscripted public event that went horribly wrong.
The debate was entertaining, informative, and well-worth a listen. For either the full debate or a condensed version, go to:
Listen for yourself.
And that's the way the Ball bounces.