Across to Cambridge this afternoon with Richard Roberts to take part in a Cambridge Union debate on climate change. Have written a column for GreenBiz on the proceedings, so will post that when it goes live. A wonderful learning opportunity, as they say.
A black tie event, ish, and four speakers per side. (Dame) Fiona Reynolds – who was slightly shocked to see me on the opposing side – led the charge for the “cool the planet” team, while I led off for the “warm the economy” team.
My starting point was that we had been presented with a false dichotomy, in that we have to grow the sustainable, regenerative parts of the economy ultra-fast, while putting the unsustainable bits in the deep freeze.
Late in the day, I had learned that the three other speakers on my side were climate sceptics. Rather than pull out, after all the efforts the students had put into organising the debate, I told the three that I profoundly disagreed with them – and that I would be saying so. Wisely or not, they asked me to start for “our side”
Unusually, I suspect, I ended my comments by saying that the audience should listen to our sceptical three very carefully indeed. And if they argued growth without due care and attention on the climate side, I recommended, they should vote for Fiona’s side.
There were some interesting voices from the floor arguing for abstention, on the basis that we had been presented with a false choice, but – after the session overran and Richard and I had to be scooped out and into a taxi to catch the late train home – the “warm the economy” side apparently went down in flames, something like 95% to 5%.
Have since sent the three a number of links to continue their education, including this one on the uncanny accuracy of the world’s first climate change model, now aged 50, and this one on the work of Robert Jay Lifton. But am not holding my breath.