For those curious about what happened during my debate yesterday with one of the IPCC lead authors . . .
I accommodated the strange changes in our format that my interlocutor had demanded at the last minute: she insisted that I not be allowed to address the audience following her remarks. But there was still Q&A, thankfully. While not the same as a rebuttal, Q&A with an attentive group — and this was a packed house, despite two other conferences being held in Madrid yesterday — often allows the main points of contention to be aired.
So a rebuttal was out — but a pre-buttal wasn’t. Knowing my counterpart’s argument from our strange encounter on the radio yesterday, I previewed some of her forthcoming unsupportable claims about Kyoto’s CDM (with a screenshot of the Guardian’s May 26 “billions wasted” headline) and alarmist SLR scenarios. I also addressed the call for spending $43 trillion on the pet project of someone on the dais (guess who?) and the sophistry of claiming that amount is “just 1 percent of world GDP.”
I can’t pin down the exact moment my counterpart lost the audience, but I think it was during the Q&A: I prefaced a remark with “my colleagues claims,” which prompted an irate outburst that “I am not Mr. Horner’s colleague!” Strange noises followed as I responded to my interlocutor’s incorrect and frankly strange insistence that Kyoto’s cap-and-trade scheme (which she claims to have birthed) “is not cap-and-trade,” and that no one actually calls it that.
It was an evening of strange noises and stranger claims. Did you know that the galloping glacier Perito Moreno is disappearing from the face of the Antarctic? I didn’t have the heart to tell this native Argentinian — seriously — that it was residing comfortably in, well, Argentina. I also learned that the US SO2 trading scheme has been implemented at no cost.
I needed to explain the Pacific Decadal Oscillation to this IPCC lead author, who leans heavily on claims that Alaska is melting and who had earlier in the day demanded — on tape — to know what the PDO was.
Other notable aspects of the experience included sitting next to a grown woman who persisted at crinkled lozenge wrappers (no Pez dispenser?), raked her pen back and forth across the metal spiral binder, twice clanged a metal coaster down on the dais and otherwise fidgeted like a child as I spoke. Pity soon overcame pique.
My colle- . . . counterpart had defiantly declared to the moderator prior to the event that she would not address me — ostensibly because I do not hold the Ph.D. — but only the audience (perhaps they were all Ph.D.s!). She then turned and, with feigned sincerity that could use a little work, asked what for my understandably forgotten name, drawing groans from the audience for the petulance of her display.
She angrily rebutted a claim not made about her, and when challenged by the moderator about another claim she had made, denied having made it. No wonder those Kyoto confabs accomplish so little.
Afterward, an audience member approached to ask how much I had paid in order to secure this person to be my opposite. A prominent lawyer sighed at the unfairness of it all and jokingly (I believe) revoked the organizer’s future participation in selecting panelists. Others remarked on how it must be nice to come from a place where it was still permissible to challenge green dogma.
Then, a wonderful dinner with a Rioja that — despite my steep bias for Ribera del Duero — was heartbreaking; the best oxtail of my life, and a general fiesta replaying these and other high points of the event with some of Spain’s finest.