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Munk Debates on Climate Change: Ottawa and Toronto

Ms Zimmy

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This should be lots of fun, and free in Ottawa.


C02 levels in the atmosphere are climbing steadily higher. Some believe this is having a devastating effect on humans and nature, while others argue that the threat has been overstated. Is this the moment for a bold international treaty to curb carbon emissions? Or, are the social and economic costs of reducing C02 emissions too high in world where a billion people live on a dollar or less a day?

Just days before the United Nation’s historic Copenhagen summit the Munk Debates will tackle one of the great public policy questions of our time: how should the world respond to climate change?

Elizabeth May and George Monbiot v. Bjorn Lomborg and Lord Nigel Lawson

December 1st, 2009

6:45 PM to 9:00 PM

The Royal Conservatory

273 Bloor Street West

Toronto, Canada

(register on the munk website)

and in Ottawa at

6:30 p.m.

Ottawa U

Desmarais Building, Room 4101

(55 Laurier Ave. East, Ottawa)

Please register at Markcom@uOttawa.ca if you are in Ottawa


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Social and economic costs too high?

I think that the leaders that are going to Copenhagen should sit down and watch a few episodes of 'hoarders' put into perspective of the nature of that summit.


How can we clean up our mess if we're still making it?

Who the hell's going to clean up the mess?

Very important questions?

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LETTER ON CLIMATE CHANGE Please, Canada, clean up your act


George Monbiot A columnist for the Guardian and bestselling author Dear citizens of Canada, Like most of the world's people, I have always held your nation in high regard. Yours is one of the best-loved countries on Earth, renowned for being friendly, peaceful and responsible. Your government is now burning this goodwill.

After abandoning the commitments the previous government made under the Kyoto Protocol, ensuring that Canada will be the only signatory to wildly miss its targets, the Harper administration is now sabotaging the climate talks that will culminate in Copenhagen next month.

During the negotiations in Bangkok in October, developing nations were so dismayed by Canada's wrecking tactics that most of them walked out while your officials were speaking. In Barcelona this month, non-governmental organizations attending the talks presented Canada with their Fossil of the Week award: Yours was the country that had done the most to prevent an agreement from being reached.

The excuses made by the Canadian government for its filibustering and obstruction become more feeble by the day. As I understand his current position, your Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, will not contribute to an international treaty until his government knows what its domestic policies will be, and he will not formulate its domestic policies until there's an international treaty. He appears to be seeking to delay and weaken any international agreement, while claiming that there is no point in setting strong national targets if the rest of the world isn't pulling its weight.

Canada's tactics have caused shock and revulsion everywhere. They are dragging your good name through the mud. Stephen Harper and Jim Prentice threaten to do as much damage to your international standing as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney did to that of the United States.

No one who has followed this process has any doubt about which interests the government is protecting. The Canadian oil sands are a threat hanging over the whole world. The extraction and processing of this material is so polluting that it makes crude oil look green.

Canada already has almost the highest per-capita greenhouse-gas emissions in the world. The full-scale exploitation of the oil patch threatens to turn your beautiful country into the dirtiest country on Earth.

The oil-sands industry is causing damage out of all proportion to its value - not only to the world's ecosystems but also to Canada's.

Oil has a politics all of its own: To extract it, you must close your eyes and ears to the people you are harming. As the Nigerians, the Iraqis, the Russians and the Ecuadoreans can testify, this process brutalizes a nation. It creates a political class that owes its existence to a primitive and destructive industry. The industry will employ that class to trample your civilized values: social justice, human rights, environmental protection, the common decencies we owe to other human beings.

No one who has seen images of the oil-sands operations can quite believe what Canada is doing to its own land. No one can quite believe that this prosperous country is treating its aboriginal peoples like Nigeria treats the Ogoni of the Niger Delta. The oil sands are turning Canada into a harder, crueller place.

This is the oil curse that so many other countries have experienced.

Some people in Canada boast that the oil sands will make you a second Saudi Arabia. This may be true in more than one sense: They could turn you into an oil-dependent state whose politics revolt the rest of the world.

Your government's behaviour in the talks is so destructive and the development of the oil sands is so damaging to global efforts to prevent climate breakdown that I have decided to break my self-imposed ban on flying to travel to Canada.

I hope to add my voice to those pleading with your government to stop wrecking the negotiations. I hope to encourage you to rise up against an industry that is attacking the prospects of all the world's people and wrecking your national image. We know that at heart you are a decent and sensible people. Please don't disappoint us.

George Monbiot is taking part in tomorrow's Munk Debate on climate change, including a live video chat with globeandmail.com users.

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The debate on CBC this morning said that they didn't want to debate together in person, Jian made a bit of a joke of it, but when I saw the debate it definitely got emotional.

George Monbiot was a very heartfelt activist, his closing story was very touching - speaks to the dire situation in Africa. I liked him.

Bjorn Lomborg was a bit of a show-boat - I didn't like him - he was a word twister and seemed to miss the point to me.

Lord Nigel Lawson is a pompous out of touch windbag while Elizabeth May was very eloquent and a real fire-cracker - she didn't let Bjorn or Lawson get away with interrupting her!

What a great debate!

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I agree, it was pretty great.

Elizabeth and Bjorn have a long term hate on for each other. Putting them in the same room for this was smart.

Monbiot was fantastic. Very clear, especially since I found Lawson incomprehensible at times. What a character.

Did anyone watch through webcast? I heard that some comments that came up were pretty great, especially while Bjorn was speaking. I didn't get to see the comments...

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I was watching right through the intros and then got called away. I'm hoping to find it on YouTube soon.

A lot of the comments on the webcast were pretty tame from what little i saw but they seemed to want to debate each other rather than watch the thing.....nerds, whatchagonnado?

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Schwa - the whole 2 hour debate is found at the URL provided by Ms. Zimmy at the top of her first post.

When the conversation broke down- as it did at times- I thought Monbiot did a good job at reigning in the circus, by dispelling myth, providing facts and building coherence.

This ^ was a repeated pattern in the debate- the right would make a vague unsubstantiated claim which the left would rebuke solidly but defensively, but then once holding the high ground- they would back down and let the right draw them into another defensive argument.

For example, about an hour in- Elizabeth addresses the other side's argument that AIDS is a more pressing cause in Africa than climate change. (one of the more energized moments) She tries to explain climate change's effect on exacerbating the AIDS crisis in Africa, which is then passed onto George and his reference to Oxfam's data on Aids in Malawi and wham- they combo crushed Bjorn and Nigel's argument that AIDS needs to be addressed before Climate Change. Did they then take that high ground opportunity to lead the debate? Nada.

Best one-liner point made in the debate was by Elizabeth May: "the stone age didn't end because we ran out of stones- it ended because we found something better"... not her own words- she was quoting...

Most important point made- George Monbiot: green power needs to replace the old power, not to supplement it. This is the bottom line as pertains to energy issues related to climate change.

Best moment of serpent-eats-tail political rhetoric was owned by Lawson in his closing statements: "they (May/Monbiot) have the best of the rhetoric... I've been in politics for a very long time... from time to time there is somehow a gap between politicians rhetoric and reality..." Blah blah- spoken like a true politician who upon realizing he is intellectually outgunned onstage by another politicain, concludes that what he really wants to do is throw a final jab and then get the hell out of there to hit the pub for a couple of pints.

All in all, I was amused but not impressed with the debate- IMO, the debaters failed to bring new information to the table, and they failed at shedding light on the still shrouded angles of the subject.

When climate debates cross these taboo lines- i.e. the endless cloudy skies, the geoengineering already in practice, the patent holders of the geoengineering technologies, the liability lawsuits which would come with full disclosure etc. thats when the climate debate gets interesting. Short of that- I can't help but wonder if the debate is merely being sponsored by skeptic movement to obfuscate the subject further.

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I found that their opening statements were so well done that it almost seemed like they had a teleprompter in front of them. Our Director was there and said that they didn't.

I think that with the climate gate issues brought up (of course), they had to focus lots of attention on that....which was umfortunate.

Question period in Ottawa was really intense after the debate because of that.

I was amused too, and impressed...I really liked the moderator...we will see him running for the liberals in toronto in a few years I betcha.

Edited by Guest
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I think that with the climate gate issues brought up (of course), they had to focus lots of attention on that....which was umfortunate.

Question period in Ottawa was really intense after the debate because of that.

The fourth Munk Debate will explore the opportunities and hazards of the global response to climate change by debating the resolution: “Climate change is mankind's defining crisis, and demands a commensurate response.â€

Hacked emails = dog wags tail? tale wags dog.

Nigel and Bjorn carried the Climategate idea into the debate like a jack in the box, and so effective was its delivery that the crowd spent a lot of time 'watching the skeptic argument clowns bob back and forth on a spring" -debaters arguing about the concensus on climate science, without the moderator once reminding them that this debate was framed around the premise that the science has been settled. As you pointed out- after the debate finished- climategate became the focus of discussion.

Our political leaders obsfucators would look like real assholes if they went into the Copenhagen summit empty-handed only to be shown up by China's recent commitment to 40-45 percent CO2 reductions by 2025.

I expect Copenhagen will play out in a similar fashion to the debate- rather than working with the premise of forging an international agreement based on sound science - Harper and other oil-industry puppet state heads will be armed with the climategate wedges- jamming them in here and there just enough to screw any potential consensus and action.

By the time real investigative journalists sift through the emails and report on climategate, Copenhagen will have come and gone.

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It's remarkable that we've made climate change such a hot issue that the focus is on the greenhouse effect instead of needless pollution of every sort.

What are we going to see to prompt measures to stop polluting our world in general?

Too bad we're "fighting climate change" instead of using our collective resources to support sustainable civilization. Somehow the latter feels far more achievable as a political and economic aim.

How is it that the leaders of the richest and most influential countries with think tanks and teams of professionals haven't beat me to this one?

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