I expected to be more nervous, but wasn't nervous at all. I've never done much of this kind of thing. I actually enjoyed it. I wish it went two hours.
Obviously a show like this isn't well set up for a serious debate of the science of climate change. I knew that going in, and I knew I was being set up as a sacrificial lamb. But that wasn't how I thought of myself, and it's not how I feel now that it's over.
Towards the end of the hour things started to get a little heated, especially during the commercials. Mostly by me. Two things got to me:
- the claim that James Hansen's 1988 prediction was all wrong. It wasn't, once you come what actually happened to his assumptions. But the details, on which science turns, don't matter much in today's forum.
- the setup question about the Medieval Warm Period. It wasn't global, and I said so. Neither Lars or Wiese believed me. But, from the abstract of this big study done by several dozen scientists:
"There were no globally synchronous multi-decadal warm or cold intervals that define a worldwide Medieval Warm Period or Little Ice Age."
-- "Continental-scale temperature variability during the past two millennia," PAGES 2k Consortium, Nature Geosciences, April 21, 2013.
It's almost like facts didn't matter -- despite Lars saying he goes by the facts and the law. (Speaking of the latter, his show's Executive Producer said I would be asked to sign a document giving them the right to the video, but in fact I was never asked to sign any documents, let alone to the video taken after the debate had concluded. I don't regret anything I said there, but I expected to be asked if it was going to be released to the public. No one asked.)
My opponent, Chuck Wiese, an ex-meteorologist in Portland, didn't offer much in the way of science. He is a hard-core denier who thinks CO2 has nothing to do with climate change. That's just ludicrous, of course, and by the end I could barely contain his rejection of settled and well-understood science. And, for better or worse, I let myself loose to argue about how absurd that position was. For example, here is Wiese speaking in 2008 to/for a candidate for the Oregon state senate. If you watch, you'll see Wiese use blackbody formulas on atmospheric CO2. Today I asked him, off camera I think, what was the definition of a blackbody, and he said it absorbs all radiation incident upon it, but then said BB formulas applied to CO2 near its 15 micron absorption. Which is wacky, of course -- you can't use BB equations in a small part of the spectrum, it's the whole spectrum or nothing -- so the Planck Law, the Stefan-Boltzmann law and Wien's displacement formula do not apply to something that only absorbs in a small part of the spectrum or at discrete points of the spectrum. He didn't have any reply to that, let alone a scientific one. I kept challenging him to publish his claims in the peer reviewed scientific literature -- his response was to repeatedly call me an "idiot" -- then he finally claimed that he had published, at EdBerry.com, a blog run by an even worse denier. What can you do?
Nor could he tell us what natural factors were causing modern warming. Because none are known.
So anyway, that's that. The planet keeps spinning, CO2 keeps absorbing, and the planet keeps warming. Because physics says it must.