May and Monbiot narrowly lose Munk debate

Contrarian reader and tech fixer Mike Targett points out that Guardian columnist George Monbiot, whose blistering denunciation of Canada’s climate change policies appeared here yesterday, was in Toronto to take part in a Munk Debate Tuesday.

Munk - Monbiot

One of a series sponsored by Aurea Foundation, the debate considered this proposition: “Be it resolved: climate change is mankind’s defining crisis, and demands a commensurate response.” Monbiot and Elizabeth May took the affirmative; Bjørn Lomborg and Lord Nigel Lawson the negative.

Audience polls taken before and after the debate showed the con side to be slightly more persuasive. My reading is that Lomborg and Lawson won not by denying climate change but by acknowledging it as a real problem—just not the earth-imperiling calamity it’s been sold as. Solutions, they argued, need to be commensurate with the threat, and with other problems faced by humanity. That’s a much more interesting debate than denial vs. end of the world.

Contrarian is not sure who’s right, nor what impact doubts should have on public policy given the consequences if May and Monbiot are right. [Click the image to view the two-hour debate.]