29 January 2010

Rumble at the Ri: Ward vs. Pielke

Next Friday evening in London, I am going to debate Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute at LSE, at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. The announcement has just been posted up, and you can see it below. Click here for background on the Royal Institution. Click here for more about the remarkable venue where the debate will be held.

Get your tickets here before they sell out!
Has Global Warming increased the toll of disasters?

No mainstream scientist would question that human activity has had an effect on the Earth’s climate. Few doubt that it is the major issue facing humanity in the 21st Century. Due to the magnitude of the problem and its consequences, it is no surprise that debate about the extent of its effects and the best solutions has become a hot topic in the media.

A report in The Sunday Times on 24 January claimed that the United Nations climate science panel (IPCC) wrongly linked global warming to an increase in the number and severity of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Politicians took this message into the mainstream, with President Barack Obama, saying last autumn: ‘More powerful storms and floods threaten every continent.’, but was this based on sound science?

This debate has continued ever since, both in the media and online, with two climate experts coming head-to-head. Roger Pielke Junior, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, has attacked the IPCC for including in one of its reports a reference to an abstract in 2006, that indicated economic losses from disasters increased between 1970 and 2005. Bob Ward, policy and communications Director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science, claims the link between extreme weather events and climate change is clear, and that criticisms about the evidence for an increase in disaster losses is nothing new and is merely a repetition of criticisms that date back to 2006 because the IPCC's procedures for reviewing scientific work is currently under the spotlight.

We are delighted that these two leading figures in this discussion have agreed to a debate at short notice here at the Royal Institution, so come along to join in the conversation about a key issue for the future of the planet.

Tickets cost £8 standard, £6 concessions, £4 Ri Members.


  1. That's not fair: Intelligent, knowledgable, well-spoken guy v ...

    The only advantage for Ward is lack of jetlag.

  2. Royal Institute is an upholder of Anthropogenic Global Warming.



  3. Why is it always implied that "old criticisms" aren't important just because they are old? Unrefuted old criticism is supposed to be thought of as an "unresolved question" or as "evidence against." Geez, the reason the criticism is nothing new is because it was obvious from the start that it was valid criticism.

  4. "because the IPCC's procedures for reviewing scientific work is currently under the spotlight" is laughable as questioning in the blue nothing has always immediately followed reports having actually "dropped". Incredibly difficult to question IPCC reports before their release but if Bob Ward has a method of gaining access to such in draft, please pass along that his sharing of such would be deeply appreciated by one and all.

  5. "Few doubt that it is the major issue facing humanity in the 21st Century. "

    Few scientists doubt that human influence on the climate is the major issue facing humanity this century??!!! THE major issue of the century.

    Wow. Just wow. Either: 1) the statement is erroneous, or 2) the credibility of scientists has fallen to a new low.

    Based on what we have seen over the last few years, it's obvious that some climate scientists have been suffering from one of the worst cases of hubris in recorded history. And it's also clear that the standards of science were allowed to deteoriate dramatically. But I cannot believe that the state of science has reached such a level of intellectual dishevelment.

    If that statement is true, we taxpayers need to cut off funding science until we can round up the inmates and get them safely to the asylum before they hurt someone.

  6. Will they allow you to record and YouTube ? London is a too far from Boulder for me.

  7. -6-Artifex

    I'll ask, but from their site it does not look like they do so.

  8. Given the state of the actual science, isn't this a little like your debating someone who holds that the earth is flat?

    Still...have fun.

  9. Can't make it - I'll be busy adding insulation to my house. Will it be on pay-per-view?

  10. I'd be a bit cautious. Where Roger has the facts on his side, Bob is a specialist in forming public opinion, what with that being is main job and all.

    Roger will be perceived as losing the debate because public opinion only coincidentally relies on facts.

  11. It appears that RI has financial woes http://www.economist.com/sciencetechnology/displayStory.cfm?story_id=15268887

  12. Furious to miss this. Have rigid child-care duties that evening.

  13. You are probably aware that Shukman is not exactly neutral when it comes to AGW ... You will have your work cut out, Dr Pielke