munk debates

Wed, 2009-12-02 12:30Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Munk Debates: Good theatre; bad policy

Viewers of the Munk Debate Tuesday night among Guardian columnist George Monbiot, Canadian Green Party leader Elizabeth May, Thatcher-era Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson and the Disingenuous Environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg can only come back to a conclusion that many had reached beforehand: these occasions offer the denial industry a boost in credibility they neither earn nor deserve.

Watching the debate, it was hard not to conclude that May and Monbiot were winning in their argument in favour of the proposition: that climate change is the defining issue of our time. The assembled audience seemed to agree on one hand, ranking the debaters in descending order from Monbiot, through May, Lomborg and finally Lawson (who impressed a mere eight per cent of those assembled).

Lawson himself seemed to concede defeat in his summation, noting that “They have the best of the rhetoric.”

Yet the audience, which began the night split 61 to 39 per cent in favour of the proposition, ended it voting 56 to 44 per cent in favour - a slide of five points toward the underperforming rhetoriticians arguing on behalf of denial and delay.

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