To Richard Lamm and Bill Owens:
The local Steamboat Springs and Craig newspapers are running ads for your upcoming "Global Warming - Fact or Fiction?" debate ("Fueling Thought" Energy Summit 2009 in Craig).
Normally, I'd enjoy seeing both of you debate, but the choice of topic leaves me pretty disappointed.
It's as if you two were "debating" whether the Earth is flat versus round, or whether the planet revolves around the sun or the other way around. The outcome (who the audience thinks was more witty or persuasive) really doesn't affect what's really going on.
A room full of fossil fuel executives in Craig might be one of the only places left where such a "debate" still could be held.
Your debate won't change the physical reality, but it will have several negative effects:
1. Global warming. "Global warming" is a friendly term that suggests longer summers and milder winters ("Hey, who wouldn't want to wear shorts a little longer?"). "Climate disruption" probably is more accurate.
2. Indeterminate cause. A "debate" ("Global Warming - Fact or Fiction?") suggests there's still uncertainty. Not in the scientific community (even the scientists for the infamous Global Climate Coalition told the oil, gas and coal industries that the evidence was undeniable). The only uncertainty left is the speed of change, what we're going to do about it, and whether there's still time to avoid the climate from spiraling out of control.
3. Partisan politics. I can't help but notice that one of you is a Republican and the other a Democrat. Having you debate global warming implies that it's just another political or ideological disagreement. It's much more serious than that.
4. Deniability and inaction. It's pretty hard going to work each morning if you acknowledge your industry is destabilizing the Earth's atmosphere and making your kid's future uncertain. Much easier if a debate by two ex-governors gives you reason to deny the scientific evidence and to keep going to work and cashing your paycheck.
I'm hoping the whole "Fact or Fiction" thing is really a big set-up and that both of you will agree from the beginning that there really isn't any doubt left on causation and debate the solutions instead.
Here's to hope ...