Kendall Harmon, the proprietor of the blog, for some reason allowed our comment-debate to go on for a very long time without any direct moderation. I'm grateful to him for that, as I think it proved to be a constructive debate for me, one that required I spend a bit more time reading the available literature and sharpening my understanding of areas outside my immediate knowledge, issues like economic discounting and the global economic costs of doing nothing versus doing something, etc.
One expects to learn a great deal in such debates. What one doesn't expect is the depths to which some participants will plunge when faced with the challenge of actually having to do the hard work of debate, as you'll see near the end of the thread.
What was also surprising was the extent to which the climate change denialist camp -- represented by some of my fellow commenters on that particular religious blog -- doesn't base its denialism on Christian principles (since both sides try to argue -- one side more successfully than the other, in my opinion -- that great harm could come to a great many people by taking decisive action or inaction). Nor does it base its argument on the science, since essentially no one responding to my comments ever brought up a credible scientific reason to doubt anthropogenic climate change.
Rather, the denialist camp is comprised of ideologically driven small-government optimists. And they're like proverbial (not literal) rats cornered (name-calling, etc.) when they are faced with having to substantively support their position.
This is a useful lesson for me. The denialists don't want to debate the science. They are much more interested in the implications of the fact of anthropogenic climate change: that we might have to rely on our representative government to tell us what to do.
UPDATE: Jan 21, 2007, 19:02. Again, the value of these debates is that they focus the mind. So advantaged, I want to briefly add what I now think are the critical questions that any debate about climate change must address, and address honestly:
- Is climate change occurring, and, as a corollary, is it likely to damage human economic, cultural, and political systems?
- If so, are we humans the cause of climate change?
- If so, are we able to stop it, and when must we begin to act to do so?
- If so, would it cost us more to act than it would cost to do nothing at all? (I credit BillS on the thread for making me aware of what's at stakes in this last question.)