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Vote for me or the kitten gets it!

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"Vote for me or the kitten gets it!"

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http://transitionculture.org/wp-content/uploads/blair10.jpgI am participating in an online debate sponsored by the Economist on the “Global energy crisis.” The proposition being debated Oxford-style is:

This house believes that we can solve our energy problems with existing technologies today, without the need for breakthrough innovations.”

Needless to say, I am taking the “Pro” side.

There is voting by the public for both Pro and Con. Although online voting is about as scientific as a typical argument from a global warming denier, I’d always rather win than lose (or, worse, statistically tie and then have the judges redo the calculation and give the gold to some underage host-country gymnast who screwed up their dismount, but I digress).

Three of Climate Progress’s central messages are:

  1. Actual observations of climate change coupled with our understanding of climate science makes clear we have run out of time for dawdling, for waiting to achieve multiple breakthrough TILTs (The Imaginary Low-carbon Technology).
  2. The state of energy technology means we have what we need now (or soon will) to reverse emissions trends and get on the path to averting catastrophe at very low cost relative to the benefits.
  3. While some very sincere and concerned people believe we need breakthroughs to solve the climate problem, many very insincere and unconcerned people like President Bush, use the “technology breakthrough” frame to argue against strong action now.

Please go here to vote.

[NOTE: If you actually read my opponent's piece, it isn't yet clear where he really disagrees with me. I'm not sure he does, but hopefully that will become clearer when he posts his rebuttal.]

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10 Responses to Vote for me or the kitten gets it!

  1. Jonas says:

    I think The Economist debates are a rather good format and of a high standard, because they invite interesting people.

    The previous debate was about the upsides to humanity of higher food prices. It was a very interesting debate. The “pro” vote (yes, higher food prices are good for the world and especially for the poor), won too, in that debate.

    On this new energy debate, I vote “pro” once more. All technologies are here for a smooth transition to a global post-coal, post-oil economy. We just have to rewrite accounting rules and rearrange subsidies to pull it off.

    If the true social and environmental costs of coal/oil are taken into account, virtually all renewables would beat fossil fuels hands down, today. Add the unequal (indirect) subsidies for these fossil fuels, and the picture looks even brighter.

    Switching to renewables is entirely a political affair. No longer a technological one.

  2. Paul K says:

    Joe,
    What fool is debating from the con position? There is no way to argue against the sufficiency of current technology especially if near pipeline items like plug-in hybrids are included. It is easier to argue that the changeover to 21st Century energy is very likely even under present law.

  3. Brewster says:

    I voted Pro, but it’s quite obvious that there is no common definition of “Breakthrough Innovation”.

    The Con statement seems to feel that solar/wind/PHEV still constitute breakthroughs…

  4. rpauli says:

    Well important breakthrough Innovations must include the already well known DeLorean time machine, with a Jigowatt flux capacitor and antimatter engines.

  5. llewelly says:

    I voted Pro. I couldn’t find anyone arguing the Con position. It’s like they scheduled a debate between two guys who already agreed.

  6. kenlevenson says:

    Nice to see “the pro” up by over 2 to 1 now. I was expecting some BI names to weigh in but they seem to have skipped the debate – too bad, could have made it more energetic.

  7. David B. Benson says:

    What do I have to do the vote? Pro of course.

  8. TomG says:

    I voted Pro.
    Seeking new tools means the job never gets done…

  9. rpauli says:

    The obvious solution is not from us, but from the Singularity. Due to appear in 2030.

    As reported today in the New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/26/science/26tier.html

    Says how Vernor Vinge predicted it, of course he doesn’t mention climate instability, but that is the first thing it will have to fix.

    I feel so relieved after reading that.

    Ah… I think I will go draw a warm bath. Extra hot.

  10. utanma says:

    Says how Vernor Vinge predicted it, of course he doesn’t mention climate instability, but that is the first thing it will have to fix.

    I feel so relieved after reading that.

    Ah… I think I will go draw a warm bath. Extra ho