‘Debate’ Site Aggregates Pro and Con Climate Items

If the public conversation about manmade global warming is losing some of its essentially debate-like quality, you couldn’t tell it from glancing at a new website called “Climate Debate Daily,” a pro-and-con aggregator of items published elsewhere.

Starting with its name, nearly everything about the site exudes a kind of dichotomous balance – the approach many U.S. news outlets until fairly recently were alternately praised and blamed for bringing to their climate change news coverage.

Climate Debate Daily‘s two editors, for instance, are introduced on the website as holding two opposing viewpoints.

Denis Dutton, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New England, is the skeptic of the pair. Dutton edits The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s extremely popular Arts & Letters Daily website, to which Climate Debate Daily bears a visual resemblance. He also edits the Johns Hopkins University Press journal, Philosophy and Literature. Climate Debate Daily‘s biographical blurb says Dutton is “skeptical about the degree to which human activity has contributed to the general warming trend that began in the 1880s” and believes “the best way for science and public policy to proceed is to keep assessing evidence pro and con for anthropogenic global warming.”

(In a 2003 article in the New Zealand Herald, he sounded a more caustic note: “Green ideology gives believers what they need in religion,” he wrote, including “prophets of doom” such as “Kyoto doomsayers [who] prophesy that after being fried alive, we will be swallowed by the seas.”)

Climate Debate Daily‘s other editor is Douglas Campbell, who holds degrees in computer science and biology and is “currently completing a PhD in philosophy at the University of Arizona while teaching philosophy at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.” According to his biographical note, Campbell “is impressed by the breadth and depth of the scientific evidence supporting the theory of anthropogenic global warming, and thinks that to the extent that the science remains uncertain the Precautionary Principle still justifies even relatively costly mitigation measures.”

Campbell’s blurb adds that, like Dutton, he is “open to being led by logic and good evidence to whatever the truth may be. His optimistic hope is that Climate Debate Daily will help focus minds on the very best arguments from both sides of the debate and help put the poor arguments (of which there are many!) to rest.”

A narrow column on the left side of the Climate Debate Daily site lists dozens of links to other websites, divided into categories such as “Pro-IPCC Blogs,” “Skeptical Blogs,” “Climate News” and “Climate Facts.”

Most of the site, however, is devoted to two equal-width, equal-length columns headed “Calls to Action” and “Dissenting Voices,” with brief summaries and links to items described respectively as being “generally in support of” and “skeptical of” IPCC. Cited items include “scientific articles, news stories, economic studies, polemics, historical articles, PR releases, editorials, feature commentaries, and blog entries.”

A note at the bottom of the site explains that it is “independent” and “generously supported by a grant from Dr. Peter Farrell of ResMed Corp.,” which develops and sells medical devices. “Like Denis Dutton, Dr. Farrell is skeptical of the threat of anthropogenic global warming. But he also says, ‘Let the best argument win.’”

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