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SBCC instructors face-off in debate on climate change

Philosophy Instructor Mark McIntire (left) shakes hands with Biological Sciences Associate Professor Adam Green after their debate about climate change put on by 2020 A Year Without War on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at City College. The two agreed on several points regarding climate change but differed on how to fix the problem.

While Philosophy Instructor Mark McIntire and Associate Biology Professor Adam Green may not agree on climate change, they do agree that Leonardo DiCaprio is probably not the best advocate to speak for the cause.

The two City College teachers argued about the origins of modern climate change Wednesday evening, in a debate hosted by the 2020 A Year Without War organization, which was titled “Climate Change: Are We Responsible?” Geography Instructor Geordie Armstrong and Philosophy Instructor Manuel “Manny” Raya moderated the event.

Green argued for the position that current global warming is the result of human activity.

“The data is very clear that there’s climate change and global warming,” he said. “The data also is quite clear that it’s human caused.”

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McIntire said he was invited by 2020 A Year Without War to argue the opposite stance after they were having trouble finding a teacher who would oppose climate change.

“I’ll argue against anyone,” he said.

Security had to turn away an estimated 200 people, and the event eventually moved to a room with a larger carrying capacity. A live stream was also posted to Facebook.

McIntire argued that there are too many fallacies in the premises that human activity is a cause of climate change.

“It’s difficult to prove cause and effect,” McIntire said. “It’s much easier to prove correlation.”

Green presented a PowerPoint, which he quickly flipped through presenting charts and data supporting his argument.

“There is no way to be 100 percent certain that human activity is the cause,” he said, “but there is a sheer amount of evidence to show that human activity cannot be the cause. There is no alternative explanation.”

The instructors also argued for their stances on global warming regulation and taxation.

Green said he supported regulation, citing the example of the “Tragedy of the Commons” theory, which says if people use resources based on their own self-interest, it hurts the common good.

“Without some regulation populations will overuse the resources,” Green said. “So you need the regulation to prevent that from happening.”

McIntire said he believes implementing tax breaks and compensation and leveling the playing field for businesses would encourage incentives for renewable energy.

The two also opposed each other’s positions on politicians’ and scientists’ roles regarding climate change advocacy and research.

McIntire argued that politicians are not appropriate spokespeople to advocate for climate change.

“It’s really weird to think that politicians think that they’re more gifted than scientists,” McIntire said.

Green countered that scientists are not activists, and instead argued that science’s role is discover data without telling people what to do with it, suggesting that politicians should fulfill the role of advocacy.

“People who deny climate change should not be in charge of the government,” he added.

There were times when both debaters agreed, such as treating approaches to climate change as individual responsibilities.

“We are at a point where it’s not responsible to waste time delaying doing something about [climate change],” Green said. “We don’t need 100 percent certainty to start doing something about it.”

Green said he believes the environment will face substantial consequences if the the world does not take serious action now to fight against global warming.

“We’re all responsible for climate change,” McIntire said. “I ask you, change yourself before you change the world.”

“It was very successful,” said Lorenzo Marchetti, founder and president of 2020 A Year Without War. “This is how we talk to people with different points of view. It’s what we are looking for for our politicians. Building bridges, not war.”

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