Courtroom format for climate change debate

A courtroom format in Orkney this week will tackle the question of climate change.

For many months the debate has raged in newspaper columns and internet blogs – Is the climate really changing? And are we the cause?

Now as part of the Orkney International Science Festival the courtroom method is bring applied. The aim is to get at the truth by bringing the two sides together, gathering the evidence from each, and subjecting it to examination and cross-examination.

The Festival say that despite all the arguments about climate change, they have not heard of this courtroom-style approach being tried before, and on Monday evening (10 September) a team of Orkney lawyers and debaters will get into action.

Solicitors Alistair Bruce of Lows of Orkney and Katharine McKerrall of OIC will marshal their witnesses in a courtroom procedure of strict rules. Each side will call two main witnesses, and then the other side will cross-examine. The audience will have an opportunity to feed in questions and to act as the jury in making a final decision at the end of the evening.

Committee members of Stromness Debating Society will assist the legal teams and the courtroom officials.

The motion itself will be: ‘That we should adapt to climate change rather than try stopping it.’

Speaking in support of the motion will be Dr Benny Peiser, the director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, an organisation set up by Lord Lawson to challenge government policies on climate change. With him with him will be John Shade, a retired industrial statistician with some prior professional experience in applied nuclear physics and meteorology.

Speaking on the other side will be Dr Andy Kerr, director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, and oceanographer Prof. Peter Wadhams of Cambridge University, who researches the Arctic ice.

The organisation of the debate has been carried out by Drever & Heddle in Kirkwall, with the assistance of Stromness Debating Society and the support of the British Science Association. It takes place on Monday evening in the King Street Halls at 7.30 pm.