Debate Verdict: Al Gore Presenter Trounced by Heartland’s James Taylor

Published January 15, 2013

Global warming alarmists and skeptics alike report Heartland Institute Senior Fellow James Taylor scored a decisive victory over Ray Bellamy, an official presenter for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, in a global warming debate in Tallahassee, Florida. 

Rare Public Debate

Gore’s Climate Reality Project surprised observers by agreeing to the Jan. 8 public debate. Gore’s presenters very rarely agree to participate in debates or public events in which skeptics are allowed an opportunity to present the case against a global warming crisis. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

Contrasting Styles, Substance 

A coin flip determined Bellamy would speak first, and the Al Gore surrogate gave a very Gore-like presentation with pictures of Arctic ice sheets, attacks on skeptics’ funding, and anecdotal reports of extreme weather events such as droughts.

Taylor opened his rebuttal by pointing out global warming alarmists have to prove all four of the following to show humans are creating a global warming crisis: (1) that temperatures are unusually warm by historical standards, (2) that humans are the primary cause of recent warming, (3) that a warmer climate is substantially worse than a colder climate, and (4) that global warming activists offer solutions that would achieve meaningful real-world results. Taylor then presented dozens of slides with objective data and peer-reviewed studies showing alarmists can prove none of the four necessary components of an asserted global warming crisis.

While presenting his data and studies, Taylor repeatedly pointed out Bellamy relied merely on anecdotal assertions rather than objective long-term data or peer-reviewed studies.

Bellamy Mishaps

During the question-and-answer segment, Bellamy was unable to answer a question about historical carbon dioxide levels. Taylor then answered the question with ease.

During closing remarks, Taylor caught Bellamy misrepresenting a statement made by Heartland Institute president Joseph Bast. An audience member called out to Bellamy, “He caught you, didn’t he?” and Taylor criticized Bellamy for misrepresenting Bast and for earlier launching ad hominem attacks on climate scientists who disagree with Bellamy’s point of view.

Alarmists Admit Defeat

Prior to the debate, environmental activist groups throughout northern Florida rallied supporters to show up at the debate and support Bellamy. Global warming activists appeared to form a clear majority of the more than 260 people attending the debate, but even Bellamy supporters admitted afterward Taylor scored a decisive victory.

“A number of attendees had their viewpoint about climate change not being a crisis confirmed,” global warming alarmist Pam McVety lamented in an article published in the Tallahassee Democrat. “The audience experienced the climate denial machine at its best.”

Despite the one-sided debate, McVety refused to change her mind on the topic.

“Being a good debater does not mean your facts or conclusions are correct,” McVety wrote.

“Judging it as a pure debate, Bellamy came in second,” admitted Tallahassee Democrat columnist Mark Hohmeister, who then attempted to reargue Bellamy’s presentation for him.

On a Facebook page titled, “Crash a Tea Party!!” more than two dozen people eagerly let it be known they would attend the debate to “have Dr. Ray Bellamy’s back.” After the debate, however, few people posted and fewer still were in good spirits.

“What did you expect?” one activist moaned after the debate. “But it was fun getting the excellent look at the Face of the Beast,” the activist posted in answer to his own question.

Climate Blog Tells the Story

On meteorologist Anthony Watts’ award-winning climate blog, “Watts Up With That?” skeptics celebrated Taylor’s victory over Gore’s surrogate, which was videotaped and posted on Watts’ blog (

Among the comments posted by viewers of the debate:

“No wonder the alarmists don’t like debating.”

“Typical ‘ad-hominem attacks’ by the Gore-ite. Completely predictable and un-original.”

“Dr Bellamy’s closing remarks with their bitter ad homs and smears about Willie Soon and outright lies about Fred Singer tell you that even Dr. Bellamy thinks he has lost that debate hands down.”

“Mr. Taylor’s debate was fact-filled (peer-reviewed citations aplenty), versus the emotion-filled anecdotes and ad-homs…”

 “I felt embarrassed on behalf of Mr Bellamy. Badly briefed, badly presented.”

“The alarmist guy is just awful—I mean embarrassing.”

“Not the first time an [anthropogenic global warming] person threw in an ad hominem zinger at the very end of a debate.”

“Bellamy clearly hasn’t done his homework. He seems to know little apart from the handful of set pieces he brought with him.”

“Embarrassing [anthropogenic global warming] presentation and typical activists ad-hominem in the end, good arguments well presented by James Taylor, thank you! With all data, it looks like, the longer the time is, the more precise the measurements are, the better the skeptic case looks.”

“Bellamy merely spewed the usual alarmist talking points, propaganda, and ad hominems. A trained chimp might have done better. Taylor, to the dismay and complete disapproval of [alarmists in the] audience offered facts and cogent arguments. I’d hardly call that a debate. More of a romp, really.”

“That was one of the most one-sided debates I have ever seen. Bellamy presented very few data, was inarticulate, scientifically inaccurate (note d13C definition was wrong: reference to 14C), made his arguments via platitudes and the end resorted to ad hominem. Taylor on the other hand backed up each point with fully referenced data, articulate response and rational arguments.”

Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.