Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What Is Al Gore Afraid Of?

He's asked to put his money where his fear-mongering mouth is -- and refuses. From today's Political Diary:

Al Gore thinks the climate crisis is so dire that he's written a book, produced a movie and organized a world-wide music event to raise awareness. These have helped to make him a rich man, but is he willing to put his money where his mouth is? Don't bet on it.

J. Scott Armstrong, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and expert on long range forecasting, has offered to bet Al Gore $10,000 that he can do a better job of predicting the future of climate change than the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose forecasts of rising temperatures are cited in virtually every media account. Mr. Armstrong and a colleague, Kesten Green of New Zealand's Monash University, examined the IPCC's work for last month's 27th Annual International Symposium on Forecasting and found it essentially valueless according to established principles of forecasting. "Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder," concluded the two.

So what's Prof. Armstrong's own climate prediction? No change at all. "The methodology was so poor that I thought a bet based on complete ignorance of the climate could do better," says Mr. Armstrong. "We call it 'the naïve model.' Things won't change."

Professor Armstrong is the author of Long-Range Forecasting -- the most frequently cited book on forecasting methods -- and Principles of Forecasting, which was voted a "favorite book" by researchers and practitioners associated with the International Institute of Forecasters. If Mr. Gore accepts his challenge, Prof. Armstrong has proposed that each man put $10,000 into a charitable trust at a reputable brokerage house. The winner would then choose a charity to receive the total amount.

So far, Mr. Gore -- usually quite the opportunist -- has balked at the opportunity to establish credibility with global warming skeptics. "Please understand that Mr. Gore is not taking on any new projects at this time," read a note to Mr. Armstrong from Mr. Gore's communications director.

-- Taylor Buley

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