Al Gore Has Not Responded to Professor's Global Warming Wager, Media Mum
Savvy NewsBusters readers are quite aware that last week, a professor from the Wharton Business School named Scott Armstrong challenged soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore to a wager over global warming.
According to the website created by one of Armstrong’s students, the Global Warmingist-in-Chief has yet to respond.
However, there are some updates concerning the matter that folks might find interesting. First, what follows is the actual letter sent to Gore by Armstrong on June 19, 2007 (emphasis added):
June 19, 2007
Honorable Albert Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Dear Mr. Gore,
A “Global Warming Challenge” is attached. I think the challenge serves our mutual interest in developing better public policy. The terms of the challenge can be easily changed upon mutual agreement.
The primary objective is to improve the application of scientific methods in forecasting climate change and, thus, to use better forecasting methods. In addition, it may provide funding for one of our charities.
The objectives are attainable no matter which of us would “win” the challenge. The fact that we would be joining together in this challenge should draw the attention of scientists to the need for using the best forecasting methods and conducting proper validation tests.
Might you be able to respond by the time of my International Symposium on Forecasting talk on the morning of Wednesday June 27? This could be something as simple as “accept,” “decline,” or “contemplating.” Or it could be a longer response. You, or one of your representatives would be welcome, of course, to be a guest at this conference.
I believe that you already know the chairperson, Kajal Lahiri, from his days in Arlington when your sons played on the same soccer team. If you can attend, Kajal will make provisions for you to respond to this challenge. The conference runs from Monday through mid-day Wednesday.
Would you be interested in receiving a copy of my Principles of Forecasting book? I will be happy to send you a copy if you tell me what address to use.
J. Scott Armstrong
Professor of Marketing
The Wharton School
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104
armstrong at wharton dot upenn dot edu
Please note that this letter was faxed to Gore, and that Armstrong gave his e-mail address for a simple, timely response.
Maybe Al is waiting for the June 27 deadline, huh?
Regardless, a new article was written about this wager, and published at Spiked Monday (emphasis added throughout):
Armstrong got the idea for the climate change wager from the late Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland who was a friend of Armstrong’s. In 1980, Simon bet the population scaremonger Paul Ehrlich that natural resources were not scarce and shrinking, as Ehrlich and other Malthusian environmentalists claimed. Ehrlich accepted: he chose five metals (copper, chrome, nickel, tin and tungsten) and bet Simon that in 10 years’ time the price of these metals would have risen exponentially due to their continued depletion by human adventure. In fact, when 1990 arrived, the price of all of Ehrlich’s metals had fallen. Simon won the bet and Ehrlich handed him a cheque for $576.07. Armstrong expects to win his bet with Gore, too (that’s if Gore accepts; he hasn’t responded yet). But even if he were to lose, ‘at least I will have started a debate about forecasting’, he tells me.
Armstrong and his colleague Kesten Green, senior research fellow at Monash University in Australia and also an expert on forecasting, have been conducting research into the global-warming forecasts put out by Gore and organisations such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And they discovered that most climate-change forecasters use bad methodology. They are set to present their findings at an International Symposium on Forecasting in New York on Wednesday. ‘What we have is climate forecasters effectively translating their own opinions into maths’, says Armstrong. ‘Their claims are not built on clear and thorough scientific forecasts but on their own outlooks.’ In Global Warming: Forecasts by Scientists versus Scientific Forecasts – the paper they are presenting at the symposium, which spiked has seen – Armstrong and Green point out that the IPCC’s Working Group One Report predicted ‘dramatic and harmful increases in average world temperatures over the next 92 years’, and they ask: ‘Are these forecasts a good basis for developing public policy?’ The answer provided in their paper is an emphatic ‘no’ (3).
Armstrong and Green – whom I’m sure won’t mind being referred to as forecasting geeks – argue that those who predict sweeping changes in the climate break many of the golden rules of forecasting, as laid out in the 2001 book The Principles of Forecasting. In their paper, they assessed ‘the extent to which long-term forecasts of global average temperatures have been derived using evidence-based forecasting methods’. They surveyed 51 scientists and others involved in making global-warming predictions, asking them to provide scientific articles that contained credible forecasts to underpin their view that temperature will rise rapidly. Most of those surveyed – 30 out of 51 – cited the IPCC Report as the best forecasting source. Yet according to Armstrong and Green, the forecasts in the IPCC Report are not the outcome of scientific forecasting procedures – rather the Report presents ‘the opinions of scientists transformed by mathematics and obscured by complex writing’ (4). Indeed, in their ‘forecasting audit’ of the IPPC Report, Armstrong and Green found that it violated 72 of the principles of forecasting.
Interesting stuff, yes? The article continued:
Such as? ‘Well, some of the principles of forecasting can appear counterintuitive, so bear with me’, says Armstrong. ‘One of the principles is that agreement amongst experts is actually not a very good measure of accuracy. This is especially true if experts are working closely together, and towards a certain goal, as they do in the IPCC. Such an atmosphere does not tend to generate reliable or accurate forecasts. Another principle of forecasting is that when there is uncertainty, your forecasts should be conservative, you should hedge your bets a little bit. The IPCC and others do exactly the opposite: despite their uncertainty, the fact that they don’t know for certain what will happen, they are radical in their predictions of warming and destruction and so on.’
Fascinating, wouldn't you agree.
Of course, it is going to be very interesting to see how much attention Armstrong gets. After all, a Google News and LexisNexis search identified not one press outlet covered Armstrong’s challenge to Gore.