Dedicated to the balanced discussion of global warming
This is the second of a 5 part series reviewing the comments of the Science and Public Policy Institute (SPPI) in regards to “An Inconvenient Truth” (AIT).
ERROR 10 – Actually, SPPI isn’t tough enough on AIT on this one. Mr. Gore says that 350ppm of CO2 is all that keeps a mile of ice off of the top of Cleveland, Detroit, and New York. The last time that happened was 2 million years ago during the Pleistocene era and Mr. Gore’s data doesn’t extend that far back so therefore he is making an unsubstantiated claim.
ERROR 11 – SPPI is correct that Caterina was caused by a cold weather phenomenon that created a situation similar to the warm weather hurricanes of the Atlantic. There is little evidence that global warming caused this to happen although since it is only one data point, it is difficult to make any interpretations. Gore was at least misleading by implying that global warming had something to do with this.
ERROR 12 – This is a bit of a spin. We have less data on typhoon activity than hurricane activity due to the lack of records and the lack of satellite coverage. According to comments by Science magazine, their has been an increase in typhoons but that increase is not statistically significant since the solid data only goes back 30 or 40 years. No inference on the number of typhoons can be made because we haven’t gathered enough data to establish a baseline.
ERROR 13 – SPPI appears to be correct in this one but Mr. Gore is referencing popular scientific belief based on climate models. It is difficult to ding AIT on this one and I have to say that SPPI may be spinning this issue a bit. The SPPI answer is that it hasn’t happened yet and Mr. Gore was saying it would happen in the future. We have a hard time predicting the future which I have written on before (here and here).
ERROR 14 – I was tempted to call this one a tie but since SPPI is calling out AIT, AIT should win ties. It is very subjective to discuss insurance losses increasing since there are so many different variables involved (population growth, population at the site of the disaster, cost of materials, inflation, etc.). If anything, Mr. Gore should not have mentioned it since it is so subjective but the data that he presented appears to be correct. SPPI’s data appears to be correct as well but does refute Mr. Gore’s data. This may be a case where statistics don’t lie but (you can fill in the rest of the old saying)! SPPI is spinning this one.
ERROR 15 – It did flood in Mumbai and the consequences were terrible. However, Mr. Gore didn’t make his case that global warming caused it and SPPI is correct that there doesn’t appear to be any change in the amount of rainfall in that area. In fact, the data is quite good having come from 306 monitoring stations for over a hundred years and a simple plot and linear regression shows that rainfall is actually decreasing in India.
ERROR 16 – Both are wrong. When the measuring device involved is constantly evolving, it is extremely tenuous to make any hard predictions based on history. One can try to factor out bias caused by better detection devices but this is only an approximation. Also, once again, we are in a situation where hard evidence is extremely small and therefore we simply do not have enough data to draw a conclusion. While I gave the tie to AIT above, I need to give this one to SPPI, AIT does not make a concrete argument that increased global warming will bring on more tornadoes when there are several studies that show that it is the cooling in off El-Nino years that the number of tornadoes increases.
ERROR 17 – This one is difficult since the climate models are still evolving. Most of the warming of the ocean due to the sun’s radiance occurs closer to the equator and then that heat is eventually transported to the poles in the form of current. Also, since the angle of incidence on Arctic waters is so low compared to equatorial waters, it’s influence is much less. However, Gore’s statement that the polar ocean absorbs 90% of the light that hits it is false, as far as I can tell. Though it will absorb more light than if it was covered by ice so the blanket statement that the sun would heat up the Arctic is true. SPPI is not totally correct in its explanation but Gore definitely exaggerated this claim.
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Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, arctic, CGI, climate models, CO2, corn, forecast, hurricanes, ocean, polar, prediction, satellite, science, statistics, water, weather
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