Archive for the ‘communication’ Category
Professor Armstrong’s letter to Senator Boxer on the forthcoming publication of Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public-Policy Forecasting Audit
April 9, 2008
The Honorable Barbara Boxer
Chairman, Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Boxer,
Since presenting the presentation of my testimony on the validity of the government polar bear forecasts at your U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on January 30 of this year, I along with my co-authors Kesten Green of Monash University in Australia and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, have continued to work on our research paper on the methods that were used to make the forecasts. Thanks to extensive peer review, we have made many improvements. I enclose a copy of the paper. The current version of the paper is always available at http://publicpolicyforecasting.com.
I am pleased to inform you that it has now been accepted (subject to further revisions) by Interfaces. Thus, it stands as the only peer-reviewed study on polar bear forecasting that has been accepted for journal publication.
We found the forecasts of declining polar bear numbers contained in the government’s administrative reports were not the product of scientific forecasting methods. Given the large current population of bears and the upward trend in the population, our findings lead to the conclusion that there is no scientific basis for listing polar bears. Indeed, a reliance on evidence-based forecasting suggests that it is more likely that the polar bear population will increase rather than decrease.
I would be happy to discuss the details of our paper with you.
Professor J. Scott Armstrong, The Wharton School
The extended due date for the Global Warming Challenge passed with no word from Mr. Gore. Although he and Professor Armstrong have had a number of communications, Mr. Gore offered no response to the key question:
“When and under what conditions would you be willing to engage in a scientific test of your forecasts?”
Validation of forecasting methods is a key issue in climate change because, although we know that climate varies, we have been unable to locate a single scientific forecast that supports global warming. If Mr. Gore or anyone else is aware of such a forecast, they should reveal the source to the scientific community. Claims that science supports global warming forecasts have, to date, failed to provide sources.
A history of the Global Warning Challenge is provided at http://theclimatebet.com. It includes all correspondence between Scott Armstrong and Al Gore. The site will post all papers that purport to provide scientific forecasts of global warming. The papers must provide full disclosure on how the forecasts were made, as full disclosure is one of the basic principles of science.
Scott Armstrong’s letter to Al Gore follows:
March 28, 2008
Honorable Albert Gore
2100 West End Avenue, Suite 620 Nashville, TN 37203
Dear Mr. Gore,
The extended deadline for the Global Warming Challenge has passed and, despite the fact that I have responded to all of your concerns to date regarding the challenge, you have not been willing to engage in a scientific test of your forecasts of dangerous global warming.
Despite our literature searches and our appeals both on the Internet and in our published paper on climate change, my colleague and I have been unable to find a single scientific forecast to support global warming. If you are aware of such a study, I appeal to you directly to reveal it to the scientific community so that it can be subject to peer review and so the public can see the scientific basis for your claims.
In addition we need to continue scientific studies. Thus, I pose this question:
“When and under what conditions would you be willing to engage in a scientific test of your global warming forecasts?”
I look forward to your responses. By your own words, the global warming issue remains an important one for the future of the world. Given the enormous expenditures on this issue, I hope that as a concerned and influential citizen, you will take an active role in encouraging the application of science to this issue.
J. Scott Armstrong
It’s been over 2 months since Armstrong sent a simplified challenge with extended deadline to Al Gore. We’ll be keeping track until Mr. Gore responds.
After a series of cordial exchanges, Al Gore had said that he was too busy when the challenge was first offered. As a result, Scott Armstrong extended the deadline and simplified the process such that the only actions required of Al Gore are to 1) sign the letter and 2) deposit $10,000 in the Challenge Fund. The letter below explains the new simplified process.
November 28, 2007
Honorable Albert Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Dear Mr. Gore,
Thank you for your previous emails and your letter concerning the Global Warming Challenge. You had mentioned that you were looking forward to reading my book, Principles of Forecasting; I believe the principles are critical to making accurate forecasts for global warming.
In earlier communications, your staff mentioned that you were too busy at the time to enter in the Global Warming Challenge. As a result, I am happy to extend the deadline beyond December 1st, 2007, to March 26th, 2008. In addition, I have found a way to make your task much easier. I propose that you place $10,000 on the Hadley Centre Forecasts.
This would merely require that you sign on the “I agree” line at the bottom of this letter. Each of us would then arrange to transfer $10,000 to a trust of your choosing. The money would be invested in mutual funds, and the proceeds would go to the winner’s charity on March 26th, 2018.
As a brief reminder, here is an overview of the original Global Warming Challenge (details can be found at http://theclimatebet.com):
Al Gore is invited to select any currently available fully disclosed climate model to produce the forecasts (without human adjustments to the model’s forecasts). Scott Armstrong’s forecasts will be based on the naive (no-change) model; that is, for each of the ten years of the challenge, he will use the most recent year’s average temperature at each station as the forecast for each of the years in the future.
Details on the 10-year bet would be handled with discussions between me the Hadley Centre. I would ask an independent board to aid in this process of finding an appropriate design and to monitor the progress of the bet. You would be kept up to date, and you would have the right to ask the board to consider changing aspects of the design.
In The Assault on Reason, you stated your interest in the use of science in addressing global warming:
“We must, for example, stop tolerating the rejection and distortion of science. We must insist on an end to the cynical use of pseudostudies known to be false for the purpose of intentionally clouding the public’s ability to discern the truth. Americans in both parties should insist on the reestablishment of respect for the rule of reason. The climate crisis, in particular, could cause us to reject and transcend ideologically based distortions of the best available scientific evidence.” p. 10
I believe we have a common goal. Although I expect to win, the purpose of the challenge is to promote interest in a scientific approach to forecasting. Climate experts have done much useful work to explain the past, but their approach to forecasting does not adhere to scientific principles.
J. Scott Armstrong
For the signature of Mr. Gore:
I agree to the terms of the Global Warming Challenge with the variations specified in this letter
Thank you for thinking of Mr.Gore and inviting him to join you on June 27th. I apologize for the late response, but Mr.Gore has an extremely busy schedule and was not able to make it. I also read that you have a book called “Principles of Forecasting”, please feel free to mail that to Mr.Gore’s office at the address listed below. Thank you for understanding and good luck with everything in the future.
Office of the Honorable Al Gore & Mrs. Tipper Gore
2100 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203
Click through for Scott Armstrong’s reply.
Scott Armstrong’s challenge to Al Gore was mentioned in today’s Opinion Journal Political Diary (subscription only), which features commentary and analysis on US Politics by the Wall Street Journal.
Read up on the article by Taylor Buley below (reproduced with permission):
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.
* Correction: Monash University is located in Melbourne, Australia.
This statement does not preclude Mr. Gore from taking action at a future time. Mr. Gore has not responded directly, and there seems to be a communication problem as his involvement in Global Warming Challenge would take him only five minutes. Professor Armstrong remains hopeful that Mr. Gore will lend his prestige and influence to furthering a scientific approach to climate forecasting.