The Global Warming Challenge

Evidence-based forecasting for climate change

Archive for the ‘the challenge’ Category

Who would win the ‘Climate Bet’, Al Gore or Scott Armstrong?

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In his talk on March 9, 2009 at the International Climate Change Conference in New York City, Wharton Professor J. Scott Armstrong will announce the launch of a prediction market on the outcome of the „Climate Bet‟ he proposed to Mr. Gore in 2007. Prediction markets are a structured scientific approach to eliciting and summarizing peoples‟ opinions. The Climate Bet prediction market is part of a project led by Andreas Graefe, a researcher at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany, to examine the use of prediction markets for controversial public policy issues. Are prediction markets useful in aiding the democratic process? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by mzfeldm

February 23, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Global Warming “cancelled”, 2009 International Climate Change Conference is on.

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As they did in 2008, organizers of The International Climate Change Conference are hosting a similar forum entitled “Global Warming Canceled” in New York on March 8-10 of 2009.  The Conference, sponsored The Heartland Institute, is intended to encourage an unbiased scientific evaluation of global warming.

Dan Miller, executive vice president of The Heartland Institute explains, “No corporate dollars earmarked for the event were solicited or accepted.” This creates a unique setting for a discussion of global warming; an issue that often incorporates political and corporate interests. Nearly 1000 scientists and experts from around the world will be attending the conference…more

Written by mzfeldm

October 24, 2008 at 4:12 pm

Audio recordings now available for the International Conference on Climate Change

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On March 2-4 2008, more than 500 scientists, economists, and policy analysts from around the world met in New York City for the inaugural International Conference on Climate Change.  The audio recordings of all 103 presentations from all five tracks (paleoclimatology, climatology, impacts, economics, and politics) are now available on a 35-CD set. It is clear that there is no scientific consensus on the causes and consequences of climate change nor on the direction of the changes.

The complete set is available from The Heartland Institute for $119.
Call (312) 377-4000 to order, or use the online order form at http://www.heartland.org/newyork08/proceedings.html.

Uncertainty, the Precautionary Principle, and Climate Change

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The precautionary principle is a political principle, not a scientific one. The principle is used to urge the cessation or avoidance of a human activity in situations of uncertainty, just in case that activity might cause harm to human health or the natural environment. There is an interesting discussion of the history of the term in Wikipedia.

In practice, the precautionary principle is invoked when an interest group identifies an issue that can help it to achieve its objectives. If the interest group is successful in its efforts to raise fears about the issue, the application of the scientific method is rejected and a new orthodoxy is imposed. Government dictates follow. People who dissent from the orthodox view are vilified, ostracized, and may have their livelihoods taken away from them.

Consider the case of “climate change”. Warnings of dangerous manmade global warming from scientists, politicians, and celebrities have received much publicity. They admonish us to dramatically reduce emissions of CO2 in order to prevent disaster over the course of the 21st Century. Efforts have been made to stifle a scientific approach to the issue. In an article titled “Veteran climate scientist says ‘lock up the oil men’“, James Hanson, who heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was quoted as suggesting that those who promote the ideas of global warming skeptics should be “put on trial for high crimes against humanity.” The skeptics themselves have been ejected from, for example, State Climatologist positions and prevented from publishing research in mainstream journals, and they and their views are routinely attacked.

Much complexity and uncertainty surround climate change. The cumulative empirical evidence on proper forecasting procedures suggests that the most appropriate method in this case is naïve extrapolation. In simple terms, this means to forecast no change. Of course there will be change, but with current knowledge there is no more reason to expect warming than to expect cooling.

As we describe in our paper, we have been unable to find any forecast derived from evidence-based (scientific) forecasting methods that supports the contention that the world faces dangerous manmade global warming.

Appeals for urgent curtailment of human activity “just in case” are often couched in ways that imply that industrial societies are inherently sinful, rather than that there might be a problem to be dealt with. Indeed, interpretation of the precautionary principle is subjective and it is arguable that it is being misapplied to the issue of climate change.

Firstly, even if forecasts of increasing temperatures turned out to be accurate, predicted temperatures and other conditions are within the range of variations that have been experienced in the past. There is no evidence that the natural environment “prefers” relatively cool to relatively warm average temperatures. In fact, life in general prefers warmth.

Secondly, curtailing human activity would harm people’s health by making them poorer than they would otherwise have been. This is likely to be the case even if curtailing human activity happened to reduce global average temperatures. When the situation is framed in this way, the precautionary principle dictates that it is policies to curtail economically efficient human activity that should themselves be curtailed.

The outlook for the climate over the 21st Century is highly uncertain. There is a word in the English language to express high uncertainty. That word is “ignorance”. And ignorance is not a basis for responsible government action. We should expect our politicians to have the courage to resist interest groups’ calls for action in the face of ignorance.

The precautionary principle brings to mind the slogan on the Ministry of Truth building in George Orwell’s 1984: “Ignorance is Strength.” Instead of this political principle, we hope that politicians will turn to scientific principles for making public policy.

Written by mzfeldm

September 1, 2008 at 12:15 am

Mashnich and Bashkirtsev’s 2007 Climate Wager

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Solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, of the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believe the climate is driven by the sun and predict global cooling will soon occur. The two scientists are so convinced that global temperatures will cool within the next decade they have placed a $10,000 wager with a UK scientist to prove their certainty. The criteria for the $10,000 bet will be to “compare global temperatures between 1998 and 2003 with those between 2012 and 2017. The loser will pay up in 2018,” according to an April 16, 2007 article in Live Science.

Written by climatebet

June 10, 2008 at 7:32 pm

Gore proposes new condition on climate forecasting challenge . . . Armstrong accepts and awaits a reply

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On June 19, 2007, Professor Armstrong proposed the Global Warming Challenge to Mr. Gore in an effort to stimulate a scientific approach to forecasting climate change. The Challenge asked that Armstrong and Gore each put $10,000 into a Charitable Trust Fund on December 1, 2007. Armstrong bet that over the next ten years he could forecast temperature change more accurately than any climate model that Mr. Gore might nominate. (Armstrong’s forecast would be that global mean temperature would not change over the ten years.)

On July 6, Mr. Gore sent a cordial reply stating that he was too busy. In response, on November 28, 2007, Dr. Armstrong extended the deadline to March 26, 2008, and made the task easier: Mr. Gore was asked merely to provide a checkmark beside a leading climate model and to sign his name.

Mr. Gore’s spokesperson replied on Armstrong’s answering phone on around February 5. The caller apologized for being so late for responding to the November 28 letter. She said, “Senator Gore declines.” No reason was given. She said to call if there were any questions. Attempts to reach her by phone failed despite leaving callback messages. Armstrong then contacted her by email with questions for Mr. Gore:

“You have made dramatic forecasts of a dire future and have asked people to make big sacrifices on the basis of those forecasts. I would be grateful if you would explain:

1. Why are you unwilling to back your forecasts in a challenge intended to promote scientific forecasting of climate change?

2. Under what conditions would you be willing to back your forecasts in a challenge against my forecasts from a simple scientific method that is appropriate in situations of high uncertainty: the naïve “no change” method?”

The spokesperson said that with respect to question #1, “Mr. Gore simply does not wish to participate in a financial wager.” Armstrong responded that it was fine by him and that we could “merely do it for its scientific value.” The spokesperson said that she would ask Mr. Gore. Armstrong asked if Mr. Gore would also respond to question #2.

The second question is of particular importance given that we have not been able to find any scientific forecasts to support global warming –or any that would support negative effects from global warming –or any to support the notion that efforts to reduce man-made CO2 would have a favorable impact on the climate. See Green & Armstrong’s paper “Global Warming: Forecasts By Scientists Versus Scientific Forecasts,” Energy & Environment 18 (2007), 995-1019.

Armstrong said that this is a scientific issue, not a political issue. Opinion polls do not provide a scientific approach in this situation, even when some of the respondents are climate experts. However, procedures do exist that would allow us to make scientific forecasts.

Meanwhile, Professor Armstrong awaits Mr. Gore’s response to the revised challenge.

Written by climatebet

February 14, 2008 at 9:14 pm

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007

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Scott Armstrong and Kesten Green are two of the over 400 prominent scientists featured in a Senate Report debunking the scientific “consensus” on global warming. The report was released December 20th, 2007, and can be accessed at the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works site. The following is a selected excerpt citing Armstrong’s climate challenge to Al Gore, scientific forecasts versus forecasts by scientists, and the recent study of polar bear prediction methodology.

Internationally known forecasting pioneer Dr. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School at the Ivy League University of Pennsylvania and his colleague Kesten Green of Monash University in Australia challenged Gore to a $10,000 bet in June 2007 over the accuracy of climate computer models predictions. “Claims that the Earth will get warmer have no more credence than saying that it will get colder.” According to Armstrong, the author of Long-Range Forecasting, the most frequently cited book on forecasting methods, “Of 89 principles [of forecasting], the [UN] IPCC violated 72.” Armstrong and Green also critiqued the Associated Press for hyping climate fears in 2007. “Dire consequences have been predicted to arise from warming of the Earth in coming decades of the 21st century. Enormous sea level rise is one of the more dramatic forecasts. According to the AP‘s Borenstein, such sea-level forecasts were experts’ judgments on what will happen,” Armstrong and Green wrote to EPW on September 23, 2007.

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Written by climatebet

December 25, 2007 at 10:59 pm