Al Gore Proposes New Condition on Climate Change Forecasting Challenge

Published February 29, 2008

New York, NY, February 29, 2008 — Last year, Professor Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School of Business, who will be a featured speaker at the International Conference on Climate Change March 2-4 in New York (Marriott Marquis Hotel, March 4 at 8:45am, Empire Complex, 7th Floor) proposed a Global Warming Challenge debate to former Vice President Al 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. Armstrong bet that over the next 10 years he could forecast temperature change more accurately than any climate model that Mr. Gore might nominate. (Armstrong would forecast that global mean temperature would not change over the 10 years.)

Mr. Gore said he was too busy. In response, Dr. Armstrong asked Mr. Gore merely to provide a checkmark beside a leading climate model and to sign his name. Mr. Gore declined.

Dr. Armstrong replied: “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:

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

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

“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 carbon dioxide emissions would have a favorable impact on the climate,” Dr. Armstrong emphasized.

Dr. Armstrong said 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, Dr. Armstrong awaits Mr. Gore’s response to the revised challenge.

Dr. Armstrong is scheduled to speak at the conference in New York at the Marriott Marquis Times Square on Tuesday, March 4 at 8:45am, Empire Complex, 7th Floor.

Media representatives can register at the MEDIA REGISTRATION TABLE on the 5th floor of the Marriott Marquis at 1535 Broadway during the conference or in advance by contacting Harriette Johnson at The Heartland Institute, at 312/377-4000 or [email protected].