Wednesday, March 04, 2009

What did Gore say?

As those of you who have been paying attention (you, yes you in the back, wake up!!) may have noted that an issue has arisen about what Al Gore said at the 2009 AAAS meeting on disasters. Insistent Stoats are insisting, but the bunnies know what a bunch of weasels those guys are. Fortunately for the three people whose names we know and whose telephones are ringing right now with calls from Colorado, (Yes you Andy Revkin, and you Glenn Beck and you George Will. Lucia only gets Email) Andy Balaskovitz from Moo You was on hand with a camera and posted the talk on YouTube



and the AAAS has it on RealPlayer. The slide that Boy Scout Roger Pielke has been whining about appears at about 7:00 in the MSU video and ~36:30 on Real Player. What Gore says prior to and while showing that slide was:

I'm not going to dwell on the hurricanes and the view of many scientists that the intensity of hurricanes is affected by the warming oceans
The drying soils and the fewer number of days of frost have contributed to an extraordinary die off of trees in the west and the increase in fires is quite significant. The largest fires in the history of Georgia and Florida respectively. Several times in the last three years hundreds of thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes in California. The government of Greece almost fell a year and half ago because of the record fires there. This month the highest temperatures ever measured in Australia, and of course the fires in South Eastern Australia still going on as we meet here have caused the tragic loss of almost 300 lives and ignited a huge nationwide debate in Australia that is very much focused on global warming. [Shows Koala drinking from bottle - ER] And, this iconic picture has gone around the world. These little Koalas usual avoid people at all costs. You may have seen interviews with the fireman, I have
There is published work by Reid Torn and Mills, showing that climate change will lead to significant fire risk and damage in Northern California, as well as the conclusions of the IPCC WGII that fire losses will increase significantly if emissions continue to grow. The controversy is whether this has yet happened. The insurance companies say yes. Boy Scout Roger says no. Eli suggests you ask him for a quote on home protection.
All around the world the fires from January to September of the past year [shows global map of fires-ER]. Now the pixels are rather dominated by these fires so they seem much larger than they are but they are warm enough.

This [the CRED slide -ER] is relating weather related disasters [the x-axis is time-ER] that are completely unprecedented, on the left hand side of this image you can see what used to be the norm and in recent years the increase has been quite startling four times as many in the last 30 years as in the previous 75 and the increases are continuing this has a huge economic impact when you look at in the context of history of these fires. This is from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters it’s quite startling
There are real reasons for believing that at a MINIMUM all of the weather related disasters that Gore talked about are, in the words of CRED,
Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one- even if it impact on the figures will likely become more evident in the future.
and again, the WGII provides strong support for the idea that the problems Gore talked about are influenced by climate change and the if greenhouse gases increase the problems will be exacerbated. People are arguing about how much that actor is responsible for and they differ. Gore is coming down on the strong side of the consensus that there is an effect (even Roger agrees, though he tries to back away from it). Pielke is complaining that
How did AAAS and the many scientists in attendance respond to being blatantly misled with scientific untruths in a speech calling for political action?
Maybe because there is a problem Roger?

But wait, there is more. Roger shows a slide

Which he claimed
Gore sought to sum up all of these weather anecdotes by citing data from the CRED in Belgium showing that the total number of disasters has increased in recent decades (at about minute 38:00 of the video), showing this graph for effect.
That is not the time they appeared in the video, more like 36:30, it's gone by 38:00 Perhaps Roger doesn't want you to see the real slide. Maybe because that is NOT the slide shown by Gore. Actually there were two, which are shown below as screen grabs from YouTube. Interested folk can see a better image on the RealPlayer replay.

(The limits of Eli's technology are that he grabbed the images from YouTube. The orange part is US disasters, the yellow global)

If you look carefully at Gore's slide in the talk, you see that the highest number on the y-axis is 390, in 2007, Roger P's peaks at over 550 in ~2000 (which accounts for the downward flip).

UPDATE: The text at P now reads:
showing that the total number of disasters has increased in recent decades (at about minute 38:00 of the video), showing a version of this graph for effect (Update: I later learned that Gore used a version of this graph produced by Charles Blow for the NYT).
but it is not a version of the graph he is still showing because, if nothing else, the data is different. Oh yeah, no links=:>

We all know that Roger INSISTS on accuracy for others. So why did he post the wrong graph, when the correct one was available to him on YouTube and Real Player (he links to the Real Player)? Even if he didn't know how to grab them, it is obvious by looking that the graph posted by Pielke is NOT the graph shown by Gore in the videos, one of which was taken live at the meeting. Maybe because Roger's disaster-o-graph peaks in 2000? Is he trying to convey false information here? Has the graph been changed by the AAAS and YouTube to make the Colorado Whiner appear to have mislead everyone??

Where are the auditors when you need them?

RTFR.
Comments?

30 comments:

Simon D said...

Ah, some actual investigative reporting! That's what has been missing all along in this ridiculous debate.

Marion Delgado said...

Finally we all see the Eagle's POV.

Alex Harvey said...

Hi Eli,

Not to quibble but let's add to Pielke Jr's observations:

(1) Al Gore has also exaggerated the number of deaths from the Australia bushfires, which has only just hit 200 and will never be 300.

(2) It also perhaps deserves a mention somewhere or other that the bushfires were lit by arsonists and of course bushfires of similar intensity have been a big problem in Australia since the dawn of European settlement (and earlier).

(3) As for the koalas... Yes we are losing them. They are endangered. Kevin Rudd doesn't care because he's fighting global warming. The state governments don't care because they're fighting global warming too. But the koalas' problem is loss of their habitat and this follows from land-clearing which follows from policies aimed at increasing the Australian population...which Democrats would most likely support.

Anonymous said...

Alex Harvey

(1)
The total death toll will be around 230, last I herad is was about 208 with 37 unaccounted for. Gore is probably working off the original police estimates. So he isn't "exaggerating".

(2) This doesn't mean much, the fires were the worst for humans in recorded times... Not sure how else you can rank them. The conditions on the day were also the worst recorded for fire.

(3)Land clearing is now heavily restricted - you need a permit even to clear your own land. If we actually enacted some cabon accounting you may find that Koalas end up with more habitat.

Nathan

skanky said...

"So why did he post the wrong graph"

He often seems to have problems with graphs (see JEB & Rabett passim) - maybe he should try and forget science and stick to policy. Though for a policy wonk, he's pretty poor at getting his point across.

Anonymous said...

maybe he should try and forget science and stick to policy. Though for a policy wonk, he's pretty poor at getting his point across."

no, that won't work.

When one can not understand the underlying equations (in the past, RP, jr has shown ignorance of the fact that that a slowly growing exponential looks the same as a straight line over a short time span) one needs the graphs to figure out which policies to pursue.

"Science" is, after all, an important part of "Science policy".

Jr regularly ignores that when he "critiques" the work of scientists, when he takes things out of context (as Eli shows above) and when he criticizes scientists for using their scientific knowledge, expertise (and yes, "authority") to influence policy.

Pielke tries to be both a scientist AND a policy wonk, but it is not particularly successful on EITHER account.

based on his "debating' skills, one might conclude that he would make a good lawyer (and perhaps should try that), but then again, if he made the kind of "error" Eli pointed out above in a court of law, a good lawyer on the other side would rip him a new one.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this whole "debate' is that one can never blame any one event on climate change.

Gore certainly understands that and he is not even claiming that one can, as far as i can see.

That is NOt the real issue, notwithstanding the claims of others.

The real issue is how to talk about and prepare for events that may or may not happen in the future when climate change may impact the likelihood of those events.

It's not an easy question to answer and there is no "correct" answer.

If one makes it taboo to talk about things like possible increased wildfire and hurricane damage from climate change simply because the attribution is not 100% (as it seems some would have us do), then one omits an important (indeed critical) part of the debate.

Hank Roberts said...

"In the world of politics, an honest broker is a 'neutral mediator.' In the human research setting, the honest broker plays a similar role, serving as a disinterested intermediary between the researcher and the individual whose data are being studied."
http://www.irb.pitt.edu/Exempt/honestbroker.htm

RPJr is neither of the above.

Subprime broker, maybe; he's really trying to push the customer into buying what he's recommending.

"Better hurry, you won't see prices like this again in your lifetime."

True that was.

Simon Evans said...

Alex Harvey,

"the bushfires were lit by arsonists"

I think you mean "some of the bushfires...."

Besides, arsonists like hot and dry fuel.

Anonymous said...

"In the world of politics, an honest broker is a 'neutral mediator.'

A "neutral mediator"? In politics????

That's the funniest joke I've heard in some time (if not ever).

And RE "the bushfires were lit by arsonists"

What (or who) started the fires is largely irrelevant.

What is relevant is that the conditions for out of control fires exist in many places like Australia because of extended drought that has almost certainly been made worse by increasing temperature.

one can never say those conditions were caused by global warming, but that does not mean that one can not say that global warming will probably lead to more wildfires and/or increased damage in the future.

Certainty on causes should never be a requirement for acting on risk. (If it were, there would be no insurance industry.)

some obviously would have us believe otherwise, but that does not make it so.

Carl C said...

what a surprise, the (self-appointed & annointed) honest broker is neither? ;-)

"He's a broker, he's a joker, he's a midnight toker"

Anonymous said...

All the talk is about Big Al's presentation at AAAS.

But Al's talk pales in comparison to the dire warnings of Jeremy Jackson, professor of oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“Everything I’ve studied in my career no longer exists.”

Overfishing is a chief culprit in the decline of ocean ecosystems...
Pollution, too, is a major threat to oceans...And climate change? “Anything that makes a shell is in trouble,”

Gas needs to get to $10 a gallon tomorrow,” he said, and “we need to eliminate all agricultural subsidies, period. Or the oceans will die.


[Got that, if we do not act NOW, the oceans will DIE. Not might. Not with 60% probability. They will]

More generally, Jackson said that “scientists need to get off the sidelines and actually do something useful.”

I wonder if he means "scientists using their authority in the scientific realm to change policy"?

man, that should get under Roger Pielke's skin if nothing else does.

I wonder why Roger Pielke focused on Gore with Jeremy Jackson so ripe for the picking.

Couldn't have anything to do with Gore's popularity/notoriety. Or with all the right wing blogs that are quick to pick up on (and repeat ad infinitum) any "debunking" of Gore. Could it??

Hank Roberts said...

> Neutral mediator ...
> in politics

You laugh, I imagine, because it's so humiliating to compare our contemporary self-elected best with honest men's work in past centuries to broker fair agreements.

http://www.certilman.com/UserFiles/File/History%20of%20ADR%20in%20the%20US%20-%20Handout.doc.

Look at the Bering Sea arbitration, a good example:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9D04E4DA1F39E033A25750C2A9649C94659ED7CF

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9A0DE4DC103CE433A25754C1A9609C94699ED7CF

Belette said...

Thanks for the transcript. My opinion of the essentials remains unaltered. You point out that RP Jr uses the wrong graph. As you say, for someone who purports to insist on accuracy this is just a trifle careless, doubtless he will apologise in due course.

EliRabett said...

Pielke went ballistic about something he does all the time, and then he basically did a Pat Michaels to back it up. Will told a flat out lie, Gore went right up to the line, but not over it, or if he went over it, not a whole lot.

Hank Roberts said...

> Jeremy Jackson

He's right, you know.

Certainty comes too late.
This is real:

http://scienceblogs.com/deepseanews/jackson%282008%29.jpg

Clue:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126981.900-jellyfish-sushi-seafoods-slimy-future.html

tidal said...

W.r.t. Jeremy Jackson's commentary and the link that Hank makes above to "Table 1". Fwiw, I often share the following three links. The first is that table Hank pointed to. The second is the PNAS paper that it is from (a survey of the "state of the ocean" literature c. early 2008...). And the third is the Sackler lecture to the NAS on which the paper was based.

The reason I share these, oddly, is I am trying to impress upon people the urgency of action on GHG's. I know, that is a bit of a bait and switch, but there is something about Jackson's presentation that conveys the urgency, the omfg! aspect of how late in the game we are on that multi-faceted problem... And people tend to relate to it better than "drought in Spain in 2015!"...

Table:

Paper:

Presentation:

That whole presentation is one of the most rivetting/sad/distressing things I have ever seen/heard. When I use the "quick" version of this for people, I discuss "Table 1" and some quick overview of key points in the paper, and in the presentation I jump to slides 10-11 for the Christensen studies, 32-33 on the Caribbean green turtles, and the slides 38-40 shots of the trophy fish pictures in Key West 1956 to present... and then the final 4 or 5 concluding slides... which are just heart-breaking... Anyway, I find this jolts some people into attention better than I have found "glaciers are melting!" ever does. And then I can explore further from there...

You folks are all wonderful and generous... Thanks for everything...

Anonymous said...

I loved Gore's response to Lomborg.

Poor Lomborg was made to look like the little boy he is:

The Lomborg: "I don’t mean to corner you, or maybe I do mean to corner you, but would you be willing to have a debate with me on that point?” asked the polo-shirt wearing Dane.

“I want to be polite to you,” Mr. Gore responded. But, no. “The scientific community has gone through this chapter and verse. We have long since passed the time when we should pretend this is a ‘on the one hand, on the other hand’ issue,” he said. “It’s not a matter of theory or conjecture, for goodness sake,” he added.

As an example, he pointed to a new addition to the budget for the island nation of the Maldives: “Funds to buy a new nation.”

amoeba said...

An 'honest' broker, who is so hypercritical of others' errors, but whose 'mistakes' go only one way?

Mmmm.

It would seem RP thought no-one would notice.

Alex Harvey said...

Nathan,

(1)
The total death toll will be around 230, last I herad is was about 208 with 37 unaccounted for. Gore is probably working off the original police estimates. So he isn't "exaggerating".

--reply: if he is working off 'police estimates' he should not say 'HAVE CAUSED the tragic loss of almost 300 lives'. The correct phrase might be "could cause" if talking about future estimates; it's an exaggeration.

(2) This doesn't mean much, the fires were the worst for humans in recorded times... Not sure how else you can rank them. The conditions on the day were also the worst recorded for fire.

--reply: how do you define "worst"? I doubt it. There are no figures available for the early fires of the colonial period; those figures would certainly not include aboriginal deaths (or koala deaths). Again, the fact that the aboriginal people of Australia had practiced controlled burning of the bush for thousands of years suggests rather strongly that these bushfires can not be connected with 'global warming'.

(3)Land clearing is now heavily restricted - you need a permit even to clear your own land. If we actually enacted some cabon accounting you may find that Koalas end up with more habitat.

--reply: there are restrictions that prevent the clearing of firebreaks, sure, and this is why so many people died. Meanwhile, the fact remains that koalas have lost their habitat to land-clearing,and they are still losing it to further land-clearing, e.g. to farming, and new settlements.

Anonymous said...

Hank,

I agree with you.

I just think it is interesting that Pielke focuses on Gore, because he knows criticism of Gore will get the biggest response in the media.

Just as with Pielke's "critiques" of James Hansen.

Hank Roberts said...

Oh, my, look at this:

We know something caused fires in the past--- and to wossname that

"... suggests rather strongly that these bushfires can not be connected with 'global warming'."

How ... what ... good grief.

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/correlation.png

Anonymous said...

Alex Harvey, "the fact that the aboriginal people of Australia had practiced controlled burning of the bush for thousands of years suggests rather strongly"
-- that climate and fire danger today has shifted significantly: Those "controlled burns" would be suicidal today!


--Florifulgurator

Anonymous said...

"Roger shows a slide"

Are you sure, Eli?

Because I did some research myself and I would swear that this is Roger's slide.

Anonymous said...

Well, the wingnuts here in San Diego are probably going completely apesh*t.

Al Gore is in town to receive the first Roger Revelle Prize from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (If Dr. Revelle were still alive, he'd be celebrating his 100th birthday).

Scripps, of course, is one of those liberal, elite, sciencey-type institutions that is part of the global conspiracy to take down America.


--caerbannog the anonybunny

Anonymous said...

Having a great laugh here Rabett, what with Gore-Roger who said what, why etc,etc etc. Stoat gives Rabett a smack on the backside and that seems to be a tad upsetting.

But the ice Rabett, getting mighty close to that 14Msq km area.

You can go back to your frothing at the mouth now.

JohnS

Anonymous said...

Eli says UPDATE: The text at P now reads:

showing that the total number of disasters has increased in recent decades (at about minute 38:00 of the video), showing a version of this graph for effect (Update: I later learned that Gore used a version of this graph produced by Charles Blow for the NYT).

but it is not a version of the graph he is still showing because, if nothing else, the data is different. Oh yeah, no links=:>


Why can't RP just admit he was wrong? (for once).

Doing that would give him more credibility, not less.

MrPete said...

Hi Eli,
I (finally) noticed that you'd weighed in on this.

What you and so many others have missed is that Gore was 100% incorrect in his understanding of the data.

I've said this elsewhere, I'll say it here:

The data is not of disasters but disaster reports. Huge difference, as the ability to collect and communicate such data worldwide has radically changed in the last 50 years. Major connecting and communication technologies became globally ubiquitous starting in the 1960's, e.g. air travel, telephone primarily, and cars and postal service secondarily.

FWIW, CRED agreed with this observation.

Enjoy,
MrPete

EliRabett said...

Who is Eli gonna believe, you or his lying eyes.

Anonymous said...

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/04/19/why-it-seems-that-severe-weather-is-getting-worse-when-the-data-shows-otherwise-a-historical-perspective/

No upward trends in extreme weather, peer reviewed again, and again, and again...