Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gore pulls graph (and not, for once, out of his *ss)

Former Vice President Al Gore is pulling a dramatic slide from his ever-evolving global warming presentation. When Mr. Gore addressed a packed, cheering hall at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago earlier this month, his climate slide show contained a startling graph showing a ceiling-high spike in disasters in recent years. The data came from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (also called CRED) at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels.

The graph, which was added to his talk last year, came just after a sequence of images of people from Iowa to South Australia struggling with drought, wildfire, flooding and other weather-related calamities. Mr. Gore described the pattern as a manifestation of human-driven climate change. “This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented,” he said. (The preceding link is to a video clip of that portion of the talk; go to 7th minute.)

Now Mr. Gore is dropping the graph, his office said today. Here’s why.

Two days after the talk, Mr. Gore was sharply criticized for using the data to make a point about global warming by Roger A. Pielke, Jr., a political scientist focused on disaster trends and climate policy at the University of Colorado. Mr. Pielke noted that the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters stressed in reports that a host of factors unrelated to climate caused the enormous rise in reported disasters (details below).
Every once in a while we're reminded that CU is not utterly worthless--not even the poly-sci department.
Dr. Pielke quoted the Belgian center: “Indeed, justifying the upward trend in hydro-meteorological disaster occurrence and impacts essentially through climate change would be misleading. Climate change is probably an actor in this increase but not the major one — even if its impact on the figures will likely become more evident in the future.” . . .
Read how Gore's spokesgerbil tries to weasel (or gerbil) out of it.

(Via Teem Blair)

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