Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gore Pulls CRED Data From Talk

Posted by: Roger Pielke, Jr.

Andy Revkin at the New York Times asked Al Gore’s office for their comments on Gore’s use of data from CRED in Belgium in recent versions of his talk to illustrate the impacts of human-caused climate change on disasters. In response, Gore’s office has said that they will pull the slide, as it does not have a scientific foundation.

Kudos to Al Gore who has demonstrated a commitment to scientific accuracy in his presentation. However there are still some issues with their response. Here is how Gore’s office responded to Revkin as related at Dot Earth (please visit their for embedded links):

I can confirm that historically, we used Munich Re and Swiss Re data for the slide show. This can be confirmed using a hard copy of An Inconvenient Truth. (It is cited if you cannot recall from the film which is now several years old!). We became aware of the CRED database from its use by Charles Blow in the New York Times (May 31, 2008). So, it’s a very new addition.

We have found that Munich Re and other insurers and their science experts have made the attribution. I’m referring you particularly to their floods section/report [link, link] Both of these were published in a series entitled “Weather catastrophes and climate change-Is there still hope for us.”

We appreciate that you have pointed out the issues with the CRED database and will make the switch back to the data we used previously to ensure that there is no confusion either with regards to the data or attribution.

As to climate change and its impacts on storms and floods, the IPCC and NOAA among many other top scientific groups have indicated that climate change will result in more extreme weather events, including heat waves, wildfires, storms and floods. As the result of briefings from top scientists, Vice President Gore believes that we are beginning to see evidence of that now.

Switching from the CRED dataset to Munich Re (and Swiss Re) data does not solve the basic problem. As we found in an expert workshop organized in 2006 with Munich Re — The Munich Re dataset has exactly the same problems as the CRED dataset. Attribution of the role of greenhouse gas driven climate change in the increasing economic costs of disasters has yet to occur. So using a different dataset does not address the underlying problem.

So when Al Gore’s office says . . .

We have found that Munich Re and other insurers and their science experts have made the attribution.

. . . they are either cherry picking the selective views of a few people or simply mistaken. The scientific workshop that I co-organized with Peter Hoeppe of Munich Re concluded the following, with unanimous agreement among participants (PDF):

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