For the past year, Al Gore has been the darling of environmentalists, as his popular documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, made their case about the dangers of global warming to people worldwide.
But now, Scott Armstrong, a Wharton Marketing professor, wants Al Gore to put his money where his mouth is.
Armstrong has challenged the former vice president to a 10-year bet, in which $10,000 from the two would be set aside in escrow as Gore pits his forecast of how much global temperature will increase during that time against a so-called "naive model," in which temperature would be expected to stay the same.
The winner would get to donate the $20,000 and accumulated interest to the charity of his choice.
Armstrong explained that the idea of a bet arose out of research a colleague and he - both specialists in forecasting - had done on global-warming forecasts put out by Gore and organizations like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations-sponsored entity formed to help achieve scientific consensus on climate change.
Armstrong said that he discovered that most climate-change forecasts use bad methodology.
"We've been unable to find any scientific forecast, and what we have are forecasts by scientists," he said.
Armstrong and his colleague, Keston Green of Monash University in Australia, are presenting their findings in a paper to the International Symposium on Forecasting on Wednesday, but Armstrong said the bet is meant to serve as encouragement to his peers in the field "to start making forecasts for important problems" and not to question whether climate change is occurring, per se.
However, splitting hairs about forecasting models still hasn't convinced many that Armstrong's argument poses a serious threat to the science behind global warming.
Carl Wunsch, a professor of physical oceanography and climate-change expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that though different forecasting models show different outcomes for the planet as a result of global warming, most which are taken seriously by climate-change experts do show the world overall becoming warming and wetter because of human activity.
"They should be regarded as possibilities . that need to be taken seriously," he said.
Wunsch also questioned whether someone who is admittedly unversed in the scientific principles of meteorology and geology could provide a better forecasting model than experts in these fields.
Since Armstrong says that one of the goals behind this bet is to provoke debate, rising College senior Kelly Jin, Armstrong's research assistant, has started up a Web log - theclimatebet.com - which will chronicle the outcome of the bet.
Though the site has only been up for a couple of days, Jin says it's gotten about 1,000 hits in the past two days.
She does admit, though, that most of the other blogs that link to the site are critical of Armstrong.
While Gore has yet to respond to his challenge, which was sent out Tuesday, Armstrong says he "wouldn't expect him to respond right away."
Gore and his associates at Participate, an organization that promotes his message, couldn't be reached for comment.Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.