Scientist: Al Gore ‘got it wrong’

A Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) expert says Al Gore goofed during his widely circulated Washington Post interview on global warming.

Gore, noting stronger storms fueled by climate change, told the paper “the hurricane scale used to be 1-5, and now they’re adding a 6.”

But in fact, there’s no new scale, the Union of Concerned Scientists representative said on Thursday.

ADVERTISEMENT
“He deserves great praise for these Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning efforts. But unfortunately he recently got it wrong about the science of climate change,” wrote the group's Gretchen Goldman in a blog post Thursday about Gore’s remarks.

“There are no plans by the National Hurricane Center, the federal office responsible for categorizing storms, to create a new category,” she wrote on the environmental group’s website.

Her admonishment is gentle, praising Gore for drawing attention to other "important information" about climate change. 

“[I]t is worth noting that the rest of the interview included accurate and important information and it’s unfortunate that this blip made its way in,” Goldman writes.

But Goldman, an expert in atmospheric science with a Ph.D. from the Georgia Institute of Technology, also injects a note of caution into the debate about climate and storms:

Though there is some evidence that climate change will influence hurricanes, the effect of climate change on hurricane intensity and hurricane frequency is complex and scientists are continuing to study the connection. Hurricanes in the North Atlantic region have been intensifying over the past 40 years but not elsewhere in the world. By contrast, scientists have high confidence that sea level will rise all over the world, and particularly fast in some areas like the East Coast.

Goldman’s post covers a lot of ground, so readers can see it all here.

Gore made his claim about the hurricane scale in a much wider interview that also veered into the politics of climate change. E2-Wire covered it here.

Here’s what he said about the weather:

If you look at superstorm Sandy on October 29th, the ocean water east of New Jersey was nine degrees fahrenheit above average. That’s what put so much more energy into that storm. That’s what put so much more water vapor into that storm. Would there be a storm anyway? Maybe so. Would there be hurricanes and floods and droughts without man-made global warming? Of course. But they’re stronger now. The extreme events are more extreme. The hurricane scale used to be 1-5 and now they’re adding a 6. The fingerprint of man-made global warming is all over these storms and extreme weather events.

More in Energy & Environment

NASA scientist: California has one year of water left

Read more »