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Friday, August 23, 2013

No, Al Gore is not exaggerating or making stuff up

UPDATE: August 23, 1:35 p.m.

According to Joe Romm at Climate Progress, the full transcript of Vice President Gore’s remarks, which was incorrectly transcribed by the Post, was:

“The scientists are now adding category 6 to the hurricane…some are proposing we add category 6 to the hurricane scale that used to be 1-5.”

We hope the Post will update its original article to reflect Gore’s original statement.

It’s also true, as Romm points out, that at least one scientist has gone on the record recently saying there might need to be a new category. And while to our knowledge there have been no official meetings or workshops to discuss a new Category Six, it is probably accurate to say scientists have independently discussed or considered it, though the meaning of “proposed” is open to interpretation.

In any case, I still believe politicians should focus on science that is more certain and more actionable from a policy perspective, such as the obvious rise in sea levels.

It’s also worth noting that there could be other reasons to change how we categorize hurricanes besides an increase in wind speed, namely public safety. Even a sub-category one storm that makes landfall can be incredibly destructive, and this will only be increasingly true with higher sea levels.

I believe it is important to stand up for science—no matter who it criticizes. At the Center for Science and Democracy, we believe this is essential for preserving a debate founded on the facts. Accepting what the science tells us (no matter how inconvenient), correcting mistakes when found (as here), and incorporating new information are all part of the scientific process. This is how we move forward and in this case, I hope we can.

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