2 to 1 odds for Prof. David BarberAugust 22, 2009
We are well into summer and the Arctic ice extent and area are taking their annual plunge. How deep will the plunge be? David Barber of the University of Manitoba thinks it will be very large. Just a year ago he predicted that the the North Pole would be ice free in the summer of 2008. National Geographic reported:
“We’re actually projecting this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time [in history],” David Barber, of the University of Manitoba, told National Geographic News aboard the C.C.G.S. Amundsen, a Canadian research icebreaker.
It turned out that he was wrong.
The 2008 summer minimum turned out to have more ice than 2007’s minimum. But he has a fallback predicton: that the Arctic Basin will be ice free, at least part of the summer, by 2015. This is a much more profound prediction. The North Pole is just a dot on the map, but the Arctic Basin is 4 million square kilometers surrounding the North Pole.
Last December I challenged Barber on this blog to wager over his 2015 prediction. He has not taken me up on the offer. Now I have doubled the odds for him. One week ago (8/15/09) I sent him the following email:
Dear Prof. Barber,
I took great interest in your widely reported prediction that the Arctic Basin would see its first ice free summer in 2015. Last December I wrote a blog post in which I challenged you to a wager. That post can be seen here:
This post has been viewed thousands of times on both my website and on the sites of others who have re-posted it.
In that post I said:
“I propose a friendly wager based on this prediction. I will bet David Barber $1000(US) that the ice covering the Arctic Basin will not be gone anytime before December 31st, 2015. The bet would involve no transfer of cash between myself or Barber, but rather, the loser will pay the sum to a charitable organization designated by the winner.
Definition of terms. The Arctic Basin is defined by the regional map at Cryosphere Today. “Gone” means the Arctic Basin sea ice area is less that 100,000 square kilometers, according to National Center for Environmental Prediction/NOAA as presented at Cryosphere Today . Charitable organizations will be agreed upon at the time the bet is initiated.
David Barber is a smart guy and evidently an expert in his field. Taking on a wager with an amateur like me should be like shooting fish in a barrel. I look forward to reaching an agreement soon.”
Perhaps you did not see that challenge online – but many other people did. I am now willing to give you two to one odds on the same wager. Are you interested?
That’s right. I will put $2000 dollars against Professor Barber’s $1000. It should be difficult for him to turn this down. He can put that $2000 dollars to any good cause that he desires. If this sum is too small, perhaps we can nogotiate something larger. He knows how to find me. But I haven’t had a response yet.
One more point: The Arctic Basin is about 4 million square kilometers that roughly surround the North Pole. If the Arctic Basin were ice free, then it would be a pretty good bet that all the arctic regions south of the Arctic Basin would also be ice free. So Barber’s bet that the Arctic Basin will be ice free at some point by 2015 is effectively like saying the entire Arctic will be ice free. Look at the AMSR-E plots of Arctic sea ice extent below. Anybody interested in taking my wager?
Why am I making this bet? Because I am concerned about climate exaggerations and the effect they have on public policy makers. It seems quite clear that David Barber was off the mark when he predicted for 2008 “this year that the North Pole may be free of ice for the first time,” because neither the Arctic Ocean, the Arctic Basin nor the North Pole were ice free in the summer of 2008. Same with the summer of 2009, so far. And the Arctic Basin will not be ice free by 2015 either.