Truth proves inconvenient for Al Gore at Copenhagen
The former US Vice-President over-egged his claim of an ice-free Arctic within five years
Al Gore, the former US Vice-President and now figurehead of the green movement , came up against an inconvenient truth of his own making yesterday when he claimed that the Arctic could be completely ice-free within five years.
Gore, who narrated the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, became embroiled in a spin row when he spoke at the climate change summit in Copenhagen. He told delegates that new computer modelling suggests that by 2014 there is a 75 per cent chance the entire polar ice cap will melt in the summertime.
But Gore faced an embarrassing climbdown last night after the Californian climatologist on whose work the prediction was based, Dr Wieslaw Maslowski, refuted his claims.
Gore had told the conference that record melting of Polar and Himalayan ice could deprive more than a billion people of access to clean water. Talking about Dr Maslowski's work in forecasting the effects of global warming, Gore said: "These figures are fresh, I just got them yesterday."
Gore's office later admitted that the 75 per cent figure was one used by Dr Maslowksi as a "ballpark figure" several years ago in a conversation with the former vice-president.
Last night Dr Maslowski, a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, told the Times: "It's unclear to me how this figure was arrived at. I would never try to estimate likelihood at anything as exact as this."
Dr Maslowki said that his latest results give a six-year projection for the melting of 80 per cent of the ice, but he said he expects some ice to remain beyond 2020. "I was very explicit that we were talking about near-ice-free conditions and not completely ice-free conditions in the northern ocean."
Meanwhile climate change negotiators worked through the night to try to rescue plans for a global agreement. Five hours of negotiation time were lost yesterday when developing countries walked out in protest over the lack of progress on their demand for legally binding emissions targets from rich nations.
Several heads of state - including Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown - will arrive in the Danish capital today ahead of a hoped-for historic deal on Friday. ·
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