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Even with the human tragedy of Cyclone Nargis still unfolding in Burma, environmentalists aren't wasting any time linking the disaster to global warming. Or at least one isn't: Al Gore. Citing the deadly Burmese storm and recent storms in China and Bangladesh, he declared on National Public Radio: "We're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."
There's just one problem -- it's not clear there's any link between climate change and hurricane numbers or intensity. The number of big storms has been falling, not rising. As for intensity, researchers led by Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Center have found that earlier generations of hurricane-watchers using inferior satellite imagery incorrectly classified many storms as weaker than they actually were. After correcting for this mismeasurement, the "increase" in storm intensity since the 1970s nearly disappears.
But Mr. Gore is perhaps too busy these days to follow the science closely. In April, a London-based company he chairs began selling shares in its so-called Global Sustainability Fund to small investors in New Zealand, following a similar offer to investors in Australia (interestingly, out of sight of the U.S. press). He was also a conspicuously invoked presence when the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins this month announced a new $500 million "green growth" fund in partnership with Mr. Gore's London firm. Asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Mr. Gore had been helpful in raising money, co-manager John Denniston replied: "That's not been his primary responsibility."
Uh huh. Mr. Gore's primary responsibility, from the looks of it, is to spread alarm about global warming and create the political conditions (subsidies, mandates) without which Kleiner's "green" energy ventures are unlikely to flourish. Expect the payoff to come next year as a new Congress and President debate global warming policy.
-- Joseph Sternberg