Global Warming Skeptic Marc Morano Debates Bill Nye the Science Guy on Climate Change

UPDATE: Links added to transcript to give readers background regarding scientific points made by Morano.

Global warming skeptic and founder of the website Climate Depot Marc Morano debated climate change with Bill Nye the Science Guy on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight Tuesday.

Video of the entire spirited discussion follows with full CNN transcript:

PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Our big story tonight, you are so hot, America. And I mean that literally. The temperature was a balmy 60 degrees this afternoon in New York just outside CNN's studios. The average high temperature in December is normally 43. A warm front has flooded the lower 48 states with 482 daily high temperature records across the country on Monday alone. Quite extraordinary but is it evidence of manmade global warming?

That's tonight's "Battleground America." Joining me now are Bill Nye, the science guy, and Marc Morano, he's the publisher of Climatedepot.com. Welcome to you both.

BILL NYE: Thank you.

MORGAN: Let me start with you, Marc Morano, if I may. You are implacably opposed to the concept of manmade climate change. Why?

MARC MORANO, CLIMATE DEPOT: We followed the evidence. There are quite literally hundreds of factors that influence global temperature, everything from tilt of the earth's axis to ocean cycles to water vapor, methane, solar system, the sun, cloud feedback, volcanic dust. The idea that CO2 is the tail that wags the dog is not supportable.

And if you go down and look at the scientific literature, we are finding reams of data. And new peer-reviewed study showing the Medieval and Roman warming periods as warm or warmer than today without our CO2 emissions. So what's happened here is the whole movement, because now we've gone 16 years without global warming, according to the U.N. data [from UK Met Office], and they've now morphed into extreme weather.

And we have the absurd spectacle of people claiming that acts of Congress and United Nations can control the weather and make hurricanes less nasty and make tornadoes less frequent, which by the way none of them are showing any trends at all that are unusual.

MORGAN: OK. Bill Nye, your response?

NYE: Well, we start talking about the facts, those --

MORANO: Those are the facts.

NYE: Medieval warming period and the Roman warming period, those are just in Europe. And they're representative.

(CROSSTALK)

NYE: Let's see if we can agree on a couple of things. Do you agree that when I was a kid or when you were a kid, there was 340 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

MORANO: Sure. Carbon dioxide is rising. What's your point?

NYE: OK.

MORANO: No.

NYE: So here's the point, is it's rising extraordinarily fast. That's the difference between the bad old days and now is it's --

MORANO: Carbon dioxide --

NYE: It's much faster than ever in history. And so --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Yes, let him finish, Marc. Let him finish.

NYE: No. So that's -- it's the rate that's of great concern more than the actual --

MORGAN: And what do you put that rate down to, Bill?

NYE: It's human activity. I mean you go back -- this is what I say all the time. So you look in the ice and you find bubbles of trapped gas from 200 years ago, let alone 1,000 years ago. There's nobody running around with a hypodermic needle injecting bubbles of gas in ancient ice cores. I mean you -- that's the ancient atmosphere in there so you can determine the composition -- ancient atmosphere exactly.

This Medieval Warming Period is brought up quite often but it was really a European phenomenon and it's not -- it was global.


MORGAN: And what are the biggest factors, the manmade factors creating the acceleration of CO2 in the atmosphere?

NYE: Well, the biggest thing is when I was 9 years old, the earth's population changed from 2.999 billion to three billion. Now it's -- in my lifetime, it's now seven billion. People trying to live the way we lived in the developed -- way to live in a developed world and it's just -- we're just burning -- burning carbon and spewing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere at an extraordinary rate.

(Note on overpopulation claims: see Fred Pearce on 'The overpopulation myth': Population growth is slowing...The idea that growing human numbers will destroy the planet is nonsense' and 'Grist Mag. Going Down: Is too few people the new 'population problem?') 

MORGAN: Well, so Marc Morano, if there is a massively increased acceleration in CO2 in the atmosphere at the same time that there's been a bigger than double the sizing of the population of the planet, why would that not be inexorably linked? Explain to me.

MORANO: CO2 is rising. No one is disputing that. What Bill and I just did was waste everyone's time explaining that CO2 is rising. The question is what impact does CO2 have on the weather, what impact the CO2 have on climate change. And that, as we you look at the geologic records, we've had warmer periods where it's been -- with higher -- with lower CO2 and we've had colder periods with higher CO2. And you have to go way back for some of that but the bottom line is hundreds of factors are dictating our climate.

The Medieval Warm Period was both southern and northern hemisphere. On my Web site there's literally [scores of studies] -- it demolishes the idea of a hockey stick, new peer-reviewed study, so the idea that Bill Nye is just going around saying CO2 is up, therefore global warming is dangerous, we should be concerned, it's not. It's not dangerous. The bottom line is all these factors --

MORGAN: Well, let me -- let me --

MORANO: -- dwarfs the effects of CO2.

MORGAN: OK. Let me jump in. Let me jump in. How do you explain that the Eastern Seaboard, for example, is getting some of the warmest weather it's ever had at the same time that California has been plunged into storm after storm in the last week and you see New York last month had the worst hurricane it's ever endured and so on and so on?

MORANO: Sure. Great.

MORGAN: How do you explain that we're getting so many of these freakish weather patterns if at the same time you've got all this extra CO2 in the atmosphere and all these people now guzzling up power and energy and emitting gases that weren't there before?

MORANO: No.

MORGAN: Surely that is evidence, isn't it?

MORANO: No. You go to the peer-reviewed literature. You're looking at anecdotal evidence. This is now the level of your daily horoscope. Basically global warmists like Bill Nye say global warming will cause many bad weather events and guess what? Bad weather events happen all the time so people look and they say look, there's more proof, there's a bad weather event.

Bottom line, big tornadoes, F-3 and larger since 1950s have dropped dramatically. Bottom line, we've gone the longest period without a major U.S. category 3 or larger hurricane hitting the U.S. since 1900, maybe the civil war.

Bottom line, new study in the "Journal Nature," peer-reviewed, no change in U.S. drought in the last 60 years. Bottom line, a new study out shows that drought has not changed in 85 to --

MORGAN: OK. Let me give you --

MORANO: Hundred and 26 years.

MORGAN: Before --

(CROSSTALK)

MORGAN: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Let me add one more -- let me add one more bottom line before I defer to Bill Nye.

MORANO: Sure.


MORGAN: He knows more about this than I do. But another bottom line, the world is indisputably getting warmer. The U.N. Weather Agency said last week 2012 is on track to become one of the top 10 hottest years on record. And all the weird climactic changes we're seeing.

Bill, over to you.

NYE: This is a -- this will be the hottest two decades in -- in recorded history. And so when you throw around a statement like the U.N. says it's not the hottest 20 years --

(CROSSTALK)

2010 tied for "hottest" year? It is "purely a political statement." Even NASA's James Hansen admits it is "not particularly important."

NYE: I got to disagree with you. There may be some surface data shows that in certain cities.

MORGAN: Well, here's my point to you, Marc. It's a straightforward one, really. If you are wrong, then the implications for the planet are utterly catastrophic. In other words, if you and the climate change --

MORANO: Not at all.

MORGAN: Well, let me finish. If the anti-climate change brigade win the argument and nothing is done because you convince people nothing needs to be done and you're wrong, then in 100, 200 years, we'll have caused devastation for the planet that will then be irretrievable.

If, however, you are right in what you say and this is unnecessary and overreaction and so on, what you're seeing is a bit of economic hardship in the short term to deal with what may not be as big a problem as you think it is.

MORANO: Why it's the wrong argument? Because every proposal ever done including the United Nations Kyoto Protocol would not even detectibly impact the temperatures assuming you buy into their science. What we're talking about --

NYE: We're not talking about the temperature.

MORANO: We're talking about a climate bill in the United States. President Obama was going around telling people it will keep the planet four or five degrees cooler for our grandchildren. His own EPA said it wouldn't affect global CO2 levels let alone temperature. And if you actually do --

NYE: CO2 --

(CROSSTALK)

MORANO: Right now the developing world is getting 1,000 plus coal plants, there are 1.3 billion people don't have running water and electricity. If we actually go the route of trying to stop carbon- based energy which has been their lifeline, which would lower infant mortality and long life expectancy, it would be the most immoral position you can take. So the bottom line is even if the skeptics are wrong the solutions that the global warming alarmists have proposed would have no detectible impact on climate.

MORGAN: Let me let Bill Nye respond to that. NYE: If we -- if we were to begin to reduce carbon emissions, have the United States, for example, lead the way in this new technology, especially energy transmission, energy storage, electricity, we could change the world. We could get everybody a much higher quality of life than they'd otherwise have. The problem is so many people live near the coasts and these are -- they are very old economic reasons.

People lived on rivers since the beginning of human history, so as sea levels -- as the world gets warmer and I take it he doesn't disagree that the world is getting warmer --

(CROSSTALK)

NYE: So ice is also falling off the ice sheets so that ice is up on land. This is also going to cause the sea level to rise. So, for example, in the case of Sandy, which was not an especially big hurricane, the economic impact was $30 billion and that's in the developed world where we have the resources to deal with it.

When you have people displaced on a continental scales, these are -- we're not talking about a few people trying to get through a fence at a border between countries. We're talking about 30 -- tens of millions of people trying to move north, trying to move out of Southeast Asia. You're going to have trouble.


MORANO: Where -- when is this happening? This is --

NYE: So the sooner you get started on that problem, the better.

MORANO: These are all predictions based on climate models --

NYE: Well, our argument is --

(CROSSTALK)

MORANO: These predictions of Bill is based on climate models --

NYE: I appreciate your yelling. That's good.

MORANO: ... that violate 81 one out of 87 of the basic principles of forecasting.

NYE: So --

MORGAN: Marc Morano, do you accept that the ocean levels are rising, that the planet is getting hotter, that CO2 emissions have dramatically increased in the last 50 years, and --

NYE: And ice sheets are shrinking.

MORGAN: Ice sheets are shrinking and the planet population is doubling and accelerating at a terrifying rate, and that the combination of all these things is likely to be a major problem for the next two or three generations, and therefore, doing nothing shouldn't really be a sensible responsible option.

MORANO: Doing nothing -- first of all the United States did nothing, our CO2 emissions are dropping as we move to fracking away from coal through technology so the idea of nothing -- there's nothing to do. The idea of -- there's no way you can solve a nonproblem. Sea level has been rising since the end of the last ice age. There's no acceleration. The Dutch Meteorological Institute said there's no acceleration. You can look at the data, the land base data.

NYE: Boy, I just --

MORANO: There's no acceleration of the sea level.

NYE: We just don't agree on the facts. So we're not going to get anywhere.

MORANO: Where it goes -- the scary and where the horror story is in all these predictions. And they come out and say it's worse than we thought. Why --

MORGAN: Well, I respect --

MORANO: Because the predictions get scarier and scarier.

MORGAN: OK. Look, I respect that you have views. I don't think they're facts and there are many scientists who would take issue with you about the use of the word facts.

NYE: Based on studying Venus --

MORGAN: I'm going to have to wrap it up, I'm afraid. It's been a spirited debate. And I appreciate you both coming on.

MORANO: Thank you.

MORGAN: Marc Morano and Bill Nye. I'm sure it will rumble on. Thank you.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.