Larry King on Global Warming: ‘Could it Really Kill Us All?’

There was an extraordinary debate about global warming on CNN’s “Larry King Live” Wednesday night that perfectly demonstrated the battle that is waging on this issue. In particular, it marvelously depicted the hysteria being exhibited by the media versus the reason of those who actually make a living analyzing the problem.

For instance, King began the discussion:

Tonight, what is global warming? Could it really kill us all, submerge cities like New York and Washington and San Francisco under floods from melting Arctic ice caps? Cause deadly heat waves lasting weeks? Would such a disaster be manmade?

Some bedside manner, wouldn’t you agree?

After playing some video clips of frightened Senators, and a petrified Al Gore, King turned to Weather Channel climate expert Heidi Cullen:

And I think that the sea level rise issue is especially one that needs to be discussed and we need to talk about more in the sense that it sounds like this creeping issue that's far off in the future, but it's something that once we reach a point of warmer temperatures where we're pretty much locked into -- to ice caps melting -- and a lot of the new science that's come out recently suggests that sea ice is melting faster than we ever thought.

Next up to panic the audience was Bill Nye the “Science Guy,” who actually suggested that global warming could end up stopping the Gulf Stream. I kid you not.

Fortunately, Richard Lindzen of MIT was present to dash some water on all this hysteria:

Well, I think my read on it is that there is a certain climate of fear, to quote Mike Creighton. You know, for instance, Nye was talking about fresh water perhaps shutting down the Gulf Stream. But that isn't what physical oceanographers think.

First of all, you know, we've measured the heat transport from the tropics to high latitudes. It's almost all in the atmosphere. The Gulf Stream is mostly driven by wind. To shut it down, you'd have to stop the rotation of the Earth or shut off the wind.

And there's a lot of confusion in this and, you know, at the heart of it, we're talking of a few tenths of a degree change in temperature. None of it in the last eight years, by the way. And if we had warming, it should be accomplished by less storminess. But because the temperature itself is so unspectacular, we have developed all sorts of fear of prospect scenarios -- of flooding, of plague, of increased storminess when the physics says we should see less.

I think it's mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other and themselves.

Next entering the ring to throw some much-needed economic sanity into the equation was Julian Morris, an economist with the International Policy Network. Her views were exceptionally interesting given how the global warmingists universally ignore how the recommendations being made will impact the economies of the world. Morris fortunately doesn’t:

Well, I think it's worth comparing the real problems which are facing the world today with the scenarios that are being predicted for the future.

Every year, at the moment, about 10 million children die of preventable and curable diseases, and yet we're concerned that some time far in the future, a few hundred thousand people, maybe a few million people, at most, might suffer in some unknown way as a result of climate change. But the same people who predict massive climate changes also predict that in order for those climate changes to occur, we would have had enormous amounts of economic growth.

So the poorest people in the world will no longer be poor. In fact, they will be richer than the richest people in the world are today. Average per capita incomes in the poorest parts of the world are less than $1,000 U.S. per year per capita. In 50 years time, those are predicted to be greater than the current levels for the richest part of the world, i.e. more than about $30,000 U.S. which is average per capita income in places like the U.K. and other parts of Europe...

KING: So...

MORRIS: So the question is...

KING: So what the environment is doing will be meaningless to them?

MORRIS: Well, the reality is that in the future, people will be wealthy enough to adapt to pretty much...

KING: Wow!

MORRIS: ... any change that is likely to happen.

KING: I see.

MORRIS: I mean, barring absolute global catastrophe, we'll be able to manage the situation.

KING: I've got you.

MORRIS: So the question is, is whether we want to spend vast resources today to prevent something that might happen way downstream in the future.

You never hear the media or the global warmingists discuss that side of the equation, do you? You never hear them address how all the money spent to solve what might not be a problem, as well as the money lost globally because of the “solutions,” could end up keeping the world’s poor destitute and starving for no valid reason other than to assuage what is potentially unwarranted hysteria.

And why is there this hysteria? Well, the following exchange between King and Nye perfectly answers this question:

KING: Bill Nye, where is Richard Lindzen wrong?

NYE: Well, he -- I'm not sure, because I'm not -- I'm not an expert on his ideas.

Exactly. He’s not. And neither are most of the talking heads in the media that are causing this hysteria. Maybe we would all be better off if folks like Al Gore, Bill Nye, and Heidi Cullen stopped giving us their unqualified opinions about what scientists are saying on this subject, for it is clear that none of them is an expert.

To drive this point home further, after Nye admitted that he wasn’t an expert on Lindzen’s ideas, he continued to debate him. Now, bear in mind that Nye graduated from Cornell with a degree in mechanical engineering, and began his career with Boeing:

NYE: But the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC report, which comes out Friday, is pretty compelling. And, as you know, I'm a member of the advisory board of the Union of Concerned Scientists and I find my colleagues pretty compelling, much more so than his -- his view is -- is a minority on a scale that's -- that's impressive. It's probably 100,000 to one or so, scientists versus him.

KING: All right, Richard, are you...

NYE: But I don't want it to get to be a personal attack. And...

KING: OK, Richard, are you -- are you one of the alone ones in this?

LINDZEN: You know, on what I was just saying, I was saying textbook material. And if the textbooks are out voiced by environmental advocacy groups like Union
of Concerned Scientists by 100,000 to one, that would be bizarre. We should close down our schools.
This makes no sense, what Mr. Nye is saying. I'm simply saying his comments about the Gulf Stream are wrong. And his comments about heat transport are wrong. And that is not 100,000 to one. That is...

NYE: Yes, just to clarify, I said that -- Larry asked me about fresh water falling on the ocean.

LINDZEN: Yes.

NYE: That's what I'm saying.

LINDZEN: And fresh water...

NYE: That would be the ultimate consequence.

LINDZEN: Yes. And all I'm saying is the thermohaline circulation is not the major driver of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is not what people are...

NYE: So you're saying that we shouldn't be concerned about global climate change because...

LINDZEN: Nobody is saying...

NYE: ... wind developments the -- the Gulf Stream?

LINDZEN: Nobody it saying anything...

NYE: That's not enough for me.

LINDZEN: Well, nobody is saying anything of the sort. We are simply saying that if you wish to issue scare remarks, you should make them accurate, according to the science.

NYE: So it will be very dangerous if the world gets two degrees Fahrenheit warmer in, say, the next 50 years?

LINDZEN: Well...

NYE: It will be dangerous for almost everybody.

LINDZEN: In what sense?

NYE: Now, do you disagree with that?

LINDZEN: Yes, of course, I do. I mean there is no study that suggests that two degrees Fahrenheit will make the world appreciably more dangerous.

Studies? We don’t need no stinkin' studies. We got Al Gore on our side!

Moving forward, later in the discussion Morris offered another sound economic point concerning this issue:

Well, fundamentally, if you want to reduce emissions greenhouse gases, the only way you can do that is by somehow reducing inputs to the industrial process. It means reducing the amount of oil you use to drive cars. It means reducing the amount of coal used to power machines and so on. And the consequence of that is that you reduce the amount of economic growth that takes place. So you slow the rate at which the world improves. You divert resources away from, for example, investing in all sorts of innovative technologies that would improve productive efficiency, which is how economic development takes place, and you shift those into, as, for example, President Bush has done or proposed to do this week, into paying for corn farmers in Iowa to produce more corn, to produce bio- ethanol.

This is a problem because you're imposing costs on society, and you have to justify that if you're going to do that by saying that there's going to be benefits. And, actually, where as if you get two economists in the room, it's often said you will get three different answers. When it comes to climate change, many, many economists have looked at this problem and the majority have said, well, and actually a small amount of warming is probably good for the world. It will increase agricultural production. You might, if you melt a bit of the arctic, open up the Northwest Passage. There are all sorts of benefits that would happen from a small amount of warming. So is it really sensible to impose dramatic costs when in fact the benefits will be small, if not actually zero?

Likely not. Lindzen followed up on this point:

Well, in a certain sense, when it comes to expenditures, and I'm speaking mostly as a citizen, except in one respect, almost everything proposed so far, if there's anything that there is a consensus on, will do very little to affect climate. So right now despite all of the claims to the contrary, we're talking about symbolism. And I think Julian's point is correct. Do you spend a lot? Do you distort a great deal in the economy for symbolism? And I think future generations are not going to blame us for anything except for being silly, for letting a few tenths of a degree panic us. And I think nobody is arguing about whether our climate is changing. It's always changing. Sea level has been rising since the end of the last ice age. The experts on it in the IPCC have freely acknowledged there's no strong evidence it's accelerating. Senator Inhofe was absolutely right. All that's coming out Friday is a summary for policymakers that is not prepared by scientists. Rob is wrong. It's not 2,500 people offering their consensus, I participated in that. Each person who is an author writes one or two pages in conjunction with someone else. They travel around the world several times a year for several years to write it and the summary for policymakers has the input of about 13 of the scientists, but ultimately, it is written by representatives of governments, of environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, and industrial organizations, each seeking their own benefit.

Morris later chimed in again about the economic facets of this issue:

Well, if I understand it, the problems that arose out of Katrina could have been prevented had there been better flood defenses originally, had there been a better emergency preparation and so on. A lot of the problems of Katrina weren't a result of the hurricane per se but as a result of the lack of preparedness and so on. But that aside, there's also the problem of actually associating Katrina and hurricanes in general with climate change. If you look over the record, of 100 years, the relationship between hurricane intensity and hurricane numbers and temperature is not strong. So I think we have to get that in perspective. But fundamentally, when societies get wealthier, they're much better able in general to deal with problems such as Katrina. If a hurricane like Katrina hit a place like Bangladesh, it would cause far, far more damage. So what really needs to happen around the world is the economic development must take place.

KING: I got you.

MORRIS: If you restrict emissions of carbon dioxide, you slow down economic development, you prevent the poorest people in the world from being able to adapt to the problems that they currently face, the many millions of people who currently die from preventable diseases. So enable economic development to take place. That's got to be the priority. Don't focus so much on hypothetical problems that might result in the future from our emissions, I think.

The discussion ended with this rather telling exchange between Nye and Lindzen:

LINDZEN: Not at all. I think time will tell. I think Mr. Nye is speaking about energy. Energy sources and balance have changed over time, it will change. I have no idea what the energy mix will be 50 years from now. But I think if what he says about profitable, better sources are there, they will come online and they will come online without government fiat. Heidi says the science is solid and I can't criticize her because she never says what science she's talking about. This is a problem with so many facets, that the notion that scientists are in lox, that bonnet is silly.

NYE: This report has them at 99 percent certainty, this report that comes out this week --

LINDZEN: Ninety-nine percent certainty of what?

NYE: It was 60 five years ago.

LINDZEN: Of what?

NYE: That the world's going to get warmer by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.2 Celsius.

LINDZEN: No, it didn't say anything of the sort. It didn't say that.

NYE: Ok, well, we'll see what happens when the report comes out.

KING: Well how do we know if it's not out yet?

LINDZEN: The report won't come out until May.

NYE: Ok, so do you want to talk about the -- you say that there is no global climate change? Is that your argument?

LINDZEN: I'm not saying anything of the sort. I'm saying temperature has changed --

NYE: Are you saying the problem is not serious?

KING: Let him finish.

LINDZEN: I'm saying that we have seen a rate of temperature change that is not outside the range of what the climate does by itself. So --

NYE: You're saying the current rate is consistent with, for example, the ice score records? I that what you're saying, it's about the same speed as the record of the --

LINDZEN: The ice score records, excuse me, have a time resolution of 2,000 years. They couldn't tell you what's going on, on the scale you're talking about.

NYE: I disagree with that statement right there.

LINDZEN: Do you want to make this small wager on it?

KING: Go ahead, Bill.

NYE: I'll bet you a cup of coffee.

LINDZEN: how about a bottle of (INAUDIBLE).

NYE: I don't know what that is.

LINDZEN: Sixty dollars for a bottle of scotch.

NYE: Sure, it sounds fancy.

KING: He's from M.I.T. he knows what he's talking about.

Darned right, Larry. And, maybe we should listen more to people like him and less to mechanical engineers, television anchors, and former vice presidents!

What follows is a full and extremely lengthy transcript of this discussion.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, what is global warming?

Could it really kill us all, submerge cities like New York and Washington and San Francisco under floods from melting Arctic ice caps? Cause deadly heat waves lasting weeks? Would such a disaster be manmade? Why have several presidential contenders sounded the global warming alarm this week on Capitol Hill?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The argument about climate change is over.

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: This is a problem whose time has come.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Global warming -- how scared should we be?

Find out next on LARRY KING LIVE.

There couldn't be a more important topic than your children's future. That's what we're talking about with global warming.

We have an outstanding panel. They are, in Atlanta, Heidi Cullen. Dr. Cullen is a climate expert for The Weather Channel, host of "The Climate Code."

In Los Angeles with us here is Bill Nye, the famed "Science Guy." He's a scientist, engineer, best-selling author, Emmy winning television personality and he's on the national advisory board of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In Watertown, Massachusetts is Richard Lindzen. He's the Alfred P. Sloan professor of atmospheric science at MIT. He's author of the op-ed pieces "There Is No Consensus On Global Warming" and "Climate of Fear," both published in the "Wall Street Journal."

And in London, Julian Morris, executive director, International Policy Network. He's an economist. His thesis is on the economics of climate change.

All right, Heidi Cullen, first, before we start, the global warming is a hot issue, major, in part, because of the documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," which is nominated for an Oscar. It's Al Gore's documentary. Let's take a quick look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH," COURTESY PARAMOUNT CLASSICS)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Arctic is experiencing faster melting. If this were to go, sea level worldwide would go up 20 feet. This is what would happen in Florida. Around Shanghai, home to 40 million people. The area around Calcutta, 60 million. Here's Manhattan. The World Trade Center Memorial would be underwater. Think of the impact of couple hundred thousand refugees and then imagine 100 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Heidi, is he on together?

HEIDI CULLEN, WEATHER CHANNEL CLIMATE EXPERT, HOST, "THE CLIMATE CODE": I think the documentary is very well done and he really hits the science issues and he captures them very nicely. And I think that the sea level rise issue is especially one that needs to be discussed and we need to talk about more in the sense that it sounds like this creeping issue that's far off in the future, but it's something that once we reach a point of warmer temperatures where we're pretty much locked into -- to ice caps melting -- and a lot of the new science that's come out recently suggests that sea ice is melting faster than we ever thought.

So, you know, not to be alarmist or to draw some kind of a catastrophe scenario, but the sea level rise issue is a very big one.

KING: Bill Nye, what is global warming? Is it real?

BILL NYE, "THE SCIENCE GUY," SCIENTIST, BEST-SELLING AUTHOR, TV PERSONALITY: I think it's real. I'm sure it's real. It's where we have put so much -- so many greenhouse gasses, so many molecules of greenhouse gases...

KING: We being man?

NYE: Humans, extra ones, that the speed that the world is getting warmer is getting really fast. And what's happening is these molecules hold heat in, in the same way glass holds heat in a greenhouse. That's where we got the name.

KING: Are we talking about one degree over 1,000 years?

NYE: Those were the good old days. Yes. Now it's -- everybody's concerned about a little more than two degrees Fahrenheit, about 1.2 degrees Celsius, in the next 50 years. So...

KING: And that's bad why?

NYE: Oh, that's bad for a couple of reasons. The world -- the weather around the world is going to change. Then you used a clip from "An Inconvenient Truth" where ice caps are melting and that fresh water flows into the sea. That upsets the flow of so-called thermohaline or salt heat driven ocean currents...

KING: Meaning?

NYE: Meaning -- that's what makes the Gulf Stream go, for example. And if the Gulf Stream stops...

KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) control the whole ecosystem?

NYE: Oh, yes. It would be crazy.

And then the other thing is, the ocean will actually get bigger. When it gets warmer, warm things expand and (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Lindzen, Richard Lindzen, I read your pieces in the "Wall Street Journal." They were very authoritative and very well written.

What's your read on this?

RICHARD S. LINDZEN, MIT PROFESSOR OF ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE: Well, I think my read on it is that there is a certain climate of fear, to quote Mike Creighton. You know, for instance, Nye was talking about fresh water perhaps shutting down the Gulf Stream
.

But that isn't what physical oceanographers think.

First of all, you know, we've measured the heat transport from the tropics to high latitudes. It's almost all in the atmosphere. The Gulf Stream is mostly driven by wind.
To shut it down, you'd have to stop the rotation of the Earth or shut off the wind.
And there's a lot of confusion in this and, you know, at the heart of it, we're talking of a few tenths of a degree change in temperature. None of it in the last eight years, by the way. And if we had warming, it should be accomplished by less storminess. But because the temperature itself is so unspectacular, we have developed all sorts of fear of prospect scenarios -- of flooding, of plague, of increased storminess when the physics says we should see less.

I think it's mainly just like little kids locking themselves in dark closets to see how much they can scare each other and themselves.

KING: Julian Morris in London, executive director, International Policy Network, is it much ado about nothing or should we be concerned?

JULIAN MORRIS, ECONOMIST, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL POLICY NETWORK: Well, I think it's worth comparing the real problems which are facing the world today with the scenarios that are being predicted for the future.

Every year, at the moment, about 10 million children die of preventable and curable diseases, and yet we're concerned that some time far in the future, a few hundred thousand people, maybe a few million people, at most, might suffer in some unknown way as a result of climate change. But the same people who predict massive climate changes also predict that in order for those climate changes to occur, we would have had enormous amounts of economic growth.

So the poorest people in the world will no longer be poor. In fact, they will be richer than the richest people in the world are today. Average per capita incomes in the poorest parts of the world are less than $1,000 U.S. per year per capita. In 50 years time, those are predicted to be greater than the current levels for the richest part of the world, i.e. more than about $30,000 U.S. which is average per capita income in places like the U.K. and other parts of Europe...

KING: So...

MORRIS: So the question is...

KING: So what the environment is doing will be meaningless to them?

MORRIS: Well, the reality is that in the future, people will be wealthy enough to adapt to pretty much...

KING: Wow!

MORRIS: ... any change that is likely to happen.

KING: I see.

MORRIS: I mean, barring absolute global catastrophe, we'll be able to manage the situation.

KING: I've got you.

MORRIS: So the question is, is whether we want to spend vast resources today to prevent something that might happen way downstream in the future.

KING: All right, let me get a break.

We're back with our outstanding panel.

We took our cameras out on the street today and asked people on Hollywood Boulevard what they think global warming is.

Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Global warming is something that is going on on the Earth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Earth's temperatures are getting warmer gradually over time and that's being caused by human interaction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's overheating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going to affect our future. It's going to affect our children's future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think people are slowly becoming more aware about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's tons of solutions that we're not using.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: All right, Heidi Cullen, Richard Lindzen says it's not a fact and Julian Morris says it doesn't really matter if it is, economically we'll overcome it.

What do you say to that?

CULLEN: Well, I think the truth is that it is, indeed, a fact. We've got a very big IPCC. The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change will be coming out with a report on Friday that's very much meant to be the state of the science of global warming. And, you know, the evidence is now overwhelming. The planet has warmed up about 1.3 degrees over the past 100 years.

Observational data suggest that extreme events are getting worse. We're seeing more droughts, we're seeing more heat waves.

So while I think science is a process and we're learning more every day, scientists are very much trying to keep up with what our climate is doing and how our climate is changing.

But the bottom line is global warming is real. And I do think that to make this argument that we have to prioritize this list and that to focus on global warming would be -- would be a mistake is -- it's sort of a fore -- it's just -- it's a false argument in the sense that global warming is one of these issues that technology exists to deal with it and our economy is ultimately very linked to our environment.

So to say that it would hurt the economy or that it's not worth putting any stress on the economy is to kind of make a false argument.

KING: Yes.

Bill Nye, where is Richard Lindzen wrong?

NYE: Well, he -- I'm not sure, because I'm not -- I'm not an expert on his ideas.

But the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC report, which comes out Friday, is pretty compelling. And, as you know, I'm a member of the advisory board of the Union of Concerned Scientists and I find my colleagues pretty compelling, much more so than his -- his view is -- is a minority on a scale that's -- that's impressive. It's probably 100,000 to one or so, scientists versus him.

KING: All right, Richard, are you...

NYE: But I don't want it to get to be a personal attack. And...

KING: OK, Richard, are you -- are you one of the alone ones in this?

LINDZEN: You know, on what I was just saying, I was saying textbook material. And if the textbooks are out voiced by environmental advocacy groups like Union
of Concerned Scientists by 100,000 to one, that would be bizarre. We should close down our schools.
This makes no sense, what Mr. Nye is saying. I'm simply saying his comments about the Gulf Stream are wrong. And his comments about heat transport are wrong. And that is not 100,000 to one. That is...

NYE: Yes, just to clarify, I said that -- Larry asked me about fresh water falling on the ocean.

LINDZEN: Yes.

NYE: That's what I'm saying.

LINDZEN: And fresh water...

NYE: That would be the ultimate consequence.

LINDZEN: Yes. And all I'm saying is the thermohaline circulation is not the major driver of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream is not what people are...

NYE: So you're saying that we shouldn't be concerned about global climate change because...

LINDZEN: Nobody is saying...

NYE: ... wind developments the -- the Gulf Stream?

LINDZEN: Nobody it saying anything...

NYE: That's not enough for me.

LINDZEN: Well, nobody is saying anything of the sort. We are simply saying that if you wish to issue scare remarks, you should make them accurate, according to the science.

NYE: So it will be very dangerous if the world gets two degrees Fahrenheit warmer in, say, the next 50 years?

LINDZEN: Well...

NYE: It will be dangerous for almost everybody.

LINDZEN: In what sense?

NYE: Now, do you disagree with that?

LINDZEN: Yes, of course, I do. I mean there is no study that suggests that two degrees Fahrenheit will make the world appreciably more dangerous. It will...

KING: All right, I've got to break in here.

We'll come right back.

Our panel will be with us the whole way, but we've got two United States senators who are going to take a look at this and then we'll come back with our panel and pick right up, too, with Julian Morris.

We'll be right back.

KING: To debate this issue, two outstanding members of the United States Senate, Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California. She's chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee. And James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, ranking minority member of the Environment & Public Works Committee, former chairman of that committee.

Yesterday, Senator Barbara Boxer chair an Environment & Public Works Committee hearing on climate change. Among those that testified were Senators McCain and Obama. Also speaking on the issue was committee member Hillary Clinton.

President Bush made a reference to climate change in his recent State of the Union.

Let's listen then get our senators' thoughts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's in our vital interests to diversify America's energy supply. The way forward is through technology. We must continue changing the way America generates electric power by even greater use of clean coal technology, solar and wind energy and clean, safe, nuclear power.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Senator Barbara Boxer, are we in a panic situation?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CF), CHAIR, ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE: Not at all, Larry. And if anyone watched that marvelous hearing we had yesterday, where we really heard from a third of the senators, there's really a climate of hope, not fear, because we are listening to the scientists and, yes, there are always a few who are the naysayers, just like there were people who said the Earth is flat.

But eventually there's a consensus.

I'm a policymaker. I can't turn my back on 11 National Academies of Sciences and the world scientists who were promoed today at "USA Today." They're going to come out with a report.

So we know there's a consensus that has built and I'm not going to debate anymore whether this is happening. I know it's happening.

And what we're going to do is not be afraid of it. We're going to wrap our arms around it and we're going to do the things that it takes to meet the challenge, which are energy efficiency, a whole list of things. We're going to clean up power plants. We're going to make sure we have green buildings.

And all these things that we do, Larry, to meet this challenge are good for the American people.

KING: Senator...

BOXER: The American people will save money, breath cleaner air...

KING: Senator Inhofe, why are you so skeptical on this?

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK), RANKING MINORITY MEMBER, ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE: Well, you know, I wasn't at one time, Larry.

Four years ago, when I became chairman of this committee, I was a believer that it as manmade gasses that were causing global warming, because that's all you saw in the media.

Then, when the Wharton School came out with the Wharton Econometrics Survey and it talked about how much this would destroy, economically, this country if we were to sign onto the Kyoto Treaty -- which was in consideration at that time -- and what it would cost. And I'm talking about doubling the cost of energy, doubling the cost of gas the average family of the millions watching this right now, the average family of four, it would have been $2,750 a year.

So I thought let's look and make sure the science is right.

Just at that time, the Smithsonian-Harvard Study came out. It refuted it. We had the Oregon Petition. That was 17,800 scientists came out and said no, it's not -- it's not due to manmade gasses.

Now, Larry, it's important to understand, I agree that we're going through a warming period right now. We were going through a warning -- a warming period during the turn of the century. That lasted through 1945, then cooling until 1975, now warming until now. And they're guessing it's going to go into another cooling period in about five years.

So why get hysterical?

The same people who are hysterical about this, who have pictures of the poor polar bear standing on the last remaining ice cube, were the ones who were saying, just a few years ago, another ice age is coming and we're all going to die.

KING: Senator Barbara Boxer?

BOXER: Well, I don't know who he's talking about saying that. And the 17,000...

INHOFE: Oh, "Time" magazine and...

BOXER: ... and the 17,000 scientists, Jim, as you well know, most of them said they didn't really know what they were signing onto and have backed away from it.

So let's -- let's just focus on the facts. The facts are that there is a consensus in this country -- there's a few people who say forget about it. But I have to say to tell the American people that their quality of life is going to diminish is just not right.

How many things could you think of that will save people money in their pockets when they go to energy efficiency, when they drive cars that get better fuel economy?

You know, the bottom line is we're going to move away from foreign oil, which we know causes lots of problems in the foreign affairs arena.

So I think the only ones who are really hysterical right now are those who are standing up and saying I don't want to hear this, I don't want to do it. Frankly, it's amazing and encouraging to me to see the biggest businesses come forward, as they just did last week, and say we're ready to work with you, Senator Barbara Boxer.

I got a call -- this is amazing -- from the head of Shell Oil, who -- we just have never gotten on, let's just put it that way -- who said I'm ready to work with you.

KING: Senator...

BOXER: People are coming to understand we've got to move. The Evangelicals are coming to me. So a consensus is building. And my dear friend, Jim Inhofe, is just being left, you know, all alone...

KING: Senator...

BOXER: ... pretty much.

KING: Senator Inhofe, what's wrong with, on the side of caution, going the expense route (UNINTELLIGIBLE) just in case all...

INHOFE: Well, first of all...

KING: Just in case all these people are right?

INHOFE: Larry, the reason so much panic is coming in on Barbara's side of this issue is that scientists are coming over and by almost on a weekly basis. And let me just mention a couple of them. The one I like to quote is a guy named Claude Allegre. He's a French geophysicist, a member of both the French and the National -- United States National Academy of Scientists. This is a quote, Larry. Now listen to this: "The cause of warming" -- this is a guy that marched up and down the street 10 years ago saying manmade gases are going to bring the world to an end. He now says that after studying the science, the new science: "The cause of warming is unknown. The proponents of manmade catastrophic global warming are being motivated by money."

When Barbara brings up this idea of several corporations coming in, sure, if I were head of G.E. and I had a solar equipment that I was selling and wind turbines and all of that, I'd do the same thing. It's a great profit for them.

Fifty-three percent of our energy is coal-fired energy, Larry. You pull that out and we have really serious problems.

KING: We have an e-mail question and an opinion from Jesse in Gurnee, Illinois. The -- it's more an opinion: "Our whole humanity is at stake here. Why is this issue not at the top of every politician's agenda?"

Senator Barbara Boxer, is it now?

BOXER: Well, it certainly is at the top of my agenda, along with ending the war in Iraq, I'll tell you right now.

The fact of the matter is I think, at the end of the day -- and we've proven it -- when you move toward a cleaner, healthier environment, you create jobs. You create -- you -- you see those new technologies coming online.

I would say the president, for the first time, mentioned global climate change. It's his administration that is looking to see whether the polar bears are a threatened species.

INHOFE: So...

BOXER: So, again, we are moving forward and the caller is right. If we turn away from this challenge, I think we're turning away from our responsibility to make sure that we leave this planet, you know, really, at least as good, or better, than we got it from the creator.

INHOFE: Larry...

KING: Senator...

BOXER: And that's how I feel...

INHOFE: ... let me just interrupt...

KING: All right.

INHOFE: ... because I've got to get one last sentence in here, if at all possible. And that is they talk about the IPCC assessment -- fourth assessment. It's not coming out on Friday. That is the summary for policymakers. These are not scientists. These are the politicians. These are the ones who really want to believe that they, the United Nations -- they started this whole thing with the IPCC -- this is -- and let me read page four. This is probably the most significant part of what you're going to see on Friday.

It says: "Changes in scientific work to ensure consistency with the summary for policymakers will occur." In other words, forget about the science, let's make the policymakers happy.

That's what you're going to see on Friday. It will be...

KING: OK, we're going to do...

INHOFE: It will be May or June before the report comes out.

KING: We're going to do lots more on this.

Thanks, Senator Barbara Boxer.

BOXER: Thank you.

KING: And Senator Inhofe.

INHOFE: Thank you.

KING: Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California; James Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma.

By the way, they are good friends.

We'll take a break and be back with our panel. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the top of the world, the top of the food chain -- a strange and troubling new phenomenon. Polar bears are drowning and some scientists say these kings of the Arctic ice may vanish from the wild.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're getting thinner and thinner and thinner. And so instead of having two or three cubs a year, they're now having one and zero. And our report says by the end of this century, the polar bear is headed toward extinction.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We're back with our panel. Let's reintroduce Heidi Cullen, climate expert for The Weather Channel, Bill Nye, the scientist, engineer and best-selling author. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred Sloan professor of atmospheric science at M.I.T. and Julian Morris, executive director of the International Policy Network. Julian, you have said that when it comes to the assertion that we must reduce emissions of greenhouse cases in -- gases in order to avert catastrophe, such a cure may be worse than the disease. How so?

MORRIS: Absolutely. Well, fundamentally, if you want to reduce emissions greenhouse gases, the only way you can do that is by somehow reducing inputs to the industrial process. It means reducing the amount of oil you use to drive cars. It means reducing the amount of coal used to power machines and so on. And the consequence of that is that you reduce the amount of economic growth that takes place. So you slow the rate at which the world improves. You divert resources away from, for example, investing in all sorts of innovative technologies that would improve productive efficiency, which is how economic development takes place, and you shift those into, as, for example, President Bush has done or proposed to do this week, into paying for corn farmers in Iowa to produce more corn, to produce bio- ethanol.

This is a problem because you're imposing costs on society, and you have to justify that if you're going to do that by saying that there's going to be benefits. And, actually, where as if you get two economists in the room, it's often said you will get three different answers. When it comes to climate change, many, many economists have looked at this problem and the majority have said, well, and actually a small amount of warming is probably good for the world. It will increase agricultural production. You might, if you melt a bit of the arctic, open up the Northwest Passage. There are all sorts of benefits that would happen from a small amount of warming. So is it really sensible to impose dramatic costs when in fact the benefits will be small, if not actually zero?

KING: We asked people on the street the question of what they fear the most and here's some of the comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Global warming is dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tidal waves, monsoons, hurricanes, stuff like that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The water levels rising and the ice caps melting. They say if the ice caps melt, it's going to be a huge problem with the water levels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you explain all of the hurricanes and all of that stuff that's been going on, you know. Something's going on for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Temperature wise it seems to be happening.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All over, our mental conditions will change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're going to blow the -- if we keep going the way we are.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Heidi Cullen, are the TV meteorologists taken seriously in this matter?

CULLEN: You know I think TV meteorologists have such a huge opportunity. They have access to people's living rooms on a daily basis. I feel like there's been hesitancy on their parts to answer the questions that they're being asked more than ever. I work with hundreds of meteorologists at The Weather Channel and they get asked on a regular basis, the heat wave that we saw last summer, was that global warming? The incredibly warm January, early part of January, was that global warming? These are all opportunities to discuss the science and I feel like for a lot of meteorologists, they feel like it's a political question. And the politics has really obscured the science. The science is really solid and global warming is absolutely happening. And I think we need to talk about it and I think TV meteorologists should talk about it as well. It's a great opportunity.

KING: Bill Nye, do you ever doubt your findings?

NYE: No. They're not really my findings. They are the findings of my colleagues. So yeah, I don't doubt them at all. In fact it's more compelling all the time. But the big message that I would like to mention is we have huge opportunities. We could change the world. My grandfather was in World War I, and he put a gas mask on himself and on his horse before they went into battle. Nobody took horses into battle, even 20 years later -- maybe a few Calvary from the Russians or something, so we could change. People change in a very short amount of time. It's very reasonable the United States, we have at least five times as much energy as we need in renewable energy if we were to convert to renewable energy. This would be huge economic opportunities. Wind turbines will be teamsters out there welding. Solar panels, there will be contractors putting them on roofs. And furthermore, we're so close to tremendous improvements in the technology of solar panels that we could put them on every roof and not need foreign oil, just economic development would actually be much greater.

KING: We'll pick up with Richard Lindzen in a moment and get our own Rob Marciano's view on all of this. Don't go away.

KING: We're back, we'll get back with our panel and pick up with Richard Lindzen of M.I.T. but first let's check in with Rob Marciano, CNN news and weather anchor, meteorologist. He has the American Meteorological Society seal of approval. Where do you come down on this global warming thing, Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN NEWS & WEATHER ANCHOR: Well, it's undeniable that we have warm, there's no doubt about that. We have come up over a degree in the past hundred or so years. The question that's been of contention is, has man been a part of it? And when you look at the numbers as far as how much carbon is in the air and more importantly how much carbon has been in the atmosphere historically, really since the beginning of the earth as we know it. And that range typically is from 170 parts per million to about 270. And right now we're clocking up at about 370 or so. So we're well above that and that's all come up in about the last 200 years. So that kind of tells us that man has something to do with it. The bigger question is Larry, where do we go from here? What are these models telling us where we're going to be 50 or 100 years from now? And that's where the uncertainty comes in.

What's so exciting about the report that's going to come out on Friday is that we hope to narrow down that expectation, what used to be one degree to ten degrees Fahrenheit increase somewhere in there that range is going to be reduced significantly. And I spoke with one of the scientists who were part of the 250 or 2,500 scientists that are part of that panel, and he says they have some real confidence with this compared to the one that they issued in 2001. So we're excited to see what comes out of this report on Friday. It's going to narrow down the range, it's going to give us a more specific view as to what we can expect. But that is the wild card. What is going to happen? As weather forecasters, we can't get the five-day forecast right. We're going to bank -- put all of the money in the bank on a 50 or 100-year forecast, that is probably the thing that's most concerning, especially to meteorologist that forecast on a daily basis. You know how difficult it is to do that.

KING: Are you concerned about major events in our lifetime?

MARCIANO: Certainly. Drought and heat waves are probably the biggest thing that come to my mind. And what happens after that? We can get into a drought situation where, especially in the Midwest, where you're pretty much landlocked. You can get in a situation, kind of like what we had last summer, where we get a heat wave, we get a dry spell and it's tough to get out of that dry spell because that sun has baked that ground so much. And when you increase the temperature globally by a degree or two degrees, three or four degrees, that only let's that probability increase even more so. So that's probably the main concern I have. There's so many other things besides just the global temperatures. What are we doing around the world outside of the U.S., down in Brazil, the Amazon, whacking down those forests? The Amazon forests, those rain forests are like lungs of the atmosphere of our world and to see what's happening down there, we have other big problems out there, just besides the temperature rising.

KING: Thanks for joining us, Rob. Always good seeing you.

MARCIANO: Likewise Larry, thanks.

KING: Rob Marciano. Richard Lindzen of M.I.T., why not say give a little, get a little. Why not say, ok, I'll give a little to the other side just in case they're right. Maybe we ought to go through this expenditure?

LINDZEN: Well, in a certain sense, when it comes to expenditures, and I'm speaking mostly as a citizen, except in one respect, almost everything proposed so far, if there's anything that there is a consensus on, will do very little to affect climate. So right now despite all of the claims to the contrary, we're talking about symbolism. And I think Julian's point is correct. Do you spend a lot? Do you distort a great deal in the economy for symbolism? And I think future generations are not going to blame us for anything except for being silly, for letting a few tenths of a degree panic us. And I think nobody is arguing about whether our climate is changing. It's always changing. Sea level has been rising since the end of the last ice age. The experts on it in the IPCC have freely acknowledged there's no strong evidence it's accelerating. Senator Inhofe was absolutely right. All that's coming out Friday is a summary for policymakers that is not prepared by scientists. Rob is wrong. It's not 2,500 people offering their consensus, I participated in that. Each person who is an author writes one or two pages in conjunction with someone else. They travel around the world several times a year for several years to write it and the summary for policymakers has the input of about 13 of the scientists, but ultimately, it is written by representatives of governments, of environmental organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, and industrial organizations, each seeking their own benefit.

KING: All right Richard, hold it a second, hold it right there. We'll be right back with our panel, we have to take a break.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE: This is really not a political issue so much as a moral issue. The temperature increases are taking place all over the world, and that's causing stronger storms.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN, NEW ORLEANS: This is the biggest crisis in the history of this country.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early this morning hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans.

GORE: Is it possible that we should prepare against other threats besides terrorists?

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Julian Morris, Katrina was what it was, wasn't it?

MORRIS: Well, if I understand it, the problems that arose out of Katrina could have been prevented had there been better flood defenses originally, had there been a better emergency preparation and so on. A lot of the problems of Katrina weren't a result of the hurricane per se but as a result of the lack of preparedness and so on. But that aside, there's also the problem of actually associating Katrina and hurricanes in general with climate change. If you look over the record, of 100 years, the relationship between hurricane intensity and hurricane numbers and temperature is not strong. So I think we have to get that in perspective. But fundamentally, when societies get wealthier, they're much better able in general to deal with problems such as Katrina. If a hurricane like Katrina hit a place like Bangladesh, it would cause far, far more damage. So what really needs to happen around the world is the economic development must take place.

KING: I got you.

MORRIS: If you restrict emissions of carbon dioxide, you slow down economic development, you prevent the poorest people in the world from being able to adapt to the problems that they currently face, the many millions of people who currently die from preventable diseases. So enable economic development to take place. That's got to be the priority. Don't focus so much on hypothetical problems that might result in the future from our emissions, I think.

KING: Bill Nye, you're shaking your head.

NYE: Yeah, well it depends on what you call economic development. Do we have to have everybody drive inefficient vehicles? Does everybody have to have very wasteful hot water, domestic hot water systems? Couldn't we all just advance together? And I'll give you an example, in China, when I was there this summer, people don't have telephones, don't have land lines. Everybody has two or three cell phones. They skip land lines. Couldn't we have people in a developing world skip to more efficient energy production technologies, more efficient energy transmission technologies, instead of having them drag through the fossil fuels?

KING: Before -- hold on.

NYE: It would be great if they could do, sure.

KING: Heidi, what does -- what is the layman to do with all of this? You sit at home, you watch. What do you do with all of this information and contradictory information?

CULLEN: Well I think the thing to keep in mind is that the science is very solid, and it's not solid because 2,500 scientists say it's real. It's because the evidence is overwhelming at this point and it's the evidence that has really convinced the majority of scientists. And to speak to this point of how the energy issue and are environment are interconnected, you know natural climate variability has always existed. We've always had to deal with droughts and flooding issues. And where the global warming issue comes in is that fossil fuel burning is pushing the rate of change at a clip that's very difficult for societies to keep up with. I don't think we give our climate system enough credit for the amount of disruption it can provide. And I do think that Katrina, actually, serves a perfect example of how scientific information should be used to the best of its capacity. And that is scientists were warning 30 years before this land falling hurricane that New Orleans was vulnerable and that we needed to improve the levees and we needed to make improvement to the infrastructure of the city. So what we're talking about is being proactive and using the science in an engaged, enlightened way because, you know what, civilizations have collapsed in the past. There's no reason to think that we're special. Let's use the science in the best possible way.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments on this most important topic right after this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Global warming is the condition of the earth that's happening because of emissions from businesses that don't care about the environment and too many cars, petrol fuel and tearing down things like trees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not really scared that there really is global warming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be real hot and going to the beach will be very uncomfortable.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's going to be the end of the world eventually. It says it in the bible, and I believe it and I guess that day is coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What am I going to do about it? I'm going to up there and start blowing some ice cold wind to start freezing up those icebergs again.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

KING: I wanted to keep in touch with the intelligentsia of the program. A few laughs today on Hollywood Boulevard. Bill Nye has a cute thing. What are you going to show us?

NYE: Well this is just one example, ok.

KING: Of what?

NYE: Of what we could do to save energy that no one thought of even a few years ago. These are two holiday lights, and they use more energy --

KING: These are the holiday lights?

NYE: Yeah, we call them Christmas lights is one expression. They use more energy than these 20 light-emitting diode style bulbs. KING: Saying what?

NYE: Saying that we can use about a third as much energy -- we could save rather about a third as much energy, a third of our energy with existing technologies just like that. You use -- your light bill goes lower. These are manufactured by people and companies that are making money. If we save 30 percent of our energy here in the United States, we could make very different decisions about how we engage powers around the world.

KING: Richard --

NYE: And that's just for starters.

KING: Richard, we're closely up against the clock. Do you feel at all that your Ka Hokey here, you're fighting a losing battle?

LINDZEN: Not at all. I think time will tell. I think Mr. Nye is speaking about energy. Energy sources and balance have changed over time, it will change. I have no idea what the energy mix will be 50 years from now. But I think if what he says about profitable, better sources are there, they will come online and they will come online without government fiat. Heidi says the science is solid and I can't criticize her because she never says what science she's talking about. This is a problem with so many facets, that the notion that scientists are in lox, that bonnet is silly.

NYE: This report has them at 99 percent certainty, this report that comes out this week --

LINDZEN: Ninety-nine percent certainty of what?

NYE: It was 60 five years ago.

LINDZEN: Of what?

NYE: That the world's going to get warmer by about 2 degrees Fahrenheit, 1.2 Celsius.

LINDZEN: No, it didn't say anything of the sort. It didn't say that.

NYE: Ok, well, we'll see what happens when the report comes out.

KING: Well how do we know if it's not out yet?

LINDZEN: The report won't come out until May.

NYE: Ok, so do you want to talk about the -- you say that there is no global climate change? Is that your argument?

LINDZEN: I'm not saying anything of the sort. I'm saying temperature has changed --

NYE: Are you saying the problem is not serious?

KING: Let him finish.

LINDZEN: I'm saying that we have seen a rate of temperature change that is not outside the range of what the climate does by itself. So --

NYE: You're saying the current rate is consistent with, for example, the ice score records? I that what you're saying, it's about the same speed as the record of the --

LINDZEN: The ice score records, excuse me, have a time resolution of 2,000 years. They couldn't tell you what's going on, on the scale you're talking about.

NYE: I disagree with that statement right there.

LINDZEN: Do you want to make this small wager on it?

KING: Go ahead, Bill.

NYE: I'll bet you a cup of coffee.

LINDZEN: how about a bottle of (INAUDIBLE).

NYE: I don't know what that is.

LINDZEN: Sixty dollars for a bottle of scotch.

NYE: Sure, it sounds fancy.

KING: He's from M.I.T. he knows what he's talking about. Thank you all very much. We will not leave this topic alone. Heidi Cullen, Bill Nye, Richard Lindzen and Julian Morris.

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