This morning's Today show opened with Meredith Vieira and Matt Lauer amazed at the warm temperatures in New York City and of course it didn't take long before the specter of global warming was raised. Lauer ominously opened the show: "Meanwhile a record warm weekend in the East has people wondering what's going on?" Vieira went even further as she bluntly blurted: "So I'm running in the park on Saturday, in shorts thinking this is great but are we all gonna die? You know? I can't, I can't figure this out."
But when it came to an actual scientific-based opinion WNBC weatherman Chris Cimino, filling in for Al Roker, didn't exactly jump to blame global warming...at first. Initially Cimino was non-committal about blaming global warming, instead focusing on El Nino but lest he risk the wrath of his Today show anchors he did cover his liberal bases as he asserted: "Of course the bottom line is you don't throw a lot of greenhouse gases into the air no matter what whether it affects the weather or not."
The following is the complete transcript of the conversation as it took place during the 7am half hour of the January 8 edition of Today:
Matt Lauer opening Today: "Good morning Southern discomfort. Severe storms rip through Georgia damaging homes and setting off possible tornadoes, meanwhile a record warm weekend in the East has people wondering what's going on?"
Meredith Vieira: "So I'm running in the park on Saturday, in shorts thinking this is great but are we all gonna die? You know? I can't, I can't figure this out."
Matt Lauer: "It's unbelievable. Your first reaction is, it really is, it's an amazing stretch of weather we're having-"
Vieira: "It's so warm."
Lauer: "-and the second reaction is something is wrong here. And by the way let's run that tape of Meredith in shorts in the park."
Vieira: "I made sure there were no cameras around but there were record breaking temperatures across the, 72 in New York City, 69 in Boston on Saturday. A lot of people wondering is it global warming or something much simpler? We're gonna talk to Chris Cimino about it in just a minute."
Vieira: "But first is it hot enough for you? WNBC's Chris Cimino is in for Al, he's here to explain why it has been so warm in the East? What is going on Chris?"
Chris Cimino: "Wish I knew! No, well there are some reasons that we think this is happening but the big picture still a lot of questions have to be answered as to what goes into play in making such a significant change in the overall pattern. One of the things we think is El Nino. That is the South Pacific ocean temperatures, the sea surface temperatures are fairly high and we're in an El Nino mode right now and what that usually does is it creates very warm weather, the northern tier of the country but relatively dry weather.
Also typical of El Nino, west coast gets hit pretty hard but it's usually Southern California. Even this El Nino's a little different than what typically happens. It's been the Pacific Northwest. Then those storms drop into Colorado in the Rockies and that's where they're having so much snow. Severe weather over the Gulf Coast states because the atmosphere is behaving more like spring, early fall with very warm, moist unstable air. The jet streams well to the North, so folks get to jog in Central Park, enjoy 60 and 70 plus degree temperatures.
And again whether or not this is due to greenhouse gases and global warming or is it part of a larger climatological cycle that we're in? That's still a big question mark. Keep in mind we hit 70 degrees in Central Park on Saturday. It was only the third time that happened but the other two times that happened were in the '30s and 1950 as well. So were they talking about greenhouse effect and global warming then or is it just part of the normal cycle that happens in our climate?"
Vieira: "But is that something we ever figure out?"
Cimino: "Well again there's a lot of pieces to a puzzle. We have a hard enough time and you really think about it we have a hard enough time with tomorrow. When you really get down to it. And you think about all the variables that come into play so this is something that will be argued out for a long time. Of course the bottom line is you don't throw a lot of greenhouse gases into the air no matter what whether it affects the weather or not."
Lauer: "Thanks though for finally admitting you really have no idea what the weather's gonna be tomorrow."'
Cimino: "That's why I won't be in this business much longer. Wait too honest."
Lauer: "Alright Chris, thanks."