“What's Up With the Weather?” Part 3: The Battle Over Climate Change

What's up with the wild weather? We're posting a series of articles and videos that attempt to answer that question.

The debate over our Earth’s rising temperature and the cause of it has led to confusion for many people who say they don’t know what to believe.

“I just ignore them all,” said one person.

“I’m not sure,” said another.

Many climate researchers say there’s no question that the earth is heating up and that human-produced carbon dioxide is mainly to blame.

“Human caused climate change is real,” said Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University.

A smaller group of scientists disagree however.

“More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere actually makes life better,” said Dr. David Legates of the University of Delaware.

When Dr. Heidi Cullen, a climatologist, learned that NBC10 planned to include so-called climate change deniers in our story, she wanted to pull out of our series. She believes giving “equal time” to the other side is “false balance.”

“The fact that we burn fossil fuel is adding to the extremeness of our climate,” said Dr. Cullen.

98% of the most published climate researchers say human activity is the main reason for the earth’s warm-up. But the debate between these researchers and those who disagree has led to ugly insults, lawsuits and even death threats.

“The FBI had to come in and investigate an envelope that I received that contained white powder,” said Dr. Mann.

Dr. Mann says he had an anthrax scare after his groundbreaking research, known as the “Hockey Stick Theory” was published. It’s a graph shaped like a hockey stick showing the sharp rise in recent global temperatures. Dr. Mann says he’s feared for his life and is suing both the National Review and the Competitive Enterprise for comparing him to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky. Dr. Mann believes climate change deniers have motives outside of pure science.

“There has been a concerted effort by certain groups, most of them associated in one way or another with the fossil fuel industry, who understandably don’t want to see us shift away from our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Dr. Mann.

“I can only suggest that perhaps they are being paid to say what they say,” said Dr. Jennifer Francis.
Climate professor Dr. David Legates strongly opposes the idea that manmade fossil fuels are disrupting our climate. He’s associated with several organizations that receive money from Exxon-Mobil and has been called “the mouthpiece of big oil.”

“I’ve given talks at groups that potentially have gotten money from Mobil,” said Dr. Legates.
But Legates says he’s never taken a penny for himself or his research from ExxonMobil. He accuses other researchers of being driven by dollars.

“Climate change has become a very big bandwagon for getting funds,” said Dr. Legates. “One thing universities like and one thing research organizations like is money.”

“To say we need 100% certainty before we move forward is actually a very poor decision,” said Dr. Cullen.

Despite the debate, the most recent science supports global warming. A study released on Monday warns that the Earth’s temperature will rise 7 degrees in the next 90 years or so. Another recent study finds the computer models predicting the most warming are the most accurate.

In our next “What’s Up With the Weather” post, we’ll discuss what, if anything, can be done to slow the warm-up.

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