BY ROY SPENCER
STAHL: There's still a lot of skepticism about whether global warming is manmade.
GORE: I don't think there's a lot.
STAHL: Well, there's pretty impressive people like the vice president who said we don't know what causes it.
GORE: You're talking about Dick Cheney.
STAHL: Yeah, and others who say we don't know what causes it and why spend all this money until we really, really know.
GORE: I think that those people are in such a tiny, tiny minority now with their point of view, they are almost like the ones who still believe that the moon landing was staged in a movie lot in Arizona and those who believe the Earth is flat. That demeans them a little bit but it's not that far off.
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GLENN: Just a little bit. Roy Spencer, former senior scientist for Climate Studies at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Welcome to the program, Roy.
SPENCER: Hey, Glenn, thanks for having me.
GLENN: As a guy who worked for NASA, won NASA's medal for scientific achievement, did we land on the moon?
SPENCER: Well, when I left NASA six years ago, that was part of an oath I took. So I'm really not allowed to talk about that.
SPENCER: You would have to kill me if you told me the truth. Well, I just want to make sure that you know as somebody who, you know, won awards for NASA and worked for NASA that the Earth is round and we did land on the moon.
SPENCER: Well, what's funny is that Al Gore's urban legend about global warming has now extended to history because it turns out that that's a historic urban legend that mankind used to think the Earth was flat. It turns out there really isn't any historical evidence for that.
GLENN: It's -- you know, we just posted an article at CNN.com about big oil and Al Gore and his lies, et cetera, et cetera, and he says that we're talking about 6% of Americans that don't believe in the moon landing but only 21% believe that greenhouse gases are the biggest factor causing global warming. That's from the New York Times. Only 21% say this problem is caused by man, yet he makes it sound like, oh, well, that's just, there's nobody. I mean, you've got to be crazy to not believe that man is responsible for this and yada, yada, yada. What would you say the split is among scientists?
SPENCER: Well, the vast majority of scientists, it's not all of them agree that we've warmed. The big question as you are alluding to is whether -- you know, to what extent is the warming manmade versus natural and what most people don't realize is that there has never been a single scientific study published which has ruled out natural variability for our current warmth. So I would say, you know, probably over 50% of the scientists think it's mostly manmade but that's a statement of space. You know, this whole idea of consensus, that's a political term. And the more we learn about climate variability now, the more I think we're realizing that the climate system isn't really that sensitive to manmade greenhouse gases which would mean that most of the warming we've seen is natural.
GLENN: I saw you at this conference in New York and we've talked here recently at this conference on skeptics and the problem with it was is you got up to give the speech and I think what you said was really, really important but I don't know what the hell you're even talking about. You know, you guys are coming in with real science and you were talking about the satellite data and now we have actual data to replace the made-up variables that Al Gore and the global warming people have just said, well, maybe because we don't know, we can't measure this, maybe this number is actually this. And when you look at -- you know, when you look at the formula to make these computer models, now we actually have data. And when you plug it in, it changes everything entirely. Did I get it kind of right on what you were talking about?
SPENCER: Well, yeah, kind of. You know, obviously models, computer models are only going to put out what you program into them. You know, they're very dependent on what you put into them.
GLENN: Garbage in, garbage out.
SPENCER: Right. And what they put into them is the way they think the climate system operates. And believe it or not, one of the major things we're learning right now is it looks like a lot of these climate scientists, the ones that are running these models, might have confused cause and effect in the climate system when they look at the climate system. Because we watch -- we look at natural variability, you know, El Nino, La Nina, we try to figure out what's causing what. Well, it turns out that if you mix up cause and effect, it will always look like the climate system is very sensitive to things like adding CO2.
GLENN: And how do the new satellites, the new NASA satellite information get -- improve this?
SPENCER: Oh, the new NASA satellites are really great. We've got all kinds of new instruments up there now mainly on the NASA aqua and terra satellites and these are giving us all kinds of measurements related to, you know, clouds, types of clouds, temperatures, sea surface temperatures, winds, how much infrared radiation the Earth is giving off.
GLENN: Roy, how does the average person know what to look for? For instance, I read a story today that the Earth hasn't warmed in the last ten years, there has been no more global climate change and then they say --
SPENCER: Well, that's one of those lies, damn lies and statistics things. Yeah, it hasn't warmed since '98 but if you use '99 as a starting point it's warmed tremendously. I think the most accurate thing to say statistically is it basically hasn't warmed or cooled in the last seven years. It's been pretty flat. And the longer we go without warming resuming, the more it's going to have to warm to catch up to what, you know, the UN is predicting and Al Gore is predicting.
GLENN: Well, but how do we -- I mean, in the article it said, "Well, wait a minute, that's -- you can't look at it short-term like that, you can't look at it seven years." Well, what is long term? When do we see it and say, okay, it's real?
SPENCER: Pick a number. There is no number. The longer you look, you know, the more useful your estimates of long-term change are going to be. That's one reason why I don't like to say that we're experiencing global warming because that makes it sound like we know what's going to happen in the future. I only say we've experienced warming in the past, at least up until about seven or six years ago because we don't know what's going to happen in the future. It could be global warming has stopped for all we know.
GLENN: Let me -- may I play a piece of audio for you and get your reaction? Go ahead and play. This is Ted Turner this week.
TURNER: Doing it will be catastrophic. We'll have 8 degrees, we'll be 8 degrees hotter in ten -- not 10 but in 30 or 40 years and basically none of the crops will grow. Most of the people will have died and the rest of us will be cannibals. Civilization will have broken down. What the few people are left will be living in a failed state like Somalia or Sudan and living conditions will be intolerable. The droughts will be so bad, there will be no more corn growing.
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GLENN: I mean, you are the former senior scientist for NASA on climate studies. Alarmist?
SPENCER: Yeah, Mr. Turner is one of our leading global warming experts. He probably --
GLENN: I didn't know that.
SPENCER: I see the forecast has now, you know, gone up to 8 to 10 degrees in only 30 years. So that's -- man, that's really --
GLENN: Well, 30 to 40.
SPENCER: Yeah, 30 to 40 years. Notice, but also later in the interview he pointed out that it's been a long time since he said something stupid. So it could be that that's relevant.
GLENN: Any science, any science that says anything like what he just predicted?
SPENCER: No, not that I know of.
GLENN: Yeah, okay. All right. I want to -- can you hold for just a second? Because in your book you talk about some of the dumbest solutions that scientists have and I want to get into that here in just a second. Climate Confusion.