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November 11th, 2013
10:33 PM ET

Piers Morgan opens the floor for a feisty debate on climate change

On the heels of a devastating typhoon which ravaged the Philippines, on Monday evening "Piers Morgan Live" asked Roy Spencer and Mark Hertsgaard to debate the impact that climate change has had in a series of recent natural disasters.

"The earth is a little warmer right now," said Spencer, a climatologist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. "We're not exactly sure whether it's 100 percent due to mankind, or 50 percent due to mankind, 50 percent due to nature and by chance."

Joining the program from California, Hertsgaard showed clear disagreement:

"Dr. Spencer, that is not true, sir. That is not true. You are misstating the facts," insisted the author and journalist. "To say that we don't know? Listen to what the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] just said in its report: 'That humankinds' activities are now responsible for most of this.' Frankly, I don't know why, Dr. Spencer, I believe that you don't even agree that climate change is man made, last time I checked. If you've revised your position I'd love to hear about it. To listen to you talk about climate change, that man made climate change you reject that 99 ... so you stand against the 97 percent of scientists who say this?"

Spencer firmly stood his ground:

"Mark, did you know I'm one of the 97 percent you're talking about? That 97 percent statistic included people who believe that some portion of climate change is man made. And I do believe some portion of it is."

Hertsgard then accused Spencer of not having done his due diligence:

"Do you deny that you stand in opposition to the overwhelming scientific consensus on this? If so, you need to read more scientific papers."

With his professional credibility being called into question, the climatologist fired back:

"I got a feeling I've read more than you have, Mark."

Watch the clip for more of Morgan's feisty interview with Spencer and Hertsgaard, and for the next edition of "Piers Morgan Live," watch CNN every night at 9.
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soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Maureen Terese

    You are not required to give "equal time" to talking heads with "theories" that have been thoroughly disproved. You are simply allowing the climate change deniers a platform they have long ago lost the privilege of having. I thought better of you to see through the "noise".

    November 12, 2013 at 12:33 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Matt

      Maureen, so climate change is man made and that is a fact?? ....and this Typhoon was a direct result of man made Global warming?? Then Let's see a real debate... Not some blowhard journalist from Berkeley talking over an actual scientist. He has about as much credibility on the subject as George Clooney.....which is NONE!

      November 12, 2013 at 9:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Carey Freeman

        Yeah Maureen, why are you so opposed to debate, especially when (as you say) the facts are clearly on your side? I mean, you are actually advocating that CNN not even entertain a debate on this topic? Tell me, since when did liberals become so damn draconian?

        November 12, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Report abuse |
      • E Schroedinger

        That most of the current warming is due to CO2 from fossil fuels - that is a fact. Scientific journals are full of papers investigating other possible causes and finding none. And does a geologist debate a young earther? Does a biologist debate a creationist? No. There are not "2 sides to every issue."

        November 14, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dean Gaddy

      I would like to more information on a modeling of the entire system which includes a systemic approach to all factors: atmosphere, geothermal pulsations from the earth's radioactive core, crustal geothermal gradients, mid Atlantic volcanism, pacific "ring of fire" subductionism, .... If any factor is at fault other then the atmospheric theory, we may be wishing we had produced more CH4 and CO2 if the orbit turns asunder and we head into an ice age. Life proliferates in warm temperatures, it dies in cold!

      November 16, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Don Shepherd

    Mr. Morgan lost all credibility by prviding a platform for Roy Spencer to spread his misinformation on the critical issue of climate change. It truly was "journalistic malpractice," but i doubt that Mr. Morgan is capable of recognizing this. While we all bear responsibility for the world we are leaving to our children, it is people like Spencer and Morgan who are disproportionately guilty.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:41 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Philip Abraham

    There are those whose nefarious motives for climate change denial are obvious. Roy Spencer seems humble and honest and legitimate. Mark Hertzgaard came across as hot-headed and wholly partisan and untrustworthy. Glad I was already a confirmed progressive who understands that climate change is real and that humankind is responsible. Mark Hertzgaard was nearly as irritating as Piers used to be, before Piers learned how to stop interrupting his interlocuter, to allow the other side to have a say, too. If I hadn't known Mark was on my side, I would have thought he belonged on Fox where all sorts of outrageous claims are persistantly published. How about inviting a reputable spokesperson to explain climate change and humankind's role. Instead, you're more interested in hosting silliness for ratings under the guise of a serious discussion about a real and urgent problem. In my humble and unsolicited opinion, somebody owes Roy Spencer an apology.

    November 12, 2013 at 12:53 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. W Sitze

    The original set of atmospheric scientists at White Sands Missile Range were probably, and still are, foremost in their field of atmospheric and climate studies. They are all retired now, and, as they are not involved in any grants that may influence their past and present opinions, their statements may be regarded as objective. While they are retired from Civil Service, they are definitely not retired from their studies and research. To a man, they assert that climate change is not caused by human activity, but by the Sun and its cycles. That position is bolstered by an apparently little know, and certainly ignored, fact that other planets in the Solar System have undergone heating in the same proportion and during the same time frame as Earth has.

    Of course 97% of active scientist support the notion that humankind is at fault. Their grants, pay, livelihood, and position in the pecking order demand they support that position. Anyone who disagrees is shouted down and denigrated, and then are subject to losing his or her grant. Most of them need to have the courage to indulge in real research for a change instead of either doing circular paper research, or depending on computer models of dubious quality.

    Now that we have apparently reached the Solar maximum, and have started down the other side of this cycle, what are all these characters going to say when we start cooling, as we apparently already are.

    BTW, the climatic conditions over the past several years are an unpleasant reminder of the middle 1950’s and early 1960’s. One Philippine executive even mentioned, contrary to sensationalist news reporting, that typhoon Haiyan was the worst since the 1960’s.

    I strongly recommend an earnest study of the book “Unstoppable Global Warming every 1500 Years” by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. It is well written and very well cited. I also recommend “Climategate” by Brian Sussman. If you are an honest journalist Mr. Spencer, you will read these books, and stop relying on the paid nodding heads you so adroitly and consistently interview.

    November 12, 2013 at 4:19 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Philip Abraham

      Sitze mistakenly refers to Spencer as the journalist. The journalist is Hertsgaard.

      November 12, 2013 at 5:40 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • wstz6

        Philip, I stand corrected. Thank you, My apologies to Dr. Spencer.

        November 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • E Schroedinger

      Here we go. The world's scientists are all lying; they're all in a giant worldwide conspiracy. Do you realize how nutty that is? And Singer and Avery are a very tiny minority, part of the denialist industry. (If you want a good read, "Merchants oif Doubt" is it - the tactics and the backers here are similar to those who claimed "smoking does not cause cancer.")

      November 14, 2013 at 1:00 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. L. Walsh

    It's not bad enough you are using this tragedy to advance your climate change agenda, but then you bring in George Cluny to buttress the argument! It's ludicrous. What are his credentials? Does being a movie star make him an expert or do you think people will ACCEPT him as an expert because he is a movie star?. I wanted to hear both sides but the discussion became surreal the moment you added him to the mix. Let's see, you have George and a journalist bashing the only SCIENTIST on the panel. It's stacked 3 to 1 yet we still aren't allowed to hear a word the only EXPERT says because Mr. Bigmouth talks over him the entire time. If 97% of scientists agree that "humankind is responsible", why didn't you have ONE of them on the show? Did you think George and an arrogant, biased journalist would be more credible than a scientist? Talk about "journalistic malpractice". Get a real expert, would ya?

    November 12, 2013 at 4:27 am | Report abuse | Reply
    • Philip Abraham

      Indeed, after reading Walsh above, I think you need to include scientists (plural). Scientists debate scientists. Don't short either side with a hothead journalist and don't short the truth (according to me) by giving climate change-deniers the only scientist on the show. Where's even ONE single scientist to represent the aforementioned 97 percent of scientists who believe that climate change is real and that humankind is responsible? Give the truth an honorable and legitimate spokesperson, please. (I am addressing CNN and the public in general, not only Walsh, above.)

      November 12, 2013 at 5:46 am | Report abuse | Reply
      • Carey Freeman

        He wasn't denying man has a role, just how much of a factor man is in climate change. What is so outrageous about that? Maybe I was asleep at the time, but I don't think they've invented instrumentation yet that can definitively determine the answer to that question.

        November 12, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mark Tabbert

    Sad to see such a false debate still happening this late in the game. The Journalist Pier attacked in his close is backed up by every scientific organization in the world as well as every branch of the Federal government with the exception of Congress. You can always find a scientist who will tall you smoking is not harmful to human health and a scientist that will prescribe prayer instead of antibiotics.

    November 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carey Freeman

      You, like the journalist, seem to be having your own little debate in your own little head. Instead of addressing what Stewart actually SAID, you react to what you (I guess) want him to say so you can launch into your pre-conceived diatribe. Again, you sound like Michelle Bachman talking about abortion all wide-eyed, crazy and. . . well, just weird. Tell me, genius, is there 100% consensus among the "97%" about what percentage of climate change is man made? The answer is a resounding NO because there is no way to definitively know the answer to that question at this point. Sell your dogma to your fellow lemmings. Meanwhile, thinking people will continue to follow the research and debate and formulate our opinions (which may change as a result) on observable facts.

      November 12, 2013 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carey Freeman

      I doubt any serious scientist would back up anything that idiot said, just a bunch of generalities (which, BTW, give most scientists the chills) and hyperbole. Dude is a fool and did more harm to his cause than he probably (being an idiot) realizes.

      November 12, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  7. wstz6

    Philip, I stand corrected. Thank you! My apologies to Dr. Spencer.

    November 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Sukhwant Singh

    Proof of climate changes effect 1000 years ago – Viking Ship of type Skeid stranded in Oak Island, Nova Scotia, Canada
    The site is in Nova Scotia, Oak Island and is the location of so called money pit, which I believe is
    A vertically stranded Viking Ship of type Skeid, Stranded there on Oak Island for the last 1000 years.
    My scientific explanation could bring out a site to be preserved, the site where Vikings landed in Nova Scotia on their Skeid Long Ship. My explanation details the effect of climate changes which were witnessed by this longship and thus its destiny to be in the position that it is now.
    Here is a brief explanation what I think it is.
    The Viking Long Ship along with 70-80 people on board travelled to Oak Island and the Long Ship went deep in the area where it now because of Medieval Warm Period which occurred during 950 to 1200 AD( according to the research of scientists ) and there was water present there where the ship landed in shallow waters and then the weight of the water produced sinkholes and caverns due to which one side of the Long Ship fell down and tilted to a vertical angle and got stranded and then pushed up due to the movement of Ice bergs formed in Northern Atlantic due to the increase in ocean temperatures by 1-2 degrees Celsius. Further during the Little Ice age between 1200-1600 AD the water and land mass around the vertical stranded ship froze along with the movement of soft sand. The excavators find some sort of tunnels feeding the pit , which I believe are actually the Sail ropes and timber attached to the Mast and being pulled down in that position and for the last 1000 years have built soft of cavities around them and thus the water seeps in to the pit itself. oakislandmoneypitisverticalstrandedvikingship net

    November 12, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Jimb

    Rather than calling people deniers why not simply look back into history and ask yourself is there a trend? Most of the time there isn't and there isn't with cyclones. A few years back sceptics were told that the weather is not the same as the climate. What changed?

    Deadliest Tropical Cyclones in History (35) Haiyan is NOT on the list.
    http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/deadlyworld.asp?MR=1

    Facts on trends backed up by graphs and their sources for you to check for yourself.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/11/11/some-historical-perspectives-on-typhoon-haiyan-yolanda/

    November 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Terry C

    Excellent job Mr. Morgan. I've seen a few segments on your show where you've sided with the alarmist camp and it seriously concerned me. It must be understood that the consensus is non-existent and the "science" supporting catastrophic global warming is sketchy at best. I thank you for being fair and balanced (well, this time anyways).

    November 13, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
    • E Schroedinger

      Terry, if you think there's no consensus, look at scientific journals. The consensus among real practicing climate scientists is close to 100%.

      November 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Tony

    Mark Hertsgaard really came across as a jerk. Clearly he doesn’t know much about the scientific method: science cannot prove anything to be true, it can only falsify hypothesis. Everyone could believe the world is flat, but that won’t make it so. Science is not done by consensus, and consensus is not science. Theories become generally accepted as true only because they have not been proven false for a long time.
    In terms of AGW, people should research for themselves: is the recent warming unusual? I don’t think so. Look at the UK’s Met Temperature data at http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadCRUT4.png . The IPCC says mankind is responsible for most of the warming from 1950 until today, but looking at the temperature data, you see that all the warming occurred between 1975 and 2000. The amount of warming and the duration looks very similar to the warming that occurred from 1910 to 1940, and the IPCC says that was natural. If nature could do it from 1910 to 1940 then it could do it again from 1975 to 2000.

    November 13, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. E Schroedinger

    Tony, consensus is EVIDENCE that there is a huge amount of evidence; otherwise, why would there be consensus among the world's scientists? And it's totally wrong to say all the warming was over by 2000. The 2000s are the hottest decade on record. 9 of the 10 hottest years occurred after 2000. The 2 hottest years on record are 2010 and 2005.

    November 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse | Reply

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