Reporter's Notebook: The Heat Is On

Published November 11, 2005

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When I was asked to host a FOX News special on climate change and global warming, I knew I was going to have to really do my homework. This was not an issue, frankly, that I paid much attention to in my everyday life. I'd separate the newspapers from the milk cartons from the tin cans when taking out the trash, but that's pretty much where my environmental awareness began and ended. My wife is the "green" one in our family, and whatever I knew about potential dangers to our planet, I knew because of her.

After months of research and interviews with many experts, I've learned this simple fact: the earth is heating up. And it's happening much faster than ever before. No one can argue with this. The vast majority of the scientific community says we're witnessing a unique and troubling kind of climate change, one where changes that used to occur over centuries are now taking place during the course of a single lifetime.

Tune in to the FNC special, "The Heat is On: The Case of Global Warming," Sunday, November 13 at 8pm and 11pm ET.

Dr. Michael Oppenheimer of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says, "Global warming is insidious. We're barely noticing, but we're loading the dice in favor of hotter and more humid weather." These changes may be nothing more than a single degree or two, but even that dramatically changes our world.

Did global warming cause Hurricane Katrina? We wanted to know, since we were working on this report at the same time the Gulf Coast was devastated. The answer we got was no. No one can say that global warming caused Katrina, or any other tragic weather event. But most scientists will tell you that warmer ocean temperatures do create one more ingredient needed for these catastrophes to take place. If ocean temps continue to go up, Dr. Oppenheimer says killer hurricanes could go from being the exception to the rule.

Many scientists say the biggest threat could be sea-level rise, the result of melting glaciers. We saw the melting first hand, spotting waterfalls deep in the heart of Alaska's once-solid glaciers. Robert Kennedy Jr., our special correspondent, took a trip to Montana's Glacier National Park that was also scarily enlightening. Did you know that Glacier National Park is almost entirely out of glaciers? They've almost all melted. Gordon Hamilton of the University of Maine's Climate Change Institute says when ice sheets melt, the water produced adds to sea levels across the planet. This summer, the arctic ice cap shrunk to its smallest size ever. If that or any other major body of ice were to disappear altogether, Dr. Oppenheimer says about a third of Florida would be completely submerged.

None of this is really debatable. What has been debated, though, is the cause. Is this our fault? There are scientists out there who argue that none of this is human related. But those experts appear to be in the minority. Dr. Bruce Molnia of the U.S. Geological Survey says, "Part of what we're looking at is a natural cycle. It's the human component, it's the human changes that we need to be able to find a way of minimizing." Are we trying? Some are, some aren't. Certain industry leaders are changing the way they do business to help the environment, and some continue to deny there's even a problem.

President Bush is on the record as saying humans ARE contributing to climate change. This past July 6th, the president said, "An increase in greenhouse gases caused by humans is contributing to the problem." One of his administration's solutions is to promote hydrogen technology for cars. Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world's largest oil companies, is pouring millions into hydrogen technology. Ford Motor Company, one of the biggest carmakers, wants to be the industry leader in producing hydrogen powered cars. Executives from both companies tell FOX News they see big profit potential if they can jump out ahead of their competitors. They're betting that Americans will be ready to change the way they live if it means helping the environment.

Please join us for “The Heat Is On.” Learn the facts about global warming, and decide for yourself what needs to be done about these new realities.

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