Debate over climate change gets heated

Reaction from the 'Special Report' All-Star panel


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," February 14, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Let's make clear, no single episode of weather, no storm, no flood, no drought, can be said to have been caused by climate change, global climate change. But the science is clear that weather practically everywhere is being influenced by climate change.

MARK MORANO, CLIMATE DEPOT: The problem with runaway global temperature is we're going on 17 years with no global warming. And to put that in very simple terms, every high school kid today has not experienced global warming. Every elementary school kid today has only experienced a slight global cooling.


MCKELWAY: Two views about global warming, never shall the twain meet.  This as the president just touched down in the San Joaquin Valley of California. That's a part of California that not a lot of Americans know a lot about. It is not Hollywood, not San Francisco, but we all depend on it. That's where most of our food comes from. Something like 50 percent of the world's agricultural products come from that valley, which is undergoing a tremendous drought right now, some, including the president, say caused by global warming.

Let's bring in the panel right now, Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard, Juan Williams, columnist with The Hill, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Thanks, gentleman. Steve, let's start with you. The president making this proposal in California for a creation of a climate resilience fund to help the communities prepare for the effects of climate change, a $1 billion fund.  Using this for his own advantage to advance the climate change agenda?

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: No question, and you would expect the president to do that. But I think he and climate change proponents will have to grapple with the central fact, which I think Mark Morano laid out. There hasn't been an appreciable change, increase in global climate temperatures in 17 years.

The smart climate change proponents or activists will acknowledge that and say this presents a problem for the argument that we've been making over several years, and it's something that we've got to explain and grapple with. But there aren't that many, I think, intellectually honest global climate activists, most of them are not, just choosing to ignore that and sort of shrug it off. But that is the central fact. If you're seeing increased concentrations of carbon dioxide, carbon-related pollutants, and not seeing another increase at the same level of global temperature, then you have a problem.


WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think there should be a political argument, but it's become a political argument because so many people say, hey, you know, where is the basis for this? Look how the temperatures, for example, are so cold this winter right here in Washington. We had a cold winter. I was joking with some friends the other day, I said, I came outside, it's pretty balmy. The temperature is 32. I guess it changes.

Anyway, I think the problem here is language, to a large extent. Clearly, there is global climate change going on. If you ask a scientists, the people at the national academy of sciences, you ask the people at NASA, what they present to you is not 17 years, as we heard in the clip, Doug. Instead what they talk about is 100-plus years where you can see the trends, the patterns. And what you see is more extremes, colder temperatures as well as warmer temperatures. And what we're seeing in that Fresno, San Joaquin valley area, is I think a drought that is more extreme than anything they have seen in decades.

MCKELWAY: Charles, Juan has said this has become politicized. Is it fair to assume that the science of climatology has been politicized in academia as has the rest of academia?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Well, absolutely. But it's more than political. It's become a kind of religion. The essence of a scientific theory is that you can in principle refute it with empirical evidence, otherwise it's religion, it's a belief. And whatever happens, whether it's cold or warm, whether it's a flood or drought, whether it's pestilence or locusts or any of the plagues, it's always climate change.  So if it proves everything, it proves nothing. It's sort of the essence of the denial of scientific rigor.

And you know, we've now heard over the last week yet another example, apart from the drought in the West, is the snowmageddon in the East, eight inches of snow in the East Coast. I have an explanation that is not climate change. It's called winter, and it happened every year. It's happened every year for a long time. And to me, it's just plain cynicism to seize upon any event and then to use it as an example of a theory, which is not a way to prove it.

And this billion dollars, this attenuation fund, it is going to be exactly like the money that was spent on green energy. It is a slush fund for crony capitalism that will go to favored individuals and companies.  It's going to apparently ameliorate the damage from natural events caused by climate change. Well, which drought is climate change? Which flood is climate change? There's no way to adjudicate that. It will be political, as Juan was saying – the essence is political -- and ultimately, it will be corrupt.

MCKELWAY: You described believers as, looking at this as a religion.  Michael Crichton, the great novelists wrote about this eloquently, describing how there's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace, a unity with nature, and then we fall from grace by virtue of taking a bite of the forbidden fruit, technology, and we fall into pollution and all seek redemption because judgment day is coming. You want to tackle that, Juan?

WILLIAMS: I don't know how -- I think Michael Crichton actually became a doubter, and Michael Crichton --

KRAUTHAMMER: And was ostracized because of that in Hollywood.

WILLIAMS: I don't know about that part, but I know he became a doubter, as Doug was just reading. My sense is that Michael Crichton was questioning the whole idea because there is such an overwhelming judgment by the scientific community. Today, I was noticing.

MCKELWAY: That gets to the point of funding, because critics say it's only because they're getting the funding.

WILLIAMS: Look, I think funding is a big issue these days in a period of austerity in general, but 97 percent, that's what the National Academy - - it's not made up. It's what the government says. It's not political.  That's what 97 percent of climate scientists say we are experiencing --

HAYES: Who did the survey? There is no such survey.

WILLIAMS: There is. It's the National Academy of Science.

HAYES: There is no such survey. The California example I hear is actually very interesting because what you have is a government that is, because of the Endangered Species Act, has turned off pumps that send water from the Sacramento Delta down south and help provide water for the rest of California. Those pumps have been in effect, on and off a little bit, but basically turned off since 2007. In 2010, it was one of the wettest years on record in California. That water that would have been captured in 2010 could have continued to provide water to California for those intervening years and continuing to this day. And we wouldn't be looking at this as a kind of crisis that it may turn into.

And they're doing this to protect this delta smelt, and all in the name of protecting this small little bait fish they have in effect redone California and its water. And I spoke with Congressman Devin Nunez before I came on tonight, and he said that the government kills more smelt looking for smelt than the pumps kill.


MCKELWAY: -- to try to re-create new places for salmon, which is their ancestral homeland, apparently – there are some rivers in Northern California. More water being diverted, Charles.

KRAUTHAMMER: Look in the end, all the remedies that they talk about, Obama and the others, especially the EPA wants to shut down U.S. coal because it puts carbon in the atmosphere, is utterly useless. The United States is six percent of the population of the world, with India and China and the other tigers in the third world developing, spewing carbon into the atmosphere, no matter what is done here, will have zero effect on climate. And that's why even if you accept all of the climate science, all of it, there is nothing that we can do unilaterally in the U.S. other than destroy our own economy.

MCKELWAY: Out of time, gentleman. You get the last word, Charles. Next up, the Friday Lightning Round.

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