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Oregon Global Warming Skeptic Finds Controversy

Oregon state climatologist George Taylor does not believe that global warming is due to human activity. Now, Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski wants him to stop using the state climatologist title. NewsHour correspondent Lee Hochberg reports from Oregon and Washington on the controversy.

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  • GEORGE TAYLOR, Oregon Climate Service:

    This has been very wet. And compared to other years…

  • LEE HOCHBERG, NewsHour Correspondent:

    For the last 16 years, since George Taylor became head of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University, he's been the public face of weather in Oregon. But when he recently stepped to the microphone at Oregon's Museum of Science and Industry to debate climate change, Taylor stepped into a political storm.

  • GEORGE TAYLOR:

    Glaciers are melting. This is one of those statements that is true, but there's a "yes, but" following it. Sea level, the sea level is rising. And this is one that has some truth in it, but there's a "yes, but" to this, as well.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    The 59-year-old Taylor, who calls himself the state climatologist, told his audience he's skeptical that global warming is caused by man.

  • GEORGE TAYLOR:

    The real question is, how much is the human effect compared to natural variation?

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    He's freely advanced his view, which is at odds with the preponderance of scientific thinking at scientific forums in the past. But this time, Taylor was speaking to a public audience of 400 and TV news viewers statewide. His words got the angry attention of Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski.

    GOV. TED KULONGOSKI (D), Oregon: If Mr. Taylor wants to make his case, I can't tell him he can't make his case. He just can't make his case claiming he's representing the state of Oregon, because he doesn't.

  • LEE HOCHBERG:

    The governor says Taylor has no right to call himself "state climatologist," since there is no such official position, and by claiming he speaks for Oregon, he undercuts the governor's concerted efforts to fight global warming.

    Kulongoski believes warming will bring huge economic costs to eastern Oregon farms, flooding from greater springtime rains, parched fields from summertime droughts. In 2005, he was the first Western governor to announce statewide targets for reduction of greenhouse gases.

  • GOV. TED KULONGOSKI:

    Today, we must lead on global warming and the development of biofuels and other alternative energy sources.

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