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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming

Aired October 19, 2007 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, we will spend a special hour on climate change. We call it "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming."
Al Gore just won a Nobel Prize for his work warning the world about it. But what are the facts? We will set the record straight.

First, here is what is "In The News" right now: a gruesome clue tonight in the suicide bombing in Pakistan. Police say they have the head of the man who may have carried out that attack. More than 130 died in the blast aimed at the convoy of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Cold medicines, like Robitussin, Dimetapp, and Triaminic may soon be banned for use in kids under 6 years old. A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel made the recommendation today. The panel says there's no evidence they work in young children. The FDA usually follows through on the panel's advice.

The rapper T.I. remains in jail facing federal gun charges. He appeared in court in Atlanta today to ask a judge to release him on bail. Six major record executives were there to back T.I.'s bid. But the judge said he won't decide on bail until next week. T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris, was arrested Saturday for allegedly trying to buy machine guns with silencers.

Police are searching for a gunman who hijacked a tanker truck filled with 7,100 gallons of home heating oil. The driver was filling up his fuel tank in Baltimore when it happened. The tanker turned up four hours later, abandoned in Washington. And it was empty.

Now on to tonight's special hour, "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming."

Al Gore has been warning us about climate change for decades. Now that he's won the Nobel Peace Prize, there is no doubt he has our attention, but we're still left with many questions. What's actually wrong? What do we need to do to change? What happens if we don't, and what's really out of our hands?

There are scientists, alarmists and skeptics. For the next hour, I'm keeping them all honest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Lakes drying up, glaciers and ice caps melting, killer storms, and tons of hot air, especially here. AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Planetary emergency.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I take it seriously.

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a mistake.

O'BRIEN: We're keeping everyone honest.

Are polar bears really drowning because their icy homes are melting? Will your home flood or run out of water? How soon? How Al Gore got green, why global warming is a matter of war and peace. And what will it cost you and me and our politicians to do something about it?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Al Gore has been drawing fire from skeptics since he first started talking about global warming, but he also has been drawing praise. And it seems there is a direct link between the prestige of his prizes and the volume of his critics.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY")

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: The Nobel Peace Prize is about politics. It's the Kentucky Derby of the world left, and it gives it to people whose politics or either anti-American or anti-Bush. And that's why he won it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GLENN BECK")

GLENN BECK, HOST, "GLENN BECK": In the Oscar-winning film "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore says the debate is over and the verdict is in.

Any movie with charts and graphs this big, I mean, they have got to be right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Some tough words. Gore's critics also picked up some powerful ammunition just before the Nobel Committee announced the Peace Prize.

A British judge ruled "An Inconvenient Truth," the Oscar-winning film of Gore's global warming lecture, contains nine errors that need to be pointed out to students as the movie is played in British schools.

Since we're keeping everyone honest here, we are going to look at all nine points of contention this hour.

First, the link between global warming and the weather. In the movie, Gore implies there's a direct link between global warming and the killer hurricane season of 2005, which, of course, included Katrina, as well as a series of devastating tornadoes the year before.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: And then what happened? Before it hit New Orleans, it went over warmer waters. As the water temperature increases, the wind velocity increases and the moisture content increases.

And the same year that we had that string of big hurricanes, we also set an all-time record for tornadoes in the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Meteorologist Rob Marciano is in the CNN Weather Center.

Rob, let's start on that last point there. Is there any science which shows global warming leads to more severe tornadoes?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Miles, there's no study that we know of that shows an increase in tornadoes due to global warming, either now or forecast for the future.

Now, on the topic of hurricanes and global warming, that is still up for debate. Storms have increased in the Atlantic since 1995. The question is why and where else? Some hurricane experts say Atlantic hurricanes have increased because of a 20- to 30-year ocean cycle. Some say it's because of global warming.

Regardless, Atlantic hurricanes account for less than 15 percent of all tropical cyclones worldwide. So, studies have been done to see if storms worldwide have increased. And some studies say yes. Others say the data from outside the Atlanta is not good.

Estimating hurricane strength from satellites, well, it's just not precise. And the U.S. is the only country to routinely fly into hurricanes. And that's the only way to actually measure a storm's strength.

A recent study conducted by respected scientist Jim Kossin re- analyzes the global data and shows that there has been no increase in hurricane strength worldwide in the last 20 years.

The fact is, hurricanes need much more than just warm water to grow, but they do need at least 80 degree water to form. Warm water evaporates. It rises, form clouds, and that releases heat. That heat release then leads to more strengthening of the storm. That leads to more evaporation and the cycle repeats itself.

The storm can kind of feed on itself and strengthen. Most hurricane experts agree that, if waters increase by one degree Celsius, hurricane winds will increase by about 5 percent by the end of the century. That means any increase that we have seen in recent hurricanes due to warming would only be about 2 percent, statistically indiscernible.

And, of course, it's not as simple as warm water equals strong storm. Some things can kill or at least weaken a hurricane, dry land, for one thing, dry air, and something called wind shear. High- altitude winds typically energize most storms, but they actually weaken hurricanes.

And when tropical cyclones ride the trade winds east to west and high-altitude winds are strong, it creates this wind shear. When a hurricane or tropical storm hits wind shear, the top of the storm actually gets choked and torn off. This not only weakens hurricanes, but it also prevents storms from forming in the first place.

And a recent study done by the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory says global warming may increase wind shear and therefore decrease hurricanes.

Now, I'm sure there's going to be more studies down the road, Miles, and no doubt this debate will continue. As for who is right and who is wrong, we may not know the answer until it's actually happening. Until then, I think most would agree that, if you do your part and you go green, well, everybody wins -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: I guess we're all part of the experiment. Thank you very much, meteorologist Rob Marciano. Don't go away. We have more work to do keeping everyone honest. We will see you in just a little bit.

Back to the nine points of contention now. They're what a British judge says are nine errors that Gore makes during "An Inconvenient Truth." Numbers two and three have to do with rising sea levels.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): It's one of the more dramatic visuals in the movie. The question, what would happen if half the Greenland and the west Antarctic ice shelves broke up and melted into the sea?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: This is what would happen to the sea level in Florida. This is what would happen to San Francisco Bay. A lot of people live in these areas.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: There is no doubt there's a lot of water bottled up in the big ice caps. The Antarctic ice shelf is 7,000 feet thick on average. If it all melted, sea level would rise 200 feet.

If the Greenland ice cap melted, it would mean a 20-foot rise in sea level. And there's plenty of evidence that caps are melting and have already contributed to sea level rise. But no one is sure how fast this is happening.

It could take several hundred years. And Gore did not mention the long time frame in the movie. But consider this. Scientists are worried the running water, the broken ice, and the fact that there will be less to reflect the sun's rays will lead to more melting. The process might be accelerating, which leads to us another bone of contention in the movie.

When talking about rising sea level, Gore says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: That's why the citizens of these Pacific nations have all had to evacuate to New Zealand.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: And while the people who live in low-lying atolls like Tuvalu have made plans to evacuate to New Zealand eventually, no one has had to leave just yet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Of course, Al Gore isn't the only Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2007. He is sharing the honor with a couple of thousand others who have some very impressive credentials. And a few of them don't agree with Gore or the consensus one bit. We will ask one of them how he feels about sharing the Nobel Prize with his scientific nemesis.

Plus, what turned Al Gore green in the first place? Is it a recent conversion? What we found out might surprise you.

And, later, we know the polar bears are on thin ice these days, but is it really why some of them are drowning?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming."

We're talking about Al Gore's environmental crusade, but where and when did it begin?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Al Gore was born to be a politician, not an environmentalist. He is the son of a three-term Tennessee senator. He grew up living mostly in a Washington hotel. When Al Gore Sr. lost his Senate seat in 1970, he cozied up with the fossil fuel industry, the elder Gore serving on the board of a big oil company and chairman of a coal company.

Al Gore Jr. got his first introduction to global warming from this man, Roger Revelle, a Harvard professor who became his mentor. Revelle was a charismatic visionary who was issuing warnings about global warming in the 1950s. Gore says Revelle changed his life by sparking a passion for preserving the environment.

But the political genes were still there. He arrived in Congress in 1976. He held the first Senate hearings on global warming in 1988. That same year, he ran for president, but his candidacy, like his efforts to focus attention on climate change, fell flat.

Then, in 1989, another turning point for Gore: His young son was struck by a car and nearly killed. Gore says it prompted him to reevaluate his personal and professional priorities. He vowed to spend more time with his family and focus more on protecting the environment.

Out of that experience came the environmental manifesto "Earth in the Balance." Published in 1992, it became a bestseller and the basis for a slide show, which morphed into "An Inconvenient Truth" 14 years later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: And they had to get ready for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The movie won an Oscar and now Gore is a Nobel laureate.

Suddenly, the environmental movement has a global leader like never before. And many scientists have a de facto spokesman who has engaged the public in ways they cannot.

GORE: You are Live Earth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: But many skeptics are quick to point out Gore does not have any scientific credentials.

And that is what leads to us a crucial ocean current widely known as the conveyor belt. What may or may not be happening to it is another bone of contention for those critical of "An Inconvenient Truth."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Our climate on Earth is partially controlled by ocean currents. In the movie, Gore talks about one particular current that scientists are watching very closely.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: The problem is in the North Atlantic, where the Gulf Stream comes up and meets the cold winds coming off the Arctic over Greenland, and that evaporates the heat out of the Gulf Stream. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: The current is called the conveyor. Warm seawater near the surface flows to the north, bringing a relatively warm climate to Europe. The water then cools off, gets denser, and sinks, and then it flows back in the other direction.

But as the Greenland ice cap melts, there is more freshwater in the North Atlantic. And freshwater is lighter, stays on the surface. And, if there's enough of it, it can stop the conveyor belt in its tracks, putting Europe into a deep freeze. It has happened before at the end of the last Ice Age.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: And the change from conditions like we have here today to an Ice Age took place in perhaps as little as 10 years' time. So, that's a sudden jump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: No one doubts it can be sudden, but IPCC scientists see no evidence it will happen any time soon.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Politics makes for strange bedfellows, of course. Well, so does winning one of the world's most prestigious awards.

Up next, I will speak with a man who shares a slice of this year's Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore, but doesn't see eye to eye with him at all.

And what do you believe about global warming? See whether Americans are getting greener or whether they're still in the dark. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming."

In this hour, we're examining the criticism surrounding Al Gore's documentary "An Inconvenient Truth."

While Gore takes the fight very seriously, he showed us in a "Saturday Night Live" appearance that he can laugh about it as well. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")

GORE: In 2000, when you overwhelmingly made the decision to elect me as your 43rd president, I knew the road ahead would be difficult. We have accomplished so much, yet challenges lie ahead.

In the last six years, we have been able to stop global warming. No one could have predicted the negative results of this. Glaciers that once were melting are now on the attack.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: A little bit of sarcastic humor from the former vice president.

But I will tell you who is not laughing, the critics who accuse Gore of being an alarmist, who say global warming is not a catastrophe.

One of them is, ironically, one of the scientists who shares a piece of the Nobel Peace Prize with Gore, former NASA scientist John Christy, joining from us Huntsville, Alabama.

Dr. Christy, good to have you with us.

DR. JOHN CHRISTY, NOBEL LAUREATE: Hello.

O'BRIEN: I assume you're not happy about sharing this award with Al Gore. You going to renounce it in some way?

CHRISTY: Well, as a scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, I always thought that -- I may sound like the Grinch who stole Christmas here -- that prizes were given for performance, and not for promotional activities.

And, when I look at the world, I see that the carbon dioxide rate is increasing, and energy demand, of course, is increasing. And that's because, without energy, life is brutal and short. So, I don't see very much effect in trying to scare people into not using energy, when it is the very basis of how we can live in our society.

O'BRIEN: So, what about the movie do you take issue with, then, Dr. Christy?

CHRISTY: Well, there's any number of things.

I suppose, fundamentally, it's the fact that someone is speaking about a science that I have been very heavily involved with and have labored so hard in, and been humiliated by, in the sense that the climate is so difficult to understand, Mother Nature is so complex, and so the uncertainties are great, and then to hear someone speak with such certainty and such confidence about what the climate is going to do is -- well, I suppose I could be kind and say, it's annoying to me.

O'BRIEN: But you just got through saying that the carbon dioxide levels are up. Temperatures are going up. There is a certain degree of certainty that goes along with that, right?

CHRISTY: Well, the carbon dioxide is going up. And remember that carbon dioxide is plant food in the fundamental sense. All of life depends on the fact carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere. So, we're fortunate it's not a toxic gas. But, on the other hand, what is the climate doing. And when we build -- and I'm one of the few people in the world that actually builds these climate data sets -- we don't see the catastrophic changes that are being promoted all over the place.

For example, I suppose CNN did not announce two weeks ago when the Antarctic sea ice extent reached its all-time maximum, even though, in the Arctic in the North Pole, it reached its all-time minimum.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about the critics in general. Many of the critics we hear from have links to the fossil fuel industry. A lot of their funding comes from the coal and oil industries.

How about you?

CHRISTY: All of my funding is federal and state grants. And I apply for them and write my papers, which are peer-reviewed. So, I have disengaged and never was really involved in any of that.

O'BRIEN: Does it make you angry that Al Gore got the Peace Prize?

CHRISTY: No. I think it's just a commentary on a prize that is a political prize. I think it was clearly designed to influence American elections and so on.

But, in a sense, you can't begrudge someone who has become a star. I mean, he has really attracted the media attention and so on. So, that's just what happens in the world of politics.

O'BRIEN: So, you say this is a political award then?

CHRISTY: Well, as I said at the very beginning, I don't see any accomplishment here. I don't see CO2 going down because of the campaign -- the crusade that he's on.

And I only see it going up, because -- and I come back to this -- energy is absolutely vital for human society, and its use will increase. There's a tremendous amount of pent-up energy demand, especially in the Third World right now. So, we shall see it rise.

O'BRIEN: But some would say it's time to look at alternatives that don't put that CO2 into the atmosphere.

CHRISTY: Well, I have done the work on that. And the only alternative that can make a tiny dent in the rate of temperature increase, if it is increasing at a high rate, is nuclear power.

So, if you built 1,000 nuclear power plants right now, you would be able to affect the global temperature by -- listen to this -- one- hundredth-of-a-degree per decade. I don't know if that is the price we want to pay, but nuclear power, in democratically accountable countries, is fairly safe and useful that way.

O'BRIEN: John Christy, thank you for your time. CHRISTY: My pleasure.

O'BRIEN: Let's get back now to "Keeping Them Honest," nine points of contention with "An Inconvenient Truth." Let's get to the next one on our list here.

Scientists say there is no doubt the snows of Kilimanjaro will soon live on only in the work of Hemingway's fiction. But, when Gore references it is in the movie, that British judge calls that statement into question.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: And now we're beginning to see the impact in the real world. Within the decade, there will be no more snows of Kilimanjaro.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Critics, including the judge in Great Britain, question whether there is a smoking-gun link between global warming and the withering of Kilimanjaro.

But consider this. Kilimanjaro is by no means alone. As a matter of fact, just about everywhere you look on the planet, glaciers are receding, in Montana, Canada, Nepal, Switzerland, and Argentina. In short, mountain glaciers and snow cover in both hemispheres are retreating.

The scientists who share the Peace Prize with Gore say, evidence the climate system is warming is unequivocal and it's everywhere, increased air and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, and melting snow and ice.

And check out this chart. Based on information gleaned from Antarctic ice core samples, it shows carbon dioxide and temperature levels on Earth over the past 650,000 years.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: Look how far above the natural cycle this is, and we have done that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: There really isn't anyone who denies these numbers. As Gore puts it:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH")

GORE: The so-called skeptics look at this and they say, so? That seems perfectly OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: And some skeptics suggest, the graph on its own does not prove a link between human production of greenhouse gases and global warming.

True, perhaps, but it is only one graph, one compelling piece of circumstantial evidence.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Up next: Global warming meets hot air. We are going to tell you what these guys are doing about the problem. And what about their predecessors? We're keeping everyone honest here.

And what does global warming have to do with world peace anyway? A lot more than you may think.

Stay with us. We have got the inside scoop from the U.S. military, not just Al Gore.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Hello. I'm Miles O'Brien in New York.

More of our special, "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming," in a moment.

First, here's what's happening "In The News" right now.

The Midwest and the South, they're picking up the pieces after storms caused dozens of tornadoes and killed six. This one was caught on tape in Starkville, Mississippi. The storms were unusually strong for October and left a trail of downed trees, power outages and flattened homes.

The ax falls at the Air Force over a nuclear weapons mistake. Military officials tell CNN four officers have been relieved of duty after a B-52 flew from North Dakota to Louisiana in August. No one knew it was carrying nukes.

A worldwide search for a suspected pedophile has ended in Thailand. Thai police picked up Christopher Paul Neil today. Interpol says Neil is the man seen in the distorted photos in the internet abusing young boys. Investigators identified him after managing to reconstruct the distorted picture.

The famed illusionist David Copperfield is the focus of a sexual assault investigation. This week the FBI raided a Las Vegas warehouse he owns, leaving with a computer hard drive and $2 million that was stashed in a safe. Seattle police say the raid stemmed from a complaint filed by a woman there over an alleged incident this summer in the Bahamas. Copperfield's lawyer denies the allegations.

Price of oil slipped back below $90 today, breaking a streak of four record highs. That's enough to perk up Wall Street, however, the Dow lost 366 points. O'BRIEN: We're looking at global warming, just the facts, and we're keeping them all honest as we look at Al Gore, his movie and those who say he didn't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

So what does the evidence show about what you think? Al Gore may be winning all kinds of awards but a lot of Americans are not buying what he is selling. There some insights into some surprising numbers, we turn to our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider. Bill, good to have you with us here.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.

O'BRIEN: Let's look at the numbers first of all. This one is a surprise. This is the CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll, recent one.

Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of global warming, we ask. And here's the response.

Global warming is a proven fact, mostly man-made, 56 percent. Global warming is a proven fact, mostly natural, 21 percent, and then completely unproven, 21 percent.

It's interesting when you lump those bottom two together, isn't it.

SCHNEIDER: Well, yes, because it says only 56 percent. The top two, the top answer rather agree with the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is not just a fact but it's caused by people. If you don't think it's caused by people, then you probably don't think these much people can do about it.

Like the weather, everybody talks about it and nobody does anything about it.

O'BRIEN: It seems because more than 90 percent of the scientists would say it is man-made and happening and about 40 percent of Americans are still in the skeptical realm.

SCHNEIDER: That's right. They are still skeptical of that argument.

O'BRIEN: All right. Next, this is also from the same poll, CNN Opinion Research Poll. Question, first question. Is global warming a threat to the world? Seventy-two percent of you say yes, 27 percent no, but this is the interesting one to follow up on here.

SCHNEIDER: Right.

O'BRIEN: The question then was is it an immediate threat, an eventual threat, or not a threat. And look at how the numbers went there. That's interesting, isn't it?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, because just over 35 percent just over a third considered global warming an immediate threat. That's significant because our political system can deal with the problems only if people see an immediate crisis. That's the way it was designed. It was designed for weak government. If there's no overwhelming sense of public urgency, there's too many ways to block things from happening. So it's unlikely much can happen unless people sense a crisis and the only time they've sensed it is in Hurricane Katrina, and of course then, government did not work.

O'BRIEN: We work best when our back is against the wall.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly.

O'BRIEN: This final one is interesting. This is from a different poll organization. This is from Pew Global Attitudes, their project there. And the question -- they gave people a list of worries, potential worries, and asked people if environmental problems were at the top of their list. And based on the answer, 70 percent in China say yes. All the way at the bottom is the U.S. at 37 percent. How do you explain that one?

SCHNEIDER: Well, Americans see other things as bigger problems because, of course, we're the only global superpower today. What other things did they pick higher than the environment? They pick the spread of nuclear weapons. They pick religious and ethnic hatred.

Russians and Chinese worry a lot about the growing income gap between rich and poor in their fast-growing economies. People in developing countries often pick AIDS and the spread of infectious diseases as the top threat. And interestingly, people in Japan gave very high priority to the spread of nuclear weapons and I can think of a reason why.

O'BRIEN: Yes, for sure. Sounds like people generally think locally, not globally.

SCHNEIDER: Exactly right. They think locally and they think about immediate crisis.

O'BRIEN: All right. Bill Schneider, thank you very much for sorting through these numbers with us. We appreciate it.

O'BRIEN: What about Al Gore's record when he was in the White House. Now you would think he and Bill Clinton would have done a lot to curb global warming. Well, think again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

There was a brief moment in time when Al Gore and George Bush actually agreed on global warming. When they were running for the oval office in 2000, they were asked in a debate if they would promise to limit U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Global warming needs to be taken very seriously, and I take it seriously.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): But that didn't last long. When Bush became president, his administration cooled to the concept, if you will. Vice President Cheney told CNN's John King that Bush's campaign promise to cap greenhouse emissions would hurt the U.S. economy.

DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a mistake because we aren't in a position today to be able to do that in terms of sort of capping emissions, CO2 emissions.

O'BRIEN: And that was that. In the Bush White House, global warming became a dead issue. Government scientists who disagreed say they were censored or edited so to appear they were towing the line. The administration flatly rejected the Kyoto treaty, which holds industrialized nations to limit on greenhouse gas production.

The Kyoto was an orphan before Bush left it on the world's doorstep. It languished during the Clinton/Gore years as well even with the issues best known global activists a heartbeat away.

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need a climate change on Capitol Hill on this issue, and it should not be a partisan issue.

O'BRIEN: Political considerations hindered both administrations.

DAVID HAMILTON, SIERRA CLUB: I would say that the Bush administration has a "D" and that Clinton administration probably got a "C plus." Either way, not very good grades. We're very far behind the curve on where we need to be on controlling global warming both in the process and the politics.

O'BRIEN: Last year, Gore told Larry King, he urged Clinton to push for ratification of the treaty.

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say that it was perfectly reasonable for him to say, look, our congressional relations people tell us there is no support for it there and I personally tried. I can only convince one senator out of all 100 to say that he or she would definitely vote to ratify.

O'BRIEN: The Senate voted 95-0 not to accept Kyoto's caps, and Bush has remained steadfastly opposed to mandatory regulation, insisting voluntary measures and high technology are the solution.

BUSH: These technologies will help us be better stewards of the environment and help us, and they will help us to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.

O'BRIEN: So if you're looking for the reasons, the U.S. has done little to respond to the climate crisis, you can find them on both sides of the aisle. And while nothing has been done, the problem has gotten harder to solve.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: It raised a lot of eyebrows that global warming was even under consideration for the Nobel Peace Prize. Peace prize? We're talking about the wrong category? Actually, wait until you hear what the Pentagon says about climate change and war and peace.

And is global warming really pushing polar bears to the brink? Hold on, we're keeping everyone honest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Throughout this hour we're bringing out the points of contention with Al Gore's "Inconvenient Truth". On to number seven now, the polar bears, as you well now, have become an icon of global warming and they are literally on thin ice, but could they actually be drowning? That's what Gore says in the movie.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: The scientific study shows that, for the first time they're finding polar bears that have actually drowned swimming long distances up to 60 miles to find the ice, and they didn't find that before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Critics including the British judge we've been telling you about say there is no proof polar bears have died because of global warming. The scientific study in question says four bears died after swimming in open water in Hudson Bay through a storm. Was it the storm that killed them, as skeptics suggest, or was it climate change?

Well, we do know this. They wouldn't have drowned if they were on the ice, and there is no doubt the ice there is steadily retreating, especially in places like Hudson Bay.

So what's peace got to do with it? I heard that question a lot after the word got out that Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, it turns out it does have a lot to do with peace. Our next guest has been connecting those dots for years, laying out stark scenarios for the Pentagon and for the intelligence community on how scarcity and hardship brought on by climate change can lead to wars.

Peter Schwartz is cofounder and chairman of the Global Business Network, Schwartz Global Business Network. Peter, good to have you with us on the program here.

PETER SCHWARTZ, GLOBAL BUSINESS NETWORK: Good to be here, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Just briefly, give us a sense of how this becomes a national security issue.

SCHWARTZ: Sure, it's fairly straightforward. What actually happens is that societies get disrupted by climate change, major transformations in water systems. I mean, one of the best examples that we can imagine might happen in Bangladesh.

Think about what happens when a few centimeters of sea level rise, combines with a mega monsoon, two of the kinds of effects we're likely to get from climate change. Suddenly, you're going to find a nation which is essentially at sea level with 150 million people with over 100 million of them probably homeless, and on the move, headed toward China, headed toward India. What are they going to do when they hit the borders? That's the kind of things that will produce a conflict in the world and it's happened many times before.

O'BRIEN: All right. So you talk about, you know, a mass exodus of people out of Bangladesh and into other countries, who knows what that leads to.

Let's move on and talk about other countries and stay in the region. Let's talk about what could happen, say in China.

SCHWARTZ: Well, for example, if you look at where the great rivers of Asia come from, they all come out of the Tibet and highlands, the Ganges, the Mekong, the Brahmaputra, the Indus, all of them flow out of the Chinese highlands.

Imagine a mega drought there, which is particularly vulnerable too. Take the Mekong, which flows through six countries ending up in Vietnam. The struggle over access to water for agricultures, for industries, for cities will be a profound struggle and the Chinese are already damming the Mekong. Now, imagine when the flow radically reduced. That's the kind of thing that produces war between the two nations.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's move to another hemisphere now, and we are going to talk about a little different issue. We've been talking about scarcity of water.

There are other stresses that occur and we're talking about just devastating stresses on ecosystems. And now, we're talking about Haiti. What could happen in a place like Haiti?

SCHWARTZ: Well, the Caribbean will be vulnerable to ever more severe storms. Think storms much larger than Katrina. And now, Haiti's ecosystems are already shattered. You only need to look at satellite pictures of the Dominican Republic versus Haiti, massive deforestation. Now, you hit it with very severe storms and you end up with vast numbers of dead and huge numbers of refugees heading toward our shores.

We've been there before with Haiti. Suddenly, the Navy and the Coast Guard will be called out to deal with a huge influx of refugees coming toward us as a result of disruptions in Haiti.

O'BRIEN: All right. Let's move back to another continent. Let's go to Africa and talk about what might happen there particularly as you look at these two countries, Somalia and Tanzania. What kinds of scenarios are you worried about there?

SCHWARTZ: Well, here it's again drought that's really the issue, and we've already seen massive droughts in that part of the world. Indeed, part of the problem in Darfur has to do with drought. But in Somalia, they've been hit with a drought. Now, it spreads further south, Kenya, Tanzania, and you end up with massive disruptions and struggle over access to food. That's what will happen. Water is critical for food production, and places that are already at the edge will find themselves going over the edge. And when countries go over the edge, the first thing they do is reach out for their neighbors to try and find as much food as they can.

O'BRIEN: All right. A lot of people watching this, Peter, might say, well, this is -- this is not going to happen any time soon. You say this could happen relatively quickly.

SCHWARTZ: In fact, it's already beginning. Look, climate change is not a slow, gradual process over 100, 200 years. When the climate changes, it changes suddenly and abruptly and unevenly. Big changes in some places and almost nothing somewhere else. And so what we're likely to get is an increasing frequency of weather extremes, more severe storms, more severe droughts, more sea level rise, and so on, in some places, not everywhere. The average may be rising slowly, but the extremes will be much more common, more frequently, and far more deadly.

O'BRIEN: Peter Schwartz, thank you. Very sobering words but thank you for your time.

Let's get back to "keeping them honest." Number eight in the points of contention between Al Gore and his critics.

In his movie, Gore talks about the clear, early signs of global warming. The so-called canaries in the coal mine, at the poles and our planet, of course, and in warmer waters, just beneath the surface of the sea.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: Coral reefs all over the world, because of global warming and other factors, are bleaching and they end up like this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: But is global warming really the cause? Some of Gore's critics say there is not enough scientific proof. There is no question many of the world's coral reefs are in huge trouble. Reefs in the Florida Keys, Jamaica, the Indian Ocean, Indonesia, they've been dying for the last ten years. The once vibrant colorful fields of coral are bleached wastelands like you'd see there.

The local causes could be pollution, bad fishing practices, or invasive species or all of those. Global warms has increased ocean temperatures, however, by one degree Celsius over the last century, more locally sometimes, and that puts stress on these fragile ecosystems. And also the higher levels of greenhouse gases are making the ocean more as acidic, but scientists have yet to say for certain just what is killing all that coral.

All over the world lakes are drying up, but is global warming to blame? Coming up, some other possibilities because we're keeping everyone honest.

And what do you think a big profit-driven utility company would say about global warming? The last thing you'd expect.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back to "Keeping Them Honest: The Truth About Global Warming." We're focusing on nine supposed errors in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," the film made about Al Gore's climate change crusade.

Climate change is about much more than melting glaciers and rising sea levels. It also means changing the weather maps, with much more rainfall in some regions, much less in others. Gore uses one lake in particular as a case in point.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: Lake Chad, once one of the largest lakes in the world, it has dried up over the last few decades to almost nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Well this is what happened to Lake Chad in the last 35 years. The causes are more complicated than Gore mentions, however. The shallow lake has wax and waned naturally over thousands of years. Today, it is the imperiled drinking source for 20 million people, and the primary reason it is shrinking may be overused or overgrazing on its banks.

All that said, the UN scientists who shared the peace prize of Gore say there is evidence of a drying trend in that region, and that it is likely many areas of the world are grappling with droughts that are linked to human-induced climate change as we speak.

Let's bring that argument home now. What effect, if any, is global warming having on rainfall here in the U.S.? For that we'll go to our meteorologist Rob Marciano at the CNN Weather Center. Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Miles, recently there has been record drought in the southeast and record rain in the plains. And while neither of these events can directly point to global warming, both droughts and floods are forecast to increase as temperatures continue to rise.

The thinking on floods is that warm air has the physical ability to evaporate and hold more water. That means more water can potentially fall to the ground during rain storms, and this will likely increase flooding events in the future.

As for the heat, well, that's pretty straightforward. Hotter air should mean more heat waves. And when there's also drought involved, the warmer air makes it even drier. If the ground is wet, it will actually help form clouds to keep things a little bit cool, even help make rain. But dry ground actually heats up more than wet ground. Sometimes heat waves or droughts can kind of feed on each other.

For instance, the sun beats down on the dry ground, heating the air above it, drying the ground more. And with no soil moisture, well, you don't get many clouds and you get more sun and that heats and dries the ground even more and so on. It can even make it more difficult for rain to move into an area because the air is so dry, it'd take months or even years for a large scale weather pattern change to end the cycle, as this can created havoc certainly for farmers and people who just need water to live.

Now, let's talk about another thing. Warmer climate will also mean less mountain snow. So people who live near mountains, they get their water from snowmelt. Less snow up high will be a problem for people living down low. In the southeast, it's usually a plain old lack of rain that causes water problems. Neither is good, but for these points, Al Gore's movie is accurate, along with the fact that the climate is warming. Likely the bigger problem, Miles, is the fact that we have limited water on the earth and a growing population that needs it. So do your part and take a shorter shower.

O'BRIEN: All right. CNN meteorologist Rob Marciano, thank you very much. And we should point out at this point we've gone through all nine of those alleged inconsistencies or exaggerations brought out by that British judge in the midst of that lawsuit.

But worth pointing out that the judge said in mentioning those nine inconsistencies that the scientific substance, the facts of the science that form the basis of Gore's movie are, in fact, correct.

Next, the good news. Can you believe big business is so worried about climate change that some huge corporations are actually asking for more government regulation? You heard me right. Stay right there. We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'BRIEN: Welcome back. You've heard much disagreement on this issue. Now it's time for a look at some consensus, and it comes from a group you'd least suspect.

Duke Energy, the third largest user of coal in this country, and now a leader in demanding mandatory limits on greenhouse gases.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEITH TRENT, DUKE ENERGY: When we saw that we had an issue that needed to be dealt with, we felt that the right solution was to pursue mandatory legislation.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): You heard him right. Duke wants mandatory legislation and is not alone. Growing numbers of huge U.S. corporations are touting what seems to be a surprising change of heart on global warming policy.

JIM ROGERS, CEO, DUKE ENERGY: Our businesses and the national economy can grow, prosper, and compete successfully in a greenhouse gas constrained world.

FRANCES BEINECKE, PRESIDENT, NATURAL RESOURCES DEF. COUN.: The era of delay and denial on this topic is over. We've come together because we recognize and agree. We cannot put this problem on the backs of our children and grandchildren.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've been asked to go --

O'BRIEN: Duke is joined by 26 other big companies; DuPont, General Motors and Conico (ph) among them, along with some leading environmental groups. They all see a change in the political climate, democratic control of Congress, governors pushing for regulations in their home states and polls that show a majority of Americans want the U.S. to do something about climate change. In short, they see the regulation train leaving the station.

TRENT: We need to make sure that the rules are set right, so that we don't damage our economy, that we don't damage certain parts of the country that have historically been dependent on coal for their generation.

O'BRIEN: The group has embraced some general principles, endorsing cap in trade emissions control plans, pushing for incentives for companies that take early action, and ensuring regions that are highly dependent on coal-fired power are not unfairly penalized.

HAMILTON: Now the hard part comes, which is getting down to how do you structure a regulatory program that gets the job done and that, you know, drives emissions reductions and doesn't end up giving out windfalls to, you know, the folks that are already polluting.

O'BRIEN: Reducing carbon emissions will not be cheap or easy especially for big coal burners like Duke. The technology to remove carbon dioxide from coal emissions is that at least 15 years away so utilities will have to find other solutions, renewables, and likely more nuclear.

Whatever the solutions, they will require huge investments. And before corporations can do that, they need to know what the rules will be.

TRENT: And I think, that will ultimately save us money rather than cost us money because I think the longer we wait, the more expensive solutions will be.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN: Good words to end on. Thanks for watching. Tune in for CNN's "PLANET IN PERIL," this Tuesday and Wednesday, 9:00 Eastern. Goodnight.

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