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American Morning

Climate Controversy Scandal Overshadows Copenhagen Summit; Scientists Cooking the Books on Global Warming?; E-mails Cast Doubt on Climate Change Research

Aired December 07, 2009 - 06:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to a special edition of AMERICAN MORNING on this Monday, December 7th. Coming up on 6:00 here in New York. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JOE JOHNS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Joe Johns in for John Roberts who's on assignment in England and joins us live this morning.

Hi, John. So you're looking into the e-mail controversy over there involving global warming.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, we are, Joe. Good morning to you.

I am in Norwich, England at the University of East Anglia and behind me here, this cylindrical building, is the Climatic Research Unit which finds itself at the epicenter of what's being called climate-gate.

Four thousand e-mails and documents were hacked out of the Climatic Research Unit's server system, their computer system. Some of those e-mails were looked at by skeptics and are now being used to cast doubt on all of the science surrounding global warming. Skeptics claiming that some scientists were manipulating data to further their cause. We'll be looking into all of this this morning, and I'll be talking exclusively with the interim director of the CRU in just a few minutes. Right now, back to you.

CHETRY: All right. John, great to have you over there because we're digging into this deeper here at CNN. It's a network-wide initiative. Just to try to get to the bottom of it and also find out from people that are, you know, sitting at home, what does this exactly mean.


CHETRY: What does it mean for the future of climate change and any legislation to make sure that we are protecting our climate?

JOHNS: Especially at a time now where the climate change conference is beginning in Copenhagen. A lot of the world paying very close attention to this controversy and the issue in general.

CHETRY: Yes, that's right. In fact, our president headed there next week.

That e-mail scandal, by the way, may overshadow what we've been talking about, this big U.N. conference on climate change. It is now under way in Copenhagen. Nearly 100 world leaders will attend this global strategy session, including President Obama. And charges that scientists may be, quote, "massaging the global warming data" have set off some political fireworks in Washington. So we're going to get a live report on that angle just ahead.

JOHNS: President Obama holding an Afghan strategy session today with his top commander and America's ambassador to Kabul. And as U.S. forces get ready for the surge, we're already on the ground in the war-torn nation. Our Barbara Starr is there live to take you through the village where the fight against the Taliban is already working.

CHETRY: And the calendar may still say fall, but the U.S. getting its first real blast of winter. Folks across the country getting hit with snow, wind and below freezing temperatures. Blizzard warnings in effect, in fact. We have details on the conditions. Any possible travel headaches as well ahead.

But we begin this morning with the e-mails that have created a cloud of controversy over a huge global meeting to tackle climate change. You might have heard about this conference. It starts today in Copenhagen and it's bringing together officials from nearly 200 nations, including the U.S. Our President Obama will fly there next week. One of the big goals is to get countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions which scientists say are heating up the earth and doing damage to the world that our kids and their kids will inherit. But is the problem really as bad as some make it sound?

This morning, critics say e-mails swiped from a British university suggest that researchers could be putting their own spin on reality. And that is now creating political fireworks all the way to Washington.

Jim Acosta joins us live from D.C. this morning. And some Republicans, Jim, are really seizing on this.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They really are, Kiran. It's unclear how much this controversy will dominate the debate in Copenhagen. A top United Nations climate official agrees the e-mails in question are damaging, but Republicans here in Washington believe they are proof that much of global warming theory is based on bogus science. And they want answers.


ACOSTA (voice-over): Copenhagen, hoping to cut a deal to curb carbon dioxide emissions, there are calls in Washington for hearings into a slew of stolen e-mails, that global warming skeptics allege show leading scientists cooking the books on climate change.

REP. JAMES SENSENBRENNER (R), WISCONSIN: They read more like scientific fascism than scientific process.

ACOSTA: It all started when the University of East Anglia in Britain discovered hackers have seized a file of more than a thousand e-mails revealing researchers' private discussions on global warming. Climate change deniers have zeroed in on this e-mail that references an American scientist's trick to, quote, "hide the decline." That researcher, Penn State's, Michael Mann, has since become the target of conservative critics who say he was trying to conceal a drop in global temperatures. A charge he denies.


MUSIC: Climate-gate, I think you have sealed your fate.


ACOSTA: Across the blogosphere of skeptics, climate-gate was born.


MUSIC: Hide the decline. Hide the decline.


ACOSTA: The controversy could not have come at a better time for Republicans. Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe has fought Democrats on climate change legislation for months.

SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: One cannot deny that the e- mails have raised fundamental questions, concerning among other things, transparency and openness in science, especially taxpayer- funded science.

LISA JACKSON, EPA ADMINISTRATOR: You call it climate-gate, I call it e-mail theft-gate.

ACOSTA: Last week Republicans fired off a letter to the EPA demanding it delay new limits on greenhouse gas emissions until the agency can demonstrate the science underlying these regulatory decisions that's not been compromised. The head of the EPA says the e-mails don't affect the scientific consensus on global warming.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have not heard anything that causes me to believe that that overwhelming consensus, that climate change is happening and that man-made emissions contributing to it have changed.

ACOSTA: GOP leaders are warning President Obama to reject any new climate change agreements in Copenhagen.

SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R), TEXAS: We're not a dictatorship. The president can promise whatever he wants. The Congress has a role. If there's some proposed treaty, the Senate will vote on it.

ACOSTA: But in an era of green jobs, Democrats say denying global warming is not just bad science, it's bad business.

SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: If we ignore it, put our head in the sand, we're going to find countries like China leapfrogging us, moving forward. That's going to create jobs for China, but not America. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: And as far with these e-mails say, many respected climate scientists say the larger data supports the global warming theory and the controversy is not stopping the president from going to Copenhagen for the conclusion of the summit. Environmentalists hope that's a sign Mr. Obama wants to be there in person when a climate agreement is unveiled to the world, Kiran.

CHETRY: It's interesting, you know. I mean, devil's advocate. You may be calling more attention to something that may have been under the radar for people because of the e-mail controversy.

ACOSTA: That's right. You know, this controversy really has been swirling in Republican circles for weeks. And it is interesting to find out whether or not the president is going to chime in on this. The House and the Senate leaders have yet to really weigh in on this. But all last week, Congressional hearings were really dominated by this discussion over these e-mails. It's definitely bubbling to the surface here in Washington, Kiran.

CHETRY: Jim Acosta for us this morning, thanks.

JOHNS: And we really want to see where that goes. The e-mails and allegations that global warming threat may be exaggerated could potentially have an impact on climate change negotiations in Copenhagen. Ground zero for the climate scandal has been Britain's University of East Anglia.

Our John Roberts, who sits in this chair normally every morning, went to the source to dig deeper in the story. He's live now in Norwich, England.

Good morning again, John.

ROBERTS: And good morning to you, Joe. We are at the University of East Anglia. That cylindrical building over my right shoulder is the Climatic Research Unit. Yesterday we had a tour of that, an exclusive tour when we spoke exclusively with the interim director of the CRU, Professor Peter Liss. The normal director, Phil Jones, who was one of the people who was involved in this e-mail exchange, has stepped down pending an official review that won't be completed until some time in the spring.

The big question, of course, here at the university and among scientific -- in scientific circles around the world and political circles, policymakers is, as Jim Acosta was saying, what kind of impact this is going to have on the Copenhagen summit that opens today. That's a question that I put to Director Liss yesterday. Let's listen to what he says.


PROF. PETER LISS, UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA: I don't think it should influence things at all. Of course, I mean, I'm not a politician but I can sort of see that it might have some impact. I hope it's small, or insignificant. But you've already seen people saying this knocks the bottom out of the climate argument. I mean, I don't think that's true at all. But people will say that because it suits to say that.

ROBERTS: You said I hope it doesn't have an influence, it shouldn't have an influence. I think it shouldn't have an influence but there's every possibility that it very well could.

LISS: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Well, you've heard -- you've heard various politicians and representative politicians making statements this week saying exactly that it will have an influence as far as they're concerned. We'll have to wait and see whether the bulk of the nations are swayed by that.


ROBERTS: I spoke to a number of climate experts, Professor Liss included, about the e-mails. And they said that there are simple explanations for many of the e-mails, most of the e-mails, when you look at them in context. But they all agreed that the one area that may be problematic, or a couple of e-mails from Professor Jones where he was talking about resisting Freedom of Information Act requests for certain climatic data.

These are temperatures coming in from countries that, according to folks at the university here, involved proprietary data that Professor Jones was not allowed to readily share. They say 95 percent of the data that comes out of the CRU is shared with scientists around the world. But just the appearance that he was trying to keep a lid on this information may be problematic.

Again, this review is taking place, but the science, according to all of the global warming experts that I talk to, goes far beyond what comes out of this unit and they say that what Phil Jones was doing was only a small part of it and that the science itself does hold up, and they believe does prove a manmade effect on global warming. Again, Professor Liss.


PROF. PETER LISS, UNIVERSITY OF EAST ANGLIA: I think it's very hard to be a denier. And in some sense, you might say it's really up to the deniers to explain why it is when we're pumping so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, why it wouldn't have such an effect. I mean, scientists tend to be a bit on the defensive but in fact they shouldn't be defensive because the evidence is very strong.

ROBERTS: You have no doubt.

LISS: I have no doubt.


ROBERTS: So many scientists have no doubt about the effects of global warming. So the real impact might be in the policy arena and in the public opinion arena. A recent Harris poll found 51 percent of people believe there is a man-made component to global warming. That is down 20 points from two years ago when 71 percent of people thought that there is some sort of man-made component.

So, you know, public opinion often drives public policy, so there may be an issue there. When it comes to this review, though, colleagues of Professor Jones believe that he will be found innocent of any wrongdoing or any attempt to manipulate the data. But again, the results of that review will not be known until the spring and that is a long time after the Copenhagen conference is over -- Joe.

JOHNS: John Roberts, a lot to think about there and we'll be checking back with you throughout the morning.

So what do these e-mails tell us? Is the science subjective? Is it just a smear campaign?

At the bottom of hour, Columbia climate scientist Peter DeMenocal will help us break down the facts. And at 7:10, two professors, one on each side, Professor Alan Robock, who sent one of the leaked e- mails will face off against a climate change skeptic, Professor Edward Wegman.

CHETRY: All right. We look forward to that. Meanwhile, it's 10 minutes past the hour right now.

Also new this morning, we're talking about extreme weather on the move now from the Rockies to the plains, a lot of people waking up to temperatures well below freezing. Up to six inches of snow expected to fall in parts of Illinois and Michigan, and Chicago also getting its first snow of the season, which could really put a big damper on air traffic. We're going to be following that angle for you as well.

Further west, another storm is blowing through the Rockies. High winds and snow are all part of the mix. Mountain areas there could get up to three feet of snow.

JOHNS: Confusion this morning over the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. National Security adviser James Jones telling CNN the Al Qaeda leader may be traveling back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan. But at the same time, Defense Secretary Robert Gates tells ABC News the U.S. has not had any good intelligence on bin Laden's location in years.

CHETRY: And Facebook trying to take action to keep your kids online safer. The social networking giant says it set up the Facebook safety advisory board. It's made up of members from five online safety groups and their first order of business will be to overhaul the safety information in the Facebook's help center. The board plans to meet regularly to keep Facebook's security strategy up to date.

JOHNS: As the president talks Afghan strategy today in Washington, our Barbara Starr on the ground with U.S. forces. She's taking us to one village where the fight against the Taliban is getting results.

It's 12 minutes after the hour. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CHETRY: Fourteen minutes past the hour. In just a few hours, President Obama will meet with his top commander in Afghanistan. That's General Stanley McChrystal and also America's ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry. And as the president's war strategy starts falling into place, our Barbara Starr is already on the ground. She is embedded in Afghanistan with U.S. forces, and this morning she brings us the story of one village where Afghan forces are fighting back against the Taliban and winning. It's a story you won't see anywhere else.

Barbara is live from Bagram Air Base this morning with our A.M. exclusive. Hi there, Barbara.


You know, it is a mixed picture here in Eastern Afghanistan. There are areas where the Taliban certainly remain in control and there aren't enough US troops to deal with the situation. But, in some areas, progress is being made, and (AUDIO BREAK).


STARR: This is a very busy town.

STARR (voice-over): One year ago, this would have been unthinkable. We are walking the streets of Baraki Barak, a small village 30 miles south of Kabul with Major General Curtis Scaparrotti. Last year, this marketplace was deserted. The Taliban ruled here. People stayed away.

Now, you can readily see how busy it is. The US troops now rely heavily on Afghan forces.

MAJ. GEN. CURTIS SCAPARROTTI, U.S. ARMY: This was one of the areas that was considered a sanctuary, and -- you know, of the Taliban and the enemy. So, we basically fought with them to clear the area, secure the people, protect the population.

STARR: Here in the east, the counterinsurgency strategy has had results. The troops are heavily focused on working with Afghan forces to improve security in places like this. Here, Afghan control the town's checkpoints, trying to keep the Taliban from coming back.

SCAPARROTTI: We want to turn over the security of Afghanistan and these villages and towns to their own forces.

STARR: It's not been easy. Here in Baraki Barak, the police chief started with just five men. Now, he has 50. Still, just outside of town, there have been attacks.

The troops have arranged for tea and the local bread to be waiting for us at the village bakery.

SCAPARROTTI: Thank you. Tashakur.

STARR (on camera): Tashakur.

STARR (voice-over): Afghans and Americans crowd around.

SCAPARROTTI: We're sitting in a village in Afghanistan, having Nan bread and tea.

STARR: But the general knows this type of progress remains spotty. In many places, there are still daily attacks and insurgent strongholds.

The military estimates there are as many as 4,000 insurgents operating in the eastern part of Afghanistan.

SCAPARROTTI: I think what you see in the east is over the past year the insurgency had -- had expanded some in terms of the areas that it influenced and controlled with an (INAUDIBLE).

STARR: When the additional US troops arrive in this region, most will help train the Afghan forces, combat operations will continue in order to try and put the insurgents out of business.

Scaparrotti says the latest intelligence shows the impact.

SCAPARROTTI: We've seen that the enemy's had a harder time getting basic weaponry and ammo.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN, Baraki Barak, Afghanistan.


STARR: And, Kiran, let me -- let me add in a little bit of late- breaking news, if I might, from when we visited Baraki Barak. US military officials are now looking at what they say are potentially reliable reports that Mullah Omar, of course, the founding father of the Taliban movement, may have fled the border region in Pakistan and may be somewhere in the vicinity of Karachi, one of Pakistan's largest cities.

And this, of course, if proven to be true, would be very interesting. How has he moved, how -- who's protecting him and how is he hiding out in that teeming city?

We're told these are potentially reliable reports. US military officials and others here in Afghanistan are continuing to track those leads -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Wow, a major development there. All right. Well, we'll try to find out more information on that.

Barbara Starr, great reporting. Very interesting to see. We'll talk to you in the later hours as well about whether or not that can be a model of success that they can use in other villages in Afghanistan. Thanks so much, Barbara. JOHNS: Coming back, news you can use. A question of whether some banks are double dipping on ATM fees. The senator from New York, Charles Schumer, is looking into that. Something relevant during the Christmas season (INAUDIBLE).

CHETRY: Absolutely. Stephanie Elam is going to be "Minding Your Business" on that. We'll be right back.

It's 19 minutes after the hour.


JOHNS: Stephanie is here, "Minding Your Business" and, I've got to tell you, ATM fees, I've just had it like right about up to here.


JOHNS: Yes. It's...

ELAM: And a lot of people didn't even realize how bad they're getting slammed with ATM fees.

JOHNS: It's out of control!

ELAM: Which is the scary part about it. You know, people who trek all across town to make it to their ATM. Well, there's a reason for that and I think we've had -- you know, if you use...

Let's just say you go to another bank. It's closer to your office, it's convenient, but it's not your bank, right? And you go in there, well, they're going to charge you a fee. But you know that one because it comes up on the screen, your ATM's screen pops up and it says we're charging you $2 for this.

OK. You know that. But what you don't realize is that your bank may be charging you a fee on top of that as well, and that is what is causing some lawmakers to ask the fed to say, you know what? Step in here, control this, because this is how banks are really making a lot of money here.

So, if you take a look at what is going on here, the overall fee that you could get from your bank on top of this is about $1.32. That's actually dropped about $0.14 during that time. But if you take a look at the overall fees that have come along with this, 72 percent of banks are charging customers with this fee. So this is what -- something that they really want to change because these banks -- these 99 percent of banks are charging you if you use a different ATM. They want to get this double-dipping fee out of this. It's hurting so many people and they don't have a lot of money anyway.

CHETRY: I know. And it's also -- the other interesting part there was that I've been seeing some ads. I guess they're trying to get you to bank with them, and no matter where you go, it's free. You know, this is a thank you to our customers and to others, so, you know, I mean, they're clearly aware that this is something people are trying to avoid. ELAM: Yes. They've definitely pulled back some. You know, they've pulled back on these fees, but they're -- they're a problem. And you really don't realize it until you get your statement that you've gotten slammed twice with this one. So that's where they want to get some more transparency.

JOHNS: Yes. So you got a -- you don't have a lot of money. You go to the bank, you get $20 out, you're just getting whacked.

ELAM: Think about it, you get $20 out but you're getting charged from your bank and the other bank, so it's going to be (ph) $4 for $20.

JOHNS: That's crazy!

ELAM: That's crazy.

CHETRY: All right. Don't do it, folks.



CHETRY: Stephanie, thanks so much.

Still ahead, we're going to be talking about whether the stimulus package has been able to create some jobs, not for everyday people who need them, but for some con artists up there trying to game the system. We're going to explain that, still ahead.

It's 24 minutes past the hour.


JOHNS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package is stimulating at least one sector of the economy -- con artists.

CHETRY: Yes. Not the intended sector, for sure. Well, the Trade Commission -- the Federal Trade Commission is saying that hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans have already been ripped off to the tune of nearly $30 million.

Allan Chernoff has our AM Original and joins us now with one victim's story, a very unfortunate consequence of, you know, trying to do something to actually help out the economy.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it. And, unfortunately, you know, a lot of people have been saying, where's my piece of the stimulus pie? That does make some people especially vulnerable to scam artists trying to take advantage of desperate people in these tough times.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHERNOFF (voice-over): Frances Culley was thrilled when a card arrived in the mail telling her she was approved to access a government grant of $25,000, part of the economic stimulus program.

FRANCES CULLEY, STIMULUS SCAM VICTIM: We were guaranteed $25,000, so we sent it back in.

CHERNOFF: With no strings attached. When Frances called the number listed on the postcard, she heard this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our government released over $700 billion into the private sector. What you probably don't know is there is another $300 billion that must be given away this year to people just like you.

CHERNOFF: Frances and her father, Warren, had reached the grant writer's institute. They were told their payday would be triple what the postcard had promised.

F. CULLEY: And they told him that we would definitely be getting the $75,000, that it had been approved and it would be here within a couple of weeks.

CHERNOFF: All she had to do was send $500 to the institute and they'd take care of all the paperwork to get the grant. Warren put the payment on his credit card, and Frances, anticipating her piece of the stimulus, hired a contractor to renovate her Salina, Kansas home, something she had wanted to do for years.

F. CULLEY: The floor, the cabinets the counter tops, you know, the new bathroom -- all those things that I wanted forever.

CHERNOFF: Things Frances couldn't afford because she was deep in debt due to medical bills for multiple knee operations and cancer treatments.

But all Frances ever got from the grant writer's institute was this letter, requesting $75,000 from the Nathan M. Warburg Foundation. The Federal Trade Commission says there is no Nathan M. Warburg Foundation, no guaranteed grants as part of the government stimulus program.

Frances and Warren had been taken.

WARREN CULLEY, STIMULUS SCAM VICTIM: They stole from a lot of people in this United States.

CHERNOFF: A quarter of a million people, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which charges scam artists have taken about $27 million so far through false claims tied to the economic stimulus.

MONICA VACA, FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION: These are opportunistic fraudsters. There are conmen who will exploit any news story, the news of the day to reach into people's wallets, to get their money.

(END VIDEOTAPE) CHERNOFF: The FTC sued the grant writer's institute and gained a court order stopping the organization from making its pitch. The grant writer's institute and its officers deny the FDC charge of deception, claiming in court papers, defendant has acted in good faith and in a matter that is reasonable and justified.

Defense attorney declined CNN's request for an on camera interview -- John and Kiran.

CHETRY: Very, very interesting stuff, though.

CHERNOFF: It's very, very sad. And, you know, she actually is no longer living in her home. She had to take out a second mortgage, had to move in with her dad -- it's just tragic, and there are many other stories just like this.

JOHNS: Wherever you have so much money, there are going to be scams. And it was only a matter of time before we really started seeing this, wasn't it?

CHERNOFF: Absolutely.

CHETRY: Hopefully, we'll do a better job cracking down. We'll have to wait and see.

CHERNOFF: Well, FDC is on it.

CHETRY: Thanks, Allan.


JOHNS: Checking our top stories.

Security forces and pro-government militiamen are clashing with thousands of opposition protesters outside Tehran University. Witnesses say the militiamen moved into the crowds beating men and women with batons while security forces fired tear gas. Authorities promised to crack down on student protests today. The government is banning international media coverage at the university. Dozens of women arrested over the weekend. They were mourning children killed in protests that followed June's disputed presidential vote.

President Obama is rallying Senate Democrats to forge a new health care compromise. In a rare Sunday visit to Capitol Hill, the president urged senators to keep working despite the stumbling blocks, like the so-called public option. One idea on the table -- a national nonprofit insurance plan administered by the Office of Personnel Management. That's the group that oversees health care plans for Congress.

Republican Olympia Snowe says -- and she calls that the compromise, quote, "a positive development."

A health alert for those of you watching your weight, the maker of Slim-Fast is recalling all of its ready-to-drink products. That's 10 million cans. The company says some may be contaminated with bacteria that can make people sick. If you have any of the products, you're asked to throw them away and call the company for a full refund.

CHETRY: Joe, thanks.

As the Climate Change Summit gets underway in Copenhagen this morning, a top British scientist has now stepped down over leaked e- mails that talk about a, quote, "trick" and hiding the decline. Critics say they poke holes in the theory that we are behind the earth's rising temperatures.

Well, here to help us understand what we do know and we don't know about global warming is Peter Demenocal. He is a climate scientist at Columbia University.

Thanks so much for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: So, we will talk a little bit about the controversy first. But, first, what is the consensus when it comes to global warming and climate change among most of the scientific experts out there?

DEMENOCAL: It's important to be very clear: the theory of global warming, our understanding of global warming, is very much intact. The consensus view in the scientific community is very much that the -- the observed rise in atmospheric temperatures of the planet are mostly due to human activities.

CHETRY: And how -- I guess, how do you know that, given that, you know, we're studying and we're collecting data in such a small number of years in terms of how long the earth has been around? Is this -- you know, for skeptics, how do you show that that's not just a blip in our huge, huge long history?

DEMENOCAL: Right. So, this is actually an assignment that I gave my students for Thanksgiving dinner that they could talk about over the table.

Essentially, we know several things. We know, for example, that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is due to human emissions. That's undisputed.

We know that the earth's atmospheric temperature has been rising steadily and increasingly at an even sharper and sharper rate, just in the last couple of decades. And that most of that observed temperature rise is, in fact, due to human emissions.

We cannot explain -- the bottom line is you can't explain the current warming just from natural factors alone. It's not to say that natural factors of climate change are not important, it's just that the human influence is overwhelming.

CHETRY: Then what is the -- I guess, controversy in terms of these e-mails? Was there reluctance perhaps on the part, fear that any little bit that didn't fit in with that theory would be seized upon by people who don't believe it for political purposes? Or you know, how did -- how did this become a controversy?

DEMENOCAL: Well, you know, that's a very good point. It became a controversy because somebody illegally tapped into somebody's e-mail and released that information to the public. I would, you know, challenge anyone to release 13 years of their e-mail and we could, you know, make any story we want about that individual.

So, it's important to put that in context. You know, a crime was committed here. I know from my own personal experience that science -- climate science is a very rigorous discipline. And I really think the evidence, the challenge of this as been presented by these so- called e-mail scams is just not -- is just not accurate.

CHETRY: But let me ask you a question. I mean, you know, doing experiments and collecting data and all of that that goes into science, sometimes there are things that don't fit in with your theory or there are things that sort of you can't quite explain, the red herring of your research. Is suppressing that, as critics claim, or perhaps trying to find a way to explain that away, something that is frowned upon, or is it perhaps something that happens?

DEMENOCAL: So, the scientific enterprise, all of science relies on this idea of falsification. You propose a hypothesis, you falsify it, you prove it either correct or wrong, and you move forward and the science develops like that. Climate science is no different from that process.

So, much of what we do is we, as climate scientists, it's a full contact sport. We have this degree of interaction that's very aggressive that says, "No, I think you're wrong," "Yes, I think you're right." "Here's my idea that supplants to yours."

So, climate science has been doing this for decades, and we've gotten now to the point where we have a very good understanding of what controls climate and it's been human activities.

CHETRY: This is interesting. They also had a poll out by "The Washington Post" last month, showing that one out of four people don't believe global warming is happening. Why is there so much skepticism? Why is there so many challenges and controversy surrounding this notion?

DEMENOCAL: So, the reason why there's so much skepticism is because of events like this. It's a well-time, choreographed event to essentially seed the ground with doubt among this -- among climate science.

So, one of the things actually -- this is a bit of a bombshell -- but one of the things that happened to me was that I discovered, and some of your viewers may know this, there's a list of 500 scientists whose research -- who are on record of saying that they do not agree with global warming. My name is on that list. And my name -- I was never asked if I wanted my name on that list and I was, you know, very shocked to find my name on that list. I've asked the group that put that list together to take my name off of it, and they've never written back.

So, these kinds of tactics are out there. And we're naive to think that these kinds of tactics are not going to be continued.

CHETRY: And what do you hope that comes out of this climate conference that's taking place in Copenhagen?

DEMENOCAL: What I hope happens in Copenhagen is that the people who are there at the table pay attention to the science, not to the spin.

CHETRY: All right. Well, it was very nice talking to you this morning, Peter Demenocal, climate scientist of Columbia University. Thanks for your time.

DEMENOCAL: You bet. My pleasure.


JOHNS: Kiran, 36 minutes after the hour.

Coming up after the break, we'll be looking in at the story of Amanda Knox, that American college student found guilty of murder in Italy -- going over to London for a report on that in just a couple minutes.


JOHNS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning.

The conviction of American college student Amanda Knox found guilty of murder in Italy is leaving many in this country wondering if she got a fair trial. This morning Knox remains in jail, serving a 26-year sentence.

Our Paula Newton is live in London.

And, Paula, her family says she's innocent. But what's the reaction in Italy?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Joe, new reaction this morning from her defense team. We've heard so much about Amanda Knox, her family saying that she did not get a fair trial and really criticizing the Italian justice system. We know now that her defense team said they're going to lay off that argument and actually look at the facts of the case if they want this verdict to be overturned.


NEWTON (voice-over): After an emotional visit in prison with their daughter and sister, Amanda Knox, the Knox family emerged to say they would fight on.

EDDA MELLAS, MOTHER OF AMANDA KNOX: We told her she's going to get out of here. It's going to take a little longer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's innocent. She's innocent.

MELLAS: Be strong.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She will come home.

REPORTER: What kind of night did she have?


MELLAS: She had -- you know, she had a lot of support when she got back to the jail. Everybody there, the inmates and the guards were all taking great care of her.


MELLAS: They care a lot. Thank you.

NEWTON: But it was the pain of another family that resonated the day after this controversial verdict, as Meredith Kercher's siblings and parents said they were satisfied with the convictions.

LYLE KERCHER, BROTHER OF MEREDITH KERCHER: But it's not time -- you know, it's not time for celebration at the end of the day. You know, it's not a moment of triumph. And as we've said before, at the end of the day, we're all gathered here because, you know, our sister was brutally murdered and taken away from us.

NEWTON: Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were convicted of not just of her murder but savage beating and sexual assault. The verdict was read dispassionately as Knox slumped in her chair and sobbed, only to emerge outside to shouts of "Assassin" by bystanders.

The Knox family says the jury failed to acknowledge the lack of physical evidence linking their daughter to the murder. But the prosecutor told CNN, despite all the criticisms leveled to him and the Italian justice system, the conviction stands, and should be respected.

GIULIANO MIGNINI, PUBLIC PROSECUTOR (through translator): It is an appealable conviction and we will see all of this in appeal. But convictions must be respected by all.


NEWTON: And I think what the defense team here is doing is making sure that the Knox family and Amanda Knox respect the fact that a jury has come out with this first ruling and to move on from there. The appeals process should be set in motion next two months. And, you know, Joe, many people in Italy are beginning to review this case, and perhaps all that media scrutiny could possibly work in Amanda Knox's favor -- John.

JOHNS: Paula Newton, thank you for...


JOHNS: That's OK. Thank you so much for that report on this very disturbing story -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Extreme weather is on the move across the country. It could spell some headaches for travelers. So, where are we looking at the weather and where are we looking at possible snow and ice. We're going to break it down with our Reynolds Wolf. He's coming up in just a moment.

It's 43 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: Forty-six minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. A live look over New York City where it's 33, and it's going up to 43 and cloudy a little bit later today. Time now to fast forward through the stories that we'll be covering for you on CNN today.

There's an afghan strategy session taking place, 3:30 Eastern time this afternoon, President and Vice President meeting with General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in the Afghanistan, as well as Karl Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. That meeting taking place in the oval office.

At noon Eastern, there will be events commemorating the Japanese attack on pearl harbor. They begin at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington. More than 2400 American service members were killed on this day in 1941, 68 years ago.

And we'll be watching to see if anything develops on the Zhu Zhu Hamster Front. That's right. The toy manufacturer is now denying a consumer web report claiming that Mr. Squiggles, that's one of the toys, contains unsafe levels of a chemical used in text tiles, plastics, and paints, and of course, this is an extremely popular holiday gift, and all the kids want them.

JOHNS: Right, right.

CHETRY: And so now there's questions about the safety, which, as we've said, the manufacturer strongly denies.

JOHNS: Of course, and maybe it's just an issue of not being able to get their hands on the toys. No. that's what she said.


CHETRY: That's what he said.

JOHNS: All right, so Rob Marciano is off today, Reynolds Wolf is in the Weather Center, and what do you got for us, man?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We got two big stories we are following around today. Should two big weather storms that are going to give a lot of few headaches. Millions of Americans headaches on this Monday as people are heading off to work, and the first storm we're following is one big sense (ph) from Chicago, the Dan Ryan Expressway, where we're seeing some snowfall, and then it goes about a thousand mile South through the Ohio valley all the way South into New Orleans and back in the Gulf Of Mexico.

A combination of rain, showers and storms. Then, we go now towards the West where we see a different scenario. Area of low pressure coming in off the California Coast. That coupled with some very cold temperatures. San Francisco is going to see some rain but in Sacramento, we're going to have the coldest temperatures. The coldest temperatures today that they've seen since records have been kept there since 1849. Twenty-seven degrees is expected to be the highest temperature.

They could see snow, maybe two inches of snowfall in parts of Sacramento. Now, the big weather system is going to cause all these problems. It happened these problems out towards the West area. It is going to be this area of low pressure. Now, we're going to follow this for the next couple of days. As it makes its way in the high elevation this year in Nevada.

It's going to bring several feet of snowfall, blizzard conditions. Winds are going to be the equivalent of a category one hurricane possibly as we get into Tuesday and Wednesday, but then into Thursday, we're going to see this transform into a storm system that could bring heavy snowfall to parts of Wisconsin back to the area head of Minnesota, maybe even Detroit, Michigan, then some mix of snow and ice for much of the Ohio Valley, but then the potential of a severe storm outbreak, possibly some severe thunderstorms, maybe even tornadoes as we get into Thursday, maybe even into early Friday morning, so we're looking at a major weather event.

The thing though, how is this going to affect you and your day traveling? If you happen to be in L.A., San Francisco, or San Diego, you used to be on the ground for about an hour or so just due to the rain and winds. Now, there's no doubt you're going to have some issues in places like Chicago or Salt Lake City. Let's even throw in St. Louis for that matter up to 30 minutes to an hour mainly due to then snowfall and then into Phoenix and Las Vegas, rain and wind again could be a big issue for many of you. That is the latest on your forecast; could be a troublesome day and a troublesome week ahead for a lot of people. Let's send back to you in New York.

JOHNS: That sounds like no joke.

WOLF: Yes, I know.


WOLF: Yes, it's going to be a big sledgehammer. It's going to affect a lot of people. Wish we could say we're going to have sunshine and lollipops and just great conditions, but it's not going to be the case for this workweek.

CHETRY: So, we'll have snow and wind and lollipops, and we'll just have to be okay with that. WOLF: Exactly.

JOHNS: Snow hurricane.


JOHNS: Not good.

CHETRY: Not at all. Reynolds, thanks so much.

Still ahead, the numbers are shocking. There are more than 1 in 100 families will get the news that their child has some form of autism. We're digging deeper with a.m. original series on reporting on called "Inside the Child's Mind." There's new brain research helping unlock the mysteries of the autistic brain, and it may give these children a whole different future.

JOHNS: Also ahead, marines getting ready to surge into Afghanistan. They could get their marching orders today. We're live at Camp Lejeune talking to families before another emotional good-bye. It's 50 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: Fifty-four minutes past the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. We now could know soon who will be leading the surge into Afghanistan. Marines from Camp Lejeune are expected to ship out before Christmas day. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs is there today to talk strategy and so is our Chris Lawrence. He is live for us this morning at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. What are we expecting to hear today, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kiran, we could -- the first units could get their official deployment orders to Afghanistan later today, and this base right now is really buzzing. They just got several units back from Afghanistan just a few weeks ago, and now we expect that the first 1,000 marines will go directly from here to Helmand Province where some of the toughest fighting has been going on.

CHETRY: And obviously, it's going to suck.

LAWRENCE: Yes, definitely. I mean, you're talking about -- you know, they're going to where some of the toughest fighting is going to be, and again, that's going to affect obviously a lot of the families that are here. We talked to several families about what to expect about trying to get their finances in order, about talking to the kids, that mom or dad is going to be gone for a great stretch of time, and we talked to one couple who had just been reunited from his deployment in Afghanistan about what some of these new families can expect.


TERESA MEADOR, WIFE OF U.S. MARINE: My one piece of advice, and I was given this piece of advice by a marine wife also is it makes a weak marriage weaker and a strong marriage stronger, and that's very true. You can take it and run with it, or it can break you down, and it's up to you.


LAWRENCE (on-camera): One of the things she also talked about was the fact that if a couple had gone through a deployment in Iraq over the last couple of years, they may be used to having a web cameras, talking every other night, having constant communication whereas they're now going to Afghanistan. She said, you know, sometimes I didn't talk to my husband for a month. Sometimes, he wouldn't catch the kids for two months, so, big change in those kind of deployments -- Kiran.

CHETRY: And, of course, the timing, and we always know this. I mean, you know, you got to get into the theater as quickly as possible, but right before Christmas, I mean, it makes it even more difficult for these families who have seen these repeat deployments.

LAWRENCE: Yes, that's right. You know, as we were driving into base today, you know, we passed this sign, you know, that was lined up for the marines that just got back, and one of the signs said, I can't wait to meet you, daddy, which is obviously, you know, a baby that was born while the marine was deployed. It just really drives home exactly how much life goes on and how much these marines and soldiers miss when they're deployed. It's some of the pressure that that puts on the family.

CHETRY: It's unimaginable for many of us. Chris Lawrence for us this morning at Camp Lejeune, and we'll have much more on some of the talks and some of the information that comes out of these meetings today. Chris, thanks so much -- Joe.

JOHNS: Kiran we also have some more on those stolen e-mails. Have scientists been cooking the books on climate change? John Roberts live in England, tracing the trail of the stolen e-mails back in 90 seconds. It's 57 minutes after the hour.