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Global warming debate spurs Ore. title tiff

06:08 PM PST on Thursday, February 8, 2007

By VINCE PATTON, KGW Staff

In the face of evidence agreed upon by hundreds of climate scientists, George Taylor holds firm. He does not believe human activities are the main cause of global climate change.

Taylor also holds a unique title: State Climatologist.

KGW photo

Hundreds of scientists last Friday issued the strongest warning yet on global warming saying humans are "very likely" the cause.

“Most of the climate changes we have seen up until now have been a result of natural variations,” Taylor asserts.

Taylor has held the title of "state climatologist" since 1991 when the legislature created a state climate office at OSU The university created the job title, not the state.

His opinions conflict not only with many other scientists, but with the state of Oregon's policies.

So the governor wants to take that title from Taylor and make it a position that he would appoint.

In an exclusive interview with KGW-TV, Governor Ted Kulongoski confirmed he wants to take that title from Taylor. The governor said Taylor's contradictions interfere with the state's stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases, the accepted cause of global warming in the eyes of a vast majority of scientists.

“He is Oregon State University's climatologist. He is not the state of Oregon's climatologist,” Kulongoski said.

Taylor declined to comment on the proposal other than to say he was a "bit shocked" by the news. He recently engaged in a debate at O.M.S.I. and repeated his doubts about accepted science.

In an interview he told KGW, "There are a lot of people saying the bulk of the warming of the last 50 years is due to human activities and I don't believe that's true." He believes natural cycles explain most of the changes the earth has seen.

A bill will be introduced in Salem soon on the matter.

Sen. Brad Avakian, (D) Washington County, is sponsoring the bill. He said global warming is so important to state policy it's important to have a climatologist as a consultant to the governor. He denied this is targeted personally at Taylor. "Absolutely not," Avakian said, "I've never met Mr. Taylor and if he's got opinions I hope he comes to the hearing and testifies."

Kulongoski said the state needs a consistent message on reducing greenhouse gases to combat climate change.

The Governor says, "I just think there has to be somebody that says, 'this is the state position on this.'"

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