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Thu Feb 16 2006 12:27:11 2006

Rising ocean temperatures have increased the intensity of hurricanes like the one that decimated New Orleans, says a scientist in a 60 MINUTES report on global warming. Bob Correll, one of the world?s foremost authorities on climate change, appears in Scott Pelley?s report to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 19 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

?The oceans in the Northern Hemisphere are the warmest they?ve been on record,? says Correll. ?When they get up in that temperature, they spin off hurricanes?.The one thing we can say with a fairly high degree of confidence is the severity of the storms?these cyclonic events like hurricanes and cyclones?they?re going to be more severe,? he tells Pelley.

Correll is interviewed in Greenland above the Arctic Circle, where the rising temperature has caused the glacial ice in place for eons to steadily recede for the last few decades. ?This is bell weather, a barometer?.the warning that things are coming,? says Correll, who also predicts lowlands will be inundated by waters from the melting glaciers in the future. ?In 10 years here in the Arctic, we see what the rest of the planet will see in 25 or 35 years from now,? he says. ?The entire planet is out of balance,? says Correll.

Whether the change in temperature is a natural or man-made phenomenon has been a matter of debate, but Paul Mayewski of the University of Maine says the proof that man is responsible is in the ancient ice at the top of the world. There is evidence of high levels of ?greenhouse gases,? like carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels that contribute to warming the earth?s surface, in the core samples of ice he collected in Greenland. ?We haven?t seen CO2 levels like this in hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions of years,? says Mayewski. ?It all points to something that has changed and something that has impacted the system which wasn?t doing it more than 100 years ago,? says Mayewski. ?It?s human activity.?

The Bush Administration spends $5 billion a year on climate change research but the president refuses to sign a treaty to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Correll says the sooner we curb the emissions, the better for the generations to come. Even total cessation of the burning of fossil fuels will not stop the warming immediately and to continue burning them will affect the planet into the distant future ? perhaps thousands of years. ?I try to tell [policymakers] exactly what we know scientifically. The science is, I believe, unassailable,? Correll tells Pelley.


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