Note: This story previously said John Nielson-Gammon was appointed by Governor Rick Perry, when in fact, Nielson-Gammon was appointed by then-Governor George W. Bush in 2000. We are sorry for the error.
POSSUM KINGDOM - During a debate last month, Governor Rick Perry said this when asked about global warming: The science is not settled on this. The idea that we would put America's economy in jeopardy based on scientific theory that is not settled yet, to me is just nonsense.
It's not nonsense to John Nielson-Gammon. He is the Texas State Climatologist.
Yeah, absolutely [global warming is a real thing,] Nielson-Gammon said.
In fact, Nielson-Gammon said Texas is one degree warmer than it used to be. Something most of us will hardly ever notice, but in places like Possum Kingdom, he says climate change helped make the summer hotter, the drought drier and the wildfires more intense.
Possum Kingdom is rebuilding at great expense after two rounds of devastating fires this year.
Gary Porter said he'll be busy for years replacing fence posts.
For one thing, it never would rain all summer, then the wind blew terribly, where it dried everything out, then it was 107 or 108 degrees nearly every day around here, Porter said.
You know what he's talking about - you lived through it. The hottest and driest summer in Texas history.
Nielson-Gammon blames the extreme conditions not on global warming, but on weather patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. But, he said man-made climate change is making problems measurably worse.
I wish we could get past the question of whether the climate is changing, because we've got a lot to discuss in terms of what we should do about it, how serious a problem is it, what steps make sense to be taken and what things are going to be cost-effective or expensive, Nielson-Gammon said.
Despite Perry's opposition, some of these conversations are already taking place in Austin.
In its latest planning document, the Texas Water Development Board mentions climate change 20 times. It also only cites mainstream research that concludes climate change is very likely caused by man. Including research by the International Panel on Climate Change.
The Perry campaign did not respond to News 8's request for a comment.
In the debate, Perry would not say which scientists he relied on to reach his conclusion.
The fact of the matter is that the science is not settled on whether or not the climate change is being impacted by man to the point where we're going to put America's economics in jeopardy, Perry said in the Sept. debate.
It's a position that put the governor at odds with the very person who is to lead the state on climate issues. A person saying we need to make better plans to avoid future disasters made worse by climate change.