CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Four experts in the environmental field participated in a forum Tuesday regarding mankind’s impact on the Earth’s climate and if mankind has impacted the temperature increase observed around the world.

Alex Thomas/WVMetroNews.com

The panel discussion took place Tuesday night.

Spilman, Thomas & Battle held its “Conversations on Climate Change” event at the University of Charleston.

MetroNews was one of the event’s partners.

Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University, said it is important to talk about climate change as well as the related scientific research.

“Climate change is real. It’s caused by scientific activity, the burning of fossil fuels, it’s already presenting some real challenges to us,” he said. “There’s a worthy debate over what we do and how we solve this problem, and I hope we can have that conversation.”

All four panelists agreed with the existence of climate change, but the disagreement was in regards to if and how human activity has affected temperatures and other weather patterns.

Judith Curry, president and co-founder of the Climate Forecast Applications Network, said she believes climate change is a natural occurrence that cannot be altered by human activity. She added the current view scientists have regarding climate change does not consider numerous factors.

“You find what you shine a light on,” she said. “In other words, we’ve only been looking at one part of the element.”

Mann said climate change is something that will affect weather patterns, noting the 2017 hurricane season and the June 2016 floods in West Virginia as examples.

“It’s a reminder that climate change poses risks that are no longer subtle,” he said. “We are seeing impacts of climate change in our daily lives. It’s posing risks to us in our daily lives, and the cost of inaction, the cost of not doing something about it is going to be much greater than the cost of action.”

Twenty-three people died in the 2016 floods in the Mountain State.

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