Having a debate is the solution AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi believes will help bring some answers towards the current "Climategate" controversy.
Bastardi, Class of 1978, spoke to a crowd of about 80 people at the Ramada Inn Conference Center, 1450 S. Atherton St., about Penn State professor Michael Mann and climate change. The event was hosted by the 9-12 Project of Central Pennsylvania.
Bastardi, who has worked for AccuWeather for about 32 years, said in a way he feels "sympathetic" about the issue and asked the audience members several times to look through Mann's perspective.
Bastardi said despite what the majority of people who are against Mann believe, he does not recommend that the university should suspend him and instead should work to have a debate among those involved in the current dispute.
"This is by no means the solution to end 'Climategate,' " Bastardi said. "I'm befuddled though that no one's suggested that a debate take place. What are you afraid of if you know you are right?"
Bastardi said a debate would be the right way to go so that the public would be informed on the issues and facts.
Samuel Settle, chairman of Penn State's chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF), said he enjoyed Bastardi's speech because of the balance he brought.
"I really liked the idea he brought of the open forums debate and how he focused on the criticism of the work itself rather than the investigation," Settle said.
Bastardi's recommendations come on the same day that Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., announced that he would seek help from government agencies such as the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to conduct a further investigation into the "Climategate" issue, and most specifically, Mann.
Matt Dempsey, communications director for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, confirmed that Inhofe would go as far as to reach the U.S. Department of Justice if the government agencies would not conduct an investigation.
"Senator Inhofe has been involved in the debate for 10 years," Dempsey said. "[Inhofe's] been the leading skeptic in the U.S. Senate on climate change and he's documented a number of cases where the science was questionable. And so as 'Climategate' shows, it reveals what Inhofe has been saying all along is true."
Dempsey said Inhofe fears the amount of "manipulated data" should raise concern among the institutions involved, including Penn State.
"We were hoping that Mann would step down from his position as the investigation continues, or that the university would seek a temporary suspension," Dempsey said.
"Inhofe has a strong respect for Penn State University, especially with the school deciding to moving on to a full investigation," Dempsey said. "It's probably not as far as it should have gone, but we respect the work they're doing."
Penn State spokeswoman Annemarie Mountz wrote in an e-mail that an internal inquiry "is moving into the investigatory stage, which is the next step in the University's process for reviewing research conduct."
She was unable to comment on Inhofe's statements.