'This Week': Extreme Weather Panel

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Climate Central chief climatologist Heidi Cullen, and ABC's Rebecca Jarvis.
3:00 | 02/16/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Extreme Weather Panel
news, New York. Let's go now to north Carolina governor, pat Mccrory, Los Angeles mayor, Eric garcetti, ABC's chief important Rebecca Jarvis. And Dr. Heidi Cullen, author of the weather of the future. And week after week after week of these storms, the economy taking a hit. Absolutely, George. We're seeing it on multiple levels. There's lost wages, there's the increasing costs of heating homes. Some estimates say as much as $4.5 billion will go into heating bills this winter. Then you have businesses. The airlines have suffered massively under this, 75,000 flight cancellations. United saying it's an $80 million cost. Cities are experiencing it. They're paying more to clear the snow. Chicago came out and said we expected to spend $20 million on snow removal this winter, now it's $25 million and we're not even finished with the winter. And a number of economists are looking at it as cutting into gdp growth. It's a .3% hit on gdp growth. And just the lost spending that consumers aren't doing because they are staying inside. $15 billion not going to restaurants, the movies, that is not going come back. The snow days add up and snow pictures out of your state this week. It's clearer this morning, but how much will this set you back? It's a big impact. The last two weeks has been extremely stunning and tough on the state. Not as tough as the first episode of "House of cards," but it's been tough on all of us. Our budget is at the maximum regarding snow removal. And that doesn't include the cities and small towns. We had six major metropolitan areas hit with a major snowstorm twice in two weeks. It's a hit on the budget and a hit on the economy, because people haven't been spending money for the last four or five days. I'm sure Kevin spacey appreciated that shout youtout. We will talk to him. And in California, this is affecting everything in the state of California, even changing the way of life. Absolutely. This was the driest year on record. But, you know, it's coming at an immense cost, wildfires, changing how we get water, but governors and mayors, we don't have the luxury of debating the issue. I think it's clear human beings have had an impact on creating the problem, but we have to solve it now. We're dealing with that in los Angeles, we are conserving water, change out the landscaping, strengthen the building codes. But it's not a question of this happening every so often, it's the new status quo. And the question of why, Heidi, one of the big points you make is all extreme weather is connected. The drought in the west connected to the blizzard in the east. Ginger did a great job setting it up. The cold we're seeing here is very much connected to the broader pattern. And really in context, climate change, burning fossil fuels, means that we're going to see more of these very expensive extreme weather events. Specifically the kinds of extremes we can expect. Heat waves, droughts, floods. We're seeing those. This winter certainly doesn't disprove global warming. Every time we have a really cold winter, we ask ourselves over again, is global warming real or not? Cold winter doesn't mean global warming is gone. And looking at the big picture, we have actually been globally incredibly warm. January is going to be one of the top three warmest on record. And, you know, the ten warmest years have all happened since 1998. But your key point on these intense weather systems, they are made more intense by climate change. That's right. When you warm up the planet, you have more moisture in the atmosphere. When it rains, it's heavier. And you can also evaporate for. That means that the tendency for drought is going to get worse. So the kinds of droughts that we have been seeing in Texas, out in California, right now, we know that climate change makes them worse. It's like cigarette smoking and lung cancer, increases the likelihood of that risk. And we have looked at the Texas drought in 2011, we know that climate change made that drought 20 time Mrs. Likely. In the past you have said you believe that the whole issue of climate change is in god's hands. I believe there is climate change. I'm not sure you can call it climate warming, especially in the Carolinas. The big debate is how much is man-made and how much will naturally happen as the Earth evolves. And the question then is what do we do about it and how much will it cost the consumer? I concentrate on cleaning the environment. I think that's where our argument should be. Cleaning our air, cleaning our water and cleaning the ground. And we're at a brown fields area in Charlotte where we cleaned up the ground right here, and cleaned up old brown fields and now we have great new development. But the issue of cleaning the environment is what we should talk about more than getting the debate from the left and the right about climate change or global warming. It's about cleaning the environment and having a good quality of life for not only now, but future generation S. What to you make of that argument, mayor? I agree. The evidence is clear, we have had a role. People have recognized we lost the first few skirmishes with climate change. We are strengthening the defenses in Los Angeles. We consume the same amount of water as 30 years ago with a million more residents. We're Americans. We adapt, we innovate, we're good at doing those sorts of things. Whether it's in Indiana changing out intersections and making them roundabouts to take global warming Co 3 emissions out of the air, or mayor Becker in salt Lake City making sure the buildings built in a green way. Mayors, tribal leaders, governors are taking action because we can't deal with the consequences. And mayor made the point, we have to get ahead of this because these patterns are not going to be reversed. We have to get ahead of it. When it comes to dealing with the environment, one of the things we're seeing, burning fossil fuels puts greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Cleaning up the atmosphere is part of cleaning up our environment. It's all inter-connected. And what are businesses doing? It's innovate or die. And a lot of businesses are. Especially when you look at the food service businesses and the clothing businesses which rely so heavily on that supply which is very much up in the air when you have these extreme weather patterns. Levi Strauss worked with farmers to come up with new, less-water sbernsive ways to get the cotton make their denim. Caring, which owns Gucci they're working on sustainable ways to bring the product to market and working with the suppliers to get the actual supplies in the clothing to make it more sustainable. Whether it's going crazy or Normal, they can deal with it and make the product and not be up in the air. Are doing the same thing. What's the single most important thing business and government and all of us can do together? First of all, talk about it, and then really look at the opportunities presented to us to use energy smarter, to grow our food smarter, to treat our water resources with great care and converse. Across the board, come together and stop treating it like a partisan issue. It isn't. Work on. Thank you very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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