George Taylor, the manager of the Oregon Climate Service at Oregon State University, will retire as of May 1 after 19 years of pouring over weather data for farmers, fishermen, skiers and others.

"I saw my role as taking a complicated subject and simplifying it for everyday folks so they can make better decisions," he said, in a news release issued today.

During the later part of his tenure, however, Taylor made news as much for his long-range forecasts - spot on this winter - as for his controversial views on climate change.

Taylor believes there are signs of global warming, but that burning fossil fuels aren't necessarily to blame. Natural changes have a bigger influence, and the world has been warmer in the past, according to Taylor.

That stance has rankled other scientists, the public and even Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski, who helped spur measures to combat man-made global warming.

Taylor's retirement comes as OSU is in a nationwide search for someone to head its new Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, created by the Legislature last year. That will coordinate climate-related research from the Oregon University System, and determine what further research needs exist and seek grant funding regarding global warming studies.

The university said that the institute and its director would not take the place of Taylor, but would work in coordination with the Oregon Climate Service.

The Oregon Climate Service will continue to function and be managed by Cadee Hale, who has worked as Taylor's assistant for several years.

She admitted she doesn't really know anything about the weather.

"It's just me holding the place here until they figure out what to do with the climate service," she said.

Hale, who helped Taylor do weather reports, said he wouldn't talk with her much about climate change.

"He knows so much about Oregon weather. And not from an opinion point of view, but from data that goes back years and years and years," Hale said. "I'm pretty sure he wasn't forced out. He's been here a long time."

According to the Albany Democrat-Herald, Taylor told the Albany Chamber of Commerce last month that his job title probably would be taken from him this year.

Taylor was traveling back to Corvallis from Klamath Falls on this afternoon, and was unavailable for comment.

Kyle Odegard covers Oregon State University. He can be contacted at kyle.odegard@lee.net or 758-9523.

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