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tv   Larry King Live  CNN  December 20, 2009 9:00pm-10:00pm EST

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free our trucks. just the bodies of our entire crew. we finally break free as we close in on the chary river. lake chad's source. we stop at a small fishing village called dorum baga in nigeria. it used to sit on the banks of lake chad. over the past 30 years, the water has steadily receded. we're in a fishing community here. what's the impact on the people that live here. >> here, the impact is really obvious. and here, as you can see, we don't have healthy fish. this species of fish can grow up to 60 kilograms. and today you see, just a few grams. >> used to be up to 60 kilograms? >> yes. >> it's just a few grams now?
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>> yes. no healthy fish, so no healthy people. no food for people. >> are they getting sick? >> yeah. they are getting sick just because of food shortage. >> some of the children here are clearly malnourished. and the poor diet makes all of them vulnerable to disease. we continue our journey. a bumpy ride for another few hours. finally, we arrive at the chary river. here's one of the best examples of what's happen tong the water over here. you're looking at river chary there. this is one of the largest rivers that actually supplies water to lake chad. that is lake chad. this used to be a megalake.
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one of the biggest lakes in the world. that's really all that's remaining of it now. right here between that land over there and this land over here, this is the river mouth. that's all -- the water that supplies the lake is all coming through here. there's not very much left anymore. that's what's happening to the lake. all of this land is appearing and the water's disappearing. even the chary river, the source for this once great lake, is evaporating. as lake chad disappears, many have nowhere else to go. the lake chad basin commission has a plan to divert water from the congo river. but it remains controversial and unfunded. there are no easy solutions. heading back towards shore from lake chad, our journey here is coming to a close. what we found is that lake chad's disappearance isn't just climate change or simply overuse. but, instead, a combination of
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both. tens of millions of people competing for a resource that is literally evaporating. what's left is a daily struggle. but, somehow, anata holds out hope. >> you still are optimistic despite everything we talked about today, that water's going to cover all this once again. >> yes, it will. and as we heard from the fisherman, he said water will come. so everybody here -- >> from what we've seen in greenland, alaska, and africa, the earth's climate is clearly changing. it's not a theory. it's a fact. but what's causing those changes? the majority of the scientific community says it's mankind. but there are powerful voices who say otherwise.
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>> with all the hysteria, all the fear, all the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the american people? i believe it is. >> if you thought the debate over what's causing the earth to warm was settled, think again. >> sir, i don't want to be rude. but from now on i'm going to ask -- >> james inhofe, republican senator from oklahoma, is the loudest voice with probably the biggest platform to question whether man is responsible for climate change. his influence has led to intense political theater. >> if i can complete my answer. >> if you do, my time is expired. >> i can't help that. you went on for a long time. >> no. i have 15 minutes. you had 30 minutes. i have 15. >> in 2007, scientists on the u.n. sponsored intergovernmental pattern on climate change concluded with 90% certainty that man is responsible for global warming. they were awarded a nobel prize
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for their work, but inhofe questions the motives of those who say man's responsible for global warming. >> this whole idea of global warming is something that has been brought up by certain groups that have a lot to benefit from it. it has nothing to do with real science. >> nothing to do with science and everything to do with money. support human cost climate change, inhofe's thinking goes, and you get more funding. his critics question his funding. the second biggest contributors to his senate office are energy and natural resource companies. we wanted to talk to senator inhofe about those contributions and his position on climate change. after agreeing to an interview with us, he canceled. but the debate is not just political. some scientists question the data and the models that predict climate change. pat michaels is one of them. he agreed to sit down with us. do you think climate change is a hoax? i have asthma.
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the earth is warming. the ice sheets are melting. lakes are evaporating. the question is why. are human beings responsible? and even if we are, is it a crisis or just hype? pat michaels was virginia's state climbtologist for more than a decade, and a professor at the university of virginia. he's also a so-called climate change skeptic. do you think climate change is a hoax? >> oh, heck no. human beings are definitely changing the climate. i think the warnings we're seeing is definitely at the low
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end of projection range. >> a projection range based on computer models. that, he and other skeptics say, is a problem. >> the problem is we have these things called computer models. that's all we have for the future. when we look at these computer models, one of the things we see is they tend to predict more warming than is occurring. >> that's true. some estimates do have the earth warming more than it currently is. it's an illustration of the difficulty deciphering the debate. most sides accuse each other of cherry picking data. models you see also are under estimating changing climate. remember this? even so, not the fear, says michaels. animals like the polar bear and humans will simply adapt. the scientists who are warning of huge changes within our lifetime, are those just scare
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tactics? >> i think a lot of people have not looked at the adaptational responses that human beings have. look at the united states. probably the most violent weather on earth of any large civilized nation. the number of tornadoes, it's stunning. and big cities are in the way of these tornadoes. death rates from tornadoes went down, down, down and down. why? adaptation. >> adaptations, he says, like stronger buildings. better warning systems. while a scientific consensus says man is responsible for global warming, michaels, like senator inhofe, says money is the prime motivator. >> you write a proposal, you tie it to climate change, you've got a good chance. >> you know, nothing could be further from the truth. in fact, i'm a good example of that. because when i first spoke out about this in 1981, i ended up
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losing my funding. >> dr. james hansen doesn't believe scientists are simply chasing funding. hansen with nasa's gottard institute for space studies was one of the first to bring climate change into the consciousness. hansen was nearly alone back then. but today he's brought the vast majority of the scientific community to his side. we are changing our climate, he says, and are risking a different planet. he rejects nearly all of the skeptics' points. from moderate estimates -- >> we're talking about several meters of sea level rise if west antarctica begins to go unstable. >> -- to computer modeling. >> that's another big misconception. the computer models are helpful, but they are not the primary source of information.
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it's the earth's history that tells us with the most accuracy and the most reliability what the climate sensitivity is. we have measurements of the atmosphere composition. very precise from the bubbles of air trapped in the ice sheets as a function of time over the last 700,000 years. >> climate science is clearly complicated and often controversial. both sides of the debate know that. for jim hansen, that makes this situation all the more pressing. >> the nature of science, as you say, on the one hand this and on the other hand that. even as the story becomes quite clear, we may not be making clear that we're really talking about a different planet. so i think we're running out of time. we've really got to get started in the next few years so that we're really on a different path. >> a different path because we're destroying much of what remains of the natural world. these are vast resources we're
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losing. they feed us, provide us medicine and control our climate. jeff and i are now heading to brazil's amazon to see firsthand the battle for the world's greatest rain forest. you're looking at one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the world. the amazon rain forest. how is that possible? how is it that a forest covering nine countries, home to 250 indigenous tribes -- >> this is one of my most favorite creatures right here. >> -- holding one-quarter of the world's species can be a major contributor to climate change? because it is, quite simply, under assault.
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the carbon naturally stored in trees is released when they're cut down. and they're being cut down at a breathtaking rate. these are the men bent on stopping that. they're agents with ibama. the brazilian government's environmental protection agency. this mission in a remote corner of brazil has been in the works for over a year. the agents are heavily armed, but heavily outnumbered. their job is daunting. something you can only appreciate from the air. >> just in the amazon basin alone it's 2.7 billion square miles of habitat. roughly 70% of that is right here in this extraordinary country, the country of brazil. >> 2.7 billion square miles, that's a little bit smaller than the continental united states. >> exactly. it's huge. >> but all of that is in jeopardy. >> it's so disturbing to see this. >> it's absolute, utter
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devastation and destruction. >> 20% of the jungle has been lost in the past 40 years. >> it seems the problem is once you get out to these remote areas, you can do just about anything. there are very few people watching over you. >> these regions, when you're away from any bit of infrastructure, can be pretty lawless. basically, anything goes. >> anything goes. and the ibama agents know that. it doesn't take long for them to pick up one of the illegal roads made by poachers. there's no telling what's around each corner. in the distance, the agents spot something suspicious. the truck slows and guns are drawn. they've just found a truck with some people.
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in a wooden shack in a remote corner of the amazon forest, armed men pore over maps and make last minute plans. they're all here, more than 200 of them, to try and put a stop to the animal poachers and loggers who are tearing this forest apart. it's an effort led by ibama, brazil's environmental protection agency. these officers from the federal police are teaming up with ibama agents. they're about to go out on patrol, for ibama's secrecy is
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key. if word leaks out that they're here, the illegal loggers will simply disappear into the rainforest. official says more than 1,000 people have died in the past 20 years in battles over the amazon's resources. agents get word over the radio there might be an encampment of illegal loggers nearby. so they quickly pile into their trucks. finding the roads made by the loggers is easy. what's not so easy is traveling them during the rainy season. these roads, as bumpy and terrible as they are, what's even worse about them is that the roads are the conduit for the habitat loss. >> absolutely. this is basically the pathway for which the timber comes out. >> illegally logged, for the most part. >> not all of it illegally logged. but a significant amount. some statistics say that perhaps as much as 80% to as little as 60% is logged illegally.
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>> and that adds up. in 2006, 5,500 square miles of amazon forest was cut down. roughly the size of the state of connecticut. and that was a 25% decrease from the year before. it's politically correct to say you care about the rainforest. but why should someone actually care? if you're in new york or iowa, what impact does the rainforest really have on your life? >> simply put, the survival of our species, of human beings, is directly dependent upon the survival of rainforest habitat. 20% of the world's water is locked up in rainforest habitat. specifically the amazon basin. >> despite its value, the destruction of this habitat continues. brazil is the number one soy producer in the world. and it takes land to grow soy. land without trees. it's also the world's top beef exporter. those two industries continue to expand, and they need land to do
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it. but not all the trees are cut down for big profits. some are harvested by small farmers eking out a meager living. wherever you go in brazil in the amazon, you'll find that. fire. this is a small fire set by a man who's cutting down a couple of acres of land. this is classic slash and burn. cutting down and burning trees not only clears the land, it releases nutrients into the soil, making the ground more fertile. it's an easy but destructive way small-time farmers do business here. like so many areas we've seen around the world, poverty plays a big role in habitat destruction. this is the front line of defore deforestation. >> at first glance, it looks like a relatively healthy
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forest. but just listen. what do you hear? >> not much. >> not much. no birds. no buzzing insects. >> the world conservation union says the amazon is home to nearly 1,000 threatened species of plants and animals. ibama doesn't have nearly enough personnel to protect them all. back on the muddy and rutted roads with ibama, agents continue to comb the forest for anything that looks out of place. they may have just found it. every day ibama agents go out on patrol and stop anyone they come across, question them about what they're doing in this biological preserve. they just found a truck with some people. let's check it out.
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their truck's broken down. and they say they need help. when agents find a hunting rifle, this man says they're only there to hunt one small animal. but his story doesn't add up. a quick search turns up a small arsenal. the guy has, like, what, one, two, three, four, five rifles. >> he's got five rifles. he's got three machetes. he's even got a slingshot. >> and a pack of hunting dogs. >> these guys have all the classic tools of the trade when it comes to poaching wildlife. >> the men take us to their camp site where they've already clear cut the forest. their cooler is stocked with deer meat poached from the rainforest. >> incredible. these gentlemen have been very,
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very busy. >> they said they were just out looking for a small animal just to eat. clearly, it's a larger operation than that. >> clearly their motivation was a bit more insidious. these animals are hunting not just for themselves, they're probably selling the meat as well. >> the men are arrested and charged with possessing arms and hunting in the preserve. charges that could get them ten years in jail. for ibama these arrests are a sign of hope. one small victory in the battle to save the forest. these four men have been taken into custody. that means they won't be out hunting today, killing unfold numbers of wild animals. ibama has been fighting this fight for several years now. but it wasn't until 2005 when a 73-year-old american nun changed the way brazil protects its forests. in the small town of anapu, deep in the amazon state of para, sister dorothy stang is everywhere.
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sister dorothy came to anapu from her native ohio in 1983. she said she was drawn to the amazon to work with the poor. >> the only thing they know is survival farming. that's slash and burn. >> she started a sustainable development program. teaching locals how to live off the forest, at the same time, preserving. her mantra, the death of the forest is the end of our lives. >> bringing back new life to a land that was lost, it is possible. we can renew the forest. >> let's do it! >> she may have looked like a little old lady to people from outside. but who live with her, she wasn't any little old lady. she was a power house. a decision, when she decided, she decided. she would work to make it happen her way.
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>> but her friend and colleague, jane dwire, says those tactics earned sister dorothy some powerful and dangerous enemies. big ranches and logging companies were often in her sights. if they encroached on a pes sants land, stang would report them to the government. as sister dorothy became more successful, she started getting death threats. she refused, however, to be intimidated. on february 12th of 2005 sister dorothy stang was walking down a secluded path in the amazon jungle. suddenly she was confronted by two men. words were exchanged, and one of the men took out a gun. sister stang didn't try to run away. instead she opened the bible she was carrying in her hand and read a passage from the gospel of matthew. blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice. for they shall be satisfied. as she closed the bible and turned to go, the dunmgunman op fire. highway fuel economy?
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the big apple got off relatively easy. many places in the northeast received more than twice as much, setting one-day records. airports are slowly getting back to service. and you tillty companies are hard at work in the carolinas trying to get the lights back on for about 46,000 customers there. one thing the massive storm did not slow down is the u.s. senate which is in session right now. democrats are intensifying efforts to pass a health care reform bill before christmas, the first of several key votes is scheduled to take place about 3 1/2 hours from now at 1:00 a.m. eastern. cnn will have live coverage of that vote. join me and our chief medical correspondent, dr. sanjay gupta, for our special at midnight eastern. we'll look at what's in the bill, what's out, and what it could mean to you. you can go to and leave us your thoughts on this senate bill on health care, what it might mean to you, and frankly whether or not you even understand it. share your thoughts and questions at we'll try to get to many of those on the air at midnight
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eastern. coverage you don't want to miss. certainly important for all of us. i'm tom foreman. i'll be back in a half hour with more newsroom. cnn's "planet in peril" returns after this. i always thought calcium, and vitamin d, and exercise would keep my bones healthy. but i got osteoporosis anyway, so my doctor started me on once-monthly boniva. and he told me something important. boniva works with your body to help stop and reverse bone loss. my test results proved i was able to stop and reverse my bone loss with boniva. and studies show, after one year on boniva, nine out of ten women did, too.
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early february 2005. sister dorothy stang, an american nun from ohio, leaves a meeting of peasant farmers whose land she's helping to protect leaves for home. she never makes it there. she meets two men on a muddy path. the men draw weapons. instead of running, sister dorothy opens the bible she's carrying and reads them a passage. when she turns to go, they shoot her at point-blank range, leaving her in the mud to die. just days later, these two men confessed to the murder. police take them back to the scene and they re-enact the brutal crime. they tell police they were paid $25,000 by ranchers who wanted sister dorothy out of their way so they could continue illegally
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logging the rainforest. four of the five men involved have been convicted in her murder. but the rancher who's believed to be the mastermind of the plot remains free on bail. but killing sister boar tdoroth not have the results some ranchers may have hoped for. >> they thought that killing her would end it. well, on the contrary, it did exactly the opposite. and the people are stronger than ever, and we do not intend to leave here. ♪ >> the brazilian government responded by setting aside more than 30,000 square miles for protection. sister dorothy's death became a symbol not only for the rainforest, but also for the protection of the people who call it home. there are some 100,000
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indigenous people living in brazil's amazon rainforest. we've arranged to visit one small tribe, the kraho indians in the tocantine state of brazil. we're told by the chief it's a first time a helicopter has ever landed in the village. these are the kraho. they're an indigenous people here in the amazon rainforest. there's about 200 or so who live in this village. it's a protected reserve. we've just arrived here to find out how they're struggling to protect their habitat. ♪ >> the kraho always celebrate the arrival of visitors with a ceremony. they're saying that very few people have come to this village, very few outsiders. so to welcome us they want to
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baptize us. that's the term they're using. they want us to -- they want to give us local names, names in their language, and also give us tribal markings. they name jeff running deer. >> thank you. i'm honored by that. thank you. >> and me, i'm regal bird. >> thank you very much. i'm very honored. thank you. after the festivities, we join the tribe for a meeting where they share grim news of what's happening to their home. a tribal elder tells us they fight hard to protect their land and keep their traditions alive. but he says they're angry and scared by what's happening. there are about 3,000 kraho indians left in the amazon basin. spread out in villages across
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750,000 acre of protected land, given to them by the government. but part of the kraho's land has already been illegally clear cut, and there's little to no law enforcement to stop it. kraho are trying to take matters into their own hands. the kraho are very concerned about illegal logging on their territory. every day they go out on patrol armed with bows and arrows, just making sure no one is cutting down trees. they say they run off poachers on these patrols before, where their territory is huge and their numbers small. so the poachers keep coming back. as hunters, gatherers and farmers the kraho rely on the rainforest for food, water, shelter, everything. the amazon is a vital resource for the world as well. as jeff mentioned earlier, the amazon basin holds 20% of the world's water.
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at least 80% of the developed world's diet comes from the amazon. mostly from the soy and beef industries. not to mention the tropical oils that are key ingredients in cosmetics like perfumes and shampoos. it's a sort of natural medicine chest as well. the national cancer institute says of the 3,000 plants that fight cancer cells, 70% of them are found in the amazon rain forest. but despite all of that, the rainforest is being pillaged at a rapid rate. roughly 5,500 square miles are lost every year. back on patrol with the kraho, we hike for hours through their territory but never find any illegal activity, at least not today. they will go out again tomorrow, however, trying to do whatever
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they can to stop their home and their way of life from disappearing. there's a pattern here. we see it not just with the kraho but also with others we've met in cambodia and china and africa. the disenfranchised usually bear the brunt of environmental degradation. that doesn't only happen in remote corners of the globe. it's happening right here in america. for valentine, manchester, texas, seemed a fine place to grow up. it was a tough neighborhood. but he had friends and plenty of places to play. his mother, rosario, was just happy she found somewhere free from the violence and drugs that
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plagued other low-income neighborhoods. her children were safe. at least, that's what she thought. >> my worst fear as a parent was losing my child somewhere. a park, crowded place. that's a parent's worst fear. you always think of something like that. you don't think your child coming down with cancer. >> at just 6 years old, her eldest child and only son, valentine, was diagnosed with leukemia. >> it's a numbing feeling. that's all i remember. just time stops. >> the very next day, valentine began chemotherapy. unable to protect her little boy, rosario maraqin felt helpless. she started looking for answers. she never could have guessed
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and once-daily spiriva. 6-year-old valentine maraqin went from healthy one moment to a chemo patient battling for his life the next. >> he always said i'm going to be chief of police since he was little. i would always think, is he going to get there? >> his mother started searching for anxiousswers. she kept coming back to their neighborhood and the stench that often envelopes it. >> we have a stinky
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neighborhood. but we've gotten so used to it, that we don't know. that's just how we smell. >> the stinky neighborhood, because it sits next to the houston ship channel. the largest petro chemical coplt in north america. a study released in 2006 show the concentration of known carcinogens was significantly higher than any other city in the u.s. >> i'm not ignorant. kids get sick in the country with fresh air. but this had something to do with it. >> her suspicions were confirmed in 2007 when the university of texas released a study showing children living within two miles of the ship channel have a 56% greater chance of getting leukemia. a 56% greater chance.
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while there's no clear-cut link, it's the first study showing an association between the ship channel's air quality and childhood leukemia. the risk is not just cancer. ben ze the chemicals are also known to cause respiratory diseases and birth defects. so if we know all of this, why is it happening? for one thing, weak laws. and we'll go into that in a second. but the other reason, says environmental law professor tom mcgarty, is because of race. 90% of the people who live in the neighborhood are hispanic. >> if these plants were emitting these kinds of levels in river oaks, it wouldn't be happening. i promise. i can tell you that right now. river oaks is the area where all the millionaires live. >> activists call it environmental racism and say it's not just happening in texas.
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thailand, cambodia, madagascar, chad, brazil. in each place, the poor and disenfranchised are usually the ones bearing environmental burdens. it happens there, and it happens here. in 2005, the associated press found african-americans are 79% more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of posing the greatest health danger. >> how do we improve the quality of life for everybody? >> majora is the founder of the sustainable south bronx. an organization that fights environmental racism in new york and around the country. >> right now race and class really determine where you find the good things like parks and trees or where you'll find the bad stuff like waste facilities and power plants gl the argument against your positions is an economic argument. most often it's, well, look, it's cheaper to have plants in this neighborhood than it is anywhere else in this very expensive city. >> you think you're making the
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argument that it's better to have it up here because, you know, the real estate values are so low. it's about think about the other kind of costs associated with it. that add up. >> health costs? >> yeah. >> crime? >> yeah. somebody's paying for it. we all are. >> she points out the people whose health is in danger, whose quality of life is degraded more often than not remain silent. >> i don't care if anybody in this neighborhood, like, never understands what global warming is. the point is there are people out there that are making decisions on our behalf that do and are deciding not to do anything about it. >> the texas commission for environmental quality chief toxicologist, michael honeycut, disputes the idea. >> one-third less pollution in the houston ship channel this year compared to last year because of our approach of bringing companies in, telling them what we want, and we're seeing those reductions.
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it's issues of timing. scientists are generating data all the time. something today, we find out today something is not as safe as we thought it was. or, well, something is safer than we thought it was. >> nobody has the alter the air somebody else breathes without that person's consent. it's just not right. >> houston mayor bill white has pledged to reduce the level of air toxins for those communities, even if it means playing hardball. >> we will have both a blixt and a legal battle with the industry until we get widespread agreement for them to do so. >> tough talk. but here's something that might surprise you. when we talked to the companies in the ship channel, they've pointed out that they've started voluntarily limiting their emissions and they haven't broken any laws. and that's true. there's actually no law, no ambient air standards, either state or federal, requiring companies to limit the amount of hazardous air pollutants they
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pump out. there is an effort under way to get a law passed in texas, but professor mcgarrity says it's going to be an uphill battle because when it comes to the oil industry here old habits die hard. >> that's going to be reflected at the top among the political appointees, who are more a part of this, shall we say, wild west culture where anything goes. >> a wild west culture where kids like valentin maraquin pay the price. now 10 years old, valentin is in remission and doing well. the maraquins say they can't leave here because they can't afford it. but they can't lock their children inside either. >> when you're sitting watching them play, you're thinking is it going to happen? are they breathing it in now? >> valentin still loves his neighborhood and playing outside. he just has one request.
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>> to change the pollution for somewhere else. somewhere no animals or no people live there. >> investigating our planet in peril has taken us to 13 countries on four continents. we've met literally hundreds of people along the way, some of whom you've been introduced to. everywhere we've gone we've been told the same thing. none of what's happening is occurring in a vacuum. in all these places all these problems are interconnected. when we come back, the lessons learned.
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if you'd like to find out more information about the topics discussed tonight or find out what you can do to get involved, check out our impact your world website at everywhere we've gone we've been told the same thing. none of what's happening is occurring in a vacuum. in all these places all these problems are interconnected. in the amazon along poachers' trails, in hidden villages you can smell the smoke from the burning forests. >> the air, you really get a sense of just how much of the rainforest has already been destroyed. >> you can see the scars made by man. plants and animals lost forever. gases released warm the world.
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the icy expanse of greenland, land and sky seem frozen forever. the danger is hard to see with the naked eye. the ice melts, the seas will rise. how much? how fast? a matter of debate. but tens of millions will be affected in this century. >> as the arctic changes under the effects of climate change and global warming, these very well could be one of the creatures most greatly affected. >> already polar bears' behavior is changing. already, small islands slip beneath the sea. >> they say that the water is actually going to cover this entire island. what's going to happen to you? >> i will have to stay. the life here is too valuable to
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leave. >> more people are born. economies boom. we consume and grow more each passing year. by 2050 there will be 50% more people on the planet than there are right now. in america the discussion seems mired in politics. skeptics, believers, liberals, conservatives. it all seems so theoretical. environmentalism, the pet project of the rich, a cause for cele celebs. but travel the world, and the issues are real. >> the fact is that a minimum of 20% of all global emissions are coming from destruction of tropical forests. >> struggles for land, fights
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over resources. people drink from polluted rivers in china and die in broken villages invisible from the gleaming towers of beijing. in asia and africa animals and plants are ripped from the rests, species disappearing at 1,000 times the natural rate of extinction. what should be done? what can be done? that's where the real debate is now. we set out to report, not be advocates. no agenda. you've seen the front lines, the facts on the ground. overpopulation, deforestation, species lost, climate change. nothing happens in a vacuum. what happens in one place now what happens in one place now affects us all. -- captions by vitac --


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