tv PBS News Hour PBS December 18, 2009 6:00pm-7:00pm EST
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> lehrer: good evening, i'm jim lehrer. the global climate talks ended with what u.s. officials called a "meaningful and historic" agreement. >> brown: and i'm jeffrey brown. on the newshour tonight, we'll have full analysis of what world leaders did and did not agree to. >> what we have achieved in copenhagen will not be the end, but rather the beginning. the beginning of a new era of international action. >> lehrer: and then judy woodruff leads a discussion about the climate deal. >> brown: an update on dna testing, as an innocent man
who's spent the longest time behind bars is set free. >> lehrer: paul solman has a conversation about the connection between human health and biodiversity. >> the only -- anywhere in the world that raise their young -- are now extinct and the compounds that these make to keep themselves -- that information is gone forever. >> brown: and the weekly analysis of mark shields and david brooks. >> lehrer: that's all ahead on tonight's pbs newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by:
>> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> lehrer: the climate change summit wound down today, and president obama claimed "an unprecedented breakthrough". it did not include legally binding targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions. instead, the president said nations will set out goals with a way to verify their actions. he spoke this evening, in copenhagen, denmark. >> what i think is that some people are going to legitimately ask is well, if
it's not legally binding what prevents us ten years from now looking and saying everybody fell short of these goals. and there's no consequences to it . my response is that a, that's why i think we should still drive towards something that is more binding than it is. but that was not achievable at this conference.;a- > lehrer: ray suarez reports from copenhagen. >> it was the best that could be hoped for out of this process. if the delegates and heads of states had wanted a brand-new position from president obama they knew they weren't going to get it when he told the conference that a deal that was imperfect but could be fixed later was better than no deal at all . >> we can embrace this accord, take a substantial step forward, and continue to refine it and build upon its foundation.
we can do that, and everyone who is in this room will be a part of an historic endeavor - one that makes life better for our children and grandchildren. >> suarez: the president had arrived in the danish capital hours earlier, amid stiff winds, and driving snow, and headed toward the convention center, where delegates had worked through the night trying to draft a climate document the world could agree to-- as the conference shook itself awake friday morning, representatives henry waxman and edward markey, sponsors of a massive emissions control bill that's already passed the house, said they felt there had been movement toward an agreement though such optimism was in short supply. the main meeting hall began to fill with world leaders, who sought out a smiling chinese premier wen jiaobao for a handshake or a photo. it was a reminder of chinas new clout on the world stage, and as speaker after speaker has noted during days of debate, the fact
that any global compact on climate change depends on two countries: the two that account for something approaching half of all the worlds emissions, the united states and china. for his part, the premier stuck firm to chinas position throughout the copenhagen conference that his country had laid out ambitious goals, was sticking to them, and didn't want the interference that comes with verification of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. >> ( translated ): with sense of responsibility to chinese people and all mankind, the voluntary action china has taken, no condition to the target, nor have we linked it to the target of any other country. whatever this conference accomplishes, we remain committed to reaching and even exceeding the target,
>> these measures need not be intrusive, or infringe upon sovereignty. they must, however, ensure that an accord is credible, and that we are living up to our obligations. for without such accountability, any agreement would be empty words on a page. >> as the president spoke the conference came to a complete stop. the public corridors and pladzas packed with delegates and activists from around the world hung on his every word. monitors took the speech to every corner of the complex. after delivering their speeches, premier wen and president obama held their first meeting of the day. it lasted for 55 minutes. and according to a white house official, two made progress. mulipola ausetalia titimaea is a delegate to the talks from samoa.
>> most of the smaller island countries, if we do not cut back on the emissions we will certainly be under the ocean, the pacific ocean, and certainly these two superpowers need to commit to reducing emissions. >> suarez: jocelyn dow of guyana said she wanted, and expected more from the american president >> but we would have wanted something path breaking, and frankly climate changing in this process and to step up to the issue a little more, unpredictably. to be number two emitter next to china is all well and good but you've been emitting a lot longer >> suarez: luis inacio lula dasilva of brazil is one of the rising leaders of the developing
world. he delivered a blunt message to his fellow leaders, >> what we don't agree is that the most important figures sign a piece of paper just to say we signed it, but if we didn't manage to draft such a document until now, not sure there's an angel or wise man who will come down and give us intelligence that we lacked up until now. >> throughout this long day, public and private meetings, there were few indications of the real state of play. secretary of state hillary clinton swept out of the convention center this afternoon with no comment on progress or
the lack of it. so ray what happened there at the end of the day? >> suarez: you know, president obama extended his visit. he was meant to leave copenhagen hours before he did. but while there was still a chance that something could be worked out, he stayed be. he invited premier wen to two subsequent meetings which the chin ease premier skipped sending the deputy foreign minister and his chief investigator instead. it was a snub? was it a gambit to move the talk as long? later in the evening there was a meeting around 7:00 denmark time with some of the big emitters, some of the big industrial economy. brazil's lula, one from india along with wen and president obama. those meetings kept on through the evening. and finally resulted in an agreement just before midnight denmark time. >> reporter: all week, ray, we've talked about the big
issues, targets, financing, verification. so what's in this this agreement -- agreement? >> suarez: the most generous thing you can say about it is that it puts off some of the hardest negotiating down into the future. the most near-end target are left blank, left undefined while further outdates, 2050, for instance, when the big industrial economies commit to an 80% reduction in their greenhouse emissions is specifically defined. there is no architecture set up though there are general principless laid out for the cash transfer to the least developed economies. this is a deal that doesn't meet a lot of the targets that many of the countries that came here to negotiate said were their bottom line so there's bound to be grumbling after what's to you being called the copenhagen accord starts to -- starts to disseminate into the world community and already big international environmental organizations are calling it a sham,
calling it an empty deal. >> all right, ray suarez in copenhagen all week for us, thanks a lot. >> lehrer: judy woodruff takes it from there. >> woodruff: for more about the summit's outcome and for reaction back here. daniel becker, director of safe climate campaign, an advocacy group. he was formerly director of the sierra club's global warming program. and samuel thernstrom, a resident fellow at the american enterprise institute he served on the white house council on environmental quality for president george w. bush. here. dan quell becker to you first. the president said this is meaningful and unprecedented breakthrough. how do you see it in. >> it's a major disappointment. to paraphrase a play about a prince from denmark, a toughly binding treaty on climate is not to be. what we were looking for was a tough treaty that was going to commit countries to reducing their emissions to levels that would keep the climate at
$2° cellsuous qarm warmer than it is today, basically where the scientists have said it is a safe. we were looking for accountability, for certainty that the pledges would be kept. we were looking for some funding for the least -- the most vulnerable people on earth who will face real consequences due to the pollution that we've emited from our cars and trucks and factories and power plants. in the end though what happened was that the countries weren't willing to do their fair share. they weren't willing to sign on to enough emissions reductions, even president obama said this isn't up to the task. and they weren't willing to agree to the accountability measures that are really necessary. >> woodruff: i want to get to some of that points. but let me come to you, major disappointment, do you see it that way or not? >> by and large, yes. although i think i could say at least one good thing about this agreement which is that it does move forward in terms of -- it moves out
of the framework of one size fits all agreement, that the whole world should all sign on to which was the keogh model and which was what was expected to come out of copenhagen. and i think is a little more realistic to think that we can get meaningful domestic action through multilateral and bilateral agreement. so i would actually say that one element of this agreement is a step forward. aside from that, though, i would agree that a lot of aspects of this agreement are very disappointing and that the fundamental issues of disagreement between these countries have been papered over through vagueness and pledges rather than actually being sorted out. and copenhagen was supposed to be an opportunity to resolve those issues. >> woodruff: ban yell becker let me read something the president said in that news conference. he said this agreement is structured in a way that each nation is going to put concrete commitments in to an appendix. they're going to lay out each country's intentions. and those commitments are going to be subject to international consultation. you are saying no, we couldn't get binding agreement but we did get
this, this is something. >> it's something. it's the good news side. but coming into this meeting it there were a bunch of countries that made commitments to cut their pollution who had never made those commitments before at those levels. soa, india, brazil, made substantial commitments to reduce their emissions. not as much as we need. and the u.s. --. >> woodruff: you think that was already happening. >> well, it was happening on the way in. a lot of these commitments were made a few weeks ago. and the president made his announcement of the 17% cut which you know fits in that category of a promise but not yet a road map to do it. the next thing that the president can do is use power he's already got from the clean air act and other existing laws to dramatically cut our emissions. and he started doing that in may when he announced that there will be a 30% cut from cars. >> woodruff: samuel what about the facts that these changes were being made by a
number of countries, the very fact that this conference was held and was coming caused some of these changes to be made. does that represent progress? >> i think that represents very modest progress. i would disagree with dan, for instance, when he characterizes the chinese commitment leading up to copenhagen a significant. it's a little hard to know what the chinese commitment was, the way they made it was rather vague but i think most analysts think that it's not much more than business as usual fora. and so i do believe that business as usual fora today is better than its with a few years ago. china is more engaged with this problem. but have we had a breakthrough on the fundamental issues that have divideda and the world? no, we have not. >> woodruff: how do you see that, on china? >> i agree thata needs to do more. but a 40 to 45% cut from the rate of growth that they have today is a substantial step forward. it's not where we need to be. but we're not where we need to be either. and the fact that industry
has stymied progress in this country by politicizing the issue, misrepresenting the facts about the issue, and forcing the congress to a stalemate on a very weak bill is really something that has -- you're seeing the ripple effects in could enhagen. >> woodruff: industry the culprit here? >> i don't think so. i think, you know, national and international politics which are basic realitys are the culprit here. you know,a, for instance, again has refused consistently to commit to a treaty that involves proper verification of their emissions reductions. only a few hours ago president obama told thaws any treaty that didn't have that verification would be empty words on a page and yet the agreement that was struck in the final hours today apparently has noverr noverreification component to it. so i don't think we can blame american industry or any industries for that. what we're dealing with here are different nationalist interests and the failure to overcole those interests. >> woodruff: do you want to comment on that? >> the reality is that the
oil companies, the auto companies, the utility industry, the coal industry have brought tremendous pressure to bear on congress, and on the administration. to do nothing. they have funded phoney scientists who fog the issues and on fis kate for the person people. and the reality is that many in congress are afraid to act and because they are afraid to act the administration is felt constrained on what they could bring to copenhagen. and everyone else is looking to us and the chinese for action. the chinese communist party said when something happens, it happens. when the president of the united states says it happens, there is a big argument over it. >> woodruff: two different systems. if something can be -- it is there anything in here that you could say, one can salvage and say this is what we -- this is what we can pin our hopes, our work on going forward? >> not clear to me. i mean apparently part of the agreement today was that there would be no bindsing treaty work towards in 2010 which had been the goal until a few hours ago.
so i think i see incremental progress on these issues as each nation tries to come to grips with what it can do, realistically. what is domestic, political constituency will support. but it's hard to say how much progress is being made. it seems more symbolic than substantive at this point. >> woodruff: where do you see all this going from here? >> well, the world came together. and a 192 nations decided we need to take action. they -- it is important that they recognize that they didn't take enough action. and that they are going to keep trying. they need to try a hell of a lot harder than they've been trying. and the united states is going to be looked to as the world as the leader. and if we don't take the steps we need to take we'll be buying the advanced technology from the chinese. we should do it for economic reasons as well as environmental reasons. because our kids are counting on us to do it. >> how do you see what happens next? >> well, i mean i think the critical question is did today's deal in copenhagen make it more likely that either a binding
international treaty would be signed or that a bill would make it through congress. and i think the answer is no on both those fronts. so i think its he hard to say what the oa administration will be able to say they truly accomplished. >> the good news is the president can act administratively and they can cut emissions from power plants as he can cutting them from cars. and can use energy more efficiently than appliance efficiency standards and lighting standards. that stuff that can happen without congress having to do any more. >> we're going to leave it there, daniel becker, samuel thurmstrom, thank you both. >> thank you for having us. >> brown: now, for the other news of the day, here's hari sreenivasan in our newsroom. hari. >> sreenivasan: the u.s. and russia moved closer today to a new treaty on nuclear arms control. president obama met with russian president dmitry medvedev along the sidelines of the climate change summit. mr. obama said they're "quite close" to replacing a cold war- era treaty that expired this month. the two leaders have already agreed generally to make deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals
within seven years. democrats in the u.s. senate pressed today to force action on health care reform. republicans pressed to stop it. majority leader harry reid was expected to offer the final version of the bill this weekend. otherwise, there will not be time to finish it by a christmas deadline. but republicans said they would insist on having the full bill in the hundreds of pages read out loud. >> it is our intention not to pass this bill easily. i think we've made it pretty clear. i have had a practice of not telegraphing procedural moves that may be available to us. and i'm going to continue that practice. but i don't think anybody in the room is -- that we don't think this bill ought to pass and we're not in a hurry to complete it. >> sreenivasan: democrats charged the republicans have nothing better to offer, so they are simply obstructing progress. >> the they have failed to produce any legislation that has gone through the scrutiny this legislation
has faced in terms it of its il pact on america, its impact on our budget, they are empty-handed. what they bring to us on the floor of the senate are speeches, press reases, charts and graphs, and an occasional criticism. >> sreenivasan: a critical series of votes to cut off debate could come on monday. but that will take 60 votes and nebraska democrat ben nelson was still holding out for tighter restrictions on abortion funding. he said today there's been some progress in talks with party leaders. wall street finished the week on an upbeat note after a 3-day slide the dow jones industrial average gained more than 20 points to close above 10328. the nasdaq rose more than 31 points to close at 2211. for the week the dow lost 1%. the nasdaq rose 1%. there was word today that afghan president hamid karzai will retain most of his top ministers in a new cabinet. wire services say they include the ministers of defense, interior and finance. several other ministers accused of corruption are being dismissed.
the reports said karzai plans to keep former warlord ismail khan in the cabinet. human rights groups have accused him of war crimes. the cabinet is due to be announced on saturday. the infamous sign at the entrance to the nazi death camp at auschwitz has been stolen. police in poland said today it disappeared sometime in the wee hours this morning. the iron sign was erected soon after the nazi's built their largest extermination camp in 1940. the german words mean "work sets you free". more than 1 million people, most of them, jews died at auschwitz during world war ii. those are some of the day's main stories. i'll be back at the end of the program with a preview of what you'll find tonight on the newshour's website. but for now, back to jim. >> lehrer: and still to come on the newshour. why biodiversity matters, and shields and brooks. that follows an update on dna exonerations. >> brown: james bain is a free man tonight. yesterday, he was released from a florida prison where he'd spent 35 years for a crime he
didn't commit. a court-mandated dna test proved bain was wrongly convicted of sexual assault in 1974. >> i am going to see my mom, the one i just got off the phone to. that's the most important thing in my life at this moment besides god. one thing i have to say about this dna, ladies and gentleman, it's gonna do one of the two... free you or lock you. >> brown: bain's release was in fact the third of its kind just this week, all the result of work by the "innocence project" based at the benjamin cardozo school of law at yeshiva university. according to the project, since 1989, there have been 248 post-conviction exonerations based on dna evidence. seventeen of those exonerated served time on death row. 27 states, the federal government and the district of columbia compensate individuals who were wrongfully incarcerated. joining me for an update is barry sheck, co-founder and
co-director of the "innocence project". mr. sheck, james bain was held longer than anyone now exonerated by dna testing. but is his case unusual in any other way? >> no, as a matter of fact, what's remarkable about his case is that it's a single perpetrator, sexual assault case with a mistaken identification. and the single greatest cause of the conviction of the innocent has been eye witness misidentificationing. >> reporter: eye witness, in most of the cases you still find that that's what lead to the wrongful conviction. >> yes, i mean we know the causes of what wrongful conviction. eye witness misidentification, false confessions, invalid or improper forensic science, prosecutorial police misconduct or inadequate lawyering. jailhouse snitchs, those are the causes but the one that has caused more miscarriages
of justice, eye witness identification, we now know after 30 years of really solid social science research how to minimize that with best practices that can reduce the number of misidentifications without reducing the number of correct ones. >> reporter: tell us a little bit more about the dna evidence. what is it and how often is it viable many years later? >> well, the trick, frankly, is finding the evidence. and here this case was 1974 and the problem mr. barn was asking for testing for quite a long time but the problem always is finding the evidence. in dallas, texas, where there have been more dna exonerations than any city in the country, the main reason for is it that they can find the evidence. it's also lead to the creation of a wonderful conviction integrity unit in the dallas district attorney's office that really assists the innocence project in trying to get people out. but it's finding the evidence that's the biggest
problem. >> reporter: now you said mr. bain was trying to get people to look at it and that leads to an obvious question. how easy or difficult is it to get a court to take a new look at dna evidence? >> well, when mr. bain started doing this, it was very difficult. we had a lot of trouble in florida getting courts to allow dna testing. we had one case that went up and down through the system, will ton dedge. finally florida has created a post conviction dna statute and now 48 states have such statutes on the books. and the federal government has one as well. but when we started this work, there were no states that had post conviction dna statutes. and in fact, are trying to get into court was se difficult because there were statutes of limitations where courts wouldn't even look at newly liss covered evidence, even evidence as powerful as dna identification. >> reporter: i wonder how off sent true perpetrator
found through dna testing. how often does that occur? >> a lot. right now there are 105 individuals who have been identified as the real assailants in these cases. out of the 200 -- 248 post conviction dna exonerations. what's really important to emphasize here is that dna is only present in about 10% of cases. in other words, biology that can be tested, that can be determinative of who really committed the crime. so what about the other 90% of the cases where there is eye witness misidentification and false confessions and bad lawyering and misconduct and invalid or improper forensic science, that is the challenge. we really need to learn from this incredible set of cases lessons which can help enhance the capability of law enforcement to catch the real perpetrator at the same time that we protect the innocent. and that's the real meaning of these cases. >> well, there was a congressional hearing this week
where about the backlog -- backlog of cases where there is evidence still awaiting testing. this was specifically mostly about rape cases. how big a problem is that, just not only to finds the evidence but then that it's sitting around waiting for somebody to get to it. >> well, that's a very serious problem. and it's confounding because take sexual assault cases. and here in new york city, we had to work with the prosecutors of the police department to get them to look at all these unsolved rape cases that were just piling up. so it's absolutely essential as you wait to do dna testing on an unsolved case, the real assailant can go out there and commit a lot of rapes and murders. because very often these are serial offenders. and when the cases are in backlog you can find that the same person committed more than one crime if you begin to test them. so so much could be done to improve the criminal justice
system if within 7 to 10 days after the commission of a serious crime you had dna testing. they've had that in the united kingdom for a long i am and it significantly improved the clearance rate in cases. >> reporter: just in our last minute i want to ask you about the compensation system. i understand that florida just last year passed a law that someone in this situation would be paid i think 50,000 dollars a year per year. that will help in the case of mr. bain. but i gather it's a rather haphazard system around the country. >> yes, and there are laws in some jurisdictions, not in others. there are restrictions that shouldn't be there. and frankly, it's not enough money. you know, just think about it. when these cases get to trial and federal civil rights actions, when the small needle can be threaded by climb ants, -- claimant its, jurors routinely give them a million dollars a year as well they should
given what really somebody is entitled to who has been incarcerated in a maximum security prison as an innocent person, for even a year. >> reporter: already, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> lehrer: now a closing conversation about climate change to cap this week's stories. newshour correspondent paul solman talks to a nobel prize winner about his perspective on the links between climate change and biodiversity. >> there are natural -- way before humans show should up. but it is clear the extinction rate now is a hundred to a thousand and even more times what it was before. >> medical doctor eric schiveian who shared the 1985 nobel peace prize for spotlighting the effects of a new clare war on global health. >> so this is unprecedented. >> he's now speaking out about the threat of climate
change as director of harvard medical school center for health of the global environment. harvard's museum of natural history was his seting for the current warning which has received considerable attention. that global warming presents a clear and present danger to biodiversity. the broad but ever-narrowing range of plants and animals on earth. >> so there is global warming. let's say it is exacerbate bid humans and it threatens biodiversity. but what's biodiversity ever done for me, i mean why should i care if global warming wipes out a whole lot of species. because species have evolved. unique physiologys and biochemistries over millions of years. that have an enormous amount to teach us about how our bodies work. in health and in disease. let me give you an example. two species of what are called gastric brooding frogs were discovered in northeastern australia.
the female swallow the fertilized eggs. the eggs hatch in her stomach, back tadpoles. and when they reach a certain level of development they vomits them out to continue their development into adulthood. >> a rather quirky version of the maternal instinct that raises a question for the curious. how did the kitty keep from being digested from mom's stomach acid. >> these tadpoles secreted substances that prevent ed their being digested. so scientists were very interested in finding out what these substances were because they may have provided treatment and maybe even prevention for peptic you will crer disease which affects -- ulcer disease which affect -- million americans. >> just a few exhibits away, however, what fate soon befell these unfortunate amphibians. >> this is the exploring extinctions exhibit. the dodo bird extinct. the gray hawk extinct, and
here is the gastric brooding frog, in that jar. the only frogs anywhere in the world that raise their young in their stomach are now extinct. and the compounds that these tadpoles made to keep themselves from being digested, what they were, and how they worked, that information is gone forever. >> reporter: and with it, perhaps, something a tad better than prilosec. because of a very recent extinction contributed in part to climate change. which reminded me, given the setting, of a more famous threatened pleasure which happens to be another of his favorite example. >> i have been tacking kids and my grandkids to this place for decades so i lamb to know the polar bear is right over here. >> fantastic. >> so what's the deal with the polar bear. >> well, polar bears have become the iconic symbol of what we are going to lose with climate change. but their medical value is almost never mentioned. let me tell you about that.
for five to to -- for five to seven months they go into hibernation. if we were bed riden for five months we would lose a third of our bone mass. they have substances in their blood that prevent them from losing bone even though they are not moving around. if we understood what those substances were, which we don't, we might be able to treat and maybe even prevent osteoporosis which kills 70,000 americans every year. costs the u.s. economy $17 billion. >> reporter: well, maybe, maybe not. but he says, there's more. >> they also don't urinate for five to seven months or longer. if we don't urinate for a few days, we're dead. if we understood how they accomplish this miraculous feat we might be able to treat end stage renal disease that kills 80,000 americans a year. again though an assumption. okay, so try this. >> polar bears also become massively obese prior to hibernating and yet they don't develop type ii
diabetes. type ii die feet toot -- diabetes related to obesity in the united states is virtually epidemic now. 16 million americans, 5% of the population have it, kills a quarter of a million people in this country every year. if we understood how polar bears became obese but yet didn't become diabetic, we mite be able to treat these people. but the skeptic in me says you have polar bears in zoos, we study them there, we learn what are you talking about. we don't need them out in the wild. >> yes, we do. we have to study polar bears in the wild. polar bears don't go into hypernation in zoos. we have to study the physiology that allows them to not get osteoporosis, not become sick even though they are not urinating, and not develop buy diabetes even though they become obese. >> besides, it turns out our record for keeping species alive in captiveity isn't all that impressive. even with the medical interest in the gastric brooding frog, for instance,
the captive population only survived for three years after becoming extinct in 9 wild. but it's not just the species here or there that the doctor can point to. get a load of these guys. cone snails. coral reef dwellers being wiped out as their habitat succumb to rising ocean temperatures. >> each of these cone snails makes harpoons that it fires at its prey. they coat these harpoons with a cocktail of poisons to paralyze their prey. and then they bring the paralyzed fish into their enlarged stomach to digest it. what's fascinating about these snails is that each one is thought to make a hundred to 200 different poisons. there are as many as 500 to 700 species. and so there may be as many as 100,000, maybe even 140,000 different cone snail
poison s. >> you will have to pardon me for asking but why should i want cone snail poison. it kills little creatures and i assume if there was enough of it, it would kill me too. >> that's true. but if a toxin is so potent that it kills every animal that it is injected into, that means its he a effecting a very fundamental aspect of the way cells function. so we had better look in to how those toxins work because they may be medicines for pain. they may be medicine for making our heartbeat stronger or stoping it arrhythmias. >> in fact, several painkillers derived from cone snail poisons are currently in clinical trials. and within prialt was approved for use by the fda in 2004. >> it is the most effective painkiller since discovery
of the opiates in the early 1800s. it's a thousand time its more potent than morphine but doesn't lead to tolerance. it's a huge breakthrough. >> and it may not be the only venom of value. >> others are in clinical trials to protect cells in the brain from dying when they don't get enough circulation like after a stroke or after a head injury or during open-heart surgery. and we haven't even begun to identify the thousands and tens of thousands of compounds that these cone snails make. >> here we have some examples of con i ferrs. >> finally he says there's the story of taxal. thousand it comes from a free, the pas civic ewe threatened by logging, not climate change t is an object lesson in the value of seemingly disposable species. >> this tree was routinely burned and discarded in old growth forests because its with small, irregularly shaped.
it had no commercial value. but the national cancer institute -- institute did this massive screening of plants in the united states in the '60s to find medicines that would be useful in treating cancer. and in the bark of this runted, useless tree they found a wonderful molecule called taxal. which in early trials was shown to be the most effective agent in treat og varian cancer. one of the hardest cancers to treat. >> taxal and its follow-ons are now standard treatments for cancer. >> so here's a drug from a tree that we know that with deforestation we might lose. and how many other wonder drugs like taxal are there in the forest both in the tropics and in tempered areas that we may also be losing. >> and this is where dr. eric schiffian and colleagues have written sustaining life, a book that in the end makes a selfishly
human case for saving other species. >> every organism has to fight infection, has to fight cancers, has to depend themselve -- defend themselves by firing off toxins that that paralyze other organisms. so it is up to us to look at the clues that nature has provided for us. and in those clues we can find medicines to treat many, many human diseases. we have no choice but to preserve the living world because our health and our lives depend on it. >> spoken like the advocate eric schivian has long been and is now once again. trying to facilitate the ascentive man with the help of the age old world around us which has been experimenting with the moleculing of life for a lot longer than we have. >> lehrer: and finally tonight the analysis of shields and brooks. syndicated columnist mark shields and new york times columnist david brooks.
david, how do you read the politics of the copenhagen climate change summit. >> first thing, i was struck by how tough obama was, he got there, there was an insument from the chinese. he gave an 8 minute speech calling out the chinese for really not having integrity, not being trustworthy. not wanting to verify. so i was truck by the tough continues. which he has not shown, now at the end of the day as we heard already i guess they didn't get too much. i'm a long-term pessimism about this issue. i think it is very unlikely that any country is going to make, or at least the u.s. and china will make real economic sacrifices for this sort of long-term problem. so i remain and have been vifernd kated today in this pessimism. >> lehrer: are you a pessimist too? >> i am a short term pessimist. i mean until the crisis and people start choking and suffocating in the streets. >> lehrer: people don't feel there a crisis. >> i think there is less and
less of a sense in this country of urgency and crisis. and secondly, i think it's been like so many other issues, crowded out by the domestic, police call considerations and social considerations of joblessness. and economic downturn. >> how do you feel president obama handled this, today and before. >> i think the president, well obviously he rescheduled himself. they wanted him there late in hopes that he was going to go early. that he would play --. >> lehrer: he was originally going to go right after oslo. >> that's right. but they wanted him to postpone that trip to get there at the most meaningful time. you know, he had two deadline events. he has gotthelf care at home , and copenhagen in the climb at change. and you can put a spin, i guess, it was a victory of sorts but they didn't get what they had hoped for. there is no question about it. and i think that's -- you
know, it's not a stinging rebuke by any means. but it is not the triumph that he needs. >> i'm sort of struck by the fact that following what happened with howard dean and health care this week, another disappointment for the left, and i guess you could say most of the environmental groups are on the left who had expected more i think of the obama presidency and certainly expected more of the cap and trade that it would be more aggressive that it would actually get passed and that is pretty much deadlocked, stagnated in the u.s. senate. so on a couple major issues the people that elected the president and i guess you could throw in afghanistan are, are bound to be disappointed. >> lehrer: let's use that as a segue to health-care reform. stagnated, you use the same word, the senate is stagnated on this. >> the senate is. but i'm still confident that they will get a bill . one of the shrewdest democrats on the hill said to me --. >> lehrer: senate or house. >> senate democrat senator
said to me today, a week ago he was nine, 9.5 out of 10 certain that there would be a bill. today it's, between 7 and 7.5. but still confident. and --. >> lehrer: did he say why, why he lost two points in his confidence. >> sure. you've got obviously the republicans have dug in. it's become, when you get a deadline, jim, and imposed deadline and this one of the things the administration faces. >> lehrer: christmas, had to be done by christmas. >> they slow walked this bill there is no doubt about it. there was no push from the white house. june when there was pressure to come out with a specific push, push the congress, there was always let the congress work it out. and through the august recess. so now there's the end of the rope. and they tried to -- they went with senator baucus and the senate finance committee, seemingly endlessly to win senator grassley and senator enzie over to support, make it bipartisan, none of that came so, when you get to the crunch, the 2ked line, christmas being the deadline
they imposed, they really don't want to go into next year on this even though they may end up doing that. >> lehrer: they want to get it over with. >> well, one senator has an enormous amount of power and influence. we saw it with senator lieberman. we see it now with senator nelson. >> lehrer: yeah. now david you wrote in your column today that you, if you were one of these 100 in the united states senate you would vote against it, why. >> it was a very tough call. >> lehrer: then i will ask mark why he would vote for it, just for the record. >> has time to prepare. >> i think first of all it does cover 30 million people. it does --. >> lehrer: 30 million new people. >> it does essentially balance the budget and there are going to be tax increases, they will pay for it with medicare cuts there is a lot of good enough stuff in there, and a lot of reform for the current system. my fundamental problem is it is a slow, gradual building on the current system. but the current system is so fundamentally messed up, the incentive structure is such that providers are penalized for being efficient.
everybody's got an incentive to get more and more care. we're all separated from the consequences of our choices. and that you can't build reforms on top of what is really a rotten set of incentives it. and so at the end of the day, the question is can you pass this and get toward real reform down the road. and i fundamentally don't think so one of the medicare act you arees reported i think last week or within two weeks that health care spending is just shooting upwards. was 15% of the gdp, now i think 17.7% of gdp, it will be up to 22, 24. this bill will make it increase slightly faster, not slower. and if you care about things like preschool education, state spending on any other project, that's all going to be swallowed up by health care. and if we don't address that problem we've missed the central problem. >> lehrer: now you would vote for it, right, mark. >> i would, jim. and i think david began by acknowledging 31 million people will be covered who don't have health insurance right now. i mean it is a national
disgrace that 45 million americans are without health care. i mean that is an international --. >> lehrer: that is about -- >> it really is, plus health insurance companies are going to be required to accept people with preexisting conditions, the same rate force women as for men. that there will not be a lifetime cap in what people are paid in the way of premiums.a- - in the way of coverage, rather, in reimbursement. and i just think that's -- i think those are all important, i really do. the reason you go for it now, i think president bill clinton reminded democrats that it would be a colossal blunder not. he turned down a good deal in 1993. ted kennedy in his autobiography said that one of the great regrets of his life was turning down the chance to pass the health insurance. >> lehrer: that -- >> i will say this because
of the pressure that david has talked about, the fiscal pressure, you've got to pass it now because the cuts are going to come in the future. the fiscal pressure is going to be on cutting health-care costs. and cutting public health-care costs, not in expanding it. so anybody who says i'm to the going to vote for it because i'm going to get something better down the roads. there isn't going to be the public money to pay for it down the roads. i say you get what you can right now and pass it. >> lehrer: a political question. if, i will ask you the same question slightly rephrased. if you were, had the opportunity to vote whether or not to allow it to be voted on on the floor of the united states senate, would you go -- with the filibuster. >> i am a pundit, not a senator so i just care about the substance but i guess i would allow it. but just litically, by the way i'm not sure it is a great thing for democrats to pass this, and i will tell you why. i assume they are going to pass it. the next several years, really no benefits will kick in.
but everyone -- but insurance rates will go up. everyone will be blaming the democrats. and then when the benefit does kick in we will see this surge in demand for health care, no surge in supply of health care because of the same number of doctors will be the same. when you get higher demand, same supply you get a price increase so that is another four or five years of people seeing their costs go up. and the political pressure as a result of these two periods i think will be such that they will gut all the good parts of the bill which the cost control and keep -- entrench the expensive parts opinions you see the politics same way, this could backfire on the democrats? >> i don't. i will say this. david followed the great rule of legislating and this is . no politician ever got in trouble by voting against a bill that passes. or voting for a bill that fails. and the argument is you can always make the case, i was trying to improve it. >> okay. >> so you know, that's it and ronald reagan, medicare,
he was all out against medicare. he became its greatest cham pine. he was just trying to improve medicare is what he was trying to do. so it is a very safe political move. it sounds like -- >> i'm not runing for office, i don't care. >> it really is. >> he's runing for pundit. >> it's a craven political position. >> how do you feel about the filibuster and using it for an issue like this, is that -- the democrat does it, everybody does it. is it getting -- is it just my imagination or is the divide between republicans and democrats down the line more rigid now than it has been. >> i think the divide is and i think this is -- this bill has been out there too long. i mean it really has. this is like a couple -- married couple arguing about weather, about the same thing for 12 months. >> . >> lehrer: and we've been talking about right here. >> that's right. it isn't as ug leas it was in the past. i mean 1995 because the people who are saying this
is going to be the waterloo for barack obama, a chance to bring him down, are basically backbenchers. >> lehrer: the leadership is to the -- >> not the leadership saying that, the same way as it was when newt gingrich was the leader of the republican party, when he said we're out to destroy the other party. we're going to -- they're thugs, they're corrupt, i don't think it is the same way that it was. but there is no question, the polarization between two parties is as intense asif's ever seen it. >> and why do we not have systemic reform. it's because we didn't have republicans doing anything constructive on this bill. we didn't have democrats getting together with republicans on the stuff they all agree with about the terrible incentive. the entire political class decided the american people would not -- were not willing to tolerate any sacrifice. therefore it could not be asked of them. and so we have a terrible, which i think -- not a terrible bill but an insufficient bill because you had no governing. and that is a symptom of the
culture. >> lehrer: okay, on that wonderful note we will leave it, thank you all very much. >> brown: again, the major developments of the day: the global climate summit wound down in denmark. the u.s. and major developing countries agreed to lay out goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but they could not agree on a legally binding treaty. and senate democrats pressed to force action on health care reform, while. republicans pressed to stop it. the newshour is always online. hari sreenivasan in our newsroom previews what's there. hari. >> sreenivasan: on our web site tonight, health care correspondent betty ann bowser stopped by the rundown to explain what happened on capitol hill this week. there is a roundup of reports from ray suarez and his team at the climate summit in copenhagen. on jeff's art beat blog, insight into the making of the movie avatar. first from the author of a new biography of director, james cameron, and also from the u.s.c. linguistic professor who developed the language spoken by the blue na'vi extra terrestrials. and finally, please check back after the program to watch an
informal conversation with mark shields and david brooks taped here at the rundown after their regular friday night debate. all that and more is on our web site, newshour.pbs.org. jeff. >> brown: and that's the newshour for tonight. i'm jeffrey brown. >> lehrer: and i'm jim lehrer. "washington week" can be seen later this evening on most pbs stations. we'll see you on-line and again here monday evening. have a nice weekend. thank you, and good night. major funding for the pbs newshour is provided by: >> what the world needs now is energy. the energy to get the economy humming again. the energy to tackle challenges like climate change. what is that energy came from an energy company? everyday, chevron invests $62 million in people, in ideas-- seeking, teaching, building. fueling growth around the world to move us all ahead. this is the power of human
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