CNN’s Situation Room Asks ‘What If the World Took Climate Change Seriously?’

May 11th, 2007 11:14 AM

The mainstream media’s promotion of climate change hype continues unfettered. A segment on Thursday’s "The Situation Room" wholeheartedly embraced the theory of human-caused global warming, and the International Panel on Climate Change’s recent "action plan" to do something about it.

Video (1:27): Real (2.37 MB) or Windows (2.79 MB), plus MP3 (996 kB).

During his actual report, CNN correspondent Frank Sesno asked, "But what if the world took climate change seriously?" He then gave examples of two people that are taking global warming hype "seriously" and have become "trendy" for doing so - Sheryl Crow and Al Gore. More importantly, he stated that "leaders would have to lead, and make some unpopular decisions – incentives, subsidies, and yes, taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions, to spur investment and move the marketplaces. Expensive? You bet. Trillions and trillions." (continued...)

Sesno began the segment citing a NASA report which suggests that greenhouse-gas warming may raise average summer temperatures in the eastern United States nearly 10 degrees Fahrenheit by the 2080s. As Sesno put it, "a heat wave in Chicago could mean average temperatures of 110 degrees or so -- 100 to 110 degrees." Of course, this scenario from the report is only a hypothesis, but Sesno acts as if it’s really going to happen.

Interestingly, Sesno mentioned nuclear energy twice during the segment, as a possible option in the effort the reduce greenhouse gases, besides the more politically-correct options of wind, sea, and solar energy. He also mentioned the fact that China is about to surpass the United States as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases.

A full transcript of the segment:

WOLF BLITZER: A new study says we could be seeing a much warmer world in the not-too-distant future. Shouldn’t we be taking it seriously?

And joining us now, our special correspondent, Frank Sesno, for this week's ‘What If?’ segment -- Frank.

FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: And what if we start with the maps, to look at what's happening with this whole climate change business. The United States of America, watch especially in the southern and northern portions. Here's a map of the temperature zones from 1990. Zoom forward, 2006. It's just getting warmer. And just yesterday, NASA came out with a new report, and they say by 2080 -- if you have a kid today, they'll still be around for this -- by 2080, a heat wave in Chicago could mean average temperatures of 110 degrees or so -- 100 to 110 degrees. You know, it's already under way. We're starting to see things around the world.

SESNO: These are not pretty pictures -- melting glaciers, dying coral reefs, drought in some places, warming lakes in others, endangered species. But what if the world took climate change seriously? Maybe it's starting to. It's certainly become trendy. It can make you a rock star, even if you're not one already. But what if it were more than talk? Well, last week, the International Panel on Climate Change, experts from around the world, wrote up an action plan. And they identified lots of options.

Starting today, we could shift from coal to gas, build more nuclear power plants, move toward more efficient vehicles, manage farms and forests to reduce carbon emissions. Future technologies commercially viable within 20 years will be even more important -- high-tech renewal energy from wind, sea, and sun, advanced biofuels from agriculture waste, plug-in hybrids. I've seen GM's prototype myself. It can run on no gas at all. And for old energy like coal, technology to capture and store the carbon released when it's burned.

What if we got serious about doing all of this? Leaders would have to lead, and make some unpopular decisions -- incentives, subsidies and, yes, taxes, including a tax on carbon emissions, probably, to spur investment and move the marketplace. Expensive? You bet. Trillions and trillions. The climate panel says the cost could slow global growth up to five percent, a bitter pill, given poverty and population pressures around the world. But if it cleared the air, it could pay dividends in both global and human health. What if hand-wringing were replaced by action? It would be a start.

SESNO: A start, Wolf. But back to the map of the globe, and you see just how huge the problem is. First, to China. This is a country of 1.3 billion people. They have lifted 400 million out of poverty. They have 700 million people to go. They are soon going to surpass the United States as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases. To Malaysia and Indonesia, we barely even think of them. They're the third largest emitters now because their rain forests are burning and their peat bogs that’s putting up so much of this stuff. And, of course, the United States of America -- five percent of the world's population, 25 percent of the resources. And we all want continued economic growth. This is really hard.

BLITZER: You've studied this, I know, very, very intensively. Will any of these solutions work, Frank?

SESNO: Well, what's interesting from the climate panel is they're all there. The technology is or will be there. It's a matter of political will. But it's also a matter of fact. The world's population is probably going to double in the next 20 years, 30, 40 years, something like that, by 2050. And the needs for power are going to double. And according to Nathan Lewis -- he's a professor at Cal Tech, he's a chemistry professor out there -- we would have to build a new nuclear power plant every other day for the next 50 years if we were going to address the power needs we know we're going to need without contributing to more global warming.

BLITZER: Good ‘What If?’ segment. Thanks very much. Sobering information.