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CONNECT THE WORLD

Pakistan Ravaged by Floods; Can Scientists Predict Natural Disasters?

Aired August 16, 2010 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Against the odds, victims of flood-ravaged Pakistan struggle to survive, in what the U.N. calls one of the worst disasters the world has ever seen. Tonight, it's man against nature, as the race for a global warning system gets set to kick off in the United States.

On CNN, this is the hour we connect the world.

Well, it's a phenomenal mission, but will scientists really be able to predict the next great flood or the next great quake early enough to save lives?

Well, that is the question that we're posing on this show this hour.

I'm Becky Anderson in London for you.

Then, it's one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

Could the battle over its future provide a road map for future climate negotiations or is this a case of environmental bribery?

From Ecuador, both sides of the story for you.

And traffic, traffic and more traffic -- tonight, we spin the globe around a universal problem. And we'll tell you if it's likely to get any worse in your part of the world.

What is it like where you live?

What are the jams like?

Tweet me. My address, atbeckycnn. That's my Twitter address. We'll use your comments as part of this show.

First up this evening, catastrophic floods continue to upend millions of lives in Pakistan. Thousands of villages and homes have vanished in the high waters. The death toll is near 1,500. Those displaced, well, they run into the millions. And the crisis could get even worse, as the U.N. warns that three-and-a-half million kids are now at risk from water-borne diseases.

Well, we're kicking off the top of this show with Sara Sidner, who takes us to a makeshift clinic where fragile lives hang in the balance.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (VOICE-OVER): Desperation unleashed on a dusty Pakistan road -- men, women and children dart out in traffic, hoping to grab a morsel of food randomly flying off local trucks. Nothing is wasted, even if there's a bit of earth mixed in.

In each of the affected districts, victims of Pakistan's worst flood in decades are still fighting for survival two weeks after the initial flooding.

Inside this makeshift clinic, smoldering heat punishes the senses. Lethargic babies croak out tears. Their exhausted parents try to comfort them. Dozens of families are piled on top of each other with nowhere else to go.

"In the flood, everything is gone, nothing is left. We were only able to save our family," 50-year-old Baktawer (ph) says. "Our kids are vomiting. They have diarrhea. They are in miserable conditions. We don't have any money. The doctor is giving us treatment, but it's not effective."

She is now left to comfort 25 members of her family, who all live in the same home washed away by raging monsoon floodwaters.

In the next room, a painful sight -- a father gently holds his stick thin daughter.

"I am worried about her," he says. "If it's God's will, nothing will happen to her. Every day, I'm buying 50 to 100 rupees worth of medicine, which is what I can afford, because I need to feed my whole family with the money I make as a laborer."

Amir Mirani (ph) says one and a half-year-old Sabiya (ph) has been sick since birth. But since the floods, she's grown weaker by the day due to diarrhea and fever.

(on camera): She's so skinny. It's -- this is so dangerous for her.

(voice-over): "They advised me to given a IV drip, but I cannot afford it," he says.

(on camera): In this high school turned clinic directly after the floods, doctors say they were treating about 250 to 300 patients per day. They were overwhelmed. But now, they say, two weeks on, things are getting a little bit better. There are about 80 to 100 people who need help per day.

DR. MOHAMMAD YASIN ARAIN, CAMP CLINIC PHYSICIAN: We are seeing a lot of water-borne diseases, mostly finding the water-borne disease such as malaria, gastroenteritis, mostly rheumatic fever. And most normally, we see skin diseases.

SIDNER (voice-over): Here, treatment is free. But not everyone appreciates the cure at this government-run are clinic. Still, with 24- hour access to government doctors, these families have more of a chance of survival than most, as aid agencies warn of potentially deadly outbreaks of diarrhea and cholera that tend to claim the weakest among the survivors.

Sarah Sidner, CNN, Sukkur, Pakistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, it's heart-rending stuff, isn't it?

The U.S. Military is flying in aid to the region and other countries have contributed $150 million in relief so far. But aid groups warn more help is desperately needed.

John Holmes is the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator.

He spoke earlier to CNN from New York about what the floods could mean for Pakistan in the long-term.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN HOLMES, U.N. EMERGENCY RELIEF COORDINATOR: I think it's a huge setback for -- for Pakistan's economy. And that's what the government have recognized very clearly. As you say, we can probably -- if the international community continues to respond and help the government deal with the immediate needs -- but then the early recovery part of it, helping the farmers get back on their feet, helping them plan for the next planting season, helping them have the seeds, fertilizers, tools, irrigation systems they need desperately to make sure there's food next year, that's a huge challenge.

And then behind that, the massive, billion dollar challenges or billions of dollars challenges of all the lost infrastructure. And I think there's going to be a bigger challenge, actually, in the longer-term, getting the international community to help in a sustainable, long-term way in a country which has got so many problems. That's an even bigger challenge than getting the money for the -- the immediate humanitarian relief now.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: John Holmes from the U.N. there.

Well, the disaster in Pakistan is hitting close to home for one of Britain's most famous athletes. Our Connector of the Day today, world champion boxer, Amir Khan, was born in the U.K., but he's got close ties to his Pakistani heritage.

He -- here is what he says needs to be done now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMIR KHAN, CONNECTOR OF THE DAY: It's just really sad to hear that, you know, Pakistan has been hit by another disaster. Not long ago, they were hit by the earthquake. And when they started to rebuild their lives up again, then this has happened -- the flood has happened.

But just how serious this is, you know, this is a very serious disaster. If you put the Haiti disaster, the tsunami disaster and the Pakistan earthquake disaster together, it's as bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Amir Khan.

And you're going to hear much more from him as our Connector of the Day later in the show. He's answering your questions and telling us more about what needs to be done in Pakistan.

Well, the flood disaster unfolding there is happening at the same time merciless drought and wildfires are scorching Russia. This week, the world's leading climate scientists are gathering in the U.S. to try and establish an early warning system for extreme weather events like these.

I'm joined now by Thomas Karl in Asheville, North Carolina.

He's the transitional director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Services.

And he -- he joins us now.

Sir, we've seen the pictures on the -- you know, from Pakistan over the past couple of weeks, from Russia and other places coming into CNN Center over the past month or so.

Are the floods in Pakistan, for example, and the heat wave in Russia connected?

THOMAS KARL, NOAA CLIMATE SERVICES: Well, thanks, Becky.

That's an excellent question. And certainly they're connected in the sense that the climate system is connected throughout the globe. But there are some unique features to those events that are worth pointing out.

We don't understand all the aspects of what the causes of those events are, but I can give you some clues.

One thing we know is that the extreme heat in Russia started because the normal flow of winds from west to east was curtailed for a very long period of time this year, all during the month of July and much of August. We had conditions where these normal flow of winds did not occur. And what happened was clear skies continued day after day and they dried out the soils. And temperatures became very warm in Russia. In fact, warmer than what we would expect in one in one thousand -- or, some even might say -- one in 10,000 years, if, indeed, the climate was not changing.

Now, in Pakistan, we noticed that the heavy precipitation from monsoon rains didn't really begin until toward the end of July. And this was after the blocking of wind flow in Russia had already begun.

So there's clearly some evidence that suggests there are some other causes going on. The one thing we know, the global system is connected. This is a year of a growing La Nina event. We have seen La Ninas in the past lead to heavy precipitation in Pakistan.

This year, obviously, is far beyond what we've seen in the past. Similarly, the heat in Russia far beyond anything we've seen in the past. So maybe a third ingredient playing here, and that could be the changing atmospheric compensation, increases in greenhouse gases, changes in aerosol composition.

This is the element that scientists are going to be looking at to try and come together...

ANDERSON: Right.

KARL: -- to see what we can do to better understand that world.

ANDERSON: All right, I get that. And this is the question that many people have been asking me, doesn't the severe cold weather this year across Siberia and much of South America turn on the head the idea that this extreme weather is the result of global warming, very briefly?

KARL: Well, actually, this past year, from January through July, the globe has been warmer than any other time on record. That does not mean some parts of the globe can be cold. And that's exactly what you're pointing out -- pockets of the globe were cold last winter. But overall, conditions are the warmest on record for this year to date.

ANDERSON: All right, let's talk about this -- this early global warning system that we talked about amongst you client -- climate scientologists in Boulder, Colorado starting tomorrow.

Do we know enough about weather systems around the world to attempt a disaster warning system?

And how would it work if we do?

KARL: Well, one of the things that we're actually trying to discover at this meeting is what are the concepts we can bring together. We've got an enormous amount of observing systems out there. Part of the difficulty that we have is predicting these very extreme events. And so the meeting the next two days out in Boulder is going to be to try to focus on what are those missing links that we have not been able to connect?

How successful we are remains to be seen. This is the first start in a long effort at trying to have the international community put together the best observing systems we have in place, along with the best climate models, to try and provide this early warning indication.

ANDERSON: Thomas, we thank you for that.

We'll find out from you at a later date how much this is going to cost and who's going to run it, as you move through the meeting.

But for now, we thank you very much indeed for joining us, your expert on the subject today.

We've been hearing from you about Pakistan and the floods on CNN.com.

Someone who goes by the name of Influence says -- and I know that -- "The world is doing what it can. What is shocking is Pakistan's reported reluctance to accept aid from India."

Stargazer43 tells us: "We might be able to turn the tide through kindness and generosity and make lifelong alliances with these people against the Taliban and al Qaeda."

Just a couple of the comments. There's loads of them there. You can Tweet me atbeckycnn. Of course, you can write in at CNN.com/connect. Don't forget to let us know where you are writing from. It's good for us to know.

All right, we're going to move on this hour.

South Africa has one of the continent's most progressive attitudes toward press freedom, but for how long?

Coming up, we're going to take a look at new proposals that some call the biggest threat to freedom of expression since apartheid.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: All right, press freedom is in the spotlight up next here on CONNECT THE WORLD.

Journalist from around the world showing solidarity with their colleagues in South Africa as they fight proposed laws that could -- could limit their ability to scrutinize those in power. Well, the ANC says new standards are needed to hold journalists accountable.

But as Diana Magnay now reports, critics suspect other motives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Investigative journalist Mzilikazi Wa Afrika is arrested by plainclothes policemen and bundled into a van. Not until 2:00 a.m. The next morning, 16 hours later, is he given a reason why.

MZILIKAZI WA AFRIKA, "SUNDAY TIMES" REPORTER: And they said, well, you have written a story that the premier of this province has resigned and as it were, we are sitting in your office and have got your laptop and (INAUDIBLE).

Can you Google that story and show it to me, because I've never returned such a story?

MAGNAY: Wa Afrika and many South African news editors believe he was arrested to intimidate the media -- a sign, they say, that the ruling African National Congress is not taking kindly to press scrutiny.

AFRIKA: Right now, a lot of questions are being asked about the ANC, about their ability to deliver to the population. Questions are being asked about corruption. And there have been a lot of protests about it from the -- from the members of the public, talking about like where is this delivery that you promised us?

And I think that that is a big, big, big concern of theirs that when their -- their hero status is being eroded.

MAGNAY: There's a new bill now before parliament that would classify all information considered harmful to the national interests.

AFRIKA: That's how nasty this piece of legislation is, that this guy, this -- the national police commissioner, who we outed as corrupt, is obviously being protected by this particular piece of legislation.

MAGNAY: That's South Africa's former top cop and one time Interpol boss, Jackie Selebi, who's just been sentenced to 15 years for corruption. And just imagine if newspapers hadn't gotten hold of secret tapes during Jacob Zuma's corruption trial, which led to his case being dropped. Things might have looked very different for the man now running the country.

Over the weekend, President Zuma denied accusations his government is trying to muzzle the media as preposterous. In a statement posted on the ANC Web site, he called for an open debate on topics such as media ownership and said, quote, "Press freedom and the like are noble principles, but we all know that what drives the media is money."

ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu told me that a special tribunal to be set up by the government might offer recourse to those who can't afford to sue the print media.

JACKSON MTHEMBU, ANC SPOKESMAN: There should be a means that should be found to deter the media from defaming reporting, for irresponsible reporting, for answers. These are codes that are respected all over the world.

MAGNAY (on camera): But there is a mechanism for that...

MTHEMBU: All over the world.

MAGNAY: -- in the courts. And you're saying the only reason that you wouldn't take them to court...

MTHEMBU: We don't have the means.

MAGNAY: -- is because of the money?

MTHEMBU: Yes.

MAGNAY (voice-over): But many reporters maintain that this is a major setback for free speech. Ka Afrika, who still faces a court appearance, says he'll risk jail to defend his rights.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Johannesburg.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, South Africa ranks 33rd on the most recent index of world press freedoms, which is compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

So, who comes in first?

Well, actually, five countries are tied for the top spots, all in Northern Europe -- Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden. And at the very bottom of the 175 countries ranked, we find Burma, Iran, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea. Reporters Without Borders says the media are so suppressed in these nations that they are virtually non- existent.

Well, Zimbabwe, one of South Africa's neighbors, came in at number 136, reflecting its restrictive regime. But the winds of change, it seems, are blowing. Zimbabwe recently got its first independent daily newspaper in seven years, offering an important counterpoint to what is state-run media. The publisher of that paper was our Connector of the Day just before the government gave him the green light.

And here's part of what Trevor Ncube told me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TREVOR NCUBE, ZIMBABWEAN JOURNALIST: One of the key things that people have been asking for is the freeing up of the media, because the freeing up of the media represents the freeing up of the people, their ability to express themselves, their ability to consume that media which they choose. But the situation that we've had up until now is where the radio belongs to the government, television belongs to the government, the daily newspapers belong to the government.

So it's a -- it's an environment where government opinions and government views have had a preponderance over everything else.

ANDERSON: But should we expect things to be free and fair press going forward?

I mean what sort of censorship might we expect?

NCUBE: Well, I don't think we should expect any censorship. I mean I already own two newspapers in Zimbabwe. We don't have any censorship at all. I say this and people get surprised. But it has been a question of sometimes publishing and be damned, publish and go to prison, publish and go to court, that kind of situation. And I'm sure that they're aware who they've given these licenses to. We, you know, we are a group of brave kind of journalists who are independent-minded, who want to serve Zimbabweans as professionally and as ethically as possible.

So we don't -- once we're excited that we're receiving the go ahead to -- to publish, we are, of course, cautiously aware that we live in an environment where the government and the opposition political parties have a cult of intolerance. So it's going to be a journey that we all have to walk through and get used to the fact that we can disagree and still be friends, we can disagree and -- and still tolerate each other.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Trevor Ncube there, now publisher of "Newsday" in Zimbabwe, talking to me some weeks ago. Joining the dots for you here on CONNECT THE WORLD on a story out of South Africa on press freedoms today.

Well, after this very short break here on CNN, counting the costs of conservation -- we're going to take a look at the trade-off for leaving a billion barrels of oil untapped.

Is Ecuador holding a priceless piece of the Amazon to ransom?

Find out, after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back.

I'm Becky Anderson in London.

This is CONNECT THE WORLD.

Now, the unseen and the unexpected -- tonight and for the next two weeks, we are spinning the globe and landing in some of the most incredible places on earth, from oil eating enzymes to the darting fly patterns of the dragonfly. We're going to see what we can learn and how it can be adapted, the science behind nature's wonders.

Now, first up, we're in one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. But it's what's underneath parts of Ecuador's Amazon region there's been grabbing the world's attention.

Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: (voice-over): Along the equator, where the Andes Mountains meet the Amazon rainforest, there is a river leading to a place like no other -- Yasuni.

KELLY SWING, TIPUTINI BIODIVERSITY STATION: It actually is -- is right there. This is -- this river is the official boundary of the -- of the park.

ANDERSON: Dr. Kelly Swing has made this journey into the jungle of Eastern Ecuador hundreds of times over the last 30 years.

SWING: When I'm here, I can't go more than about three minutes without seeing something I have never seen before.

ANDERSON: Many scientists believe that this one million hectare stretch of rainforest is the most biodiverse place on earth. But Yasuni is home to nearly two dozen threatened or near threatened species. The Amazon has lost 20 percent of its forested land in the past 40 years. But perhaps the biggest threat to this biosphere reserve survival comes from the reserves found underneath it.

The Kitowa (ph) tribe is welcoming a high profile visitors, Ecuador's vice president, Lenin Moreno, grew up in this region. He's come to discuss the Yasuni and what's at stake. Villagers have heard about the nearly one billion barrels of heavy crude oil under the soil at the northwest section of the Yasuni. But in this impoverished area, where oil companies have operated for years, the benefits of oil extraction have yet to flow their way.

JIOVANNY RIVADENERIA, NAPO WILDLIFE CENTER: The oil companies come and employ people for two years and then they leave. The people they employ are only manual helpers, so the oil companies build, exploit, pollute and leave behind waste for the country.

ANDERSON: Three years ago, Ecuador's government made a bold offer to the world -- they'd agree to leave the oil in the ground only if developed countries compensated them half of the nearly $10 billion that Ecuador would have earned from extracting it. The money will go toward alternative energy development in Ecuador, as well as health and education services in indigenous communities.

Ivonne Baki leads the international negotiations team for Ecuador.

IVONNE BAKI, LEADE NEGOTIATOR: It's something that will change history. It's something that will be an example for other countries that have the same conditions that we have. There are a few countries -- around nine or 10 countries in the world -- that could use this example.

ANDERSON: But detractors claim Ecuador is holding a priceless piece of the Amazon ecosystem to ransom.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To the country, because it is precisely a shared commitment in which Ecuador has given its part -- an important part. The Ecuadorian people are making the biggest sacrifice here by letting go of approximately $3.5 billion -- money which could be invested in the country's development and that is (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: But, like the last vast stretches of rainforest, Dr. Swing believes that time is running out.

SWING: I think most people would say if we're going to save something, let's save the best parts, at least. There's a lot of life here, both animal and plant life. And if we start losing it, we allow more of it to be nibbled away and nibbled away around the edges, eventually we'll get to a point where almost nothing is left. And maybe, 20 years from now, somebody will say how could you have let that happen?

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Preservation versus progress -- the Amazon jewel and the one billion barrels of oil that lies beneath.

Well, we've been in the Yasuni National Park, where the Ecuadorian government has offered the world a trade -- their untapped crude will stay off limits if developed nations are willing to compensate it.

Well, tomorrow, we're heading to another biodiversity hot spot under threat, in Turkey this time. A rapidly developing country with one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Yusufeli in the Katchcar Mountains is famed for its wealth of species. But residents say plans for a third hydroelectric dam may put this delicate environment in jeopardy. That's our next Earth's Frontiers special on CONNECT THE WORLD.

And if you've been watching the show in the past few weeks, then you'll know that we are off on the trail of human trafficking. We've been following Siddharth Kara, one of the world's leading experts, as he travels through South Asia documenting what he finds. Now Siddarth is providing us with an exclusive blog from Uttar Pradesh, the heart of India's carpet industry. He writes -- and I quote -- "I visited this region several times and each time I find similar circumstances. The carpets have been woven in wretched conditions by bonded laborers or even some trafficked boys as young as six years old."

Now, Siddarth goes on to describe the brutal conditions in which these kids live and work.

We want you to take part in this conversation here on CONNECT THE WORLD, as with join the dots. Read his blog and leave your own questions and comments and I'll get Siddarth to respond when we interview him for the show on Friday. That is all at CNN.com/connect. It is your show. Do get involved.

Now, tensions simmer on the Korean Peninsula.

Will they reach a boiling point as American and South Korean troops begin an 11 day military drill?

Weighing up the North Korean threat, we're on the Korean Peninsula, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. You're with CONNECT THE WORLD. I'm Becky Anderson in London for you. Coming up, Pyongyang threatened the severest punishment as US and South Korean troops launched joint military drills. Though do those words carry any weight?

Then, getting nowhere fast. Car sales boom, but there is a cost. We're going to look at the world's worst and deadliest traffic.

And the pride of Britain and Pakistan. Welterweight champion of the world Amir Khan is your Connector of the Day. Hear what he has to stay about the flood crisis gripping his ancestral home and what it is to be a young Muslim in 2010.

Those stories ahead. First, let's get you a very quick check of the headlines this hour, shall we?

Aid groups are calling for urgent international aid for flood- drenched Pakistan. US military cargo planes are flying in relief supplies, including plastic sheeting for shelter. Nations have contributed about $150 million, but the UN says another at least $300 million. About a fifth of the country, they say, is under water.

The death toll in the Chinese mudslide now stands at 1200 or so, and almost 500 people are still missing. The country's top leaders called for three minutes of silence in memory of the victims earlier today. People in some of the hard-hit villages stood at mudslide debris and bowed their heads.

A German pop star says she's sorry for keeping her HIV status a secret, but she says she never intended to infect anyone with the virus that causes AIDS. That statement from Nadja Benaissa at the opening of her trial near Frankfurt. She's accused of failing to tell sexual partners that she was, indeed, HIV positive.

A merciless counterblow. That is what North Korea threatened as American and South Korean troops launch an 11-day military drill in the troubled peninsula. It's not unusual for Pyongyang to respond with such dire words, but is this being treated as just another empty threat? Let's find out. Let's get straight to the Pentagon and our man Chris Lawrence.

Threats, threats, and more threats. But are they being taken seriously?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Becky, just to put this in some sort of perspective, back in February, North Korea said that would, quote, "mercilessly destroy their enemies," and that was in response to some upcoming US-South Korean military exercises that were coming up in March. So, again, the dialogue, as you mentioned, nothing new.

A senior defense official who I spoke with today called these threats "provocative," but said, ultimately, they are hollow threats. By that he means, he doesn't see any significant change in North Korea's military posture. He doesn't see any movement of troops or anything to that extent. And he also said that, quote, "It would be a serious miscalculation on their part" if they were to ever try to act on some of these statements.

Another defense official who I talked to is involved with some of the exercises going on, saying, "Look, this is an annual exercise." And the forces in that area -- part of the world are always on a heightened state of alert.

ANDERSON: Chris, we're looking at pictures as we speak here. What are the extent of these exercises, out of interest?

LAWRENCE: They're pretty big. They happen every year, but you're talking in the range of 30,000 American troops, probably another 50,000 South Korean troops, designed to get the two forces to work together jointly, running both -- running a lot of air and sea exercises in the peninsula.

ANDERSON: Word today out of South Korea that there's some talk there could be some sort of reunification with the North in the months or years ahead. How seriously is that being taken?

LAWRENCE: Yes, the president of South Korea has said they need to come together to form sort of peace community. He ever went so far as to say -- propose a tax on the people of South Korea to raise money for the eventual cost of trying to reunify the two countries.

We know the extent to which the cost to the -- to Germany when they had to combine East and West Germany. So North -- South Korea looking ahead. But from all accounts, everyone I've spoken with, there's almost no chance of that happening under the current North Korean regime.

ANDERSON: Movements on the Korean peninsula for you here on CONNECT THE WORLD with Chris Lawrence. We thank you. Out of the Pentagon for us today joining us as ever.

Now, ahead, gridlock. If you live in a big city and you drive, you'll know it's an increasingly unwelcome problem. We're going to see where it's getting really bad really fast. We're talking traffic tonight and we're going to talk about ways, possibly, to ease the congestion. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Oh, Georgie, what is going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: I don't know.

ANDERSON: The traffic may be moving over to my right, but the traffic in front of us is at an absolute standstill. This happens all the time in Moscow. The word for "traffic jam" is "probka". Same word for "cork." And we are all caught up again.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: That was a couple of years ago, and things haven't gotten any better. It was 2006, in fact, December, heading back to the CNN bureau in Moscow. At least we were trying to. It's a scene repeated countless times every weekday in dozens of big cities across the world. And in emerging economies, it is only going to get worse, I'm afraid.

Mallika Kapur is in Mumbai for you, where the cars are literally overtaking the road.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MALIKA KAPUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Misras (ph) are all smiles. They've just bought their first car.

"It's impossible to find taxis," says Amir Misra (ph), "Plus, my brothers have a car, so I wanted one, too." He picked a Maruti Suzuki. It's made by India's biggest car company, which had its best monthly sales ever in July.

The company says it's a direct result of India's booming economy.

MAYANIK PAREEKH, MARUTI SUZUKI: Very importantly, the disposable income is growing. Earlier, disposable income used to double in thirty years. Now it's doubling in less than ten years.

KAPUR (voice-over): And it's being spent on cars, cars, and cars, pushing sales of several auto makers in India through the roof this year.

KAPUR (on camera): The problem is, India's infrastructure hasn't kept pace with its auto boom. To begin with, it needs more roads. The roads that do exist need to be repaired. There's a shortage of traffic police, drivers are inexperienced, traffic generally is a mess. The result is deadly.

KAPUR (voice-over): India has the most number of road fatalities in a year. More than China, which has more cars and more people.

BRIJESH SINGH, MUMBAI TRAFFIC OFFICIAL: Most of the deaths that happen on highways. Not what is happening on highways is that -- a little mixing of different kinds of traffic. If you look at China, what they've done is they've made all the highways on an elevated pedestal, like -- probably six feet. And all the roads go through that. So they do a mixing of cows and people and things.

KAPUR (voice-over): Duplicating the China model isn't necessarily the answer to India's problems, says Singh. India needs to custom-design a solution to meet its problems. Segregating pedestrians, cars, and non- motorized traffic is just one solution.

HORMAZD SORABJEE, AUTOCAR INDIA: I think you have to attack the root cause of the problem. And that, really, is the way licenses are given out. I think to let people who really don't know how to drive, people get licenses without genuinely knowing how to drive. In fact, sometimes people get licenses as a form of an identity card.

So just the way licenses are given out without a proper test is absolutely shocking. And I think the people who can do that, really, they are the criminals.

KAPUR (voice-over): None of this puts the Indian car consumer off. For some, it's a necessity. Others, status in society. Misra (ph) says, for him, it's a bit of both. Mallika Kapur, CNN, Mumbai.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well if you seem to think that some of those images in Mallika's report were bad, for many of us, it's just going to get worse, I'm afraid. There are now more than a billion vehicles in the world, and that number is expected to double to two billion in 20 years.

Vehicle growth is rising at a rapid pace, particularly in the developing world, including India, Russia, and Brazil. A Yale University study found India has doubled its number of cars over the past decade to 15 million.

In China, auto growth in the past decade has tripled to 45 million. These numbers do not include two-wheeler and other smaller vehicles. Let me tell you, the vehicle explosion in Beijing causes more than gridlock. It can turn pedestrians into walking targets.

Let's take a look, shall we, at traffic chaos there, along with Jakarta and Cairo. Starting, though with John Vause struggling simply to cross the road in the Chinese capital.

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JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just trying to get to the other side is a bit of an effort here. He's kind of slowing down. There's a taxi -- he didn't stop at all. OK. And then, finally, you kind of make it -- oops -- halfway to the other side. Not easy.

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And here it is, an example of the classic Jakarta traffic jam, inching along at an excruciatingly slow pace. On average, a commuter here will spend around three to four hours a day just sitting in traffic.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Crossing the road in Cairo is an adrenaline junky's dream. At the moment, the traffic's not moving too fast. The important thing is to establish eye contact with the drivers so that, if they do hit you, at least it's a personal relationship.

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ANDERSON: Ben Wedeman, rounding out our whip around the world. Congestion and chaos in the streets of so many big cities. This is all possibly familiar to you, if you live in a big city. What can be done, though, to solve this growing problem of global gridlock?

We're going to talk about that with Mark Rosenberg tonight. He's the director of the Global Road Safety Forum, and he joins me tonight out of Atlanta.

We've whipped around the world. It all looks like a fairly similar and serious problem, Mark. Are governments concerned enough, do you think, about the problem? Or does it take an inordinate amount of deaths, like on the streets of some of India's capitals, before lawmakers really get thinking?

MARK ROSENBERG, DIRECTOR, GLOBAL ROAD SAFETY FORUM: No, governments and ordinary people are not concerned enough, because we already have an inordinate amount of death. We are in the midst of an epidemic of road traffic deaths. Now, there are about 1.3 million people killed every year on the roads. And this puts it in between Tuberculosis and Malaria in terms of the leading causes of death in the world.

But what makes it even worse is that for every death, there are 20 to 50 serious injuries. And when you take those into account, we have an epidemic right now that is worse than Malaria and worse than TB, and people don't even know that it's happening.

ANDERSON: Those numbers are absolutely remarkable. That -- they -- amaze me, and I'm sure they'll be amazing our viewers around the world. Which countries do provide us with examples of good traffic management, Mark?

ROSENBERG: The worst countries are the poorest countries. The epidemic is 90 percent in the low and middle income countries. But the best countries include countries like Sweden, who have done absolutely astounding work.

They decided in Sweden that they weren't just going to settle for reducing the road traffic deaths by 10 percent, but they looked at what had been done with smallpox. Smallpox was a disease that was eradicated totally from the face of the Earth. And they said they could do this with road traffic injuries. Because they said, these are not just accidents. They don't just happen to happen. They happen for a reason. And if we can address the reasons, we can stop them --

ANDERSON: And what are those reasons?

ROSENBERG: When they first --

ANDERSON: Sorry, Mark, let me put you off. What are those reasons, then? And what can other people learn from Sweden?

ROSENBERG: They can learn that they can be stopped. They can be prevented. And there are three clear ways to prevent them.

The first is by making safer roads. In India, you have mothers walking down the middle of busy highways carrying their babies, in between buses and trucks and cars. And as you add more and more cars to the roads, you kill more and more mothers and their babies and their sons and their daughters. This is what's happening. We don't separate the kinds of traffic.

But we have roads that are poorly designed, and the risk is that as we build more roads, we build more bad roads. But in Sweden, they said, we can stop this. They said, unfortunately, we taught the world the wrong way to build roads.

Sweden felt they needed to apologize, because they taught people that the best roads are wide and straight and flat. And what happens if you build a road that's designed like an airway runway, people drive like they're going to take off in a plane. They drive very, very fast.

And in Sweden, they learned that if you build a road with curves, if you build a road with hills, if you build a road that's unpredictable so people need to pay attention, you can slow the cars down. And you can also protect those people who make bad decisions and veer off the road if you remove the trees and you put barriers by the side.

They also found that if you took out traffic lights, they found that traffic lights kill people because people speed up when the light turns yellow. And they found that if they took out traffic lights and substituted traffic circles, or roundabouts, they could reduce the death by 90 percent.

So one of the things they're doing in Sweden is building safer roads. They're building safer cars, and they're making safer drivers by changing the behavior through enforcement and education. In Sweden, they decided that they would eliminate road traffic deaths. When they began talking about this, people laughed. But now, they have brought it down to deaths in children, starting from 137. Four years ago they brought it down to 11. One year ago, zero.

ANDERSON: Amazing stuff. Mark, we do appreciate your thoughts. I hope governments around the world, wherever they are around the world, are listening to what you've said tonight. Remarkable stuff and some remarkably frightening numbers as well. Mark, we thank you very much, indeed, for joining us.

Our next guest could probably clear a bit of traffic, certainly, if he wanted to. After all, he is the world welterweight champion. Amir Khan made a name for himself on the sporting stage as one of the most talented athletes in Britain. Well, he's battled his way to the boxing elite, but who does he want to punch out next in the ring? We're going to ask that of our Connector of the Day, up next.

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ANDERSON (voice-over): Nick-named "King Khan," Britain's boxing hero catapulted to fame at the age of 17 when he won silver at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. A year later, Amir Khan turned professional, and his fans were hooked.

In his first fight, it took him just 109 seconds to punch his way to victory. Recently, he made his debut on American soil, thrilling fans at Madison Square Garden by beating Paulie Malignaggi.

But the current worldwide welterweight champion isn't just a star who can throw a decent punch. Khan appears to have his feet firmly on the ground. The boxing legend is viewed as a role model. He still lives with his parents in the town of Bolton in the north of England.

A prominent Muslim, Khan isn't afraid to discuss his faith and stand up for causes that he believes in. Right now, the world champion is throwing his weight behind the aid effort for Pakistan after the country was hit by the worst flooding in decades.

They boy from Bolton who just happens to be a world-class boxer, Amir Khan is your Connector of the Day.

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ANDERSON: Yes, he is, and I caught up with him just a couple of days ago for you. I started off by asking how his extended family has been affected by the floods in Pakistan. This is what he said.

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AMIR KHAN, WORLD CHAMPION BOXER: Yes, the flood has -- it's not affected my family, where we live in Pakistan. We're quite lucky that way. But I've got some friends in England and in Pakistan who have been affected by the floods.

And it's just really sad to hear that Pakistan's been hit by another disaster. Not long ago, they were hit by the earthquake, and when they started to rebuild their lives up again, this has happened, the floods have happened.

But just how serious this is. This is a very serious disaster. If you put the Haiti disaster, the Tsunami disaster and the Pakistan earthquake disaster together, it's as bad as the flood incident. I think every little bit's going to help these people over there in Pakistan, so let's get donating.

ANDERSON: Right. What do you think the wider world needs to do to help those affected? And is enough being done at this point?

KHAN: Yes, it's been quite slow, yes. And I think people need to just start to donate. What they need in Pakistan is clothing, water, food. People have lost everything down there. They've lost their houses, they've lost, probably everything. They need a place to stay, they need shelter.

And to donate, there's many ways. I'm working alongside Disaster Emergency Committee and Oxfam and other charities. You can also go onto their websites and donate, or you can text a message saying "Give" to 70707.

ANDERSON: One of the most famous south Asian athletes -- again, I know you were born in the UK -- Not a popular sport in the wider region, though. How did you first get into it?

KHAN: I got into boxing, I was young, very hyperactive at the age of eight. So my dad took me to a boxing club not around -- not far from where we used to live. And since then, I've never given up. I stuck to it. No one ever thought "Khan's going to get this far in this sport," and before you knew it, I would become a world champion, and went to the Olympic Games. It's gone very well.

ANDERSON: Have you found it hard to be open about being a Muslim in your sport?

KAHN: I keep my religion very privately to myself, but it is very important to me. I want to thank God for everything he's given me and how far I've gotten in the sport. But yes, I do -- I still go to the mosque, I still fast.

At this moment in time, it's the month of Ramadan, and we are fasting. I'm fasting in this moment of time as well. I'm reminded of people in Pakistan who are fasting at the same time as being affected by this flood as well.

ANDERSON: Do you think you can still go all the way with the best?

KHAN: Definitely. Why not? I'm in this game, I want to be the best, and I want to finish up as pound-for-pound one of the best in the world. And to do that is to train hard and still keep winning. I'm still 23, and I've still got a long way to go in this boxing game. And if I want to still reach my ambition, goal, which was to finish boxing and retire at the age of 28, then I'm going the right way at the moment.

I think in the next couple of years, say in the next two or three years, I think I'll be up fighting the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world. Or I'll be the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.

ANDERSON: Good stuff. Johnny has written to us. He says, "Now that you are the world welterweight champion, what's the next challenge?"

KHAN: The next challenge for me is, I want to fight the likes of the best at 105 pounds. There's a few names that we're looking at. I'm looking Marquez. I'm looking at Madonna. I'm looking at Victor Ortiz. There's a few names in the mix. So we're in negotiation with Golden Boy, and hopefully we can get that side.

ANDERSON: Shahzad Ali says, "I think your next fight should be against D. Alexander." What do you think of that?

KHAN: Well, yes. I think that would be a great fight for me. Alexander just fought Kotelnik and had trouble with him, and when I fought Kotelnik, I beat him convincingly to a full 12 rounds. I think that would be a great fight for me. I'm happy to take on anyone.

I've told Golden Boy, my promotion team, that, look, I'll fight anyone. I gave them a list of names, I said whoever they put in front of me, I'll fight.

ANDERSON: "What do you see yourself doing ten years from now?" asks Imran.

KHAN: Ten years from now. I want to see a young Amir Khan coming from Bolton or from England, doing what I've done, going to Olympic Games and win a gold medal, hopefully, one better than I did. And then going to the world championships and winning a world title belt as a professional as well.

That's what I want to see. That's my ambition. And I've got my boxing gym in Bolton, and I want to just help young kinds.

ANDERSON: All right. What about relationships? The bookies in the UK saying Katie Price, one of our former Connectors of the Day might be on the cards for you in the future. Supposedly, you've been seen out with her.

KHAN: No, me and Katie Price are just good friends. I'm good friends with Alex Reid, her boyfriend as well -- her husband, now they've got married. But we met at "The Expendables" premier. We just got chatty, and you know the media, they just blew it up and said it was a date or whatever. But no, we're just friends. We got a laugh about it.

ANDERSON: Well her husband, Alex Reid, is a big guy. You're not going to have to get into the ring with him, are you?

KHAN: He's a big guy, yes. And UFC is probably different to boxing. But I think you're wrong. It won't get to that. I don't think we'll ever get in the ring about -- fighting about Katie Price. I know Katie's married to him, and we're really happy with that.

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ANDERSON: Amir Khan, your Connector of the Day. And tomorrow's Connector is part of the modern world's most famous environmental dynasties. Alexandra Cousteau shares her grandfather Jacques' passion for the ocean, and she plans to release her first book, "Blue Planet" next year. That interview tomorrow on Connect the World.

We'd also like to hear who some of your favorite Connectors have been and, indeed, who you'd like to see on. We're putting together a few of the best just for you. Make sure you head to the website and make a request. That's cnn.com/connect. Tonight, we'll be right back.

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ANDERSON: We've a minute or so left, and before we leave tonight, let's take a look at what you've been saying about one of our top stories tonight, and that is the growing problems we're facing around the world. I asked you on my Twitter page what traffic is like in your part of the world, and here are some of your responses.

Tripoli says, "Come over to Lagos, Nigeria. You'll redefine your concept of 'jamitron.'" While in New York, Kira tweets, "Traffic in my part of the world, murder. Thankfully, I take public transport to work." And T Razope says Liberia is the worst. He says, "A new infrastructure is needed. A three-minute car ride takes an hour." From Beirut for you tonight, Nance tweets, "Traffic jams last longer than it would take me to drive from the north to the south of Lebanon."

Oh, my goodness. Get your voices heard on CNN. Head to the website, cnn.com/connect. I'm on Twitter at @beckycnn. And it's your world connected this evening. "BackStory" is next here on CNN, right after this very quick check of the headlines for you.

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