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Fighting for Reproductive Rights; Climate Change

Aired July 11, 2012 - 15:00:00   ET


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour.

Tonight, two life-and-death issues, each controversial. But where the facts are incontrovertible, first reproductive rights. One hundred thousand women die in childbirth every year because of unintended pregnancies. And the leading cause of death is that amongst teenagers worldwide.

One simple remedy could cut this number by a third and that is contraception. Yet it's not available to 222 million women in the developing world.

And then raging wildfires, blistering heat waves and biblical storms, this is what climate change looks like. 2011 was the year of extreme weather, and now for the first time, two specific events, the freakishly warm November in Britain and the devastating summer droughts in Texas have been linked to climate change caused by humans.

Here are the facts: warm Novembers are now 62 times more likely in the U.K. and heat waves like the Texas drought are now 20 times more likely than they both were 50 years ago. This is weather on steroids, according to a groundbreaking study by top-level American and British climate scientists as well as scientists from around the world.

So my brief tonight, to any skeptics who say I'll believe it when I see the evidence, well, here is the evidence.

With climate change and with contraception, when you strip away the politics, the religion and the often ginned-up controversy, the facts are clear: contraception saves lives. Manmade climate change is real. And tonight, I'll speak with people who are struggling to restore reason where irrationality rules.

And then later in the program, the massacre was 17 years ago, but the victims are still being identified and they are still being buried. Prayers and flowers for Srebrenica.

But first to the issue of maternal health and reproductive rights in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Melinda Gates is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and she has set out to expand access to family planning to developing countries. I spoke with her earlier from London at a summit on her efforts and those of the British government to offer contraceptives to women in the developing world.


AMANPOUR: Melinda Gates, thank you so much for joining me from that conference in London.


AMANPOUR: Why is it that family planning, reproductive health rights, have sort of fallen off the map? I mean, we used to hear a lot about population control, about birth control, and yet not so much anymore.

GATES: And I think that's because it became a very controversial issue because we were doing it as a world from the top down. And that is absolutely the wrong way to do it.

What we need to do is put the access in women's hands, give women options, let them decide how they want to plan their families. And when you do that and you have the courage to do that, you will change the world. But it has to be driven by the desires of women.

AMANPOUR: I'm going to get to those controversies, because they're also -- I mean, amazingly, in a health issue, there are political and religious controversies over this.

But first, I want to play a report from our David McKenzie, who went to one of the slums in Kenya -- I know you've visited many women around the world -- and he brought us back this report of what's going on on this issue. Let's take a listen.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lucia Akinyi is hiding something from her husband, and she wants to share her secret.

LUCIA AKINYI (through translator): He wanted all these kids so he can name them after the mother, other family members, who knows who else. It's like he married me just to be pregnant. It's a secret. It's a total secret.

MCKENZIE: After five children, Lucia took the risk of upsetting him, sneaking off to a clinic for a contraceptive injection. Every three months, she sneaks off again. The little she earns washing clothes, barely enough to feed her children.

AKINYI (through translator): Now, I am the one who has the problem. It is my body that has deteriorated. He doesn't know what the kids eat. He doesn't know what they wear. And this house isn't a house that should be having seven people. I am the one who worries about the kids.

MCKENZIE: Lucia says she's up against the community, not just her husband. In Korogocho slum, many believe that contraceptives can lead to deformities or to cancer, and are only for prostitutes.

And then there's the local church.

FATHER JOHN WEBOOSTA: I tell my congregation that contraceptives are dangerous. They are dangerous to them and also to the generation that they bring home. They need to bring children in the world whom they can afford to take care.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): He says that means couples should practice self-restraint.

But Lucia and the women here will tell you, it's not that simple. They say the power relationship between men and women isn't equal. So they band together to learn about contraceptives and gain the courage to use them.

But often that isn't enough. Government clinics hampered by underfunding and logistical problems frequently run out of contraceptives.

JANE OTAI, SENIOR COMMUNITY ADVISORY, KENYA URBAN REPRODUCTIVE: So that really becomes a tragedy, because here she is. She has decided I only want five children and I have the number of children now I want, or even have more than what I would have loved. Actually got (inaudible) and there is no (inaudible). There is no contraceptive. There is no family planning method that she would like to use.

MCKENZIE: The shacks in Korogocho are completely crammed together like this, sometimes six, seven, even eight people of a family living together in just one room, and mothers say they can't cope.

MCKENZIE (voice-over): In the daytime, it's OK, but at night the children come back from school or day care. This is Lucia's worst time. It's when she feels overwhelmed.

All she wants is the best for her children, she says. But she's willing to risk everything for that -- David McKenzie, CNN, Korogocho, Kenya.


AMANPOUR: Jane Otai, let me turn to you for a moment. You appeared in that report. So let me ask you, how difficult is it for these women, these poor women who appear to want it and need it to actually get the contraceptive?

OTAI: Women in the urban slum communities have difficulties in accepting contraceptives. Many times when they get to the health facilities, the health facilities do not have the method of family planning that they would like to have.

And therefore they have either to go and buy these commodities in the shops or just do without them for a few days until the health facility has some of these commodities. And this is quite tragic for them, because they want to space their children --


AMANPOUR: Yes, they want to space their children. I want to ask you what --

OTAI: -- (inaudible).

AMANPOUR: -- you -- what you thought of what the young woman in that report said that, you know, her husband does not give her the option for spacing the children. How do you deal with that if they're meant to rely just on self-restraint? How do they convince their husbands, in the absence of birth control, that they should be spacing their pregnancies?

OTAI: By involving men. We are going to start talking to men and having men champion, so that men can talk to their fellow men about family planning, because we realize that men don't listen to women. But when we use males, men who are champions in family planning, they can be able then to support their spouses, to be able to control the number of children that they can have.

So we have messages for men. We are going to develop messages for men that are going to get them to be convinced that family planning is beneficial to them, even as men in these communities.

AMANPOUR: Jane Otai, thank you very much. I want to turn again to Melinda Gates.

You have obviously seen, and you know the controversy that's being raised now in the blogosphere, in certain parts of the Catholic Church. You heard the preacher in that report say that he actually tells his congregation that contraception is dangerous. How do you counter that kind of attitude?

GATES: I think you go to where the social justice mission of the church is, which is to save women's lives and to save babies' lives and to help families lift themselves up. And you have to give women options. And ultimately you let a woman choose. She may choose to naturally space her family, or she may choose a modern contraceptive method. But ultimately, it's about having options.

And one of the options that women choose in Africa, a very popular method, is an injection, because they can go to a clinic and get it and not have their spouse know that, in fact, they get an injection.

AMANPOUR: You yourself, Melinda, are a practicing Catholic. You know that this goes counter to official Catholic doctrine. How have you wrestled with what you now want to take on as your life's work?

GATES: Because I am Catholic and I -- as you say, and I grew up with this beautiful mission of the church about social justice. It says all lives -- all lives are important on this planet, and we should honor those lives. And when I go out and travel the past decade for the foundation, I see these beautiful lives, but I see families struggling. I say to myself, that's the part of the mission I believe in.

And I need to make sure that all women have tools, the same tools we have access in the United States to, so that women can choose to space the birth of their children, save their own lives, feed their children and ultimately educate them. And that, too, is part of my religion, and that's the part that I'm honoring.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you to react to this, the very influential U.K. "Catholic Herald," says that "It's always a disappointment when a public figure of great wealth, standing or power explains that although they are loyal Catholics, they think church teaching is wrong -- predictably on moral issues."

So, Melinda, do you think you lack when it comes to moral standing?

GATES: I think I have an unbelievable moral standing and I think if a lot of these people traveled in the developing world the way we do, the way you do, Christiane, and they saw the life-and-death crisis that a woman is in every day -- I was just in Nigerne (ph), Senegal, the last four days before coming to this conference. And I met a woman named Sadie (ph).

And she said to me, "I have six children. Why didn't anybody tell me until after the birth of my third child that I could actually plan their births and space them?"

She said, "It would be a whole different life for me and for my children. I don't want this life for my children. I want to feed them and let them be educated."

That's what I want. That's me giving her those options. That's also living out incredible morality in the world.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you to react to what I think are quite extraordinary figures. The U.K. minister for international development -- and, of course, the U.K. government is partnering with you in this effort - - has said that if this program is successful, it could lead to 100 million fewer unwanted pregnancies, 200,000 lives saved and, here, 50 million abortions averted.

Is that not a figure that you can take to the Catholic hierarchy and show them, that this could actually help in that area where they are obviously so concerned?

GATES: Yes, and the -- and the other figure, which is we will save the lives of 3 million babies over the next eight years. So to be able to avert 50 million abortions and be able to save -- no woman wants to be in that situation. But because we haven't offered access to contraceptives in the villages where the women live, in Nairobi, in Korogocho in the slums, we're putting women in that situation.

We don't need to do that. We can simply give them contraception. And that's where I think we can built constituency around that, both inside religious organizations and with many, many women and men around the world.

AMANPOUR: So what is your next step? You're here, you've promised this money. You've said that it's your life's work. You're obviously prepared to take on the Catholic Church, the hierarchy on this. What is your next step in trying to make what you call this common-sense argument, even in the economic field? You've called it a virtuous economic circle if families are more sensibly planned.

GATES: Well, we know from incredible research that was done in Bangladesh in the late 1970s that if you give a community, a woman, access to contraceptives, we know that she's healthier. We know her children stay alive and are healthier.

We know the family is wealthier and those children get educated. And what that leads to is self-sustainability, where the family can plan, feed the children, educate them and it ultimately lifts up a community and a region.

And guess what? It does lead to economic growth. And I think that's an argument that all leaders accept. Families want to get on the path to self-sustainability. They don't want to have aid forever, and we can offer that.

AMANPOUR: Melinda Gates, thank you so much for joining me from London.

And, of course, Jane Otai as well, who does so much work on urban health care over there in Kenya.

Both of you, thanks for joining me from London.

GATES: Thank you.

OTAI: Thank you very much.


AMANPOUR: And of course it's worth remembering that in the latter part of the 20th century, global family planning and population control was considered an issue of national security for the United States and it remained so until the `80s, when politics and religion brought all that to a screeching halt.

And so from contraception we turn to another urgent and controversial issue, and that's climate change.

But first, take a look at this picture. This graphic demonstration of how to use a condom is vital in India, where overpopulation is a crisis that threatens every aspect of society. And one wonders what would happen if men were the ones to get pregnant. And we'll be right back.



AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And now to the groundbreaking study which finally and unsurprisingly establishes the human connection to recent extreme weather in the United States and around the world.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, say manmade climate change, quote, "significantly increase the odds of severe drought, devastating heat waves and freakishly warm winters." With me now is climate scientist, Peter Demenocal from Columbia University.

Thank you very much indeed for joining me. First and foremost, to you, what is the significance of this study that's caused such concern this week?

PROF. PETER DEMENOCAL, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: So the significance of the study is really that this is the human face of climate change. This is what matters to people on the ground. Frankly, people don't care too much that global temperatures may rise 1, 2 or 3 degrees centigrade in the next 50 years. That's a timeframe and a horizon that just is not that meaningful to them.

What matters is what's happening to you on the ground, and that's what this is about.

AMANPOUR: So what you mean is the droughts that are killing crops, the weather that's causing these raging wildfires, is that what you mean specifically?

DEMENOCAL: Precisely. I mean, the people who are as people live their daily lives, what they're experiencing is the weather, is the climate. And this is what is one of the sort of hidden stories of climate change, is that what climate change does, the actual act of climate change on the ground is that it changes the extremes in weather, which is what we experience day to day.

AMANPOUR: So what it does is give a much more vigorous change in the extremes. In other words, these weather changes used to be more even, and now they're much more extreme. Is that basically what it is?

DEMENOCAL: That's a very good way of summarizing it. So an easy way to think about it is that the likelihood of having an unusually warmer or colder winter -- so usually warmer summer or colder winter -- was roughly 1:1 in the 1960s. And now, that number now is 10:1.

AMANPOUR: That's quite a big difference.

DEMENOCAL: It's a huge difference.

AMANPOUR: So this study took six so-called weather events and they weren't events that happened last week or even this summer. It's from last year. But nonetheless, what is significant about it? Is it because they're analyzing things that actually are quite recent and not from, you know, decades ago?

DEMENOCAL: I think what's interesting about it is that it places very well-known events, very large, significant events -- so these are things that are what we sometimes call one or two or three sigma events. That is they're so out far -- so outside the range of normal that they deserve attention.

And so the focus is trying to explain them. And so how do you explain a weather event, a heat wave or a flood or a storm on -- how do you attribute that to a natural cause or to a manmade cause? And therein lies the difficulty.

AMANPOUR: And they did attribute, for instance, the freakish November in Britain last year, this past one, and the Texas droughts last year, to manmade causes.

DEMENOCAL: Right. And so the --

AMANPOUR: How did they do that?

DEMENOCAL: So the buzzword now is that rather than trying to attribute a specific event to global warming, so to say that today is -- let's say it's unseasonably hot today here in New York. It's not that bad. Let's just say it's unseasonably hot here. It would be wrong for me to say this is due to global warming, because I would be attributing 100 percent of the unusual warmth today to global warming.

However, if we have a heat wave that's coming through and it's one of a series of heat waves that we've had since the springtime, which is the case, this higher frequency of heat waves is really unusual. And you can look at the problem from that perspective, from a probabilistic perspective. And that's what they've done.

AMANPOUR: And it's about the increase of greenhouse gases being emitted?

DEMENOCAL: Right. And so what you can do is you can look -- fortunately, we've got temperature records, actual thermometer records from around the world, that go back at least 150 years on every continent.

And so you can look at those records and look at the early industrial period, when greenhouse gases were low in concentration and they've taken off exponentially toward the present .

So really the maximum climate force, if you will, is just the last 40 or 50 years. So you can compare an early interval to a later interval and ask this question, how unusual were extreme warm events in the, let's say, 1950s or `60s -- or pick an era that was earlier, versus today, or the last 20 years or the last 10 years.

AMANPOUR: Interestingly, in these six events that this groundbreaking study did actually look at, they also looked at the Bangkok floods, and they determined that that, in fact, as bad as they were, was not about unusual rainfall. So it wasn't about climate change or manmade climate change

DEMENOCAL: Yes. So as any farmer will attest, rainfall is a very hard thing to -- it's not hard to quantify but it's a very hard thing to predict and it's a hard thing to measure. Rainfall can happen in very short, discrete events. It can happen as small rainfall events over a long period of time.

Rainfall has a very different, what we call (inaudible) nature. It tends to happen in short events, in discrete events, randomly distributed through time. Temperature, on the other hand, has this large sort of global regional signal.

AMANPOUR: Right. What about the skeptics? Obviously we know that the overwhelming amount of science shows that there is this human link. There are always, though, the skeptics who will just say this is just part of historic weather patterns. What does this kind of study do to that argument?

DEMENOCAL: So first of all, I'd like to correct the idea of skeptics. Scientists, by their nature, by their profession, are skeptics. My job is basically to -- my role is to disprove my peer. And if I can show that my science is somehow superior to theirs, I get a donut. I get something better.

That's our role. That's the basis of our life --


AMANPOUR: OK, then climate denial (ph) --

DEMENOCAL: So you have the climate deniers is what they are. And because they are denying the facts and the facts are irrefutable in terms of -- you can look at it in terms of the global mean temperature. It's irrefutable (inaudible) the Earth is warming, absolutely beyond any reasonable doubt. And this -- actually, the skeptics are on board with this.

It's the deniers, as we have said, are in agreement that global temperatures are rising. But then if you ask them -- and this is something I would ask your viewers to do -- if you ask someone who's a denier and say, well, then, what is causing this unusual warmth, because we know it is warming, then they balk.

AMANPOUR: So does this thing just put more ammunition in your camp?

DEMENOCAL: Absolutely, because this is -- this idea --


AMANPOUR: (Inaudible) reviewed and there's 400 scientists (inaudible) nearly 50 countries around the world that came up with these conclusions.

DEMENOCAL: Right. And the whole peer review process is a very combative event. Sometimes we call climate science a full contact sport, because it's gotten that way. The stakes are so high that we're out to really make sure the science that comes out is topnotch and that there's no room for second grade science. And so your ability to publish in these top-rated journals is extremely difficult.

AMANPOUR: And what about doing something about this now? I mean, everywhere I read, it looks like it's a race against time. You're a young man, but some of the really well-known climate scientists who discovered global warming are coming to the end of their productive lives. And this issue seems to be so difficult to gain traction.

DEMENOCAL: It's true. And I think the way that we gain traction on this is to move or advance the argument to moving away from this slow rise in global temperature to focusing on the things that matter to people. What matter to people is the security of food, of water and of their home. That's food is related to heat events and crop yields, what's going on in - -

AMANPOUR: In the Midwest.

DEMENOCAL: -- in the Midwest right now. (Inaudible) we had a bumper crop and now they're looking at losing a lot of it. Water availability, climate change controls water availability. You know, the access to water is fundamental. And it's amazing to me that we're playing with these stakes.

AMANPOUR: Professor, thank you very much indeed for joining me.

DEMENOCAL: Thank you for having me.

AMANPOUR: Climate change, as we've seen, put us all in jeopardy. But mankind has also other ways of self-destructing, war being chief amongst them. Bosnia was once the battleground, but today a solemn anniversary as the victims are still being buried and the living still wait for justice. That story when we come back.


AMANPOUR: And a final thought tonight, throughout this program we've discussed how very human choices impact our life on this planet and nowhere is that more vividly and painfully seen than in war.

Imagine a world where long after the guns go silent, the burial of the dead goes on. Seventeen years after Europe's worst massacre since World War II, another 520 coffins were driven through the streets of Sarajevo today, this week, where they were met by prayers and flowers.

They were on their way to Srebrenica, the Bosnian village where 8,000 Muslim boys and men were singled out and slaughtered as part of the Bosnian Serb campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Today on the 17th anniversary of that massacre, those coffins were buried amongst thousands of others, while across Europe in The Hague, all these years later, justice for the victims is still being pursued. The Bosnian Serb commander, Ratko Mladic, charged with this genocide, is on trial and the first witnesses have begun to speak for the living and for the dead.

That's it for tonight's program. Thank you for watching. And stay tuned. Meantime, at our website, you can always read a piece from an activist calling for the entire world to react to that public execution of Afghan woman. She was shot 13 times in front of a cheering crowd.