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Wild Fires in LA Rage on; Interview with Bill Nye. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired December 7, 2017 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, hundreds of thousands evacuate as fires rage out of control in Las Angeles and other ritzy areas of
Southern California. On the shields of a year's long drought, we break down the connection to climate change. Plus it's a long time since we've
seen American flags up in flames.
In the west bank, outrage of President Trump's ruling on Jerusalem. Rulers say it dangerously diminishes America's power in one of the most contested
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AMANPOUR: Good Evening everyone and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London with the world view. Imagine sitting in your
car surrounded by this.
AMANPOUR: Fires continue to rage through Southern California at a terrifying pace. At one point, an acre per second went up in flames,
forcing 100,000 people to flea their homes. One fire is blazing in Las Angeles while another farther north is so massive and so out of control,
it's now twice the size of Washington dc and it is not contained.
Once more, it's expected to get worse with hurricane strength winds predicted to whip through. Now, an astronaut said the view of this
disaster from space where you can clearly see earlier today, proems of smoke stretching out over the ocean. So let's go right to the scene and
Paul Vercammen is in southern California right near the massive Thomas fire. Paul, I mean, just looking at you, you can barely see behind you
it's so fogged with smoke.
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN REPORTER: It is. The smoke is just absolutely horrendous and the air quality here, I'm on the Ventura County, Santa
Barbara County border north of Las Angeles. It is horrendous air quality, just absolutely chocking people. You can see, this is one of the leading
edges of that so called Thomas fire that you were talking about.
It has burned 96,000 acres. There are 2,500 fire fighters on lines, they're not going up into those canyons but I can tell you, I've seen at
least 50 engines in and around this area. This is where they are making a stand. It's burning down this hill, one thing they have going for them,
they're going to use this as a defense. These are orchards in and around here, especially avocados and lemons.
They think that they can keep it from going into much more populous Santa Barbara County and the nearby City of Carpinteria. It has been an absolute
mennis of a fire, a monster. The winds are relatively calm right now. Something that's really been effecting them ever single day, Christiane, is
the sun goes down and those so called Santa Ana winds also known as sundowner winds come in from on shore and then go whipping toward the ocean
and cause all sorts of havoc.
They say they've lost 150 structures here. That's an inaccurate count, the reason being is they haven't been able to get out and do what they call
detailed damage assessment. They say that number is sure to go up. Good news, however, there has been no loss of life, at least here on this Thomas
AMANPOUR: I mean, Paul that is incredible because when you think of the speed of this fire, the acreage that your talking about the hurricane force
winds that are expected again. But people are being caught in terrible traffic jams on the highway there trying to get out. Do you know where
they're all going?
VERCAMMEN: Well, if you're like us and you're staying in a hotel. They're going to hotels; they're bringing their families there. Some of them are
going with relatives and others are going to evacuation centers and there's just been mass closures as well throughout these counties.
I mean, the schools are shut down and they're trying to do everything they can to make the roads passable so the firefighters can do their job. One
thing, as you look behind me, you can see these flames burning but you don't hear the helicopters.
Right now, a little too dangerous to get them up and the military is also joining in the fight, there's an air wing not far from here that's a
National Guard air wing and they have literally converted those C-130 aircraft into fire fighting planes. They can drop up to 3,000 gallons of
fire retardant at once and that air wing is having it's own difficulties.
We were told by a major there that three of those members of that National Guard unit lost their houses, 50 others have been evacuated and they were
about to fly yesterday getting up over this fire eight missions and they dropped 18,000 gallons of retardant.
It is a well coordinated - it's a military effort right now when they go after this and they're begging the public to help and the public has been
They've been staying off the roads there have not been the sort of look you lose that sometimes you see with big events and that's the last thing they
want to deal with right now, Christiane, is some person snapping off a picture on their Iphone on a road that they desperately need to get to the
AMANPOUR: Right, I mean it is really extraordinary and the way you describe it as this sort of military operation to try to combat it and it's
not the first time this year. So, Paul thanks so much from Southern California and next we ask is there a connection to climate change and what
Science educator Bill Nye known to millions of Americans as simply the Science Guy made his name with a hit T.V. show for children and now he's
back with a new show trying to teach adults including climate change deniers to do something about it.
BILL NYE, HOST, BILL NYE SAVES THE WORLD: In Miami, Pensacola, Galveston these are all U.S. cities. Portsmouth all these exotic places like
Norfolk, Virginia are going to have this much water on the floor all the time. So, people are going to leave. Where are they going to go? What
are they going to do? We got to address this problem people, it's not magic. It's science.
AMANPOUR: Well, Bill Nye you are joining me from New York, thank you very much for being with us tonight. And it is extraordinary, you're a bit of a
cult hero in America and people are hopefully going to listen to you. How do you feel you're getting through? Because much of your target audience
now are as you say the deniers.
NYE: Well, my target audience now is people who are older than kids and keep in mind I was in Los Angeles the day before yesterday and there was
smoke everywhere and I can appreciate how difficult it's getting. Now keep in mind that fires are part of the climate predictions that climatologists
have been saying this is a danger for the last 20 years at least.
I've been on CNN for a couple decades now talking about climate change and this is one of the manifestations that many people have trouble accepting.
This is to say when we have a hurricane and there's an enormous amount rainfall in a short period of time people can often connect that flooding
with increased ocean temperatures. Which then can drive a hurricane or cyclone to be more powerful then it was in previous decades.
But, this drying out of the forest floor and then having a fire start and then blowing at very altitude from one tree top to another, so called
crowning that's what they call it in firefighting is just not in your everyday experience. And the other thing about Los Angeles is that so much
of the city itself, the city limits are pretty much rural.
There are coyotes and deer that live in the city limits of Los Angeles and this has to do with the difference between Hollywood and where people call
the Valley. There's a mountain range in the city limits and so when you get these hillsides and these extraordinary winds that move from what
climatologists will refer to as the Great Basin.
Other people call the state of Nevada. They come - the jet stream that many people are familiar with goes West to East across North America, but
these winds move East to West and so a lot of it is just out of your everyday experience. But this is what climate scientists have been talking
about 20 years, 30 years.
AMANPOUR: But this is what, sorry.
NYE: So, my audience now is you.
AMANPOUR: But this is what is so extraordinary. I mean you've been talking about it for a long time and yet it is still considered by some almost
heresy if we bring up and even raise the question, oh my goodness what is that connect? Where are the dots between forest fires and climate change?
I mean you've laid it out really well and I don't know would you think that this is not the first time in California that we've had forest fires this
year and the massive hurricanes all summer. Do you feel that there's any change in the community about accepting this now?
NYE: Yes, for two reasons. First of all people have noticed I think people I meet and speak with have noticed the extraordinary events. Just
imagine everybody if this is the new normal. If you can expect this sort of drying out of vegetation every year and these sort of fires every year.
Just think if these hurricanes are going to come if not every year every 2 or 3 or 5 years.
If nothing else the cost of this, of these events is extraordinary. Right now California is the sixth largest economy in the world. The California
economy is bigger than France. You don't want a, of that of France, you don't want to shut down this enormous economy. Just look at it that way
NYE: And then the climate deniers are, as I like to say, ageing out.
NYE: People are getting older and not voting. And so I'm hoping that the millennial generation, coming along now, will start to get this done.
AMANPOUR: You know it is really incredible the way you lay it out and the demographics and the politics of it. We know that all over the world if
there's one issue that energizes young people, it is climate. But talking about aging, you know the governor of California is not the youngest man in
the world but he is incredibly committed to fighting climate change.
And I spoke to him, as he was representing, sort of an alternate US delegation to a climate conference here in Europe a couple of weeks ago.
When yet more fires were raging, and this is what he told me that his state is doing, that everybody's trying to do in California about climate change.
JERRY BROWN, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: Well we have 30 percent of our energy renewable, it will be 50 percent in a few more years. We have a strong
policy for electric and (ph) vehicles. We have a cap and trade system, a low carbon fuel standard. We have very strict energy efficiency for
buildings, for appliances. We have our land use rules now being aligned with a lower carbon foot print.
We're doing everything we can and other states are joining with us. In the United States, and 204 of them around the world so we're doing a lot. But
to get the job done, we need the United States leadership along with China and India and all the major countries, that's where we have to go. The
alternative is unthinkable.
AMANPOUR: So, Bill Nye, I also asked his whether it's OK, it's enough for states and mayor to do their bit. And he said no, the federal government
really has to pitch in as well. And as you know better than I do, the Trump administration is pulling back from all sorts of laws that are all
ready in place to help combat this.
NYE: So here, you know, it's called our country here, is called the United States and since it's inception over 200 years ago, there's been this
tension between the rights of state governments and rights of the federal government. Well quite often, state government rights are asserted to
suppress things like the teaching of evolution or to, to have conflict over whether or not a woman is enabled or allowed to have an abortion.
For example, well, to those people, I say, be careful what you wish for. California is such an enormous economy, that the motor vehicle standards
that come from California affect all car sales, really all over the world. And so, if California for example, puts in to place climate change
policies, those policies are going to effect with whom or what other states they do business with, California does business with and this will have a
So the sooner we all start working together, the better. Instead of having conflict over this, let's get to work. There's three things we want for
everybody in the world, we want clean water, renewably produced and reliable electricity, and access to the internet. If we can provide that
to everybody in the world, we will be addressing climate change and preserving the quality of life for everyone on earth. This is in
everyone's best interest. And I really appreciate you guys well having me back on air. I've been talking about this on CNN for decades. This is
another moment to get to work.
AMANPOUR: Exactly, and then you've been talking all over the place. So the science guy, Bill Nye, thank you so much for joining us tonight.
NYE: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And from those wild fires raging in California to the real human dynamic, the rage on the streets in the occupied West Bank as President
Trump's decision on Jerusalem begins to sink in there and around the world. Protesters took to the streets; our crew was caught up in trashes when
Israeli soldiers fired water cannons and tear gas at protesters. Here's what it felt like for correspondent, Ian Lee.
IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tear gas is coming in. Yes, we're out. Yes, army, looks like they're moving in, pushing people back. Are you all
right? Ibira (ph), are you all right? Where's Brett (ph)? You all right? All right, good. Yes, I'm OK. We're all OK. You guys OK? All right.
AMANPOUR: So we haven't actually seen this in years. You've got people now waving U.S. flags and burning them and even burning an effigy of the
president. Now earlier today as leaders from the Muslim world and Europe were saying that declaring Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was reckless
and dangerous, particularly for the United States. I spoke to the E.U's Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini. She joins me from Brothels on
the prospects for Middle East peace now, and whether America's credibility as a peace broker can survive this.
Federica Mongherini, welcome to the program. Let us start with Jerusalem and what has happened over the last 24 hours. Has this move by President
Trump against everbyody's advice, has it derailed the possibility of a meaningful Middle East peace process at least for the foreseeable future?
FEDERICA MONGHERINI, E.U. FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: We in the European Union will try to avoid that. I can be frank on this. We need to keep the two
states perspective alive. The risks of not doing this are unacceptable first of all for the security of Israel and for the same existence of the
Palestinians and for the stability in the region. The region is already trouble enough with different conflicts and confrontations to increase and
escalate. That is the most ancient conflict of the region. It can be indeed very dangerous.
AMANPOUR: Famously, there you were in Europe with Secretary of State, Tillerson, dressed in black - dare I say it's a little bit funereal - and
you said the following before this announcement by President Trump.
MONGHERINI: The European Union supports the resumption of a meaningful peace process towards a two-state solution. We believe that any action
that would undermine these efforts must absolutely be avoided.
AMANPOUR: So did those statements from President Trump undermine that effort?
MONGHERINI: I believe that the statement that President Trump made makes it more difficult for the United States to play a role to re-launch a peace
process - a meaningful peace process, and I believe it is dangerous because it puts the Arab world and the Palestinians into a difficult position. And
as you have seen in these hours, the world is united in criticizing or disagreeing with this decision, and I often wear black so no symbolism on
that. But we are not going to change our position.
AMANPOUR: Having recommended and urged along with every other international leader, the president not take this step. What did you feel
when actually clearly were watching the announcement and the speech from the White House yesterday?
MONGHERINI: Well it came as no surprise. We discussed this with Rex Tillerson the day before. They knew our disagreements on this step (ph)
and we were not taken by surprise. It was exactly what we expected. What worries me the most is this, that together with the United States we were
working on the re-launch of the peace process. Together with the Israelis, the Palestinians, and this step undermines the capacity of the United
States to play that role together with the rest of international community.
This is dangerous, and this is dangerous also I think for the United States because it diminishes their potential role in the conflict and in the
region, and it risks to inflame the region in a quite dangerous manner.
AMANPOUR: Can we quote for you Secretary of State Tillerson's spokesman who said, "allies have been very frank today in sharing some of their
views." I mean that's obviously a diplomatic way of saying, "we have heard you push back very heavily." Is that the case?
MONGHERINI: Yes, we've been very frank, very open, very candid. As journalist would put it, we had a frank and constructive exchange, and this
is good because you do not have and you cannot hide points of disagreement especially if you're friends. We hope to see the United States still
playing an important role in this, but I simply look around reactions, especially in the Arab world, and, as I said, my impression is that this
move has discredited a bit the United States as an honest broker.
AMANPOUR: Well, right. So let's pursue that. Do you plan - do you have any expectation that you can change the Trump adminsitration's policy on
this? Get them to reverse this or modify it somehow?
MONGHERINI: This is up to the American institutions and people, and we don't interfere, this is not the European way, we expect our partners to
respect our positions, we respect our partner's positions but we say frankly when we believe they are wrong and there are mistakes and this is
AMANPOUR: Then let me ask you, and broaden it a little bit, this isn't the first collision that Europe and the rest of the world have had with
President Trump and his administration. We've had Iran, we've had Climad, we've had NATO, Article 5, et cetera, et cetera. Is it getting to a point
where you in Europe are moving from slight annoyance from the tweets and the taunts from President Trump to out right anger?
And I ask you that because the German Foreign Minister has basically said, and this is kind of extraordinary, he said it this week; that the relations
with the United States will quote "never be the same and that the Trump Administration increasingly views Europe as a competitor or economic rival
rather than an ally".
MONGHERINI: We might have deep disagreements on some policy choices on one administration or another, we are friends, we are partners, we work
together very well on a number (fronts) from (Cidia) to the (Inaudible) just to mention two and we have points on which we disagree.
AMANPOUR: So let me press you though, I find it extraordinary that the Foreign Minister of a major ally, the German Foreign Minister says quote
"relations with the United States will never be the same". Maybe he means with this administration in the United States, I don't know but those were
his words. Translate for us.
MONGHERINI: Now I don't translate from German to English also because I don't speak German, no I don't translate, that's not my job. We are
friends and we stay friends, we are partners and we stay partners.
AMANPOUR: Well Iran for instance, I know you have been very, very in the fore front of trying to persuade the congress, the administration, all of
your counter parts in the United States not to do that thing where by they pull out of Iran deal. How is it going for you on that and for American
audience what are the stakes of pulling out and undermining that nuclear deal?
MONGHERINI: Well the European perspective is that for once that we have a nuclear deal that works and this one is working. Now for two years, 35-9
times by the I.A. you should not disrupt something that works. Especially as we are seeing problems with nuclear perforation in another complicated
and dangerous parts of the world like the (PRK). If you're one (inaudible) you have to keep it.
That's North Korea, exactly. You have to keep it, for us Europeans this is a major security issue. If Iran manages to be prevented from developing a
nuclear program that is not peaceful as it is the case with the nuclear deal, this has to be preserved.
This is simple, straight forward and this keeps the European Union and the rest of the world let me say united in asking our American friends to stay
committed to their own commitments to the nuclear deal and so far I have to say that I see the United States still working within the framework of the
agreement which is a positive and welcome thing.
AMANPOUR: Frederica Mongherini, the E.U.'s Foreign Policy Chief, thank you for joining us from Brussels tonight.
MONGHERINI: Thank you, thank you Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, we've seen the wild fires tearing through California and causing people to flee their homes but imagine having to
flee your whole country because of climate change. The U.S. military and security experts say climate change could create the world's biggest
refugee crisis in just ten or twenty year's time,
So the human cost of today's crisis, whether caused by climate, conflict or economic despair, people fleeing for a better life having their hopes and
dreams manipulated by unscrupulous predators as our East Aswaras found out in Italy.
On a bitterly cold October night, young women huddle over a stove; each one waiting patiently for men. Finally across the road a car stops and one
girl runs to her client. This is Europe and these streets in Curin and Rome are their own prison.
In 2016, 11,000 Nigerian women arrived by sea in Italy according to the International Organization for Immigration. Most of who risk becoming
victims of trafficking and prostitution in Europe. Meet 17 year old Becky. She was one of them. And, she came in search of the European dream.
UNKNOWN: I just wanted to look for a better life and a better future.
SOARES: But she was tricked by a madam, a female Nigerian pimp who works for a trafficking ring. Who pays?
UNKNOWN: She pays.
SOARES: So she pays.
SOARES: But you're indebted to her. How much money do you need to pay her back?
SOARES: But her journey is fraught. Along the way she's taken prisoner and is raped at the hands of predators in Libya.
UNKNOWN: When you're sleeping at night they would just come like get up. Follow me. Sometimes they would not even take you out. They would put you
in that same room where there are other people there. Do what they have to do to you and they would just leave.
SOARES: Together with four other girls, Becky's put in a dingy to Italy. Now, here the reality of this transaction is clear.
UNKNOWN: This place you will make money, you have to sleep with men. You had better to bring EUR200 back to your madam. Maybe the highest he can
pay you is EUR30. Calculate how many men are you going to sleep with to get EUR200.
SOARES: Your whole like if going to be tied to this debt.
UNKNOWN: You keep paying, paying, paying and never get finished.
SOARES: She escaped and is now being held by (inaudible) a migrant rights and anti-trafficking organization that has rescued more than 400 women and
girls from prostitution. Like the others here she has started Italian lessons and has a job as a (inaudible). Work that allows her to reflect on
what she's endured.
UNKNOWN: Many people you ask them not to come. They would not listen to you because they feel like living abroad is the best life ever. Everybody
wants to be here, everybody wants to see what it's like but it's not what they think it is.
SOARES: It's clear for all to see what it actually is. A new slave trade of human trafficking and human misery. Eva Soares, CNN, Peidmont in
AMANPOUR: And, that's it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.