Skip to main content

tv   Tech Know  Al Jazeera  February 17, 2016 4:30am-5:01am EST

4:30 am
gradual, he is still home his volunteer group is setting an example that will eventually be taken up nationwide. adrian brown just a reminder that you can always find out what's going on around the world from our correspondents, all that kind of stuff on humanity but we are doing it in a unique way. this is a show about science by scientists. tonight "techknow" investigates climate change. >> i can really feel it vibrating now. >> it's science versus politics. >> do you know what this is? it's a snowball.
4:31 am
>> from a city in the grips of climate crisis. >> neighbors were coming down. everybody was helping each other, pushing the cars. >> to the epicentre of a political debate. >> carbon pollution is co2, and that's really not a polutant, it's a plant food. >> we go to the front lines of a debate that may not be decided. >> they're gonna raise the sidewalks... >> that must be what - two feet? until it's too late. >> as mayor, i don't have the liberty or time to debate why climate change is happening. >> dr. shini somara is a mechanical engineer. >> with all of that innovation do you think it's actually going to solve the problem. lindsay moran is an ex-cia operative and analyst. >> why is this issue political? dr crystal dilworth is a molecular neuroscientist. >> why does a small segment of scientists not believe? i'm phil torres. i'm an entomologist. >> wow! that was something else, i mean it was a real rush for me. >> that's our team. now let's do some science. [ ♪ ]
4:32 am
hey guys - welcome to "techknow", i'm phil torres joined by lindsay moran, dr. crystal dilworth and dr. shini somara. it's a debate that somehow is still raging on - is the climate changing, is man to blame and is there anything we can do to stop the disaster. most agree the answers is yes. that's most scientists, not all of them. shini, crystal, lindsay, you each had a piece of the story. >> at the c.i.a. i was trained to analyse complex and sometimes contradictory data. climate change fits into that model as well. washington d.c. - politics are part of the equation. no matter what the science is, there's going to be contentious debate. >> i had a different experience. i was dealing with the scientists and citizens who are not debating if climate change is happening, but they are living it now. >> i think it's interesting that both sides of the debate
4:33 am
claim to be on the side of science, and use studies as ammunition. we wanted to know who is right. things got interesting. >> as scientists we are trained to look at the data and go from there. that's what we try to keep in mind as we delve into the debate - the politics of climate change. >> the picture esque sunrise on the strip of miami beach florida hides the danger facing the tourist island. >> florida is sort of an epicentre for climate impacts those are forcing a massive city-wide reconstruction effort, turning miami beach into a real-life laboratory to deal with a climate changing all-too fast. florida is not alone, as "techknow" discovered. travelling around the world to talk to experts on the forefront of climate science. we flew with n.a.s.a. - as they measured the arctic ice melt on greenland's glaciers, marking another year
4:34 am
of decline. >> the climate of the arctic has been changing. we travel to peru, where rain forests are declining. >> in 2005 there was the biggest drought in the amazon, in the history of our records. 2010, five years later, a bigger drought hit the amazon. these are the climate projections playing out before our eyes. >> we saw a core sample from the last ice age, to get a comparison on how quickly greenhouse gases are accumulating today. this sample represents 3,000 years of changing of carbon dioxide. >> the equivalent change of greenhouse gases that happened in the last decade took thousands of years to happen when the earth was not being influenced by humans. these scientists reflect the fact that 97% of all research published on climate change say
4:35 am
it's fuelled by manmade greenhouse gas emissions. >> as scientists we barely agree on anything. to say 97% of climate experts say the climate system is warming today is phenomenal. scientists aside some politicians are not buying it. >> it changes, it gets hot and cold, >> but man made? isn't that the question? >> then why did the dinosaurs go extinct? dinosaurs aside, "techknow" went to washington d.c. where a herd of lawmakers don't agree with the scientists we interviewed. like republican senator jeff sessions questioning e.p.a. administrator geena mccarthy. >> would you acknowledge that over the last 18 years, that the increase in temperature has been very little, and that it is well below most of the environmental
4:36 am
models that showed how fast temperature would increase. >> no, i would not agree with that. a 1 degree temperature is significant. >> carbon pollution is co2, it's not a pollutant. it's a plant food. it doesn't harm anyone, except temperature increases. that senator is not alone. >> as we hear, 2014 has been the warmest year on record. do you know what this is? it's a snowball. and that is from outside here. so it's very, very cold out. >> i'm not a scientist. i'm not qualified to debate the science over climate change. >> i'm not a scientist, and i don't claim to be. >> i'm not a scientist either. but you know what, i know a lot of really good scientists, at n.a.s.a., and noah, and at our major universities. topping obama's list of experts is dr john holdren, director of the office of
4:37 am
science and technology. techknow's lindsay moran met with him just steps from the oval office. >> what we are facing is human-driven changes in the global climate that are producing more hot days, heatwaves, extreme downpours and wildfires and droughts. sea level is rising. the ocean is acidifying because it absorbs excess carbon dioxide that humans have added to the atmosphere, into the ocean but on captiol hill, republican james inhofe, chairman of the powerful senate, environmental and public works committee, disputes the idea that humans are fueling climate change. >> the climate is changing and always has. he led a 98-1 vote agreeing that climate change is not a hoax. >> the hoax is people are so arrogant that they think they have the power to change climate. that is the hoax, not the fact that climate is changing.
4:38 am
"techknow" invited that senator and the other republican members from the environmental committee to appear. all declined or did not respond. >> first of all, it's interesting that senator inhofe argued only god could change the climate and not long after the pope issued a statement saying the human impacts on climate is a great test for humanity. >> why is this issue political in this country? >> the fundamental reason is the misperception that being in favour of addressing the climate change challenge is against jobs in the economy. >> i'm not afraid to stand up to big oil. it does us no good to punish manufacturing in missouri, when india and china put up a coal fired plant every 10 minutes, it's the same atmosphere. >> there's a lot of people in the political sphere that think if you admit the reality of climate change, you are inviting
4:39 am
a degree of government regulation that will be too pervasive, too intrusive, and against the general inclinations, particularly of political parties and factions anti-regulation. >> do you think substantial contributions from the fossil fuel industry is a factor in the politics of climate change? >> i think that obviously has to be recognised as a factor one strong anti-regulation voice is dr patrick michaels, director of the center for the study of science at the cato institute. this libertarian think-tank was co-founded by charles koch in 1974. today, koch and his brother david head koch industries, one of the largest private companys in america. through their company and foundations they donate to politicians and issues surrounding the fossil fuel industry. let's start really simply,
4:40 am
does climate change exist? >> of course, climate change has existed since the earth got an atmosphere. >> is climate change manmade. >> some of it has a human cause, that's correct. >> but michaels is among a group of scientist cited by senator inhofe that believe the worsening climate change models are wrong. >> i would argue that every model that we have - i wouldn't argue, these are facts, okay. shows that if we drop our emissions to zero, we don't do anything really detectable over the course of 100 years. that's incontrovertible reality coming from our own environmental protection agency's models. >> that is the most irrelevant comment i have ever heard. "techknow's crystal dilworth turned dr. burton richter, a nobel prize-winning physicist, to fact check arguments about climate change. >> it will be destructive.
4:41 am
it's still going to have big consequences. >> so the argument that it doesn't matter what we do, we're not going to be able to make a difference. >> i don't understand the point of that. this is a world issue. the question is what is the world going to do about the temperature rise. >> if you look at the temperatures measured in the lower atmosphere, by satellites, or you look at all four analyse of the weather balloon data, 5,000 to 20,000 feet in the atmosphere. the disparity between the average of the 107 united nations computer models, the disparity between the trends predicted by them, average trends, and what is measured by weather balloons and satellite is stunning. >> first of all there's not 107. there are 25 of general
4:42 am
circulation models. all this stuff about layers in the atmosphere, and all that, it's a question that we do not fully understand. where is the heat going? the big surprise in the period when the surface temperature stayed relatively constant is the temperature of the oceans is still going up. to stick your head in the sand and say everything is all right when it's not - that is foolish. >> we talked to patrick michaels at the cato institute, who has a bit of press for his belief that the federal government has no business mitigating climate change. >> i think he's just wrong about that. obviously i strongly disagree. it's a little like the arguments that used to go on about tobacco smoking and cancer, where
4:43 am
for years there were people who disputed that smoking is implicated in lung cancer. the fact is in modern societies there's a lot of activities that people might want to undertake, that are regulated by the government, because it's in society's interests to minimise the damage from those activities. it's true of smoking and climate change coming up... ..while politicians argue the merits of climate change, miami beach can't wait. >> that bay is not republican, it's not democrat, it knows no limits. >> we want to hear what you think about these stories. join the conversation by following us on twitter and at
4:44 am
4:45 am
4:46 am
miami beach florida. >> the whole planet comes here to have fun. >> this is an unbelievable place to live. it's the hottest city in the world. >> reporter: walking down the strip of miami beach, it's easy to see why it's a tourist mecca. it is vulnerable to rising sea level. most of it was built not more than four feet above the tide lines. how they are dealing with it in miami may become a blueprint for the rest of the country. >> we have pictures two blocks from here of people on kayaks when it's high tide and floods. >> reporter: valerie lives a block from the bay and paid the price of sea rise when her condo's parking area turned into a swimming pool. >> by the time you realised what was going on, neighbors came
4:47 am
down, everyone helping each other. most of us lost our cars. >> you see water in the streets during sunny days without rain. >> reporter: sandwiched between the atlantic ocean and biscayne bay high tide in miami beach has been inching up. up by a third of an inch, and in the last five years accelerating at 1.27 inches annually. >> 2 feet of sea level rise is projected from roughly 2040 to 2060. when we get to that point the people on the high ground will be dry. these people will have issues with salt water in their yards. >> reporter: pete is a geographic systems coordinator at florida international university. >> this shows a rise. >> reporter: by 2100 miami beach florida could disappear under six feet of sea level rise.
4:48 am
there's an effort to save the city. to the casual observer it may look like a construction nightmare. as an engineer i can tell you the challenges through the city are massive. and the solutions impressive. >> i thank each and every one of you for being here. it's a great cause - keep the city dry. >> reporter: all this pumps. >> we'll put in 70 to 80 across the city. >> reporter: first-time mayor philip levine is overseeing pumps, each moving 14,000 gallons of water a minute. >> so what exactly is going on here? >> this over here is - they are dewatering the ground and putting in filtration systems to make sure the pumps in the ground will put out water that will be cleaner and back into the bay. >> reporter: the problem is not just water topping sea walls,
4:49 am
but water bubbling up from below. miami beach is built on porous limestone that absorbs the rising water. as the limestone is saturated by rising sea, there's an upsurge of water through the sewer system. so far 8 pumps have been installed, and seem to be doing the trick. >> we think we have a great 50-60 year solution. after that human innovation and technology, we believe, will catch up. >> this is the first type anyone did this on a city-wide scale. we'll make mistakes... >> we are the pioneers. >> i like it. >> reporter: with a lifetime in miami, dan is a retired boat cap feign and is an environmental activist. he took us on a tour of the city's efforts. >> let me show you something. they'll raise the sidewalks. look at that. >> reporter: that's what, 2 feet. >> at least 2 feet. it's fine for this building, they have raised the base of the
4:50 am
building. but for that house there, the door will be two feet below the sidewalk. >> reporter: what is different building? >> the first floor is 6 feet off the ground. if you have to leave this building, we'll be leaving miami beach. >> reporter: keeping everyone here by installing pumps, building sea walls and raising the streets and buildings comes with a big price tag. it sounds necessary but how much will it cost? >> $300 million to $400 million. we expect to go to the state and federal government. >> florida's construction changes are not the only obstacle. dr ben curtman, a researcher joined a group of climate scientists for a meeting with florida's republican governor, rick scott - posted online. >> when we are trying to get resources from the state of
4:51 am
florida they can't talk about the climate change part of it. >> christopher is a former florida state attorney, woing on waterway issues. he told al jazeera america he was put on notice. >> they said if you know what's good for you we will not use the terms climate change, global warming, sea level rise or sustainability. >> reporter: governor scott denies there's a policy against discussing climate change. >> department of environment protection - look, there's lots issue. >> what is hard for politicians to get their head around is how to respond to what will happen in 2100. >> reporter: that's when miami beach could be under 6 feet of water. what is your opinion when republicans say man has not caused climate change. >> as mayor, i don't have the liberty or time to debate why climate change is happening. all i have is the opportunity to fix it.
4:52 am
that bay is not republican, it's not democrate, it knows no limits. no matter who pays the bill. it will be a short-term fix. with all the innovation that's proposed, do you think it will solve the problem. >> no, it will not solve the problems. miami will need to produce new technologies, invest money to counterbalance the pressure by sea level rise. >> reporter: what about residents that have been here their entire lifetime, what will they do? >> i have been here my entire life. i know for a fact that i'll have to leave. >> reporter: coming up on techknow, simulating category 5 hurricanes in a tank.
4:53 am
4:54 am
4:55 am
this bit of land on florida's virginia key is home to a hurricane simulation lab at the home for marine and atmospheric science. it feels like a giant swimming pool. >> roughly the size of a large swimming pool. >> reporter: dr brian house runs "sustain" - short for: surge, structure, atmosphere interaction facility. why is it important to recreate the conditions in a chamber? >> there's a couple of things that we are keen to figure out. what causes hurricanes to intensify, to go from a cat 3 to a cat 5 in less than 24 hours, and is important not just for hurricanes, but climate change issues >> reporter: we were invited to see a full-speed
4:56 am
demonstration. >> there's no computer model that gets to the physics of what's when the high wind is ripping the top off a wave. >> reporter: researchers want a better understanding of the transfer of heat from the ocean surface and sea spray to the atmosphere. what wind speeds are we at now? >> at the equivalent 80 miles per hour, category 1 storm. >> reporter: the house is battered and it's only category 1. >> the large waves and wind - that's what we are trying to capture. >> reporter: sensors track the force pushing against the structure. >> we need to understand how buildings can be resilient to these conditions. >> reporter: time to crank it up to full speed, 150 miles per hour, a category 5 hurricane.
4:57 am
>> reporter: i can really feel it vibrating now. everything is shaking. >> that was something else. that was a real rush for me. studying a storm in a tank is not just an academic exercise for the researchers here. >> we have chosen to live here, to have our families and homes here in this place where we are just above sea level. it's a personal issue for us. the reality on the ground there in miami is so drastic, but also it seems like a different reality than what they have in d.c. >> true, but what is interesting to me is the department of defense moved beyond the politics. this is their 2014 climate change adaptation roadmap, and they have accepted that climate change is happening. it's going to impact the national security, it's a threat multiplier, it will have affects
4:58 am
on military installations, they are not worried about the politics or what causes it. they are making plans for the future. >> whether there's a debate politically, scientifically, 97% of published papers are in agreement. only three percent disagree and yet everyone focuses on that. it is interesting, because the 3% is necessary for scientific process. you need to have the main conclusions challenged in some way. >> the people are scientists, crystal. who are they? >> they are contrarians. when you look at the 3% that don't agree with the other 97, what does that mean? oftentimes in science we are taking a narrow look at a specific thing, and that doesn't necessarily fit in the context of the whole. this debate and view is important. unless you add up the tiny little measurements and look at the big picture, you are not understanding the whole problem.
4:59 am
>> obviously this is a discussion we could have for hours. it is fascinating. and as the science advances, as the politics advance, we will stay on it. be sure to check us out next time on techknow, we'll bring you more. go behind the scenes at follow our expert contributors on google. facebook, and more.
5:00 am
>> jazz jazz welcome to the newshour. these are some of the stories we are covering in the next 60 minutes. china accused of deploying missiles to a contested island in the south china sea. hundreds of trucks packed with aid head to besieged towns in syria. >> and reports from a rebel base in myanmar, as the new government seeks to


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on