by Henry Hullah
When Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down there were 298 people on board - almost forty of them Australian.
Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten told Amanpour that the Australian government will call for answers to this tragedy in one voice.
"On this matter there is no internal political debate in Australia. We are united in our grief and we are united to get to the bottom of what's happened."
It is a point of union in the otherwise contentious arena of Australian politics.
But the opposition leader has not taken his focus off other issues that impact Australia and its future, particularly climate change.
Prime Minister Tony Abbot's current leadership has led to a unique unwinding of global warming legislation by becoming the first country to repeal a carbon tax law.
It is a decision Shorten vehemently opposed and one he fears will affect people far sooner than they think if no action is taken.
"It's not just for our children and their children. For the current generation climate change is real, and governments will need to act."
By Mick Krever, CNN
Is climate change a crisis “we can’t afford to ignore”?
“For most of decision-takers – either governments or businessmen – the main obstacle is on the economic side,” Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“So as the American campaign once said, ‘It's the economy, stupid’” – referring to the informal slogan of Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign.
A growing chorus of power brokers are making the case that tackling climate change makes economic sense above all else. The latest is Former U.S. Treasury Sectary Henry Paulson, a Republican who served under George W. Bush.
He has now joined an army of top U.S. business leaders with an economic analysis of doing nothing, called “Risky Business.”
“It is possible, completely,” Calderon said. “We can have economic growth, poverty alleviation – we can create jobs being responsible with the environment.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
The Netherlands is a country that, in some sense, shouldn’t exist.
Thirty percent of the country is below sea level, and would sit under the ocean were it not for centuries of effort by the Dutch, battling the sea.
New York, ravaged by Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, has taken note.
“I really have to stress this,” Henk Ovink, who is spearheading the effort to bring Dutch knowhow across the Atlantic, says: “Water is not a threat; it's an asset. Especially for the Dutch.”
The Netherlands’ lessons could not come any sooner. Two separate groups of American scientists are now warning that the West Antarctic ice sheet is melting, and nothing can be done to stop it. One section alone would increase sea levels four feet, NASA says.
And this after last week’s White House report, which said climate change is a clear and present danger – not some abstract problem for the future.
The Netherlands has water engrained in its culture, acquired over centuries. But can the country export its unique approach to New York – and the world – in the short time needed to living with rising sea levels?
“It's not easy,” Ovink told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday. “It's very hard. It is a change between your ears and eyes. It is a change of culture and therefore a change of the heart, which is always harder than an engineering change, or harder than an investment decision. You really have to change the way we go about water.”
In this web extra, Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson speaks with CNN's Christiane Amanpour about climate change.
Amanpour's full interview with deGrasse Tyson will be online Friday.
A special, extended version of Christiane Amanpour's interview with leading paleaontologist Chris Stringer at London's Natural History Museum from our program earlier in the week.
By Mick Krever, CNN
The British are famous for obsessing about the weather – but with the wettest January in 250 years, and parts of Southern England literally submerged in water, they have lots to obsess about.
For Rachel Kyte, World Bank Special Envoy for Climate Change, extreme weather events are just another example for why climate change should be discussed not just as an environmental problem, but an economic one.
“The extreme weather events that we thought were going to happen to somebody else, over there, in the future, and now are actually happening right now, here, to us,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
“What we’re trying to do is bring the science of climate, which nobody’s arguing about now, into the economic policy-making rooms,” she said. “We want to try to bring the science and the economic planning together so we have a difference set of decisions being made.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
Are the record-low temperatures in the United States and Canada – not to mention the extreme flooding in the UK and a record heat wave in Australia – the result of climate change?
Maybe not, but that says nothing about the validity of climate change, Climatologist Richard Alley told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Tuesday.
“Maybe a little bit of climate change, but this is mostly weather – big, exciting weather,” he said. “We’ve only warmed it one degree, and this is a 20-degree cold snap. So mostly, this is weather.”
In other words, higher sea levels from greenhouse gases may have contributed to recent flooding in the UK, but the temperatures are mostly the result of a fluke event, the shifting south of frigid polar winds, known as the polar vortex.
But it’s not nearly as simple as just saying the cold snap is not a result of climate change.
“We know the globe is warm,” he said. “If you look today, the average temperature of the whole world is above its long-term average.”
Climate skeptics are using the record cold spell as an argument in support of their contention that the phenomenon is not real.
By Mick Krever, CNN
There is “absolutely” a link between climate change and wildfires, U.N. Climate Chief Christiana Figueres told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
Wildfires are raging in a ring around Sydney, Australia, as that country experiences its hottest year on record.
“The World Meteorological Organization has not established a direct link between this wildfire and climate change – yet,” Figueres said. “But what is absolutely clear is the science is telling us that there are increasing heat waves in Asia, Europe, and Australia; that there these will continue; that they will continue in their intensity and in their frequency.”
Australia’s new prime minister, Tony Abbott, has expressed deep scepticism about climate change, once even calling it “absolute c**p” (he has since walked those remarks back).
Abbott is trying to get rid of Australia’s carbon tax and has dissolved its climate change commission.
“What the new government in Australia has not done is it has not walked away from its international commitment on climate change,” Figueres told Amanpour. “So what they’re struggling with now is not what are they going to do, but how are they going to get there.”
By Mick Krever and Ken Olshansky, CNN
Will politics exacerbate Australia’s raging wildfires?
It’s not supposed to be fire season yet in Australia, where summer hasn’t even begun. But more than sixty devastating bush fires are already raging in a ring around Sydney.
Just a month ago, Australians elected a new prime minister, Tony Abbott, who once called climate change “absolute c**p.” (He has since walked those remarks back, calling them a bit of “rhetorical hyperbole.”)
Though it is unclear that climate change directly caused these wild fires – police arrested two teenagers for starting two of the Sydney fires –local officials do fear those hot, dry, and windy conditions this week could exacerbate the situation.
In the past 12 months, Australia has lived through the hottest summer, in the hottest year, on record.
“There is a real political debate about how to deal with this issue of climate change,” Stan Grant, international editor of Sky News Australia, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.
“Tony Abbot in the past has been citizen for being a climate skeptic, if not a climate change denier,” Grant said. “Now he stepped back a lot from that hard line that he’s taken, but he’s been very ideological when it comes to how to deal with this.”
By Mick Krever, CNN
Scientists are now 95% certain that humans are responsible for climate change, according to a major new study, and two prominent environmentalists told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the time is now for a “groundswell” of changed thinking.
Amanpour spoke with Jane Goodall, a primatologist best known for her work with chimpanzees, and Doctor Vandana Shiva, an environmental activist who fights for changed agricultural practices, in an interview that aired Monday.
“I really believe the time has come for sanity, for responsibility,” Shiva told Amanpour, “for recognizing the rights of Mother Earth, for recognizing a deep science that works in accordance with the laws of Gaia” – the Greek personification of Earth – “not the shallow and irresponsible science that works only in the marketplace for profits and power.”
Goodall and Shiva spoke with Amanpour as they were attending the International Women’s Earth and Climate Change Summit in New York.
Goodall too emphasized the need for change.
“All my life I have loved being out in nature,” she said, “and I see nature shrinking and shrinking as human populations spread, as development takes over areas that once were so beautiful and so clean; forests, which protect the quality of the air and of the water, are being destroyed.”
For Shiva, a change in agricultural practices would have an impact of incredible scope.
“For every crisis we face today,” she said, “whether it be the economic crisis and the disappearance of wealth and jobs, or it be the ecological crisis with climate at the center, or it be the food crisis that a billion people are facing directly for lack of food and two billion for lack of good food, healthy food, and are suffering diseases of obesity, diabetes, etc. – all of these problems get solved by promoting ecological agriculture on the basis of a science of agroecology.”
“I think,” she said, “we need a groundswell across the world that creates another paradigm and another worldview.”
Goodall has focused much of her work of late on inspiring young people to do their part in keeping the planet healthy.
“It makes me so angry when I look at a small child today and I think how we’ve harmed this beautiful planet since I was that age,” Goodall said. “And it makes me so sad to my soul when young people, like in college, say, ‘Well, you know I feel depressed, or I feel angry, or I don’t care because you’ve compromised our future and there’s nothing we can do about it.’”
“And we have,” she said. “We have compromised their future.”