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  • Ford: TODAY I GET TO FLY ON A JET THAT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED FOR WAR.

  • NOW NASA'S USING IT FOR A PEACEFUL MISSION,

  • BUT THE STAKES ARE JUST AS HIGH.

  • OUR TASK IS TO COLLECT AIR SAMPLES

  • THAT MEASURE GREENHOUSE GASES IN THE ATMOSPHERE,

  • THE MAIN CAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE.

  • FOR OVER 20 YEARS,

  • I'VE SERVED ON THE BOARD OF CONSERVATION INTERNATIONAL.

  • SO THIS ISN'T THE FIRST TIME

  • I'VE WORRIED ABOUT THREATS TO OUR PLANET.

  • BUT THIS IS A CHANCE FOR ME TO SEE UP CLOSE

  • HOW SCIENTISTS STUDY CLIMATE CHANGE...

  • AND WHAT IT ALL MEANS.

  • YOU WERE MEASURING FOR US METHANE AND CO2.

  • WHEN YOU SEE THESE LEVELS GOING UP,

  • YOU'RE A CLIMATE SCIENTIST,

  • HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING?

  • PERSONALLY, IT'S PRETTY SCARY. YEAH.

  • THE WORLD IS GOING TO BE SUFFERING IN A LOT OF WAYS

  • FROM THIS PHYSICAL REALITY FOR A LONG TIME TO COME.

  • Cheadle: IT'S 10:00 A.M. ON MARCH 16, 2013.

  • THIS HAS BECOME A WEEKLY RITUAL.

  • EACH SATURDAY, THESE PEOPLE WALK THE FOUR MILES

  • AROUND THE CARGILL MEAT-PACKING PLANT ON THE EDGE OF TOWN.

  • THEY'RE PRAYING FOR RAIN AND FOR THE PLANT TO REOPEN.

  • SIX WEEKS AGO, IT CLOSED,

  • AND OVERNIGHT, 10% OF THE AREA'S ENTIRE WORK FORCE WAS LAID OFF.

  • IT SHUT DOWN BECAUSE OF A THREE-YEAR DROUGHT

  • THAT DEVASTATED THE CATTLE HERD HERE IN TEXAS.

  • AND WITHOUT COWS, YOU CAN'T RUN A MEAT-PACKING PLANT.

  • Man: FATHER, WE -- WE PRAY FOR THE SITUATION IN CARGILL, MY GOD,

  • 'CAUSE AS YOU BRING THE MOISTURE, AS YOU BRING THE RAIN,

  • CONDITIONS WILL CHANGE, MY GOD.

  • BECAUSE IT'S YOUR RAIN, IT'S YOUR SPIRIT...

  • Cheadle: IN A LOT OF THE COUNTRY,

  • SOMETHING LIKE A DROUGHT IS SEEN AS AN ACT OF GOD,

  • OR PART OF A NATURAL CYCLE.

  • BUT WHERE I LIVE, IN LOS ANGELES,

  • IT SEEMS LIKE ANY KIND OF EXTREME WEATHER

  • GETS BLAMED ON CLIMATE CHANGE.

  • SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE WE LIVE IN TWO DIFFERENT COUNTRIES.

  • I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE TRUTH IS ABOUT THIS DROUGHT

  • AND IF IT'S POSSIBLE FOR THESE TWO SIDES TO TALK TO EACH OTHER.

  • SO I'M HEADING TO TEXAS TO FIND OUT.

  • [ EXPLOSION ]

  • [ INDISTINCT SHOUTING, CAR ALARM BLARING ]

  • THIS IS AL HASAKAH PROVINCE. I'M FROM HASAKAH CITY.

  • Friedman: I'M LESS THAN AN HOUR'S DRIVE

  • FROM THE SYRIAN BORDER.

  • ON THE OTHER SIDE, A CIVIL WAR IS RAGING --

  • THE WORLD'S DEADLIEST CONFLICT.

  • I'LL INTRODUCE MYSELF.

  • I WORK AS A MEDIC AND SAFETY CONSULT.

  • I SERVED IN THE BALKANS, IN SARAJEVO, AFGHANISTAN.

  • THIS WILL BE MY 10th TRIP INTO SYRIA.

  • BUT I'M NOT HERE TO WRITE ABOUT THE LATEST BATTLE.

  • THERE'S A DIFFERENT DISASTER I'M INTERESTED IN,

  • ONE I HOPE WILL TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT THE REAL ROOTS

  • OF THIS CONFLICT.

  • IT FEEDS INTO THE EUPHRATES.

  • IT ACTUALLY STOPPED? WOW.

  • HUH.

  • FOUR YEARS BEFORE THE CIVIL WAR STARTED,

  • SYRIA WAS HIT BY A DROUGHT

  • THAT LASTED UNTIL JUST BEFORE THE REVOLUTION,

  • A DROUGHT SO DEVASTATING

  • THAT IT ALTERED THE LIVES OF MILLIONS OF SYRIANS.

  • THERE'S A MAN ON THE OTHER SIDE

  • OF THAT BORDER WHO CAN TELL ME ABOUT IT.

  • I JUST HAVE TO GET THERE.

  • THE NEAREST SYRIAN ARMY TROOPS?

  • NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WE'RE COMING, IS THAT CORRECT?

  • YEAH.

  • Woman: THIS REPORT CONSTITUTES AN ALARM-CLOCK MOMENT

  • FOR THE WORLD,

  • BECAUSE THIS REPORT WILL TELL US, AGAIN,

  • THAT EVERYTHING WE THOUGHT WE KNEW ON CLIMATE CHANGE

  • HAS ACTUALLY BEEN UNDERESTIMATED,

  • THAT THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE WILL BE UPON US

  • FASTER AND IN A MORE INTENSE FASHION THAN WE HAD THOUGHT.

  • President H.W. Bush: WE ALL KNOW THAT HUMAN ACTIVITIES

  • ARE CHANGING THE ATMOSPHERE

  • IN UNEXPECTED AND IN UNPRECEDENTED WAYS.

  • Man: ...THAT THE GREENHOUSE EFFECT HAS BEEN DETECTED,

  • AND IT IS CHANGING OUR CLIMATE NOW.

  • Man #2: THE ATMOSPHERE AND OCEAN HAVE WARMED.

  • THE AMOUNT OF SNOW AND ICE HAVE DIMINISHED.

  • SEA LEVEL HAS RISEN,

  • AND THE CONCENTRATIONS OF GREENHOUSE GASES HAVE...

  • Schwarzenegger: THERE IS NO MORE FIRE SEASON.

  • WE HAVE WILDFIRES ALL YEAR 'ROUND.

  • Man #3: CLIMATE CHANGE, EXTREME WEATHER...

  • Man #4: A WAKE OF MASSIVE DESTRUCTION...

  • Man #3: ...AND OUR VULNERABILITY TO IT.

  • Man #4: ...UNTHINKABLE, AND THE DEVASTATION.

  • Man #5: ...WHERE 12 YEARS OF DROUGHT HAS LEFT THE LANDSCAPE BONE-DRY.

  • Man #6: WE GOT ANY PATRIOTS IN THE CROWD?!

  • Woman #2: A NEW SCIENTIFIC REPORT HAS DETERMINED

  • THE LAST DECADE WAS THE WARMEST ON RECORD.

  • Man #7: OUR WORLD IS CHANGING FASTER

  • AND MORE DRAMATICALLY THAN EVER BEFORE.

  • Man #4: WE MAY HAVE RATIFIED OUR OWN DOOM.

  • Ford: THE DATA WE COLLECTED WITH THAT JET, PLUS A LOT MORE,

  • ALL COMES HERE TO NASA'S ADVANCED SUPERCOMPUTING FACILITY

  • IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA.

  • THESE DAYS, THE MOST JAW-DROPPING IMAGES

  • COMING OUT OF NASA AREN'T OF MARS OR THE MOON,

  • BUT OF WHAT'S HAPPENING TO OUR OWN PLANET.

  • Nemani: SO, HERE IS A PICTURE OF THE PLANT GROWTH.

  • WE HAVE DROUGHTS GOING ON IN THE MIDWEST,

  • IN RUSSIA, IN BRAZIL, IN ARGENTINA.

  • Hansen: THREE BREAD BASKETS --

  • THE CORN BELT, UKRAINE, RUSSIA --

  • WHEAT BELT, AND DOWN HERE IN ARGENTINA --

  • THE SOY-CORN BELT --

  • IT'S ALL UNDERPERFORMING UNDER DROUGHT.

  • THIS IS ACTUAL DATA, NOT A PROJECTION?

  • YES.

  • CAN WE CONNECT THIS DROUGHT TO MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE?

  • AND GREENHOUSE GASES COME FROM THE BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS,

  • AND THEY COME FROM CARS AND PLANES...

  • FROM DEFORESTATION.

  • ...AND COAL-FIRE PLANTS. EXACTLY, YES.

  • HOW DOES THAT PLAY OUT IN THE UNITED STATES

  • OVER THE NEXT FEW YEARS?

  • HERE WE'RE LOOKING AT HISTORICAL CLIMATE -- JULY 1950.

  • THESE ARE HIGH TEMPERATURES.

  • AS YOU CAN SEE, ONLY A FEW AREAS,

  • LIKE IN ARIZONA, YOU HAVE 100-PLUS DEGREES IN JULY.

  • BUT AS WE GO INTO THE FUTURE,

  • THE MODELS PREDICT THOSE REALLY HOT AREAS TO BE GROWING.

  • JUST SO YOU CAN SEE HOW THE HIGH TEMPERATURES

  • ARE SPREADING ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

  • AND IMAGINE THE IMPACT OF THOSE TEMPERATURES

  • WHERE WE PRODUCE FOOD.

  • AH.

  • Moore: IMAGINE, HARRISON,

  • THAT FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA, IS LIKE PHOENIX.

  • THOSE AGRICULTURAL AREAS IN THE MIDWEST --

  • 100 DEGREES.

  • THESE ARE CONSERVATIVE PROJECTIONS

  • BY THE WORLD'S LEADING SCIENTISTS.

  • AND ONE OF THE BIGGEST CAUSES

  • OF THIS IS SOMETHING ASTONISHING.

  • EACH YEAR. THAT'S A BIG NUMBER.

  • IT TURNS OUT THAT DEFORESTATION

  • ACCOUNTS FOR ABOUT THE SAME AMOUNT OF EMISSIONS

  • AS CARS, PLANES --

  • IN FACT, ALL THE TRANSPORTATION ON THE ENTIRE PLANET.

  • THAT'S BECAUSE LIVING TREES

  • BREATHE IN AND STORE CARBON AS THEY GROW.

  • BUT WHEN THEY DIE,

  • THEY RELEASE THAT CARBON BACK INTO THE ATMOSPHERE.

  • MORE CARBON IN THE AIR MEANS MORE GLOBAL WARMING.

  • AND EVERY COUPLE OF YEARS,

  • ENOUGH FOREST TO COVER ALL OF GERMANY IS LOST FOREVER.

  • THIS PICTURE IS OF FOREST LOSS COLORED BY YEAR.

  • THE BEST COUNTRY IN TERMS OF REDUCING DEFORESTATION

  • HAS BEEN BRAZIL.

  • AT THE OPPOSITE END OF THE SPECTRUM,

  • IN TERMS OF THE HIGHEST RATE OF INCREASE PER YEAR,

  • IS INDONESIA.

  • IT'S KIND OF A DOUBLE WHAMMY FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

  • 'CAUSE FIRST THEY CUT THE TREES

  • THAT HAVE BEEN TAKING IN THE CARBON.

  • AND THEN THEY SLASH AND BURN THE LANDSCAPE,

  • AND THAT RELEASES SO-CALLED "BLACK CARBON."

  • SO MUCH FOREST IS BEING BURNED THERE

  • THAT YOU CAN SEE THE SMOKE FROM SPACE.

  • SO IS IT LEGAL TO SET THESE FIRES?

  • NO. UNDER INDONESIAN LAW, IT IS ILLEGAL.

  • AND WHAT ARE THEY BEING CLEARED FOR?

  • THEY'RE CLEARED FOR TWO PRODUCTS -- PALM OIL AND PAPER.

  • EVERYBODY KNOWS WE CUT DOWN TREES TO MAKE PAPER,

  • BUT PALM OIL?

  • [ CASH REGISTER BEEPING ]

  • SNACK FOODS, CEREALS, CAKES,

  • PROCESSED FOODS,

  • CANDY BARS, COOKIES,

  • CHEEZ-ITS, OREOS, SOAPS, SHAMPOOS.

  • IT'S PRETTY MUCH ON EVERY AISLE OF MOST SUPERMARKETS.

  • YOU'LL FIND PALM OIL IN THERE.

  • PALM OIL COMES FROM THE FRUIT OF OIL PALM TREES.

  • LAFCADIO CORTESI OF RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK

  • TELLS ME THAT ALMOST ALL OF THOSE PALM TREES

  • ARE GROWN ON LAND THAT USED TO BE FOREST.

  • IT'S NOT THE OIL THAT'S BAD. IT'S HOW THE OIL IS PRODUCED.

  • COMPANIES NEED TO FIND OUT

  • WHERE THEIR PALM OIL'S COMING FROM,

  • AND THEY NEED TO MAKE A COMMITMENT --

  • "WE'RE NOT GONNA CONTRIBUTE TO CLIMATE CHANGE

  • AND DEFORESTATION,"

  • AND THEN LOOK AT THEIR SUPPLY CHAINS AND PROVE THAT.

  • LAFCADIO SAYS DEMAND FOR PALM OIL

  • IS GROWING FASTER THAN ANY OTHER AGRICULTURAL COMMODITY.

  • AND IN INDONESIA,

  • THAT MEANS EVEN MORE INCENTIVE TO DESTROY FORESTS.

  • I'M GOING THERE TO FIND OUT MORE.

  • Cheadle: ON MY WAY TO TEXAS,

  • THE SIGNS OF DROUGHT ARE CLEAR.

  • RANCHERS HERE WERE AMONG THE FIRST TO FEEL ITS EFFECTS.

  • GOOD TO SEE YOU. YEAH.

  • ONE OF THEM, MONTY BEST, HAS BEEN HERE HIS WHOLE LIFE.

  • SO THIS IS ONE OF YOUR SPOTS, RIGHT?

  • THIS IS ONE OF MY SPOTS RIGHT HERE.

  • HOW BIG OF AN EXPANSE?

  • 17,000 ACRES HERE ON THIS RANCH.

  • WOW.

  • 17,000.

  • YEAH, THIS IS WHERE I STARTED OUT RIGHT HERE.

  • Best: I THOUGHT IT NEEDED THE RAIN LAST YEAR.

  • IT'S GOT TO RAIN THIS TIME.

  • I THOUGHT IT WAS JUST ANOTHER DRY SPELL,

  • AND WE'D BE OUT OF IT, BUT IT'S MORE THAN A DRY SPELL.

  • Cheadle: MONTY TELLS ME HE'S HAD TO SELL 2/3 OF HIS STOCK

  • JUST TO STAY IN BUSINESS.

  • AND HE'S NOT ALONE.

  • ACROSS THE BORDER IN TEXAS, WHERE I'M HEADED,

  • THE CATTLE HERD IS AT ITS LOWEST LEVEL

  • IN MORE THAN HALF A CENTURY,

  • DOWN BY MORE THAN 2 MILLION COWS,

  • WHICH IS WHY THAT MEAT-PACKING PLANT IN PLAINVIEW HAD TO CLOSE.

  • WHEN I ARRIVE, IT'S CLEAR THIS ISN'T A BIG TOWN.

  • JUST 22,000 PEOPLE.

  • SO I FIGURE SOMETHING THAT KILLED

  • 2,300 JOBS IN A SINGLE DAY

  • HAS GOT TO BE AFFECTING JUST ABOUT EVERYONE.

  • WHAT ROLE DID CLIMATE CHANGE PLAY

  • IN THE DROUGHT THAT LED TO ALL THIS?

  • WHAT DO THE PEOPLE HERE THINK?

  • I PAY A VISIT TO ONE OF THE LAID-OFF WORKERS, NELLIE MONTEZ.

  • HEY, DON. HI.

  • SO THIS IS WHERE I GREW UP. I'VE LIVED HERE ALL MY LIFE.

  • MY KIDS WERE BORN AND RAISED RIGHT HERE IN THIS HOUSE.

  • THIS IS MY MOM AND DAD'S HOUSE.

  • MOM AND DAD LIVE RIGHT NEXT DOOR?

  • OH, THAT'S NICE.

  • Montez: SEE, A LOT OF THE BUSINESSES

  • HAVE ALREADY CLOSED DOWN AND STUFF.

  • DID YOU EVER SEE IT COMING?

  • I MEAN, THE PLANT CLOSURE?

  • NO. CARGILL'S THE MAIN SOURCE OF INCOME.

  • LIKE, THAT CAN'T HAPPEN.

  • THAT DAY, WHEN THEY TOLD US,

  • THEY TOOK US INTO THE CAFETERIA.

  • YEAH, WHAT WAS THAT LIKE?

  • OH, MY GOD. THAT WAS JUST UNREAL.

  • IT WAS LIKE THEY ROUNDED UP A HERD OF CATTLE IN A PEN

  • AND JUST HIT US OVER THE HEAD WITH IT.

  • THIS IS IT.

  • THIS IS IT.