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Miami Officials Give Update On Building Collapse Search Efforts; Dangerous Heat Wave Smashes Records In Pacific Northwest; Fifteen Years After Gore's Warning, Extreme Weather Becomes Routine; Death Toll In Building Collapse Increases To Five, 156 Missing. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired June 26, 2021 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:00]

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Now we have contacted the next of kin. But out of respect to the families we're not going to be sharing those names at this time.

So the numbers have changed. Three bodies uncovered means that we now have accounted for 130 and it means that the unaccounted has now gone to down to 156. Confirmed deaths are now at a total of five. We're working very closely in coordination with our state and our federal partners. FEMA is on the scene in full force. All of our partners have truly rolled up their sleeves and jumped in to help in record time.

Truly, this is an unprecedented national response. We are extremely grateful for the support that we have received from the national, the state and the local partners, as well as throughout the state and elsewhere, and in addition, we're grateful for the support that we have imbedded from our Israeli and Mexican teams that have joined our operation.

We have a full set of social services available to the families at the hotel, where most of them are staying, and so they are operating in shifts. They're available around the clock with grief counseling, rabbis, other religious leaders all on site to assist our families during this difficult, difficult process.

Many groups have volunteered, as well, to help and we're coordinating their services. Chief among them, Jewish community services, which also operates the 211 help line here with licensed clinicians and they specialize in trauma and grief counselling. Also, our community action and human services agencies and juvenile services department, those are county departments with our own licensed psychologists and social workers on the scene assisting.

Florida Blue has also offered to assist and we've set up a grief hotline. That number is 833-848-1762. Again, 833-848-1762. Among many, many others who are stepping up and helping us. I just wanted to stay how very, very moved I am and all of us are at the incredible outpouring of support that we have received right here in Surfside from all across the globe in the midst of this incredible tragedy.

We know people are feeling this, they're feeling connected to us, we feel your support, we feel your love and compassion. This has truly shown us how interconnected we are as a world, as a global community. So, on behalf of Miami-Dade County, I just want to say thank you, thank you so much, to the entire world for stepping up and holding us in the palm of your hands. Thank you so very much for your love and for your prayers.

And financially, we have received incredible support. There are multiple sites now available and over $750,000 has been received through just one of the funds, supportsurfside.org, that was set up by Miami Foundation, Coral Gables Foundation, and Key Biscayne. So God bless our families and our first responders. We hold you in our hearts. Your labors have been just monumental and we know you do it with passion and commitment, and you live to find people alive in the rubble.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, we're going to go back to this news conference of the Mayor Daniella Levine Cava as soon as she stops speaking Spanish, goes back to English. I anticipate others will be speaking, as well, and there will be questions, certainly, from reporters. We'll see how that unfolds.

You know, Pamela, we did get some news just now, that they did find another body in the rubble. They also, she says, they found some human remains. They are asking for DNA samples, so, in other words, to be able to do rapid DNA testing, but the numbers as a result have changed.

Five now -- five confirmed deaths, up from four, 156 unaccounted for still, that's down from 159. 130 people have been accounted for. So, the numbers are changing, but this is very, very slowly -- this situation, Pamela, it's unfolding very slowly.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Right. And she did talk about some of the progress made with putting out the fire there that was slowing some of the efforts on the ground, but, you know, Wolf, as I've watched this and listened to her, I just think about all of those family members who are hanging on every word, hoping that there will be good news, that their loved one will be found.

[19:05:12]

And, you know, these search and rescue team members, these first responders, they are incredible to go in there, into the danger zone, essentially, of this collapsed building and tirelessly work to fire anything, find the remains of bodies and body parts, as she said, and hopefully find more survivors.

You know, I've been out with search and rescue members before, when I was in Haiti years ago after the earthquake there and I can tell you, being with them first-hand, they are so committed and they never give up hope. I mean, I was there with them seven days, seven, eight days after the initial earthquake and they still put every ounce of energy into finding survivors and I have in doubt, Wolf, as it remains a search and rescue mission, that they will continue to do that.

But, man, it is just so devastating and just thinking about those family members who are wondering, is my loved one still in there and alive and suffering? Or is my loved one, you know, dead from this building collapse? It's just an impossible situation, Wolf.

BLITZER: It certainly is, and it's so wrenching, so heartbreaking, to think about those loved ones who have gathered here and are trying to get some information about their moms and dads, their brothers and sisters, you know, sons and daughters, grandparents. This building, as you know, Pamela, was -- it was a very diverse building. A lot of people were inside, even though it's supposedly the offseason here in the Miami area.

There were a lot of people inside. And when you hear that number, 156 people still unaccounted for, meaning they know names of people who were living there and they have not contacted anyone and you wonder, what has happened to these 156 people? And it's totally understandable that their family members and their loved ones are getting increasingly frustrated and angry. They want results.

We did hear the mayor tell me just a little while ago, he would be open if family members want, Pamela, to actually allow them to go towards the rubble and see it for themselves. Hold that thought for a moment, though, Pamela, because the news conference is resuming.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): -- everyone else has said and that's our extraordinary gratitude for the men and women who are here working from all across the state, frankly, all across the world, to try to help these victims both in here in the rescue phase and also in all of the associated needs that come with it.

This is a highly complex disaster. I'm here to speak briefly about the federal response to it, which I think has been substantial and which we are grateful to the White House and all federal officials for having done it. To begin with, this building had a substantial number of foreign nationals and-or families of foreign nationals and my office in conjunction with other congressional offices has been responsible in helping obtain visas very quickly for a lot of people who need to travel here. My understanding is that most of them are either here now or are en route.

I want to thank the State Department, they've been phenomenal, and all of our consulates around the world and embassies in expediting these visas to travel here for these families. The State Department is now on site. They now have personnel on site which will help further expedite this should additional relatives need to come here and for any arrangements that need to be made after the fact.

Also, of course, FEMA is here. Unlike other disaster situations, in this situation, all victims that have been impacted by this are going to be registered through the family center that's located here. They will then be channeled towards FEMA to determine eligibility and what services they are eligible for from the federal government. In addition, additional federal resources may be made available as requested by the county, whether it's the Army Corps of Engineers or other elements of the Department of Defense.

And I also want to thank the corporate community that has stood up. I know for example that Uber has been transporting many of these families as they arrive from overseas free of cost and we thank them for that. A number of hotel chains has stepped forward to provide housing accommodations for them as well.

And I want to thank people all across the world, as the mayor has already mentioned and others have mentioned, we have offers of support and help, concrete help from countries throughout Latin America, Israel as well, and we are grateful for those offers afforded to the local authorities who will obviously make a determination about who (INAUDIBLE) now or in the future.

We're grateful to them, we're grateful to the whole country, and to this community that has responded the way it has and continues to respond. And we continue to hold hope, we pray for God's grace, we pray for miracles, and we pray for God's peace and strength on the family and those that have been impacted by this. (Speaking in Foreign Language).

[19:10:35]

BLITZER: We'll continue to monitor this --

BROWN: I think we just lost Wolf there on the ground in Surfside. They're listening to Florida Senator Marco Rubio speaking at this press conference there in Surfside, Florida. We did find out some new information, that another body was uncovered as well as body parts. Three bodies uncovered in total, 130 people accounted for, 156 unaccounted.

And Wolf, you know, he talked about they are just -- all of these family members, of course, who are just hanging on, hoping and hoping that their family member survived this building collapse and that the search and rescue team will come upon them and hope is such an important theme here. As you have been speaking to people on the ground, some of those first responders or people who have been in that situation, they do remind our viewers, remind all of us that there have been situations like in Haiti where a little boy was found eight days after a building collapse.

So, while there is hope, it also is a very tough reality, as we are at day three now and there are still so many people unaccounted for -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, and what's also significant, Pamela, you know, you and I cover politics -- all right, hold on a moment. I think the mayor of Surfside is now speaking at this news conference.

MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: I've received personal calls from the White House. I've received a call from the speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. I've received support from our two U.S. senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. I've received support from Debbie Wasserman Schultz and all the U.S. representatives. Governor DeSantis has been instrumental and has been here over and over again. Our county mayor, Daniella Cava, has also been incredibly supportive.

We don't have a resource problem here. We have a luck problem. The issue is, is that we've been fighting the elements, we've been fighting the fire, but we have one objective. And that is to bring those people out of the rubble safely and returned to their families, and that's all we're going to do today, that's all we're going to do tomorrow and it's all we're going to do the next day and the next day until it's done.

So our objective here is to bring these people out of that rubble and to support the families. That's all there is to it, it's not complicated. And the work goes on. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mayor. Now Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky.

ALAN COMINSKY, FIRE CHIEF, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY: Good evening. We continue with our aggressive search and rescue strategy. We're able to contain the fire, minimize the smoke earlier this morning, approximately around 10:30, 11:00.

And we've continued our search and rescue efforts. Currently, we're searching the entire debris field. We separated into multiple sections, and we're actively, with our five task force that we rotate through, we actively are applying our search and rescue techniques.

We're still aggressively using all of our tools that we have in regards to the sonar. We've done several sweeps, again, with the debris field, with our K-9, as well as using any type of video equipment that we have, as we're establishing these search techniques.

We'll continue going through this, you know, as hard as we can. I'm very proud of our task force members, very proud of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and all of our activities that we've done and we're going to continue searching and hopefully with a positive outcome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Chief. And now Erika Benitez, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue PIO Espanol.

(SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting -- we're going to get back to the news conference in a moment, we're getting new information.

It's interesting, Pamela, that what this has done, and I was saying that, you know, you and I have covered politics for a while, what this has done is brought together so many elements because there's enormous cooperation now coming from the federal government, from the Biden administration, coming from the State Department, and Senator Marco Rubio was underscoring that, the Governor DeSantis was underscoring that.

[19:15:01]

They are grateful to everything that's going on and you're not hearing the anger and the partisanship. You're seeing the country at least in this area, Pamela, getting together, working together, because this is such a horrible, horrible situation that has unfolded, and everyone wants to do whatever they possibly can to help. BROWN: Right, they've all put their politics aside so they are all

focusing on this and as you heard the mayor say, look, this isn't a resource problem. This is a luck problem. We have the resources because they have been pouring in from all over the place, politics just doesn't matter here, and you're right, Wolf, that it's something that we haven't seen for a while. Republicans, Democrats, no matter their political background, coming together, focusing on this situation.

And, you know, speaking of resources, Wolf, I was interviewing -- OK, we're going to go back to the press conference now. Let's listen in.

ALFREDO "FREDDY" RAMIREZ, DIRECTOR, MIAMI-DADE POLICE: -- medical examiner. Now when we come across human remains, that's photographed, collected on the scene and directly transported to the medical examiner's office for processing. (Speaking in Foreign Language)

BROWN: And Wolf, we will probably be going back soon.

BLITZER: All right. So we'll get back to the news conference. Pamela, you were making a point, go ahead.

BROWN: Right, I was just talking to the Florida Senator Nelson and he -- the former Florida senator, I should say, who is now the new NASA administrator. First of all, he said that he knew two people in that building. One wasn't in her apartment when the building collapsed, another was in her apartment and is unaccounted for at this point.

But he talked about the technology that NASA has given to the first responders on the ground that actually allows them to hear heartbeats of any survivors that are there and, you know, sonar.

They're using every bit of resources they have, Wolf, to find any survivors that could be in that rubble right now and it is just an incredible effort all around.

BLITZER: And it's raining now again, which further, further complicates this search and rescue operation. There have been fires there, but the rain certainly does complicate this situation. We're going to get back to the news conference momentarily, but David Paulison is I think joining us right now. Is that right? Not yet.

We're going to get to the former FEMA director, we're going to get back to him shortly, but if you look at these pictures, Pamela, you see what's going on, it is so, so devastating to think about all that rubble, all that rubble that is there, and God only knows what's underneath all that rubble. They're working as best as they can.

Ryan Young is with us, as well. Ryan, you've been covering this -- actually, Brian Todd is joining us right now. Brian, you're down here, as well. And I know you've been doing a lot of reporting. What's the latest you're hearing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf, well, I think it's significant what the fire chief just said that they have contained that fire inside the complex. That fire was a huge problem earlier today and yesterday. The mayor of Miami-Dade was saying that it was really dangerous for the rescuers.

They had to bring heavy equipment in to dig a drench to try to isolate that fire. The fire was causing a lot of smoke and clearly causing a lot of danger to the first responders, to the rescuers as they were tunneling in there and trying to find people.

The fact that they have contained that fire, I think, is significant now. It could give them just a lot more leeway and a big break in trying to find people inside that rubble, Wolf. That fire was a huge development over the past several hours and to hear the fire chief say that they've contained that, that's a pretty significant development. Also think it's significant that the mayor of Surfside, Charles Burkett called for that adjoining complex, the Champlain Towers North, to be evacuated.

Now it's unclear how that might unfold if anyone's going to give the go ahead to actually do that. You don't know how many people live in that building. There are about 130 units inside each of these buildings.

And to get all those people out, that's a pretty significant undertaking, especially now when you've got the rescue crews, you know, tunneling in and trying to dig for survivors, Wolf, so, those two developments I think have been significant in the last several hours, especially the containment of that fire. That might give the first responders, you know, a big break that they'll need.

BLITZER: Yes, that's a good point, Brian. Stand by.

David Paulison is joining us right now, the former FEMA director and former fire chief here in Miami-Dade County in Florida.

You know, it's interesting, David, that we heard the mayor of Miami- Dade County say they did find another body, so the confirmed death toll now is up to five. 156 people are still unaccounted for and 130 are accounted for.

[19:20:02]

They've also found some human remains. It seems to be so, so slow, what's going on, but I want your thoughts.

DAVID PAULISON, FORMER FEMA DIRECTOR: Well, of course it's slow, you know. because they are under the assumption that people are still alive, so, they have to go slow so they don't cause damage that would injure somebody or perhaps kill somebody who survived the collapse.

And that's why it's slow going. And don't forget, this is all concrete structure so there's 12 layers of thick concrete in that pile of rubble that they have to go through. And you saw the trenching through. They've got I think four or five different teams on the ground.

And these are experienced teams. You have the city of Miami, you got Miami-Dade County, they brought in a team from Mexico and one from Israel. So, we've got good people on the ground who have been there and done that, and they know what they're doing, Wolf. And you know that very well. You've been with them before. So it is slow going and I know the families are frustrated, but we want to go slow at this point in case there is somebody that has survived the collapse of this building.

BLITZER: Yes, and it's really dangerous for all these firefighters, these rescue workers to go there, because it's such an unstable situation and there have been fires and water and it's raining once again. How significant of a factor is it, the fact that it rains, it's raining and certainly complicating this search and rescue operation?

PAULISON: Yes, Wolf, all of that together makes it very complicated. We don't know what kind of damage the fire did. Obviously the rain doesn't help at all. Plus we, the fire department, was pumping water in there to try to contain that fire that they couldn't even find. We had no idea where it was. So all of that is part of that, and also now they're taking debris out and moving it and that unstabilizes the debris pile also.

And we don't know the condition of the rest of the building, how it's standing. The engineers are in there looking, but it's very difficult. You know, they're doing shoring, making sure they can shore up that building as best as possible so we don't have another collapse or more injuries or fatalities.

BLITZER: And the mayor of Miami-Dade Daniella Levine Cava said they have found, some, some, her word, some human remains and they have DNA samples ready to go, rapid DNA testing.

David Paulison, thank you so much for all your expertise. Thanks for everything you're doing. We're grateful to you.

Let's go over to Pamela.

BROWN: OK, Wolf, thanks so much. We'll be back with you on the ground there in Florida shortly. But in the meantime, record-breaking heat, dangerous fire conditions, melting polar ice. The climate crisis across the globe is nearing an irreversible stage.

Joining me next to talk about that and much more, former vice president Al Gore. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:27:18]

BROWN: And moving now to the West Coast. That is where more than 20 million people are under excessive heat alerts. The Pacific northwest experiencing what experts say could be the most extreme and prolonged heat wave in the region's history.

CNN's Camila Bernal joins us from Portland, one of the least airconditioned cities in the country -- Camila.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. So the concern is that this heat can be deadly. And yet many people in the northwest just don't have air conditioning. In fact, here in Portland, it's the third city with the least amount of air conditioning in the nation.

Take a look here. I left this out in the sun, and so it was about 120. It's kind of going back at the moment. It's about 100 degrees. But the National Weather Service says that throughout this weekend, we could be reaching 110 degrees.

The record here, 107. The problem is that this is going to happen over a couple of days. So there is no relief in sight for a lot of people. That's why you're seeing so many of them come out to places like this, where the children can have just some time to play in the water and to cool off just a tiny little bit.

The National Weather Service says heat is one of the leading causes of death when you're talking about weather-related incidents. I want you to listen to how they're describing the situation here this weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TYLER J. KRANZ, METEOROLOGIST, NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE: We could refer to it as a heat dome. It's essentially a giant air mass that's essentially trapped and it heats up day after day from the strong solar radiation we're getting this time of year and without that blocking pattern breaking down, there's just nowhere for this hot air to go.

Aside from the duration of this heat wave and the intensity of this heat wave, another thing that's looking quite concerning is our overnight low temperatures.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

BERNAL: Overnight temperatures in the 70s and 80s. And that's the concern. No time for the body to cool off. There are a number of cooling stations, that's available for everyone. Emergency services also available and ready in case there is any problems, but they do say that people just need to be careful -- Pam.

BROWN: All right, Camila Bernal, thank you so much for that.

And for millions of Americans, extreme weather like we're seeing out West is now just part of routine life. 15 years ago, former vice president Al Gore sounded the alarm on the effect of rising CO2 levels and rising temperatures.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If this much on the cold side is a mile of ice over our heads, what would that much on the warm side be? Ultimately, this is really not a political issue so much as a moral issue. If we allow that to happen, it is deeply unethical.

(END OF VIDEO CLIP)

[19:30:08]

BROWN: Former Vice President Al Gore joins me now. Mr. Vice President, nice to see you. Thank you for making time for us tonight.

GORE: Well, thank you, Pamela. And before we turn to this subject, may I express my own deep and heartfelt sympathy for the families in South Florida who are dealing with this horror, the uncertainty, and the feared losses, hoping for a miracle, and express my deep respect for the rescuers who are incredibly brave and skilled. I know you've seen this in action.

And I just wanted to say that, but let me let me turn to your subject now. This is affecting millions and millions of people around the world right now.

BROWN: It is, and you're seeing this heatwave out west. We just heard that report. How much do you attribute this record heat wave to climate change?

GORE: Well, the climate scientists often say that the right question to ask is how much worse is this because of the climate crisis? And of course, the answer is, you know, 19 of the 20 hottest years ever measured have been in the last 20 years. Last year was the hottest of all, the last seven have been the hottest of all.

This is heating up our world in an enormous way. And it's not only the Pacific Northwest, Pamela. You know, the projected temperature tomorrow in Portland is projected to shatter their all-time heat record by four degrees.

But look at the Southwest. They are in a 20-year drought directly connected to the climate crisis. The water levels are at an all-time low. Mexico, 85 percent is in a drought. Colombia has had a disaster after disaster.

More than a million people in Madagascar are in danger of starvation right now because of back to back droughts connected to the climate crisis all over Eastern Europe, Russia, Malta, all-time temperature records being broken. Finland, Asia has is coming off of more than $100 billion of climate related disaster losses last year.

And it's getting worse, faster than we are yet deploying solutions.

There is hope because we're gaining momentum. But this -- it is because we're putting more than 162 million tons of manmade heat trapping global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day. And the accumulated amount is trapping as much extra heat energy as would be released by 600,000. Hiroshima class atomic bombs exploding every day. We've got to stop this.

The good news is, if we can get to net zero additions, then it could be as little as three or four years before the switch is flipped and the temperature stop going up and then we can start bringing it back down again.

BROWN: But that is going to take a worldwide effort with the cooperation not just of Americans, but also other countries like China, which is such a big contributor.

Before we get to more on that, I just want to ask you, you mentioned just the terrible tragedy unfolding in Florida right now.

There was a Professor with Florida International University's Institute of Environment that told CNN he determined in a study last year that the condo tower was sinking about two millimeters a year from 1993 to 1999.

Now, I want to be clear, we do not know if that contributed to the collapse in any way, but how much of a warning should this serve about rising sea levels and those buildings that are there on the coastal lines?

GORE: Yes, well, as you said, we do not know the cause of this building collapse and the discovery -- the news yesterday of this warning two and a half years ago that the construction was deeply flawed, that may be the proximate cause, but the experts will sort that out.

There are areas in the world where the sea level rise long before it comes over the shoreline comes in underneath and changes the water table and pushes the water table up.

But let me say again, we do not have evidence at this time that that is connected to this building collapse. There are many areas in the world where that is a direct issue and the subsidence is also connected to it in many areas of the world.

BROWN: Right. We hope with time, we will have more of those answers of what caused this building collapse, but it certainly brings more scrutiny to the issue and also raises the question once again what happens to these Americans living in coastal regions that face more flooding? That faces more intense storms?

People have already fled the West over this heat and wildfires. How do you see this relocation playing out in the coming years and the coming decades?

[19:35:10]

GORE: Well, we're seeing it in many regions of the world. In Bangladesh, where in the River Delta areas, the sea level rise and the much more powerful storms coming on shore. And last year in the U.S. was the worst hurricane season ever in terms of the number of hurricanes.

But in Bangladesh, a million people have already migrated northward, India has built the largest steel fence in the world across its southern border with Bangladesh. Central America, the back-to-back hurricanes last year, Eta and Iota, hitting right -- almost in the same place, unleashed another 10,000 refugees coming from Central America northward, through Mexico toward the United States.

We've seen people coming across the Mediterranean toward Europe, and the Lancet Commission has predicted that there could be as many as one billion climate refugees in the balance of this century. This destabilizes political systems, triggers xenophobia. We've already seen in Europe, a lot of right-wing authoritarian

movements benefiting from the fear of xenophobia. So, the political dimensions of this have been understated, but there are so many others, Pamela.

There are large regions of the world that are in danger of becoming literally unlivable because of the combination of escalating higher and higher temperatures, plus higher humidity levels. And some of those regions are already seeing massive outflows of climate refugees.

BROWN: And so as people listen to you, they wonder, well, what more can I do? And it does raise the question of collectively, what more should Americans have to do? White House climate envoy John Kerry was recently asked whether Americans would have to change their lifestyle to confront climate change. Here's what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR CLIMATE: Well, I think there's a false choice here that you're presenting people. You don't have to give up a quality of life to achieve some of the things that we know we have to achieve.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Do you agree with that?

GORE: Well, largely I do. I think John Kerry is doing a great job for President Biden, by the way. But think of it this way, Pamela.

For the last five years, the fastest growing job in the United States has been solar installer, growing five times faster than average job growth. Currently, the fastest growing job is wind turbine technician.

The Oxford Policy Review has found that dollar for dollar investments in solar and wind and EVs and batteries and the Green Revolution creates three times as many jobs as continuing with these dirty and dangerous, devastating fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, the fossil fuel industry is still giving campaign contributions and lobbying and using the revolving door to try to twist the political systems here in the U.S. and elsewhere to do their bidding. And we've just got to stop doing that.

As for what individuals can do, become active as a citizen in our democracy, regardless of what political party you're in. By the way, a majority of Republicans now favor bold action to solve the climate crisis. But the lobbyists have got too many of the elected officials in the Congress in a hammerlock threatening them, if they don't do what the polluters tell them to do, then they'll find a primary opponent for them in these gerrymandered districts and run them out of office.

But the answer to this is for enough people in both political parties, independents include included to put the pressure on to do the right thing. This is -- this is about the future of humanity. And let me repeat, we

have hope. We have seen pledges from countries all around the world to really move rapidly.

Let me give you an example. Last year worldwide, if you look at all of the new electricity generation that used to be coal and gas, 90 percent of it was from solar and wind last year. The projections are that in the decades going forward, 95 percent will be from solar and wind.

Electric vehicles will soon be significantly cheaper than the internal combustion engines and that sector will come on board. We're seeing advances in every sector, add that together make up a sustainability revolution that has the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution, coupled with the speed of the digital revolution.

Investors are also shifting funds in order to finance this sustainability revolution. So, we're really making progress, but it's critically important for the leading nation in the world, our country to take steps now in preparation well before the Summit in November in Glasgow, Scotland, which is by far the most important Summit meeting on climate since the historic Paris agreement of 2015.

[19:40:17]

GORE: I think Joe Biden is doing a terrific job. And we've got to give him the support by getting on the phone and e-mail and meetings in person to tell these members of the House and Senate to stop doing whatever the fossil fuel polluters tell them to do and start caring about our children.

We can solve this, but we've got to take action.

BROWN: Okay, Vice President Gore, stick around. We have much more to discuss on this. We're going to ask you about the big election lie being pushed by many Republican leaders.

Much more with former Vice President Al Gore on the way, everyone stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:45:23]

BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news. I'm Wolf Blitzer here reporting live from Surfside, Florida. We're getting new information. We just learned from Florida officials about the search for victims and survivors of the Florida high rise collapse. We have new numbers just released. Five people have now been confirmed dead with 156 people still unaccounted for.

The Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava explains the process now underway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Our teams have

been working around the clock as always, to search for survivors, they have not stopped. And today, our search and rescue teams found another body in the rubble. And as well, our search has revealed some human remains.

The process of identifying these victims is very difficult. We're going to be relying on DNA testing. And that is why we've already been gathering DNA samples from the family members. So, they have all participated and provided DNA to assist us in the identification. This allows us to do rapid DNA testing on site.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Today, we also learned a structural engineer warned of major structural damage back in 2018, requiring major repairs to that building. Those repairs were about to begin, we're told three years after the warning that they were absolutely necessary -- Pamela.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORE: Now the US Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt. While I strongly disagree with the court's decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome, which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So, that was then Vice President Al Gore nearly 21 years ago putting country over party and putting the Democratic process over his personal desire to be in the White House, a stark contrast from what we saw play out with President Donald Trump after his much more decisive 2020 defeat.

The former Vice President is back with us now. So, if you would take a listen to what Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said recently about that historic moment --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): When I think about 2000, think about sitting on the Inaugural platform in January of 2001. Watching Al Gore, and of course, you know, we had won, I'm sure he didn't think he had lost. We had fought this politically very, very intense battle, and he conceded. He did the right thing for this nation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Mr. Vice President, what was going through your mind when you conceded?

GORE: Well, first of all, I want to express my gratitude and admiration for Liz Cheney on the issue that she has become known for recently and that is standing up to the craziness in her party. What was going through my mind is what's going to be best for the country.

There was no way to really see playing it out in a way that would overturn the result, it would have gone to the House of Representatives and the constitutional procedures gave the other side the complete advantage.

And, you know, in some ways I'll quote, Winston Churchill who said about Americans -- Americans generally do the right thing after first exhausting every available alternative. That's sort of the situation I was in.

But more seriously, it was a question of what is right for the country. And, you know, Pamela, the refusal of the former President to acknowledge that he lost by seven million votes, it wasn't close for God's sake, and apparently a majority of his party is still so enthralled to him that they still believe that the American people did not make the judgment that they clearly made.

This is very damaging to our democracy. I'm hoping that this craziness will fade over time.

But we keep getting this nonsense like this foolish exercise to bring in some Cyber Ninja group in Arizona to look for bamboo in ballots there. It's absolutely nuts.

[19:50:07]

GORE: We hear about AI standing for artificial intelligence. They are putting another kind of AI out -- artificial insanity. They are putting out messages that create an alternate reality and people get into these echo chambers on the internet, and it's all they hear, and they begin to believe the alternate reality.

We've got to follow the rule of reason and honor American democracy and acknowledge the will of the American people. They spoke loudly and clearly.

BROWN: And it's interesting, you point out Donald Trump, the former President, who has been the leader of this movement, he was the one that started it. The 2020 election was 235 days ago, and Trump continues to complain about his loss. What is your message to him?

GORE: Well, I'm not sure that whatever I say to him would have any impact whatsoever. But just on the off chance that it would, I would say, please do the right thing. Acknowledge reality. Stop hurting this country. Stop undermining democracy.

Honor the great and honorable traditions of the United States of America. This cannot go on the way it is. Now, I will point out, Pamela, that it's kind of a sideshow and people are turning off to it now. I really think they're beginning to, and Joe Biden's popularity continues to rise.

Look at what he has done in controlling the pandemic. Look at what he's done in facilitating the incredible economic resurgence with a very strong climate plan going overseas and really bringing the respect for the United States back up again after it's sunk to a historic low during the previous four years, for reasons we all understand.

I think he is really doing an outstanding job. He's got a tough hand to play, but he is playing it with great skill.

BROWN: Okay, Vice President Gore, stick around. We're going to talk more about the Biden administration and what it is doing in this fight against climate change. We'll be right back. Thanks so much.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:56:22]

BROWN: I'm back with former Vice President Al Gore. Thank you again for your time, former Vice President, I just want to ask you. Now over 20 years later, do you ever wonder if you had actually won if the counting had continued?

GORE: Well, I look toward the future and not the past. Pamela, I appreciate the question. But I feel extremely grateful to have found other ways to serve the public interest.

I have devoted myself to doing everything I can to help solve this climate crisis. It is by far the most serious challenge that humanity has ever faced. We can solve it. We're gaining momentum. But we need to cross the political tipping point here at home in the United States. I think we're very close now.

But everyone listening to this, regardless of your party, please get involved as a citizen and ask your elected representatives to put the interests of the American people first and reject the polluters' money and the polluters' influence, do what's right for the American people.

BROWN: It's clear, you're very passionate about climate change, about this country. You had mentioned earlier about the damage that the big lie has done to democracy. Let's listen to the former Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke Thursday at the Reagan Library.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I understand the disappointment many feel about the last election. I can relate. I was on the ballot. But you know there's more at stake than our party and our political fortunes in this moment.

If we lose faith in the Constitution, we won't just lose elections, we will lose our country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: What is your reaction to what you heard there from former Vice President Pence? And how concerned are you about the state of democracy?

GORE: Well, you know, you started with a clip on the time when I made the decision I made. Mike Pence was a freshman Congressman sitting in the chamber when that happened. And another one who was sitting next to him at the time recently reached out to me and told me his reaction there.

Mike did the right thing when he had to certify the vote. But that action certifying the vote is the legal point where the new President is certified. Let's not lose sight of the fact that it was at that exact moment that the former President inspired and motivated a criminal mob to invade the Capitol shouting, "Hang Mike Pence," going after Speaker Pelosi, putting a hangman's noose up.

The timing was not an accident. They were trying to overturn our Constitution.

I think that we withstood that, and we will withstand other challenges. We've been through a lot in this country. But the resilience of the American people and the majesty of the American Constitution will hold and will prevail.

But we've all got to put our shoulders to the wheel and make it work effectively. Citizens have a crucial role in revivifying the strength of our democracy. So, I think we will prevail. But everybody can help by getting involved and urging our elected officials to do the right thing.

[20:00:11]