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Report Says, Climate Change Transforming Life as We Know It; Tower Bridge Stuck Open for Hours after Technical Issue; Extreme Weather Threatens U.K.'s Puffin Population. Aired 2-2:45a ET

Aired August 10, 2021 - 02:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (on camera): Welcome back, everyone. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

VAUSE (voice-over): Coming up this hour, nearly 600 wildfires burning across Greece, made worse by a scorching heat wave and drought. We'll have more on the links between extreme weather, global warming, and human behavior.

The Delta dilemma one of the world's leading experts tell CNN, this is a whole new ballgame with fears COVID droplets are now staying in the air and contagious for much longer compared to previous variance.

Another regional capital falls as Taliban offensive sweeps across Afghanistan, and the number of children being killed has suddenly escalated.

VAUSE (on camera): It is now too late for this planet to avoid the extreme weather caused by climate change for the next 30 years, at least. Temperatures will continue to rise. So, to see levels and the threat to life as we know it.

It's been eight years since the last inter-governmental report for the U.N. And the latest is blunt and stark. The crisis it says is inevitable, unprecedented, and manmade.

VAUSE (voice-over): The U.N. secretary general calls it a code read for humanity. Floods, heat waves, wildfires, droughts are all more frequent and more intense. One of the main points of this report this climate crisis has been caused by our addiction to fossil fuels.

The earth is warming faster than previously thought, 1.1 degrees Celsius warmer right now than pre industrial levels and could reach the critical threshold of 1.5 degrees within the next decade. And the window is closing to avoid more catastrophic outcomes.

Greece's prime minister is calling a disaster of unprecedented proportions. Flames forcing thousands to evacuate their homes and leave behind everything they own. Firefighters are working to contain the blazes but many residents say there has not been enough support from the government. The prime minister apologized for any weakness in the response, saying their best efforts just simply have not been enough.


KYRIAKOS MITSOTAKIS, PRIME MINISTER, GREECE (through translator): It is obvious that the climate crisis is now knocking on the door of the entire planet with fires at last weeks. This is a reason but it is not an excuse, nor an alibi. And I will say clearly, we may have done whatever is humanly possible, but in many cases, just did not appear to be enough in the unequal battle with nature.


VAUSE: Some of those intense wildfires are now burning on the island of Evia. That's where CNN's Eleni Giokos is standing by live. So, Eleni, it's morning there. What's the latest there? We have seen the smoke of the haze behind you. What's an update?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Yes, yes, John, I mean, honestly, it is so hard to breathe. The air is so dense, my eyes are watering. The whole of last night you saw raining ash, it was everything is covered with ash, it kind of gives you a sense of just how many fires were on the go. And of course, the efforts by firefighters as the fires are extinguished.

Then, of course, you have the ash and this haze -- this incredible smoke. People have been asked to stay inside.

Now, the latest one emergency services, there aren't any new fire fronts this morning. However, the risk of it reigniting is enormous. Those are the probabilities that they're looking at right now.

We also heard from emergency services that hundreds of firefighters from various countries are on the ground and ready to be deployed.

When we were with firefighters yesterday, we saw the extraordinary efforts to try and get fires under control a herculean task, I would say. You also had the deployment of many aircraft.

Now, right this minute, you have just under half of area that has been burnt to the ground. We're talking about pristine, natural, untouched forests, John that have been completely incinerated.

It is unbelievable to see the sheer destruction. Of course, homes have been impacted as well. You have hundreds of people that have been evacuated. And these apocalyptic scenes of raging fires.

Yesterday was the seventh day. Today, we're heading into the eighth day and the big concern is that this is going to continue for many days to come. Temperatures, however, are increasing. But a new fire truck that's just about to cross as well.

And these kind of scenes is what you're seeing as we're driving around the island that everyone is on high alert. You also had volunteers coming to seeing to the fires with water bottles, with fire extinguishers, some holding branches to try and put out the fires.


GIOKOS: Livelihoods have been destroyed. The island relies on resin and honey and many other agricultural products. Most of these people, these farmers are left with nothing.

VAUSE: It looks very dystopian where you are right now. Eleni, thank you. Eleni Giokos there live with the very latest on those fires from Greece.

GIOKOS: Yes. Thanks, John.

VAUSE: It appears the dark days of the epidemic in the United States are clearly not over yet, with COVID infections trending in an alarming direction once again.

According to data from the CDC released Monday, more than 98 percent of the U.S. population lives in counties with high or substantial transmission. 250 million alone live in high transmission areas.

In particularly bleak, in Arkansas, on Monday, the governor announced the largest single day increase in COVID hospitalizations. This data is one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

In a tweet, the governor added there were only eight ICU beds left available in the entire state. Eight.

In France, very different approach. Monday about the first day of expanded health pass requirements. The pass is proof the holder has been vaccinated or has tested negative or has recovered from a previous infection. It needed to eat at a restaurant, drinking at bar, travel long distance on the train.

China is trying to contain a great number of COVID cases as well. 13 provinces are now reporting high risk areas. Mass testing is underway in some cities.

Manisha Tank joins us now from Singapore with the very latest. Not just on what's happening in China but also around the region because they're seeing a similar situation in Australia, in China, in Hong Kong everywhere.

MANISHA TANK, CNN INTERNATIONAL PRESENTER (on camera): That's right, we are seeing a similar situation in China, you were just mentioning these new numbers that have come in. We do know that Beijing is being told that they can't leave their city and go to some of these places where the new local cases have cropped up without permission, or unless it's an emergency, and there's also more monitoring going on of those who have travelled with China's grand effort to try and keep COVID-19 under control.

And even then, we're seeing these local case numbers get through. Let's -- if you want over to Australia, where New South Wales, the capital of which is Sydney has reported 356 new local cases. And Sydney has been in now -- its seventh week of lockdown. So, local authorities there, John saying that if it wasn't for that, these case numbers could have been a lot worse.

Let's jump to Southeast Asia. In Thailand, some rather ominous figures coming from the country, which has recorded 235 deaths from COVID-19 within the last 24 hours. This is a new daily record in terms of a death toll from the disease from this virus.

But what we're also learning from Thailand is that vaccination rates are still quite low. Those who have received at least one jab just 6.7 percent. And those who have received both, 23.9 percent -- just off 24 percent there.

So, there is this real correlation, a real narrative emerging in this part of the world, between those levels of vaccination and the number of cases that are coming through. And of course, the number of cases that are resulting in very serious complications, and people ending up hospitalized, needing support with oxygen, or indeed, the death toll going up.

In Vietnam, 9,700 cases just under that being reported. That is a bulk of which -- a third of which coming from the largest city -- Ho Chi Minh City. But again, vaccination rates just 8.2 percent which compares to some of other developed economies, which have much higher vaccination rates.

Right here in Southeast Asia, today itself, we are seeing Singapore relax some of the restrictions that it tightened just weeks ago to get a new set of clusters under control. It seems that, that has happened. And now we've seen a slight relaxation of restrictions here.

But the emphasis now from the government here is turning more towards making sure the people who have been vaccinated are allowed to go about their lives, relatively speaking as normal.

And there is really encouragement in the system for people to get vaccinated if they haven't been already. But this, of course, is not something uniform. And we've spoken about this before. It's a real patchwork -- of patchwork, excuse me, of experience that we're seeing right across this region, John.

VAUSE: Manisha, thank you. We appreciate the report. Manisha Tank, there live in Singapore.

David Edwards has spent 20 years as a professor at Harvard at the forefront of aerosol science. He joins us now from Boston. David, thank you for being with us.


VAUSE: OK, well, I'd like to focus on the airborne transmission of the Delta variant in particular what we know what we don't know. And I'll start off with an advisory message if you will part of it from the World Health Organization. Listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As a person infected with the COVID-19 virus, breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes, liquid particles of various sizes are expelled into the air. Larger particles are called droplets. Smaller particles are called aerosols.



VAUSE: OK. So, now we got the terms down. We're talking about those who are infected with the Delta variant have a much higher viral load, 1,000 times according to one study from China.

Does that mean 1,000 times more virus is released into the air as droplets and aerosols, and are the aerosols from the Delta variant in the air and contagious for a longer period of time compared with the original version?

EDWARDS: Well, John, we are still learning about the Delta variant. We have typically been doing studies in India since the December of last year when the Alpha variant was the primary variant up through June when the Delta became the primary variant. And we've learned a lot.

But generally, we know that the Delta variant, as you mentioned, is extremely virulent and contagious. And there's evidence -- and we have evidence that is right now, in a peer reviewed publication that the virus is able to get into the air much more successfully than previous variants.

One of the things that the virus does, John is it lands when you first breathe the virus into your lungs, it typically lands in your upper airways on mucus. And if your immune system is working effectively, as sweeps that mucus to the mouth and you swallow it soon after inhaling it.

When the mucus breaks down, and it begins to break up when you breathe, that virus can get in the air and these little droplets that we talked about, these respiratory droplets that are very small, and travel deep in your lungs and back into the outside environment.

And what we're finding is that different variants release different kinds of surfactants. These are little soap-like molecules that cause the surface of the mucus to break up more easily. And so, we don't know for sure, but I suspect that one of the reasons why the Delta variant is as contagious as it is, is it's really much more effective at getting into the air.

VAUSE: And experts in Australia a warning about the risk of outdoor transmission. There was an outbreak of COVID infections linked to a gathering at a beach north of Sydney. One epidemiologist told the public broadcaster, ABC, "We now need to understand that we are potentially at great risk of aerosol or airborne particles, those tiny droplet nuclei, they can hang in the air for longer if there's no wind, and that means that you can be at a brisk outside, not just inside."

So, how much greater is the outdoor aerosol spread on the Delta variant compared to the original version?

EDWARDS: The data that we have yet to publish suggests that it's the Delta variant is several 100 times more able to get into the air than the Alpha variant, which is the previously most by virulent variant of SARS-CoV-2.

So, whether I'm indoor or outdoors, the risk of me being infected goes up for sure. And it's true that if I'm near someone, whether I'm inside or outside, my risk of being infected by the Delta variant goes up.

So, yes, if there's no longer wind, and if I'm outside, I have a risk and it goes up with Delta. What can we do? So, we've know a lot about masks. We know about social distancing. One thing that we've learned during the pandemic, and actually we knew quite a bit even before the pandemic is that humidity matters.

So, it turns out that your upper airways humidify the air you breathe which is critical for whole body health, as well as filtering the air of particles.

And so, when you breathe really dry air, that dries out your upper airway lining fluid, and it reduces its ability to clear particles, and therefore, to keep your lungs clean. So, we know that and we knew prior to the pandemic that breathing dry air increases risks of the lower respiratory diseases like COPD or asthma, but now we know also COVID-19.

So, what do you do? So, breathing, if you're in an indoor environment, which is very likely air conditioned, very likely you have low humidity, you want to increase the humidity, relative humidity of 40 to 60 PERCENT is found to be most effective.

And it turns out John that masks -- one of the roles that masks plays, and clearly, one of the reasons why even cotton masks are turning out to be effective during the pandemic is that they humidify the upper airways to keep humidity.

And so, we're exploring right now my team is particularly focused on how do you hydrate the upper airways in really simple ways that are kind of the equivalent of being near sea with a strong wind coming at you.

So, it turns out that both water and salt actually your upper airways carry contains salt, and they keep the airways hydrated by this balance of water and salts. And so we're learning how to place little droplets of water and salt to help keep your airways hydrated and you as safe as you can be.

VAUSE: David, I've met a thousand of other questions and I'd like you to come back at some other time. So, we can get more in depth on this. But it's been great having you with us. I really appreciate (INAUDIBLE) EDWARDS: Thank you so much for having me.

VAUSE: A Canadian man sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China has lost his appeal. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death back in 2019. He says he is innocent. CNN Steven Jiang is following the case for us live of Beijing this hour.

So, yes, we hear this a lot. In China, people convicted to these death sentences, they appeal, they lose. Then what?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (on camera): That's right, John, this decision itself is not shocking because if that, you know, near 100 percent conviction rate and how rare it is for higher courts to overturn death sentences.


JIANG: But this case, of course, is attracting global attention because of its geopolitical implications. Now, the Canadian government has condemned this latest decision, but also promised to continue to engage with Chinese officials at the highest level to request clemency for Schellenberg.

And for many of Beijing's critics, this is yet another example of China's so-called hostage diplomacy. Now, that's something China has strongly denied, but it's worth taking a look at the timeline of this case.

Schellenberg was first tried on November 28th, 2018 for being an accessory to the smuggling of more than 200 kilos of meth. He was convicted sentenced to 15 years in prison, but decided to appeal.

The date of that first trial was important because a few days later, on December 1st Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei was arrested at the Vancouver airport by Canadian authorities on behalf of the U.S. government for her alleged role in dodging us sanctions against Iran.

That moved by Canada infuriated the Beijing leadership with officials here promising unspecified but serious consequences for Canada. And within weeks, Schellenberg was ordered to face retrial, it was doing that proceeding. The prosecution claimed they had uncovered new evidence and decided to try him as a principal to the case he was convicted and sentenced to death in January 2019.

Now, he decided to appeal, but of course, that was not successful. But today's announcement is also interesting because it is happening at a time Meng's case in Canada has also entered this crucial final arguments phase as she continues to fight her extradition to the U.S.

And John, it's also worth remembering, Schellenberg is not even the only Canadian facing potential execution here because there are two other Canadians who were arrested shortly after Meng's arrest and they have since been charged and tried for alleged espionage, and crime of course also potentially carry the death sentence. So, all of these cases are widely seen as interconnected, and their results having major implications on international politics and relations. John.

VAUSE: Steven, thank you. Steven Jiang live in Beijing.

Well, a Jeffrey Epstein's most prominent accusers is now suing Prince Andrew alleging sexual abuse. Virginia Roberts Giuffre says when she was just 17 years old, the prince forced himself on her multiple times.

The lawsuit claims his sexual abuse happen at Epstein's home in New York as well as on his private island and at the London home of his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell. Prince Andrew claims he has never met to Giuffre despite this photo with the two of them together.

CNN has reached out to the prince's representatives for comment. Buckingham Palace has previously denied the allegations.

Well, a football legend who knows how to win Champions League titles may be on his way to a club. That does not. We're watching for Lionel Messi's next move.

And more on the ground lost in Afghanistan, government is struggling to stop a Taliban advance in provincial capitals.


VAUSE (voice-over): Anticipation, excitement, all building in Paris for the possible arrival of football superstar Lionel Messi. He tearfully told the world he doesn't want to leave Barcelona, But Paris Saint-Germain may soon become his new home.

"WORLD SPORT's" Don Riddell, live with us now for more on the details. So, what are the chances?

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR (on camera): I'd say the chances are pretty good, John. I mean, he's certainly leaving Barcelona. That's something that we didn't think was possible up until just a couple of days ago, after spending more than 20 years at the Catalan Giants.

There aren't many teams in the world that could afford him. There's not many teams that are being considered as potential candidates here. And certainly, in France, the French football media believes that he is coming.

It's been reported that he's been offered a two-year deal with the option of a third year on top of that. Messi is 34 years of old, the salary that is being discussed is a wage of some $35 million a year. And you can see from those fans in France that they think he's coming and they're pretty excited about it.

It will be fascinating to see. I mean, we've only ever seen Messi play for Barcelona and Argentina, of course. What can he do with this club that is just so desperate to succeed in Europe, and to further boost their image on the world stage? At Paris Saint-Germain have always wanted to win the European Cup, the Champions League, they've never done it, despite the amount of money that is being pumped into the club over the last decade or so by their financiers from Qatar.

They got to the Champions League Final a couple of years ago. They lost that, so, they've been close. But there'll be hoping that with Messi on board, the man who's won it four times with Barcelona that they can finally get there and do it. But very interesting to see what happens in the next couple of days.

VAUSE: Did you say 35 million a year?


VAUSE: What would that have be if it was under contract?

RIDDELL: Well, it's complicated because a lot of that money would have gone to Barcelona to buy him out of the contract. So, you know, we're talking about Harry Kane separately, potentially moving from Spurs to Manchester City. That deal could be worth more than $200 million. But a lot of that money doesn't go to Harry Kane. A lot of that would go to spurs

So, you know, one of Barcelona's errors here was in letting Messi's contract run out, because he is leaving them for nothing.

VAUSE: So, a bargain deal, if you like. How much of an impact will he have on what is already a pretty big started on team?

RIDDELL: Well, it's going to be interesting. I mean, there are reports that PSG, despite the fact that they have deep pockets are going to have to let potentially 10 of their players go, so they can balance the books, so they can afford Messi.

But they do have big names, for example, Neymar, the Brazilian superstar. He used to play with Messi at Barcelona.

Too early to tell what kind of an impact He will make on this team. One of Paris Saint-Germain's problems is that they actually play in a relatively weak league, Liga and in France.

And it means that when they come to play in the big European games, they're perhaps not as experienced as up for it against top competitions -- against top opponents as some of their rivals might be in Spain or in the Premier League.

But he is a huge player and a very talented man, and I'm sure he will make this team better.

VAUSE: But luck to the 10 guys who get fired. A lot -- a lot more from fans ahead in "WORLD SPORT". Don, thank you much. Good to see you.

Withdrawing U.S. and South Korean military drills are set for later this month. But they've been scaled back because of the pandemic. The North Koreans seem as angry as ever. Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong-un says both countries will face a more serious security threat for ignoring earlier warnings.

Right now, the Taliban have the upper hand in the battle to control Afghanistan. A six provincial capital has reportedly fallen, all of them taking by the Taliban in a matter of days. UNICEF says at least 27 children have been killed in the past 72 hours.

And more details now from Nick Paton Walsh tracking developments from London.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (on camera): A startlingly bad five days for the Afghan security forces and government after 20 years of war in Afghanistan.

WALSH (voice-over): Beginning on Friday, when the first provincial capital fails arranged near the border with Iran, things then spiraled over the weekend. Three more provincial capitals falling, bring now to a total by Mondays and of five with two other cities intensely pressured.

Now, over the weekend, a key city fell, Kunduz, that has twice -- in the past six years being taken by the Taliban, briefly, only to have Afghan security forces combined with U.S. airstrikes kick them out.

Seems unclear at this stage if that's something the Afghan government can repeat again because the insurgencies momentum seems to have moved on already. Threatening another provincial capital Samangan, and another key city to Ghazni.


WALSH: There is a real, I think sense of fear that Afghan security forces are simply not quite sure which fire to put out next, where to deploy. The finite resources they have of effective Afghan commandos so much of the Afghan police or army at times ramshackle when it comes to taking on a dedicated and focused insurgency.

There's also a key battle raging in the south of the country in Lashkar Gah in Helmand Province, which many U.S. troops and NATO soldiers have lost their lives in over the past years.

Obviously, a decisive symbolic fight for the Afghan government there. And also to Afghan officials, expressing concern because while us airpower reduced in how much it's used at the moment compared to previous years, has been very helpful for Afghan forces.

It hasn't really changed the dimension much in the last five days. And the concern is, in three weeks, it is due to stop entirely. The U.S. has been very explicit that at the end of their presence on the grounds by the end of the month, they will also stop airstrikes against the insurgency. That is that still policy.

And so, the concern amongst Afghan forces is that even though the last five days haven't been altered much by the use of U.S. airpower, things could get significantly worse come the beginnings of September.

I think many were expecting that this sort of insurgency advanced was inevitable once the U.S. withdrew from the grounds to the extent that it has already. I think many are concerned to see it happening quite so quickly around Kabul, it seems quite so forcefully. And with fears too about how the capital may become increasingly vulnerable in the months ahead.

WALSH (on camera): The Taliban clearly feeling a degree of momentum here able to apply pressure on many different urban centers at the same time. And an Afghan government surely wondering quite where its next crisis to tackle will come from.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, London.

VAUSE: One senior Afghan official says government forces are in need of close air support from the U.S., he put it things are getting nasty. But U.S. President Joe Biden has said he won't consign another generation of Americans to a 20 year long war.

The Pentagon has also affirm, it's Afghanistan's battle this time.


REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY (RET.), PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: They have an Air Force, the Taliban doesn't. They have modern weaponry, an organizational skills that Taliban doesn't. They have superior numbers to the Taliban.

And so again, they have the advantage -- advantages. And it's really now their time to use those advantages.


VAUSE: Admiral Kirby, added there is not a lot the U.S. can do if Afghan forces don't put up a fight.

The Belarusian president has denounced the wave of sanctions from the U.K., U.S., and Canada.

VAUSE (voice-over): The sanctions are a response to a crackdown on dissent. And we timed to coincide with the anniversary of the presidential election, which many say it was rigged. Several months of demonstrations have occurred.

During a news conference in Minsk, Alexander Lukashenko lashed out.


ALEXANDER LUKASHENKO, PRESIDENT OF BELARUS (trough translator): You can choke with those sanctions there in the U.K. We haven't had even a faintest idea for millennia about this Great Britain. And we don't want to have your America's lapdogs.

Listen, you would start a third world war. That's something you're pushing us and the Russians? Do you want to win in this war? There will be no winners. If there are ones it will not be you.


VAUSE: Lukashenko went on to say that he's open to negotiations.

VAUSE (on camera): Coming up, code red for humanity. A new U.N. report explains how climate change is making wildfires, floods, and heat waves even worse. And we may be past the point of no return or actually we are.



VAUSE: Welcome back, I'm John Vause, you're watching CNN Newsroom.

A major report from the U.N. has warned the Earth is warming much faster than previously thought and much of the damage we're now seeing from climate change is irreversible. Droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, flooding are all increasing in frequency and intensity.

The U.N. secretary general called the reporting code red for humanity, says only the most ambitious plan will help prevent further global warning.

Zeke Hausfather is with The Breakthrough Institute, which is looking on solutions to the climate crisis. He was also contributor to the U.N. report. Thank you take them time to be with us, it's appreciated.


VAUSE: Okay. So, one of your specialties is climate modeling, which essentially predicts the future on a variety of different scenarios, giving us time to act now to try and reduce the worst of the impacts of the extreme weather, like we are seeing in the environment.

Last month though, Science Magazine, reported this. But as climate scientists face the alarming reality, the climate models that help them project the future have grown a little too alarmist. Many of the world's leading models are now projecting warming rates that most scientists, including the model makers themselves, believe are implausibly fast.

So, how accurate are the climate models, which, according to this U.N. report, how difficult is it to model a future where there seems to be this increasing large number of unknown unknowns?

HAUSFATHER: So, our climate numbers have historically been quite accurate. In fact, this report discusses how climate models, since the 1970s, when they were used to predict the future, it's really well in predicting of actually happened after they were published.

Now, some of the latest generation of climate models are already a little bit hot, and this recent report actually did quite an interesting thing. They didn't use those hot models. They effectively gave them very little weight, because those hot models didn't agree very well with historical observations.

But the rest of the models, the ones that were giving the same amount of warming, roughly, that the last intergovernmental panel in climate change report rejected, still, are plenty bad. We don't need these extremely high sensitivity models in order to need to reduce emissions as quickly as possible.

VAUSE: What it seems we do need is some kind of massive supercomputer that could be developed by not just only a government or a country, but by governments, by a consortium of governments, to look into the future, because that data, what we can work out now is going to be crucial to how we have prepare for this crisis. And we don't have that at the moment.

HAUSFATHER: So, we are always working to improve the quality of our models. And, actually, this recent report made a really big step forward in that direction. For the first time since the 1970s, they meaningfully narrowed this value that we called climate sensitivity, which is essentially a measure of just how much warming your CO2 emissions will cost.

Back in 2013, scientists gave a range of warning they expected in 2100, but they admitted there was a one and three chance we get outside of that. This report gives similar warming ranges, announces there's only one in ten chances from the outside of that. That means our climate crystal ball gotten a lot less cloudy.

VAUSE: Well, the climate science has improved a lot. The climate action has not. On Saturday, earlier, from this report, is that no matter will we do from this point, on the planet will continue to heat for the next three decades.

Just one scenario here, if climate emissions were slashed dramatically right now in a very short period of time, what's the best-case scenario we're looking at? Is it just going to be at the state of play as it is right now, to lock this in where we are right now instead of freezing it in time?

HAUSFATHER: Yes. So the world will keep warming as long as our missions remain above zero. That is the brutal math of climate change. But the good news is, and this is something that's covered in the new report, is that once we get our emissions down to zero, warming will more or less stop. The report does not find evidence that we are necessarily committed to more warming once we get our emissions all the way down to zero.

The challenge, of course, is that means every country in the world, not just the U.S., but China, India, everyone else, all working together to get their emissions down to zero. And that is a pretty big task.


That might be, in many ways, the defining challenge of the 21st century. VAUSE: Basically, there's sort of carbon neutrality here, and a lot of many governments say they're working towards that. Now, I want to talk to you about an economy that is carbon negative, which essentially remove carbon from the atmosphere. Is that even possible?

HAUSFATHER: We have technologies that suck carbon on the atmosphere, but they're expensive right now and they are not deployed at the scale. But if we ever want to bring temperatures back down because it seems like, at this point, it's pretty likely we're going to pass the 1.5-degree threshold that the Paris agreement set. If we ever want to bring temperatures back down to that level, we are going to have to remove carbon from the atmosphere, not just bring our emissions to zero.

And so that involves planting plenty of trees, it involves having a bunch of direct air-capture machines that are actively sucking carbon out of the atmosphere. So if you use a lot of energy, we need to make sure that we're powering them with energy doesn't produce carbon in the first place. So, it's a big challenge, but we have some new technologies already and there's a huge amount of money being plowed into more technologies in that space.

VAUSE: We are talk about tipping points here, and in many ways, as it has been the crucial moments that we're facing. But it seems that narrowing down just when and under what circumstances those tipping point actually happens, it's pretty difficult.

HAUSFATHER: It is. And most of the tipping points we talk about are ecosystem's specific tipping points. You pass a certain amount of warming, and most of the world's core will start to die. You pass a certain amount of warming, and you are committed to long-term sea level rise because of ice sheet melting.

What there isn't much evidence for, thankfully, today is that there isn't a specific point in the climate, where once we pass it, things spiral out of control and the whole world warms a bunch plenty more. That said, it has been within 2 degrees of today's levels for the last 3 million years. And so the further we pass or we push the Earth past towards for the last millions of years, the bigger the chance that there will be dragons, things that our models don't predict, unknown unknowns. And that's what a lot climate scientists are really worried about, and one of the main reasons we keep to push warming below this 2-degree level.

VAUSE: Yes. There is uncertainty ahead, but certainty as well, if we don't do anything, it's just going to get worse. Zeke, thank you for being with us, we appreciate it.

HAUSFATHER: No worries, great to be here.

VAUSE: Well, they are made for life, and now, their lives are under threat. In a moment, the climate crisis and the future of puffins.


VAUSE: London's Tower Bridge is operational once again after being stuck open for almost 12 hours on Monday, causing major traffic jams on both sides of the River Thames. After opening for a tall ship to pass, a technical problem that the bridge jammed open. It appears to be working all well now.

A new report from the U.N. warns the Earth is warming much faster than previously thought. The effects are being felt worldwide. Rising, waters and temperatures are putting certain species at risk, like the U.K.'s population of puffins.

CNN's Scott McLean shows us the threat they now face.



SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): A few miles off England's sandy northeastern coast line, there is a rocky archipelago, isolated, barren and nearly unscarred by humans, say, for a few lighthouses, and a 650-year-old former monastery. For centuries, the Farne Islands have been left almost unchanged, attracting only a few solitary hermits, sunbathing seals and hundreds of thousands of breeding birds, like the Atlantic puffins.

But even on this remote outcrop, where only nature appears to govern who survives and who doesn't, there is now another force to contend with, climate change.

Every morning, Gwen Potter and her team a park rangers arrive before the crash of tourists.

GWEN POTTER, NATIONAL TRUST COUNTRYSIDE MANAGER, FARNE ISLANDS: They are very delicate. They can sometimes collapse, so we've got to be very careful.

MCLEAN: They go burrow-to-burrow, shoulder-deep, to count how many puffins are underground with their eggs.

POTTER: Unoccupied. I really wanted to nibble.

VAUSE: The global population of Atlantic puffins, is in steep decline. So, the count is done every summer. The growing frequency of extreme weather threatens to flood their burrows and the eggs inside them. Rising temperatures are disrupting their food chain.

But on this sunny day, it is hard to imagine the Farne Islands' puffin has anything to worry about.

I'm just looking at all the birds behind you, and it's difficult to envision that these birds could, in anyway, be threatened.

POTTER: What we're seeing here is a snapshot in time, but over the long term, all of these birds are declining.

MCLEAN: You'll often see puffins holding fish in their mouths. That is their primary food source called sand eels. When eel eggs hatch, they're supposed to feed on plankton, which blooms at around the same time of year. But with rising sea temperatures, those two events are out of sync by almost three weeks. Less food for sandy eels ultimately means fewer sand eels for puffins.

POTTER: And these puffins also, they pair for life. Puffin divorce rate, we believe, is quite low.

MCLEAN: They are better at commitment and relationships than we are?

POTTER: They're much better at bird marriage than human marriage, yes.

MCLEAN: A human commitment is exactly what these birds need. In 2015 the Paris Climate Accord committed world leaders to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius. But a newly published report from the WWF warns of an uncertain future for the Atlantic puffin if temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees.

Leaders will have another kick at the climate crisis can at the COP (ph) 26 summit this fall in Scotland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we do not step up at the end of this year, the climate meeting, it will have been a complete abdication of responsibility, a really missed opportunity. And we will be letting out future generations if they don't act now.

MCLEAN: Puffin populations in Norway have dropped sharply, and in Iceland, colonies are at risk of dying out completely, according to the WWF.

But, on the Farne, the puffin population appears stable after declining over the past two decades.

POTTER: What really causes issues is rapid change. And while a lifetime may not feel like a rapid change, it is a rapid change.

MCLEAN: They can adapt to a slowly changing climate but not at the rate we are at right now?

POTTER: That's exactly it, yes.

MCLEAN: Meaning the rest of the world will have to change so these islands don't.

Scott McLean, CNN, on the Farne Islands, in Northern England.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm John Vause. Please stay with us. World Sport starts after a break.