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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
O.J. in Court; Planet in Peril
Aired November 8, 2007 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, our "Planet in Peril." The yearlong investigation was watched by more than 50 million of you. It sparked a lot of questions, generated controversy as well. Tonight, we answer your questions on climate change, global warming, you name it. That's just ahead.
But, first, today's top story.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. That's supposed to be the deal, right? Well, unless you're O.J. Simpson, that is. This was how he entered a courthouse today, surrounded by lawyers, and guards, and cops, and assorted oddballs, at least one street preacher, and -- oh, yeah -- there was a guy in a chicken suit as well.
Inside, Simpson sat, looked and listened to testimony about the alleged armed robbery he's accused of masterminding. The preliminary hearing will decide if there's actually enough evidence to put him on trial. Much of that evidence comes down to the words of people with questionable backgrounds and motives, to say the least.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is covering the story, joins us live from Vegas -- Ted.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, one thing we learned today is that O.J. Simpson's defense team will be putting up a very spirited defense.
They made one of the prosecution witnesses endure hours of cross- examination. Clearly, they are going to fight each and every one of these witnesses that you talked about.
The first witness was a memorabilia dealer, Bruce Fromong. They tried to get him to basically admit that some of these items were stolen. The next witness was Thomas Riccio. He was the guy that basically organized this whole thing. At one point, Riccio talked about he and Simpson figuring out a plan to videotape the encounter. It was very bizarre and very enlightening, the detail that went into the planning of this.
Riccio also said they didn't want to do this in California because of the Goldman family.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS RICCIO, RECORDED AUDIO OF SIMPSON'S ALLEGED CRIME: He did say that, if they didn't want to give the stuff back, he didn't mind, it would be the last resort, having the police involved, because his kids would get part of it through some type of victims' thing.
But he would prefer to keep it and not even sell it. It was personal items that had personal value to him. He did not want to sell the stuff. He wanted to keep it for his generations of -- for his family down the road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Ted, they also played in court that now infamous tape from inside the hotel room. How did O.J. react during that? I didn't see it.
ROWLANDS: Well, basically, he -- you know, he just sat there and listened to it. He had to sit there and listen to himself and the others yelling and deal with this confrontation. We have all heard it so many times.
It's basically O.J. confronting these guys, saying, listen, give me my stuff back. It lasts about six minutes in its entirety, not a lot of real reaction that would be reportable from O.J. Simpson. He sat and really listened to it, like everybody else did.
COOPER: Yes, I don't think it was stuff. I think it was another S-word he used. But we will clean it up for TV.
Ted, thanks for the reporting.
So, will Simpson stand trial? That's the bottom-line question.
With us tonight, the two leading authorities on O.J., you might say, CNN senior legal analyst and Simpson scholar Jeffrey Toobin, and Associated Press special correspondent and legal affairs reporter Linda Deutsch.
Appreciate both of you being with us.
Linda, Bruce Fromong is the alleged victim in this case. None of these folks, frankly, strikes me as particularly sympathetic. He testified today that, while he and the other alleged victim were calling 911, they were also calling TV shows to sell the story.
How did he come across to you on the stand?
LINDA DEUTSCH, SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AND LEGAL AFFAIRS REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, it was -- today was really, I think, a wild and woolly ride through the world of memorabilia dealers, a very strange group, a bizarre breed.
And Bruce Fromong seemed to be thinking of a way to make this into a payday from the very minute that it happened. I mean, they were already -- they were calling 911 while they were also on another phone calling a tabloid TV show to see if they could make a deal.
He has talked book deals with people. He called your own Larry King from his hospital bed to be on television. He had a lot of motives in this case to make money out of it. But, whether that changes anything, we don't know.
The even more interesting character was Thomas Riccio, who is a character right out of a movie. And he talked about how he and O.J. came up with this plan. The way that he told it, it was a caper gone bad. They had this whole big plan that they were talking to everybody about.
DEUTSCH: O.J. was staying over at the Palms Hotel talking about it.
COOPER: Yes, Riccio is certainly a charmer.
DEUTSCH: You know, everybody knew about...
DEUTSCH: He's a charmer and certainly not a brain surgeon.
I want to play a little bit of what he said a little bit later on.
COOPER: But, first, Jeffrey, Fromong described the scene for the judge. I just want to play some of what he -- what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRUCE FROMONG, SPORTS MEMORABILIA DEALER: When he first came in, he kind of stopped for just a second and looked at me and I kind of looked at him. And there was a lot of yelling and screaming going on.
And the first thing that I really remember from that was a statement made by Mr. Simpson, saying, "Don't let anybody out of this room. Nobody leaves."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So that order, Jeffrey, "Don't let anybody out of this room," is that the basis of the kidnapping charge?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That's exactly what it is, Anderson.
You know, I watched Fromong's testimony. And I thought, boy, Simpson showed absolutely horrible judgment in getting involved in this whole ridiculous situation.
COOPER: Wow. Bad judgment, O.J. Simpson?
TOOBIN: I know. It's a bold conclusion on my part, I know.
But is this a criminal case? Boy, if it is, it's sure a rinky- dink criminal case, because it's very hard to tell whether Simpson intended to commit a crime based on the evidence that's been presented, including when Fromong said, in the midst of this hysterical scene, O.J. said, no, let's only take my stuff back, don't take everything, again indicating that he thought he wasn't committing a crime, that he was just taking stuff that he thought was his.
COOPER: And that matters? What he thought actually matters?
TOOBIN: Well, that's part of what matters. That's not the only thing. Obviously, the jury will consider all of the circumstances.
And I have no doubt that, in the very low standard of this hearing, which just, is there probable cause, the judge will almost certainly find in favor of the prosecution. But will a jury buy this beyond a reasonable doubt? They may just hate O.J. Simpson, but, in a normal case, this case looks pretty dubious to me.
COOPER: Dubious, but -- but enough evidence to go forward to an actual trial, Jeff?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. At this point, yes.
COOPER: Linda, during the cross-examination, Fromong acknowledged he had been on medication at the time, including OxyContin, I guess the defense trying to point out his perception of the entire event was affected. Did they score any points there?
DEUTSCH: I don't think that was the key thing today.
I think the key was that the only one in that room apparently who wasn't interested in money out of this was O.J. Simpson. He wanted his stuff back. He wanted to get his things for his family. Everybody else had an ulterior motive. And everybody else had a financial motive. And that's probably going to be taken into consideration if this ever gets to a jury.
COOPER: It's always interesting.
Linda Deutsch, appreciate it.
Jeffrey Toobin, as well, thanks.
Tonight, a CNN/Opinion Research poll shows that opposition to the war in Iraq has reached an all-time high, despite reports of less violence on the ground. Sixty-eight percent of the respondents said they opposed the war.
Now, this upcoming Veterans Day weekend marks an important anniversary in the Iraq war. And we are going to cover it in our second hour with a special encore presentation of Tom Foreman's "Anvil of God. "
Here's a preview.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Precisely three years ago this week, the longest and most intense battle in Iraq began.
Thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers slammed into Fallujah to drive the insurgents out of an area that they, themselves, had proclaimed as their capital. And some people say this battle was an important turning point in this entire war, because it showed us what the military could do, and what had to be accomplished by other means.
COOPER: It is a remarkable hour. If you haven't seen it, I really urge you to. That's coming up in our second hour tonight.
Right now, our "Planet in Peril" investigation continues, with experts and skeptics answering your questions on climate change and global warming.
Tonight, we take our "Planet in Peril" investigation one step further. More than 50 million people in the U.S. alone watched the documentary, countless millions more around the world on CNN International. It sparked a lot of questions and a lot of controversy.
Over the rest of this hour, we are going to share some of your thoughts sent through v-mail.
And here to answer them, two people who joined me on the "Planet in Peril" adventure, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin. We have also assembled a panel of experts, some of whom you met in the documentary.
Now, we're going to get to all of them in a moment, but, first, a look at where and how our planet is changing.
COOPER (voice-over): We started our journey in Brazil's Amazon rain forest, where we witnessed what 5,500 square miles of deforestation looks like.
(on camera): It's so disturbing to see this.
JEFF CORWIN, HOST, "THE JEFF CORWIN EXPERIENCE": It is just absolute, utter devastation and destruction.
COOPER (voice-over): And joined the Amazon's poacher police, bent on stopping the people tearing the forest apart.
CORWIN: These guys have all the classic tools of the trade when it comes to poaching wildlife.
COOPER: In Southeast Asia, we investigated the illegal wildlife trade, one the main hub fueling the $10 billion to $20 billion illegal trade.
(on camera): There's definitely threatened animals...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of animals right here that range the gamut of critical status.
COOPER: In Cambodia, we saw how cruel the poachers' methods can be, finding snares by the dozen.
CORWIN: Despite the power and strength of a tiger, or even a young elephants, the more it pulls, the more it resists, the more strength it uses, the tighter the knot gets.
COOPER: The animals who are fortunate to escape bear the scars for life.
(on camera): Can he learn to walk with three?
NICK MARX, RUNS RESCUE CENTER: If the skin doesn't thicken, he can't walk properly, yes. We maybe try and form like an artificial foot.
COOPER: But he couldn't be released into the wild?
MARX: No. Actually, no.
COOPER (voice-over): The world's population has grown more than 400 percent in the past 100 years. We learned we're already consuming at least 30 percent more than the natural world can regenerate. Nowhere is that consumption more on display than in China.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Take a look. We're in this one back store here and these are all turtles. You're just looking at thousands of turtles.
COOPER: Their taking of national resources is staggering, and its pollution deadly.
GUPTA: So, because of the water, because of the food that was irrigated by the water and because of the drinking of the water, you think your husband got cancer?
COOPER: From studying polar bears in Alaska...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at the size of this paw.
COOPER: ... to repelling in a moulin in Greenland, we explored the issue of climate change and met the people most affected.
GUPTA: And they say that the water is going to cover this entire island within a few years. What's going to happen to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will have to stay.
GUPTA: But it's sinking.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is definitely sinking but the life here is too valuable to leave.
COOPER: Thirteen countries, four continents all in one year. Over the rest of this hour, we are going to dig deeper and answer your questions, like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARBARA BOYER: Hi, I'm Barbara Boyer. And I was wondering, with all this talk, what will happen if nothing is done? What can we, today's youth, do to prevent or stop global warming? We feel helpless.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: We are going to get our opinions from our experts on that question in just a minute, but, first, an outtake from our journey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: They will breed and they will be more?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa. Whoa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CORWIN: Don't be like that joke. We don't want that joke, why did the sloth fall out of the tree, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER (voice-over): Hurling yourself backwards over a 1,500- foot cliff does take some practice.
CORWIN: It's easy. Just let yourself -- come on down, Anderson.
COOPER (on camera): Lean back.
CORWIN: Lean back and feed it. And, remember, if you want to brake, pull the rope up towards you.
COOPER (on camera): What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
CORWIN: You have got to lean back. Step up. Step up. Step up.
COOPER: OK. All right.
CORWIN: So, now you feed the rope and then we can slide down like this.
COOPER: That was far more unpleasant than it needed to be.
COOPER: Well, we climbed into that depression, called a moulin, to get a look at how water is carving deep holes into the ice and how that's affecting the entire ice sheet.
The concern, very simply, is that ice there is disappearing, melting, and that could put millions of people around the globe at risk over the next 100 years or move.
In just a moment, we're going to ask our panel of experts just how grave the situation may be.
But, first, let's go back inside that moulin, where we talked to Dr. Konrad Steffen of the University of Colorado.
COOPER: So, because of the research you have been doing here, what is it that alarms you in terms of climate change?
DR. KONRAD STEFFEN, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO: First of all, it got much warmer than we expected. So the melt season got much larger. If you look at the latest reports put together by all scientists that discuss the climate change, they estimate the sea level rise by 2100 to be about 50 centimeters ---one-and-a-half foot.
If you take that number -- this is only based on melt. It's not based on the fast flow that generates additional icebergs. By 2100, we will be more likely one meter -- three feet -- instead of one-and- a-half feet.
COOPER: If the sea levels, by the models that we have now, are going to rise three feet in the next hundred years, can that be reversed still?
Can that be lessened?
STEFFEN: Even if you reduce CO2 output at the current level and leave it level, the climate will continue to warm. So even by stopping the increase of CO2 today, we will have a warming. We will have a sea level increase. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: So, how serious is the threat?
Here to discuss it is James Hansen, a NASA climate scientist and one of the first people to sound the alarm on climate change, and Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow of environmental studies at the Cato Institute, both very different opinions.
Pat, you -- you believe there is global warming. You believe the climate has changed, things are getting warmer. You're skeptical about what, if anything, people can do to stop that trend.
PATRICK MICHAELS, SENIOR FELLOW IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, CATO INSTITUTE: Well, one of the things you always have to do is recognize that, when you spend your capital, it can be gone.
Right now, people are calling for 60 to 80 percent reductions in carbon dioxide emissions by, say, the year 2050. There are lots of -- there's some legislation showing that in Congress right now.
How do we do that? Nobody really knows. What you would wind up doing would be imposing costs today that could be better invested in technologies for the future. You don't want to take people's money away today if you're not going to be successful. You want them to be able to invest in the future.
COOPER: How serious is -- if the IPCC report is correct, and it's a foot-and-a-half of melt -- I mean, Dr. Konrad Steffen says he thinks it's going to be three feet the sea levels will rise. How serious is a foot-and-a-half over 100 years?
JAMES HANSEN, NASA: Well, a foot-and-a-half is more than a nuisance, but the problem is much more serious than that.
If you look at the history of the Earth, when ice sheets begin to disintegrate, sea level rise can be very rapid and very large. The last time an ice sheet melted, sea level went up 20 meters in 400 years. That's one meter every 20 years.
And West Antarctica in particular is very vulnerable to warming. And if we look at the history of the Earth, warming of more than one degree will surely make West Antarctic ice sheet unstable, and we will get sea level rise much more than one-and-a-half feet or three feet. We will get several meters of sea level rise.
It's only a question of how long it takes. But, again, the history of the Earth tells us, once it gets started, it's out of your control and it can be very large.
MICHAELS: Actually, the United Nations median carbon dioxide projection in sea level works out to about eight to 19 inches. That's the range. The median value there is about 13 inches.
HANSEN: That does not include ice sheet disintegration, which is the main...
MICHAELS: It does not.
HANSEN: ... which is the main problem.
MICHAELS: And they did not include that because they said that we just did not have enough scientific evidence for this.
HANSEN: We are going to have to get beyond fossil fuels at some point. And it's to our advantage to do that much sooner.
If we don't, we know that we will more than double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and we know that, with such an increase, that we will get warming of several degrees. And that will produce a different planet.
MICHAELS: Here's what I want to know. Here's what I think everybody needs to know. And I'm going to ask Jim a question.
We have -- say we have to reduce emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. That's what some legislation says right now in front of the Congress. Tell me specifically how you would reduce emissions 80 percent in 43 years? What technology would you do?
COOPER: We will continue this conversation in just a moment, after a break, but we will continue this conversation.
We are going to talk about melting ice, also about polar bears. We also have v-mail question on the topic. We are going to answer it when we come back.
We will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm Beth Menhar (ph) from Midland (ph).
And, last year, I was the polar bear in our play. And I was wondering if the polar bears were -- will still be here when I am going to be an adult.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: I have been personally attacked by -- by Anderson Cooper. It's taking place right now, even this week, calling me every kind of name, all kinds of threats.
This is what you -- people say, why don't more members of the House and the Senate tell the truth about climate change? This is the reason. This is what we're subjected to. I have got a big family at home that has to watch all this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That was Senator James Inhofe.
For the record, I never called the senator any names at all or ever made any threats toward him. The idea that I would make threats toward him is simply bizarre. I, frankly, have no idea what he's talking about.
We did feature the senator and his position on climate change in our documentary. He thinks it's a hoax, but he declined to talk to us then. And he declined to talk to us for this program.
We will go back to our panel of experts and answer more of your v-mails.
But, first, Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin takes us to Alaska to show us how some of the biggest animals there may be in danger.
CORWIN: It's an impressive opening in the ice here. This is a lead. And, of course, as you can see, we are not alone.
(voice-over): A polar bear's primary source of prey are seals. They have the most success hunting seals in a 20- to 50-mile gap of water between coastland and ice. The water is more shallow there and the seals are more plentiful. The problem is, though, just like in Greenland, that ice is melting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When the ice melts in the summer, it used to be that it only withdrew from the Alaska coast a little ways. Maybe 10, 15 miles, sometimes a little farther than that. In recent years, we had a gap of sometimes as much as 200 miles north of the Alaska coast.
CORWIN: As a result, biologists are now witnessing some very strange bear behavior. Some of these animals are actually drowning, trying to swim these new open waters. Now, remember, these are marine mammals, so they are not supposed to drown. There are even cases of polar bears cannibalizing each other when the food runs short.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ultimately, they are all dependent on the sea ice. And if the sea ice continues to decline as it has, it's going to affect polar bears.
COOPER: Again, we're here with NASA scientist Jim Hansen, and Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute. And joining our conversation us is Dale Bryk. She's a senior attorney for the Natural Resource Defense Council.
Appreciate all of you being with us.
Also joining is Jeff Corwin and Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Before the break, though, Pat Michaels asked a question to Jim Hansen about, how would you actually try to reduce CO2 levels by 80 percent in the next 40 years, as some legislation, he says, calls for?
In fact, that is possible. More than -- about 50 percent of the excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere now is due to coal. And, on the longer run, it has to be even more than that, because that's where most of the carbon is.
So, if we put limitations on coal, phase out its use, except where we capture the carbon dioxide, that's 50 percent right there.
MICHAELS: Coal is 55 percent of our electrical power right now. It would have to be replaced with something that would produce a lot of dense energy.
And one of the problems, of course, is that then you bring in nuclear power. I think that that deserves a very open hearing on this issue, if we're really serious about it. But a lot of people seem to want to shy away from it.
COOPER: One of the points you often make is that a lot of the scientists who get behind climate change and that man has an impact on it are driven -- there's a money incentive for those scientists. Is that right?
MICHAELS: No, I think it's much more complicated than that.
The reward structure in science really is based upon publication and research. And, yes, that takes a lot of support. So, if you go around and you say, well -- maybe -- you're at a congressional hearing and you say, maybe this isn't the most important problem, your issue is now not competitive with other scientific issues that are competing for public funding.
HANSEN: But if you stick your neck out too far, it becomes more difficult to get funding and to get your papers published. So, I don't think that's true at all.
MICHAELS: I think Jim is living proof that that's not true.
I mean, Jim is sticking his neck out. And he's very popular. He's very well-funded, does research that gets published everywhere. It's hardly what you said.
HANSEN: On the contrary, I first stuck my neck out in 1981 in a paper that was reported on the front page of "New York Times." I subsequently, the next year, lost the promised funding from the Department of Energy, because they did not like that publicity. So, I think I'm a good example of exactly the opposite of what Pat is saying.
MICHAELS: I think you're profoundly successful, Jim.
COOPER: We are going to leave it at that.
Jeff Corwin, before the break, we got a v-mail question from a viewer about polar bears and about whether they are on the brink or are heading toward extinction. Are they?
CORWIN: Well, one important discovery that has been revealed through the research of scientists like Steve Amstrup with USGS, is that there's a direct connection between climate change and the loss of Arctic ice and the health of this species.
It's estimated just last year from the University of Colorado that the Arctic Circle has lost about one million square miles of ice. And this is a creature that is directly impacted from that. Today, the population of these animals is estimated to be from 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears in existence.
And what research has revealed is that these animals are being born smaller. The offspring are having higher levels of mortality. And there's more stress, physical and biological stress, amongst adult animals.
And it's estimates that, if the trend of melting ice continues, that this species could very well disappear in the wild within this century.
COOPER: We have got another question from one of our international viewers. This is for Dale. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, I'm a viewer from Japan.
Today, let me show you my daily bag. So, I always carry my shopping bag with me, so I don't have to ask for plastic bags when I go to supermarket or bakeries. Being Japanese, I can eat almost anything using chopsticks. So, again, I don't have to ask for plastic forks or disposable chopsticks.
Here's my question. Do I really need to do these things? I feel like what I'm doing is too small. I won't have any impact on protecting our environment. How much impact would it have if each individual becomes more eco-friendly person.
Here's one more thing left in my bag, my favorite book.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I appreciate the plug. But what about that? I mean, it makes people feel good to do stuff. Does it really matter that she's eco-friends. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, absolutely. I mean, every little bit counts. And you can just think about how much waste is involved with all the consumer goods that we have, all the plastic bags and the shopping bags that we use.
And if everybody behaved like this viewer, we would certainly be much, much better off. But again, that is not going to be enough to solve the problem. We absolutely have to have policies, because consumers don't have enough choices to really solve this problem. We've never solved any major environmental issue just with voluntary consumer action.
COOPER: Dale, Jim, Pat, we appreciate your perspectives. Thanks very much for being with us.
Up next a part of the documentary that got a tremendous amount of feedback and an equal amount of controversy: chemicals in our bodies and what they're doing to you or to us or if they're really doing anything. There's a test you take to find out what you may have in your bloodstream. I took it. My results and what you may need to know, coming up.
Plus, more outtakes from "Planet in Peril" documentary. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to take close-up pictures of bear's vaginas?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen, if we don't sell this to CNN, we're going to sell it to Spice Channel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No kidding?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, I'm Randi Kaye. Back to "Planet in Peril" in a moment. First, a "360 News and Business Bulletin".
Tonight the Senate is debating whether to confirm Michael Mukasey as President Bush's nominee to replace Alberto Gonzales as attorney general. The vote could happen any moment.
Mukasey faced questioning over the definition of torture and whether it covered water boarding, a simulated drowning technique.
The FBI is warning of a terrorist threat to shoppers this holiday season. Intelligence indicates malls in Chicago and L.A. could be targeted by al Qaeda. The FBI says the information is unconfirmed and is being released out of an abundance of caution.
Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, a long-time ally of Rudy Giuliani, reportedly has been indicted. Sources tell CNN prosecutors have been looking into allegations against Kerik that include tax evasion and bribery.
On Wall Street, more losses. The Dow falling 33 points, closing at 13,266. Both the NASDAQ and the S&P slipped, as well.
Those are the headlines. Back to "Planet in Peril" right after this quick break.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a small village in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong, Zhu Chun Yun doesn't have a husband anywhere. Her daughter, 12-year-old Shushon (ph), doesn't have a father. He died of colon cancer.
(on camera) Do you have any idea how he got it or why he got colon cancer?
(voice-over) "He got it because of the brown and red water," she says. "The brown and red water from the Hengshui River."
(on camera) So because of the water, because of the food that was irrigated by the water and because of the drinking of the water, you think your husband got cancer?
(voice-over) "The doctor in the hospital told us not to live here. He said, 'Don't eat the rice and don't drink the water'," she says.
(on camera) If the water is so dirty, so polluted, why do you drink it? Why do you use it to irrigate crops?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have no choice.
GUPTA: No other options?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No other options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta with the tough choices people in the developing countries make every day. Here in America, we'll look at what chemicals you and I may have in our bodies and why so little is known about the health effects, if any, of those chemicals. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): Three years ago when this video was taken, the entire Holland family decided to get body burden testing for a story in the "Oakland Tribune." Their son, Rowan, was just 18 months old. At the time, he was the youngest child in America to ever be tested for chemical exposure. Mikaela was just 5 years old.
MICHELLE HAMMOND, MOTHER: I thought that would be really interesting, to see, you know, if Mom and Dad are high in something, would the kids be high in it, too? COOPER: Their chemical exposure levels were high, but then they got the kids' results, and they were shocked. Rowan and Mikaela's levels of chemical exposure were two, three, and four times that of their parents for phthalates, also called plasticizers, found in plastic bottles, personal care products and medical devices.
For PCBs. They were used in electrical insulators, in refrigerators and microwave ovens, banned in the late 1970s.
But one number stood out: Rowan's level of PBDEs, a class of flame retardants found in everything from foam cushions to rugs to mattresses to casings of electronics. They were nearly seven types the levels of his mom and dad.
COOPER: The question is what, if anything, is that chemical exposure doing to kids like Mikaela and Rowan. There are very different opinions on this.
Joining me now is Shawna Swan of the University of Rochester School of Medicine, and Elizabeth Wheelan, president and founder of the American Council on Science and Health.
Thanks for being with us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
COOPER: Elizabeth, let's start with you. You think a lot of this is overblown. Most of it -- the presence of chemicals doesn't necessarily mean...
ELIZABETH WHEELAN, PRESIDENT/FOUNDER, AMERICAN COUNCIL ON SCIENCE AND HEALTH: Exactly. People are going out, getting their blood tested, and they find trace levels of chemicals. And they say, "Oh, I'm at risk of disease." And there's no evidence of that at all.
You've got to remember that our ability to define chemicals, for example, in blood has become so sophisticated we can find traces of anything in anything. And the fact that you've identified it in blood does not mean it poses a hazard.
COOPER: Shawna, what about that?
SHAWNA SWAN, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I agree that it doesn't mean that it necessarily poses a hazard, but I feel that the evidence is showing more and more that it -- that it does pose a hazard.
And while we are able to measure more and more chemicals at lower and lower doses, which allows us to do the kinds of studies that we need to do to show health effects. What we're seeing is, when we're exposed to many chemicals together, particularly the risk of harm increases.
COOPER: What proof, though, is there of that? I mean, when you actually start to look at the evidence, what studies can you show that indicate they are dangerous?
SWAN: There's evidence, for example, low levels of lead, pretty well accepted, pose risks to, say, our children in terms of their I.Q., in terms of fertility.
COOPER: Elizabeth, do you agree with that?
WHEELAN: Certainly on lead. And I'm not saying low levels, but certainly elevated levels of lead are not a good thing and can harm a child's health. However...
COOPER: Phthalates, which have now been -- there's health warnings (ph).
WHEELAN: Take something like phthalates. OK, phthalates are plasticizers, and they're used in medical equipment and in rubber duckies and other toys. And there's no evidence at all that these pose any hazard to human health. There is evidence, in animal studies, that high doses can cause, for example, cancer in rodents. The relevance of that to human risk, I think is nothing, zero.
COOPER: Sanjay, what about that? You're sitting at home. You're hearing this. It seems confusing.
GUPTA: It is confusing. I think it's one of those things that's difficult in medicine, which is the absence of evidence doesn't mean there's no effect. That's an important point. Just because science hasn't caught up yet doesn't mean that we won't find that out.
And to Elizabeth's point, though, lead, for example. In the 1960s, 60 micrograms per deciliter was considered a high level. Nowadays, we talked a lot about lead. Recently, with all the toys from China, 10 micrograms per deciliter is now considered too high a level.
It's dropped by 50 points over the last 40 years. What happened there? The science caught up. Back in the '60s, we wish we would have known then what we know now. We didn't. It just took a while for all that to...
COOPER: There isn't much -- from what I understand, there isn't really much testing of chemicals as they come on the market on the possible effects on humans.
WHEELAN: But you have to remember when you're talking about chemicals, we're surrounded by natural chemicals. And they haven't been tested either. Our food is comprised of natural chemicals, many of which cause cancer in rodents; yet we're not concerned about that.
So this focus on trace levels of synthetic chemicals as a cause of disease to me seems misplaced.
COOPER: Bottom line, you say there are more important things?
WHEELAN: Far more important things.
COOPER: Shawna, to you.
SWAN: We're exposed to 50 to 100 -- I don't know how many you had -- chemicals. Many of them add up in what we call the new math so that the hole is greater than the sum of its parts. That's what I'm most concerned about.
And I'm particularly concerned when this happens to the fetus, the unborn child, because at that time, that fetus does not have the ability to handle the chemicals that we do as adults. So the changes are permanent and can be lifelong.
COOPER: Shawna Swan, we appreciate you being on. Elizabeth Wheelan, thanks as well.
WHEELAN: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next another part of our "Planet in Peril" investigation. Dr. Sanjay Gupta takes us inside an animal market where animal parts, some belonging to endangered species, are up for sale. Find out what you can do about it.
Also ahead, the lighter moments from our worldwide travels. Be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLOGIST: It just gives you a small sensation of the challenges these biologists face every day as they go into this jungle to do their job. They can come here, burn...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably a lemur.
CORWIN: All right, let's just do this. While we're in this position, we'll get to it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We might lose him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We might lose the lemur.
CORWIN: Over my shoulder, you get a brief sensation of the frustrations I face as a story teller. I'm given fabric. From there I must weave it into a tale, a tale to ignite your passion in conservation. I'd prefer to be at Starbucks eating a scone with a double latte, but we are here.
It better be an albino fricking lemur. That's all I have to say.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing conversation about our "Planet in Peril". We want to warn you that some of the images you're going to see in this next segment are disturbing.
Asia is our next stop. It's a place that we learned is one of the hubs of the illegal animal trade. A estimate put it at a $10 billion a year business there.
Some animal are sold alive. Some are killed and the parts of the animal sold off. In many cases, the demand is fueled by brutality and greed but often it's ancient customs and health concerns that drive the trade.
Here's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
GUPTA (voice-over): Practiced for thousands of years, traditional Chinese medicine draws on at least 500 species of plants and animals.
Dr. Paul Butt (ph) is a professor at a Chinese university in Hong Kong. He's been studying the use of wildlife in traditional Chinese medicine for over 30 years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is bear bile. They got it direct from the bears.
GUPTA: In China, over 7,500 bears are kept in cages while their bile is extracted several times a day from a steel catheter. It's a process that critics call barbaric. But traditional Chinese medicine uses it to treat everything from heart disease to impotence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chinese medicine, the bear bile has been used for over a thousand years and still it is very good medicine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: It's hard to believe bear bile is such a popular item in that part of the world.
Joining me again is Sanjay Gupta and Jeff Corwin.
Jeff, what kind of an impact overall do traditional medical practices -- traditional medicine practice have on the trade of endangered animals?
CORWIN: Well, the black market trade of wildlife is devastating creatures and habitat around the planet. I mean, just from central Africa alone, we're talking about almost 600 million individual life forms were destroyed for the bush meat trade of wildlife.
And as we were in Southeast Asia we discovered this by going into the black markets of Myanmar, in Burma. And you can actually hold in your hand a tiger skin, a tiger skin that was recently robbed from the wild. And what you realize is that in your hand, you're holding potentially one percent of the population, being that the tiger species in that part of the world has been so dramatically reduced. COOPER: Sanjay, when you were in China, what kinds of animals did you see being bought and sold? What kind of parts of animals did you see?
GUPTA: Well, it was all kinds of parts and all kinds of animals. Some of them were perfectly legal. Talking about various creatures, where the body parts, including the limbs, including the penises, all sorts of things, sold for cuisine.
COOPER: You were in a restaurant where it's like every -- tiger penises and...
GUPTA: Dog penis, tiger penis. And a lot of that -- but there was also -- it was interesting. This particular restaurant, you saw there was another menu that was sort of an underground menu, if you will, for people to come in and get what Jeff was talking about, some of the endangered species.
Actually, some sort of demand for actually eating tiger paw or bear paw, actually having that as part of the meal, that was something that we saw, as well. I'd say, you know, about half of it maybe going towards traditional Chinese medicine and another half going towards a lot of these exotic cuisines, I guess.
COOPER: Jeff, we've got a v-mail message from a viewer. I want to give it to you. Let's play that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hear about tigers and elephants facing extinction. And we can't go running (UNINTELLIGIBLE) ourself. Some of us would love to. We were wondering if the average American can do anything about the extinction of these animals?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: That's from Suzanne Grover, an animal rescuer and conservationist, and her dog Gracie. What about that? What can be done? What can the average American do?
CORWIN: Well, absolutely. First of all, that's a fantastic question. I think the most important thing we all need to do within our country in the United States and also as a global community is recognize that we all have power. We have power in the purse as consumers.
We can exercise our power politically and recognize that you're going to have an impact. You're going to leave behind a footprint, a ripple effect that will connect to other life forms.
For example, if you're someone who's concerned about amphibian extinction, as I am, you could contact the group Amphibian Ark. They're the ones that are working to try to protect these amphibians, these frogs and toads and salamanders from disappearing.
But recognizing you have a power as a consumer. You have power politically and recognize that what you do every day in your life will have an impact.
COOPER: All right. Jeff, thanks.
A lot more ahead. For more on ways of how you can help protect and preserve our planet, we've made it pretty easy for you. You can logon to CNN.com/Impact for links to organizations taking action.
A serious subject but at times on our travels, there were some funny moments. Just ahead, more outtakes from our "Planet in Peril" special, when things didn't always work out quite as we had hoped they would.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I'm Anderson Cooper. We're flying over the Amazon rainforest. We were supposed to be here with -- what is it?
CORWIN: I'm going to place this here.
CORWIN: That hurts, right (ph)?
COOPER: Look what you did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Once again I'm joined by Animal Planet's Jeff Corwin and CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
So you know, after working on this for almost a year, Sanjay, what did you take away?
GUPTA: You know, it's funny. I didn't know a lot about climate change, I think, when I sort of entered into this project maybe several months ago.
And I think the thing that sort of struck me was that I always thought that this would be something I would be telling my daughters about and something that would affect them more so than me, or even their kids.
And then you travel around the world as we did, and you see that a lot of that is happening now. You know, we went to this place, the Carterets Islands we got to see. And this is an island that's disappearing right now. People are having to leave that place because of what's happening.
And it sort of took it squarely out of the realm of theoretical and place it into the realm of it's happening now. I think that was, more than anything else. And I think gave it more of a sense of urgency for me.
COOPER: Jeff, how about you?
CORWIN: Well, finally, I guess the best thing to come out of this is those stripes in my arms finally went away.
But -- but I think on a serious note, what I really take stock of from this experience, of working with Planet in Peril, it's really -- we've come to this critical juncture, this point in the history of our species where so much incredible, diverse life is just disappearing right before our eyes.
Extinction is not new to this planet, but for the first time, one species is having a great impact on all others. It's like this perfect storm, with climate change and habitat loss and human population growth and overexploitation of species. Equally a loss of life only equaled when dinosaurs were wiped out 60 million years ago.
So to be there at this moment and have an opportunity to tell these stories and hopefully, out of this experience, there will be a positive effect that will be able to pull these life forms back from the brink of extinction.
That's what I walk away with and that's what I hope this project will ultimately do, is promote good conservation.
COOPER: Well, it's been great working with all of you. That pretty much does it for Jeff, Sanjay and I.
I want to thank all our panelists tonight, as well, and all those who helped with our "Planet in Peril" investigation. Leaving you now with a new REM song that they kindly let us use for the documentary, "Until the Day Is Done."
COOPER: The actual thickness of the ice in Greenland has been diminishing.
GUPTA: I'm standing in the middle of what used to be Lake Chad.
CORWIN: There's a lot of animals right here that range the gamut of critical status.
GUPTA: We're hearing that people are getting cancer from drinking water.
CORWIN: We're destroying nature's natural regulator.
MICHAEL STIPE (singing): Are we last to carry on, until the day is done? (END VIDEOTAPE)
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COOPER: "We trust in God. We have two choices: victory or martyrdom." These are the words of an insurgent fighter in Iraq, as reported by the "New York Times" only days before the battle of Fallujah.
And these are the words of an American commander said at virtually the same time: "The enemy has got a face. He is called Satan. He lives in Fallujah, and we're going to destroy him."
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