(CNN Student News) -- October 23, 2007
California on Fire - Get a by-the-numbers look at how destructive California's wildfires have been.
Planet in Peril: Climate Change - Gain a better understanding of why the climate change debate is so polarized.
GOP Debate - Watch Republican candidates work to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You've found Tuesday's edition of CNN Student News! I'm Monica Lloyd.
LLOYD: First up today, it's gotten worse, even worse than officials feared. A series of California wildfires have scorched about 100,000 acres and they're anything but under control. The numbers tell the story: Hundreds of thousands evacuated, dozens of homes seen burning, flames as high as 200 feet. And we can't say this will end any time soon, because hot, dry conditions and winds fanning the flames, they're just not letting up. Here's Keith Oppenheim with a glimpse of the damage.
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MICHAEL JARVIS, CALIFORNIA DEPT OF FORESTRY: What's happening is that a lot of these fires are just shifting and once you get one side fixed you got to go to the other. It's really erratic, swirly, squirrely winds is what someone called it.
KEITH OPPENHEIM, CNN REPORTER: California officials say wildfires whipped by Santa Ana winds over the weekend are worse than they could have imagined. One of the largest - the canyon fire in Malibu - destroyed several homes and businesses. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger declared a state of emergency in seven counties as more shelters opened for evacuees.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR: ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Cal. fire officials are using what resources they need to put out those fires. I urge everyone to follow the directions and evacuation orders.
OPPENHEIM: Two hours southeast of Malibu, a blaze known as the "witch fire" is raging in San Diego.
RON ROBERTS, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SUPERVISOR: We have an emergency situation here in San Diego County. We have several fires going. Collectively they've burned over 100,000 acres. We have now evacuated close to 250,000 people from their homes.
OPPENHEIM: Officials there say it's too dangerous to track the fire by air so they're evacuating everyone who's potentially in its path. That includes patients at a nursing home and hospital and at least two universities have cancelled classes.
JERRY SANDERS, MAYOR, SAN DIEGO, CA.: This is an extremely quick moving fire. Probably one like we've never seen before because of the strong winds and heavy smoke.
OPPENHEIM: Back here in Malibu, I'm standing in front of what remains of what was a church. The Malibu Presbyterian Church. And the members of that congregation say they will rebuild and plan to hold a vigil here tonight. In Malibu California, I'm Keith Oppenheim reporting.
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Fast Facts: Santa Ana Winds
BONNIE SCHNEIDER, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'm CNN Meteorologist Bonnie Schneider with a special look at Santa Ana Winds. This extreme weather is bringing about winds and flames across Southern California, but I want to take a look at the dynamics behind it for you. High pressure has been building in over the Great Basin and we have low pressure along the coastline. Now, as the wind blows from high pressure to low pressure, we're seeing a strong pressure gradient, a difference between these two areas. So that is bringing about some of the strong wind. However, the Santa Ana connection is as the winds blow down the mountains, the air heats and compresses. We're talking about very hot, dry air and strong winds that can gust as high as hurricane strength as they whip down the mountain. That spreads about more flames and embers from fires that have already started and, of course, it can ignite new fires.
LLOYD: We're wrapping up our Planet In Peril series today with a report on climate change. An environmental studies professor at Stanford University says, "there's no way there's anything natural that can explain it." A professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT says, it's part of the natural warming and cooling a planet goes through. They're talking about transitions in the earth's temperature, something Carl Azuz now boils down to the basics.
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CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS: In a world that's always changing, there's one thing that many folks want to stay the same: the temperature. A change of just a couple degrees, can make a world of difference, and not necessarily a good one. The Earth's average temperature fluctuates, going through both warming and cooling periods. The last cooling off period was between 1945 and 1975. Since then, though, things have been steadily heating up. And most scientists point to Arctic ice melting as proof; something Anderson Cooper saw firsthand.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Already in the last 30 years, at least 400,000 square miles of sea ice has melted. That's about the size of Texas and California combined. And as the ice melts it affects sea levels around the world, which impacts tens of millions of people.
AZUZ: What's controversial about climate change is whether people have anything to do with it. A change in the Earth's orbit or the sun's radiation could cause global warming. But so could an increase in greenhouse gases. The Earth needs these gases to maintain a warm, livable environment. But they contain carbon dioxide, which has increased dramatically over the last couple centuries. This may be due to car emissions, burning fossil fuels, deforestation. Many scientists blame all of it for causing the world to warm up. But is it all just theory, another planetary 'summer' before 'fall,' or are we headed for severe drought, consuming fires and melted ice caps? Carl Azuz, CNN, Atlanta.
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LLOYD: You're just hours away from CNN's Planet in Peril premiere! The first part of the high-definition special broadcast is tonight on CNN at 9pm Eastern. The second half airs tomorrow night, also at 9pm. And it's all covered in our free classroom materials, at CNNStudentNews.com. So teachers, please be sure to log on, when you tune in!
LLOYD: This time, it's personal. At least more so than the last Republican presidential debate. There are currently eight GOP candidates for president, the same number as Democrats. So, like the Democrats, they're working to distinguish themselves from the crowd. How do you do that? Dana Bash has a few examples, in her wrap-up of Sunday night's GOP debate.
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DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right out of the gate, Republican presidential hopefuls were encouraged to mix it up on who's the real conservative, but it didn't take much prodding.
FRED THOMPSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mayor Giuliani believes in federal funding for abortion. He believes in sanctuary cities. He's for gun control. He sides with Hillary Clinton on each of those issues.
RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Fred has his problems, too. Fred Thompson, along with very few Republicans, blocked tort reform over and over and over again. That is not a conservative position.
MITT ROMNEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House by acting like Hillary Clinton.
BASH: It was the most aggressive GOP debate with the sharpest exchanges to date. Frontrunners Rudy Guiliani and Mitt Romney took the most incoming, about their conservative credentials.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Governor Romney, you've been spending the last year trying to fool people about your record. I don't want you to start fooling them about mine.
BASH: All that, prompted this:
MIKE HUCKABEE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let them fight all they want tonight, shed each other's blood and then I'll be ready to run for president.
BASH: Eleven weeks before the first Republicans vote in Iowa, Rudy Guiliani leads nationally but in key first context states, polls are mixed. The increasing heat here is generated by an unsettled, and unsatisfied GOP electorate. But one thing these candidates know Republican voters want is the best man to go after Hillary Clinton.
ROMNEY: She hasn't run a corner store, She hasn't run a state. She hasn't run a city. She has never run anything.
BASH: They were eager to deliver.
GUILIANI: No kidding Hillary -- America can't afford you.
BASH: John McCain attacked Clinton for trying to spend a million dollars on a Woodstock museum, and used it as reminder of his 60s experience as a Vietnam POW.
MCCAIN: Now, my friends, I wasn't there. I'm sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time.
BASH: This was Fred Thompson's second debate and he got the most pointed question about why he doesn't campaign more and criticism that he's lazy.
Thompson responded by ticking off his lengthy resume, saying "if a man can do all that and be lazy, I recommend it to everyone." Not an exactly an answer to the question, but it was an applause line. Dana Bash, CNN, Orlando, Florida.
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AZUZ: Time for the Shoutout! What is the highest U.S. military decoration? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Congressional Gold Medal, B) Medal of Honor, C) Purple Heart or D) Victoria Cross? You've got three seconds -- GO! The Medal of Honor is the answer here. The Congressional Gold Medal is the nation's highest civilian -- not military -- honor. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!
Medal of Honor
LLOYD: Our last story today: The first Medal of Honor to be awarded from the war in Afghanistan. It was presented yesterday in a bitter-sweet ceremony. We say that because the recipient, Lieutenant Michael Murphy, was killed in action two years ago. His parents and brother received the medal yesterday from President Bush. Murphy was a quintessential hero. The 29-year-old Navy SEAL was leading a four-man team that was attacked by more than 40 insurgents. They couldn't get phone reception to call for backup, so Murphy moved to a clear area where he could, and where insurgents could target him. He gave his life to make the call.
LLOYD: Murphy's story was told by the one member of his team who survived. And it concludes today's edition of CNN Student News. I'm Monica Lloyd. E-mail to a friend