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Newsroom/World View

Newsroom for March 5, 2001

Aired March 5, 2001 - 4:30 a.m. ET


ANNOUNCER: Seen in classrooms the world over, this is CNN NEWSROOM.

RUDI BAKHTIAR, CO-HOST: Welcome to your Monday NEWSROOM. I'm Rudi Bakhtiar. Let's take a look at what's ahead.

Topping today's news: A deadly disease threatens livestock in Europe. Up next, in "Environment Desk," we'll find out if a solar solution can solve an energy emergency. Then things get explosive in "Worldview," as we examine the planet's population boom. And, finally, we'll "Chronicle" the fate of the Russian space station Mir.

Today's top story takes us to Europe, where British farmers are facing what they call a nightmare. It's called foot-and-mouth disease. And it has plunged farmers all over Europe into crisis mode.

Foot-and-mouth is not a new disease, but an outbreak of this size hasn't been seen in Europe in more than 30 years. The highly contagious virus infects cloven-hoofed animals like sheep, cows and pigs. The virus can be carried for miles by the wind, people or cars. It can also be spread by contaminated hay, water and manure. Infected cattle develop fever and virus-filled blisters in their mouths, lose their appetites and lose weight and produce less milk.

Pigs develop severe foot lesions that force them to lie down and refuse to walk. The disease poses no danger to humans. The latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth showed up in mid-February in pigs at a slaughterhouse in southern England. Authorities quickly banned British exports of milk, meat and live animals. And about 45,000 animals were destroyed.

Despite this, suspected cases have started turning up outside the U.K. in France and Germany. Some countries have started disinfecting travelers or vehicles coming from Britain. And one country, Austria, has advised its citizens not to visit Britain at all.

Seven decades have passed since the United States has experienced an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. But in Europe, it's getting worse. Signs of the virus have been detected in pigs at a farm in northern Belgium. The Belgian government ordered the immediate slaughter of 323 pigs at a farm in Flanders, when symptoms of the highly contagious virus were spotted in three of them. The agriculture minister said initial blood tests have proved negative. But final tests due to be released today will show if the animals were infected with foot-and-mouth disease.

Kim Barnes (ph) has the latest.


KIM BARNES, ITN REPORTER (voice-over): In the heart of Dartmoor: the blight of foot-and-mouth disease. A case has been found on this livestock farm, run by a tenant of the prince of wales. The worry now: that the disease could spread to wildlife on this famous parkland and then to the 46,000 cattle and sheep that roam free here. Some fear the army may have to be called in.

BEN GILL, NATIONAL FARMERS UNION: Well, what we may have to look at then, if it does become prevalent, is the use of marksmen to come in and shoot the animals while they're up on the moorland. Now, I don't want to see that. Nobody wants to see that. We want to keep it out of the moorland. We want to actually stop this disease.

BARNES: Today more carcasses were burned in Lockerbie, as a fifth case was found in Scotland, That brings the total in the U.K. to 60; 45,000 animals have now been destroyed. The Ministry of Agriculture won't say we're over the worse, but they do believe restrictions on movements are working.

BARONESS HAYMAN, AGRICULTURE MINISTER: I think we are still in a very serious disease situation. We are still seeing cases being reported and identified. They are predominantly, though, cases that relate to before the movement restrictions were put in place. And I think that is something that is of limited comfort.

BARNES: Now officials hope a licensing scheme to get some animals moving could be underway by Tuesday. But country life is grinding to a halt. Schools in Longtown and Cumbria, close by two outbreaks, will close next week as this crisis tightens its grip.

Kim Barnes, ITN.


BAKHTIAR: For months, Californians have endured an energy crunch, bearing rolling blackouts and soaring prices. And while they search for power solutions, a Canadian firm has found growing success in selling inexpensive solar power packs. They're also selling a vision of an increasingly solar-powered future.

Rick Lockridge has details.


RICK LOCKRIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sass Peress can tell you there are more than 30 sun gods in ancient mythology. He knows this because he's considered the sun god of Montreal, the CEO of ICP, Canada's biggest solar-powered products company. Got a sun built into his floor and a vision that if enough people start using his solar battery-chargers and portable power-panels, they'll develop a sunny predisposition. SASS PERESS, CEO, INNOVATIVE CONSUMER PRODUCTS: Really, we're looking at the increasingly mobile consumer of today who wants to be with power wherever they go. So we are, if you will, planting seeds at the moment. And we look forward to a very bright future.

LOCKRIDGE: Unlike the expensive solar panels on space stations and up-scale homes, ICP's products are priced for the masses: $15 U.S. for a double-A battery charger. About $300 for this array,

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we do is we make the connection.

LOCKRIDGE: But the problem with solar power is, and always has been, cost-efficiency. Despite slow, steady improvements over the years, it still takes a lot of "glass" to generate a little juice. Still, how many Californians wish they'd had any reliable source of power during that state's recent rolling blackouts?

PERESS: Let us take this opportunity to increase the initiatives for companies to use green power, and look at that simply as another momentum-builder.

LOCKRIDGE: Meanwhile, Peress will tell you he can't wait for the next Montreal power outage or ice storm, like the great freeze of January 1998, so he can put his portable panels and a new solar wall heating system to good use.

PERESS: We will have emergency backup power that will permit this building to continue running.

LOCKRIDGE (on camera): Low-power devices like this one won't begin to satisfy the ravenous energy appetites of first-world consumers. But proponents are hoping people will start to nibble on devices such as this and develop a taste for more green power as more becomes available.

Rick Lockridge, CNN, Montreal.


BAKHTIAR: Washington state is in clean-up mode, assessing the damage caused by last Wednesday's powerful earthquake. Saturday, engineers discovered some of the columns that support one of the world's largest domes has shifted in the state's capital, a building that has survived two previous earthquakes.

Statewide, the 6.8 magnitude shaker caused an estimated $2 billion in damage. Now, tremors aren't the only thing weighing on the minds of residents. The threats posed by Mt. Rainier could make the recent shakeup pale in comparison.


PATRICK MAR (ph), CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mt. Rainier, the towering giant of the Cascades, may one day cause devastation to the surrounding communities. But the fact that it's an active volcano is not what has the ecological community stirring. Experts fear that, at any time, a section of the mountain could collapse and cause rapid mud flows that would smother much of the low-lying


PROF. ANTHONY IRVING, UNIV. OF WASHINGTON: ... drainages, and on the west side, all the way to the Puget Sound. Because most roads and most dwellings and most of the population are in the valleys, that's exactly where the mudflow would go.

MAR: Many events, including earthquakes and an actual volcanic eruption, could trigger a collapse. It would certainly destroy anyone and anything unfortunate enough to lie in its path.

IRVING: You can't swim in it. It buries you. It fills in the houses. It's a big wall of cement, essentially.

MAR: This mud can go as far as nearby communities at a speed of up to 30 miles per hour. Now, despite repeated warnings from geologists, housing developments continue to spring up along the valleys. Fortunately, some places are preparing for such a catastrophe.

IRVING: Well, the town of Orting is really the one that has done the most. There are programs in the schools. There are instruments that are on several of the drainages to alert to a debris flow.

MAR: While Orting has taken warnings into serious consideration, its citizens would still only have about 45 minutes to leave when a mudflow does occur. More troubling is the fact that scientists fear other towns are barely prepared at all.

Geologists continue to monitor the mountain. But because a mudflow could provide little warning, they can do nothing to prevent a catastrophe, only to caution those in potentially dangerous areas.

This is Patrick Mar, reporting for CNN's Student Bureau.


BAKHTIAR: Our destinations today on "Worldview": two regions teeming with wildlife. We will look at Chile, a country with beautiful scenery and exotic animals. And we'll also travel to Brazil, where scientists are taking a survey of creatures far and wide. Speaking of counts, we'll also do a people count to find out why population experts are keeping their eyes on Pakistan.

SHELLEY WALCOTT, CO-HOST: There are more than six billion people in the world, a number so staggering it's difficult to imagine. Even more amazing: the way the global population is growing. Here are some facts to help give you an idea. In 1950, there were about 2 1/2 billion people in the world. Today there more than that under the age of 25. Think about it. People 25 and under add up to more than three billion, about half of the Earth's total.

So how big is that? Well, if a billion people were spaced 15 inches apart, they'd form a straight line from the Earth to the moon. Expanding on that, six billion would make a triple loop. And the world is still growing!

Mike Chinoy has the latest on the population explosion.


MIKE CHINOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the pristine setting of Davos, some unsettling projections from the U.N.'s top demographer. Half-a-century from now, an already overpopulated world will have three billion more people, most of them in developing countries.

JOSEPH CHAMIE, DIR., U.N. POPULATION DIVISION: This is going to be a great challenge for these countries to provide services and goods, opportunities, employment, pensions, health care, basic social services, to this population.

CHINOY: According to U.N. projections, in 2050, India will just overtake China as the world's most populous nation, with 1.5 billion people. The United States will be third with 350 million. And, in fourth place, a big surprise: Pakistan, expected to have 345 million people. For an impoverished country, racked by political turmoil, heavily influenced by Islamic fundamentalism, with a nuclear bomb and a hostile neighbor India, diplomat and analysts here say that's a recipe for even greater regional instability.

CHAMIE: Pakistan will grow. It will create a number of problems. Having so many political problems in Pakistan also exacerbates the situation. I think that part of the world will need special attention, given the difficulties between Pakistan and India on a number of issues. And the population pressures there will be enormous.

CHINOY: Despite these worrying trends, here in Davos there is concern about the ability of governments and businesses to deal with the population boom.

CHAMIE: Political leaders, institutions, governments have to take into account these demographic dynamics and population issues in order to make sure that they are prepared for the future.

CHINOY: The problem, U.N. analysts say, is that most governments usually don't think long term. Struggling to cope with today's crises, worrying about population trends a half-century from now is simply not a top priority. But if that doesn't change, the U.N. is warning that the world in 2050 could well become a much more unsettled place.

Mike Chinoy, CNN, Davos, Switzerland.


TOM HAYNES, CO-HOST: More on the environment as we head to Brazil, this time to check out the animal population. You probably know about Brazil's Amazon region and its lush rain forests, which have more than 40,000 varieties of plants. More species of trees grow in these forests than in any other area of the world. The region is also teeming with wildlife, from parrots to monkeys and much more. But today we head to the southern stretches of Brazil, along the Paraguay River, where Brazil borders Bolivia and Paraguay.

The region is known as the Pantanal, a place famous for its water birds and wildlife.

Gary Strieker takes us on a biological odyssey.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh good, I got him before he got away.

GARY STRIEKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There are no fish in the brackish water of this lake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, here's a dragonfly.

STRIEKER: But the algae, insects and other creatures found here are the foundation of the food chain in the Brazilian Pantanal, a vast wetland covered mostly by private cattle ranches, which has the greatest concentration of wildlife in South America.

(on camera): More than 150 years after the first Portuguese settlers arrived in this region, scientists are now just beginning to take a full inventory of all the species of animals and plants found here in the Southern Pantanal.

EATON: Let's try that big section of cattails there.

STRIEKER (voice-over): Researchers want to know more about what kind of life is found in habitats like this saline lake.

EATON: We're going to all these different spots and doing a quick survey of water chemistry. We're sampling for invertebrates and fishes. The next step is to try and classify the habitats as best we can and study them in greater detail: look at the life cycles throughout the year, look at the seasonal cycle.


STRIEKER: Working with scientists in this area on the Rio Negro: a team of volunteers from the U.S.-based Earthwatch Institute.

JACKIE FROST, EARTHWATCH VOLUNTEER: Right now we're doing an animal -- a mammal census. If we can find any mammals, we mark down the GPS position, take note of what they're doing, how many there are, male, female, young.

STRIEKER: These volunteers are not scientists, just people willing to donate their labor for challenging research projects in remote locations, and who actually pay for the privilege, providing the money needed for work like this: a joint project with Conservation International, gathering information required to identify the most important areas that need protection.

ALEXINE KEUROGHLIAN, EARTHWATCH RESEARCH: Well, it's all so new, it's a challenge. You know, you're not doing something that someone's done and you're just repeating the method or something. You're discovering new things. You have no idea what's going to happen.

STRIEKER: In the Pantanal, scientists realize they know so little about the balance of nature and there is so much yet to be discovered.

Gary Strieker, CNN, in the Pantanal, Brazil.


BAKHTIAR: Our next story takes us to South America, to the country of Chile. Before the Spanish conquest in the 16th century, northern Chile was under Inca rule. At the time of the Spanish conquest, at least 500,000 Indians inhabited the region. Nearly all of the tribes were related in race and language, but they lacked any central government organization.

The groups in the northern part of Chile lived by fishing and farming. In the 15th century, they fell under the influence of expanding civilizations from neighboring Peru: first Chinca (ph), then the Quechua, who formed part of the extensive Inca empire. Yet another group of Indians living in the southern part of Chile resisted the Spanish as they had the Incas. But fighting and disease reduced their numbers by two-thirds during the first century. It wasn't until 1818 that Chile gained its independence.

Now Stephanie Oswald has more from Santiago.


STEPHANIE OSWALD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To travelers, Chile is best known as a destination for seeking adventure.

UNIDENTIFIED TOURIST: And I've seen a lot of beautiful places in the world, but there is nothing like Chile. It's incredible.

OSWALD: Located on the southwest coast of South America, stretching 2,400 miles, it's the longest country in the world. Popular destinations included ski resorts in the Andes Mountains, Easter Island with its famous stone figures and national parks such as Torres del Paine in the Patagonia region.

The capital city of Santiago has its own wealth of night life, arts and crafts and modern conveniences. But the great outdoors is still the key attraction enticing visitors to Chile.

ROBERTO MATUS, COUNSELOR OF ECONOMIC AFFAIRS, EMBASSY OF CHILE: In 1990, the beginning of the decade, the number of tourists that we received were a little bit less than one million tourists. But the projections are, for example, in 2003, just a few years down the road, to receive about 2.6 million people.

OSWALD: Alejandro Goich runs a luxury hotel in northern Chile.

(on camera): What do you think tourism has done for this region? GOICH: A lot. A lot. I think it started like 10 years ago like for the tourist, you know, wearing this bag.

OSWALD (voice-over): Today's Chile still pleases the backpacking crowd, but it's also offering new levels of service.

HEIDI SHERMAN, "TRAVEL & LEISURE" MAGAZINE: It's very European there so if you've been to Europe and that's what you expect, that's your standard, you'll be pleasantly surprised.

OSWALD: Luxury hotels are just one factor boosting tourism.

WENDY PERRIN, "CONDE NAST TRAVELER" MAGAZINE: More and more airlines are flying down not just to Chile, but to all of South America. In fact, the airline routes to South America is supposed to grow more than to any other region in the world over the next few years.

OSWALD: Chile's small towns especially are benefiting from the attention.

(on camera): Tourism in Chile is still in its youth. Other countries are helping to build up the infrastructure here. For example, the United States is expected to pump more than $2 billion in Chile tourism projects between 1992 and 2007.

(voice-over): That money is helping build hotels and develop ecotourism and agrotourism projects designed to teach visitors about farming in Chile. Telecommunications systems and banking services, already tourist friendly, are being updated.

MATUS: An American, for example, could travel to Chile and almost not change his habits, his daily habits at all. So there's not a big cultural clash here.

OSWALD: But despite the benefits of modern technology, crucial for both business and leisure travel, this is a place where observing traditional lifestyles is still compelling and eye opening for visitors. And finding life the way it was often is simply a short drive away.

Stephanie Oswald, CNN, Santiago, Chile.


BAKHTIAR: OK, heads up, everyone. I've got news about something falling out of the sky. It's the Russian space station Mir. The aging outpost doesn't serve much of a purpose anymore, so officials plan to send it crashing back down to Earth.

Miles O'Brien reports on Mir's demise and why people living in the path of Mir's projected freefall are nervous.


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Through collisions of fire and countless failures, the Russian space station Mir has flown on and on. But now the Russian space program says it is high time to bring down the venerable, now vacant orbiting outpost. "We're in a phase of the Russian Mir station's life now when any one of its systems has the right to fail us," said Russian space chief Yuri Koptev.

And thus far, efforts to peddle the Mir as a commercially viable entity have also failed.

DENNIS TITO, CALIFORNIA MILLIONAIRE: I'm a little surprised that, you know, they are having trouble finding the money.

O'BRIEN: California millionaire Dennis Tito agreed to pay $20 million for a trip to Mir and NBC pledged $40 million to air a SURVIVOR like show, offering the winner a stay at the station. But Mir Corp., the American finance company that leased the station, fell out of good grace with the Russians after falling behind on their payments.

"It's been nothing but talk of exotic projects," said Koptev. "As the government agency charged with running this and answering for safety, we don't have the right to continue to play what I call Russian roulette."

Sure, the Russians are concerned the station could fall to earth out of control, as the U.S. Skylab did in 1979. But they're also worried about sustaining their partnership to build the new international space station with the U.S. They admit they have used money earmarked for the ISS to keep Mir afloat. And the man who began the save Mir movement says there are a lot of good reasons to keep the 300,000 pound, 100 foot long station in orbit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But the idea of trying to deorbit a building is not only against the idea of how you open up frontiers and recycle and reuse, but I think it's a very dangerous concept.

O'BRIEN: But the Russians insist they have a safe plan for Mir's demise. They have already sent up an unmanned space tugboat laden with fuel that can assist the suicide. After a series of rocket firings to slow the station down, Mir will begin a fiery free fall. The Russians are aiming for a spot in the South Pacific half way between New Zealand and Chile.

Most of the station will go up in smoke. But some large pieces will reach the surface.

Mir might soon be gone, but it will by no means be forgotten.

SERGEI KRIKELEV, COSMONAUT: Mir's design was very successful, I believe, and it allowed Mir to be easily maintainable. So if something failed, it could be easily fixed and changed on Mir and I think it's a good kind of test bed for future space flights.

O'BRIEN: During cosmonaut Sergei Krikelev's second stay aboard Mir in 1990, the country that sent him there did not exist when he returned. The fall of the Soviet Union was hard on its once proud space program. Ironically, that laid the groundwork for an astounding partnership with the U.S. It led to a series of eight shuttle dockings and seven U.S. visitors to Mir from 1995 through '98. They were eventful years. Computers, cooling and air purification systems failed and in 1997 some high drama as the crew fought a fire and watched as a wayward supply ship struck and punctured a science module. Mir's days seemed numbered then.

JERRY LINENGER, ASTRONAUT: You can only modify something so many times. You can only repair it using C clamps and whatever you can take up to the Mir so many times and then you're much better off coming back and building a whole new system.

O'BRIEN: The first crew of that new system, the international space station, christened the outpost Alpha the moment they crossed the threshold. But for many fans of Russia's seemingly indestructible Mir, the new ISS will always be Beta.

Miles O'Brien, CNN.



MARGARET AMALFITANO, PEACHTREE CITY, GEORGIA: Hello, my name is Margaret Amalfitano. And I'm living in Peachtree City, Georgia. And I'd like to ask a question for my children. Why is the sky blue?

ANN KELLAN, CNN SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT: Hey, that's a great question. Now, think of being out in a bright sunny day where the sun is shining overhead. The sun shines all different colors of the spectrum: yellow, red, orange, blue, violet.

Now, the blue and the violet are shorter wavelengths than the red, yellow, and orange. And those shorter wavelengths bounce off the molecules in the atmosphere and spread out all over the air. And that's why we see blue and violet, we see blue skies. Now, during a sunset, the sun sets further away from us in the atmosphere. And that gives those longer wavelengths a chance to scatter it through the particulates and the molecules in the air. And that's why we see the beautiful reds and yellows of a sunset.


BAKHTIAR: Well, that's a wrap for us here on NEWSROOM. We'll see you back here tomorrow, same time, same place. Have a great day.

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