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tv   CNN Newsroom Live  CNN  January 2, 2022 1:00am-2:00am PST

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♪ ♪ ♪ . and a warm welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. i'm paula newton. ahead right here on "cnn newsroom," the new year is not loosening the pandemic's grip across the world. we'll look at whether south africa's experience can give us a clue as to when the omicron surge will peak. plus, we're live in the cnn weather center on the severe weather threatening millions of people right across the united states. plus, as russia continues its military buildup, president biden is expected to speak with
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ukraine's president today, to reassure him of u.s. support. we are live in moscow with the latest . and we begin in the united states, where the latest covid surge is shattering records again. the u.s. is now averaging more than 394,000 new cases a day, the fifth day in a row a new high was set. and remember, that's the seven-day average. most states, you see it there, the ones in dark red, have seen daily case counts rise by 50% or more in the last week. now, so far, thankfully, hospitalizations and deaths are lower than the peaks that we saw in 2021, but that doesn't mean the danger is over here. the cdc estimates more than
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44,000 people could die from covid-19 in the next four weeks. meantime, millions of children are headed back to the classroom monday. others have been postponed, and it comes as a record number of children are hospitalized with covid-19. and some school districts now are announcing at least a partial transition to online learning. that's the approach several school districts right here in georgia are taking. cnn's nadia romero reports. >> reporter: the dramatic rise in pediatric cases for covid-19, cases and hospitalizations, is forcing some school districts to go back to remote learning. and we're seeing that here in the state of georgia. at least three atlanta area school districts say they will be back to remote learning starting this week when they're supposed to head back to the classroom. instead, those students will be heading back to their kitchen tables, to their basements, to their bedrooms to dial in virtually to learn, be in the
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classroom, because they're not able to physically go into the school building, because of the skyrocketing cases we're seeing here in georgia. and let's take a look. when you just look simply at the number of pediatric cases for covid-19 in georgia, it is alarming when you compare the end of november to the end of december. we also see that skyrocketing of cases of hospitalizations for pediatric kids if georgia, kids ending up in the hospital. just take a look at that steep incline. and that is why so many school districts say they will be going back to remote learning. they, of course, will be hoping to go back to in-person learning, the second week of january, but it all depends on the cases and how they're doing within the school district and within the surrounding community. for atlanta public school teachers, this is interesting, they are supposed to report to their school buildings, back to their primary locations, to undergoing mandatory covid-19 testing. the school district says they'll used that data for their future
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plans. this is something that many school districts were hoping to avoid, but because of the skyrocketing numbers, we are back to remote learning for many of the school districts here , and you can expect that to have an impact across the country. nadia romero, cnn, atlanta. this probably wasn't the start to a new year that europe was hoping for, either. as you can see from the map, much of the continent looks like a covid hot zone, especially there in western europe with case numbers going up. france is adding the united states, in fact, to its covid travel red list. under those new rules one vaccinated travelers from the united states will be required to quarantine for ten days. all travelers from the u.s. will need a negative antigen or pcr test conducted less than 48 hours before departure. and across the channel, england began the new year with another daily case record. more than 162,000 cases were reported saturday, but the
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health secretary says introducing new restrictions would be a last resort. i want to point out that those numbers, though, were for england only. scotland, and in fact, northern ireland did not report because of holiday delays. for more on all of this, we are joined by cnn contributor, barbie nadeau, who is live for us in rome. i mean, look, barbie, this continues to be an issue, those rising case counts in europe. is there any suggestion that anymore measures will be taken? i feel like a broken record. i've been asking you about this for several days now. and yet, european countries, with the exception, perhaps, of the netherlands, haven't really been moving towards any kind of full lockdown. >> no, they're not moving towards a full lockdown. and part of that is because the hospitalizations are still manageable. we're not seeing the types of numbers of people on respirators and intensive care that we did in the previous peaks. and that is keeping governments or allowing them, at least, to avoid any kind of further lockdown right now. but these numbers are staggering. and none of this happens in a
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vacuum. it takes a couple of weeks before we see the real results of these numbers. we could see a jump in hospitalizations, we could see jump in death. and i think governments will, at that time, you know, think about taking stronger measures. the focus right now is to get these kids back in school after the holidays, paula. >> yeah, barbie. we'll continue to watch the numbers there. and with the holidays now over, perhaps we will be hearing more early next week. barbie nadeau, happy new year, i haven't seen you, and thanks for that update. joining me now is a global health expert at university college london. i hope you're well and happy new year to you as well. you know, we were just talking about those records and they give many the impression that in terms of this virus, this variant, that many of u.s. just won't escape it. i know we keep talking about south africa. officials there have made it clear that their cases have peaked. but how long could it take for
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cases to peak in places like the united states and europe, where the case of paces is just staggering? >> i think we definitely need to be cautious about applying what has happened in south africa to other countries in the global north, also because of lefvels f exposure to previous variants and the age of that population means we could experience something very different. we're very early in these waves in the uk and europe as well as in the u.s.. we will really only see the impact of hospitalization and even if the theories that omicron is milder, again, play out in realtime, when we hit population level infection, that could in this case be seeing in the uk, where hospitalizations are on the rise. where as, one in ten health workers are currently off sick. because there's also disruption in terms of health care service
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delivery. and that's going to be a huge problem, as well as many more patients having to split up covid wards. so we're already planning, much like in previous waves, for care outside of hospitals, in sort of pop-up venues to deal with overflow of patients. >> yeah, certainly the picture you paint, unfortunately, gives us flashbacks to what we really had going on in the beginning of this pandemic. and that tlehat leads to this fatigue, right? there are pockets of protest in europe over the restrictions, but how best to combat these covid surges when the resistance to restrictions and in some cases the vaccine just seems to be growing? >> well, certainly, there's always going to be pockets of opposition and a very noisy minority that are against restrictions and in some cases, even against vaccines themselves. but i think it's very important that we continue to communicate the sciences as clearly as
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possible. and there has been many changes in terms of the levels of risk. there have been periods over the summer, where less precaution has been needed, and there are other periods, particularly in the winter, that even with vaccines, we need to be more cautious and change up the rules. and yes, that leads to fatigue, but i think also, sometimes we underestimate the capacity of the public to understand the variables in life and how we need to be adaptable to that. also, in the future, we will have things like anti-viral pills that seem to be very effective in reducing hospitalization, that will help to ease with sort of that winter pressure that we're seeing in terms of the hospitalization crisis. even in the uk previously, we've seen things that are much less severe than covid like flu has also put strain on health care systems. we have to ensure that we're looking at health care systems with maybe more outside of the box in terms of ensuring that we have more resilience within that for the workers themselves, as
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well as dealing with overflow. so in terms of the, let's say people who are resisting restrictions, well, they're going to see mass disruptions anyhow, as people are going to be off sick. in europe, their public workforce is preparing for 25% of their people to be off. so whether you want restrictions or not, there is going to be that impact felt. >> yeah and that is such a good point. we see it all around us, right, in terms of the staffing. it doesn't matter what sector s it's in. i have to ask you, though. something i've been wondering about, do you wonder if this particular vaccine will undermine the credibility of vaccines? health officials have been telling us for months, this will be a pandemic of the unvaccinated, but that turned out to be an unreasonable expectation. they've said that the vaccinated are now very likely to get infected with this variant. they were just plain wrong in the first place. do you fear, in fact, that more
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people will look at that and say, well, it's a mild variant, why do i need to get vaccinated? the vaccine doesn't seem to make much difference. >> well, we're also -- we have very limited data on severity of omicron. that has been a narrative that has absolutely pushed perhaps the popularity around reducing levels of restrictions, for instance. but we will see. the very preliminary, early data has indicated that, but unfortunately, by the time hospitalizations prove that to be wrong, we could be in big trouble. in terms of vaccination itself, we're sort of in this position, as well. because many countries hoarded vaccines, so it really sped up the development of a new variant, and we will see many more variants in the future to come, as we transition into endemic covid-19 situation. but really, the point of vaccines now is to reduce severity of symptoms and to
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reduce hospitalizations. so, yes, omicron, this new variant is so much fit in a sense that it can enter the body more easily, it can infect people much more easily, it's more transmissible. it's made the vaccines less effective. but the vaccines remain highly effective, between 80 and 90%, in terms of reducing hospitalization, especially with that booster jab. so we really need to ensure that that messaging is crystal clea if you are vaccinated, it's much more likely that you'll have no symptoms or very mild symptoms, whereas the unvaccinated could be on ventilators and in the hospital. that's a huge difference, particularly for those that are vulnerable and elderly. and also, just for people who don't want to have mass disruption to their lives. >> and that was a very stark way in which you just portrayed it there and hopefully people are listening. appreciate it. now, next hour, we'll examine the rise in covid infections and hospitalizations
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among children. i'll be joined by pediatrician jill garpolo, stay with us for that. we are getting more details, meantime, on a developing story out of cape town, south africa. just in the past few minutes, an official said that at least 60 firefighters are now on the scene of the fire you see right there that broke out at the parliament building this morning. crews are dealing with a partial roof collapse and they've detected concerning cracks in a wall. the fire is sill not under control. and that is troubling, according to one minister, no injuries have been reported. the blaze apparently spread from an office space on the third floor. the cause is under investigation. once again, that fire there at the south african parliament building in cape town and we will keep you updated on all the latest information as it becomes available. okay, president biden is set to begin his second year in office with a long list of major
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challenges. and with midterms looming, the white house knows there's very little room and time to get things done. that story, just ahead. and at the top of his agenda, convincing vladimir putin of it's a bad idea to invade ukraine. a live report from moscow, when we come back.
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the remains of desmond tutu are back in the cathedral where he once preached to a nation. the former archbishop's ashes were laid to rest under a memorial stone in front of the high altar at st. georgia's cathedral in south africa. that's where his funeral was held saturday, the archbishop leading the service called on south africans to commit to the legendary change that the archbishop advocated during his lifetime, this includes fighting for freedom, justice, quaequali and peace for people all over the world. america's deepening covid crisis is creating an even bigger challenge for u.s. president joe biden. kevin lip tack has a look at mr biden's week ahead. >> reporter: president biden had
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hoped to enter 2022 under far more normal circumstances. instead, this surge in coronavirus cases is really testing his ability to contain the pandemic and to reassure americans that there may be an end somewhere in sight. right now his strategy is focused on surging resources to states where hospitals have felt the strain. and also to bolster testing resources to try to ease those long lines at testing sites and delays in results that americans are seeing around the country. so ten days ago, the president promised that there would be 500 million at-home antigen tests that americans would be available to order line. still a lot of questions about those tests. we do expect to learn more about that at the end of this week. the federal government is also opening a testing site in new jersey. that opened on saturday. they're going to open testing sites in washington, d.c. and philadelphia, as well. now, the other thing to watch this week is the supreme court. the justices will hear oral arguments about the president's vaccine mandates on public
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health workers and on large businesses. those mandates had actually formed a major part of the president's effort to contain the pandemic. and so the fate of those will be before the court at the end of this week. of course, covid is not the only issue on the president's plate when he returns to washington. he is also trying to diffuse that crisis on the ukrainian border. he spoke to vladimir putin, the russian president last week. he is expected to speak to the yuanian president on sunday night. that is all leading up to these talks that are set to take place in europe in the beginning of january. the president is also focused on his domestic agenda. that is somewhat stalled in congress right now. he's still looking for a path forward, really just among democrats, to come to an agreement on a final bill there. and the president is also focused on january 6th. the anniversary of january 6th is coming up this week. it's on thursday. we do expect to hear from the president then. so there's a whole slate of issues on the president's agenda, as he enters this new year. and remember, it's not just
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2022. we're also entering a midterm election cycle. democrats control over both houses of congress will be up on the line in november. kevin liptack, cnn, wilmington, delaware. >> now, as kevin just mentioned there, the smoldering standoff between washington and moscow over ukraine will dominate much of president biden's agenda this week. and that's beginning today, a call later today with the ukrainian leader. cnn diplomatic international editor nic robertson is standing by for us in washington. and this year begins as the last one ended with high-stakes talks. any real sign of a breakthrough at this point? >> there really isn't. and i think it's early days yet to speak about a breakthrough or even really to be able to analyze what's being said by both sides and try to sort of formulate a vision of how this can progress. one of the things that president biden said after that phone call where president putin was that if russia de-escalates and
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that's a path to negotiation, and he said, if we can negotiate, then i feel president biden, these are his words, that there can be progress. but in essence, by saying that, what president biden is saying, by russia building up its troops on the border with ukraine, creating these tensions, as seen in the west, russia, of course, says that these are just normal military winter training exercises on their own territory, sovereign territory, so they're free to do what they want. but what president biden is essentially saying here, it appears, is that russia's troop buildup, if that de-escalates, then russia can get some of what it wants at the negotiating table. but what russia is asking for, these legally binding guarantees, that ukraine will not become a member of nato and that nato will roll back its presence in europeaastern europ these are things that if president biden moves forward on, potentially create tensions within nato, and create fissures
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within nato, because these are not easily changed, you know, points of nato principle, that they will act together, they will protect and look after ukraine's sovereignty in the face of an attack. so, again, trying to read forward is very tough. but the playing field at the moment seems to be potentially here in president putin's favor. >> exactly the way he wants it. with security issues so urgent, russia has been able to deflect pressure from human rights issues. we've been here before in terms of trying to deflect attention. you know, putin critic alexei navalny remains in prison. and now some of his associates say that they fear for their safety. >> there's a very wide and permeating fear for the safety of human rights activists, of potential opposition politicians, and independent
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journalists. you know, the crackdown that we're seeing, closing down memorial international, memorial human rights center, just before the new year, really have sent a chilling message to many russians who, you know, would like to see more opposition, more independence to president putin's view. there's no shortage of a desire for that, among a certain part of the population. but the ability to express it freely is really being shut down. and alexei navalny in prison is no longer being put on a flight risk, so is not being woken up routinely through the night, but is still on the list of potential terrorists or extremists. that's going through call. but the reality is he's not going to be out on the streets anytime soon and anyone who would support him vocally knows that they risk the potential of arrest, as has happened recently to some of his associateassocia.
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>> and the biden administration will say, well, we can do two things at once. we do talk to russia about some of these issues, but given the urgent issues of these security nations, it is not top of mind in these meetings. nic robertson, once again, thank you so much for your insights. appreciate it. here in the united states, severe storms have battered parts of the southeast again. and it isn't over yesterday. have a look at that. meteorologist derek van dam joins us with fall report. and experts warn the environmental disasters of 2021 are proof the climate crisis is here now and it's intensifying. coming up, i'll speak with the nobel prize-winning author of five u.n. climate change reports.
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and welcome back to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. i'm paula newton and you are watching "cnn newsroom." colorado officials will bring in cadaver dogs today to search for three people missing after a massive wildfire. officials initially thought that no one was killed when the marshall fire tore through boulder county on thursday, but they now say that those three missing people are unlikely to be found alive, because homes associated with them have now burned to the ground. the fire was fueled by hurricane-force winds burning close to a thousand structures before snow put out the blaze. the cause is still under investigation. and now to the southeastern united states, at this hour, where a tornado watch is in effect for portions of alabama and georgia. you see it there. satellite image highlighting the current conditions. a long line of strong storms is pushing its way through the region and could produce
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tornadoes and damaging wind gusts. meteorologist derek van dam is keeping a close eye on all of this. there is never a dull moment. let me know how this is going, as i know you've been keeping a close eye on the radar. >> it's called job security, paula. but it really is very busy. and we've been tracking these storms all night. the areas in red behind me across central alabama and western portions of georgia, that's the tornado watch spot that's currently in effect. that goes through 6:00 a.m. eastern standard time. for the most part, this line of thunderstorms has behaved overnight. that's the good news. but we've certainly had these brief spinups, where we've had radar-indicated tornados and the strong gusty winds, that's the major concern going forward on top of that, the extremely heavy rain in a saturated environment. so localized flash flooding in and around the metro region of atlanta here, going forward within the next 45 minutes. this is the current radar, just starting to edge into the northwestern portions of the metro of atlanta. and this line of storms extends
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into the central portions of alabama. just over the past 48 hours, the southeast has had three tornado reports, over 40 reports of severe wind damage, and much of that taking place across the hardest-it areas from the december tornadoes that struck portions of arkansas, tennessee, and kentucky, as well. that's why we highlighted these so much and kept a close eye on them. this is part of a large storm system impacting the u.s. this watch and warnings map is lit up like a christmas tree from the east coast to the west coast. new this morning within the past 15 minutes, we currently have winter weather advisories for northern alabama, mississippi, and georgia. this is part of the storm system that's going to press through, sharp cold front, drop in temperatures, and that will bring a chance of snow through that regions from the appalachians into the mid-atlantic. more on that in just a second. snowfall ongoing, but coming to an end in chicago and detroit. and i want to pay close attention to this, because we have the potential monday morning for snowfall in atlanta. but more of a concern will be the snow that will line up across the nation's capitol. we have the potential for over eight inches of snow for d.c.
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paula? >> it is really hard to keep up. and it's the extremes that are the issue. we'll get to that. derek, stand by for me, please. we were also looking at some of the most extreme weather events of 2021, as the crisis -- as the climate crisis took a catastrophic toll around the world. the western u.s. was gripped by a drought and in june, an unprecedented heat wave killed hundreds of people in the pacific northwest and in canada and in the span of a few weeks, deadly flash flooding struck europe, china, and southeastern u.s. severe flooding in july killed more than 200 people in germany and belgium. i mean, derek, we didn't even discuss there the tornados in kentucky. you've had a front-row seat to all of this. how extreme has it been? because when we talk about this, we just talked about atlanta there. we've been having summer-like temperatures here, and now all of a sudden you're telling me there's going to be the chance
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of snow. >> yeah, that's the weather whiplash that we highlight on a daily basis. i have covered many of stlthese events through the course of 2021. in fact, the first event i'm going to discuss, hurricane ida. i was on the coastline of louisiana when this storm struck as that powerful category 4. actually, re-sclandscaping this powerful coastline as this powerful storm moved inland. it wasn't just the damage that it brought to the gulf coast states, it impacted over 22 states across the eastern u.s. that reported 500 flood reports, 21 confirmed tornados and severe wind reports, as well. we can't forget about what happened in new york city. the flash flooding that took place there, with the remnants of ida. and almost paradoxically, we had on the west coast of the u.s., the entire portion of northern and central california, basically burning. we had the kelder fire, one of many fires visible from satellite imagery, just billowing smoke into the upper levels of the atmosphere, threatening businesses, threatening homes, burning down structures and sending people to
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the hospital with respiratory issues, as well. heat and drought, of course, related issues. the fires were so intense that they created their own thunderstorms. that's called pyrocouumulonimbu clouds, that has become a factor that has become an issue in the past decade. who could forget the ice storm in texas that put 10,000 customers in the dark from austin to houston to san antonio. it also disrupted the water and natural gas availability across the state. staying in texas, this is incredible, a super cell thunderstorm created a hailstone over 19 inches in diameter. we would be remiss to forget what happened in the middle of december of january -- or of december 2021. we had, on average, 23 tornadoes in the u.s. states, but we had over 116 just in the course of that month. during the middle of the month, we had our long-track tornados barrel through portions of arkansas, missouri, kentucky, and into tennessee and we can't forget about what happened to
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these locations, complete devastation with ef-4 tornadoes moving through. globally, it was a very, very difficult year, as well. we had incredible amounts of precipitation on the highest elevations of the peaks of greenland. this actually created a first-ever rain event for that particular location, espionage off a massive melting event of the greenland ice sheet. we also had a large iceberg. in fact, the largest iceberg at the time break off from the southern shoreline of a antarctica. this is roughly the size of the state of rhode island. that gives you an idea of the br breadth of warming that has occurred across the planet, especially in the north and-out poles. and the all-time highest record set in lytton, british columbia. and on the fourth day, lytton burned down because of forest fires.
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in greece, we had forest fires that caused over 125,000 hectares of acreages being burned. and some of the strongest cyclones in the subcontinent of india bank account the west coast. a wide-ranging year with the fingerprints of climate change from india to asia all the way to north america. >> yeah, all of it jaw-dropping and not an exhaustive list, right? derek van dam, really thank you for pointing that out. >> yeah. well, yuma mao is a professor emeritus at tufts university and a visiting scientist at woodrow climate research center. this is your bred ad and buttern terms of right to figure out what's going on with the research. what does the data tell us about the extreme weather? the big question everyone has, professor, is how much is this influenced by climate change right now? >> well, the interesting thing is, we have always had extreme weather events. but what we're seeing is that
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those events are becoming much more intense than they ever have been before. the extent of, you know, heat events, droughts, precipitation, floods, the tornado frequencies. all of these things are changing. and there is enough good science to make observations to understand that much of this difference is associated with a change to climate. >> you spell out the fact that there is this feedback loop. can you explain that and the fact that climate change is at everyone's doorstep now. this is not something that's going to happen in 10 or 15 years. it's happening now. >> that's right. and i began working on this full-time in 1988 and we always talked about it as being in the future. the future happens to be now. and we're on a very disturbing
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trend line, where things have gotten worse, and they are headed to be worse still. the gases we've put into the atmosphere, the carbon dioxide from our vehicles and power plants and other gases we've put into the atmosphere, like the methane from many things, agriculture and so on, have warmed the atmosphere. but the atmosphere has not warmed uniformly. on average, the world has warmed about 2 degrees fahrenheit since, well, the end of the 19th century, i would say. and it is continuing to rise at an accelerating rate. and the reason for that is that the atmosphere is not warming uniformly. the arctic, for example, is
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warming two to three times faster than the average of the world as a whole. and that means that there are differences in temperature that did not exist before, between the warmest parts and the coldest parts. and that's disrupted things like the jet stream or the polar vortex, which is a wind that flows around the arctic, that generally used to keep cold air inside it. that has broken down, because of the way we've changed the heat that's in the atmosphere and allowed that cold air to spill out and for warm air to penetrate into the arctic. and that movement of these masses of air is one of the things that's causing the very peculiar and intense weather patterns that we're seeing. >> and before i let you go, to put a fine point on this, this
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isn't going to get better, even if we met all of our climate change targets today, even if we set them. we're in for quite a rough ride. >> we're in for a rough ride for a long time, but the sooner we start acting, the better. and the reason we're in for a long ride is that the warming of the atmosphere that we are creating directly, by these -- by putting these gas in the atmosphere and, by the way, by cutting down the very forests that have been absorbing carbon dioxide and making it harder to reduce the amount that's in the atmosphere, that -- the warming that is taking place because of the addition of the gases is causing other changes in nature, which are releasing more heat. and those are the feedback loops that we talking about. they are amplifying the changes
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that we are causing directly. so for example, the perma frost in the arctic is thawing. why should i, living in a temperate zone care about that? well, because, it's releasing methane. methane is something, in a hundred years, it's 20 times greater, in 20 years, it's 80 times greater than carbon dioxide. and that's warming the atmosphere even more. which then causes more melting of the permafrost. it causes more melting or thawing of the permafrost. more melting of the ice sheets and the glaciers. and that's raising sea level. and just so you know, 90% of the extra heat that's been absorbed by the earth is in the oceans. what we're seeing on land is only -- is less than 10% of the extra heat that we've absorbed. and those oceans will start giving off that heat as we start trying to cool down the earth. so we are in for the long haul,
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i'm afraid. but if we act quickly, we can head off some of the worst weather events in the next decades. so it's imperative that we act now. >> yeah, especially for future generations. professor moomaw, thank you so much. really appreciate your input on this. >> thank you for having me, paula. and north korea's leader says his nation is facing a life-and-death struggle, not with an external enemy, but with food shortages in his own country. still ahead, his plan to solve the problem. unlike ordinary memory supplements, neuriva plus fuels six key indicators of brain performance. more brain performance? yes, please! neuriva. think bigger.
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(swords clashing) -had enough? -no... arthritis. here. aspercreme arthritis. full prescription-strength? reduces inflammation? thank the gods. don't thank them too soon. kick pain in the aspercreme. north korea's leader has repeated a stunning admission that he made several times in the past year, that his nation is having trouble feeding its own people. kim jong-un was speaking at a party meeting on friday. paula hancocks gives us the details. >> reporter: north korea
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welcomed the new year with a fireworks show in pyongyang, performers bundled up for the sub-zero temperatures, sang and dance to an audience of thousands, all wearing masks. a festive event to close out what leader kim jong-il called a year of unfavorable condition. kim barely mentioned the united states or south korea according to state-run media. instead, looking inwards, focusing mainly on domestic issues. his new year's resolution, to provide more food for his people, saying the country faces a, quote, great life-and-death struggle. kim has made public admissions of food shortages over the past 12 months, a parental problem, since he took power ten years ago. covid-19 and bad weather destroying crops have made a challenging situation even worse. kim is now pledging to increase agricultural production to solve the food crisis. preventing covid-19 infections is also stated a as a priority
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for the year. last month, state-run media, kcna, said prevention measures were increased, including mask requirements and temperature checks. pyongyang has yet to acknowledge any confirmed cases in the country. the pandemic and pyongyang's decision to shut its borders in january of 2020 have exacerbated the food shortage, cutting off much-needed imports from main trading ally, china. in july, the united states department of agriculture estimated 63% of the population was considered food insecure. north korea's economy is believed to have shrunk 4.5% in 2020. but with ngos having pulled out international staff due to the pandemic, an international realtime assessment of how bad the crisis actually is has become almost impossible. aid agencies estimate north korea had a shortfall of hundreds of thousands of tons of rice last year, and predict more shortages ahead. making any efforts by pyongyang to ease this long-running
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domestic crisis all the more urgent. paula hancocks, cnn, seoul. >> and we will be right back with more news in a moment. when you need it most. it's non habit forming and powered by the makers of nyquil. new zzzquil ultra. when you really really need to sleep. is now a good time for a flare-up? enough, crohn's! for adults with moderate to severe crohn's or ulcerative colitis, stelara® can provide relief, and is the first approved medication to reduce inflammation on and below the surface of the intestine in uc. you, getting on that flight? back off, uc! stelara® may increase your risk of infections, some serious, and cancer. before treatment, get tested for tb. tell your doctor if you have an infection, flu-like symptoms, sores, new skin growths, have had cancer, or if you need a vaccine. pres, a rare, potentially fatal brain condition, may be possible. some serious allergic reactions and lung inflammation can occur. lasting remission can start with stelara®.
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a year for the british royal family, who never seemed to be far away from the headlines. a tell-all interview shocked the world with racism allegations and the death of prince philip left the queen a widow. our max foster reports now from london. >> reporter: for the royal family, 2021 was punctuated by loss. >> in the months since the death of my beloved philip, i have drawn great comfort from the warmth and affection of the many tributes to his life and work. >> reporter: husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, the man she described as her strength and stay, no longer by her side, after 73 years of personal and professional partnership. one image lingers from his funeral, that spoke not just to her loss, but to that of so many others who were left on their own because of covid. but it didn't slow her down.
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the queen back at her desk, while she was still officially in mourning. until doctors advised her to rest in october, following a hospital stay and preliminary investigations into an undisclosed condition, later compounded by a back sprain. >> it's an extremely punishing schedule for someone who is 95. and i think no one would criticize her at all and everyone would support her in stepping back and doing a bit less. >> reporter: she gave up international travel some years ago, so prince charles represented her in barbados in november for a ceremony to replace her as head of state by a locally appointed president. it marked the end of 396 years of british rule and a long-awaited reconciliation with the island's colonial past. >> the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.
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>> reporter: it wasn't the first time that race came up as an issue for the family in 2021. >> concerns and conversations about how dark his skin might be when he's born. >> reporter: prince harry and meghan, the duchess of sussex, went rogue, not just leaving their royal roles, but telling all to oprah winfrey on why they felt the need to get out. >> it raised very serious allegations of racism, but also of rifts within the family, difficulties between prince harry and his father, the differences between him and his brother. it really was a very opening up of things that have traditionally been kept very private by the royal family. >> reporter: the queen issued a statement, acknowledging the allegations and committing to address them, whilst also pointedly noting that recollections may vary. the rest of the family, characteristically, kept calm and carried on, until william was fired an unsolicited question.
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>> are you a racist family, sir? >> we're very much not a racist family. >> reporter: the queen's younger son, prince edward, spoke to cnn, but wouldn't be drawn on the sussex saga. >> we've all been there before, we've all had, you know, excessive intrusion and attention in our lives, and we've all dealt with it in different ways. and we wish them the very best. >> reporter: the palace has continued to distance itself from prince andrew publicly, pursued by the fbi in recent years for sexual abuse allegations, accuser virgin roberts due frey filed a civil case this year accusing the royal assaulted her when she was 17. prince andrew has repeatedly denied all wrong doing. royal commentators expect the institution to survive in tact. >> i think the royal brand has taken quite a battering in 2021, from all sides. you know, we've had the fallout from the oprah interview.
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we've had prince andrew's ongoing legal issues. these are all things that, you know, really should have dented the monarchy, but i think that the key players have just quite simply kept calm and carried on and done some really good things. >> reporter: in february of 2022, the queen will celebrate her platinum jubilee, the only british monarch to do so, having first ascended the throne 70 years ago in 1952. the firm is key to focus attention on that and the success of the queen's entire reign rather than a tumultuous 12 months. max foster, cnn, london. >> and our thanks to max there. i am paula newton. thanks for your company. i'll be back in just a moment with more "cnn newsroom." when they're sick, they get comfortable anywhere
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here. aspercreme arthritis. full prescription-strength? reduces inflammation? thank the gods. don't thank them too soon. kick pain in the aspercreme. a warm welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. i'm paula newton. ahead right here on "cnn newsroom," more u.s. school districts opt for remote learning as child covid hospitalization soar. we will look at what it takes to be safe while in class. and we're live in the cnn weather center on the severe weather threatening millions of people across the united states at this hour. plus -- >> this can't be real. it's just so surreal to be able to even fathom

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