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Need to Know, August 10, 2012: Paradise lost in Palau?

This week's host Maria Hinojosa

Need to Know reports from the Pacific Island nation of Palau about its effort to hold the world’s leading industrial powers legally responsible for the environmental damage their greenhouse gas emissions are causing. Our report features a candid conversation with Johnson Toribiong, President of Palau, about the threat climate change poses to his nation.

Then, anchor Maria Hinojosa interviews Matthew Pawa, an attorney who has brought major cases against greenhouse gas emitters. Pawa helps explain how Palau’s initiative could be a major milestone in climate change law.

This week’s episode will also follow up on Need to Know’s latest investigation into alleged abuses by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

What’s on this week:

Paradise lost?

We report from the Pacific Island nation of Palau on the country’s efforts to hold the world’s leading industrial powers responsible for their greenhouse gas emissions.

Interview: Matthew Pawa

An illustrative interview with attorney Matthew Pawa, who explains how Palau’s initiative could be a major milestone in climate change law.

Border Patrol update

This week’s show also follows up on our latest Border Patrol investigation, Crossing the line, part 2.

Web exclusive: Watching a shoreline disappear

Interview with Sisenio Hideo, a Paluan electrician who has watched the coastline by his home disappear over the course of his lifetime.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.


  • George Nickerson

    if the usa continues to try strongarming our allies in the world we will find ourselves without allies and a virus to inspire terrorist recruits all over the world. the cost of fossil fuel use should include a tax that is related to amount of carbon dioxide produced/ joule and is expendable only for installation of alternative energy generators. by ignoring global warming consequences, violent weather, drought, fires, ice sheet reversion to sea level, we are passing the bigger buck to following generations.    

  • Dwright2

    Matter has thermodynamic properties no matter where you squester it.  Carbon dioxide has insufficient thermal capacity to cause global warming or cooling.  According to Henry’s Law, gases are soluble in water as a function of temperature and pressure.  Thus Al Gore’s global warming hypothesis is unsupported by scientific laws dating back to before the turn of the 19th century.
    David R. Wright, Electrical Engineer.

  • Rarapasky

    Your Palau show re climate change shows extreme bias,one point of view, incomplete science, half truths.and, no knowledge of how science works. There is an environomental agenda which is against reasoned thought.

    You showed how international law works but not how science works, and, in this case the two were at odds with each other
    Without getting into details (at this time) there are normal variations in climate over time which cause climate change. there were no SUVs a thousand years ago. So far this is my comment.

  • Rarapasky

    Do you know how much Gore has made on his global warming rant? Billions.

    Just follow the money.

  • Rarapasky

    The laws of science prevail; the laws of man are fleeting.

    You are basing your environomental thinking on Marx and Engels. They had social/political agendas based on false environmental concerns.

    Please keep with sound scientific environmental thinking. Thank you.

  • Samus1818

    C02 emissions that lead to green house effects as the reason for global climate change. C02 emissions come from cars, and electric cars are pretty expensive right now. I use cars as an example, because there’s an over abundance of gasoline powered vehicles in every street.  BUT, even electric cars aren’t 100% clean, because electricity is produced with coal. Who is to blame? I would say oil companies, car companies, consumers, and human greed. It’s already been proven that car companies work with oil companies to prevent any clean forms of transportation. Consumers are also to blame for not demanding and putting their money on cleaner vehicles. But once again, what can someone do if clean vehicles are not offered at an affordable price? After all, we are in a recession and many people are struggling to make ends meet.  

    I love that these shows exist, but I wish they would make a second show that would inform people on what they can do. My final analysis of all of this- I would say that our government is corrupt. Politicians are being bought by these big companies, and if we really want to see a healthy environment, we need politicians that will pass laws which protect our world. Not delay, doubt, and ignore the problem of global warming. We need clean vehicles, and we need an environmentally friendly way to produce energy. Yes, there are those who are making big bucks out of destroying the world, but even they have to realize that their greed is going to create a world where they wont be able to spend all that money.

  • Elmer Stenger

    I believe that science has proved it’s point several times over.  Global warming is in progress.  To bury our heads in the sand, and do nothing is folly.  Jehovah God may have the power to change it, but if we go on our merry way disobeying his prophecies, as well as his warnings , the Earth may look like Mars does now.  Think about it!

  • Jshaw2100

    Climate science was not created by Al Gore. 

    You are claiming that you are correct and the vast majority of climate scientists are wrong.  I find that hard to believe.

    Carbon dioxide doesn’t directly heat the atmosphere, it (and other greenhouse gases) simply provides a bottleneck to the Sun’s energy being reflected back into space.  As the percentage of carbon in the atmosphere increases, we can expect more heat to be trapped, causing higher temperatures, as we’ve seen.  It is my understanding that carbon dioxide is particularly good at trapping those wavelengths that elude water vapor, thus making carbon dioxide a disproportionate contributor to global warming relative to its comparatively meager heat-trapping capacity.

    Perhaps you are right and the climate scientists are wrong.  But what if it’s the other way around?  Given the catastrophic consequences, shouldn’t we err on the side of safety?

  • Jshaw2100

    Just because climate change can happen without man being the cause doesn’t mean that man can’t cause climate change.

    The vast majority of climate scientists, from all over the world, believe that we are experiencing anthropogenic climate change.  So, science is telling us the opposite of what you claim it’s telling us.

  • Jenny Black

    I’d like to know how to do the math on what might happen (to improve air quality/reduce global warming) if everyone would stop letting their engine run when they stop to talk to a friend…wait for a child at the bus stop…get their coffee or hamburger at a drive thru or warm their vehicles up before or after work would make. I’m happy to see big industries and utilities held accountable, but each one of us as citizens in our communities and the earth should and CAN do our part to improve the quality of our environment.

  • V. tyack

    thank you! urgent urgent problem. Obama administration: wake up!