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tv   KQED Newsroom  PBS  December 17, 2016 2:00am-2:31am PST

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♪ hello and welcome to kqed newsroom, i'm thuy vu. coming up on the program, from driverless cars to donald trump's meeting with liminaries it is a big week in the tech world. and we've hear from a stanford scientist who won a mcarthur for his inventive solutions to global problems. this week the governor spoke in san francisco. brown struck a defiant tone vowing to keep fighting to tackle climate change. >> we have the scientists and the university, we have the national labs, and we have the political clout and sophistication for the battle and we will persevere. have no doubt about that. >> scientists from all around
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the world attended the conference, including the u.s. special envoy for climate change, jonathan pershing. craig miller spoke with doctor pershing on trump's position on climate change. >> thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> it is a year since the paris climate agreement was signed by 200 countries and could you give us an update on where that is. >> a couple of different things. first off, the agreement was a structured exercise in which countries committed to reduce emissions. each country took a different target and a different perspective had different priorities in the national development policies but all of the countries that signed on agreed. they had to submit a report with what they intended to do. reports have now been submitted by 186 countries around the world, representing about 99% of global emission. >> each one saying this is our game plan. >> this is our game plan and this is what we are trying to do. some picks 2025 and some picks
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2030 and numbers of absolute emissions and work on forest and brazil made a major push on the forest and chooirn and india, and big proposals on renewable energy and europe cuts emission and every slight different structure and the plans are in and since paris implementation of the plan has been started and that is the big move over the last year. >> against this back drop we continue to get mixed signals at best from the incoming trump administration, from donald trump himself, one moment he will say his mind is open, on the paris climate accord and the next minute he said, nobody knows if climate change is even real. how do you deal with that? do you have any indication of what this administration will actually do? >> not really. and i think we have to wait a little bit and see. i do frankly have my own sense of disappointment about some of the people he's named. he has not picked people so far who have been forward leaning on this question. and to my way of of thinking, that is not good for the united
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states. >> you are talking about people like rex tillisson, an oil executive and rick perry -- >> and mr. pruitt from oklahoma. >> these are not guys on the pushing for climate policy part of the spectrum for sure. >> interesting enough, mr. tillerson is the most forward leaning of the entire group. he has, since the election, come back and said we should stay in paris. he said we should actually act on greenhouse gas emissions and called for a carbon tax so unusual for someone in that position, he believes it is not only real but it is a problem we have to address. that is not so much the case for mr. pruitt who has been in his context as attorney general for oklahoma suing the environmental protection agency to get out of the clean power plan or what mr. perry said is that he believes strongly in the enhancement of fossil fuels and how those might move forward. so we have a mixed set of messages coming from the appointment and the president-elect himself who has been frankly less consistent about what he says but we want a
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consistent posture and the issue is clearly real, clearly affecting americans, clearly affecting security of the nation and globally. and if we don't move fairly quickly, i think we have a big problem looming. >> you mentioned the clean power plan, that is the obama administration's game plan, that is a centerpiece of their climate strategy for this country. but it all came from executive authority. congress wouldn't sign off on any of this, so what happens if the trump administration gets into place and they do bail out of paris or just simply failed to put any actions in place that would make -- that would help fulfill the country's obligation. >> the first, clean power plan is partly reaction to the existing car. the supreme court ruled that carbon dioxide is a pollutant and because they made that ruling, the clean air act requires that the epa take action to regulate those pollutants. so in that sense, the new administration could come in and say we don't like this particular choice but they still have to regulate. a supreme court decision is not
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just an executive order, it is an interpretation of a law that has standing. and many states intend to move forward any way. we see that hosting in a number of states. california, oregon, some states in the midwest are moving. it is by no means narrowly the two coves only. you have a number of other players. and i note it is not the only big policy. so we have commitments on congress has passed since we completed paris in which they've extended for five years renewable tax credits and a series of programs on efficiency standards the department of energy has done over the last five years an programs approved for automobile efficiency and on the other side what happens if the u.s. does that. what does the world do. three things. i think they will move forward any way. we've seen clear indications that the major player mas plan to move independent of u.s. election and europe and mexico and canada has said so so we're seeing real action. and it is driven partly --
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countries very much believe climate change is a problem and partly the things they would do have domestic benefits just as they would for us. so if i take a look at things in the domestic space, there are about two and a half million people who work in clean energy. that is an enormous number. you don't phase the rules out because you have all of the job as attached to that. and as we develop, there are more jobs coming. if we think about that structure, very good economic policy. or a program for vehicle efficiency, that is about how much oil you kmconsume. and they are wins for us and for china and for them it is an economic security question. all of this plays in and i think leads to continued action independent of the u.s. >> you really think that all of those other -- most of the other major emitters around the world, the other countries will stay the course even if the u.s. bails out of paris. >> i look at the united kingdom, moving out of the u.k. is it giving up the climate policy, no it wasn't. it is enshrined in u.k. law and
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the new prime minister has said i'm doing this independent of what is happening. i think what is going on in india, modi, the prime minister of india, said we have several hundred million people who do not have electricity. i have to provide it. how am i going to do it? i like renewables. i'm going for solar. that is a big part of the program. and you know what, the access to electricity was not contingent on the u.s., on domestic agenda for movement. the political commitment in these countries is quite robust. >> you gave me a next segway for the next segment when you talked about states here in california. there is a ambitious climate goals. how much can the trump administration or anybody who is actually in the white house really effect that? how much could they throw a wrench in the works in terms of california's goals and commitments? >> well, listen, i think there is a lot of capacity in the federal government to facilitate or slow things down. so for example we passed and congress approved the extension
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of the protection and the environment tax credit renewables, part of how california moves forward in meeting their own goals is that there is an economic benefit coming from the tax credits. suppose they remove that. would california stop? i doubt it. i spent a time in oakland looking at solar incubating technology and how do you get new companies in. it is a dynamic place and all people making investments and angel investments on the side waiting to come in and big commercial vendors coming into to work with them. very exciting. it is stimulated because there is a good market here. it is a abedded and expedited because the feds are in so it probably slows things down but doesn't turn things off. >> not accordk to the governor. who was defiant this week in front of a huge gathering of earth scientists in san francisco basically saying to washington, don't mess with us. the clock is ticking. about two-thirds of californians at least, according to polls, believe that the impacts of climate change are already
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happening. they're here. we don't have a lot of time to mess around with this, do we? >> that is the consensus of the science community. ten years ago we weren't sure what was happening and we knew it was coming and now we know it is bad and we could already see it. and that change which is relatively recent is more and more severe. i'm struck by the probabilities that people use. we had earlier in the course of the late fall a series of big floods in the louisiana. the scientists are telling us that it is 40 times more likely that will happen again because of climate change. we're looking at flooding in new york city, which kind of rises over and gets into the subway system so in lower manhattan you have 60 feet of water in the subway stations, that's enormously increased because there is almost a foot rise in the new york harbor and we're expecting one to three por feet in the next 50 years. how do you think about those questions. you are really looking at risks. i was just in the pacific northwest and seattle they are looking at massive expenditures to fight forest fires increasing
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because of drought and the drought is tied back and here as well. and the governor investing in options, if you look at hech hechy and what comes across for the smoke coming in and the air quality andre respiratory probls in san francisco and the rest of the state and this is part of the phenomenon and it is not in our kid's generation, it is now. >> and back to the donald trump comment that nobody knows climate change is real, what do you say to that. >> i would say take a look at the science and i've been trained in the science and i find compelling when i could get the academies of science around the world, including russia and the europe and the united states and i get an agu meeting in which the polling suggests it is a universal consensus, this is real. and i get impacts that play out globally, not just in one line of evidence, but in every line of evidence, you can't ignore that. and the risk is high that you have to act. we act on things much less risky
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and much less probable because they matter to americans, they matter to our future and our welfare and in this context, this is a certainty and if you don't act on it i don't think you are serving well the people that elected you. >> doctor pershing in, thank you for coming in. >> it is a pleasure to be here, now to tech news. donald trump met with executives of the world's biggest tech companies, including facebook, apple and tesla. they discussed job creation and tax reform. also this week, ride hilly innovator uber rolled out self-driving cars for customers in san francisco but they hit a road block with the california dmv. the agency said the cars are operating illegally. and the fallout continues over allegations that russia tried to influence the outcome of the presidential race through cyber attacks. joining me now to discuss these stories are queena kim, from kqed silicon valley desk and dye wacka barbie, new york reporter.
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and let's start with uber, based here in san francisco and made a big splash and unveiled the self-driving cars but it didn't last very long, did it? >> no. they decided to roll out their autonomous vehicles here. they've been doing it already in pittsburg. and it is a pilot program. and they -- i think uber has a company that describes this policy that it is better to ask for forgiveness later than beg for permission. >> why didn't it just get a permit, though. a lot of other companies have permits to do this. google, tesla, gm, and the permit only costs $150 bucks. >> the main thing is they don't want to share the data. if you get the permit, this test permit from the dmv in california, you are expected to share the data of crashes, the numbers of human intervention, so if your robot car is going somewhere it is not supposed to and a human driver takes over,
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and i think uber at this point doesn't want to share that data with its competitors and the general public because it is still pretty early stages. >> we make the argument that i guess it was technically not an autonomous vehicle because there was somebody behind the driver's wheel to take over at any given time. but i thought it was a great publicity win, wasn't it? like, for the general public, we here in silicon valley know they made great strides in becoming more of a transportation company but in most popular minds it is still the ride sharing or ride hailing app and now with this news, even with them being shut down, oh, wow, they have autonomous vehicles and they are more of a tech transportation company and so a publicity coup. >> this is not the first time they have flaunted rules and they do so wanting to generate enough consumer interest so that could get politicians to pass
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laws more favorable to uber. >> it did kind of shoot itself in the foot a little bit because i don't know if you saw the you tube video of one of the uber cars going through a red light in a pedestrian crossing -- >> a self-driving uber car. >> and the self-driving car and they later said it was the human driver that ran that red light. so it does seem strange to me that in a situation where the human is there to help i guess the robot not make mistakes, it is the hume aan that made the mistake there. but over time it will make driving safer. but i do worry about what happens if there is a major crash. >> what about worries about cyber security? what is the possibility of someone hacking and taking over these cars? >> earlier this year the fbi and the national institute of highway safety issued a warning saying this is something that we need to be careful of in terms of hacking cars and then i'm sure you guys have both heard about the stuff that has been on tv of people who have been able
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to hack these cars. not just the car itself, anything that is connected to the internet can be hacked. but there was even an interesting example out of ucsd where it was a dongle that insurance companies that put into the car so this was separate device, to -- some sort of test with the insurance company and someone was able to hack that device and get into the car. so yeah, it is definitely a concern. and in terms of shooting itself in the foot, i have heard this, i don't know if you have, but there is a little bit of a tiny debate about uber going out so aggressively like this because obviously when new technology come on people are weary of them and the word is that google is taking more of a cautious approach until they are at 100% or 99% and it doesn't mess up, it will inspire consumer confidence but somebody like this, people are like, wow. >> yeah. >> and on the topic of cyber security, let's talk about the cia findings about the cyber attack on the dnc, the
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democratic national committee. is there anything that could be done against russia at this point in response? >> i don't think so. because it is -- the reality is is, with cyber security, is that it is really hard to prove without -- beyond a reasonable doubt that someone did what they are accused of. it is more art than science to kind of pin down the culprits for these kind of things. and while there is an overwhelming amount of indicators that seems that russia is at the heart, if they deny it, and certainly our president-elect seems to deny it, there is really very little proof that could be done to, i think, to bring them to account. >> well what does this do for the confirmation hearing for rex childerson, the choice for secretary of state. many republicans have said they want a thorough investigation of russia's rule and if he doesn't acknowledge the russian interference, does he risk losing the votes of some of
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those republicans? >> i just can't imagine he's going to come out and -- and condemn russia for this. because it is just -- there is -- they can -- there is a plausible deniable -- deniability and you can't prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that russia was behind it. so as long as you could keep denying it and that russia holds the line, i don't think you can. and so -- but what i do think will be the challenge for mr. till isson is to show he is not beholden to russia. and so there is a tight rope that he'll have to walk of showing that he could be independent, and that he can crack down on russia if it is called for but not necessarily pin the hacking on them. >> and some are already questioning that given his seemingly friendly relations with putin. >> exactly. >> let's move on to the other bigtory that made headlines and
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that is president-elect meeting with the head of amazon, tesla, apple and facebook and how much did that cause in silicon valley. >> silicon valley came out hard against trump during the campaign. letters were signed, statements were made. and i think there was within silicon valley, there seems to be a moral angst that these folks were going to meet with trump at his tower. some folks had said maybe they should have waited for him to become president rather than giving him this publicity op, waiting for him to become president and going to the white house and meeting with him there. and what i found interesting and i would love to get your guys take on this, there was this feeling that the tech leaders, apple, tim cook, cheryl sandberg of facebook should have come out and made the morality of silicon valley known to trump, stick up
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for immigration and sort of make it known to him that they don't agree with his stance. and it is sort of interesting that that it was just sort of -- to me it was interesting because it was like that marketing hype is so strong. that people really expected these companies, which are among the biggest in the country in terms of market cap, to somehow act differently than -- >> and companies have often said they are working for the common good. but i think they were in a tight spot. i wanted to ask you, also, about the idea of a muslim data base. these are companies and even some of the own engineers and tech workers have signed a statement said they would not participate in the creation of such a data base that could be used to target muslim. mr. trump has not ruled out that idea. what is the potential here for this to become a really sensitive issue for tech companies to navigate down the line? >> i think it is a hugely sensitive issue. i think -- and when said, they
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he is spoused these values of openness and inclusion, but there comes a time when you have to walk the walk. and so i think it is very difficult to do that. and facebook has come out and said they will not participate in that. they were kind of pressured to do so, because of a little bit of p.r. snafu. but i think it is -- it does come to a point where we'll have to see where the rubber meets the road about a lot of the companies and the values they espouse versus what they do. and the reality is i think it is naive to think that these companies won't act in their best interests. and so these executives all have the fiduciary duty to shareholders and if the president-elect wants to meet you, i think you got to go. >> this week president-elect donald trump named travis of uber and elon musk of tesla to his business vise counsel, could they protect the industry's
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goals and interest with a president-elect who was often hostile to tech during the election. >> i think they will be. and the reality is what we've seen from president-elect is that he's -- you know, he's -- he speaks in a way that sometimes suits the -- more of a campaign style. and think that at the end of the day, tesla and uber are both extremely popular among their consumers and so i think that they will have quite a bit of sway on that counsel. >> okay. on that note, we will thank you both. with "the new york times" and queena kim with kqed. thank you. >> thank you. turning now to the world of science. this september stanford university professor precaution was one of four bay area people to award prestigious grants from the mcarthur foundation and for creating a microscope out of pain thaer cost less than a dollar to make. physical biologist and intentor
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manu precash joins me now. >> thank you for having me. >> first of all, congratulations to you. do you feel any different? are you doing anything differently now that you are officially a macarthur genius? >> i don't know about the genius. but i'm really humbled to be recognized this way in my scientific career. i'm very thrilled and excited. and i think there is a lot more work to be done. so i'm just putting my head down and getting stuff done. >> well your research falls into the field of physical biology. what is that exactly? >> so i'm a physicist by training but i think about biological problems very broadly. so i bring a new set of tool sets from the field of physics into biology. all of life forms around on this planet still obey laws of physics. so in the end, physical biology is a lens into biology but from the physicist's eye.
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>> when you were in the field, one of the limitations you noticed was the ability to view things on-site because you need a microscope to view a lot of very tiny things. so you created and you've created a lot of fascinated products and concepts but you are known for what is called the fold scope. when you brought it here -- >> i did. it is an origami microscope that you fold together from a plat sheet of paper. >> and this is how it comes. a sheet of paper and you pop it out. >> and you put them together and you assemble them. this is the finish full scope. you hold it here with two hands, you move around and then you focus with your thumbs. could you take any traditional glass slide for example and insert in a fold scope. so this is a little bug that i just caught right here on your table. and i insert it and we'll be able to watch it live. you hold it with both hands and this is panning. so now i'm moving around. kind of like walking in a city except it is a microscopic city.
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and then the focus is just the tension in my hand and that generates flexion that allows me to move the lenses up and down. and i'm going to pass this and you hold here and here and to take a look. and then to focus it -- >> is that the bug i'm seeing. >> that is the bug i'm seeing. you see the little legs. it looks a little squashed. >> it looks gross. it is magnified 140 times. >> >> that is correct. and what you are looking at is the mouth parts right there, the mandible. we could tell it is an insect. it has got six legs right there. you see the little sensitive hairs. >> and it cost just 55 cents to make. >> that is correct. it took a long time for us to really squeeze the cost down in manufacturing and come up with a new way of thinking about optics to be able to do that. i grew up in india. so i know and understand what it means not to have access. and especially not to have access to science.
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so it was very important from the beginning that we ask this question much more broadly. and frankly, if you look at all of the challenges that we face, the climate change and environmental challenges, bio diversity and diseases, we need to engage in much broader group of community, not just scientists. and in the discourse of science. my primary source, and i'm thinking about the sets of tools, is i'm just waiting for these ideas to pop in from around the world. and people getting connected to each other. because the tool is exactly the same when i do an experiment here or when a kid does an comparement and -- experiment and in kansas and in boston and they could replicate that experiment with the same tool. so everybody builds on top of each other. >> were you always like this and have you always been tifrnkerin and passionate about science. >> i don't know anything other than science. this is how i grew up. and at that same time, the
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tinkering has value personally to me because it allows me to express myself. but i do very strongly believe tinkering has value for everybody else when we talk about science education and the challenges that we face. only if we accepted the idea that you are allowed to tinker, i think it would make a big difference. >> what is the next big problem you are working on solving? >> i think there are a lot of big problems. one that i've been focusing quite a lot on is figure out to how to track mosquitos out in the field, we've been building new tools to do mosquito surveillance. where citizens could engage -- >> is that to help cut down on mill aria. >> and the miliaria and the chicken dengue that are carried by mosquitos but empowering citizens to engage in the process of understanding what mosquitos do and when we are not watching. >> menu precash, the mcarthur genius award, thank you for being here. >> thanks for inviting me.
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>> and if you would like to get one of those microscopes for a classroom near you, you could go to fold scope.com. and next week, join us for a special look back at some of our top art stories. more of our coverage go to kqednews.org/newsroom. i'm thuy vu, thank you so much for watching.
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