An Australian climate scientist warns that epic bush fires and the hottest temperatures ever recorded on the continent are a wakeup call that climate change is occurring even more rapidly than models predicted. The scientist, Joelle Gergis, speaks to Holly Williams for a 60 MINUTES report to be broadcast Sunday, Feb. 16 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Williams went to Australia for her report, where she met Gergis of Australia’s National University, who also serves on the U.N. panel on climate change. “I think this summer has been a real wakeup call for most Australians. And myself as a climate scientist, seeing the extreme level of heat and the bush fires and the drought conditions playing out so catastrophically has been, I think, a wakeup call to the world,” she tells Williams.
When Williams arrived earlier this month, the fires were still burning. The fire season is a normal occurrence in Australia, but this year’s fires had begun earlier than usual in September and were on a larger scale than ever seen before. It is estimated that over 27 million acres have burned and a billion animals have died. Thousands of people have been forced from their homes by the deadly fires. Historic conditions caused by climate change gave rise to the severity of this year’s fires, says Gergis. “2019 was the hottest and the driest year in Australia’s history. So we actually saw temperature records be broken all over the country.”
Scientists have predicted the temperature increase, but Gergis says the rise is occurring more rapidly than models indicated. “This is the type of summer you might not have expected until the middle of the century based on past projections. So I think this is really redefining what it means to actually be living through a period of rapid climate change.”
Williams also speaks to fire and emergency authorities who complained that the Australian government was ignoring climate change. The issue has become a political football. Former fire chief Greg Mullins says he learned that the reason Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to see his group of former emergency officials was political. “We’ve been told by senior public servants in Canberra that because we uttered two horrible words – climate change – we were discounted as being activists, and we would not get a meeting at any stage with the prime minister,” he says.
This frustrates Gergis and other scientists. “At this moment I think it is really reckless and potentially criminal [to ignore climate change] because we know enough. We actually know enough about the science now. I think the science is crystal clear,” she tells Williams.
A CONTINENT ON FIRE – Holly Williams reports on the massive, deadly bush fires in Australia and examines their relationship to climate change. Draggan Mihailovich and Jacqueline Williams are the producers.
WEST SIDE STORY – 60 MINUTES gets unprecedented access to rehearsals of the modernized vision of this classic of American musical theater. Bill Whitaker speaks to the directors and cast. Ruth Streeter is the producer.
Audiences will no doubt recognize the quintessential American musical “West Side Story” when its latest revival opens next week. The unforgettable music, lyrics and story are the same.But this radical reimagining injects a modern twist to the classic story: a video element meant to intensify and augment the action. Bill Whitaker and 60 MINUTES cameras were given unprecedented access to the production, filming its rehearsals and interviewing its creators. The story about the new “West Side Story” will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Feb. 16 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
60 MINUTES cameras were there on the first day of rehearsal as the show’s producer, Scott Rudin, addressed the cast, telling them, “This isn’t going to be a ‘West Side Story’ like anybody has ever seen.” Part of what makes it new is the integration of video during the performance. When the audience walks into the theater, the first thing they will see is a black video wall that is 70 feet wide and 40 feet tall.
“That’s it…that’s ‘West Side Story,’” says Scott Rudin, a successful Broadway veteran producer. “It’s a black box fully exposed, guts and all. It’s not ‘West Side Story’ of 1957. It’s just not that.”
There are 25 cameras that capture the action on stage. Some cast members shoot video using handheld cameras or cell phones. Some of the video is pre-shot, some of it live. All of it projected onto the large video wall.
“I think we are managing our way into it. There are places where I think [the video] still does slightly overwhelm…dwarf the actors. And some places where it’s incredibly exciting that it’s there,” Rudin tells Whitaker. “But it’s been a fascinating toolkit to play with.”
The show’s Belgian director, Ivo van Hove, has had to deal with challenging rehearsals for this production that has many moving parts. But it’s all his vision.
“The challenges were high,” he says of the tech rehearsals. “And of course when you start…you know it will be a journey.”