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CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN

Mother Earth Getting Fatter

Aired August 8, 2002 - 08:39   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it's no secret more and more Americans are obese these days, the latest hormone discovery notwithstanding. But they aren't the only ones getting fatter. Apparently, so is our own Mother Earth.

CNN's Jeanne Moos reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The astronauts may be weightless, but the Earth is getting a gut, just like so many earthlings.

MICHAEL SHARA, ASTROPHYSICIST, ROSE CENTER: The Earth, since 1997, 1998 is getting fatter around the middle. We're putting on a middle age bulge.

MOOS: A bulge not even the Abdominator or Buttmaster can conquer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Buttmaster is a perfect tool to tone and shape your buttocks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MOOS: Lest you think we're joking, check out the article in the journal "Science," written by two researchers working for NASA.

Though the article was way over our head -- it made perfect sense to the Rose Center's curator in charge of astrophysics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is definitely dense. This is physics; it's not English.

MOOS: Though some of the charts in the science articles reminded us of the old Buttmaster ads. Forget the gluteus maximus, scientists say the Earth is shaped like a pumpkin, with the weight of the polar ice caps squishing the middle.

But as the ice caps have melted, relieving some pressure, the Earth has been getting rounder, until now. Suddenly Earth's waistline is expanding. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess it's matching the rest of us. We're all growing a little bit in the middle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe it's a just a sign that everyone on the planet is getting too fat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do they have a huge global tape measure they're measuring this with?

MOOS: Actually scientists use satellites to measure such things. There are two theories for Earth expanding middle. Either there's something going on inside the Earth's core, or changing ocean currents are to blame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If can you get more water concentrated in the tropics, around the middle of the earth, it's going to get fatter.

MOOS: Earth's expanding waistline corresponded with the phenomenon called El Nino.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When it gets very fat, will it pop?

MOOS: Never fear, say scientists.

(on camera): People living on the equator don't have to worry about anything happening because their on the bulge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely not. The change is really infinitesimal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So it's just pinching an inch; we're not talking a real weight problem.

MOOS (voice-over): Maybe Earth needs a little more exercise. After all, all it does is a little rotating. But it's not really gaining weight. Earth's mass is simply being redistributed.

(on camera): So Earth need a personal trainer perhaps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wouldn't do any harm.

MOOS (voice-over): The next time your pants don't fit, take heart, at least you can't equate your beer belly with the equator.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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