Return to Transcripts main page
Can Colorado Kick Trump Off The Ballot For His Role In The January 6th Riots?; Bill Weir Reports On The "Clean Industrial Revolution"; Former VP Al Gore On Climate Change; Meet The Cast And Creator Bringing "Kim's Convenience" To Life On Stage In London; "Arctic Ascent" Follows "Free Solo's" Alex Honnold On His Latest Dizzying Climb; Aired 1-2p ET
Aired February 08, 2024 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hold on, I'm going to finish my point.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry.
COATES: (INAUDIBLE) And then (INAUDIBLE). But the point of this putting the baby portion of it is, yes, there are political calculations always at
stake for the Supreme Court from the perspective of the voters the electors during an election year. But the question in the immunity is about checks
and balances. The question for the other aspect is, can you disqualify somebody under Section 3? We can parse it out, but they will view according
to prerogative what's political --
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone, and welcome to AMANPOUR. Here's what's coming up. A historic day at the Supreme Court, can Colorado
kick Trump off the ballot? And look at the arguments with political commentator John Avlon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL GORE, FMR VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: What the scientists are telling us is that things are going to get a lot worse and cause great
havoc. But there's great hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Former Vice President Al Gore joins me with a fresh look at the climate crisis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INS CHOI, CREATOR, KIM'S CONVENIENCE: There's not really anything radical about it except for the casting and the storytelling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Welcome to Kim's Convenience. I speak to the creator of the award-winning comedy drama that inspired the Netflix hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX HONNOLD, PROFESSIONAL ROCK CLIMBER: Look at the walls over there. Now I'm starting to get very excited.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: World famous climber Alex Honnold talks to Hari Sreenivasan about tackling the untouched corners of the Arctic.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.
Not since Bush v. Gore in 2000 has the Supreme Court had before it's such a monumental election related case. Today, the justices heard arguments on
this key question. Can Colorado kick Trump off the ballot for his role in the January 6th insurrection as the state Supreme Court has already ruled?
The answer has the potential to totally upend the 2024 election?
Take a listen to this exchange between Trump's lawyer Jonathan Mitchell and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JONATHAN MITCHELL, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: What we said in our opening brief was President Trump did not engage in any act that can plausibly be
characterized as insurrection --
KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, JUSTICE: All right. So why would not be an insurr -- what is your argument that it's not your reply brief says that it wasn't
because I think you say, it did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government?
J. MITCHELL: So that's one of many reasons but for an insurrection, there needs to be an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of
the United States through violence. And this --
JACKSON: And so, the point is that a chaotic effort to overthrow the government is not an insurrection?
J. MITCHELL: But we didn't concede that it's an effort to overthrow the government either Justice Jackson.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So here to discuss this political analyst, John Avlon. Welcome back to the program, John.
You must have been watching all the hearing. It is now adjourned. It's over. There's some talk that it appeared the justices was skeptical of
Colorado's case. How did you read it?
JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, certainly in listening to the over two hours, you heard a persistent strain of
skepticism. I think the Justice is looking for an off ramp. This is obviously an issue that does deserve a hearing in the Supreme Court. And I
think what needs to be separated is the politics of this, some of which are partisan. The, the practicality of what's being done by Colorado, and then
the intent of the language that's written in the U.S. Constitution. (INAUDIBLE) 14th Amendment, Section 3. All those things are intention,
I think from a practical standpoint, especially the question of whether one state can block a president a person from appearing on the ballot, that
gets very dicey, because you have your 50 different standards, potentially 50 different states. So, this needs to be federalized. And that's why it's
in the U.S. Constitution. Politically, we'll see how it breaks down. Clearly, Chief Justice Roberts would like to have some degree of
I would suggest that we're having studied this intensely, partly as a result of my book on Lincoln And The Post-Civil War Period, that the
language in the Constitution is clear, its implementation is vague, and we only have that precedent. But to argue that this was not supposed to be
prospective, it was only supposed to be retrospective to the Civil War does not fit the clear intent and statements around the ratification debate
about this amendment.
AMANPOUR: You say that --
AVLON: But also --
AMANPOUR: -- let me just interrupt you. You say that, but there is no word president in Section 3. And that's what his lawyers and his side are
hanging on to.
AVLON: That's right. However, if you go back and look at the ratification debates around this specific amendment, one senator said to another, why is
the president's name not enumerated? And the other senator replied in real time, the President is included because he has an officer of the United
So that seems to me to be a particularly thin read to hang an argument on, if you actually take the trouble of looking at the debates and the
understanding of its time, which is allegedly, what originalist and textualist would do. That that argument doesn't hold water, it seems to be
based on the conversations around the original ratification of this amendment.
AMANPOUR: It's really interesting, because, you know, his side said the president is not an officer of the United States. And yet, that language is
in Section 3. And his own lawyer, Trump's lawyer also argued that what happened was not an insurrection on January 6th.
Here's a little bit of the exchange, let's just listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
J. MITCHELL: -- President Trump did not engage in any act that can plausibly be characterized as insurrection --
JACKSON: All right. So why would not be an insurr -- what is your argument that it's not your reply brief says that it wasn't because I think you say,
it did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government?
J. MITCHELL: So that's one of many reasons but for an insurrection, there needs to be an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of
the United States through violence. And this --
JACKSON: And so, the point is that --
(END AUDIO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, we're going to dump out of that, because actually, we did play it a little bit earlier in the introduction. But so, they're saying
it's not an insurrection, and the President wasn't involved. There are others who say that look at the entire language around Section 3, it
doesn't just say, you know, conducted it, but there's a whole second part of that, you know, aided and abetted didn't stop, et cetera.
AVLON: That's the key point. Right. You may argue that Donald Trump did not engage in an insurrection. He did not march on the Capitol on January sixth
with the violent mob of his supporters. But the language as you point out in the 14th Amendment, Section 3 says, give aid or comfort to insurrection
or rebellion, aid or comfort to. Now the criminal statute for sedition includes incitement of an insurrection, which was actually part of the
language of his second impeachment, which passed majorities in both the House and the Senate, though he was not convicted in the Senate.
But I find particularly troubling and slightly absurd the argument that this does not apply, overthrowing the government of the United States by
violence. OK. So, a violent mob was deployed to the Capitol with some degree of coordination among his supporters and various groups designed to
not just obstruct an official proceeding, but to stop the official certification of the balance after an election.
An overthrow of the government is not simply an a, an organized army, marching on the White House. Overthrowing our system of government involves
stopping the processing of a fair and free election, according to constitutional processes. And it's very clear that that's what Donald Trump
and his aides engaged in. They tried to overthrow an election in our democracy that contradicts and cuts to the horror of our core of our
So, let's not get too cute, about what these words mean, if you try to overthrow our system of government, you're trying to overthrow the
AMANPOUR: And obviously, there was a death, there were injuries, and the President and his MAGA still deny the result of that election. So that that
is also a fact over the last, you know, several years since that election.
But let's not get too cute, you say? So, I want to ask you why it sounds like there's a lot of cute going on, a lot of semantic discussion. A lot of
trying to thread a needle, as you said, try to reach some kind of bipartisan deal. Look for an off ramp.
I wonder what you make of Hillary Clinton. I mean, she was famously you know, faced off against him. And she had things to say on MSNBC last night.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They could come up with some out for Trump, but if they want to be true to their so-called originalist
interpretation, then I think they have to find that Section 3 applies to people who foment and participate in insurrections, but the remedy lies in
the states which would be kind of a fair way of kind of parsing this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: What do you think?
AVLON: I think she's absolutely right about the originalist and textualist statement. You know, you can't take the Constitution ala carte. The
Constitution says what it says, the Constitution applies to everyone, every state, every individual. And that's why from you know, I began to argue or
point out that 14th Amendment Section 3 could apply in the spring of 2021 on air at CNN and my reality check segments. You can't ignore that this
states even if it's inconvenient, politically or practically, to do so.
Now, what they could say with credibility and this is part and perhaps the attempt to find common ground to de-politicize the court is a well he
hasn't been officially charged with or convicted an insurrection, right, he's been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States by Jack
Smith. And that's part of undermining faith and confidence in our system of government, our democracy, which is a serious thing, but he was not charged
Fine. Maybe -- maybe that's your argument, maybe your argument. And I this is a credible one because Abraham Lincoln himself in 1860, didn't appear on
the ballots in the Deep South. I think if you have a national election, and states pulling people for various reasons, that's a tricky, slippery slope.
However, the Constitution says what it says. And the Constitution says that if you've engaged in or aided or abetted an insurrection or rebellion,
that's a disqualification as real as age or country of birth.
And I'll say this, this shouldn't be partisan. You know, conservative Judge Michael Luttig, to Federalist Society, legal scholars, took a deep, deep,
look at this without any preconceived notion and said, this is self- executing, it does apply. It says what it says, and therefore if you're going to be true to the Constitution, you need to apply this. If you try to
kick the can and say, well, you know, let's wait till after the court cases or whether the question of insurrection is adjudicated, if he is reelected
president, while losing the popular vote, possibly, then then it would seem that we're back in that category of, of, of LLC legal opinions where, you
know, once he takes the oath, he's president.
I just say that there is a sometimes a reluctance to hold Donald Trump accountable, because he keeps pressing forward, because he effectively
threatens our institutions and say, if you hold me accountable, my supporters will be -- will start, you know, rioting and protesting and
it'll be disruptive and destabilizing to society, which effectively was the argument that they were using, through January 6th, the actions that were
taken on January 6th, and then attempts to wriggle out of accountability for January 6th.
So, you know, once we've got -- this very dangerous game to start playing.
AMANPOUR: Yes, (INAUDIBLE) --
AVLON: By the law, read the Constitution, as it's written.
AMANPOUR: We've got very little time, but one analyst in the Times has written whatever the comes out of the Supreme Court, shouldn't both major
parties insist on presidential candidates for whom such questions are not even remotely an issue?
AVLON: Yes, they should --
AMANPOUR: In short (ph).
AVALON: It should say if you've been -- if you've been indicted on a felony or convicted of felony, you probably shouldn't be able to run for
president, (INAUDIBLE) can't vote in many places. But we got to you know, our this outpaces our laws, even though it's written in the Constitution,
apply the laws apply history, God would be guided by the Constitution to defend the Democratic Republic.
AMANPOUR: John Avlon, always good to have you on this program.
And now some major climate news today, the world has been temporarily pushed over the critical 1.5 degrees centigrade mark, thanks to 2023 being
the hottest year on record. In 2024, climate news looks ever bleaker and tackling the crisis is too often pushed down the agenda by wars and
But there are some green shoots of hope emerging a Clean Industrial Revolution as Bill Weir now reports.
BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These days you can feel as if some part of the planet is always burning, or flooding, or both
in succession. But less obvious, is the Clean Industrial Revolution cranking up around the world, driven as much by profits as politics.
(on-camera): My goodness.
(voice-over): Wind and sun energy is now so cheap, the deep red state of Texas creates more renewable energy than California. And with hundreds of
billions of investment dollars pouring into clean tech startups like Antora, hope revolutionary thermal batteries like this will power entire
factories and move entire industries to the sun and wind belts
ANDREW PONEC, CEO, ANTORA ENERGY: 1,600 degrees Celsius. So, this is hotter than the melting point of steal. And it's just a couple of feet inside that
WEIR (on-camera): I have a hard time explaining to my kids what nuclear fusion is. But this is just a hot rock in a box.
WEIR (voice-over): In speed and scale, China is leading the transition at a staggering pace, spending almost as much in clean energy last year, as the
entire world invested in fossil fuels. But science says it's not enough just to add clean energy, it must replace the dirty old guy. And since
methane has over 80 times the planet cooking power of carbon dioxide in the near term, President Joe Biden halted the expansion of massive liquefied
natural gas terminals in Louisiana until the climate costs can be better understood. Setting up a stark reelection rematch with the man one expert
calls a climate arsonist.
DONALD TRUMP (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Their windmills are causing whales to die in numbers never seen before. Nobody does anything about that.
WEIR (voice-over): But the laws of physics do not pause for elections. And the state of Maine is among those places already reeling with the changes.
(on-camera): So, this is --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is all -
WEIR (on-camera): -- was what that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. The whole building.
WEIR (on-camera): No way. This is that's what's left of it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just generations and generations the stuff and --
WEIR (on-camera): Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- you know there's -- there's a lot of memory down there.
WEIR (voice-over): Two freakish January storms devastated the iconic lobster and fishing communities already suffering the effects of warmer
seas. But Maine is also leaning into adaptation and mitigation with (INAUDIBLE). According to the nonprofit Rewiring America, Mainers are
replacing old furnaces with more efficient heat pumps at a rate three times faster than the U.S. average.
(on-camera): Their climate action plan is among the most robust in the nation. So, we're keeping eyes on places like this, to see how people are
adjusting to this new abnormal.
AMANPOUR: Bill Weir reporting there.
Now my next guest is the former Vice President Al Gore, who had his own tangle with the Supreme Court as it awarded the 2000 election to George W.
Bush. Former Vice President Al Gore was one of the first public figures to rally and sound the alarm bells on climate change with his Oscar winning
film An Inconvenient Truth out nearly 20 years ago.
In this interview before today's Trump court case, I asked Gore how he assesses the grassroots solutions to the climate crisis.
GORE: It's tricky to balance the dire warnings that the scientists have been trying to get us to listen to for a long time. And of course, you
know, the scientists turned out to be spot on correct and what they warned about years ago. And so, we should pay more attention to the warnings
they're issuing now. If we do not sharply reduce the burning of fossil fuel, the climate crisis is really a fossil fuel crisis. So that's 80
percent of it. And we have this mandate now to transition away from fossil fuels.
If we do not do that quickly, what the scientists are telling us is that things are going to get a lot worse and cause great havoc. But there's
great hope. And you have to balance the warnings with the fact that there is really good news. As Bill says people are working on it. But here's some
good news from the scientists as well. Once we reach true net zero, and stop adding to the overburden of this heat trapping pollution that we're
spewing into the sky every day, then the temperatures will stop going up almost immediately, with a lag of as little as three to five years. And if
we stay at true net zero, then half of all the human caused greenhouse gas pollution will come out of the atmosphere in as little as 25 to 30 years.
And the long slow healing process can begin.
The challenge, of course, is to stop using fossil fuels as quickly as possible. But there again, there's really good news with the solar and wind
and batteries and electric vehicles and green hydrogen is coming on. Now we're online and regenerative agriculture, which is one of the real keys
and sustainable forestry and circular manufacturing, the list is a long one. But investors and business leaders are particularly in the consumer
facing companies where their customers are demanding it.
And by the way, the employees and these companies and the families of the executives and some of the executives themselves are saying, look, we got
to be a part of the solution instead of making the problem continually worse.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): And you're also a politician. Do you agree that this will be top of mind for voters? So certainly, young voters in the United
States and around the rest of the world?
GORE: Well, I think there is a big generation gap on it and young voters and by the way, in the U.S. young voters in both political parties and
large majorities are demanding action on this. But as you know, Christiane, the Politics of Climate have for decades been very challenging, because it
is by nature, a global challenge. And we're not always used to dealing with that kind of crisis. It plays out over time periods that are a little bit
longer than election cycles and the next polling results.
And as -- as a result, it has been a challenge for both political parties. The Republican Party used to be part of the group Searching for Solutions,
but that is a we've now got a polarized situation in the U.S., which is tragic and unnecessary, but I'm hoping that the young people you refer to
particularly the young Republicans are beginning to heal that polarizing divide.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): So, I just want to ask you, you know, James Hansen, the NASA expert, who was one of the first on climate warnings, has warned
that you know, unless there's some massively radical thing to happen very soon, the magic 1.5 degrees number will, you know, will be surpassed. And
there seems to be a struggle over the experts over that. Where do you come down on that?
GORE: Well, I have the deepest respect for Jim Hansen and also for his colleagues who have a slightly different view, but they agree on most
things, you know, half of the calendar days in 2023, we're actually above 1.5. And in November, there were two days above a two-degree margin above
the pre-industrial temperature.
So yes, we were running out of time to solve this in time. But -- and we're running some unacceptably high risks with large global systems that are
important for the flourishing of humanity that are now being destabilized. So, the sooner the better.
The issue you're referring to is over how sensitive the climate is to more and more greenhouse gas pollution. And ultimately, they agree on far more
than they disagree. They're all saying the same thing. We got to switch away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and stop using the sky as an
open sewer. That's the basic problem. We're putting 162 million tons up there every day, and the accumulated amount, it stays on average each
molecule for about 100 years.
And the accumulated amount today, Christiane is trapping as much extra heat, as would be released by 750,000 Hiroshima class Oppenheimer era,
atomic bombs exploding on the Earth every single day. That's insane for us to allow that to continue, particularly when we have the alternatives
available now that are cheaper, cleaner, create three times as many jobs per dollar invested. All we have to do really is to overcome the political
power and influence of the fossil fuel companies which have, you know, been trying to persuade people that this is not such a big deal, and they're
trying to extend their business plan and the petro states put up a lot of resistance in the international negotiations. We are getting there.
And we will solve this people should be of good, good hope on this. But the question is, will we solve it in time, we have to speed up this process.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Vice President Al Gore, thank you so much indeed for joining us.
GORE: Thank you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: And from the drama of this climate crisis, we turn next to theater, where a Technicolor Toronto corner shop has landed on stage here
in London. And it's not just any store. It's Kim's Convenience. Performing sellout shows the Korean-Canadian play that inspired the hit sitcom returns
with playwright Ins Choi, who called it a love letter to first generation immigrants in Canada. Taking the lead role of the father figure Mr. Kim.
I sat down with him and cast members Jennifer Kim and Miles Mitchell on their set this week to discuss why this slice of life comedy resonates
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Ins Choi, Jennifer, Miles, welcome to the program. I start with you obviously, you're the creator of this of this performance.
Was there something about your own life? Is this your story?
CHOI: My dad was a pastor of a church in Toronto, and Korean immigrant church. So, I didn't -- my dad wasn't, it didn't own a store. But my uncle
did. And his historic name was Kim's Grocer. So that's kind of the inspiration for Kim's Convenience.
Yes, you name a scene. And I could draw a line to somewhere in my life or somebody in my life that it stems from.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): So, you did the play in in Canada first on the fringe, and --
AMANPOUR: -- you two are not Canadian.
AMANPOUR: What did you guys know about this story or even about the Korean immigrant experience before you took on these roles? Janet -- not Janet.
Jennifer. You did a good job.
JENNIFER KIM, ACTOR, KIM'S CONVENIENCE: I am Korean-American. So, I come from -- so I was born in Korea, and I moved to California with my parents.
And so, they've become sort of first-generation immigrants. And I sort of became a Janet for them, because, because they had, you know, language
barriers that they were working through as they were starting their business. And you know, even if they wanted to make an appointment for
hospital, you know, doctor's visit, like then they would have to go through me.
And so, I very much understand sort of that immigrant Korean life. Kind of firsthand. The story is quite personal to me, actually. Yes. My parents
also had small family business that me and my brother were child laborers. Retired laborers.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): This is United States.
KIM: Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Miles, what did you know about this experience? I mean, you're obviously you know, I guess a longtime immigrant family to the
MILES MITCHELL, ACTOR, KIM'S CONVENIENCE: Yes.
AMANPOUR: Where's -- where's your origin?
M. MITCHELL: Yes, my grandparents from Jamaica. Strangely though a lot of parallels are just with our immigrant experience of grandparents and like
legacy and just raising your children in a new country, really.
So, what my, the period has been quite separate at first, over like the rehearsal process, we started to join up the dots, and I saw a lot more
parallels. So that was a great education for me.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Ins, this was Canada's first Asia lead, cast and story on its national CBC broadcaster.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): This was a big deal. It's actually quite radical. And I don't know for instance, you just talk -- you're talking to me with a
perfectly Canadian accent. But Mr. And Mrs. Kim speak with almost a parodied or an old school Korean accent.
CHOI: There's not really anything radical about it, except for the casting and the storytelling. So --
AMANPOUR: Describe it.
CHOI: Yes. It was the first -- I guess it was the first, I didn't even think about it. But I guess it was the first time a Korean family was on
stage with their parents and the parents were portrayed realistically like my parents. Like Jen's parents, not Miles's parents is, but, but many Asian
parents, many Korean parents in Toronto, across Canada and the states and probably here too.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Do you think Canada was more receptive to some of the you know, fun, funny, but edgy jokes that you made for instance, in in the,
in the Netflix series, the very first opening episode has a joke about a gay couple and the gay pride.
CHOI: There is a lot of humor, and some of the humor is kind of walks that line of -- in my opinion, it's being real. It's being real. I think there
is a tendency for like mainstream to see a Korean family or an Asian family and want to imbue them with all wholesome good morals them, you know, the
minor, the model minority, the you know.
But from the inside, we're full of warts and faults. And there's a lot of racism within cultures amongst Asians even. So, in the play, I wanted to
bring out I wanted to tell us a real story.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Miles, let me ask you, I don't know whether there was a sharp intake of breath at any of the performances when one of your scenes
when you're, you're playing a guy coming in you know, bomber jacket, want to buy something. And --
CHOI: Ms. Jean jacket.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): -- Jean jacket.
CHOI: That is crucial.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Sorry. OK, tell me why?
CHOI: Because Mr. Kim has a theory. And if you can't see the play, then you'll find out what you're --
AMANPOUR (on-camera): And you going to have to say because (INAUDIBLE).
CHOI: It's not a bomber jacket.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): (INAUDIBLE) I'm very glad you corrected me.
Miles, steal, no steal.
M. MITCHELL: Yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): So basically, the grocery owner, nice guy.
M. MITCHELL: Yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): He's basically saying to his daughter, Janet, who's helping in the store. Look at that.
M. MITCHELL: Yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): You know, he comes and he doesn't say black. She says because, because --
M. MITCHELL: Yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): -- he's black. And steal, no steal. He's asking her to judge whether your character is going to steal. That is edgy. Did you
M. MITCHELL Yes, I think, I think the right in navigate a really warped and edgy logic in a really smart way. And I just -- just burst out laughing
when I first read it. And I've had, you know, lots of friends and had a really diverse audience here at Park theatre, that I've just found that
scene is like the memorable highlight because of its like genius writing. So, yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): So that's really good. That's an advanced because I don't know what -- how it would go down in New York, for instance sort.
M. MITCHELL: I just -- yes, I know the history of the player, how it's kind of toward Canada, in particular. And I know that there's a strong West
Indian, like, background in Canada, and it's diverse as well. So, it's gone through workshops. So, it's gone through a lot to get here as well. So, I
did go, oh, my God, what is this. But then I realized when we got to the end, just exactly what it was.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Ins, it has a really identifiable and accessible story of generation gap. That is a -- that's universal, isn't it? I mean,
that really --
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Yes.
CHOI: When I first wrote it, I knew that Korean second-generation Koreans like my sisters, and my cousins would love it, because kind of like they
could fun of Appa and Eomma, like, you know, a little bit. And then I knew the parents would love it. And I knew that Asians would love it. But then
it just kept like, black families would come, Asian family, South Asia, Southeast Asian families would even white families would be like, that's
like my dad.
You know, this is like a Romanian family or a Jewish family and they'd be like, that's just like my mom and I had that exact conversation with her.
But you know, in a different language.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): And I wonder whether also the religious aspect. You know, you, you explained how your dad was a pastor. And many, many, many
immigrant families, whether they're from Latin America or from Islamic countries or wherever they come from.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): The parents and grandparents tend to be very religious, and maybe they hang on to that in a new, you know, in an -- in a
new land, and their kids may not be so much. But this series in this play is very much anchored in the church. Does that strike you?
KIM: I think it rings true. Especially in Korean community back home, where I come from in California, there's a very strong presence of like,
immigrants having faith. And I sort of grew up in the church as well. And, you know, when I was living in Korea, as well, like, we had the same, you
know, singing contests and fundraisers and concerts during Christmas with like, you know, everyone's bringing out their violins and someone is on
piano, and it's just like, that was part of our life. And I think that's why when I read it, it was like, OK, that's true. That's true.
So, for me, it was very, like, immediate, automatic, that something that I can connect to right away. Because that was sort of my childhood. I was
hanging around, you know, doing things around church all the time as a child, and then into teenager years. And then and then I went to college,
and then you know, things change.
But, yes, so.
CHOI: But I think a lot of communities, immigrant communities, like church, or synagogue or temple is it's kind of the, the community center. Like, I
know what I mean, in Toronto, at least, like the Korean church for the Korean community. That was where the best food was for a long time. That
was where you learned Korean language, taekwondo, like.
And so it was, it's like, I go to church on Sunday. And then I have Sunday school, but then I'd have like Korean school, and then there'd be like --
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Yes.
CHOI: -- something in the afternoon, and then soccer teams, and then you know, et cetera. So, it became like, yes, it became the center of the
community and the kind of vehicle through which culture and heritage was passed down.
Now, it's interesting, not so much the church because there's, you know, it's been, there's big Korean towns, Koreatown, north and Koreatown, south.
And yes, cultural centers that kind of take that spot.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): You play four characters, we said. How difficult is that in rapid succession? It's not like it's I mean, it's a -- it's a --
it's an hour and 15 minute -- 15 minutes play. And you're just constantly rolling through it in different characters.
M. MITCHELL: Yes. The quick changes backstage. I mean, people say like, you get nervous when you go on stage, but I'm more nervous backstage, making
sure that I've got my props. Of course --
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Haven't mixed that one.
M. MITCHELL: Yes, I mixed up one shoe with the other, make sure I've got the right money in the pocket to pay for certain items, because you have to
get the correct change and stuff like that. But, yes, we've got a lot of (INAUDIBLE) --
AMANPOUR (on-camera): And accents are all different.
M. MITCHELL: Accents. Yes. Slight variations in tone as well, because of jobs and you know, echo social, you know, not cool stuff. So yes.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): You know, in -- in this in this play, Mr. Kim says, the store my story, right? So, he identifies the store with himself. And
because neither of his kids where you've written them want to become store owners, want to take over from him. He's kind of worried about what's going
to happen to him. What's his legacy? What does he have to show in the world? But I don't know whether it's a spoiler alert or what but does
(INAUDIBLE). Does the sun come back and take over?
CHOI: I think it is a question for many immigrant parents who take up and do well, they do come to another country. And they do well, they and then
they want better for their kids.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Yes.
CHOI: But in this family, the kids don't actually live up to the expectation of their parents. And so, it's, OK, what --
AMANPOUR (on-camera): But they're good kids.
CHOI: They're good kids. But career wise.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Yes, yes.
CHOI: They're a photographer, and they work at a car rental shop, which is fine, but they're not a doctor or a lawyer or. So, the question of, you
know, his legacy and what does he -- what does this all mean? Kind of an existential question he's left with and he's trying to answer throughout
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Actors, what do you think of the playwright as actor?
M. MITCHELL: Good question. That's a good question.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Does he measure up? Does he need to go back to acting school? You know, going to get fired.
KIM: I, I think he is an incredible actor just as much as he is of a writer.
M. MITCHELL: Yes.
KIM: The moments that I get to be on stage with these particular people like it's incredible but also, I learned so much from working opposite is
because a lot of the play we're together on stage. And I was very confident in myself because I was confident in them because they were confident. And
is -- it's just I learned so much.
So, I'm really, I'm really, I think he's incredible.
M. MITCHELL: Yes. We also got a lot of space as well just to put our own stamp on these characters. Because these displays existed long before we
have as well.
KIM: So true.
M. MITCHELL: But I've never felt that I have to fit into a certain, you know, mold of a previous production or previous actor. So, I've just really
enjoyed the space of putting my own stamp on these characters, which has been really fun.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): So, what is it like for you being the writer, the creator, the actor, in multiple generation actor?
CHOI: I studied acting, I never studied writing.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): OK.
CHOI: Writing was always like a hobby, like a secret that I just did on the side didn't want to share with anyone. Because it's too vulnerable to share
your writing. But acting so I have more confidence in acting, and in my writing, I mean, now I'm more, more confident in my writing. But it's been
just kind of like a full circle experience here.
I mean, ever since I wrote both to play, I had two kids. And I got old. And I always wanted my kids to call me Appa.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): That's great.
CHOI: So as soon as they were born, Appa. Now, they call me Appa. And now I play, Appa.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Well, thank you very much indeed.
M. MITCHELL: Very welcome to you.
KIM: Thank you so much.
AMANPOUR (on-camera): Thank you.
AMANPOUR: It really is charming, and it's really a riot.
Turning now to a feat of skill and bravery in the name of science. You may recognize climber Alex Honnold, from the Oscar winning documentary Free
Solo, when he became the first person to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without any ropes.
Now, in a new National Geographic series, Arctic Ascent, he sets his sights even higher on a 4,000-foot sea cliff in Greenland. This time, he's got
ropes, but he's also got the climate on his mind. And he's joined by a team of scientists headed up by glaciologist, Heidi Sevestre.
Hari Sreenivasan speaks to them both about what they discovered.
HARI SREENIVASAN, HOST, AMANPOUR AND COMPANY: Expedition leader Alex Honnold and glaciologists Heidi Sevestre, thank you both for joining us.
Alex, let me start with you. Our viewers might remember you stopped by our studios a few years ago, when you were out talking about Free Solo, a movie
that catalogued and excruciating and anxiety inducing detail your ascent of El Capitan, one of the most famous rock faces in the United States. This is
a film that does catalog you taking on an ascent in Greenland. But it seems like there was more to it than interested you than just the rock climbing.
Why did you do this?
HONNOLD: So, this expedition was much broader in scope and in purpose. And we were in a remote part of Eastern Greenland, we were there doing science
with Heidi, who's running many different projects along our journey. And mostly, we were just exploring this incredible landscape and sort of
telling a story about why Greenland and why the Arctic is so important for humanity.
The first picture I saw in the course lag, it looks like the scariest wall I've ever seen. We have no idea what the rock will be like. So, we've asked
to the best climbers in the world to join me. And we have the right team in place to do meaningful research as we go climate.
HEIDI SEVESTRE, GLACIOLOGIST: No one has been here for almost two decades. Because it's really one of the most dangerous environments on Earth.
SREENIVASAN: Heidi, tell, tell our audience, what is the consequence of the melting that is happening in the Arctic and in Greenland.
SEVESTRE: You think you the Arctic is warming three to four times faster than the rest of the world. And we're seeing the impacts of climate change
day in day out in that region. When you think of the Arctic, you have to understand that there is this giant island of Greenland that is mostly
covered by ice. If this ice were to melt away, it will increase the levels globally by up to 24 feet.
So, our future is directly connected to the health of the Arctic and to the health of the Greenland ice sheet.
SREENIVASAN: Alex, you have been interested in environment and protecting it and thinking about climate change for quite some time now. When you
started out on this track, even just to get to the face that you were going to climb. What did you notice?
HONNOLD: Well, to be honest, it for me is as -- as a layperson, as a non- scientist, I just noticed incredible wagers, incredible mountains, incredible scenery. And that's part of the wonder of Greenland is that it
is almost like a fantasy landscape, it's just incredible. I mean everything the scale is so vast.
And so, I think from -- from a lay perspective, it's just amazing. It's beautiful. And I think that's a big part of what you see in that show is
just the incredible beauty of the landscape. But then I think it's through the science that Heidi is doing that you can kind of see how quickly that
landscape is changing.
You know, for me, it's my first time going into a place like that. And so, it just looks amazing. But the more you know about it, and the more you
understand it, the more concerning it can be.
When comes to climate change, Greenland is one of the most important places on the planet. It's gotten about five and a half degrees warmer over the
last 40 years. More and more of its ice is melting, raising the sea level around the world. In the quarterback is extremely remote. And scientists
rarely have an opportunity to study the area around it.
SREENIVASAN: Heidi, most of the places that this expedition went to are places that humans don't get a chance to walk much less take scientific
observations of. So give us an idea of the range of measurements that you were taking on really the approach to where Alex and his team were going to
SEVESTRE: Joining this expedition was really a dream come true for a scientist because this is one of the least explored, least studied parts of
Greenland. We went east Greenland in this fjord of legends called Scoresby Sound. And for six weeks, actually, we traversed a big part of this short
crossing glaciers, ice caps, collecting measurements in the very deep fjord installing instruments on these massive cliffs. And in total, we worked
with 12 different research institutes on this expedition, including NASA. And we performed 18 different research protocols from going into glaciers,
collecting rock cores, measuring ice thickness and water temperature. This was key for the research community.
And I'm really glad to see how much data we were able to bring back and share with these different research institutions.
SREENIVASAN: I know it takes a while for scientists to pour over that data and come to some conclusions. But are there examples of things that you
have found during this expedition that are already kind of advancing what we understand about glaciers or about permafrost that's happening there?
SEVESTRE: Yes, absolutely. Science takes time. And it will probably take another couple of years to get all the results from this expedition. We
already have some preliminary results, especially regarding the instruments that we launched for NASA in the water, in the field. So, this instrument
is called FLOAT. And we launched it for a project called Oceans, Melting Greenland. And the FLOAT was basically going up and down the water column
measuring water temperature and water salinity.
And what this robot was able to tell us is that the field is definitely getting warmer. This is not good news, because if the water around the
periphery of the ice sheet is warming up, it means that they can eat away at the ice around the ice sheet and really catalyze (INAUDIBLE) and
catalyze sea level rise around the world.
SREENIVASAN: Alex, let's start talking a little bit about this climb. I mean when you showed the scale of say the Empire State Building, El Cap
which is already enormous which you ascended without any ropes.
This rock, this sea cliff is a monster it's even bigger. When you came up to it on the boat and kind of saw it for the first time, what, what went
through your mind?
HONNOLD: I'm not sure, Heidi and I both smile, because we both remember seeing it from the boat for the first time when we all thought, oh no, it
looked too big and it looked too daunting and I looked it looked very challenging.
But, but, you know, then we set to work and started, started chipping away at it so to speak like started climbing and making progress and ultimately
we were able to find that. But it is a very intimidating wall. It's very big and it looks -- it looks almost evil. Just the way the swirls on the
rock are like it looks very daunting.
If we managed to climb in (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rock, rock, rock.
HONNOLD: It'll be the biggest versus time we've ever done.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just don't know what we'll face up there. Oh my, so scary.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was definitely hoping that like conditions were going to improve. And they have definitely not (INAUDIBLE).
SREENIVASAN: Heidi, one of the things that we noticed was amount of ice falling on the climbers which was an incredibly significant threat and a
danger and there was one point where Alex even gets cut on his nose by a piece of falling ice.
But I wonder, you know, aside from Greenland are we seeing this kind of climate change impacts in other rock faces, other mountains around the
planet, as the temperatures warm up?
SEVESTRE: Yes, definitely. And I'm sure Alex has lots of stories to tell about how climate change is impacting the safety of these mountains. But
you know, I come from the French Alps. And in the French Alps, we're starting to see more and more rock falls, they're more frequent, they're
bigger and bigger every year, because we have what we call permafrost in these high mountains. And permafrost is like a glue that keeps these
Unfortunately, it is going deeper and deeper every year. And so, these mountains are becoming increasingly dangerous.
SREENIVASAN: Alex, what are some examples that you have seen of how climate change might be affecting rock faces that you might have climbed earlier in
your life? And how situations have changed and the places that you go to?
HONNOLD: Yes, I mean, I mean, Heidi has just as many example that we both have seen so much of this in the natural world. But I mean, as a climber,
you've probably noticed it the most with the approaches in and out of the mountains. So, the way you hike into the mountains and the way you navigate
glaciers. Just in the few seasons that I've climbed in Patagonia, and Southern Argentina, I've seen some of the glaciers recede far enough. And
now you hike into the mountains on a whole different side of the valley, like you used to hike on the south, and now you hike on the north, because
the glacier has moved so much to the zoo's giant lake that you can't really get around, since you know (INAUDIBLE).
And so, so things like that. You know, landscapes that look like they should be permanent, are in fact changing incredibly quickly. And that's
pretty sobering. Because normally, when you go into mountains like that, you're struck by the sort of human insignificant theory, think how small
you are, and how big and permanent those mountains are. And in this case, you go there two years in a row, and you see the mountains have actually
changed even more than we have, you know, and that's a very scary thing to see.
SREENIVASAN: Heidi, put that in perspective for us, when you -- when we look at core samples, and you do your drilling, and you find almost a, you
know, a history book of what's been happening to a specific piece of land, how conclusive is the human impact, whether it's ice core or rock core, and
put in perspective, that change because these things have been literally here forever compared to us and our impacts?
SEVESTRE: Absolutely, these landscapes have so many stories to tell whether it's the rock or the ice, we can really go super far back in time by
analyzing these different materials. And, you know, the climate has always changed. Absolutely. But the rate of change we're seeing at the moment is
absolutely unprecedented. And it is without a shadow of a doubt, that the current changing climate we're all experiencing is directly connected to
the burning of fossil fuels, to deforestation, basically, to human activities.
And it is really what scares us the scientists how quickly things are changing, because it's really pushing our capacities of adaptation to their
very limits. So, this is why we need more data from these places, to be able to prepare for future that we're trying to see in these rocks and in
SREENIVASAN: Heidi, there's a scene in the film where you basically just dig a hole and Alex ticks another one near you. And both of you get into
this hole, and you kind of look in between and you see the different layers, this is just almost in a year, it's worth and there are these
lines. Explain what these lines across where and why that's significant.
SEVESTRE: And that was so magical that I'm glad that I had these super feet, athletes around me helping me to dig these holes in the snow. And
Alex was way faster than me. But it is really important actually, to dig these snow pits. Because the deeper you go, the further back in time you
can -- you can be.
And what we saw was a series of ice lenses. And as beautiful as they are, they're not a good sign. These ice lenses tell us that there were moments
during the past few months on this ice cap that is at the periphery of the Greenland ice sheets, moments with melts with rain. And this was highly
unexpected, actually, for this part of Greenland that is supposed to be quite cold at this high altitude.
SREENIVASAN: Alex, let's talk a little bit about how you kind of felt on this climb. Because while doing a Free Solo is a totally different
challenge. And it was sort of one part of your life. Here you are years later, taking on a six-week expedition with as lots of things have a very
significant amount of risk involved. And I wonder if you approach the preparation differently, if you think about things differently now that
you're married and a dad.
HONNOLD: No, I mean, honestly, this was one of my favorite expeditions that I've ever been on. And I go on climbing trips every year. I mean frequent
only during expeditions similar to this, but just, you know, with different objectives. And this was one of my favorite trips just because it had the
right combination of a great team, a great purpose, great objectives, you know, the climbing was inspiring enough for me to be excited to go there.
But then the science that we were doing, the team that we were doing, with everything else about the trip, also just made the whole thing seem totally
worthwhile to me, in a way that kind of put it beyond a normal climate objective.
And normally, you're just climbing for yourself. But in this case, you know, I felt like we were really doing something useful, and it made the
whole trip feel a lot more meaningful.
SREENIVASAN: Alex, I also wonder there's a team member of yours, Mike, and you kind of have a disagreement, you have a heart to heart and the cameras
are just well enough positioned to capture some of that. What went through your mind when you look back at that? His -- his concern was, you know, I
don't feel that sincerely comfortable. And I kind of don't feel heard. And, again, from a viewer's perspective, you're like, I wonder if they're at
either misaligned here?
HONNOLD: You know, so honestly, I think the filmmakers did a great job showing the entire expedition. But the reality is that we had conversations
like that, and much more than you see on camera. I mean, we were constantly talking about risk, we're constantly talking about how to mitigate risk and
manage and like whether or not we feel comfortable, whether or not we feel safe. So, you certainly see glimpses of it in the film. But the reality is,
we were talking about it all the time, because we all want to come home safely.
But one of the things that isn't shown in the film is that, you know, after that conversation, Mike, he decided that he didn't want to participate in
the climb on the face. But instead, what he did was guide the camera crew up the backside of the mountain so that they could film it, because he is
basically a professional mountain guide, and a filmmaker himself.
And so, part of what isn't said in that whole exchange, is that he was deciding to use his unique set of skills in a different way to help the
team in a way that he felt was safer, but still incredibly useful.
SREENIVASAN: Heidi, what's it like, really beginning your climbing experience with world class experts on a, you know, in a region that
nobody's ever really climbed before?
SEVESTRE: I'll be honest, I really didn't want to do any climbing (INAUDIBLE), at least as little as possible. But you know, this was a once
in a lifetime opportunity. And also, you know, I felt the pressure of the importance of collecting these rock samples on this wall the right way, not
that the climbers, were not going to do it the right way. But I really wanted to be there to see it happening.
And luckily, you know, they trusted me, they thought that by giving me the right training, I would be able to do it. And it was it was equally magical
and terrifying at the same time. But I'm so glad that we were able to collect these records along the way, you know, this was a big mission
complete for me.
SREENIVASAN: So, Alex, how was she?
HONNOLD: Oh, she was great. Heidi, Heidi did fine. I mean, none of us had any doubt that she would, she would make it up the wall just fine and be
totally safe. But as she was just alluding to the science, I found that consistently throughout the expedition, it was harder to do the scientific
experience, it was harder to collect data than I may be expected. Because a lot of the things, a lot of the protocols are just like, oh, drill a sample
into the rock. But then it turns out, it's really hard. And it's hard to line up the trail properly, it's hard to manage the batteries. Like
everything was more challenging than we expected.
And so, I think it was actually incredibly helpful to have Heidi overseeing everything. Like there's no chance that we could have done any of the
science without Heidi on the team, because it just turned out that it was all too difficult for us.
SREENIVASAN: Is there, Alex, a moment that gave you pause on this in the middle of this face? Were you kind of making some of the final ascent?
HONNOLD: A little bit, I mean, I think our final day kind of in record lag, which is kind of the highlight of the show, Hazel and I are climbing the
final head wall of this giant mountain. There was definitely a lot of uncertainty around how we could do it like, physically where we should
navigate on the wall and what route we should choose. Because I mean, it really that's the challenge of doing a first ascent because nobody's been
there. So, you don't really know which way to go.
And we definitely both felt very uncomfortable the whole time. You know, like there was a lot of tension around how to -- how to weave our way off
the wall. But there was no seriously dramatic moment, but it was more like a tension that you carry the entire day as you slowly work your way up. And
we both felt incredible relief on demand for the job. We were we were genuinely very excited to make the job.
SREENIVASAN: And Heidi, when did you figure out or hear that they actually pulled it off?
SEVESTRE: You know, we had radios from base camp. And we hear the good news. And yes, the relief was also enormous at base camp. We were so
anxious. We were really tense the whole time. And we've felt -- you know, we felt so proud actually of what you guys had achieved. So again, your
SREENIVASAN: Glaciologist Dr. Heidi Sevestre and climber and expedition leader Alex Honnold, thank you both.
SEVESTRE: Thank you.
HONNOLD: My pleasure.
AMANPOUR: And finally, tonight more ice and a happy ending in those icy waters on the other side of the world. Earlier this week, these orcas were
seen trapped by sea ice off the coast of Japan's Northern Island, Hokkaido. First spotted by local fishermen, the part of at least 10 was filmed
struggling close together poking their heads out of a hole in the ice. But local authorities believe they have managed to escape safety now, and
officials said they could no longer spot the whales and that the ice drift had loosened, meaning chances are high that the orcas have broken free.
That is good news hopefully.
And that is it for now. Thank you for watching and goodbye from London.