While following the money often sheds light on political corruption, following the power is also quite revealing when examining how politicians approach environmental concerns as they gain more authority, reminds us Jon Christensen, producer on the new season of “Earth Focus,” referring to the Robert A. Caro quote. As we approach Election Day in the U.S., this season focuses on the human stories behind environmental politics, in the U.S. and abroad.
Season 3, Episode 1
Tues., Sept. 8 on KCET and Wed., Sept. 9 on Link TV
In 2019, sixteen children from across the world including Greta Thunberg filed a historical, global lawsuit petitioning the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold five of the world’s leading economic powers accountable for inaction on the climate crisis. All 16 young people are alarmed by the changes they see in their homelands. This episode includes an interview with Greta and in-depth profiles of four of these young environmentalists: Alexandria Villaseñor in California, Carl Smith in Alaska, Ayakha Melithafa in South Africa and Litokne Kabua in the Marshall Islands.
Season 3, Episode 2
Tues., Sept. 15 on KCET and Wed., Sept. 16 on Link TV
South Africa faces a stark reality as the continent’s largest greenhouse gas emitter. More than 80% of power generation comes from coal, with 11 coal power plants turning the province of Mpumalanga into one of the most polluted areas of the world. As the world moves away from fossil fuels and major global investors pull out, renewable energy fights to forge the future. The tension is palpable among the government, coal producers, workers, and the environment in a post-apartheid South Africa facing pressing developmental challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
The Price of Gold in Peru
Season 3, Episode 3
Tues., Sept. 22 on KCET and Wed., Sept. 23 on Link TV
When Peru’s President Martín Vizcarra came to power in 2018, one of his first priorities was to gain control over the devastating outbreak of illegal gold mining operations. In February 2019, the government launched Operation Mercury, a decisive action to shut down an entire town built around an illegal gold mine. This episode follows chief environmental prosecutor Karina Garay as she works with the police, army and navy in destroying illegal mines and arresting miners in protected areas, while retraining illegal miners and persuading them to join the formalized mining operations.
"Earth Focus" Special
Tues., Sept. 29 on KCET and Wed., Sept. 30 on Link TV
A quiet, little-known revolution is taking place in American environmental politics in a most surprising place—Nevada. In this feature-length documentary, Earth Focus tells the story of Harry Reid, a politician who grew up in an Old West mining town, saw the possibility of a New West emerging in Nevada, and rode that change to power. Reid used power in new ways to settle water wars with respect for Native Americans, protect endangered species and wilderness, and usher in a just transition to renewable energy. Could this western green new deal set an example for the nation?
Top image: Wind turbines in South Africa. | Courtesy of of Thomson Reuters Foundation