Earth Focus: Tackling Ocean Challenges

Tackling Ocean Challenges

Oceans support life, yet they are overfished, polluted, and, with global climate change, are becoming increasingly acidic.

The XPrize Ocean Initiative seeks to solve some of these critical threats by bringing in teams from around the world for high-profile competitions to find the best new technologies and stimulate investment in research and development. After the massive Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Wendy Schmidt Oil Clean up XCHALLENGE in 2011 awarded $1.4 million to a team that demonstrated an oil recovery cleanup rate four times greater than the industry's previous best recovery rate.

A second $2 million Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is spurring innovators to develop accurate and affordable pH sensors to deepen our understanding of ocean acidification, which threatens the growth of shellfish and coral reefs. Click HERE about the Montana team of chemists and engineers who won the two grand prizes of the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE in 2015.

 

For more information on the issue and what you can do, visit our Oceans page.

Category:
Summer of the Environment small logo

This episode is part of KCET and Link TV's “Summer of the Environment,” which offers a robust library of content on multiple platforms from June-August intended to ignite compassion and action for helping to save and heal our planet.

 

Upcoming Airdates

Mining Battles: Uranium, Coal and Gold

An impoverished former mining community in Colorado hopes that a proposed uranium mill will bring jobs and prosperity until environmentalists step in to try to stop it. Who gets to decide? Filmmaker Suzan Beraza documents the debate in her new film Uranium Drive In.

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Fracking Goes Global

(Earth Focus: Episode 52) U.S. domestic gas production is on the rise because of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial method of extracting natural gas from shale rock by pumping millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals underground at high pressure. Environmentalists say this gas boon threatens water supplies and pollutes air. Now, as fracking expands around the world, so does growing resistance. "Earth Focus" looks at three countries on the new fracking frontline: South Africa, Poland, and the UK.

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Chesapeake: Can Oysters Save the Bay?

After centuries of over-harvesting and bouts of disease, oyster populations in the Chesapeake Bay plummeted along with profits for the oyster industry and the health of the Bay. In some areas, native oysters are becoming more abundant. But culture and ecology clash as watermen, who depend on harvesting oysters for income, are at odds with scientists and conservationists who want to restore oyster populations. Filmmaker Sandy Cannon-Brown looks at oysters and the people behind them in her documentary "Spat! Bringing Oysters Back to the Bay."

 

 

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Unsafe: The Truth Behind Everyday Chemicals

There are tens of thousands of chemicals in our air, water, and in the everyday products we use. They are largely unregulated and few are adequately tested for safety. They contribute to disease and are linked to conditions such as asthma, autism, ADHD, diabetes, cancers, infertility, cognitive disorders, obesity, reproductive disorders and birth defects. "Earth Focus" looks at endocrine disruptors, ubiquitous chemicals that affect development, metabolism, fertility and intelligence at extremely low doses and at what measures could be taken to better ensure public safety.

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Restoring The Earth

(Earth Focus: Episode 53) It is possible to rehabilitate large-scale damaged ecosystems, to improve the lives of people trapped in poverty and to sequester carbon naturally. John Liu presents "Hope in a Changing Climate," which showcases approaches that have worked on the Loess Plateau in China, Ethiopia and Rwanda. Produced in collaboration with the Environmental Education Media Project (EEMP).

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Killing Bees: Are Government & Industry Responsible?

Honey bees, the essential pollinators of many major U.S. crops, have been dying off in massive numbers since 2006. This threatens the American agricultural system and the one in 12 jobs that depends on it. There is growing evidence that a new class of pesticides -- nerve toxins called neonicotinoids, which are used on many U.S. crops like corn -- may be toxic to bees.

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Meeting Tomorrow's Food Needs

(Earth Focus: Episode 48): With a changing climate, a growing population and anticipated fresh water shortages, our food production must evolve. In this episode of Earth Focus, a look at innovative research that is helping develop new and improved root systems for agriculture in stressed conditions, a new Swedish model for urban agriculture, the use of solar energy to power food production in the Himalayas, and an innovative truck farm in New York City.

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Asian Elephants In Peril

Asian elephants, already endangered in Indonesia and Thailand,are threatened further by human encroachment and illegal trade. In Indonesia, just 2,500 Sumatran elephants remain. As their last great forest habitat is being logged to make way for palm oil plantations, elephants are pushed into conflict with local people. In Thailand and Myanmar, an illegal and brutal trade in wild baby elephants is contributing to declining elephant populations.

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Climate Science In Action

Whether they are researching the pace of Alaskan glacier melt or measuring the impact of Arctic sea ice changes on our our weather, climate scientists go to some of the most remote areas on Earth to help us understand our environment. The Juneau Icefield Research Program (JIRP) brings scientists and students together annually to study glaciers. Jeff Barbee reports on the 2013 JIRP expedition. Julienne Stroeve of the National Snow and Ice Data Center looks at the impact changes in Arctic sea ice may have on weather patterns.

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American Rivers: Challenges of the Colorado and the Potomac

(Earth Focus: Episode 39) Two iconic American rivers are under threat. The Colorado River, a lifeline for the expanding population of seven US and two Mexican states, faces an increasing demand for water for drinking, sanitation, agriculture, and energy generation. Yet the Colorado already runs dry before reaching its natural end at the Gulf of California. Jamie Redford and Mark Decena discuss their new film Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West, which explores sustainable solutions to help address this pressing problem.

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Food Heroes

"Ground Operations," a new film by Dulanie Ellis and Raymond Singer, shows how farming provides both employment and therapeutic recovery for America's combat veterans. Then, meet organic pioneers from Minnesota and Maryland. Also in this episode, a segment showing how California's Pie Ranch develops an innovative way to bring healthy food to a high tech giant while saving a small family business in the process.

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Climate Change: The Rising Cost

(Earth Focus: Episode 70) The cost of climate change is rising and its consequences are increasingly threatening our national security. Droughts, floods, wildfires, and severe weather cost lives and livelihoods when they damage property, crops, and infrastructure. Communities in Texas, Iowa, Colorado, Alaska are already struggling with the impact of climate change and coastal cities face expensive consequences within a couple of decades. The high price we are paying today is a harbinger of what the future may hold. How will the US economy and national security be affected?

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Neonicotinoids: The New DDT?

Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides in the world. But they've been linked to the decline of honeybees, which pollinate many food crops. And scientists now say neonicotinoids also harm many terrestrial, aquatic, and marine invertebrates. These pervasive insecticides damage sea urchin DNA, suppress the immune systems of crabs, and affect the tunneling and reproductive behavior of earthworms. They kill off insects that many birds, amphibians, and reptiles rely on for food.

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Shrimp and Smart Phones: The Toxic Side of Profit

(Earth Focus: Episode 50) This episode of Earth Focus looks at the dark side of shrimp and smart phone industries. Reports from Thailand, Bangladesh, and Indonesia uncover the brutal exploitation of people and the environment for profit.

 

Photo:  M. Yousuf Tushar / Flickr / Creative Commons

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