Earth Focus: Tackling Ocean Challenges

Tackling Ocean Challenges

(Earth Focus: Episode 66) 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.

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Upcoming Airdates

Biodiversity and Health

(Earth Focus: Episode 41) What do plants, snakes, molds, marine sponges, and cone snails have in common? They have helped develop medicines that save human lives. Biodiversity -- the variety of life on Earth -- is key to human survival. But plants, animals, and microorganisms are disappearing at unprecedented rates. What impact will this have on human health? Find out in this Earth Focus special report produced in collaboration with the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School.

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Vanishing Coral

“Vanishing Coral” presents the personal story of scientists and naturalists who are working with local communities to protect coral reefs that are being destroyed by warming seas, pollution, and destructive fishing practices. Featured in the documentary is the President of the Biosphere 2 Foundation Abigail Alling, marine biologist and coral expert Phil Dustan, captain of the Mir research sailing vessel Mark Van Thillo, and Nono Suparno, a leading conservationist in Bali.

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Canada's Rush for Gold

Canada may be one of the world's largest gold mining nations, but both its overseas and domestic mining activities are controversial. In this Earth Focus report, Human Rights Watch looks at the allegations of gang rapes and other violent abuses at the Pogera Mine in Papua New Guinea, which is operated and 95 percent-owned by Barrick Gold — a Canadian company that is the world's largest gold producer.

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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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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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Toxic Futures: Untold Stories of Chemical Pollution

(Earth Focus: Episode 56) Exposure to toxic chemicals affects people in both the industrialized and developing world. Earth Focus looks at how Toms River, a New Jersey town, fought back to save its drinking water from toxic waste dumping by dye manufacturer Ciba Geigy and by Union Carbide. Then, a look at the new film Amazon Gold, which addresses illegal gold mining in Peru and its tragic impact on human health and the environment.

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Arise: Women Protecting The Environment

(Earth Focus: Episode 42) A look at the award-winning film "Arise!" and its documentation of the intellectual and spiritual insights that women from around the world bring to solving today's environmental challenges. Mother/daughter filmmakers Lori Joyce, Candace Orlando, and executive producer Molly Ross reflect on the making of the film.

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Shades of Gray: Living with Wolves

(Earth Focus: Episode 51) Gray wolves once ranged across North America. But by the 1930s, they were nearly extinct—trapped, poisoned and hunted by ranchers, farmers, and government agents. With protection under the 1973 Endangered Species Act, the wolf population rebounded. But wolves lost federal protection in 2011. Now, with hunting permitted in many Western states, the future of this once endangered species may again be in question. Can we live with wolves? "Earth Focus" travels to Montana and Wyoming to find out.

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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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Young Voices for the Planet

This episode features author and illustrator Lynne Cherry's film series "Young Voices for the Planet" about young adults making positive environmental change.

 

Image: Courtesy of Young Voices on Climate Change.

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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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