Greenery and foliage on the shore of a body of water. | Featured image for "Earth Focus"

Future of Food: San Diego

The U.S. is the largest importer of seafood, with 91 percent of our seafood coming primarily from China. As the global demand for food is expected to double by 2050, researchers are turning to aquaculture to look for ways to breed, raise and harvest seafood in sustainable — and scalable — fish farms off the U.S. coast to improve our access to quality seafood without the carbon footprint of imported fish. This segment explores efforts to build the first open-ocean fish farm in the United States. Proponents say we could have the ability to farm as much as the total global wild catch within an area the size of Lake Michigan. Experts weigh in on whether innovation in aquaculture is outpacing federal regulation and threatening local fishing culture.

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Avocado Wars: The Battle Over Water Rights In Chile

The popular demand for avocados, once considered an “exotic” item, is having a devastating impact on a drought-stricken community in Chile. Lying within one of the largest avocado producing regions in the country, Petorca avocado plantations are in a battle over water rights, where claims of illegal water diversion are creating civil unrest.

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  • 2019-11-15T03:30:00-08:00
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America’s Dirty Secret: Coal Ash

In Juliette, Georgia radioactive water flows from the tap. In Pennsylvania, three adjoining counties battle a rare form of cancer. One thing these communities have in common is their exposure coal ash. Coal combustion powers 40 percent of America’s electricity but generates 130 million tons of coal ash each year. Though it is known to contain carcinogens, coal ash is often dumped in unlined ponds where it leaches into groundwater. There is no federal coal ash regulation on the books—only a patchwork of state level standards.

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Dying Oceans: Abalone Restoration In California

The ocean is a sponge for all the greenhouse gas emissions we produce, and entire aquatic ecosystems are beginning to collapse. Off the coast of California, the disappearing abalone population is raising flags about ocean health and the lasting impact of rising sea temperatures, acidification and pollution. Various teams of scientists, volunteers and businesspeople are collaborating to protect underwater species threatened by the invasion of sea urchins.

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Lighting A Path: Embracing Solar Power In California and Zanzibar

Solar power is changing lives in unexpected places. At the Barefoot College in Zanzibar, Muslim women who have traditionally been marginalized in the workforce are learning solar installation and bringing it back to their villages, which are primarily powered by candles and paraffin lamps. In East Los Angeles, formerly incarcerated individuals are finding green job opportunities as they transition underserved communities into solar power.

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Building A Future: Lumber Poaching In Oregon and Brazil

Wood is found in countless products consumers use every day. In fact, lumber is closely connected to the world’s economy – a country’ s importation of lumber tends to rise in correlation with its gross domestic product. Following groups like “Guardians of the Forest,” we explore illegal lumber poaching in the forests of Brazil and Oregon, where citizens and scientists are working together to combat the illegal lumber trade.

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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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Illicit Ivory

Every twenty minutes an elephant is killed to feed an insatiable demand for ivory. African elephants may be gone in as little as ten years. Behind the slaughter are the most dangerous groups in the world – organized crime syndicates, insurgents and terrorists. Ivory buys guns and ammunition for Uganda's Lord’s Resistance Army and Sudan's Janjaweed, both linked to mass atrocities and supports al Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate behind the attacks on Kenya’s Westgate Mall and Garissa University.

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Fueling Change: Oil Extraction in Alaska and California

The global demand for oil and gas has long-lasting impacts on the communities that supply it. In Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, powerful native communities are at odds over an oil exploration and drilling plan that will boost their economy but have long-term consequences on native species and their environment. In California’s Kern County, the mayors of two neighboring towns face off on the economic benefits and health risks of oil production and their vastly different visions for the most sustainable path to the future.

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Dairy Alternatives: Rethinking Milk In California and Kenya

The realities of milk production are forcing dairy communities across the globe to rethink the dairy production process. In this episode, we travel to a village in Kenya where the commercialization of camel milk is proving a sustainable solution in the face of drought. In Northern California, the heart of the U.S. dairy industry is finding innovative alternatives to limit the use of water and manure emissions.

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Can Religion Save The Environment?

Led by Buddhist monks, Cambodia's indigenous Chong people protest the construction of a hydroelectric dam. The dam, to be built by the Chinese company Sinohydro, would displace the Chong and destroy their ancestral forest home. Kalyanne Mam documents their plight in her film "Fight For Areng Valley." China is beginning to draw on its religious traditions — Tibetan Buddhism, Daoism and Confucianism — to help address serious environmental challenges as profiled in Gary Marcuse and Shi Lihong's film "Searching for Sacred Mountain." 

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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.

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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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