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

Urban Habitat: Cataloging Species

As urbanization creates a variety of vectors for non-native species to find their way into Los Angeles, scientists work to catalog the city's evolving biodiversity.

The Los Angeles Aqueduct made the region more attractive non-native species introduced by human activity. Species now common in the city include animals from tropical places, including anoles, geckos and the infamous coqui frog. Biologists are finding the best way to research biodiversity in urban areas and to gain access to the species living on private property throughout the city, is to enlist he help of citizen scientists.

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Sea Level Rising: Living With Water

Louisiana still is learning from Hurricane Katrina. Forecasts are dire for Louisiana to experience the second-highest sea level rise in the world. There is a big movement brewing in New Orleans to build adaptive "resilience zones." In Southeast Louisiana, the native peoples of the Isle de Jean Charles have become the first U.S citizens moving within their homeland displaced by climate change.

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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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Adaptation to Global Water Shortages

Anticipating future water needs, two regions on opposite sides of the world turn to technology for answers. Western Morocco, near the Sahara Desert, is currently facing unprecedented drought and groundwater mismanagement. But an ancient method of gathering moisture from fog is being taught to 13 villages, allowing people to have a level of local control over their most basic need. In Central Valley, California, the food basket of the world uses nearly 80 percent of the entire state's water supply.

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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.

  • 2020-02-01T02:00:00-08:00
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  • 2020-02-23T11:00:00-08:00
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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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Climate Migration

Populations are dramatically shifting as climate change drives migration. Droughts and floods are driving many people away from their rural, farming communities into big cities. We see how this is manifesting in Mongolia and examine the factors leading to the new community of Haitian people living in limbo at the border between Mexico and the U.S.

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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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Future of Food

Communities and innovators all over the world are creating new sustainable food sources that are resilient to climate change and growing populations. In Madagascar, we see how villagers are closing off marine areas to allow the fish supply to replenish at a natural pace. In San Diego, California, aquaculturists are exploring open ocean farming as a more sustainable model for the fishing industry.

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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.

  • 2020-02-08T02:00:00-08:00
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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.

  • 2020-02-09T11:00:00-08:00
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City Planning

Two cities, San Francisco and Freetown, brace for climate change using vastly different methodologies. San Francisco's developers are building expensive real estate on floodplains as officials try to heed expert projections on future sea levels. On the other side of the world, a deadly mudslide caused by torrential rains and deforestation in Sierra Leone shows the consequences of city planning that doesn't take climate change into account.

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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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Urban Habitat

Los Angeles is one of the biggest biodiversity hotspots in the world, despite its smog, urban sprawl and snarling freeways. At least 20,000 native and non-native plant and animal species are thriving despite human interference, and in some cases because of it. How can people help make urban habitats more welcoming to non-human urban dwellers?

  • 2020-02-12T17:30:00-08:00
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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.

  • 2020-02-15T02:00:00-08:00
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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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Tortoise In Peril

Desert tortoises are a threatened species. Habitat destruction, diseases and other factors have reduced their numbers by up to 90 percent. Now flocks of ravens, that often live off human trash, are eating baby tortoises, reducing the odds of tortoise survival as a species. This documentary explores that impact, pointing out how people can change the environment through seemingly innocent actions.

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