Earth Focus: Asian Elephants in Peril (large)

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. On the Thai-Myanmar border, at least 50-100 elephant calves and young females are removed from their forest homes every year and are traded illegally to supply tourist camps. Countless elephants die in the process, threatening the remaining populations of this endangered species.

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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.

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."

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.

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.

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.