Los Angeles River

Saving The Rivers of the American West

"Earth Focus" speaks with Jeremy Monroe about his film "Willamette Futures," which documents the effort to restore the watersheds of Oregon's largest river system. Satirical writer George Wolfe's controversial act of civil disobedience, leading a kayaking expedition down the cemented Los Angeles River, is the focus of Thea Mercouffer's film "Rock the Boat." The expedition sought to have EPA declare the river navigable so that it could gain protection under the Clean Water Act. The boating trip down the L.A. River became a political movement which led to changes in federal policy and opened up public access to a long-neglected waterway. The Colorado River is the most dammed, and diverted river in the world. It struggles to support thirty million people across the western United States and Mexico and is reaching its limits. James Redford and Mark Decena talk about their film "Watershed: Exploring a New Water Ethic for the New West," which looks at how we balance the competing interests of cities, agriculture, recreation, wildlife and indigenous communities with rights to the water.

 

Photo: Joe Linton / Streetsblog L.A. / Creative Commons

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Exposed: The Ugly Side of Food Production

Food and social justice. Human rights abuses, rape and corrupt practices in the Bangladesh shrimp industry. A report by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation uncovers the human and environmental cost of shrimp farming and shows why buying shrimp from Bangladesh where they are exposed to pesticides and injected with dirty water may be hazardous to your health. UK's The Ecologist investigates the plight of African migrant workers in Italy and looks how financial speculation is threatening the livelihood of Mexican farmers.

Nuclear Power: America Goes Naked

"Going naked" is how the insurance industry describes not having insurance. And when it comes to the worst hazards of nuclear power — America is going naked. Correspondent Miles Benson investigates why the U.S. nuclear power industry is underinsured by hundreds of billions of dollars. He also speaks with Australian physician, author and nuclear industry critic Dr. Helen Caldicott on the health effects of nuclear radiation including cancers, fetal damage and genetic mutation.

Shades of Gray: Living with Wolves

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.

Inside The Climate Wars: Conversation with Michael Mann

The debate over climate change remains polarized. Efforts to discredit the science of climate change by fossil fuel interests are a large part of the reason why says Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Meteorology at Penn State University. "If there was a huge industry that would stand to profit greatly if the theory of gravity were wrong you would see the theory of gravity being contested in our US Senate," he tells "Earth Focus" correspondent Miles Benson in an exclusive interview. Mann on the politics of climate change and the impact it has had on both science and policy.

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.