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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Maritime Pollution Exposed

(Earth Focus: Episode 46) Between 70-210 million gallons of waste oil are illegally dumped at sea by commercial ships each year. In fish, marine oil pollution is linked to cancers, tumors, reduced growth rates, genetic side effects, and death. It is also toxic to seabirds and marine mammals including whales, sea otters, and dolphins. The new film "Oil in Our Waters" exposes this practice. Film director Micah Fink shares his findings with "Earth Focus" and explains new ways citizens can now help stop illegal oil dumping.

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.

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." 

Climate Change: The Rising Cost

(Earth Focus: Episode 70) The cost of climate change is rising and its consequences are increasingly threatening our national security. Droughts, floods, wildfires, and severe weather cost lives and livelihoods when they damage property, crops, and infrastructure. Communities in Texas, Iowa, Colorado, Alaska are already struggling with the impact of climate change and coastal cities face expensive consequences within a couple of decades. The high price we are paying today is a harbinger of what the future may hold. How will the US economy and national security be affected?

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.