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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.

“Vanishing Coral” comes during a pivotal time when coral reef populations are declining at a rapid pace. In 2016, a warm spell attributed to climate change caused bleaching of one-third of the Great Barrier Reef along the eastern coast of Australia that is 5,000 to 10,000 years old. Reefs in the Florida Keys have declined by 80 percent over the past three decades and scientists warn that all Caribbean coral could disappear in the next 20 years. One of the most diverse and complex ecosystems on the planet, the coral reefs provide livelihoods, food and important shoreline protection in many regions. Though they make up less than 1 percent of the oceans, reefs are home to 25 percent of fish and other marine life.

Funding for this program was provided by the Orange County Community Foundation and individual donors. “Vanishing Coral” was produced and directed by Stephen Olsson, CEM Productions.The "Earth Focus" series was created by Raisa Scriabine.

For action resources and to learn more about the issues, visit our special CORAL pages, and these articles:

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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.