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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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Full Episodes

Upcoming Airdates

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.

  • 2018-10-22T00:30:00-07:00
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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.

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.