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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

Adaptation to Global Water Shortages

Anticipating future water needs, two regions on opposite sides of the world turn to technology for answers. Western Morocco, near the Sahara Desert, is currently facing unprecedented drought and groundwater mismanagement. But an ancient method of gathering moisture from fog is being taught to 13 villages, allowing people to have a level of local control over their most basic need. In Central Valley, California, the food basket of the world uses nearly 80 percent of the entire state's water supply.

City Planning

Two cities, San Francisco and Freetown, brace for climate change using vastly different methodologies. San Francisco's developers are building expensive real estate on floodplains as officials try to heed expert projections on future sea levels. On the other side of the world, a deadly mudslide caused by torrential rains and deforestation in Sierra Leone shows the consequences of city planning that doesn't take climate change into account.

  • 2020-07-08T18:30:00-07:00
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Future of Food

Communities and innovators all over the world are creating new sustainable food sources that are resilient to climate change and growing populations. In Madagascar, we see how villagers are closing off marine areas to allow the fish supply to replenish at a natural pace. In San Diego, California, aquaculturists are exploring open ocean farming as a more sustainable model for the fishing industry.

Urban Habitat

Los Angeles is one of the biggest biodiversity hotspots in the world, despite its smog, urban sprawl and snarling freeways. At least 20,000 native and non-native plant and animal species are thriving despite human interference, and in some cases because of it. How can people help make urban habitats more welcoming to non-human urban dwellers?

Fueling Change: Oil Extraction in Alaska and California

The global demand for oil and gas has long-lasting impacts on the communities that supply it. In Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, powerful native communities are at odds over an oil exploration and drilling plan that will boost their economy but have long-term consequences on native species and their environment. In California’s Kern County, the mayors of two neighboring towns face off on the economic benefits and health risks of oil production and their vastly different visions for the most sustainable path to the future.