Greenery and foliage on the shore of a body of water. | Featured image for "Earth Focus"

Fueling Change: Two Neighboring Towns Pit the Legacy of Oil Against a Renewable Future

California is famous for implementing policies to protect the environment, yet it has also been one of the biggest crude oil producers in the country since the mid-19th century. Kern County supplies more than 60 percent of the state’s high demand for oil but reserves are running out, leaving only crude that is accessible through fracking methods. 

The mayors of the neighboring towns of Taft and Arvin face off on stark differences in their administrations’ priorities. While Taft mayor Dave Noerr promotes the economic benefits and practical realities of a society demanding petroleum, Arvin mayor Jose Gurrola advocates for the health of residents and their right to clean air and water.

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Lighting A Path: Embracing Solar Power In California and Zanzibar

Solar power is changing lives in unexpected places. At the Barefoot College in Zanzibar, Muslim women who have traditionally been marginalized in the workforce are learning solar installation and bringing it back to their villages, which are primarily powered by candles and paraffin lamps. In East Los Angeles, formerly incarcerated individuals are finding green job opportunities as they transition underserved communities into solar power.

Dying Oceans: Abalone Restoration In California

The ocean is a sponge for all the greenhouse gas emissions we produce, and entire aquatic ecosystems are beginning to collapse. Off the coast of California, the disappearing abalone population is raising flags about ocean health and the lasting impact of rising sea temperatures, acidification and pollution. Various teams of scientists, volunteers and businesspeople are collaborating to protect underwater species threatened by the invasion of sea urchins.

Sea Level Rising: Living With Water

Louisiana still is learning from Hurricane Katrina. Forecasts are dire for Louisiana to experience the second-highest sea level rise in the world. There is a big movement brewing in New Orleans to build adaptive "resilience zones." In Southeast Louisiana, the native peoples of the Isle de Jean Charles have become the first U.S citizens moving within their homeland displaced by climate change.

Climate Migration

Populations are dramatically shifting as climate change drives migration. Droughts and floods are driving many people away from their rural, farming communities into big cities. We see how this is manifesting in Mongolia and examine the factors leading to the new community of Haitian people living in limbo at the border between Mexico and the U.S.

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.