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

Neonics: Toxic Until Fully Tested

Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of The Xerces Society, talks about the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on the environment.

"We believe because they're so toxic, they're so long-lived, they're found inside plants, but readily move into water, that we could really see big ecosystem changes because of these chemicals," he says.

Neonicotinoids, which are now found in stream and well samples across the United States, are not only affecting pollinators like bees and butterflies, but killing insects -- the underpinning of the food chain. That in turn affects birds, fish, and other wildlife.

"The chemical companies are really running the show here," Black says. He questions whether a chemical closely related to nicotine — a known carcinogen — should be so widely used on food crops before further safety studies are conducted. "It's not just about the environment. It's that we are not taking care of humans."

 

 

 

 

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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.

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.