tv Earth Focus LINKTV June 13, 2016 7:30pm-8:01pm PDT
>> today, on "earth focus," ocean challenges and solutions. as oil spills and acidification threaten marine life, the xprize ocean initiative stimulates innovation to protect one of our planet's most valuable resources. coming up on "earth focus." >> the flashsh of power.r. the gleam of oilil. in the sky, the power of oil conquering the heights. on ththe sea, thehe might of petroleum, pulsing in great engines s of the liners that traverse the deep. on land, oil feeds the fiery furnace or drives the diesel engineslong far-f-flung rails of steel. and on the open road,
well, you know what makes your auto run. for millions of years, this soue e of power s slept peacefuy in ththe dark rececesses of t te earth until modern magic loosed the liquid energy from its subterranean prison. >> the quest for oil was not only confined to land. it extended offshore. there are e oil reserves under e coastal waters of the united states, mainly off the coasts of california, alaska, texas, and louisiana. ththe gulf of mexico, home to a rich diversity of marine life, and it also produces almost a quarter of america's oil. tapping these offshore oil reserves helps meet a significant part of u.s. energy needs. but when things go wrong, there's a high price to pay.
in 1969, the santa barbara oil spill dumped two and a half million gallons of oil into the pacific, killing thousands of sea birds and marine mammals. in 1989, the exxon valdez oil tanker ran aground in alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into prince william sound. and most recently, in 2010, the bp deepwater horizon disaster, which according to u.s. government estimates, released 210 million gallons of oiininto t g gulf of mexexico. >> 57 days ago, in the dead of night, the worst environmental nightmare in u.s. history began. on a screen here and in homemes across the country, we now see the l live videdeo of tenens of thoususands of barrelsls of oil
billowing g into the gulf of mexico e every day. for years, e oil industry swore this could never happen. we were told the technology had advanced, that offshore drilling was safe. bp said they didn't think the rig would sink. it did. they said they could handle an exxon valdez size spill every day. they couldn't. bp said the spill was 1,000 barrels per day. it wasn't, and they knew it. in preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today. what we found was that these 5 companies have response plans that are virtually identical. the plans site identical response capabilities and tout identical ineffective equipment.
>> over one million dollars will be awarded to the teams that prove that theirir cleanup systm could meet the competition's strictest requirements. >> our first p prize, the winnnn schmidt oil cleanup x challenge was s a response, essentiaiallyo something wewe all remember, the deepwater horizon oil spill in the gulf of mexico. in 2010-- i certainly remember, i'm sure a lot ofof folks do--this was ongoing every day, oil spilling into the gulf, the havoc it was wreaking on wetlands and other critical ecosystems of the gulf coast, you know, from texas all the way to florida. and the sort or feeling of helplessness. >> > the spill was the e size of hawaii. it was literally an oil tsunami in the gulf of mexico. thousands and thousands of gallons of crude e oil spilling
into the water e every minute, every d day. this wawas a manmae catastrophe. and it just struck me that this is--this is the scariest thing i've ever seen. thisis is a serious threat when oil spills, not just to marine life. obviously that's bad, and obviously the beaches. we're still getting tar washing up o n those beaches now. but t also t to the livelihoodsf the people i in ese e reons. in the gulf, 8 out of 10 people have e a livelihohood connected either to the oil and gas drilling industry or to hospitality and ururism. and a l of those things were devastated by this s spill. >> the spill has brought life, uh, to a lot of the issues in the gulf and all of the ancillary bubusinesses. famamily fisheries, docksks, ththe marinana, the icehouses,
the transportation companies, peopople who provide s snacks ad groceriries to ststores. alall t is a direct reflection o of what can happen when things cease. >> after the oil spill, you know,w, they shuhut recreatitiol fishing, they shut commercial fishing, and that just killed everybody in thihis part of the world, really. itit's affecected everything, d it's affected everyry business around. >> it's how we count off f the seasons. it's oyster season or it's crab season, it's, you know, crawfish season, you know, and even that we're having some isissues with.h. we'veve taken r ranted foror so long t that it'- it's a little disconcertining ad it feels didifferent how you apprproach thingngs that's aaffg mymy life and d my culture. >> two years ago, the people ofof bp made a commimitment to e
gulf, and every day since, we've worked hard t to keep it. >> bp has paid over $23 billion to help people and businesses who were affected and to cover cleanup costs. >> today, the beaches and gulf are open for everyone to enjoy, and many areas are reporting the best tourism seasons in years. >> now is the perfect time to visit any one of our states. >> ththe beachehes and waters couldn't be more beautiful. >> take a boat ride, go fishing, or just lay in the sun. >> we've got coastline to explore and wildlife to photograph. >> and there's more of class dining with our world famous seafood. >> so for a great vacation this year, come to the gulf. >> this invitation is brought to you by bp and all of us who call the gulf home. >> u unfortunately, things for a commercial fisherman in southeast louisiana is not as good as those bp commercials would have you believe. my shrimp production isis down, stl down, between 40 and 60% in my area. i've been mamaking a livig on lake boeuf myself for 29 years on the boat. i can't do it anymorere. my oysteprproductions
down a at leasast 93%. in the lt 4 years, i might have sold about 1,500 sacks. in 4 years.si used to selell that a week. but $240 millilions worth h of bp commercials has a lot of pepeope beliining that we'e're ok. we're not. peopople are lososing it because they can't do what they want to do for a living. so you get a a choice of let's go do something else. ththey give yoyu an optionon. we'll retrain you.i say, what you gogonna retrain me to be, a braiain surgeon?n? or a cable installer. either one of them susucks. i don't have ththe education to be a a brain surgeonon and i'm not going to o install cable. if youake me and put me in the carpenterer field or the welding, well, i'm putting somebody else out of a job. so here comes that domino effect we e were telling y you abouout. oyster r production ise the canary in a mine. ok. the canary dies, you in trouble. get out of there. until we get our oyster population back, which filters the waters, we're not going to have a good environment. you know, commercial fisherman, you have highs and lows economics. highgs and lows with weather, hurricanes, you know. but this
manmade disaster is just lingering. >> the technology that was being used to clean up the deepwater horizon spill, the oil in the gulf of mexico, was the same technology as had been used in the "exxonon valdez" spill in alaskaka. in fact, thehere weree of the same machines, the same tools, sstuck in storage, brougt out a couple of decades later. as if nothing had changed. >> the industry hadn't moved from where it was in 20-something years. >> the idea of an xprize challenge to find a better way to clean it up seemed d like the most obvious and practical thing toto do. >> so xprize came up and set an audacious but achievablee goal. 2,500 gallons per minute of oil cleaned up at 80% rate of oil clean up. and you u have too it in 14 months. that 2,500 gallo per minutute was ouout double the industry standard. this isis technologically
achievable. it is. people just haven't beenen incented to do i. >> we have one shot to get this right. once we launch the prize, we can't change the rules. the teams are spending their own money. and so we want to make sure we get it right. and so, we spend a lot of time talking to all the potential stakeholders, including those that would hopefully adopt these techchnologies and buy these technologies frorothe teams s tt are competing at the end of the day. tthe top 10 teams got to test at the only place in the world you could test oil spill technologies at scale. >> you know can imagine, you can't just go spill oil in the ocean and test things out and see if they work. so there is actually a facility in new jersey run by the u.s. govovernment, on a nanaval base where you've got a massive tank several football fields long that allows you to spill oil and simulate oil clean up. >> renting that was quite expensive for us. and it was on a naval base, so it was very hard to get clearances. so these teams would notot have been able to afford to rent this facility,
nor wouould they have been ableo get access to use this facility. >> and it also allowed us to create these, more or less, real world conditions, whereby we could test and see if these devices would work in the reall worrld. >> all aboard! >> keep the faith, baby. keep the faith. >> 10 finalists came together at the end of that 14 months. 10 finalists came up with something. >> [cheering] nice job! >> just like we planned. >> i've never seen a machine pick up so much oil, ever. it's remarkable.e. >> and it turns out that the winning design at the end of the competition had actually been on somebody's drafting table several years earlier. it was just sitting there when there was no demand for the new product, no need to clean things up better than we were already
doing. >> with an overall oil recovery rate e of 4,670 galallons per minute, more than 3 times the industry's previous best tested recovery rate, our $1 million first place winner, team elastec american marine. [cheers and applause] >> in 2011, we awarded our wendy schmidt oil clean up xchallenge. the winners, elastec american marine with a million dollar check. and this, of course, is the prize that they won for more than doubling the industry best standadard for oil clean up that had existed to that point. >> prizes have actually been around for over 300 years. back in 1714 was the longitude prize. it was a $20,000 prize put on by the british government to help us figure out where we were from a longitudal basis when we were crossing the oceans. and everybody assumed when they put this prize out there that it would either be a ship's captain
or it would be an astronomer that won this prize. and it was actually a clock maker. and he was this outside innovator that nobody ever would have expected to win a prize like this. napoleon used prizes. we have canned food because napoleon's army needed to be fed and so they figured out a way to preserve food, right. lindbergh flew across s the atlantic for a prize. there was a $25,000 prize for the first person that could fly non-stop from paris to new york or new york to paris. and it went on and on and on. in fact, prizes were one of the main tools that governments had to get innovation because either, you know, our modern research institutions weren't set up or, you know, the money just wasn't being set. and then came around world war i, world war ii, when the government really started funding innovation and just started throwing a ton of m money at things, that prizes sort of disissipated. >> when we started d the xprize back in 1996, everybody knew that only governments----in fac, only two governments could put human beings into space. and
the purpose of the xprize was to change what everyrybody knew abt that by requiriring a demonstration of private space flight twice in two weeks with the same ship. and that kicked off the whole suborbital space flight industry. >> and launchch of the spacex falcon 9 rocket, as nasa turns to the e private sectctor to re-supply t the international space station. >> we can do this for other things. we can do this for energy and environment. we can do this for oceans. we can do this for exploration. we can do this for health. and that's what really launched the version of xprize that we seeee today. rig, that is not just about space. >> the oceans are under attack. if we wanted to destroy the oceans, if we set out to do that, i don't think could do a better job than we're doing now. is that the kind of planet
we want to live on? you know, you've got pollution. you've got co2 absorbing i into the ocean. youou've got 80%0% of the plast- 450 billion tons of plastic manufactured every year, and 80% of it's not recycled. and it ends up in the ocean and it ends up in these giant gyres of plastic which are in every ocean nowow, not jujust the pacific ge that people talk about. we're overfishing. 90% of the big fish are gone. and a at the same tim, you can say y we've exploreded t 5% of the oceans. we have better maps of the surface of mars than we have of under our own oceans on our own planet. there's something wrong there. right? our fundamental understanding of our relationshihip to the ocean has too change in, i would s sa, the next few decades, or we really--we are really putting our o own survival at risk. >> there's life on thiis planet because of the oceans. life started in the oceans. it continues to govern things,
everything from the climate to global food supply, right.. and yet this sort of watery deep, , as it werere, is still basically unknowown to us peopl. >> not only do almost 3 billion people make their living with work associated with the oceans, but it's a major source of protein in the human diet. 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from the oceans. we need the oceans, the oceans don't need us. that'ss the fundamental disconnect. the biggegest silent threreat to the o oceans from humumans is on acidificatioion. it's happening. it's happening 1 10 to 100 t tis fasterer than at a any time in e last 50 millioion years. i in f, sincnce the 1900s, e early 1900, the ocean n is 30% moracacidic.
>> ph, or reallly the a acidityf the ocecean, is changing as a resusult of carbrbon dioxide n the atmosphere. this is ultimately sosort of ththe eviln of climamate changnge. >> we look at global warming. we talk about the changes in our atmosphere. we need to look at the changes in our ocean. >> we've been pumping carbon dioxidede into the atmosphere, especially since the indndustril revolution, with the burning of fossil fuels. anand that c carbn dioxide has to go somewhere, and some of that is goining into the oceans. they estimate about 30% has gone into the oceans. and the problem in the oceans is it has to react to that carbon dioxide. and that's how we get the phenomenon of ocean acidification. >> over 70% of all of the oxygen in our air, the oxygen we breathe, is produced by phytoplankton in the ocean. that means when you're putting that at risk by changes in ph, you're putting at risk the very air we breathe, quite frankly. this is why it's a threat of geologic globabal proportions.
>> if you like jellyfish more than s shellfish, then it's s nt a pproblem, 'cause t they're goa love an acidic ocean. you'll have plelenty of jellyfish. butf you like mussels and clams and oysters and things that you like to eat, they're in big trouble bececause thehey can no longer e their shells. we're seeing the effects of this already. >> so we're cousins. our dadads are bill taylor and paul taylor, and they run taylor shellfish. >> and i'm brittany taylor, and this is diani taylor. >> that, too. >> and we're the fifth generation of our family to work
for our family business. i really take pride in the fact that our company's part of a big community and it's very family-like. we have many families, not only mine, but many other families that have their whole families that work for us. >> the ocean is so acidic that it is dissolving the shell of our baby oysters. our farm is what has kept this family together. it's our glue. i can't imagine. it would be devastating to lose such a big part of our history. when we started farming oysters over 100 years ago, we relied on the natural reproduction of oysters in the bay to occur in order to get our oysters.
but as the industry has changed, we started cultivating our own oyster larvae, our own baby oysters. so when we started doing that, we needed something like our hatchery, which is kind of like a greenhouse where you can raise up the baby shellfish and the baby oysters to get big enough so that we can go and plant them on our beaches. >> it took us a while to f figue out what was happening in our hatcheries relating to ocean cidificatition, just becausese there's so many different things that can happen to make seed not survive. one of the things the hatcheries realized was that the clams and oysters were having problems forming their shells, so that made them look at the ph levels 'cause that can account for it.
shellfish is very vulnerable whehen it's first being created. and it's the acidity in the water that makes it hard for them to form their shells. >> so when it reaches the baby oysters in the first few days of life, that acidic water r actuay will dissolve the shell, which is calcium. and if they don't make it through the first few weeks of its life when it's being affected by ocean acidification, then we have no oysterers to plant on our beach. so it's something that we truly experience and deal with on a day-to-day basis. it's not something that's gonna happen potentially in 5 or 10 years. along the coast of oregon, there's a specific function called upwelling where deeper water is coming up towards the surface. and it's that deeper water that is the acidic water. we don't know how bad ocean acidification is going to get. we're just starting to experience the consequences of
it. what we're experiencing here in the puget sound is what other people will be experiencing not too long in the future. >> i definitely want to be able to pass on our business onto the next generation. >> yeah, it would be fun to share that experience with the next generation, like our dads shared with us. >> and this really brings us to e next xprprize challenge, righght, that we're launching right now. we're looking for teams to come together to develop accurate, portable, ddeployable sensors to tell us what the ocean ph is in various places. right now if you want to discover how acidic the ocean is, we can do that with devices that exist. in shallow, temperate waters, we can get a pretty accurate measurement. but it costs almost $40,000 a day to go and get that
information. and there's no need for that anymore. surely we can deploy technologies that can be used universally in many applications, and also in this way, help to launch an ocean services industry where lots of information can be shared along all l the kinds of people who nd to undersrstand this, whether you're running a fishery, whether you're running a boat service, whether you're doing research somewhere. what are we dealing with? is the ocean momoe acididic when it's c colder? whn it's deeper? when it's closer to shore? we don't know any ofof ts information. so we're hoping through this competition that a lot of doors will open and we really will improrove the s staf awareness about the health of ouour oceans. in fact, we're calling it ocean health xprize 'cause a healthy ocean is not a rapidly acidifying ocean. and if it is, what are we gonna do to mitigate that? >> you can't really do anything to adapt to ocean acidification
or mitigate it until you understand how severe how it is, where is it severe, how are the organisms adapting or not adapting to it? so it's really hard to say, this is exactly what we'rre going to be able to dodo until we have these sensors in place. >> this prize e is all about measuremement. it's all about the fact that we just haven't-- we haveven't explored the physil parts of the ocean, we really haven't explored the chemistry of the ocean. and this prize is challenging a brand new generation of explorers to do just that--create those tools thahat will give everybody the solutions, ultimately, to addressing what is a global threat to ocean health.h. >> we are in a single, wonderful ecosystem on this planet. and the system has evolved over millions of years without us, by the way. what is our relationship, actually, in the system we live in? 'cause we're part of it. and i t thinke
can do very, very well if we think about our relationship to natural resources in that way, including the oceans. we really are gonna have a very different planet in a hundred years. we would be the first--first generation in the history of humanity to knowingly make choices that do not benefit our descendants, to knowingly refuse to address the things that they will look back and s say, what werere you thinking? peoplple iy position who have the capacity to help mamake a difference have an urgenent responsibility to do that. we don't have an urgent responsibility to build our foundations up so that they can function 100 years from now. that's not the purpose. the purpose isis to go out and e effectitive now. ththis is whent counts. ññ1111@1@1@1@1púúa xx
narrator: yet another hurricane pounds c cuba. waves as tall as five story buildings. streets flooded. many forced from their homes. in an era of climate change, ather around the world is becoming more extreme. hurricanes are getting worse. if this is the future for our coastal cities, how will they survive the storm?