tv America Tonight Al Jazeera July 30, 2015 10:00pm-10:31pm EDT
hour. on "america tonight" a watery warning, from tidal pools come signs that trouble in the air is dripping down into our food supply. who knows how far this issue goes if it's affecting our asters in the catchery. what others it would be affecting. lisa fletcher with a story told. >> and a warning under water. >> he was showing us places where the coral bleached and it's gone beyond bleaching into basically being covered in
fungus like a mould. and crumbling away "america tonight" sheila macvicar in the south pacific with a die off and the threat it poses to all of us. thanks for joining us, i'm joie chen. tonight a look at the oceans and the threats beneath the service. coral reefs are like a rainforest beneath the ocean. it sustains the fish and people too. alarming data shows unless carbon dioxide can be brought under control, what is known as coral bleaching, a die off of the critical underwater creatures could set you have a chain of environmental disaster. "america tonight"'s sheila macvicar travelled to the south pacific's marshall island for a first hand look. >> reporter: do you have a short. >> yes. >> reporter: on the boat. this is a dive master.
located in the vast pacific ocean between australia and hawaii imaginero is a populous of dozens of atolls making up the marshall ined. the way to make his living taking tourists scuba diving among some spectacular coral reefs in the world. >> this is a place you have come to for a long title. >> how many years. >> nine years. >> but last year's they were shocked at what he saw when he returned to this favourite spot. >> i saw breaching october. >> when you say bleaching coral, what happened, the carol turned white? >> very white. >> and normally it should be full of colour. >> green, purple red. no more now, >> reporter: that is happening in all of these places.
>> yes. we had a major bleaching event starting in the marshall islands in in fall. it was part of a global event that's been developing over time. and as warm waters moved into the area around the marshall islands in it really stressed the corals and they are in bad shape. into mark is coordinator of reef watch at noah the national oceanographic d atmospheric administration and an expert on the ecology of coral. >> coral is interesting, because they are animal vegetable and mineral. so you have an animal and microscopic algae are living inside the tissue. when temperatures get too high the corals will expel the algae, spit it out into the water column and goes from having a nice algae and tissues to spitting them into the water, a
few remaining. coral is lighter. algae gives the coral its colour. most turn white when they kick it out. they have ripped the guts out. and they are starving. this is a stressful event. . >> as we descend below the waves and explore the reef. there are none of the tell-tale whites that signify distress. and still the live coral. instead, interspersed between gardens of healthy coral, we see the skeletal remains. trained of all colour many covered with lair of algae. others collapse and crumble to
the sea floor. he was showing us places where the coral bleached and it's gone beyond bleaching into basically being covered in fungus. almost like a mould, and crumbling away. it should been a spectacular coral garden and still beautiful coral there, but you can see that there's so much damage. i fish a lot. one morning as i was going out i see a line of white in areas where you see live coral. >> reginald white is chief meteorologist at the office on imaginero. when it's a temporary event. it can regenerate or back to normal life. otherwise you see the death of the coral at certain levels and
depth. that is alarming. most of the families in india, depend on a subassisting economy. this is the food source. >> if the coral dies. >> food sources goes with it as well. first it's the rising temperatures - as it continues, experts worry the results could be disastrous. >> there are half a billion people who rely on coral reefs as a primary source of food. >> scientists use a large array of environmental satellites to take the temperature of the earth's oceans what is happening in the marshall islands in appears to be growing into a global event. >> the bleaching now is in kiribati along the area along the equator, we have the south-east coral china area
with a lot of warming going on right now in the philippines, and some bleaching has been reported from the philippines and parts of indonesia. the marshalls are seeing a little returning again. and over to the gall app goes and coastal areas around south america. >> in the months ahead noah models predict the bleaching would head a lot closer to home. >> we'll see the thermal stress heading to hawaii. this will be the second time that they've had mass coral bleaching in the islands in. >> twice in two years. >> well we are seeing here that the caribbean - the northern caribbean areas likely to be hit. the western atlantic gulf of mexico we are looking at a chance of bleaching in cuba in the bahamas and florida. >> and what does that tell you about what is happening with the
climate. what is happening with the earth's temperature. we are seeing heeding of the pacific issues indian and the atlantic ocean. the amount of heat held in these oceans is huge. and it's something that has been growing continuously. >> as the oceans temperatures rises, it's taking less and less to tip the earth's coral reefs over the edge. >> this is the third time that we see what looks like to be a global event. >> reporter: the third time ever. >> the third time ever. by around mid part of this century yip, as much ass 90% of the -- as much as 90% of the core although reefs may see temperatures causing coral bleaching every year. >> can they recoverage. >> when this started every year no. >> aiken had a glimpse into the future when he dove to suspect a coral reef during the bleaching of 2010.
if there was anything that i could wipe from my memory it's what that reef looked like. we seen core am it's white. everything is white all over. we started looking at the reef watching the fish. the fish were stunned. some of the corals were dying at that point. the difference between na and a healthy reef was so obvious. it was like nothing i had ever seen before it was heart-br aiken and other scientists say the fate of the earth's coral reefs hinges on talks in december. that aimed to keep global warming below 2 degrees celsius. if you condition on the route, with the emissions increasing at the rate that they are, corals don't stand much of a chance. if on the other hand we keep the atmosphere to a 2 degree
warming. then at least at that level the corals have a chance that there is a peak of stress and the recovering will pick up because they are adapting to conditions. we hope. >> reporter: for those that depend on the coral reefs for their livelihood and survival that may be all they have. >> until all of the world unite in one force, in one voice and say let's find a way to reduce it. we really have no choice out here. >> whether those bigger nations hear the plea remains to be scene. "america tonight"s sheila macvicar is here. it seems that the corals are like a canary in the coal mine it's not just the marshalls, it's over the world. >> it is over the world. as we can show on the map, where they are detecting rising
ocean, they are seeing a coral bleaching event. last year hawaii forecast release suggesting that this year there'll be more coral bleach of course not just in hawaii but florida and other parts of the caribbean, where it's rarely scope. >> when you think about the marshalls, the people in these communities are well aware of what is going on. is there anything they can do alone to protect their own areas. >> they can do simple things to protect against the rising seas build a higher seawall. it doesn't help when prospects for global warming suggest that over the course of the next 50 years, perhaps sooner than that sea levels will rise so high as long as nothing is done, this thael be under water recollects and become uninhabitable because of sea water that will kill off plant life. they can do little on their own. they don't have a big carbon
footprint. they are looking - while they look to the sea, they see what is happening around them to the coral, and the big spring coming in with increasing frequency and flooding of lands. they are looking to the big industrialized nations. with the u.s. they hope taking a lead role looking forward to the climate summit in paris. >> it seems that when we talk about cot, when people think of big flums of spoke, it's getting people to look beneath the as far as that might matter as well. >> it's getting people to understand that climate change is not in the future. that for people of the marshall islands in recollects and the pacific islands, other island nations, bangladesh coastal nations, china, they are countries and people living with the impact of climate change and look to the future and see that if something it not done on a global scale, their lives will be immeasurably difficult, and
the lands may become uninhabitable. there's one precedent in the south pacific island that brought land elsewhere, with an understanding that he may have to take his people and move to a new place. >> "america tonight"s sheila macvicar next - plastic in paradise. at first glance this beautiful hawaiian beach may appear untouched, until you dig in and take a closer look. >> the plastics problem in hawaii, and what the islands in are doing about it now. later, how one of the tiniest creatures of the sea may issue the loudest warn about a danger in our water. r.
our fast-forward look at a peril in the pacific, with pristine beaches, hawaii is the picture of paradise something many of us use every day threatens to destroyed. "america tonight"s adam may visited hawaii to see the dangers of plastic in paradise. >> reporter: mark grew up on the beaches. >> this is my home i feel a responsibility to do my part to
make sure my children and children's children's have bamps. >> reporter: he made doing his part a full-time job. he works for demoea the national oceanic and atmospheric administration. noah has been trying to keep the islands in clean. >> there's a flux of plastic. >> hawaii's northern island act like a fine tooth comb filtering debris from the north pacific gir, a system of currents pushing the pacific and everything in them in a clockwise circle creating what many call the great pacific garbage patch, where shape of all shapes and sizes is dense. close to 90% of that garbage is plastic. >> these guys will eat plastic bags and pieces of plastic, thinking that it's food. it will be lodged in the intestinal tract, and worse is
leaching chemically out of the plastic. impacting the guys. >> jeff works with anfalse, affected by plastics at the sea life park. >> if we don't do something and can't treat our environment better, it will have an impact and this guy will be gone. snoop this plastic problem is not always evident. at first glance the beautiful beach my appear untouched. until you dig in and take a closer look. sift the sand and you find tiny pieces of plastic from who knows where. having a devastating effect on wildlife. we found out something staggering. he developed a technique where he can u.f.c. ra sound living birds and he found that every bird had some degree of ingestion. >> i couldn't believe it. every bird that came through is coming through the doorway.
>> comedian mo amer. >> are we filming a short? what's happening? >> confronting stereotypes. >> i was afraid to be myself. >> mixing religion and comedy. >> get over it you know who i am... got the chuckle, now let's really address it. >> and challenging islamophobia. >> i was performing and would say "i'm an arab american"... and you could hear a pin drop.
when you hear about climate change, the images that come to mind are polar bears stranded or violent storms lashing the coast. there are effects which, unseen are less severe. one of them may surprise you to hear, is more acid in the world's oceans. it is as troubling as it sounds. "america tonight"s lisa fletcher found evidence the phenomenon is already threatening marine life in the pacific north-west. >> reporter: this is the taylor shellfish farm. >> yes, this is the hatchery where we grow under control continue our lavi. >> they oversee what may be a prolific nursery. on any given day hundreds of millions of sea creatures begin life understand his watchful eye. 20 million lava per tub. >> yes. >> that's incredible.
>> we, between these tubs here to the end there, we have about 600 million lava this week. >> reporter: a marine biologist raises oysters for the taylor shellfish company. taylor is located in shelton washington and is the largest producer of shellfish in the united states. processing 60 million oysters every year. these oysters begin life in tanks filled with sea water. the lava so small they can only be seen with a moirk scope. >> when the little lar vie leave here they have little shelves on them. >> yes. >> now, the newly born oysters are under threat from a phenomenon known as ocean acidification. it doesn't get as much attention as melting ice caps or rising sea levels. ocean acidification is one of the most serious effects of
greenhouse gas emissions. nearly a third of carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean. 22 million tonnes of co2 every day. >> what do the emissions do to the chemistry of the water. >> the co2, carbon dioxide, dissolves in the water, and it doesn't stay at co2. it becomes an acid. and this will be a crucial problem, especially in the early development. >> juve mile oist ors, that acid can be lethal preventing them from forming shelves. it's not just oysters at risk. lobsters crabs and clams. this government website offers an illustration of the problem. projecting by the year 2100 in water that acidic, this sea
creature dissolve. >> who knows how far this will go. if it affects our fishes, what other species will do. >> the great grandfather harvested oysters. >> see that. >> diaroundy and her cousin are the fifth generation of taylors to work here. much like farmers planting a crop the taylors use juvenile oysters to seed the vast beaches. here they'll grow into adults ready to harvest. according to the tailors, ocean acidification cost them dealer in lost production. >> what it meant for us is it didn't have oysters to plant on the beach. >> there was a period of time when the oist ears were dying
off. >> yes, it bail the norm. we correlated that to the corrosive water coming into the hatchery. >> reporter: so we are standing in an oyster bed farmed by your great-grandfather. you must feel an enormous responsibility. >> absolutely. it gives you a sense of pride, and responsibility to the places that we farm and to make sure that we can form for another five generations. >> reporter: the taylors say if there's anything five generations in the seafood business taught them it's to persevere through good and bad times. they are not taking the latest misfortune laying down. they decided to fight the issue of climate change head on she and her father travelled to washington to lobby congress and reached out to the scientific community looking for a solution
to prevent oyster die-offs. >> what i have here is a forecast. what we have here is an oceanographer. we met him at the taylor's officers. >> it's a model of ocean circulation. mccrayedy has been working on a way to predict the ocean level. >> ocean acid iffic aches is not yefrl. there were differences in the surface. >> are you optimistic that this was a tool that you can depend on. >> yep, i am. it's like the models used for whether forecasting. how are you forecasting. armed with real-time data. ben ware made adjustments - treating his water to reduce his acidity.
can i look. >> sure. you make this any day. kind of like you are adding tone to the water. it's not quite the same kem cam. but similar. that is what we are doing. while they believe the method is helping oysters survive. it has not eliminated die offs. after good years, oyster lava are again dying in large numbers. there's more research done. showing that it is more serious consequences to the co2 to the water. >> we have been around for 120 years, and we want to be around for 120 years. this is a global issue. this is something all the world oceans are going to have to deal with at some point. >> important to us it's important to a lot of other people. we don't know all the effects and, you know what could
happen. >> as one-year-old nia taylor carries the torch, the tailors hope leaders are paying attention so kids like nia have a legacy to observe. that's "america tonight", tell us what you think. at aljazeera.com/americatonight talk to us on twitter and facebook, come back we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow.
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