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tv   America Tonight  Al Jazeera  January 21, 2016 9:30pm-10:01pm EST

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a degree in financial engineering. and in the end it may be the nerds who have the last laugh. >> how faster we going. >> i have cruise control set at 35 and that is our show for today. i'm david shuster, in for ali velshi. thank you for joining us, have a great night everybody. [ ♪ music ] good evening, welcome to "america tonight", i'm lisa fletcher, in for glen, who is on
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assignment. by 2050 there'll be more plastic in the ocean than fish, this, according to a newly released report by the world economic forum, this show will focus on the health of our oceans, and how changes under water are making waves in lives of those on land and in the sea. we begin overseas in the marchal islands in where sheila macvicar found a once vital eco system fighting for its life. >> reporter: on the boat. >> on the boat. . >> this is a dive master on an island between australia and hawaii, majero is a popular atoll making up the marshal islands in. the way to make a living, by taking tourists scuba diving among some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world. >> this is a place you have been
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coming to for a long time? >> a long time. >> how many years. >> nine years. >> nine years. >> but he was shocked at what he saw when he returned to this favourite spot. >> i saw bleaching coral. >> reporter: when you say bleaching coral, what happened. the coral turned white. >> white. very white. >> reporter: normally it should be full of cover. >> yes, a green bubble. red. but no more now. >> reporter: that's happening at all of these places, all of these sites. >> yes, all white. they are damaged. >> it's part of a global event that has been developing over time. as warm waters moved into the area around the marshal islands in, it stresses the corals, they are in bad shape. >> reporter: mark is coordinator of reef watch at noah, he's an
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expert on the complex ecology of coral. >> coral is interesting. they are animal, vegetable and minor am, you have an an -- mineral. you have an anal. microscopic algae is living in the dish u. when the temperatures are high, the corals expel the algae, spit them into the water column and they go from having the nice algae in the tissues, to spitting them out into the water. a few remain, the coal is lighter. >> reporter: the algae gives the coral its colour. >> most corals will turn pure white when they kick the algae out. they literally ripped their guts out to get rid of algae in their tissues, and they are starving. this is a stressful event. >> one, two, three, go. >> but as we descend blow the waves and explore the reef,
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there are none of the telltale matches of pure white that signify the stressed, but state alive coral that was seen last october. instead, interspersed between colourful gardens of healthy coral we see the skeletons remaining. devoid of life. many coloured with a thick layer of dull brown algae, others begun to collapse and crumble to the sea floor. >> we'll show you places where the coral bleached, and it's gone beyond bleaching to basically being covered in fungus, almost like a mould, and crumbling away. that should have been a spectacular coral garden, and there's beautiful coral. you can see that there's so much damage. >> i fish a lot as well.
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one particular morn as i was going out. i saw a line of white. in areas where you'll see a life coral. we have put in the direction. reginald white is from the office in majero. coral could regenerate and get back to their normal, you know life. otherwise you are seeing the death of the coral at certain levels. at certain depths. that is alarming because most of the families in intindia depend on a subsistence economy. this is the food source. >> if the coral dies, food sources for many goes with it as well. >> reporter: if the rising o temperature - that causes the massive die off - if it continues, experts worry the results could be disastrous.
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>> there are about a half a billion that rely on coral reefs as the primary source of food. >> scientists use a larger array of environmental satellites to take the temperature of the earth's oceans. what is happening in the marshal islands in appears to be growing into a global event. >> the bleaching now is in kiribati, along the tropical pacific area. we have the south-east asia coral triangle area, with a lot of warming in the philippines, and bleaching has been reported from the philippines and parts of indonesia. the marshals are starting to see stress returning again. and over to the galapagos and coastal areas. >> reporter: in the months ahead noah models predict the coral bleaching will hit closer to hoax. >> we see the terminal stress
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returning to hawaii. if we see this, this will be the second time they've had such. >> that's twice in two years. >> the northern caribbean areas likely to be hit. the western atlantic, gulf of mexico, we looking at a chance of cuba in the floridas, and bahamas. what does that tell you about what is happening with the climate, with the earth's temperatures? >> we see heating of the pacific ojs, the indian, the atlantic ocean. the amount of heat held in the oceans is huge. and it's something that has been growing continuously. >> as the oceans temperature rises, it's taking less and less to tip the earth's coral reefs over the edge. >> this is only the third time that we have seen what looks like a global event.
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>> the third time ever. >> the third time ever. >> by around the mid part of the century, as much as 90% of the world's coral reefs may be seeing the temperatures that can see coral bleaches every single year. >> can they recover? >> when this happens every year, no. >> aitken had a glimpse into a possible future when he cove to inspect a coral reef in 2010. >> if there is anything that i could wipe from my memory, it's what that reef looked like. you see coral, and it's white. everything is white all over. got down looking at the reef, watching the fish. the fish were stunned. some of the corals were dying at that point. the difference between that and a healthy reef was so obvious. it was like nothing i had ever
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seen before, and it was heart-breaking. >> aitken and other scientists say the fate of the earth's coral reef hinges on upcoming talks. aims to give global increases. if we continue at the rate we are now, 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's going to be a peak of stress and then their recovering will pick up because they are adapting to conditions, we hope. >> for those who depend on the coral reefs for their livelihood and survival, that hope may be all they have. until all of the world unites in
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one force, one voice, and say let's find a way to reduce it, we have no choice out here. >> whether the bigger nations will hear their plea remains to be seen next on "america tonight", we continue the look under water and find large amounts of plastic in paradise. and later - acid in the oceans, how rising ph levels in our waters are killing some of the smallest inhab tants on which all life depends, and hot on "america tonight"s website, surviving shireaq. residents refuse to live among the violence, and forge for lasting peace. learn more from
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welcome back. when you think hawaii, you think paradise. you may be shocked to find that some of the world's trash is ending up on some of america's most pristine beaches. adam may reports on the efforts to clean them up. >> beautiful beaches. white sands and pristine blue water. the ocean means everything to hawaii. it attracts surfers from around the world who catch waves on the north shore. families who save up for their
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dream vacation, and couples seeking that perfect romantic get away. on a good year, hawaii's tourism industry brings in well over $10 billion. >> mark mann um grew up on the -- manual grew up on the beaches. >> this is my home. i feel a responsibility to do my part to make sure my children and my children's children have pristine beaches. >> reporter: manual works for noah, the national oceanic and atmospheric administration. they have been trying to keep the islands in clean for 13 years. >> there's a constant flux of plastic. it's a constant battle. >> manual's job got harder. throughout the main areas, we have been getting numerous pieces. we positively id'ed two specific its, one a fishing boat. >> radiation from the debris is
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not a maker fear, according to most exports. the problem is adding debris to what is there. >> a misconception is anything with writing - we find korean, japanese and united states writing. >> does it amaze you how far the trash travis. >> it's amazing. considering television, tyres, light bulbs. in the beach is cleaned by the city of honolulu. some of the remote beaches do not see the same treatment. >> every year or so we get a group and try to go up into the north-west and do clean-up. . the northern islands in act like a fine tooth comb. filtering debris, a system of currents pushing the water to the pacific and everything in them in a clockwise circle, creating the great pacific
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garbage patch. where trash of all shapes and sizes is dense throughout the water column. close to 90% of that garbage is plastic. it makes for an ugly day at the beach. that is not mark's only motivation. >> the main reason is to impact the entanglement. these guys will go along and heat plastic bags and pieces of plastic, thinking it's food. far worse is something leeching out of the plastics, impacting the guys. >> seth works with animals, effected by plastics at the sea life park. >> if we don't do something, and we can't treat our environment better, with more respect. it will have a significant impact, and maybe this guy will be gone.
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>> the plastic problem is not always evident. at first glance the beautiful beach may appear untouched, until you dig in and take a closer look. sift the sand, you find tiny pieces of plastic from who knows where, having a devastating effect. >> we found out something devastating. a researcher developed a technique. he could ultra sound living birds and found every bird had some degree of plastic ingestion. >> every bird. >> almost every bird that came through our doorway. >> the sea life park opens the stores to the public, bringing in birds injured by plastic and other ocean debris, the irony is the debris, including large cargo nets act as mobile reefs, attracting all kinds of fish, and the fish attract other wildlife. according to a recent study, plastic absorbs chemicals from
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the water. fish ingesting the plastic ingest the chemicals as well. potentially impacting the fish we eat. >> when we see the big cargo nets, yes, we fish them. we go and fish them. >> fishermen like mike ostendorp often get the brunt of the blame. lines and nets from his own industry. he says fishermen are caught up in it too. >> it's a hazard to fishing and driving a boat. >> i remember an incident where they asked me to go to another vessel. i didn't know it was there. it was so foul. it took them hours to cut them out. it worries me. i make a living out of having a clean environment. if i don't have a clean environment, i don't have fish. >> a programme called nuts to energy turns energy to power.
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they slice through piles of nets. at the incinerator, they join the rest. >> they burn it. with some co2 emissions. that helps power 10% of the island. but it's putting a dent in the debris. the funding for clean-ups is not consistent and plastic is left at sea, endangering wildlife and threatening the beautiful beaches that the hawaiian economy depend on. >> there's endless blocks of plastic. i would like to be optimistic saying it's changing. every time i go out there, there's a lot of plastic. again, we are trying to do our best up next - how rising ocean acidification is impacting our food supply, and tomorrow, how a group of mobile home tenants fought back against a landlord
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they say is turning affordable housing into a for-profit business.
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we are hear about climate change, and the images coming to mind are polar bears stranded on ice flows, or storms lashing the coast. there are effects unseen, are no less severe. one of them, it may surprise you to hear is more acid in the world's ocean. as troubling as it sounds, in this piece i travelled to the
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north-west and the phenomenons is troubling marine lives. >> this is a hatchery where we grow under controlled conditions the lar vi. >> and then the world oversees a prolific nursery. on any given day hundreds of sea cachers see life under his watchful eye. 20 million larvae per tub. >> between this tub to the end there. it was 600 million lar vi. a marine biologist raises oysters for the shellfish company. taylor's located in shelton, washington, and is the largest producer of shellfish in the united states. processing some 60 million oysters every year. these oysters begin life in tanks filled with sea water. the lava so small they can only
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be seen with a microscope. >> when they leave, they have tiny shelves. >> yes. >> newly born oysters are under threat from a phenomenon known as ocean acidification. it doesn't get as much attention as melting ice or rising sea levels, ocean acidification is a serious effect of greenhouse gas emissions. nearly a third of carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean. some 22 million tonnes of co2 every day. >> what do those emissions do to the chemistry of water? >> basically the co2, carbon dioxide dissolves in the water, and doesn't - it becomes basically an acid. and this is a crucial problem. especially in the early
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development. for juvenile oysters, that can be lethal. preventing them forming shelves. it's not just oysters that are at risk. but lobsters, crabs and clams. this website offers an illustration of the problem. it projects by the year 2100 ocean acidity will increase by a factor of five. in water that acidic, the shell of this common sea creature dissolved in 45 days. >> who knows how far the issue goes, if it's affecting our oysters in the hatchery, what other species is it affecting. >> this person's great-great grandfather harvested oysters from this beech in the 1890s. taylor shellfish is a classic family business. >> diaroundy and her cousin are a fifth generation of tailors to work here. much like farmers planting a
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clock, they use juvenile oysters to seed the beaches. here they'll grow into adults ready to harvest. according to the tailors corks acidification cost them dearly. >> there was a period of time baby oysters died off. you didn't know why? >> yes, it was a norm, we correlated that to the water coming into the hatchery. >> we are standing in an oyster bed farmed by your great, great grandfather. you must feel an enormous amount of responsibility to the land. >> absolutely. it gives you a luge sense of pride and responsibility for the places that we farm, to make sure we form them for another five generations. it will be interesting to see what happens next year.
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the tailors say if anything, five generations taught them to persevere through good times and bad. they are not taking the latest misfortune laying down. and decided to fate the issue of climate change head on. diaroundy and her father travelled to washington to lobby congress, and reached out looking for a practical solution to prevent oyster dye offs. parker is an ocean ogg raffer at the university of washes. we met him at the offices. they've been working on a way to predict changes to water. >> ocean acidification is not everywhere. it is a difference.
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>> are you optistics that this would be a tool. >> yes, i am. it's like the models used for forecasting. >> armed with real of him data, treating the water to reduce the acidity when spikes occur. of course, you know, in normal ph, the more carbonated needs. >> can i look? >> sure. >> you make this every day. >> we do. >> like you are adding tone to the water. >> basically the same thing, it's not the same thing, similar. while this method is believed to help the oysters survive, it hasn't eliminated die offs. after several good years, oyster lava are dying in numbers. >> there's more research done, showing that this is more insidious consequences to the
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addition of co2 to the water. >> you've been around for 120 years, and we want to be around for another 120 years. this is a global issue, something that, you know, all the world's oceans will have to deal with at some point. important to us, but, you know, it's important to a lot of other people too, and we don't know all the effects and, you know, what could happen. as this 1-year-old carries the family torch into the 6th generation, taylors hope leaders will pay attention so the kids have a legacy to preserve that's "america tonight". tell us what you think at talk to us on twitter or facebook, and come back, we'll have more of "america tonight" tomorrow.
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and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight. assassination plot. >> i am, of course, very pleased. my husband spoke on his death bed when he accused mr putin of his murder. >> a british investigation links vladimir putin to the murder of a former russian spy. a deadly attack. popular seaside hotel and a restnt