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tv   Global 3000  PBS  May 4, 2016 12:30am-1:01am PDT

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>> global 3000 this week looks at basic commodities. why are many of the earth's resources becoming cheaper. what does that mean for our planet. we go to china where coal companies are struggling with mountains of debt. we are in malaysia where it has been flourishing in the industry. what does this mean for the environment? in south africa, we visit a city that has iron ore to thank for its size. basic commodities rule the world. exports of oil and coal are percent of multimillion dollar business for many countries. are often the most important source of income.
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that works as long as demand is high. then companies make big profits. for some time demand has decreased. markets are saturated and prices of hit rock bottom. over the past five years the bloomberg commodity index has fallen by 50%. a key reason for this is china's economy. growth there is weaker than it was so companies are importing less. many raw material suppliers are now left with piles of unsold stocks. china's problem is a global problem. it is the iron or capital of the region. most of the town's residents work in the mining industry. 10 years ago iron was still in
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demand. the companies flourished and so did the town. then demand for the raw material dropped. work slowed. she grew up there and her family has long worked in mining. she remembers many good times. she spends a lot of time out in the community >> it is been the hardest hit of all the commodities. more than 6000 declines. >> job losses of the big fear here. iron ore is planning to cut thousands of jobs. some 32,000 jobs in south africa are said to be under threat. the big problem is the industry's dependence on china. more than half of the material mind here went to china. demand has now dropped.
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>> this whole town was built upon the iron ore mines. >> nearly everyone is affected. shops have to close for lack of customers. prices for real estate have nosedived. >> you can see another for sale sign. he came to me with tears in his eyes. he just bought a house and the value is dropped dramatically. he is not going to be a reseller property. the story is the same all over the town. and in other mining towns in south africa. companies that only benefited indirectly from the mining wealth such as the construction industry are also packing up and leaving.
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allen: it is a microcosm of what is happening to commodity-based economies around the world. it is a bad situation where in the good times the economy grows and people are employed but during the downturn people are leaving. the jobs are being cut. a lot of disappointment. zambia and angola are in the same situation. >> we attended a trade union meeting. everyone here is worried about their job. the meeting is emotionally charged. the responses vary from anger to despair. >> we are left in the dark. we just want to know. >> please be patient. i know it is hard and i understand your emotions. we are all in the same boat. take a deep breath and we will keep you informed.
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>> we live in fear of spending any money. you have to think, what if i don't have a job tomorrow? living in a state of fear. >> she has little hope to offer. >> i don't know what the options are. i don't know where these people are going to go if they get retrenched. all of commodity prices are under pressure. i can't tell them to go to platinum or gold or some other commodity. >> in her trade union most of the members are white. he works for another trade union is fights for the rights of the
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black workers. the unions meet regularly and work together closely. all union members are worried about their jobs and their families. >> one employee in the mine represents a huge number of people. the 4000 people are retrenched, 40,000 people will be affected. >> the poorest are being equally hard-hit. many workers subcontractors are links to the mines. he is a bricklayer. he just lost his job. he says the compensation he will receive for making redundant won't last long. >> after that money i have nothing to use to eat. >> they are just here to make profits and take what they want
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to take. >> we repeatedly asked the company what they plan to do but got no reply. she too is affected as her husband also works at the mine. >> if he gets retrenched we have no more house. >> they are hoping the prices for raw materials will go up again. >> china, the global economic motor is no longer running the way it used to. nowhere more clearly than in china itself. beijing has been following a clear strategy. economic upswing. all of that is starting to crumble.
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>> the atmosphere is tense as we arrived. this is a coal mining city and china's far northeast. thousands of miners took part in a protest. they say the company owes them several months wages. 144 yuan. >> how can i live on 20 euros? >> the state owned group has incurred huge losses and has simply decided to slash wages. thousands took to the streets in the province to demand their money. amateur video showed protesters blocking the railway lines.
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they were trying to break it up with brute force. >> we are helpless. >> we soon experience firsthand just how intense the situation is. i have chosen men suddenly forced their way into the apartment. they have clearly been dispatched by the mining company. they force us into their cars and take us to a company office. the state-owned coal and steel companies are on edge. they are producing far too much and have run up huge debts.
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an estimated 5 million workers need to be laid off. the bloated state sector is dragging down china's growth. a problem the government now admits. >> we need to reduce industrial overcapacity. but the workers must not lose their jobs. >> it sounds like an empty promise. after two hours we are free to go. these people have worked in the minds for 20 or 30 years. now they don't know where to turn. >> there is still money to be made from some raw materials in malaysia. bauxite is easy to mine. many companies appear unable to hold back. >> he can finally enjoy his garden again.
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without being disturbed by constant noise. up until a few weeks ago he had a steady stream of trucks passing right by his garden gate. he decided to record it on his mobile phone. he says it continue like this entire day. >> every day we had to cope with the dust and noise from hundreds of trucks. in the end we had no choice but to get out of the house early in the morning. my wife and my children and myself. we would go to my office and wait there. until the truck drivers were finished. >> this went on for months.
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the ground is rich in bauxite. this is the world's leading source of aluminum. malaysia has become the region's top supplier. exporting 10 times as much as it did two years ago. most of goeto china to ep that supply going mining companies have been digging all over the state. he was offered money by the mining company to dig up his land. the equivalent of around 45,000 euros. >> i refused. i want to live here.
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>> now things are peaceful again. for the time being. the malaysian government put a temporary ban on this kind of mining until mid april while it sought ways to better regulate the industry. the damage is done. the rain is washing away the topsoil. carrying toxins with it. arsenic and mercury and even radioactive uranium have all been found in local rivers. this fisherman is also feeling the effects of the mining. >> before they started mining i used to catch up to six kilos a day of freshwater shrimp. now it is hard to get even one kilo a day. not as much shrimp is there used to be. all because of the mining.
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>> she says the state government is partly to blame for the mining frenzy. >> a lot of greed. corruption. the state authorities are incapable of dealing with the issue. >> few earned well from the mining. they had a plantation here that was a reliable source of income. when she was offered more than 200,000 euros, she agreed. when the trees had all been removed in the ground does up she was told her material was worthless. she was left with 10,000 euros compensation and a plot of land
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that was no longer usable. >> i had a small snack bar on the road and i was hoping to invest the money in that. now all the palm trees are gone. i have no income anymore. i am left with nothing. >> malaysia's days of mining are numbered. experts say if it resumes at this pace all deposits will be exhausted within a few years. but the damage to the environment will remain for a long time to come. >> malaysia and indonesia are
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the world's largest producers of palm oil. plantations in these two countries make up the equivalent of around 12 million football fields. mainly to the detriment of forests. it would be good to find an alternative to palm oil. these few drops could be a mini revolution. this oil has the same properties as palm oil. it was developed by the university of bath in britain. chris: it wasn't that we extracted it and said we have done it. had to analyze the composition first. we found that that directly aligned with palm oil. >> is obtained using straw and other organic wastes. broken down in a kind of microwave.
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mixed with a specific east. as it ferments and grows oil can be extracted. the british form for the future is optimistic about the project. >> i think yeast-based material could potentially play a significant role and particularly reduce the impact on land and a increasingly resource constrained world. >> palm oil is found in all kinds of things. asthmatics and cleaning fluids and biodiesel and many foods. more than 60 million tons of palm oil are used worldwide. it has particular properties that other oils don't have. there is a huge cost to the environment. forests in indonesia are being
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torched to make way for more oil palms. this hurts species such as the orangutan. if the steady rise in demand for palm oil could be stopped that would be a victory. but there is still a way to go. chris: we have to show that this works on an industrial scale. and that it is cost-effective. we hope this would slow down the growth in palm oil as this comes in to replace it. >> the bath research team has been awarded a grant of 6 million euros to work on this. he will investigate how to turn it few drops into tons of oil.
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>> now to our global ideas series. we meet people working hard to preserve biodiversity. we're looking at the legendary bird species. he went to costa rica. the aim is to connect nature's arms -- reserves to make the more permeable. >> to rangers from the cloud forest reserve are searching for this bird. it is cool in the forest. they are almost guaranteed to spot the famous bird.
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there he is. revered by the aztecs as a deity. these birds are being hit by climate change. the winter was too warm. they can build their nests and find food for the young. >> we are near the top of the mountain range. the concern is temperatures continue to rise if that affects the first sources for these birds they had nowhere to go. they will become smaller and smaller. he knows all 400 species of birds that live in this forest.
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one feathered visitor that comes to the entire region. >> they nests in this mountain range. they go to the caribbean and they come around the pacific low lands. is a symbol for the biological corridor. on their journey they always need trees where they can rest. at lower altitudes is not so easy. the costa rican government is working with experts to try to draw as many species here as possible. she explains the idea of the biological corridor. >> to connect the cloud forest
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to the mangroves on the coast. more than 16,000 hectares. working with private landowners. >> that is just one of 128 connecting corridors that are to be set up across the country. one quarter of costa rica's land surface is under some form of protection. holding talks with the owners of large plantations. reforestation is also underway. at the other end of the biological corridor on the pacific coast. a hotspot for ecotourism.
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the hidden paradise. artificial flowers lined the route. >> what makes the reforestation projects are successful is that the mangroves are natural to the area. >> this is the red mangrove tree that grows mainly here. we're using it for reforestation. it grows very well. >> the women are keen to protect their home. if the sea level rises they can't see the coast from erosion and tidal waves. the trees can grow up to 20 meters tall in just a few years.
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>> we are group of women and one man. it is a family project. it is not easy work. we have to carry heavy canisters of water. it is a great project. we all want to protect the environment. the mangroves were cut down for many years. but they provide a home to some animals. we want to plant as many as possible. >> there are numerous organizations and costa rica that support reforestation. the german development agency is also involved. along with a string of costa rica and organizations. another german company is farming organic shrimps here. subject to strict regulations
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from the costa rica government. to get permission to farm the shrimp here and then export them to germany the company had to commit in exchange to help fund the reforestation. the bell bird also stops here on the pacific coast. only from october onward. then they can be found in the mangroves. linking the conservation areas. overall blood first on this scale. >> that is all from global 3000 for today. we will be back next week with more interesting topics. we look forward to hearing from you. send us an e-mail.
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