tv Earth Focus LINKTV March 23, 2019 12:00pm-12:31pm 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 flash of power. the gleam ofof oil. in the sky, the power of oil conquering the heights. onon the sea,a, the might of petroleum, pulsing in great engigines of the liners that traverse the deep. on land, o oil feeds the fiery furnace or drives the diesel engines along far-flung rails
of steel. and on the open road, well, you know what makes your auto run. for millions of years, this source e of power slept peacefuy iin the dark recesses s of the 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 oil reserves under the coastal waters of the united states, mainly off the coasts of california, alaska, texas, and louisiana. the 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 t to u.s. government estimates, released 210 million gallons of oil intoto the gulf f of mexico. >> 57 days ago, in the dead of night, the worst environmental nightmare in u.s. history began. on a screen here and in homes across the country, we now see the livive video o of tens s of
thousands of bbarrels of f oil billllowing into the gulf f of mexico every day. for yeyears, 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 dollalars l be awarded to the teams that prove that their cleanupup systm could meet the competition's strictest requiremements. >> our f first prize, the winn schmidt oil cleanup x challenge was a response, essentially, to someththing we all remembeber, e deepwater horizon oil spill in the gulf of mexico. in 2010-- i certainly remember, i'm sure a a lot of 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 size of hawaii. it was literally an oil tsunami in the gulf of mexico. thousands and thousands of
gallons of f crude oil spilling into the w water every minute, evevery day. t this was a manmae catastrophe. and it just struck me that this is--this is the scariest thing i've ever seen. this 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 washining up n those beaches now. but t also to the liveliliods sf the people in these regigions. in the gulf, 8 out of 10 people have a livelihood connected either to the oil and gas drilling industry or to hospspitality and tourism.m. anl of those things were devastated byby this spill. >> the spill has brought life, uh, to a lot of the issues in the gulf and all of the ancillary businenesses. family fisheries,s, docks, the e marina, the icehouses,
the transportation companies, people who prorovide snacks aand grgroceries s to storeres. all t is a direct reflecection of what can happen when things cease. >> after the oil spill, you know, thhey shut rerecreationall fishing, theyey shut cocommercil fishing, and that just killed everybody y in this part of the world, realally. it'ss affectedd everything, and itit's affected every business around. >> itit's how we coununt off 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 issueses with. we'e've taken itr grantnted for so o long tt t i'- it's a little discononcerting ad it fefeels different how yoyou approach things thatat's s affeg my l life and my culture >> two years ago, the people
of bp made a a commitmenent to e gulf, and every day since, we've worked d hard to keept. >> 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. >> the e beaches 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. >> unfortunately, things for a commercial fisherman in southeast louisiana is not as good as those bp commercials would have you believe. my shrimp productction is down, stl down, between 4 40 and 60% in my area. . i've been making a livig on lake boeuf myself for 29 years on the boat. i can't do it anymore. my oyster producuctions
down a at least 93%. in n the lt 4 years, i might have sold about 1,500 sacks. in 4 4 yearsi used d to sell that a week. but $240 millions s worth of b bp ccommercialsls has a lotot of pe believing g that we're ok. w wee not. people a are losing g it because they can't do what they wanant to do fofor a livingng. u get a choice of letet's ggo do something elelse. they g give yu an o option. w we'll retrain y i say, what t you gonna retrain me to be, a brain susurgeon? orr a cable installer. either one of them sucks.s. i don't havee the ededucation to be a braiain surgeon and i'm not going to go install cable. if you take me and p put me in the cararpenter field or the welding, well, i'm putting somebody else out of a job. so here comes that domino effect w we were telling you about. o oyster production is le 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 o have a good environment. you know, commercial fisherman, you have highs and lows economicscs. higs
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 e "exxon valdez" spill i in alaska. in f fact, thehere weree of the same machines, the same tools, stuck in storage,e, brout 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 s seemed like the most obvious and practical thing to do.o. >> so xprize came up anand set an audacacious but achievable goal. 2,500 gallons per minute of oil cleaned up at 80% rate of oil clean up. anand you hahave o it in 14 months. that 2,500 allons perer minute was about double the industry standard.
this is t technologically achievable. it is. people just haven't been incented to do it. >> 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 technologies and buy these technologigies from the e teamst are competing at the end of the day. the t top 10 teams got to test t the only place in the world you could test oil spill technologieies 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. government, o on a naval base where you've got a massive tank several football fields long that allows you to spill oil and simulate oil clean up. >> rentg g that was q quite expensive for us. and it was on a naval base, so it was very hard to get clearances. s so the teams woululd not have been abe
to afford to rent this facility, nonor would 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 w work in the real world. >> all aboard! >> keep the faith, baby. keep the faith. >> 10 finalists came together r 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. >> 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 of 4,6,670 gallons 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.k. and this, of f course,s the prize that they won for more than doubling the industry best standard 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 clclock 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 a across the atlantic for a prize. there was a $25,0 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 starteted throwing a toton of money at things, that prizes sort of dissipated. >> when we starteted the xprize back in 1996, eveverybody knew that only governmnments--in fac, only two governments could put
human beings into spaceand the purpose of the xprize was to change whatat everybody knew abt that by y requiring a demonstration of pririvate spe flight twice in two weeks with the same ship. and that kicked off the whole suborbital space flight industry. >> and d launch of f the spacex falcon 9 rocket, as nasa t turns to the private sector too re-supupply the internationonal spacace statioion. >> 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 t we see 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 absbsorbing into the ocean. you've got 80% ofof the plastic- 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 now, nnot just the pacificc gyre that people talk about. we're overfishing. 90% of the big fish are gone. and at the same time, you can say we've exexplored abt 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 relatationship to the ocean hhas to change in, i wwould say, the next few decades, or we really--we are really putting our own survival at risk. >> there's life o on this planet because of the oceans. life started in the oceans. it
continues to govern things, everything from the climate to global food supplply, right. and yet this sort of watery deep, as i it were, is still basically y unknown 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't's the fundamental disconnect. thehe biggest silenent threat to the oceans frfrom humans s is on acidifification. i it's happene. itit's happepening 10 toto 100 s faster thahan at any time e in e last 50 0 million yeyears. in f, since the 191900s, earlyly 1900, the oceaean is 3 m more acidici.
>> ph, oror reallyly the aciditf the ocecean, is chahanging as a result o of carbon dioxixide n the atmosphere. this is ultimatately sortrt of the eviln of f climate e change. >> we look at global warming. we talk about the changes in our atmosphere. we need to look at the changes in our ocean. >> wewe've been pumumping carbon didioxide into the atmosphehere, especially since t the industril revolution, with the burning of fossil f fuels. and that cbobon dioxide has to go somewhere, and some of that is going 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 g global proportions. >> if you like jellyfish more than shellfish, then it't's not a problem, 'ccause they're gonna love an acidic ocean. you'll havave plenty of jellyfish. butf you like mussels and clams and oysters and things that you like to eat, they're in big trouble because they can no longer make their shells. we'rre seeing the effects of this already. >> so wewe're cousins. o our das 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 whilile to figue out what was happening in our hatcheries relalating to ocean aacidification, just b because 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 actually will dissolve the shell, whichh 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 oysters to plant on our beach. sso it's something t that we try 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 o 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 the next xprize challenge, right, that t we're launching right now.w. we're looking for teams to come together to develop accurate, portable, deployable 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 the kinds of p people who nd to o undetatand this,hehether you're running a fishery, whether you're running a boat service, whether you're doing research somewhere. what are we dealing with? i is the ocean moe acidic when n it's colder? whehn it's deeper? when it's closer to shore? we don't know w any of ts information. so we're hoping through this competition that a lot of doors will open and we really willll improveve the staf awareness about the health of our oceans. in fact, wewe'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're goining to be able to do until we have these sensors in place.. >> this p prize is all about memeasurement.t. it's all about the fact that we just haven't-- wwe haven't explored the physica 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 that will give everybody the solutions, ultimately, to addressing what is a global threat to ocean h health. >> 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. a and i 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 backck and say, what were you thinking?g? people in y position who have the capacity to h help make a difference hahe an n urgent responsibility t too that. w we don't have an urgeget responsibility to build our foundations up so that they can function 100 years from now. that's not the purpose. the purprpose is to go out and e effective n now. this is when it counts.
turner: and when you all get up there, you're gonna have to be careful. and look at where you're walking and stuff. i mean, it's cold enough. i don't think there's any snakes out today, but you don't never know. and we have a lot of snakes out here. it's amazing how quick they can cut something like this. i mean, they cut this probably in less than twwe