Five Brilliant Ideas to Keep the Earth Spinning
To help ensure that there will be many more Earth Days to celebrate, here are a few creative responses to some complicated dilemmas, courtesy of VICE.
Season 5, Episode 7: “Plastic Oceans”
Only 14 percent of the plastic we use gets recycled; much of what remains saturates the Earth’s oceans. Scientists believe that plastic is at risk of becoming a permanent part of our ecosystem — one study estimates that up to 90 percent of sea birds consume plastic as part of their diet. Collecting the 165 million tons of plastic saturating the ocean and recycling it en masse is a complicated task, but a surprisingly simple solution could activate ocean currents to do the dirty work.
Season 5, Episode 3: “Earth Melts”
As the planet gets hotter, the permafrost covering the Arctic is in increasing peril. Continued thawing could accelerate climate change by releasing the 1.8 trillion tons of carbon gas locked in our permafrost. A Russian scientist believes that repurposing Arctic forests into grazing lands will help the soil, and keep the gases locked inside frozen. Returning animals that once grazed in those lands — including contemporary horses and bisons to cloning (yes, that’s right) the extinct woolly mammoth — could restore the area’s biodiversity and allow nature to heal itself.
Season 5, Episode 24: “Rebuilding Our Reefs”
The rapid deterioration of our reefs is often attributed to rising sea temperatures (yet another product of climate change), overfishing and pollution. Experts believe that the Earth is on pace to lose 90 percent of its coral reefs by 2050, endangering the millions of species that depend on reefs for survival. (See: “Countdown to Extinction.”) However, planting a stronger coral — one engineered to withstand warming oceans — may restore balance to the ecosystem.
Season 4, Episode 9: “Future of Energy”
There’s no denying that climate change is both an immediate threat and a problem exacerbated by the problematic ways we produce energy. Renewable energy, to some scientists, is the key to slowing, or even reversing the effects of climate change. Shane Smith interviewed the minds and leaders behind the push for sustainable energy, offering a glimpse at a world powered entirely by renewable sources.
Season 3, Episode 3: “Countdown to Extinction”
Overfishing harms the livelihood of smaller fishing towns and creates a food shortage in their communities. (Want a snapshot of how severe the problem is? Some fishers are throwing dynamite in the oceans to surface what’s left.) But an innovative policy implemented in Galveston, Texas incentivized a collaborative approach among local fishers to preserve the supply while ensuring everyone profits.
Watch the full segments on HBO GO, HBO NOW and HBO On Demand.