Environment Feed

Nature: Ocean Giants Premieres This February!



Whales and dolphins remain a constant source of fascination. But how much do we really know about them? Whales and dolphins, known as cetaceans, may appear to be totally alien to us — but with their mental ability, group communication and the recent discovery that dolphins have individual names, they are closer to us than we ever imagined. Nature: Ocean Giants provides new insights into the lives of whales and dolphins in a visually powerful, engaging and entertaining format. The three part series premieres Wednesday, February 22 at 8:00pm on WPBT2.





In the first of three hours, Giant Lives, we examine the world of great whales, such as the blue whale and the bowhead, the largest animals that have ever lived on our planet. To these mighty leviathans, size matters. In the Arctic, giant bowhead whales survive the freezing cold wrapped in fifty tons of insulating blubber two feet thick, making them the fattest animals on the planet. And in addition to being the fattest, they may live the longest.





The second hour, Deep Thinkers, explores the cognitive and emotional lives of dolphins and whales, which have the largest brains of any animal. Like us, cetaceans have special brain cells called spindle cells that are associated with communication, emotion, and heightened social sensitivity. These cells were once thought to be unique to humans, yet research is showing that whales and dolphins have may have three times more spindle cells than we do, leading scientists to believe that their mental abilities and emotional awareness could be far greater than we imagined.





In the final hour, Voices of the Sea, the extra sensory perceptions and communication skills of these extraordinary creatures are considered. Whales and dolphins use sound to hunt, to communicate with one another, and also to “see” and experience the world around them. Sending out loud clicks, they use the echoes to form a mental picture of the world around them. They use ultrasound to see inside other creatures, clicks and whistles to speak, echolocation to navigate and hunt in the depths where the light cannot guide them.



Don't Miss the Lunar Eclipse!


WPBT2’s Star Gazers will host a Live Lunar Eclipse Event from Reno, Nevada on Saturday, December 10 from 4:00 a.m. – 7:00 am (PST) and 7:00 am  - 10:00 am (EST).To view the eclipse and join the conversation, visit www.wpbt2.org/lunareclipse

Star Gazers, a production of WPBT2, South Florida Public Media, is a new astronomy series built on the legacy of Jack Horkheimer’s award-winning series.

DeanStar Gazers hosts Dean Regas, the outreach astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory and Marlene Hidalgo, a science educator who represents the Miami Science Museum, will provide on-camera commentary and answer questions from WPBT2’s online audience as the lunar eclipse unfolds. Joining Dean and Marlene during the webcast will be Bill Dishong, series producer of Star Gazers and Star Gazer with Jack Horkheimer; and Dan Ruby, Associate Director of the Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno, Nevada.

Host Dean Regas is excited to explore the celestial sky with viewers, “I love the beauty and precision of an eclipse.  It’s a powerful moment when the Sun, Moon, and Earth line up just right to turn the Moon an eerie shade.  Each eclipse is a unique experience and I’m looking forward to sharing this rare celestial alignment.” 

MarleneWhile most of North American and Hawaii viewers may be able to see the moonset still in eclipse, viewers on the East Coast and in South America will not be able to see the eclipse.  Those along the west coast of the United States and Canada will see the beginning of totality just as the moon disappears below the western horizon.

“The WPBT2’s Star Gazers Live Event offers the opportunity for
 everyone to enjoy and discuss the entire lunar eclipse regardless of their location. I am so thrilled that I will be onsite to witness and cover the event from Reno, Nevada. I look forward to being able to share this experience with viewers, especially those in the Midwest and on the east coast, who will not be able to see the eclipse in it's entirety,”  stated Host Marlene Hildago. 

So, if you can’t make it to Reno, Nevada, you can watch the lunar eclipse on December 10th live on www.wpbt2.org/lunareclipse



WPBT2 premieres Nature: Salmon Running the Gauntlet on May 1st at 8:00 pm.

Chinook-Salmon Investigate the parallel stories of collapsing Pacific salmon populations and how biologists and engineers have become instruments in audacious experiments to replicate every stage of the fish’s life cycle in NATURE Salmon: Running the Gauntlet. Each desperate effort to save salmon has involved replacing their natural cycle of Coho_Salmon reproduction and death with a radically manipulated life history. Our once great runs of salmon are now conceived in laboratories, raised in tanks, driven in trucks and farmed in pens. NATURE goes beyond the ongoing debate over how to save an endangered species to expose a wildly creative, hopelessly complex and stunningly expensive approach to managing salmon.

WPBT2 Presents Earth Day Programming All Week Long!

Hilite-Into-Wild Follow the Roberts family from Homestead during a weekend camping trip in the Everglades National Park in Into the Wild airing Monday, April 18 at 10:30 p.m.  Before their adventure begins, family members give their honest opinions about the planned activities, their fears and concerns with the idea of spending a night in the Everglades. Their stay is filmed in a reality-TV format in order to give the audience a feeling of what the family experiences.  The goal is to show an up close and personal look at the beauty and grandeur of what has been called “The River of Grass’ and to show local residents what’s in their backyard.

Hilite-Bag-it Follow Jeb Berrier, an average American guy who is admittedly not a "tree hugger," who makes a pledge to stop using plastic bags in Bag It! airing  Wednesday, April 20 at 11:00 p.m.  His girlfriend, Anne, joins him in the challenge to decrease their use of plastic at home. This small action gets Jeb thinking about plastic, not just about plastic bags, but other kinds of plastic. "What is plastic made of? Is it recyclable? Does it decompose when it ends up in the landfill? Does plastic have negative health effects?" Jeb wants to learn more, so he embarks on a global tour to unravel the complexities of our plastic world.

Hilite-Pine-Rockland Discover the human and nonhuman interrelationships within the pine rockland natural community in Pine Rockland Composition airing Thursday, April 21 at 11:30 p.m.  The program begins at night during the wet season in the pine rock lands within Everglades National Park. The subtropical and globally imperiled pine rock lands occur exclusively on the Miami Rock Ridge limestone in South Florida and predominantly within Everglades National Park. The pine rock lands underwent rapid agricultural and urban development with the advent of the rock plow in the mid to late 20th century. Today, the pine rock lands consist of fragmented remnants as a result of habitat development and degradation, fire suppression, nonnative species, and alterations to hydrology.


WPBT2 premieres American Master: John Muir in the New World on April 18th at 9:00 pm.


Muir Nearly a century after his death, John Muir is remembered and revered as the father of the environmental movement and the founder of the Sierra Club. It was this Scottish American who believed that it was our responsibility as citizens to protect our natural surroundings. And, by example and by passion, he taught us how to care for our wilderness treasures. Through his tireless advocacy and his writings, he almost single-handedly preserved the Yosemite Valley of California and was the force behind the creation of the National Park Service. Filmed throughout the majestic landscapes in which Muir traveled, this documentary places our nation’s most important wilderness assets in a cultural and social context. Muir’s story could not be a timelier reminder of America’s unique and, ultimately, threatened eco-systems.

The documentary also goes into Muir’s private affairs, as well. There is discussion on how he met his wifeSequia tree   Louie. Through his relationships one can see how Muir placed his studies on nature above everything else. He postponed his wedding and often would be on naturist adventures while married to Louie. His devotion to nature was shown through his daily actions and his perseverance to preserving the Yosemite Valley.

WPBT2 Premieres "Nature: Survivors of the Firestorm” on April 17 at 8:00 p.m.

Firestorm1 The bushfires that tore through the Australian state of Victoria in February 2009 incinerated over a million acres of land, including key mountain ash forest ecosystems. Fires are a natural force of nature which spur regeneration, but the immediate aftermath of this giant firestorm was devastation. Kangaroos and koalas, wombats and wallabies, endangered possums and gliders, lizards, echidnas, birds of all kinds, and even fish that lived among these eucalypts were overcome by the Firestorm2 flames. Millions died. But burned and traumatized survivors tenderly nursed back to health at wildlife hospitals showed a remarkable ability to bounce back, and the environment an extraordinary capacity for healing.

Firestorm3 The burning of the firestorm went on for several days, and destroyed the wildlife in Australia. Animals died and those who survived were badly injured. It was a time that people were unsure if the ecosystem would be able to recover; however, it ended up bouncing back. Nature: Survivors of the Firestorm shows natures amazing ability to bounce back after being badly burned.

WPBT2 and Nova Premiere Japan's Killer Quake

Imagine stepping into work on what seems like an ordinary Friday.  The day goes by as you occasionally glance at the clock in anticipation for the weekend.  All of a sudden, your desk shakes.  Startled, you push your chair back and stand up.  Your co-workers are also standing and looking around in curiosity.  In that moment, the building starts to shake.  Items begin to fall from your desk and shatter on the floor.  Coworkers are screaming, and you can hear the building around you start to crack.  You get up and run out of sheer panic that the building will collapse on you. 

As you run out of the building, the ground stops shaking, but you hear a siren.  You get into your car, which was surprisingly left undamaged.  You drive away from the impending disaster.  As you drive further away, you are confident you are in the clear and you breathe a sigh of relief.  But as you take a deep breath, your eyes glance at your rearview mirror and a wall of water is less than a foot away from your car.  Everything turns black.

GettyImages_110506543 This seems like it could only be a scene from an action movie, but in no way was this a staged disaster.  For those who live in Japan, this was reality the afternoon of March 11, 2011.  The earthquake that hit Japan was the fourth largest in the world and the largest to hit Japan.  Within the hour of the quake, a tsunami with 30 foot high waves washed over the Japanese coast and obliterated everything in its path.  Homes and businesses were destroyed, people were lost and the nuclear plants were heavily damaged arising concerns over radiation leaks.

Following the catastrophe, media is inundated with stories and opinions about what happens next in Japan. We far from know the ultimate outcome, but one thing is already clear: the need for a dramatic but clear-headed exploration of what triggered the quake and tsunami.

28 Join WPBT2 and NOVA as they premier Japan’s Killer Quake on Wednesday, March 30 at 9:00pm.  Nova will unpack the story of the disaster in suspenseful “real time” and provide first-hand coverage of how Japanese authorities responded to the immense scale of the catastrophe.

Beyond its suspenseful unfolding of day-to-day events, Japan’s Killer Quake will explore the disaster’s broader implications and the risk of a comparable disaster on the US west coast, where earthquake preparedness is nowhere near as advanced as in Japan.

The documentary includes gripping stories from tsunami survivors, compelling day-to-day reportage, and in-depth scientific perspectives.


Gulf oil spill widget and live video stream driving traffic to PBS NewsHour site

A Gulf Leak Meter widget and live video stream of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have provided PBS NewsHour with a "significant increase" in Web traffic, the show reported today (May 27). Newshour and NPR are providing the embedding code for the widget free and it has been used by more than 3,000 websites including YouTube, Huffington Post, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Wired, ProPublic, Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and many local PBS stations. Subscribers to the PBS Newshour YouTube channel doubled in one 24-hour period. More than 1 million viewers have watched the video feed via Newshour and NPR websites. The crisis began April 20 when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 17 workers and left 11 missing, and oil continues to flow from a well some 5,000 feet below the surface. The widget debuted May 9.

Growing Greener Schools

A new special in time for Earth Day 2010, Growing Greener Schools:

Today's focus on green building is giving us a better understanding of the potential impacts our school buildings have, not only on the environment, but on our childrens - and their teachers' - health and development. Armed with this new knowledge, many school districts across the country are taking "green" to a new level. Considering that one in five Americans spend their days in K-12 schools, this green-school movement is positioned to become a significant contributor to improving our nation's environmental and public health. The challenge, however, is in establishing green school definitions and standards that will meet the needs of under-represented people, struggling schools, diverse communities and geographical regions.

In this clip from uVu, hear from the program's producer, Dale Bell

Don't take another bite till you see 'Food, Inc.'

Food, Inc., Academy Award®-Nominated Critique of U.S. Food Industry,
Premieres Wednesday, April 21 on WPBT2


How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families?

American agriculture has in many respects been the envy of the world. U.S. agri-business consistently produces more food on less land and at cheaper cost than the farmers of any other nation. What could possibly be wrong with that? According to the growing ranks of organic farmers, “slow-food” activists and concerned consumers cited in the new documentary Food, Inc., the answer is “plenty.” As recounted in this sweeping, shockingly informative documentary, sick animals, environmental degradation, tainted and unhealthy food and obesity, diabetes and other health issues are only the more obvious problems with a highly mechanized and centralized system that touts efficiency — and the low costs and high profits thatresult from it — as the supreme value in food production.

Less obvious, according to Food, Inc., is the entrenchment of a powerful group of food producers, which sets the conditions under which today’s farmers and food workers operate, in order to maximize profits. The industry also maintains a revolving door of employment for government regulators and legislators to protect its power to set those conditions. Then there is “the veil,” a strange disconnect — propagated in good part by millions of dollars poured into marketing and lobbying by the industry — between the average American and the food he or she eats. As one chicken industry representative puts it, “In a way we’re not producing chickens, we’re producing food.”

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