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tv   Earth Focus  LINKTV  October 18, 2020 3:30pm-4:01pm PDT

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[water dripping] [indndistinct chatter] man: just watch your steps, yeah? voice-over: most of the people that work here, they used to work at mines beforere. so whenn the e mine decides to shutut do, they h have nothing to do but to go down ththere and dig for themselves.. [coal crunching underfoot] man 2: we find that coal is our national r resources. . it's the ononly thing that can gegenerate electricity at this point inin time. woman: the owner of the mines are here to get profit. they
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don't care what going on with the communities. man 2: any a activity by human beings will l somehow, you know, like, change t the ecosystem tht we operate in. zululu: where the guys work, its way, w way, way totoo far. i t k we can--abouout 1.5 kilometer. man, voice-over: yes, south afririca does hahave mountaiainf coal, bubut we also o have mouns of asbsbestos, and we decide to leleave asbestos in the ground where it b belongs. man 2, voice-over: where the coal mines and the power stations are located is amongst one e of the most polluteded ars on eararth. man 3, voicece-over: a very, vey lalarge cost to o coal-minining. you're b basically signing deaeh warrantsts for people who liveve there. zulu: the people here are woworking just to put food on
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the table. there, they just have to survive. [camererlens clicking] announcer: "earth focus" is made possible in part by a grant from anne ray foundation--a margaret a. cargill philanthropy-- the orange county community foundation, and the farvue foundation. [distatant rumbling]
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man: and we've got 17 coal fields in south africa, and more than half of them are bunched together on mpumalanga highveld. it's's called the central l bas. in our research, we have spoken to many people. . i think this s really b bad on the e ground. is reallyly, really b bad. woman: t there are two mines h . that o one is the old d mine. iu can see the dust that is coming out when they are blasting, you
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can even smellll it. even if you wipe yourself like this, you-- there's a black dust in your hand. so what ababout if you ininhale it? [distant chatter] [child's congested coughing] woman: i moved to mpumalanga highveld for better future. i've woworked in the minenes, and i s affefected with h sinus whililes working ththere. in 2013, i got my firirstborn. [coughing continues] woman: so he gets sick, is struggling to breathe. he was admitted at the hospital. they diagnosed him with bronchitiss asthma. i visited one doctor and asked whwhy, so told me, "t"the ararea that yoyou are liviving s too dirty, s so most of the kids are affected witith asthma b bee they're inhaling d dirty a."
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2015, i get my second-born. 6 months down the line, she was admitted at the hospital, having the very same signs. they sosometimes ststruggle to o bree and theyey struggle e to speak. sometimes they don't breatathe at allll. you can even see t tht she e or he's gone. munnick: we know from international studies that a range of about two kilometers around each power station, the soil is enriched in heavy metats thatat come out t of the coal. there's sizable pollution, and for a longng time, i k know, you know, since the e late eightiesi think k we've known that we e we equal l to what wawas in east germany y in the bad air quality on the highveld. a and there's something calllled a [indistini, which is a test you u do before you u get employment, mostly at
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power stations and in the mines, and locals tell us that they regularly fail the [indistinct] test because they've grown up in a very polluted area. as they've grown up, , they're ununfit for work. [b[birds chirprping] [tau coughs]
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munnicick: this pollution wawas particulate tter, primimary explanations of all the respiratory problelems that we e on thehe highveld--particulalate matter 2 2.5, small l enough tot very d deep into your lungs.s. [overlapping chatttter] rachel mokgtsana: 30% of the patient araround thiss [indistinct], they are suffering from asthma because of the--what you call the pollution that is from the [indistinct] around us. we h have asthmatic patient, we haveve t.b. patient, h.i.v.
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patient, and so on. mathabule: something that is painful--the government doesn't take us seriously. they don't know what t you are going throu, and even if we go to our consulate toto ask if they can move us from here to somewhere, it doeoesn't take us serioususly becaususe they think that maybee are--[sniffles]--p-playing or we justst want some houses sosomew. [child's c congested coughing] mathabule: it's painful to... to watch your kids dying in front o of you.u. [boyoy humming q quietly] munnick: the highveld is a sacrificice zone for the carbon-intensiveve economy, and the people who live e there have
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been sacririficed. man: eskom is a 100% state-owned company, so the government owns eskom. eskom does supporort, you know, like, the coal industry. the big poportion of o our enery gegeneration i is based, y you , like, on coal. there's been-- it's called a [indistinct] symbiotic relationship between the coal-mining industry and eskom. let me put it this way: about 70% of the energy requirement in south africa are met through coal. i think, uh, the simple fact t is that we've got it, , it's in abundance. we stitill have e probably 2 20e years of c coal, you know,w, li, in the ground. woman: is it i immoral to open t another one in an area like highveld that's clearly got
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extraordinary levels of pollution on a local level? mashigo: yeah, what yoyou need o realize, as i mention, i mean, on average over the past 10 years, coal production in south africaca has remained fairly ststable, betwtween 250 anand 20 million tons per annum. as in when you open new mines, other mis are clososing down. man: coal, for the last hundred years or so, has really powered the economy. it was critical to the industrialization of this country. now, with the declining world markets for coal, the price of the export coal has collapsed, so the economics of the thing has changed. i'm a public interest lawyer concerned particularly about mining and mine communities. presently we're putting together a seriries of legal actionss against the e coal-minining industryry. it's a b bit of a re against titime. there e is masse restructururing and rereorganizn takiking place. essentialllly, e
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big g majors, the big players wo were all involved in the south african coal-mining industry are getting out as f fast as they c, selling off their r assets, splitting themem up into tiny parcels, a and a corresponding upsurge in small, flfly-by-night little companies witith very little a accountability doing gt they will. therere's no managementnt, so the richest ses are being mined d out, and everything else e is being abandoned. i i mean, optimum isa perfect t example, o one of thee biggest coal producers in n the country for years.s. announcer: welelcome to optimum coal, a company that combines productivity... spoor: captured by gangsters, they looted the rehabilitatition fans andnd walked away. you kno, the mines closed, thousands of pepeople lost their jobs.... announcer: we believe in enenriching the lives of our employees and enhancing values... spspoor: and we're left with the gapingng holes in n the earth.h. announcer: ...over 3,000 employees... spoor: and no resources to fix them, so we've got a toxic mess
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of an environmentatal disaster, social decay, a collapsing infrastructure--urban infrastrtructure; you knowow, wr systems, sewerage e systems, and ththe like--and you'rere left sitting with w what looks like a post-apocalyptic nigightmare. zulu: here, where wewe live, the are a lot of ababandoned mines. when a mine is abandoned, people gogo there and mine forr themseselves. there's nothininge there is because there are noo jobs. there are big mining companies, but they employ people from outsidide in a of that. we want the story of the artisanal miners to be heard. [man speaking native language]
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zulu: so thehey workhehe coaover there e and take t the coal anat it h here on a stockpile and thn load it on the sacksks, and then they take it up. as you can see, it's--it's quite heavy. this is another r shaft. the co, many kilometers dodown there t o work, and whenen they come back, they t throw--they stockpilele e cocoal here and same, whwhich--d agagain, pack it and takake it . i'm in envirironmental activiti, so i know that mining is bad. and we havave huge eskom power stations thahat are busy dedestroying t the environment d contributing to climimate chang. just come herere and take the minerarals, and leave the pepeoe herere angry and leave thehe pee here n not working. this guy is- yeah, , they are tapped illeleg, so thehere is thatat stigma arad them. yes, see, this guy hauls
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this sack from all the way down there and up the stairs. and when he came here, when he just put the e sacks downwn, and thes a police van h here coming and saying, "no, this s guy is a criminal." after allll this hard work, this guy has that. [man 2 speaks native language] zulu: and they're just going to take it away and say the coal belongs to the mine. officially, the coal was here before the mimine was here, and thehey says mine property and the coal belongs to the mine, stuff like that. ththese people are not criminals because they are just fathers and brothers, looking for something to put on the table. spoor: try and find out whose mine that is, i mean, for starters. . try and work outut-f you see these abandodoned worke, you u try and work out. it's layeyers upon layers of companis and d rights and sessions. the r couldn't tell you who they belong to. where are the records? we don't know. no, dead end.
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man: there is, of course, a bibg coalal-mining inindustry in n sh africaca. it is multi-faceted, from mining to traransportatioif coal to all kikinds of servicecn commununities thatat have builip arouound the coaoal-mining t tof south h africa. ththe coal-minig sector hasas been an e extremely successfsful examplele of blackk economic empowerment, and now suddenly they've been told, "no, no, the future i is green, the futurere is not coal." for them, this is a disaster b because off their new investments s into the cocoal sector thatat they see as possibly becoming stranded assets. [crowd chanting indistinctly] man: oh, the challenges that we find ourself into would be the low salaries to our members, and as the union, our role and
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responsibility is toto fight for job security. the mines, some of them are closing because they are saying the export price has dropped and so on, so forth, the coal price has dropped, and so on, so forth. we are of the view that thehe price hasas been manipulated.d. a week agago, the president was addressing a tered-back region, that t we had mines in that area that t can survive or be in existence for the next hundred years. that tells you that we have abundance of coal as a raw material, and that shoululd be the only source of energy in our country. you know, and unfortunately, we are not going to talk about the global and whatsoever sentiment that people might advance. those that are scientists, they can raise what their views. it is a myth, and we are not going to allow to be dictated by anyone. [men chanting in native language]]
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[manan speaking indidistinctly]
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spoor: the proposed mine near the kruger--a very large, very extensive e mine--woululd be devastating for that area for a numberer of reasonons: 1--water, ththere simply isn't a adequate water; 2--it would destroy thousands s of hectares of high-yield agrgricultural l lan; and thirdly, it would be on the border of the kruger national park, which is a world heritage site, and it would do damage to the tourism industry, which is one of the few bright spots we have here. we've bn approachched regarding this kruger coal-mining g project by a numbr of local community organizations. thehe technique that we've developed is to put up thehese demandsds, make thehe calllls, note ththose objectcti, and thenen wait for r the dmr to award the license anyway. i must be frank about it. i mean, it would be a really bad thing if there was a coal mine there, but it wouldn't surprise meme if the right t were grante.
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[man s speaking indistinctly] i was at a a meeting w where thy promised 500 jobs with a specifific mine, but what happed is that t the miningng company broughght their owown laborersr. ththey did notot recruit l locao work at the mine b because their lalaborers were alreready trains miners, so they just brougught them i in and stararted mining. they make e all these promises about jojobs and security y ande contribution to ththe local economy y and the community, a d then they just leaeave. [sea bird squawks] ooshuizen: we've got wonderful
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sun, we've got a great wind resoururce. if youou look at s h africa, it couould be, youou kn, one of the big contributors to renewable energy in the world. it's sometething that can make e economy grow. it just needs to get tapped into. we are still not even at 10% of the country's electricity being supplied by renewables. i think, with technology moving forward, you could get very close to supplying all the energy that the country needs from renewables. the resource is there. quite a few of the turbines in the country can actually produduce more electricity than whahat they wee originally designed for. a day lilike today, when the w wind is blowowing nicelyly, if we cocoud actutually sell the excessss capacity into the grid, that cocould supplyly electricicity o ababout 14,00000 basic hououseh. unfortununately, we e are not allowed d to sell ththat excesss capacity into the grid at this point. we are capped at the old contraractual capapacity. mamatharka: if we were t to reln solar, um, l look at today's
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weather. it's raining, andnd we don't control weather. if we don't--we go all over a month without wind and so on, so forth, what would then happen to the electricity security of the coununtry? so we are saying we have coal, we have shoal. we g , we mine. come rain, come shine, eveverything is always f fine wiwith coal. spoor: m more and more people ae realizing that we are a very water-scarce country. if you look at some of the coal-fired power plants in mpumalanga and other parts of the country, it's actually massive amounts of water that they consume. one of the b big benefits of the renewables--they d don't consume any water. yeyelland: i d don't belieieve y in sououth africa a is seriousuy susuggesting t that we canan swh off our cocoal-fired p power statioions, which provide 8080%f the power in south africa currently tomorrrrow. hmm.
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it's a vision and a goal towards which we can strive. thihis is t a south african trend--"let's moveve away from coal"--it's a global trend, so, you know, one can try all one likes s to hangn to a dying i industry, but you can't fight a a wave. you have o ride the wave, and the wave of the future is not coal. for me, you know, , it's better that the ride t wave instead of being left out to o sea, lookiking foe next wave while the wiwinners ae haviving cktails on n the beach. [s[sea gulls c crying] maththarka: if w we say we a aro longer goioing to genenerate col througugh coal-firired power stationsns, and theyey're goingo solars a and so and so, hohow my people arere going t to be empld in those initiatives? spoor: if you compare per-unit of electricity produced, both in the operating anand in the construction phase, the number of jobs in the renenewable area
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is higher. there's the old coal fields of mpumalanga province, where there is an entire coal-mining industry in declcline, but the g opportunity is that these towns have g got roads a and schoolsld clinics anand housing and skill. they'v've got weldlders, electricians, builders--all looking for jobs. and the momost importatant thing that they've gotot is a grid connection. this m makes them an incredibly good opportununity to become renewablele energy developmpment zones s of the fu. spoor: in the lastst few years, renewawables has actually bebece the cheapest form of energy thatat's available, and ththat s definitetely adding impetus toto
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this whole transitioion to renewables. we just can't wait much longer to make that transition. munnick: there is big scope fofr renewables to expand. what it needs is to have a proper renewable energy industrial strategygy. it would be a muchch more inclusive ecoconomy. mashigo: the evidence is there, the proof is there. i meanan, wy else would we participate, you know, like, in all the initiatives to tryry and address itit at a global level a and acknowledge that--i mean, eskom, we contributute probably 40%, you know, likeke, of the carbon emissions inin the country, so,i mean, it's's there. wewe've admd it. we've never said nay. we're not denialists. we are not denialists. woman: and the eskom ready to change? 'cause you're the key energy supplier. are you ready for that change? mashshingo: heh h heh! i'm n nog to answer r that. i don't thinik i'm m the one toto answer ththa. ha ha ha! yeah, bubut the roadap is thehere. i knowow we're going there,e, but, yeahah, no, thatai will not answewer.
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may i please not answer that? yeah. anannouncer: "earth focus" is me possible in n part by a granfrom anne ray foundation-n--a margagt a. cargigill phihilanthropy-- the orange county community foundation, and the farvue foundat
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announcer: major funding for "the first angry man" was provided by... the national endowment for the humanities, bringing you the stories that define us. in association with justfilms ford foundatioion. additional funding was providided by the jonaththan logan famamily foundation, california humanities, catapult film fund,, the better angels society, and by berkeley film foundation. [static] ronaldag


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