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tv   Earth Focus  LINKTV  May 2, 2022 7:30am-8:01am PDT

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[dialogue in spanish] [explosion] [camera focus adjusting]
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[camera shutter 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. [camera focus adjusting]
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man: we're in madre de dios, and this is an area that until recently has been pristine forests and a small town really close to the triple border between peru, bolivia, and brazil. starting in the early 2000s, there was a plan to build a major highway moving products from brazil over the andes to the ports in the pacific for exports to places like china. that changed the face of madre de dios. it connected the city of puerto maldonado with the city of cusco in the andes. that voyage used to take about two weeks in the rainy season. now it takes about 6 hours.
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the price of gold started to rise, and in 2008, it skyrocketed. and that created an unprecedented gold boom for tens of thousands of miners, who came from mainly the andes into madre de dios and started to take the forest apart. some of the most dense and biodiverse rain forests in the world. so la pampa is an area next to the highway. about 5 years ago, this was a place that was a couple miners, a couple tents. and it eventually became an illegal city that had thousands of people and was the gateway to the hotspot of illegal gold mining in the amazon. [karina garay speaking spanish]
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fernandez: it's a place that has now been taken apart by a government action called operation mercury. [man yells, men respond] [garay speaking spanish] [garay speaking spanish]
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[garay speaking spanish]
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[gonzalo cordova speaks spanish] [garay speaking spanish] [woman speaking spanish]
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[camera focus adjusting] [garay speaking spanish] [garay speaking spanish]
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[luis loraico speaking spanish] [garay speaking spanish] [woman speaking spanish] [garay speaking spanish]
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[garay speaking spanish]
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[luis loraico speaking spanish] [garay speaking spanish]
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[luis hidalgo okimura speaking spanish] [teacher speaking spanish] fernandez: an ngo that tracks mercurynd mining has estimated 185 tons of mercury are released to the rivers and lakes of this region every year. and at the bottom of those rivers and lakes, there are naturally occurring bacteria that transform liquid elemental mercury and turn it into another form of mercury which is even
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more dangerous, which is methylmercury. fernandez: it's a type of mercury that's absorbed almost at 100% by living organisms. [student laughing] fernandez: plankton and plants that are contaminated with mercury then get eaten by one fish, and then another fish will eat that fish and so on and so on up the food chain. but mercury has a very unusual characteristic. it magnifies. when it goes from one link in that chain to the other, it magnifies roughly by a factor of 10. they are then exposed to levels of mercury that could be millions of times higher than the water where that fish was swimming.
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fernandez: if it's happening when you are a child or if you are a fetus, that damage can be permanent. it's a silent degrader of the quality of life of people that are exposed at these sorts of levels. [okimura speaking spanish]
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[luis loraico speaking spanish]
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[luis loraico speaking spanish] [garay speaking spanish] [eugenia loraico speaking spanish]
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[okimura speaking spanish]
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[okimura speaking spanish] [martin vizcarra speaking spanish]
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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.o7ñ;ñ;?kqñ■ñ■ñcñcñcñ?
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