Meet the Weir family from New Market Maryland. Angela and Chris admit they are about as ungreen as you can get. They have four big cans of garbage every week. They throw out their recycling because it is cluttering up their garage with it’s every other week collection date. The Everharts, from the greenest city in the US, Portland, Oregon recycle a lot. They think their recycling is three times the size of their actual trash. Saving the earth is a passion they share with their two daughters. Chris Weir says that he is no scientist but he doesn’t believe in global warming. The Everharts remodeled their home to be extremely energy efficient. The Weir’s have the central air on and the windows open, he runs the water in the kitchen because he likes the sound of the running water. The TV is on all day, from 6am for themselves or the dogs. They throw away maybe $60 of food a week. The Everharts believe all choices have an impact and unless you work at this, you are sending your children into a world with no future.
Oprah thought this would be a good mom swap. So Angela went to live with Tad and the kids in Portland, and Maria moved in with the Weir’s. This is some of what happened. Angela gets to choose a glass for water to use for the whole weekend to save on washing up. Maria is distressed by the lights on all the time. Back in Oregon, Tad is upset by a couple of lights left on. Their electricity is $33 a month and the Weirs spend around $400 a month. Tad is shocked. Meanwhile Maria is upset that the air conditioning is on. It’s set to 68 degrees at all time. Chris does not like to be hot at all. Maria finds it a disconnect from reality. Chris runs the water to relax him and then he wipes down the surfaces with wipes and uses harsh cleaning products. Maria is upset that he says that water is a first come, first served thing. Angela is shocked that the Everharts save water by having showers two or three times a week- the idea is to have a 5 minute shower. Angela says she can’t get everything done in 5 minutes. She is horrified that she was given a 5 minute timer to use. She couldn’t use conditioner but she would not compromise the electricity needed to dry her hair. Oprah says that maybe there is a balance between the familes.
It’s the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, is the message sinking in? In Oregon, the family bikes just about everywhere. Angela asks how they carry the packages- on their backs. In Maryland, the family drives everywhere. Maria asks Chris to turn off the car while they wait for the family. She says if you sit idle for more than 10 seconds, like in traffic, you should turn off the car. In Oregon they Reduce, Reuse, Recycle almost everything. Tad brings home the used paper towels from the mens room at work, but Angela finds that gross. Tad takes the food scraps out to the compost bin. He explains that putting the food into the garbage is environmentally costly and ineffective. The Weir’s enormous weekly trash is emptied out in the garage by Maria, she wants to see what could actually be recycled. Reaching into the trashcans was unpleasant. The family got down to one trashcan full of trash, Chris says that Maria is a miracle worker.
The familes are back together at home and they join the Oprah Show by Skype. Angela says that they learned a lot, especially seeing the Everharts electricity bill. Chris learned how to recycle, how to do it properly. He thinks many people probably do it wrong. Oprah asks if he is willing to turn the AC off when the windows are opened? They have reset it to 72 degrees. Sam, one of the kids, thinks that they can do better about recycling. Oprah asks if it has made the family more conscious? Absolutely, says Angela, the TV is only on when they watch it, lights are off and doors are closed. Oprah asks if Angela has changed her opinion that what they do doesn’t impact the rest of the world. Absolutely, says Angela, the education and information on the bigger picture has really helped. Oprah asks the Everharts how the experiences were for them. Maria was surprised by how much she actually knew and could teach, the changes for them have been gradual, and she found that the Weir’s were a great family to be with. She says that she had a good conversation with Chris about how becoming a parent makes you protective of your children and their future. Oprah says that Tad lost everyone with the paper towels from the bathroom at work, everyone. Would he say that they are extreme? Tad says that he doesn’t want to be so extreme that people don’t want to make little changes. He says that they use the towels that would otherwise in a landfill for cleaning up paint or caulk. He had his own little aha moment,- he doesn’t want to do thing that people think are weird. Oprah says that the most important thing is that we realize that what we do affects the world. Oprah says that this has been fascinating and that they have got the message out. Thanks to both families.
It sounds like a horror movie, says Oprah, a killing spree of thousands filmed in the dead of night and people scared for their life. It is real and it is a movie, and it just won an Oscar. Take a look at the Academy Award winning movie, The Cove. There’s a picturesque lagoon in Taiji, Japan, a small fishing village, where outsiders and cameras are forbidden. Shielded by steep cliffs, this body of water is protected by people who have a shocking secret. In 2007, dolphin activist Ric O’Barry set out to expose what really happens here. Alongside director Louie Psihoyos and a dedicated team of filmmakers, Ric documented his mission in Taiji. “The fishermen told me, they said, ‘If the world finds out what goes on here, we’ll be shut down,’” Ric says.
What most people don’t know is every year, from September to March, thousands of dolphins are slaughtered in this small body of water. Some are spared and sold to marine parks around the world, but the rest, thousands, are killed for their meat. “They’re looking for bottlenose dolphins, primarily,” Ric says. “They’re looking for Flipper.” Despite threat of arrest and tight security, Ric and Louie set out to capture this slaughter on film. Their footage eventually became The Cove, the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary co-produced by Fisher Stevens. Ric’s mission is personal. He says he’s desperately trying to put a stop to an industry he helped create.In the 1960s, Ric captured and trained the dolphins for the hit TV series Flipper.”I feel somewhat responsible because it was the Flipper TV series that created this multibillion-dollar industry,” he says. “It created this desire to swim with them and kiss them and hold them and hug them and love them to death. It created all these captures.”
After seven years of training dolphins, Ric says he realized these intelligent mammals were suffering in captivity. He became an activist the day he says Flipper took her own life. “She was really depressed,” he says. “I could feel it. I could see it.” Dolphins and other whales are not automatic air breathers like humans, Ric says every breath they take requires conscious effort. “They can end their life whenever life becomes too unbearable by not taking the next breath. She did that,” he says. “She swam into my arms and looked me right in the eye and took a breath and didn’t take another one.” Ric let her go and she sank on her belly to the bottom of the tank. The next day, Ric went to jail for trying to free a dolphin, and ever since, he’s been on a mission to release dolphins from captivity. When Ric first started training dolphins, there were only three dolphinariums in the world. Now, you can swim with dolphins and see them in action in hundreds of zoos, water parks and vacation destinations around the world. “All of these captures, help create the largest slaughter of dolphins on the planet. I have to see this end in my lifetime,” Ric says. He is focused on the tiny body of water where the slaughter takes place “Nobody has actually seen what takes place back there, and so the way to stop it is to expose it.”
Oprah says that what we are about to see is graphic, so tell small children step out the room. Ric and a dedicated group of filmmakers went undercover and risked everything to expose the truth of the cove. “The secret cove is a natural fortress. It’s surrounded on three sides by steep cliffs,” says Louie, the film’s director. “High fences surrounded by razor ribbon.” When the local Japanese government banned Louie’s cameras, he found another way in. He assembled a brave team willing to risk arrest. “I wanted to have a three-dimensional experience of what’s going on in that lagoon,” Louie says. “The effort wasn’t just to show the slaughter. You want to capture something that’ll make people change.” They had to assemble a team, a sort of Ocean’s 11 team. Louie asked Hollywood special effects masters to build fake rocks to conceal cameras, and a military expert created a balloon device that shot secret aerial footage. Then, under the cover of night, world-class divers planted sound equipment deep in the water. After seven attempts and the scariest night of Louie’s life, the cameras and microphones were in place. Then, at daybreak, the slaughter began. The blood of the slaughtered dolphins turned the blue water red. The cameras captured it all. “It was kind of a collective horror when we started to see the footage. It was mind-boggling,” Louie says. “They are doing it exactly like they did with the large whales, they’re slaughtering every one they can get.”
“It’s not about intelligence. It’s about consciousness. They are self-aware like humans are self-aware,” Ric says. We look in the mirror and know what we are looking at. “I don’t believe that the fishermen are aware of that.” The Japanese government says that they allow the slaughter of up to 19,000 dolphins a year. The Oscar-winning team who made The Cove are here, Oprah is so happy that they are here. Happy Earth Day, Oprah says, and congratulates them on their Oscar. Oprah asks how it was to see the footage of the slaughter. When he first saw the horrific footage of the slaughter, Ric says he saw a light at the end of the tunnel. “I knew it was going to be exposed,” he says. “The light at the end of the tunnel was not an oncoming train. It was the sunshine. Finally, we’re going to get this out to the world.” Oprah asks if they were afraid for their lives? Louie says that they still are, they still get death threats, it’s ongoing. They are trying to push to get the movie distributed in Japan where most change can happen. In July 2010, Fisher says a distribution company is planning to release the film in 20 Japanese theaters. To reach even more people, the filmmakers are also producing a 15-minute version in Japanese, which will be streamed for free on the Internet starting today. Oprah asks them to tell us what does the dolphin slaughter have to do with the rest of the world in our lives. Louie says that this is a microcosm of the ocean. The dolphin is the only animal in history to save human lives- one saved his life in Polynesia. Ironically, the only way that we can prove that we need to save their lives is to prove that we have made their environment so toxic that we should not eat them. Louie says The Cove isn’t just about how dolphins, whales and humans affect our oceans. “It’s about us trying to save humanity,” he says.
Ric says that right now it is about getting the movie out in Japan. Fisher, Louie and Ric also want it shown to millions of Japanese citizens who have not seen it. “It’s not about us Westerners telling the Japanese, ‘You’ve got to do this,’” Fisher says. “It’s us Westerners showing the Japanese what’s going on in their country and hopefully motivating them to shut down the cove.” The crowd applaud.
Oprah asks if some of those dolphins end up in theme parks over here? Ric says that if they could get the dolphin dealers out of Taiji, they could probably shut down the slaughter. Oprah says that despite some reports, a statement from the Japanese embassy says The Cove can be screened freely in Japan, and they believe it may have been shown at the Tokyo International Film Festival. The mayor of Taiji says: “The movie portrays false claims not based on science as if they are true. We regret that. It’s important to mutually respect food culture based upon the understanding of long-standing traditions and circumstances in each region.”
Over the past 10 years, however, Louie says all dolphin meat tested in Japan has been deemed toxic by Japanese standards. Ric says this meat contains very high levels of mercury. “When Ric and I first got to Taiji, they were feeding it to school children because school lunch is compulsory. You’re not allowed to bring your own, and you have to eat everything on your plate,” Louie says. “We put a stop to that.”
In the fifties and sixties, the lack of regulations over water standards meant that many rivers and waterways in America had junk piled up and they were like sewers contaminated with waste. Without environmental laws, The Cuyahoga river in Ohio was so toxic it ignited a raging fire, pollution plagued major cities and 500 people died in New York in intense smog outbreaks in the fifties. DDT and other chemicals were a part of everyday life and almost brought anational treasure, the bald eagle, to extinction. But on April 22nd, 1970, twenty million Americans came together to demand a cleaner world with the launch of Earth Day. This emerging green movement could not be ignored and soon the was Environmental Protection Agency was born and environmental legislation was passed to clean up our water, air, land and wildlife. Lots of progress over the last 40 years, says Oprah.
Oprah asks Louie what this progress means to him. He says that film is the most powerful medium in the world so he has a lot of hope. Ric too is hopeful. Yesterday he was in the Solomon Islands where villagers have just agreed to stop harvesting animals. That can happen in Taiji. “[Ric] proved to us that one person can make a difference,” Louie says. Everybody can make a difference. Fisher says that Oprah is making more of a difference than any government he knows. Oprah says that the most important thing is to educate the younger generation. Yes, Fisher says that young people who experience nature and the ocean are the ones that want to change it. Oprah says that we have nothing but applause for the team, they are all heroes. She asks what we can do to stop the slaughter from happening again in September, Ric says that to help stop the dolphin slaughter, everyone should visit SaveJapanDolphins.org to sign his petition. “We need to get more signatures. We almost have a million for President Obama and for the Japanese government,” he says. “That will be really helpful.” Oprah says that everyone in the audience and watching at home should do that right now. The Cove is out on DVD now, it makes the perfect gift for anyone for Earth Day. Buy it, watch it and pass it on and stop the senseless slaughter of these magnificent creatures, says Oprah. She thanks the team from The Cove. Oprah reads a statement from SeaWorld vice president Fred Jacobs. “SeaWorld opposes the dolphin hunts documented in The Cove. We do not purchase any animals from these hunts. More than 80 percent of the marine mammals in our care were born in our parks. We haven’t collected a dolphin from the wild in decades.”
On last year’s Earth Day, Oprah showed how our garbage is wreaking havoc on our planet, Oprah called it the most shocking thing she’s seen. In April 2009, oceanographic explorer Fabien Cousteau exposed the truth about the world’s largest trash dump—the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Estimated to be twice the size of Texas, this trash swirl stretches across the Pacific Ocean from the coast of California to Japan. In some places, the debris is 90 feet deep. British explorer David de Rothschild, first heard about the Pacific garbage patch in 2006. This ecological disaster, which has killed millions of seabirds and marine mammals, inspired him to build a boat made of 12,500 plastic bottles and other recycled materials. He named it the Plastiki. In March 2010, David and a small team of environmentalists set sail from San Francisco on this one-of-a-kind boat to get people to rethink waste as a resource. This risky voyage will take them through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch before docking in Sydney, Australia. “We’ve tried to make everything on this boat as sustainable as possible,” David says. “From the energy we use, the food that we eat and the way that we travel.”
David de Rothschild, heir to the Rothschild banking fortune joins Oprah by Skype from his boat. The map shows that he is a week or two away from hitting the northern tip of the garbage patch. While the Pacific garbage swirl is the largest on earth, David says there are actually five floating trash dumps plaguing the world’s oceans. He says that he has been at sea for 21 days on the Plastic, he is as far away from land as you can possibly be. “Anywhere where there is a current in our ocean, the plastic that makes up 90 percent of our marine debris is getting into the ocean,” he says. “It aggregates and tends to pack together. David says there are four main polluters in our oceans—plastic bags, Styrofoam cups, Styrofoam containers and soda bottle lids. So we are seeing a huge accumulation of plastic, these big human fingerprints, in our ocean right now.”
Oprah asks why the garbage is a threat to the planet? “Every year, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are needlessly ingesting plastic, little flecks of plastic. That’s blocking their system and causing most of the fatalities,” David says. “Those little flecks are also being ingested into the fish that we are then consuming. So there’s a toxic transfer going on from plastic into fish into us, if we consume fish.”
Oprah asks what he hopes to achieve by sailing around the ocean in the Plastiki? David says that the reality is that there is a big list of solutions available to us today. As evidenced by the creation of the Plastiki, David says plastic and other waste doesn’t have to end up in a landfill. “Around plastics, we need to reduce, reuse, recycle and the fourth R—refuse the single-use plastics,” he says. “I hope that the Plastiki showcases that we’ve used innovative materials, … new glues that we’ve actually engineered out of cashew nuts and sugar, which show that there are solutions to those problems out there. We can all do something about it.”
Oprah thanks him and says that the world needs more people like him. One of the fastest growing problems in garbage dumps is cell phones. About 125 million mobile phones are discarded every year, and many of them are made with hazardous materials like lead, mercury and flame retardants. Some even contain arsenic. In honor of Earth Day and the No Phone Zone pledge, they are pushing to recycle old cell phones. The audience brought in over 600 phones to recycle, and you can do this in your family. Best Buy has cell phone recycling kiosks in their stores. Go to Oprah.com to find somewhere to recycle your phone. While you are there, sign the pledge. Happy Earth Day everybody, be kinder to the earth. Goodbye.
WHAT WE LEARNED TODAY:
Recycle, recycle, recycle. Reduce, reuse, recyle
Every act that you do creates an impact. Educate yourself, make an improvement in the world.
Thousands of dolphins are slaughtered annually in a cove in Taij, Japan, as captured on the Oscar winning documentary, The Cove.
Ric O’Barry captured and trained the dolphins for the hit TV series Flipper. He feels somewhat responsible fro the dolphin trade and that is why he is now a dolphin activist and filmaker.
The heir to the Rothschild banking fortune is sailing a boat made of 12,500 plastic bottles through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to get people to rethink waste as a resource.
A VERY QUICK SUMMARY:
Don’t be ignorant. Reduce, reuse and recycle. Be humane, don’t slaughter animals or pollute the oceans.