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Talk of the Nation: The Gulf Oil Spill and State of the Oceans

Past Event

Photo: Offshore oil rig
An oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico

Photograph by James Blair

Photo: Sylvia Earle

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle

Photograph by Mark Thiessen

Join us September 16 when National Geographic and NPR combine forces for the popular program “Talk of the Nation” live from the stage of Grosvenor Auditorium. The program will focus on the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and the state of the world’s oceans, featuring National Geographic writer Joel Bourne and National Geographic explorers and marine scientists Sylvia Earle and Enric Sala. For information on attendance and to make a reservation for this 2 p.m. broadcast, e-mail TALK@npr.org, and put “National Geographic” in the subject line.

HOUR ONE: The Present and Future of the Gulf of Mexico
Six months after the explosion and fire on the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, we are just beginning to understand the dimensions of this environmental disaster. Never before has a leak from such depths spilled for so long. We will be living with its effects for decades. In this live broadcast, NPR and National Geographic bring together three experts to discuss the most up-to-date information on impact of the spill on the unique ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico: Joel Bourne, an environmental journalist for National Geographic Magazine and author of its cover story on the Gulf for the October issue on newsstands later this month, NPR science correspondent Richard Harris, and Professor Ian MacDonald, an oceanographer at Florida State University who studies life in the deep ocean. We’ll look at comparable disasters and what they can tell us about what to expect. From manatees to sperm whales to dolphins and mollusks, we’ll talk about the research underway, the range of animal species at risk—and the kind of actions that may help repair the damage.

HOUR TWO: Is It Too Late to Save Our Oceans?
The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has put a stark focus on the fragility and vulnerability of the world’s oceans, the life-support system of our planet. In this live broadcast, NPR and National Geographic bring two of the premier explorers of our time to tell us about the state of the oceans. Sylvia Earle, whose legendary career as a marine biologist began more than six decades ago diving near her home on the Gulf of Mexico, has been an Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic since 1998, the year Time magazine named her the first “hero for the planet.” And, Enric Sala, a marine ecologist and a fellow at the Geographic, has explored some of the last pristine places in the ocean and seen first hand the devastation of the ocean ecosystems. Industrial fishing has depleted ocean wildlife, some nearly to extinction. Ninety percent of the large predators in the sea are gone. A third of the world’s fisheries have collapsed in half a century. Pollutants from agriculture, industrial waste and sewage have poured into the ocean, accumulating in marine organisms—even in the remotest waters of the Arctic and the Antarctic—and the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is altering the very chemistry of the oceans. The question is have we gone too far to turn it around?

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