May 26, 2010

Pt 1: Oil Spill Photographers - We begin a series of stories related to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, starting with the images recorded by photographers. Renowned Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky and some of his colleagues discuss the most striking photos they've taken of the oil spill and its aftermath and the power of images to convey the magnitude of the disaster. (Read More and View Photographs)

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Pt 2: - Oil Spill Clean-Up: Our series on the Gulf oil spill continues with a look at some novel ideas for mitigating the damage. When top hats and dispersants aren't up to the task, maybe it's time to break out the hair and the hay.(Read More) 

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Pt 3: Brasilia - It's been called "the most fabulous dream in the new continent" and "one of the most dismal cities in the world." Brazil's capital city at 50. (Read More)

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Whole Show Blow-by-Blow

It's Wednesday, May 26th.

Kevin Costner is donating his Ocean Therapy technology for use in the Gulf oil spill. It basically vacuums oil from water.

Currently, most hope it'll suck as much as Waterworld did.

This is The Current.

Oil Spill - Photographers

We began our series on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico with those who have been working to put this vast oil spill in focus for people around the world.

Edward Burtynsky is a renowned Canadian photographer who was the subject of the award-winning documentary, Manufactured Landscapes. He went down to the Gulf of Mexico to photograph the spill this month. He was in our London, England studio today.

And Ted Jackson is a photographer with the New Orleans Times Picayune. He has won two Pulitzer Prizes - one for his coverage of Hurricane Katrina and another for his photographic work on Oceans of Trouble, a documentary about threats to the world's fisheries. He was in Covington, Louisiana.

Oil Spill Photographs: National Geographic and a compilation of photographs from the Boston Globe


Oil Spill - Sand Bar Method

Well, BP is moving on to Plan D or is it Plan E or F or G ... in its efforts to stop oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. This time, they're preparing to jam the well with mud and cement. So far, though, the energy giant has been rendered largely helpless by the five-week-old oil spill.

And the scientific community is still trying to figure out the best ways to contain and clean up the spill. At the same time, people who live on the Gulf Coast are frustrated by the lack of progress. So some are proposing new schemes to mitigate the oil spill's impacts. with hair, hay, superbugs and nuclear explosions, to name just a few.

As part of our series on the oil spill, we wanted to look at some of these ideas, beginning with a plan to build a chain of massive sand barriers across the Louisiana coastline. Billy Nungesser is one of the local proponents of this proposal. He's President of Plaquesmines Parish near New Orleans, Louisiana.

Oil Spill - Innocentive

The call for solutions to the Gulf oil spill has gone out well beyond the communities hardest hit. An international network of people and companies called Innocentive has started the "Oil Spill Challenge" - asking contributors to dream up solutions to the spill. They've received more than a thousand entries so far - from academics, engineers, teachers and students around the world.

We aired a clip from Innocentive CEO Dwayne Spradlin. He says the company has approached BP to share the top ideas with them. There's been no response to date, but they plan to keep trying.

Oil Spill - Hair Method

Lisa Gautier thinks hair and fur should be used to soak up the leaking oil. Her charity, Matter of Trust, has been collecting hair to make into "hair booms." BP did entertain the idea but has since abandoned it. But Ms. Gautier still believes hair can play an important role in the clean up. She joined us from San Francisco.

Oil Spill - Hay Method

And if not hair, what about hay? Darryl Carpenter is the Vice President of C.W. Roberts Contracting, and he thinks hay could be used to soak up the oil. We've reached him in Panama City, Florida,

Oil Spill - Big Picture

The proposals for dealing with the oil spill haven't lacked for ingenuity. But they aren't all founded in science. Ralph Portier is a Professor of Environmental Science at Louisiana State University. He joined us from Baton Rouge.



On Brasilia's 50th anniversary, the world's biggest planned city - and the least Brazilian of Brazil's cities - has found that overly rigid planning has inadvertently exacerbated some social problems even as the city's residents make the city more and more typically Brazilian.

For some, the city is a masterpiece of design, the high point of Niemeyer's career, for others it's an anti-social, quasi-authoritarian dead zone deprived of welcoming public spaces and dominated by the automobile.

Christopher Frey is a Canadian journalist living in Brazil and the Rio de Janeiro correspondent for Monocle Magazine. He's also the author of the forthcoming book, Broken Atlas: The Secret Life of Globalization.

We ended this segment with some some more of the Forro music Chris recorded at Brasilia's bus station.

Last Word - Letterman's Top Ten

Earlier in the program, we were talking about the novel ideas some people are concocting to deal with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The lack of any surefire way of dealing with the spill's impact seems to have caught the notice of David Letterman's writers. We ended the program today with Letterman's list of Top Ten Dumb Guys Ways to Fix the Oil Spill.

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