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[Birds chirping] ♪ ♪ Sanjayan: There's no place that in my mind signifies climate change and the perils of climate change like California.
♪ Particularly in the last couple of years, it's been in the news.
♪ [Sirens] Woman: It's devastating.
We are all walking around kind of in a trance.
Welcome to hell.
Sanjayan: I travel around to so many places, and it's hard not to always have this sense--this impending sense of doom.
[Helicopter whirring] ♪ A small bucket for a big fire.
As I'm speaking, there are wildfires.
I can see the smoke behind me.
I can hear the helicopters.
Climate change is very much here.
♪ ♪ Sanjayan voice-over: The health of our planet is at a pivotal moment.
♪ Without action, the world we cherish will transform beyond all recognition.
Man: Because the glacier is vanishing, we get more frequent volcanic eruptions.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: But instead of running away, some people are confronting this global crisis head on.
Woman: As we're starting to see the decline in zoo plankton, we'll be able to monitor these changes.
Sanjayan, voice-over: This is the beginning of a 7-year project that promises not just hope, but paths forward.
We will be tracking change across 6 of our planet's most iconic ecosystems and highlighting how individuals can have an impact.
♪ We'll look at projects from the African savannah to the American West, the Amazon and Southeast Asia to the Arctic... ♪ Woman: The drone is ready to fly through the breath of the whale.
Sanjayan, voice-over: building relationships with an army of inspiring people taking up the challenge...
Huge tusks, huge.
[Indistinct] Sanjayan, voice-over: and charting the progress of game-changing environmental projects.
♪ If we can put back the planet, put all the pieces back, create more resilience, resilience in the natural world could give us the opportunity to withstand the worst that is still to come.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: In 7 years, we will better understand what the stakes are for all of us and what we can do to make an impact here on our changing planet.
♪ ♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: It's interesting that my journey starts with the Yurok Tribe who've been on this land for millennia.
♪ Systematically discriminated against across two centuries, driven off their land, banned from fishing in their own river... ♪ the Yurok never stop fighting for their ancestral birthright.
♪ Today, the 5 and a half thousand members of California's largest Native American tribe are proving how indigenous knowledge can transform their landscape.
♪ This year, new laws have given back to the Yurok control over one of the most destructive forces in their territory-- fire.
Since the 1930s, the State of California had banned all traditional burning, and federal policy was to fight any fire as soon as it started.
The aim was to protect property and the timber industry.
Margo and Liz-Anne are leading the way in traditional stewardship of the forest.
We have been managing the space for thousands of years.
How can they think they know better?
Fire is meant to be part of the ecosystem.
The more fire we can get on the land, the less destruction will be created by wildfires, because if a wildfire is coming through here and reaches this, it's not going to continue to spread.
This place was purposefully burned.
You can tell that because the trees are still here, they're still healthy.
And most of the brush is gone from the forest floor.
And so the sun can reach down in here to help these bear grass plants grow.
There is plenty of room for large animals like deer and elk.
Fire keeps everything balanced physically and spiritually.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Some one-third of California's hundred million acres is covered in forest, and not much of it is inhabited.
♪ Before Margo and Liz-Anne started the Cultural Fire Management Council, there hadn't been any traditional controlled burns here for many years.
Where we live, it's like extreme fire danger, and we was worried our elders might not be able to escape.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Deliberately starting a fire like this requires an intimate knowledge of wind patterns and a deep understanding of the way plants and surfaces act as fuel for fire.
We got people trained up in our community to have firefighter qualifications, which is what you need to do.
And we did our first burn and have continued to burn since then.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Today people come from all across the world to learn traditional fire management techniques from Margo and Liz-Anne.
Protect all of these people who have come here from all over the country to help us burn and to restore our land.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: They teach how to integrate these highly-effective techniques into standard management of the land.
Tribes who have lost this traditional wisdom learn alongside members of the U.S. Forest Service.
Liz-Anne: They have all of the degrees, they have the education, they've gone to school for their fire suppression, but they have absolutely no clue how to be a fire lighter.
And that's what we do.
We train fire lighters.
Oh, I love that.
We don't train firefighters.
We don't fight family.
We work with family.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: This is personal.
When Margo became a grandmother, she wanted to keep an ancient Yurok custom.
♪ Margo: I was determined that my grandbabies would be carried in traditional baby baskets.
In order to have basket materials, we need to have fire to burn the hazel to get the nice bear grass that grows here.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: 7 years ago wildfires burned for more than a hundred days on thousands of acres of ancestral land.
You can still see the scars.
Margo: Traditionally, this land would have had a regular cycle of fire purposefully put on the land, and so even had a lightning strike hit, it would not have created this devastation because there would not be so much fuel on the ground to feed it.
Liz-Anne: It's our responsibility, every human's responsibility, not just the indigenous people.
We just care for it more.
This will not regenerate in my lifetime.
It will not come back to what it was.
Margo: You always hear people saying how climate change is affecting the wildfires.
I think the opposite is equally true, that wildfires are really contributing to climate change.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: The U.S. is losing something like 7 million acres of land every year to wildfire.
♪ And in 2020, wildfires cost Brazil more than 17 million acres of rainforest.
♪ There's no question that a changing climate is fueling all of this.
It's exactly what climate change is.
In a delicately balanced ecosystem, a small rise in average temperature brings drier conditions that are longer and more intense.
♪ Over the coming 7 years, I'll keep coming back here to learn from the Yurok how indigenous practices are uniquely placed to confront a planet in crisis.
The answer to our changing planet is partly here.
And I feel that collective wisdom that the indigenous peoples have might have the answers to save us all.
But then when we went to that big burn, both Margo and Liz-Anne expressed that sense of doubt that that isn't something they have seen before.
Maybe what's coming down the pike is bigger than any of us.
And that's the part that makes me-- makes me really scared.
So it's this balancing act between that sense of optimism and also thinking that the forces against us are so big.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: I really want to be an optimist here, but there are places on Earth where decisive climate action just can't wait.
Failure to act is just no longer an option.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: In Iceland, global warming is more evident to me on every visit.
♪ Temperatures in the Arctic are increasing up to 3 times faster than the rest of the planet, melting the ice like never before.
♪ And the consequences will be felt not just here, but across the world.
♪ In August 2019, a funeral was held for Ok glacier.
♪ Now I want to go down and see if I can find any remnants of Ok glacier and listen carefully whether I can hear it whisper the last sentences that it remembers from its history.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: All that remains is a bronze plaque on a gray rock with a dire warning.
"In the next 200 years, all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path."
♪ Created over centuries from compacted snow, glaciers store twice as much water as all the rivers and lakes on the planet in the form of ice.
♪ Many ecosystems rely on their summer melt for moisture and temperature control.
♪ But Earth's thermostat is failing.
♪ Luckily, there are people dedicating their lives to doing something about it.
As a teenage mountaineer, Snaevarr Gudmundsson became obsessed with glaciers.
Today, he's one of Iceland's pre-eminent glaciologists.
Snaevarr: If we were here in 1932, we would have been here under about 70 meters thick ice.
♪ There was this famous Icelandic scientist who asked the farmer if he could measure the position of the edge of the glacier.
They erected a pile of boulders that was a reference for them, and then they measured the distance with a cord to the edge of the ice.
And this they actually did once a year for several decades.
And in the end, they had this long series of markers.
At the beginning of the 20th century, this glacier was only retreating about 10 to 50 meters per year.
But now it's retreating about 250 meters.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: In the next one to two hundred years, Iceland could be a land without ice.
♪ Like 90% of glaciers in Iceland, this one is rapidly disappearing, and it's dramatically changing the landscape.
♪ This glacier is turning into a lake.
In fact, it's now the deepest lake in Iceland.
♪ Snaevarr: When people think about climate changes, they think about sea level rising, and of course that's a huge threat, but there are other implications.
Because the glacier is vanishing, we get less pressure on the earth crust, which leads to more frequent Volcanic eruptions.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Volcanic activity on this scale is upsetting the delicate balance of climate in the Arctic.
You may remember several years ago when an eruption in Iceland closed European airspace and stranded an estimated 7 million passengers around the world.
Our poles, the Arctic and the Antarctic, act like giant air conditioners, keeping our planet relatively cool.
But they are not working as efficiently as they once did.
Meltwater simply isn't as good as solid ice at keeping global temperatures down.
♪ What we learn here over the next 7 years with Snaevarr and other polar scientists will paint a much clearer picture of what's happening in this rapidly changing ecosystem and its wider impact.
♪ It's very possible that we will be attending another funeral for a glacier.
♪ In California, catastrophic change is happening before my eyes in my own lifetime.
This is exactly what this landscape shouldn't look like.
Sanjayan, voice-over: And now we see how people like Margo and Liz-Anne are trying to stop it.
But this doesn't have to be the end of the story.
♪ 120 miles upriver from the sea, I encounter a landscape that has been completely trashed for commercial gain.
But now, mile by mile, that process is being reversed.
The Klamath-Trinity River system stretches 450 miles from southern Oregon to California.
The Yurok is the biggest of the 3 local tribes that for generations have looked upon this land as their own.
Since the time of the Gold Rush, waste from mining has piled high on either side of the river, blocking its seasonal movement.
Man: These are all old mining tailings.
When the gold miners came in, they turned the entire river upside down to create kind of a very narrow channel.
Now, that's bad enough on its own, and then put dams in that lock that into place.
Sanjayan, voice-over: My guide Frankie Myers explains how the Yurok are leading the project to unlock the river system and bring back the salmon that once filled the river.
♪ I mean, we do right around a mile a year, a mile of restoration-- A mile every year?
Every year a mile.
We are taking the river and giving it space for it to live again.
♪ Frankie: If the river had a chance to move back and forth, it would have left these little side channels, little shoots from the river that would fill up during high water and create a flood plain, and then that's great habitat for juvenile salmonids and invertebrates and all kinds of stuff.
Sanjayan, voice-over: The majority of the work is carried out by Yurok Tribe members like excavator operator Josh Meyer.
Frankie: He's guaranteeing that his children and their children will always be able to harvest salmon.
It's more than a paycheck, right?
Josh: Where I'm from, we believe in this fish.
Like, I'm all the way at the mouth of this river, born and raised, and this fish is like part of who we are, part of everybody who lives on this river.
Sanjayan: You're a tribal member?
Do you have any kids?
I have 4 kids.
They know I'm over here trying to help the fish.
And it's an amazing feeling.
Frankie: One of our operators, you know, two years ago was working on a project towards the end of the year, and they were finished making a section for spawning adult who had a spawning adult in the tracks of an excavator.
It happens like that.
[Snaps] Instantly it happens.
Sanjayan: Why are they taking all these logs down here?
We are trying to biomimic the river system.
And in order to do that, in naturally occurring systems, the trees fall into the river and they create habitats.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: The Yurok are using logjams and rocks the size of SUVs to vary the flow and restore a more natural spawning habitat for salmon.
Sanjayan Wow, look at that.
♪ Frankie: I think there is a long-held belief in many cultures in America that humans are separate from the world around them.
♪ With that thought process, you're able to do all kinds of things.
You're able to extract every ounce of gold out of the ground, you're able to cut down every redwood tree you see.
If you're not a part of it, you can exploit all of it.
And if you're not a part of it, then what happens to it doesn't matter to you.
♪ [Frankie chanting] ♪ All right, I'll try another song.
That one's not getting it.
I have a feeling it's not the song.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Thus far, the Yurok have already restored 20 miles of the Trinity-Klamath River system.
In the next two years, they will participate in the removal of 4 of the 6 dams upriver.
♪ It's the largest dam removal in U.S. history, opening up more than 400 miles of habitat for the salmon between Oregon and California.
Over the course of this project, we hope to track their success in bringing back the salmon, and their old way of life, seeing how it may benefit the local economies that depend on a healthy river.
Sanjayan: Their restoration goal is big.
It's bigger than this river.
But even that, on the scale of California, on the scale of the planet, is a blip.
What we need is really millions of these projects, communities everywhere doing this with this intensity of purpose, not because someone's paying you to do it, but because it's the right thing to do, because you're built to do it.
You're born to do it.
Sanjayan, voice-over: We're traveling next to the Indian Ocean where marine biologists are piloting innovative techniques to restore the entire reef.
♪ You may have heard of the Maldives as a tropical paradise of white sand and crystal blue sea.
[Horn honking] But a quarter of a million people live here in its capital city, which is not much bigger than Central Park.
That makes this tiny island one of the most densely populated places on Earth.
I was born on the edge of the Indian Ocean, just east of here in Sri Lanka, so it shocks me that this crowded city could be under water within the next 30 years.
♪ Right now, coral islands like this are increasingly at risk from climate change.
Their fate hangs in the balance.
♪ The Maldives exist because of coral, and climate stress is damaging the reef, a process called bleaching.
♪ Ali Shareef is on the sustainability team at one of the resorts, keeping a watchful eye on the health of the reef.
So we have had two bleaching events in the Maldives, one in 1998, which killed off about 80% of the corals and took about a decade to recover and come back to how it was before.
And then again in 2016 coral here bleached and died.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Coral reefs protect the islands from increasingly destructive waves.
And its towns, it's hotels, schools are literally built on coral.
Just one degree of change of temperature threatens the reef's reproductive health, putting it at risk from starvation and disease.
♪ Ali: We're going to go to an area where we've been monitoring for the past year, fracture some of the coral colonies, look for reproductive cells in them, and see what stages they are, and to look for any signs if they're ready to spawn.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Understanding how corals reproduce is key.
Coral is made up of hundreds of thousands of tiny, delicate animals.
Ali's goal is to breed coral with greater resilience to temperature change.
He breaks off a piece of coral, takes a look inside.
The presence of reproductive cells will tell him if this coral is ready to spawn.
He can now replace the broken fragment, and it will continue to grow.
♪ Ali: Once we understand when they spawn, we can use that information to rear them in a tank and then put them back on the reef to restore it.
My long-term plan is to learn as much as I can here and take what I learn here to my home island and try to implement it there, make some positive changes, and, you know, create a culture that is with the environment, that is actively trying to find solutions that would make things better in our changing climate.
Sanjayan, voice-over: In the coming years, I honestly can't wait to find out if Ali and his team can successfully breed coral that can withstand higher temperatures.
Perhaps then, large-scale farming of coral in tanks could be what saves the Maldives.
Coral reefs provide food for one quarter of all marine life.
But these rising sea temperatures are also killing the tiny lifeforms that coral itself eats--plankton.
Tracking down these microscopic creatures is made much easier by following some much bigger plankton-feeders, manta rays.
♪ This boat is a floating base for the Manta Trust, pioneering the study of this magnificent creature for more than a decade.
So we're going to swim beside the manta rays and actually collect some of the food that they're feeding on.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Hannah Moloney is leading a study of the plankton that could halt the decline of the endangered manta population that feeds on it.
Hannah: In temperate regions across the globe, with a small incline in sea temperatures, zoo plankton is expected to decline by approximately 10%.
However, it's bad news here for the tropics.
It's expected to decline by more than 50%.
Sanjayan, voice-over: At certain times of the year, mantas are drawn to the large plankton blooms in a mass feeding event.
♪ It's a perfect opportunity to study how mantas forage for food.
Hannah: Manta rays are solitary animals.
However, they can be seen feeding with friends.
And this is a strategy to be able to get the most amount of plankton in the shortest amount of time.
So basically lazy feeding.
They're going to be jumping in each other's slipstream.
And it also concentrates the plankton.
We don't know so much about how the decline in the zooplankton biomass will affect manta rays, but simply put it, manta rays need lots of zooplankton to feed on.
If there's less zooplankton, they're not going to have as much food.
As we're starting to see the decline in zooplankton, we'll be able to monitor these changes.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: The Manta Trust has currently identified over 4,900 individual reef mantas.
♪ They can be huge, up to 15 feet long and weigh more than a family car.
They have the biggest brain-to-body mass ratio of any fish, making them particularly skilled at problem solving and communicating.
♪ They can be playful and curious, exhibiting a remarkable sense of self-awareness.
♪ But if the manta population declines, it will impact the entire ecosystem.
♪ ♪ Niv Froman is leading a study to understand how these majestic creatures breed.
Niv: Understanding what factors are affecting their ability to reproduce will allow us to put in place maybe conservation measures targeted to reduce those threats and allow the species to thrive.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Niv is kind of a manta gynecologist.
♪ He's using the world's first contactless underwater handheld ultrasound scanner on pregnant mantas.
♪ Mantas are slow breeders, usually giving birth to only a single pup every 2 to 3 years.
♪ Discovering a baby manta is a cause for real celebration.
♪ Niv: With manta rays already reproducing very rarely, the added impact climate change will have can really put populations and the entire species at threat of disappearing from our planet.
By using mantas and understanding how well the populations are doing, how often they're reproducing, we can then determine how well our reefs are also.
Sanjayan, voice-over: The Trust's mission includes equipping the next generation with the passion and skills to protect the future of mantas.
Yaniu's local knowledge and expertise is key to this expedition.
Yaniu: When I was growing up, I didn't feel, you know, this could be a career.
But I always wanted to be somewhere on the sea.
So I did a divemaster so that I can be bringing people into the sea and show them how beautiful it is.
And once I was working like that, I saw how damaged the reefs are, coral bleaching, and I looked around to see what I can do to help.
♪ I feel very lucky to be here helping the research and swimming with mantas.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: These graceful creatures contribute massively to the economy of the Maldives.
But the health of the manta population affects the health of the ocean.
Like elephant dung fertilizing the savannah, mantas fertilize the reef with nutrients they gather from all across the ocean.
If the reefs lose their fertilizer, then the entire ecosystem suffers.
♪ The Indian Ocean is changing faster than ever, so efforts to protect it are critical.
Giving us the tools to accurately predict these changes may guarantee the mantas' future survival.
♪ In the coming years, we'll be keeping a close eye on these reefs and their majestic mantas, along with the experts fighting to save them.
♪ My Californian journey takes me to 60 miles from the forest to the mouth of the Klamath River where it meets the Pacific Ocean.
I join Yurok Tribe member Barry McCovey.
A landmark Supreme Court decision affirming the Yurok's rights to fish in their ancestral waters means that Barry can teach his kids the vital skills they need to catch wild salmon.
♪ The end of the fall fishing season is approaching when the last fish are coming in from the ocean to spawn.
Barry: This year, the run size was predicted to be around, I think, 65,000 fish.
There's been years when the run size is 250,000 fish.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Each tribe member is allowed to catch a certain number of fish to eat, depending on the size of the run.
2017, like, we weren't allowed to catch any fish.
That's how-- that's how bad it was.
So in 2017, if a Yurok tribal member wanted fish-- Yeah.
they were getting it at the supermarket.
This year, you know, we say we did OK, we say we did good, but that's relative to the previous years.
Last year we caught 5 fish, right?
The year before was even worse.
It was brutal.
And I'm trying to teach my kids how to fish, and I'm trying to provide for them and provide for the family and provide for other folks.
We know that climate change is real.
We know that the world is changing.
We can see it happening in front of us.
And your entire identity and the entire reason the tribe inhabits this land is because of this river and this fish?
Yeah, that's who we are.
[Birds squawking] Sanjayan, voice-over: Barry and his kids aren't the only ones hoping for a catch.
[Birds squawking] Barry: The sea lions are pretty aggressive here, and they're smart, and sometimes they'll actually chase the fish.
Ha ha ha!
Are you kidding me?
Oh, my goodness.
That was co-operative hunting if I ever saw.
Sanjayan: It's like 10 pounds.
Barry: Yeah, it's a 10 pound.
That's a fall chinook.
This is what it's about.
OK, what one of you boys wants to pop the gill?
Boy: I will!
OK, come on.
Sanjayan: Love the volunteer.
[Indistinct] Got it.
I'm so thankful to that fish, you know?
You know, it went out to the ocean and it got all that marine-derived nutrients and all that energy from the ocean, and it's bringing it back into the river, and it's going to go to deposit it either by spawning and dying, and then its body's going to rot in the river and all those marine-derived nutrients are going to be deposited into the upstream environment and help with that ecosystem.
And that's what it's about.
♪ Sanjayan: Barry defines himself and defines the Yurok as a salmon people, and for him, that salmon that we caught was not about food alone.
It was far deeper than that.
It was his own identity, it was the identity of the tribe intermingled with the salmon.
Once the salmon are gone, the people cease to exist.
Sanjayan, voice-over: If we don't fix the environment, it won't be just Barry and his sons who can't catch their salmon.
You might not be able to buy wild Pacific salmon in your supermarket.
What Barry shows us is that it's not inevitable.
Now that gives you that sense of hope, and I think that is what makes many indigenous communities so exquisitely tuned to a changing planet.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: The work the Yurok are doing to re-balance their natural environment shows us that when people focus on their own place and their neighborhoods and their own backyards, just working towards restoring that, it sort of generates its own positive energy, right?
♪ We turn next to East Africa and another local solution to a desperate global problem-- drought.
♪ I grew up in Africa, and I have been coming back here my entire life.
To me, there's no question about the effects of climate change.
Since I was a kid, the average temperature in Kenya has gone up every decade, and rainfall less predictable every year.
♪ It's now been 9 months since there's been a useful downpour of rain for this parched landscape.
Along with 22 million other Kenyans making their living as farmers, Jannet and James don't need a lecture to be told that there's a crisis.
Water is the biggest problem, and the main problem causing these water to discuss is the climate change.
James: We expect the rain so that we can get something to eat.
No other activity for getting food on the table.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Drought has meant the arrival of some unwelcome guests-- elephants from the nearby national park.
Jannet: They just come to search for water and search for food because if there it's so dry, it means there is no food.
Sanjayan, voice-over: They sometimes have to sleep out in the open simply to protect their crops from hungry, thirsty elephants.
We used to sleep here, burning fire till morning to--we can chase the elephants.
Initially, there was not this electrical fence.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Jannet and James pray that this new 40-mile barrier will help bring an end to this human-wildlife conflict that is increasingly plaguing this community because of the drought.
James: In the future, if areas are dry, there will be more conflict between the people and the animal.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Folks like Jannet and James, in farming communities like this, well, they don't hate elephants.
They've been peacefully co-existing with each other for thousands of years.
But now the pressure is on, and it's up to them to come up with the right solution.
They have to adapt, because if they don't have the answer, well, who has?
♪ Not far from here is a very clear example of the way a community can empower themselves, transforming the landscape and their own lives.
A dam across the river can store water in sand, turning this parched soil into fertile and productive farmland.
The idea of a sand dam is not new.
There's evidence of their use during Roman times.
A decade of worsening drought conditions has driven this remote community to revive a forgotten solution.
When the river dries up, they need a cheap and reliable alternative supply of water.
Every year, the levels of water are going down.
The rivers which were flowing are reducing, and that means there is the challenge of water within those areas.
And the best solution we are able to see within the area is the sand dams.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: A sand dam is a concrete wall built across a seasonal river.
In the rainy season, wet silt and sand washed along by the river gets stuck behind the wall.
During the dry season, people can extract the water trapped by the sand behind the wall.
♪ Andrew: So the community will provide the sand, the rocks, and labor for the construction of the dam, while us as an organization and our partners who come in and support with the hardware materials.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Some sand dams can store more than 10 million gallons of water at a time.
It's a vital resource for thousands of households that need it.
Women and girls, who would spend 8 hours a day collecting water, can now spend time on other things.
Young girls will not be forced to go to get water for their families.
And that means they can have enough time to concentrate on education.
Woman: This sand dam, when it will be complete, we will be happy because we'll get enough water for our domestic and for irrigation.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: There are hundreds of sand dams being constructed across Africa like this one at Kibwezi.
It's a grassroots solution that is guaranteeing food security and providing jobs.
♪ Andrew: So in 2011, we came here to see the site where the community wanted to do a dam, and this place was totally dry.
9 years later, water is flowing in the dam.
♪ It's the end of the dry period in Kenya, which we have gone for more than 9 months without rains here.
But this river has enough water and still flowing.
♪ We are living in a changing planet where the call should be now focused on rainwater harvesting and sand dams being one of the best and cheapest technology in rainwater harvesting.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: People across Kenya, across Africa, are having to work fast because climate change isn't just coming, it's here.
♪ And tackling that problem can be as simple as rediscovering an ancient solution.
It's not always going to be about waving some future high tech magic wand.
♪ Here in Northern California, I'm pretty blown away by the Yurok belief in the power of tradition.
But I'm also astonished to find out they're the second biggest employer of scientists and fisheries biologists in the entire state.
The 10.5 million acres of the Klamath Basin was so exhausted by the decades of gold mining and damming of its rivers that in 2017, it was actually declared a food desert.
In other words, it could not provide any fresh food with many households living hours away from a grocery store until the Yurok said, "Enough."
♪ They began a huge engineering program to restore the flow of the Klamath River system.
♪ If the river flows right, the salmon get cool water that they need to spawn.
If the river doesn't flow, the water gets warm and disease spreads.
So what we want is eventually these will be in strips that will hang up in the smokehouse.
How long does it take you to do a fish?
A few minutes.
Sanjayan, voice-over: Jamie has been tracking the health of the river by catching fish and checking them for parasites.
Fish from her project ends up at the smokehouse at Weitchpec, 30 miles from the mouth of the river.
Did you fall in love with fish first and then become kind of a biologist, or did you become a biologist and then fall in love with fish?
Jamie: So I think being born a Yurok, I kind of had no choice but to really love the fish.
We were subsistence people.
I remember growing up wondering if we could have something besides fish and deer meat, but you know.
In 2002, we had a massive fish kill on the lower portion of the river that was caused by an Ich outbreak.
We lost-- An Ich is like a parasite that fish get?
You get it in your fish tanks.
Exactly, the same thing.
We didn't know that anything like that could happen on that large of a scale.
It'd never happened before.
In 2003, we started what we call the Ich Project, which is where these fish will come from, and it sort of does double duty.
We're able to gillnet these fish out of the river.
We have to take them because I have to read the gill, the top arch of the gill, which is where the parasite resides.
But since you have to take the gill, you've killed the fish.
So the by-product of that is now elder's fish.
So instead of taking the elder fish out of a subsistence quota for the whole tribe, it now comes out of our scientific take.
It's kind of amazing.
We've been up and down this river, like, literally hundreds of miles apart, meeting different people, doing different things-- Barry in the mouth of the river, catching fish or the restoration work or this-- it's all a jigsaw.
We all know that we're working for the river and for the fish.
I think as Yurok people that's the faith that we have in it is that this river will provide for us if we continue to fight for it.
♪ Jamie: So this is roughly 7 salmon hanging.
♪ Woman: You're just slowly curing the fish with the smoke.
I guess the spiritual part of it, you know, you're just connecting with the smoke, the fire, you know, all these little beautiful pieces like a painting or something, you know.
And I've got a piece here.
Oh, yeah, lucky you.
I mean, that, honestly, it tastes really amazing.
Nothing like you would ever buy.
♪ ♪ Sanjayan: Do you think what you're doing is enough?
Jamie: I think that we can do our part.
Our fish don't just belong to us.
You know, once these babies leave the system and head into the ocean, you know, they now belong to the world.
There's different people that rely on these fish and a healthy system for them to return to.
So I think it's in everybody's best interest to really try.
♪ Sanjayan: You cannot spend time with the Yurok people without leaving with a sense of optimism.
They see themselves as rebalancers, as restorers.
So when I look at the world and I see all of the broken pieces, they see work, they see opportunity, they see a chance to give back.
And the thing that I was surprised at, the thing that maybe surprised me the most is that there isn't a chip on their shoulder.
As the way one person put it to me is that no, it's not a chip on my shoulder, it's a burden on my shoulder.
And that burden is a sense of obligation, an obligation to do what I was put here to do, which is to rebalance the planet.
♪ Sanjayan, voice-over: Climate action failure is our number one threat.
There's not a moment to lose.
This is nothing something we can outsource.
We've got to work together, learn together.
♪ And in that collective reservoir of knowledge must be the key that can save us all.
♪ Changing Planet is available on Amazon Prime Video.
♪ ♪ ♪