Years of Living Dangerously

'Years' Story Descriptions

Sunday, April 13th, 2014 

The Investigative Reporting Workshop's Senior Producer Margaret Ebrahim produced two stories in the new Showtime nine-part documentary series on climate change, "Years of Living Dangerously." Her stories will air Monday, May 19, at 8 p.m. 

The first episode in the series premieres on Showtime on Sunday, April 13, at 10 p.m. The series will air on Sundays at 10 p.m. through May 4, and then Mondays at 8 p.m. thereafter.

Story Summaries are below. Some will air in the same hour as others on television; more details and more stories are on the "Years" website.

Against the Wind (Produced by Margaret Ebrahim)

CORRESPONDENT: AMERICA FERRERA

Renewable energy, once considered too expensive to deploy on a large scale, is making major inroads in the United States. Correspondent America Ferrera profiles prominent climate skeptic James Taylor of the Heartland Institute as he crusades against clean energy, and investigates the battle over the future of renewable energy in the U.S.

CHASING METHANE (Produced by Maraget Ebrahim)

CORRESPONDENT: MARK BITTMAN

Natural gas is being touted as "America's energy source" and a way toward a cleaner, greener future. Correspondent and New York Times reporter Mark Bittman conducts a year-long investigation to see if that's true.

CHRISTIE AND THE STORM

CORRESPONDENT:  MARK BITTMAN

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation of his state’s coastline, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie rushes to rebuild as quickly as possible while steadfastly refusing to discuss climate change. Christie used to acknowledge the scientific consensus on man-made climate change. New York Times columnist Mark Bittman wants to know why Christie has changed his tune, and what are the stakes involved in ignoring the issue as New Jersey rebuilds for the future?

PRAY FOR RAIN

CORRESPONDENT:  DON CHEADLE

Last year, Cargill, the largest privately-held company in the country, closed down its huge meat-packing plant in Plainview, Texas.  The company said that because of the drought there weren’t enough cattle to make it worthwhile to keep the plant open. Don Cheadle visits Plainview and finds that most people blame the record heat and drought on the will of God or say it’s part of a natural cycle. Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist and evangelical Christian, has a very different explanation.

FIRE LINE

CORRESPONDENT:  ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger joins an elite team of firefighters as they battle a new breed of forest fire, one made more deadly by climate change. And he discovers another killer, one wiping out trees at an even faster rate than forest fires.

THE GOVERNOR

CORRESPONDENT:  OLIVIA MUNN

Jay Inslee was a leader on climate change in the U.S. House of Representatives.  A year ago, he was elected governor of Washington, in part because of his commitment to addressing climate change.  He’s facing a well-financed campaign by the coal industry to build export depots that could ship 100 million tons of coal to Asia each year. Correspondent Olivia Munn profiles the nation’s most climate-conscious governor and reports on what he’ll do about the coal export depots.

RISING TIDE

CORRESPONDENT:  CHRIS HAYES

When Superstorm Sandy killed 24 people on Staten Island, Congressman Michael Grimm worked night and day to help constituents who lost loved ones and were left homeless by the storm. In Sandy’s wake, Grimm, a conservative Republican, didn’t believe humans have much to do with global warming. Correspondent Chris Hayes follows Grimm for a year to see what he can do for the residents of Staten Island and what he might learn.

PREACHER’S DAUGHTER

CORRESPONDENT:  IAN SOMERHALDER

The father: a megachurch preacher who doesn’t believe in climate change. The daughter: an activist trying to shut down the local coal-fired power plant. The daughter’s hope: to eventually convince her father that global warming is happening, and even, just possibly, see if he’ll make it the topic of his next sermon. Correspondent Ian Somerhalder listens in on both sides of the evangelical community’s debate over climate change. 

THE SCIENTIST

CORRESPONDENT:  M. SANJAYAN

When you’re the lead scientist of one of the country’s most well respected environmental organizations you want to see the proof firsthand. M. Sanjayan travels to the ends of the earth to question some of the top climate scientists in their field as they collect key data unlocking the past and future of our planet’s changing climate.

THE FUTURE IS NOW

CORRESPONDENT:  MICHAEL C. HALL

By 2050, experts predict that the migration of upward of 150 million people worldwide will be the single most worrisome impact of our climate-changed future. Michael C. Hall journeys to the low-lying country of Bangladesh, where the future is now. Rising seas are expected to submerge 17 percent of this nation, the world's most vulnerable to climate change.

CLIMATE WARS

CORRESPONDENT:  THOMAS FRIEDMAN

The Pentagon has long seen climate change as a “threat multiplier,” a “stressor” that can take a volatile political situation and push it over the edge. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman witnesses this effect in three Middle Eastern countries: Egypt, Syria and Yemen.

LAST STAND

CORRESPONDENT:  HARRISON FORD

Correspondent Harrison Ford travels to Indonesia to investigate how corruption, illegality and the world’s seemingly unquenchable appetite for palm oil have combined to ravage the landscape and make that country one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases through deforestation.

UNDER THE ICE

CORRESPONDENT:  LESLEY STAHL

No place on earth has seen the effects of global warming more than the vast mineral-rich Arctic. As the ice melts, oil companies are scrambling to drill vast quantities of oil and gas that used to be shrouded by impenetrable layers of ice. But what happens to the planet if the oil companies get their way and extract the Arctic’s riches? Correspondent Lesley Stahl goes to Greenland to investigate.

MERCURY RISING

CORRESPONDENT: MATT DAMON

Matt Damon takes us on an investigation of the impact of extreme heat and heat waves on human health and mortality. Rising temperatures are a silent killer of thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of people around the globe. With a focus on new research from leading scientists, epidemiologists and investigators from the Centers for Disease Control, the Environmental Protection Agency and UCLA's Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, MERCURY RISING reveals the way that climate change and rising temperatures are becoming a public health emergency. 

OVER THE EDGE

CORRESPONDENT: CHRIS HAYES

Before Hurricane Sandy hit their low-lying seaside community, life was already tough for many residents of Far Rockaway, a poor neighborhood on the margins of New York City. In the wake of the storm, some found themselves pushed over the edge. MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes goes on assignment in this intimate story about life after Sandy.

CLIMATE CORPS

CORRESPONDENT:  JESSICA ALBA

Can a handful of intrepid business school students create lasting solutions to climate change? The Environmental Defense Fund thinks so. That's why they've set up an innovative program called Climate Corps. Each year one hundred of the country's brightest MBA students are tapped to spend their summer embedded with major corporations, analyzing energy waste and efficiency — and then they propose solutions that often have a major impact on both the planet and the bottom-line costs. Jessica Alba, an entrepreneur herself, meets three members of Climate Corps and is astonished by the results.