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'Planet in Peril: Battle Lines' Discussion Questions

  • Story Highlights
  • CNN's award-winning series explores conflicts between people, environment
  • Topics include zoonotic diseases, poaching, ecotourism, and shark finning
  • These questions focus on the concepts explored in the program
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(CNN Student News) -- Watch "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" on Thursday, December 11, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on CNN, hosted by Anderson Cooper, chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" correspondent and National Geographic host Lisa Ling. CNN's award-winning series examines the environmental conflicts between growing populations and natural resources. After watching "Planet in Peril," use these questions to focus students' attention on the concepts explored in the program.

Teachers: "Planet in Peril: Battle Lines" depicts environmental struggles in the real world. The scenes and accounts presented may not be appropriate for all students. Please determine whether this content is appropriate for your students.

Bush meat and Zoonotic Viruses

1. What is bush meat? According to the program, what are some examples of bush meat? Why do people eat bush meat?

2. What are zoonotic viruses? What are some examples of zoonotic viruses described in the show? What is the relationship between bushmeat and zoonotic viruses?

3. According to the program, why are some people turning to wilderness areas for their food? In your opinion, is hunting bush meat different from hunting wild game in the United States? Explain your rationale.

4. What are some of the negative impacts of hunting bush meat on the local ecology? Do you think these environmental concerns should outweigh the demand for food in these villages? Explain.

5. What are some factors that might cause an increase in the spread of zoonotic viruses? What are some methods Dr. Nathan Wolfe has used to stop the spread of zoonotic viruses? In your opinion, how might scientists and policymakers prevent the spread of these diseases?

Nigerian Oil

1. What valuable resource found in Nigeria generates billions of dollars in revenue?

2. Who is currently benefiting from the oil revenues? In your opinion, who should benefit from Nigeria's oil resources? Explain.

3. What is MEND? What is MEND's goal? How is MEND trying to achieve that goal?

4. Do you agree with MEND's tactics? If so, why? If not, why not? How would you address the issue?

5. What are some of the environmental challenges faced by the Nigerian communities surrounding the oil fields? In your opinion, who should be responsible for addressing these issues, and how should they be addressed?

Shark Finning

1. According to the program, why do some people engage in shark fishing? What are some ways that people catch sharks?

2. What is shark finning? What are some of the markets for shark fins? How do humans use shark fins? Why are they so expensive? What do some fishermen do with the rest of the shark's body?

3. According to the program: What is the economic value of the fishing industry? What do you think shark fishermen might do if they were not allowed to hunt sharks?

4. How is the shark finning affecting the shark populations? In your opinion, should people care about the issue of shark finning? Why or why not?

5. What are Peter Knight and Wild Aid doing to try to stop the shark trade? Do you agree with Peter Knight's analogy when he says, "If it was Yellowstone Park and people were shooting up grizzlies, no one would ever get away with it," in reference to shark killings? Why or why not? In your opinion, should shark species be preserved? Why or why not?

6. How have some countries tried to regulate the shark-fishing trade? What are some of the challenges faced by those who regulate the industry? In your opinion, have they been successful? What more, if anything, could they do?

7. What might happen to the fishing industry if there are no more sharks to fish? What might happen to the ocean's ecosystems if the shark population becomes extinct? What effect could this have on the global economy?

Shark Tourism

1. What is cage diving? According to the program, what might be the positive and negative impacts of cage dives?

2. What is chumming? According to the program, what controversies surround the issue of chumming for sharks? How have some countries tried to regulate chumming? Why? Do you think this regulation is a good or bad idea? Explain.

3. According to the segment, what are some reasons that sharks are misunderstood? What are some things that scientists are trying to understand about great white sharks? What do you think motivates scientist Allison Kok to study great white sharks? According to Kok, are the sharks associating humans with food, leading to more shark attacks on humans? Explain.

4. Why does Mike Rutzen say that free diving "is the same as a jackal at a lion feed"? What do you think Rutzen means when he says, "They're just trying to be sharks"?

5. How does Anderson Cooper compare his experiences diving with sharks in a cage to free diving? Would you prefer to cage dive or free dive with great white sharks? Explain.

Ivory Wars

1. According to the segment, what are some of the challenges facing the Zakouma Park elephants in Chad?

2. How is Mike Fay attempting to save these elephants? Why do you think he works to save these elephants?

3. Why are poachers targeting the elephants? What part of the elephant are they after? What do they do with the rest of the elephant's body?

4. What is ivory? How much is it worth? Why do some value it highly?

5. According to Mike Fay, what is the status of the "Ivory Wars"? Who are the combatants? What do you think are the motives for participants on each side of the conflict?

6. What do you think might be the environmental impact if all the African elephants disappeared?

Gorilla Tourism

1. What struggle did Rwanda recently undergo? How were Rwandan mountain gorillas affected by the conflict?

2. How is the Rwandan government managing the mountain gorillas now? Why do you think Anderson Cooper calls the story of the mountain gorillas "a success story in one of the most unlikely places on earth"?

3. Why do you think that park ranger Digirinana Francois risked his life for the gorillas just after the genocide?

4. Why do you think poachers plunder rare wildlife such as the mountain gorilla? What do you think can be done to prevent poaching?

5. According to Rwanda's head of parks and tourism, Rosette Rugamba, why were the efforts to save the mountain gorilla "a tough sell"? How are the Rwandans using the mountain gorillas to promote tourism? What have been the benefits of gorilla-related tourism?

6. Using the program as a guide, contrast the mountain gorillas' situation in Rwanda with their situation in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. What is the impact of instability in the Congo on the lives of the gorillas?

7. Why is continuing the research on gorillas important? How do mountain gorillas benefit humans? What role do mountain gorillas play in their ecosystems?

8. What are some pressures the mountain gorillas face from humans? How might these issues be resolved? Who should be responsible for resolving these issues?

Overview Questions

1. What role do environmentalists play in the prevention of the plundering of wildlife? Overall, do you think their efforts have been successful in the examples from this program? Why or why not?

2. What responsibility do individuals, corporations, non-governmental organizations and government policymakers each have in managing natural resources? What responsibility does each of these entities have in maintaining economic development? Can environmental and economic priorities be balanced? If so, how? If not, why not?

3. If the issues portrayed in the program were not addressed, what do you think might happen to each of the species involved? How might that affect the global environment?

4. How do the issues examined in this program relate to you, if at all?

5. If you could choose an environmental cause to champion, what would it be? How would you raise awareness of the issue? How would you address the issue? What challenges do you think you would have to face?

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