Transcript: Flying Rivers | Mar 03, 2017

A logo on a black background fades in and reads: "TVO Originals".

(Theme music plays)

A fast clip shows aerial views of the Amazon basin and then the jungle and a swimming
jaguar, a crocodile and the treetops of the jungle, water vapour forming clouds and
a Brazilian city scene.

Narrating, ALEX says No other river system collects
and drains more water than
the mighty Amazon.
These waters nourish the
largest rainforest in the world.

Narrating, TYLER says But there are even
bigger rivers here,
dense rivers of water vapour
released by trees
to form streams of clouds
that float above the canopy
and redistribute water across
the Amazon and beyond.

The clip continues showing the canopy of treetops

Narrating, ALEX continues
These water-bearing trees are
rapidly being destroyed,
and so too, are the flying rivers.

The episode caption reads "Flying Rivers."

Two young men in their twenties, blond and dark, appear.

The dark one, TYLER, says Hey everyone, I m Tyler.
(Opening Theme Music)

A fast clip shows Tyler, snowboarding, surfing, skateboarding,
scuba diving and in a plane. A caption reads "Tyler."
Tyler is in his late twenties with dark brown hair, wears a green plaid shirt,
and is clean-shaven.

TYLER says And this is my younger brother Alex.

A fast clip shows Alex water skiing, zip lining, swimming with sharks, and
holding a fish. A caption reads "Alex."
Alex is in his late twenties with blond hair and stubble on his chin.
He wears a dark blue and green hoodie.

ALEX says And together, we're The Water Brothers.

Then photos show Alex and Tyler in wetsuits and Alex with snorkels, Tyler with
a camera near a glacier with Alex, and Tyler and Alex wearing red Mountie uniforms
with brown hats, and holding fishing nets.

A fast clip shows the brothers canoeing on a lake, then sailing a boat and scuba
diving in the ocean. Then two fisherman throw their nets out into the water, and a
group of dolphins play in the ocean.

Alex continues We're going to take you on an
adventure around the
world to explore the state of
our blue planet.
A planet defined by water and
it s ability to sustain life.

The fast clip continues showing the two brothers in a speedboat, a woman pumping water,
and another woman pulling water from a well.

TYLER says So, join us on our
journey as we explore the world
looking at the most important
water stories of our time.

ALEX says And together we will learn
how to better protect
our most precious resource.

A title appears on screen it reads "The Water Brothers."

A clip of the ocean showing tides and waves crashing appears, then changes to an ebb
and flow of tides over a crystal clear ocean, and a surfer surfing down a huge wave.
(Speaking Portuguese)

A dark-haired Brazilian woman in her forties wearing a red coat over a white top speaks.

She says "the drought in Sao Paulo is the most severe in its history. the level of
the Cantareira system, responsible for providing half of the metropolitan region with
water, is now at 11.6 percent capacity.

A woman newscaster with long brown hair says "The drought has caused 13 cities in Sao Paulo
State to enforce water rationing. For the second day in a row, people from Itu, in the
suburbs of Sao Paulo, protested against the lack of water." Scenes of the protest play.

A man in his forties in an orange T-shirt says "One day there is water, and the next day
there is nothing."

Women and children are shown filling buckets. Another man says "Sometimes when they go to
school there is no water."

A woman says "And we have to bring them home."

A dark-haired woman says "There are weeks that it comes for two days and others for
only one day. Sadly, there is no way for us to know."

Blue neighbourhood water tanks stand in the streets. An aerial view shows the sprawling city.
Alex climbs a fire escape to the top of a building.

ALEX says From the top of this
building in Downtown, Sao Paulo,
you get a really good sense of
just how massive this city is.
This is the largest city in South America,
and getting water to its
11,000,000-plus residents is a
monumental task,
let alone in the middle of a
multi-year drought.

The screen sweeps across the skyscrapers of the downtown residential area of the city

ALEX says But as I look around at the
thousands upon thousands of
apartment buildings in
every direction,
it makes me wonder,
where would all these people
go if this city really did
run completely out of water?
(Dramatic Music plays)

Street scenes play.

ALEX continues
How is it possible that Brazil,
with the world s largest fresh
water supply,
could experience water shortages,
especially in its biggest city?

Sitting with Alex in a car, TYLER says So today, we re heading
outside the city limits to
check out the
Cantareira reservoir system
to see just how drastic
the situation has become.

A map shows the location of the five reservoirs that supply Sao Paulo, with red tags.

TYLER says Sao Paulo s
water supply system is
almost entirely dependent on
five interconnected reservoirs
that store water during the wet
season for the long dry season,
but a lack of rainfall for over
2 years greatly reduced
water levels throughout the network.

Standing at the centre of a lake bed, ALEX says So we re here at
the bottom of what used to be
a giant reservoir.
Just a few years ago this
whole valley would have been
filled with water,
and you can see the former
high water mark at the tree line
right behind me.
There used to be a marina right here,
there should be boats whizzing
above our head,
but now all that's left is
really just a puddle,
and it's amazing to think that
a city like Sao Paulo,
millions of people are relying
on dwindling reservoirs like these,
and they re still pumping out
every last drop.

TYLER says The reasons for Sao Paulo s
drought are numerous...
rapid population growth,
poor urban planning,
and aging pipes
that leak forty percent of all
treated water.
But if we wanted to understand
the root cause of
Sao Paulo s crisis,
the answer lies much further north,
in the heart of
the Amazon rainforest.
(Light Piano Music plays)

A fast clip shows the rainforest and its flora and faune.

ALEX says The Amazon rainforest covers
an area almost as large as the
continental United States.
Not only do these trees create
a home for millions of species,
many of which are
found nowhere else on Earth,
but they also produce about 20 percent
of the world's oxygen
and suck up 20 percent of global carbon
dioxide emissions,
providing a critical buffer against
human-induced climate change.
(Light Piano Music continues)

Wearing a yellow hardhat and climbing a metal stairway to a viewing site, TYLER says So amazing!

A group of people stand at the top of the structure that overlooks the forest canopy.

Wearing a gray hardhat, ALEX says One of the most
breathtaking perspectives of
the Amazon forest you can ever
have is from up here,
above the canopy.
We've just climbed forty-five
meters up to the top
of this research tower in the
Tapajos nature reserve,
and we re surrounded by
untouched old growth forest
in every direction.
And from up here you also can
really appreciate
the value of trees
to the water cycle,
because each one of these trees
behind me right now is
transpiring between 300 and 1000
liters of water
into the atmosphere
every single day.
We can't see it,
but we know this process is
happening because the evidence
is right above us in the clouds.
(Light Tropical Music plays)

A man in his sixties or seventies in casual clothes sits in the forest and speaks.
A caption reads "Doctor Antonio Nobre."

Doctor NOBRE says Native people knew this
all along...
that where you have forests
you have rain,
and not the other way around.
The trees are indeed an
incredible irrigation machine,
in reverse.
Instead of putting water down,
they pump water from the ocean
of freshwater in the ground,
they have deep roots,
they suck water in,
pump more than
60 meters in the air,
and spray it into the atmosphere
so to speak... transpire.

An animation shows the process taking place.

TYLER says All plants need water to grow,
but only a tiny fraction of the
water that plants take in
through roots is actually used
in photosynthesis.
The rest is pushed up and out
through leaves as water vapour
in a process called,
a vital part of the water cycle.

ALEX says Nowhere else on Earth is this
transpiration effect more
powerful than in the Amazon.
So much water vapour is emitted
by this forest,
that these clouds have been
given their own name...
the "flying rivers."

Doctor NOBRE says The flying rivers,
or the aerial rivers,
as we refer to them,
are rivers of vapour.
They are the supply of
freshwater to the continents.
Without those supplies of
we would have the continents
drying up until
it became desert.

An animated view of the South American continent shows the path of the rain clouds.

TYLER says The journey of the
flying rivers begins over
the Atlantic Ocean as huge
volumes of water are evaporated
near the equator and blown
towards the
South American continent
by the trade winds.
As these clouds reach the Amazon
they dump water on
the forest that is transpired
back into the atmosphere.
As these new clouds hit the Andes,
they are pushed south,
constantly releasing water
and recharging by transpiration
all along the way
before reaching the
South of Brazil
and Northern Argentina.
But as large swaths of the
forest are cut down
and converted to farmland,
critical links in this chain
are being broken.

ALEX says One of the best ways to
see how the Amazon rainforest
is being transformed is to
see it from the air.
So we re about to begin a flying
journey across the Amazon
with a pilot named Gérard Moss,
who's been studying the amount
of water transpired by the forest
and how the water cycle is changing across
the entire country and continent
as the forest has been removed.
(Mellow Trumpet Music plays)

A blond man in his fifties in a green T-shirt and white slacks stands checking
the propeller of a small plane.

TYLER says Gérard has been
flying in the Amazon for
over thirty years and has
set numerous records,
including the first round
the world flight
in a motorized glider.
Experienced pilots are essential
when flying in the Amazon
where turbulence is always high
and runways to make
emergency landings are few
and far between.

A caption reads "Gérard Moss."

Flying with Gérard in the cockpit, ALEX says Well, Gérard, we've
reached our cruising altitude;
we've got the autopilot on
and got a chance to talk now.
We are going to some remote areas,
we're flying over some
virgin forest right now
and we're in a single engine airplane,
how safe are we in this plane?

GERARD says In principle,
according to statistics
the chances of your only heart
stopping now is about
the same as my engine stopping
at this stage.

ALEX says The odds are in our
favour then.

In off, TYLER says In 2007,
Gérard and his wife Margi
and a team of
Brazilian scientists started the
"flying rivers project" to unravel
the mystery of exactly
how water vapour and rainfall
circulate across Brazil.

In the cockpit, GERARD says Before carnival,
before football,
which is important, actually
Brazil is a water country.
We have the largest amount of
rainfall per square meter
in the world by far,
and a lot of that rainfall is
due to the presence of
the Amazon forest.

In off, ALEX says While the concept of
flying rivers in Brazil had been
theorized for decades,
no one had attempted to
accurately measure the effect
across the entire country
until Gérard converted his
plane into a flying laboratory
and retrofitted it with special
equipment to capture droplets
of water in the clouds.

The retrofitting takes place. A caption reads "Research Flight, 2007."

In off, TYLER says Each droplet they
collected contained an
isotopic signature that allowed
scientists to determine
whether each drop had been
evaporated by a tree or
from the ocean.
After several years
and hundreds of flights,
scientists were able to
use the data to estimate the
total amount of water transpired
by the forest.

Doctor NOBRE says The transpiration of trees is so
massive that,
in the calculation we did
for the entire
Amazon catchment, it was larger
than the Amazon River...
the flow of the Amazon River.
So twenty billion tonnes, or
twenty trillion liters of water
per day, evaporated.
So you get an idea of the size,
the sheer size of this machine,
this irrigation...
reverse irrigation machine.

ALEX says This data also
confirmed once and for all that
cities in the south of Brazil
like Sao Paulo
receive a significant portion of
their rainfall directly from
the Amazon and the flying rivers.

GERARD says That was really a shock
to many Brazilians who
did not realize that even though
they are living in Sao Paulo,
only fifty kilometers from the coast,
which would be the original
and logical source of freshwater
from the ocean,
but in fact they were getting
their water from west inbound,
from the mountains, from the Amazon...
from three thousand kilometers away.
So what happens in the Amazon
is important for the climate of
areas far away.

TYLER says And it s not just
major cities that are
dependent on this rainfall.

Huge extensions of cropland appear. A clip shows agricultural activity.

GERARD says Sustainable
agriculture depends really on
the presence of the forest.
Brazil is one of the lucky
countries that is able to
produce its foodstuff and
its agriculture activities using
only five percent of irrigation.
So ninety-five percent of the
production in Brazil is rainfall.
That's a miracle in itself,
and the miracle is called
the Amazon.

A clip shows logging and gold-panning activity

ALEX says The Amazon contains
over four hundred billion trees
that each play an important role
in creating rain,
but this miracle is threatened
on all fronts,
from loggers to illegal gold mines,
new hydroelectric dams
and farmers clearing land
for livestock and crops.

GERARD says Of course in thirty years,
I ve seen a lot of destruction,
we've lost in Brazil
approximately twenty percent of
the coverage of
the Amazon forest,
so it's a problem,
but obviously these
losses were compensated by
economical benefits,
but we know now,
it's not really worth it.

Huge areas appear deforested in the middle of the jungle. A forest fire burns,
producing clouds of smoke.

TYLER says Although the
Brazilian government has been
able to reduce the rate of
deforestation by 70 percent
over the past decade,
over eighty billion trees have
already been lost,
so the transpiration effect
has been reduced
and humidity has dropped,
making the remaining forest
dry out and become more susceptible
to forest fires.
Gérard and his colleagues
fear that the flying rivers
are now no longer carrying
as much water to
the southern regions of Brazil,
cities like Sao Paulo
and the hydropower dams
and reservoirs that depend on
rainfall to produce
80 percent of Brazil s electricity.

GERARD says You cannot lose
so many trees, you know,
billions of trees in an area,
knowing what we know,
about this evaporation...
the contribution of a single
tree... without affecting somehow
the climate somewhere.

Standing in a clearing with Brahman cattle in the background, TYLER says Slowing Amazon deforestation will not be an easy task,
simply because there are
so many different industries,
and groups of people that are
responsible for the loss of trees,
but of all the different causes
of deforestation none have been
more destructive than cattle ranching.
(Country Acoustic Music plays)

ALEX says Cattle ranching in
Brazil is big business,
generating billions of dollars
for the economy,
and creating nearly half
a million jobs.

A man in his thirties wearing a baseball cap and white T-shirt speaks. A caption
reads "John Carter, Founder and President "Alianca de Terra."

JOHN says Brazil's the largest
exporter of beef in the world.
They have about one cow per person.
Two hundred and ten million people,
two hundred and ten million
head of cattle today.

TYLER says Brazilian beef is consumed in
over one hundred and twenty countries
and one in five pounds of
all beef sold in the world is from Brazil.
This massive industry is
responsible for 70 percent of
Amazon deforestation,
so any solution for preserving the forest
must involve efforts to both
improve cattle ranching methods
and reduce global demand for beef.

ALEX says John Carter came from Texas
to Brazil in the 1990 s to raise
cattle with his Brazilian wife.
He now heads an organization
helping cattle ranchers
become more sustainable.

John is shown driving his lorry and flying his plane. An intentionally set forest
fire burns in a straight line.

Alex continues When John flew his small Cessna
airplane to settle in Brazil,
deforestation was at record
highs and he was alarmed to see
that even the farmers who were
trying to conserve their forest
were being attacked by land invaders
and organized crime syndicates
destroying forest reserves
to start ranches of their own.

JOHN says We were surrounded by problems,
surrounded by constant violence,
killings, ambushes,
violence that you couldn't even believe.
It's a tropical version of the Old West,
there s no doubt about it.

TYLER says John also observed
that many ranchers were not
managing their land efficiently
and overgrazing was
depleting soil productivity,
forcing landowners to
cut down more and more trees
as their soil
became unproductive or
simply eroded away.

JOHN says What Aliança is,
is really an insurgency,
so we're in this massive
development process,
and Aliança is actually
working with the very people
who are on the ground,
who are part of the problem,
and we're trying to make them
part of the solution.
The farmer in the red can't
take care of the green.
So as long he has debt,
or he can't make any money
he's not going to care
about nature.

ALEX says Aliança da Terra
assists farmers in many ways,
from the adoption of improved soil
and water conservation methods
to genetic improvements that
introduce new strains of cattle
that grow faster
and require less land than the
traditional strains that
dominate the local industry.

The white humpbacked Brahmans make a contrast with the dark traditional cattle.

Alex continues In return, farmers gain access
to new international
markets and better prices
for their beef.
(Acoustic Music)

A Brazilian member farmer says "Yes, it has changed... We have cattle that gain weight
faster. If we have more weight, we make more money. When we get better results,
we can keep the land we have, without destroying more forest.

Another member says "We battle together to bring awareness to the public. Many times I
had confrontations with people who hate Alianca da Terra, and today they are
conscious that this is something that should happen."

(Man Calling Cattle)
(Light Guitar Music)
The mighty Amazon flows through the forest.

TYLER says While sustainable ranching makes
a positive difference,
it cannot solve the problem on
its own unless the full economic
value of the forest is recognized.

JOHN says It's not cattle,
it's not soybeans,
and it's not timber,
it's that the soil is worth
five to eight times more than
the forest on top of it.
If you keep forest standing,
your property value is less.
It's a target for invasion.
It has no value to you.

ALEX says Farmers and land invaders alike
are in a never-ending race to
convert forest to pasture
and their method of choice is fire.

JOHN says Fire is the cheapest way
to both intimidate,
dominate and exterminate.
It's used by landowners that,
for instance,
don't want to get a permit to
clear-cut, or know that they can't get
a permit to clear-cut,
and so they'll start a fire to
burn their own forest,
and they'll claim that it was
a lightning strike
and maybe do it a couple years in a row.
And then you can get a crop
duster and seed it,
and then you have grass
and more fuel and you burn it
again and then all of a sudden
all your forest is gone.

ALEX says Forest fires have
become the most significant
cause of Amazon degradation
and in 2015 alone,
over 235,000 forest fires
were recorded across Brazil.
(Dramatic music plays)

On the animated view of South America, smoke rises above the rainforest.

JOHN says You have this magnificent
ecosystem that s under siege.
We are extremely concerned that
by the time it's all gone,
and everyone says, "well shoot!
what happened? Well you dumbasses,
we've been telling you for
thirty years," so instead of
waiting until I'm old
and come back and call someone a dumbass,
we decided to put the fires out.

A group of specially equipped men with yellow backpacks and hardhats stands by
a vehicle.

TYLER says In 2009,
Aliança da Terra started its own
firefighting brigade
and began working with locals
and indigenous communities
on fire prevention
and education programs.
Although the Brazilian
government has forest firefighters,
they are chronically underfunded
and do not operate on private lands
where some of the most severe
fires are set.
(Tree Branches Breaking)

A small plane takes off on a makeshift runway. Aerial views show forest clearings.
Brazilian indian children smile for the camera.
(Airplane Propellers)
(Light Music)

ALEX says We've just arrived here in
Kamayurá village
near the Xingu River,
and we re here with a team from
Aliança da Terra that s been
training local Indians
how to fight forest fires
that have been raging throughout
the region as cattle ranches
and farms have spread.

TYLER says Like all indigenous
communities here,
the Kamayurá are extremely
dependent on the forest
for their survival,
from their food and water,
to their housing
and even medicine.
(Leaves Rustling)
(Dramatic music plays

A tribesman says "The agricultural people have been deforesting and invading our
reserve. Our climate is too weak to rain. The timing of the rainy season is changing."
If we don't take care of our forest, it will change even more. Not only here! No!
the people of Brazil are suffering... water is lacking everywhere."

ALEX says For centuries,
the Kamayurá burned their
cropland after the harvest to
fertilize the soil and the fires
would dwindle out naturally upon
reaching the moist forest edge,
but today the destruction of trees across
the region has greatly reduced
the moisture content of
the flying rivers...
causing the forest to dry out
and the fires they set often
burn out of control.

JOHN says We went there due to
a long-standing partnership
and friendship with them to
provide support training
and leadership to
combat that problem head-on.
Not to simply go to a meeting
and talk about it,
but to take the fight
to the field,
to give them excellence in training,
excellence in leadership,
excellence in equipment,
and give them the self
determination to take control
of their own property.

TYLER says The project has
been so successful
that other tribes throughout the
Xingu region have travelled
great distances to take part in
these programs.

Groups of trainees take part in drills.

JOHN says It doesn't do any
good just to work with one group
of people because fire doesn't
know fence boundaries,
and you really have to work
across the whole landscape.

ALEX says Training s just started,
we've come to the edge of
the forest and we're going to
find out what it takes to
fight a forest fire in the Amazon.

A MAN says On the roots, on the roots.

ALEX says Ah, okay.

To viewers, ALEX says So right now,
we re clearing a line so that
when they start the burn, it
doesn't spread into the forest,
so we re creating this
protection line.
(Man Speaking Portuguese)

A firefighter pours flammable liquid in a straight line on grass to burn a clear
strip at the edge of the forest.
(Fire Loudly Crackling)

Holding a large damping flap on a pole, ALEX says We're just waiting
for this big heart of the fire
to burn off and then we're going
to come through on the tail end,
after they've sprayed some water on it,
and get out the last remnants
of the fire.
The key to do it is nice
slow motions, nice slow taps,
and lets see if I can
make the cut.

JOHN says They've become
heroes in this region.
And heroes since they've
brought governance,
and they ve brought peace.
They've created a hole in the
smoke in the southeast Amazon.

ALEX says Well the heat's intense,
it's amazing how fast
you have to move, that's why
teamwork is so important,
that's why training like this is
so important because
if you don't have teamwork,
fires are just going to go
out of control,
so it's just really special to
see how they're getting
members of tribes,
actually from all different
communities working together,
to fight these fires, because it
could largely be up to them to
put out the fires that are going
to destroy the most
untouched forests that
we have left.

JOHN says In this region...
it's the eastern,
northeastern quadrant
of Matto Grosso...
fire has been reduced here
due to the actions of
the Aliança firefighters by
up to 60 percent.
It was an enormous reduction.
We got letters from health
departments, from counties
that were spontaneous saying,
"Thank you all for reducing
our respiratory disease
for the first time in the
past 10 years."

The firefighting team walks away.
(speaking Portuguese)

A man says "When the fire starts, it burns everything... our medicinal plants,
our homes. This is very hard for us. There was no way to control it. But today we are
taking care of it, since we recieved the fire training last year. There have not
been many fires."

(music plays)

Naked little indian children stand in a group. They run, chasing a little camera
drone. the village in its clearing is seen from the air. John and Alex take off
in the plane.

(Airplane Propellers Whirring)

TYLER says The fate of
the flying rivers
and the water supply of cities
like Sao Paulo
are entirely dependent on
Brazil's ability to conserve
its life-giving rainforest,
and long-term preservation can
only be achieved through education.

Gérard is seen giving a lecture, with teachers and children present.

In off, ALEX says One major component of Gérard s
flying rivers project has been
to work with teachers
and students across the country
to ensure that as many youth
as possible are aware of all the
important connections
between the forest,
the delicate water cycle,
and the very water they drink.

GERARD says We've now actually
reached about
three and a half thousand
teachers that in turn actually
managed to teach 650,000 kids.
And we're aiming and fighting to
get to a million kids
within the next year.

Doctor NOBRE says If you get all the moisture from
the Amazon,
if you destroy the Amazon,
what should one expect?
So, I ve been saying basically
a stern warning,
we cannot destroy the Amazon
any further. And more,
we have to replant the Amazon.
Just keeping what's left
is not enough,
because the climate is already drifting,
in the Amazon and outside.
(Dramatic music plays)

Standing with Tyler in a rushing stream, ALEX says The reasons for the
deforestation of the Amazon are
complex and will not be easily solved,
and as this incredible forest is lost,
it affects all of us,
but for the people of Brazil
the stakes could not be higher.

TYLER says Thankfully,
there are groups of dedicated
people here creating models for
sustainable development,
and helping the public better
understand that agriculture,
water infrastructure management,
climate change and deforestation
are deeply interconnected.

ALEX says And what we can all
take away from this journey is
the undeniable
and critical role of trees
in the water cycle everywhere
in the world.
When we conserve forests,
we protect so much that is vital
to our survival.

Over an underwater shot of scuba divers using torches, a full-screen caption reads
"Dive Deeper into the episodes."

TYLER says Join us and Dive Deeper into
the episodes at
(Closing Theme Music)

The end credits roll.

Executive Producer, Jonathan Barker.

Producer, Wendy MacKeigan.

Host, Director and Co-Producer, Tyler Mifflin.

Produced with the assistance of Canada Media Fund.

Logos of Ontario, Canada and Bell Fund.

Produced in association with TVO.

An SK Films Production. 2017.

Watch: Flying Rivers