Costing the Earth

Costing the Earth

By BBC Radio 4

Fresh ideas from the sharpest minds working toward a cleaner, greener planet


Introducing Rare Earth

Tom Heap introduces Rare Earth, a programme exploring major stories about our environment.

Steve Backshall Goes Off Grid

Steve Backshall lives in a new build house which is very energy efficient and almost totally off-grid. However, achieving this has been extremely time consuming, expensive and pretty stressful. For this episode of Costing the Earth, Steve explores why -- when the cost of heating our homes is so high and we’re being encouraged to reduce our carbon footprint -- it’s so difficult and pricey to make where we live more energy efficient and access renewable sources of power. Steve describes exactly what he’s done to his house including triple glazing, batteries for electric power and even a bore-hole for water. He then hears about a research facility at the University of Salford where two new builds and a Victorian end-terrace have been constructed in temperature controlled chambers. There they test the efficacy of various energy saving and renewable technologies on the kinds of homes that most of us live in. Back in studio, Steve speaks to the Energy Saving Trust about the cost for householders of putting some of these measures in place and what grants are available. He also hears from the Sustainable Energy Association, a trade membership body, about what they believe should be done to make all of this more accessible and affordable. Producer: Karen Gregor
23/05/2327m 23s

Save the Microbes!

It's said that a teaspoon of soil contains more life than all of the humans on earth. Microscopic life that is - bacteria, fungi, protozoa, nematode worms and microarthropods like springtails and mites, but there's increasing evidence that this invisible world, the earth's microbiome, is under threat. Author, biologist and presenter Gillian Burke is fascinated by soil and has fond memories of playing with the ochre-red soils of Kenya. Gillian digs into the science of soil to ask how to get more people to understand and care about this the trillions of organisms that exist beneath our feet in the same way that we do about the malnourished polar bear on an ice-cap or the endangered mountain gorilla, and what are the consequences of doing nothing?Contributors: Dr Colin Averill, senior scientist at ETH Zurich and co-founder of 'Funga' Chris Jones, Woodland Valley Farm Charles Nicholls, The Carbon Community Dr Elaine Ingham, Soil Food Web Dr Elze Hesse, The University of ExeterProduced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Toby Field
16/05/2327m 37s

Gardens of the Future

Climate resilient gardens are a feature of this month's Chelsea Flower Show, but how can the experts help the typical British gardener prepare for the future? To find out, botanist James Wong asks whether the way we garden could protect us against the effects of climate change, and if we can protect our gardens against more unpredictable weather patterns? James joins Chelsea designer Tom Massey as he chooses plants for a mould breaking show garden. He learns tips for dealing with more unpredictable conditions at the Royal Horticultural Society's flagship Wisley garden, and from climate savvy gardener Kim Stoddart in West Wales. In the heart of London, amid the brutalist concrete of the Barbican centre, James meets Professor Nigel Dunnett, and considers how plants could make human habitats more liveable during heatwaves and heavy rain.Producer: Sarah Swadling
09/05/2327m 37s

Investigation DRS

Many of us can remember returning our pop bottles to the shop in return for cash and wonder why we can’t use a system like this today to reduce, reuse and recycle. In Scotland a Deposit Return Scheme has been on trial, but in a complex material world it’s not as simple as the schemes we might remember.Tom Heap and Sepi Golzari-Munro turn detective to find out why the DRS (Deposit Return Scheme) is under threat and if it can survive to launch as intended. The scheme is causing issues for small businesses like craft brewers, it's angering politicians who are concerned about the added cost to consumers and it's being questioned by some waste management experts who believe the gains in recycling rates may be small in comparison to the huge costs of implementation.Defenders argue that we need to take action and that change is never popular but that similar schemes in Europe have achieved over 90% recycling rates.There are no simple answers with this one so it’s going to take some hard line detective work by our Costing the Earth crack team. Tom and Sepi step up to uncover the truth and consider the best future for bottle recycling. Producer : Helen Lennard
02/05/2327m 48s

Water pollution solutions

Sewage is now discharged into our rivers and seas on a regular basis. It's joined by agricultural pollution and a host of microplastics. In this special debate programme, Tom Heap asks what's gone wrong with our water system. How did we get into this situation, what will it cost to put it right, and how can we go about sorting out the mess we seem to be in? Tom is joined by a panel of experts to discuss the history, the finances and the future of cleaning up our waterways.Producer: Emma Campbell
25/04/2327m 51s

Losing Our History

When castles collapse into the sea or ancient burial places succumb to floodwaters we lose a slice of our shared culture. Qasa Alom reports from the Norfolk coast on the threats to our heritage and asks if we all need to prepare for the emotional impact of climate change.Researchers from around the world are taking a global look at personal and community responses to climate change, and they're finding that we react in much the same way whether our homes are falling from crumbling Norfolk cliffs, our shrines are swallowed by Bangladeshi floods or the road to market is blocked by expanding Sahara sands. Archaeologists from the University of East Anglia and Museum of London Archaeology discuss the emotional impact of losses already suffered and offer lessons from historic changes in climate, whilst researchers from the University of Ghana explain the cultural price being paid on the crumbling coastline of West Africa. Producer: Alasdair Cross
18/04/2327m 57s

Costing the Earth - The Power of Nature Writing

Costing the Earth - The Power of Nature Writing
11/04/2327m 32s

Energy Lessons

After a winter of spiralling energy prices, Tom Heap asks whether our attitudes to energy consumption have changed. What lessons have we learned in the last twelve months, both as individual consumers and as a society - or are we putting our heads in the sand and carrying on as normal? Last week the government announced its plans to update the UK’s net zero strategy, but what do its announcements tell us about its priorities when it comes to our energy use? Fuel poverty is hitting many people hard, but some environmentalists argue that the invasion of Ukraine and everything which has followed could prove to be a turning point for environmental change. In this programme Tom hosts a panel discussion on how the energy landscape is changing.Producer: Emma Campbell
04/04/2327m 37s

The Sound of Nature

Waves crashing on the shore, footsteps crunching on the forest floor. Stress levels plummet when we immerse ourselves in nature. Nick Luscombe meets the Japanese scientists working to bring the healing power of nature into the heart of the city. Nature's secret, they believe, isn't the sound you can hear, it's the high frequencies you can't hear. Only in our interactions with natural materials are these particular frequencies produced, frequencies that have a direct effect on our bodies.Producer: Alasdair Cross
28/03/2327m 19s

Jobs for a Green Future

UK commitments to phase out gas boilers and petrol cars may be good news for the environment, but do we have the skill to realise our ambitions? Where are all the trained workers able to fit heat pumps in our homes and electric car chargers along our roads? In this programme, Tom Heap joins trainees as they learn the skills they'll need in a greener economy, and asks how we will staff up the next industrial revolution.Presented by Tom Heap and produced by Emma Campbell.
21/03/2327m 55s

Greening the City

New technologies are vital in the drive to turn our fossil fuel-based economies green and drastically slash carbon emissions. That technology requires investment and an enormous slice of the cash required is controlled by the financial markets of the City of London. Tom Heap meets the City's movers and shakers to find out if they- and the wider financial services industry- are willing and able to finance the revolution.Producer: Reuben Smith-Burrell
14/03/2327m 46s

Prawn Free

Where do the prawns in your takeaway curry or pad thai come from? Peter Hadfield travels to South-East Asia to investigate the environmental impact of prawn farming.Producer: Alasdair Cross
07/03/2327m 30s

Surrendering to the Waves?

As sea levels rise, tough decisions are going to have to be taken about the flood defences of coastal Britain. How realistic will it be to continue to maintain them in future? In this programme, Qasa Alom asks whether we are facing up to this yet, and visits two places where the effects are already being felt. At Cwm Ivy on the Gower peninsula in South Wales, he visits a nature reserve where the decision has already been made to let the sea take back land which was originally claimed from it centuries ago. He walks along the sea wall which once kept the waves at bay, but which is now being left to gradually crumble away. The result is a landscape very different from the pasture and rough grazing which was here a few years ago. It's now being transformed into saltmarsh - a rarer and more valuable environmental habitat. It was a move which took careful consideration even for a nature reserve, but it's a much harder and more complicated decision when people's homes are involved. Qasa also visits the coastal village of Fairbourne in North Wales, which was earmarked for "decommissioning" almost a decade ago. He finds out what this could mean, asks whether it will really happen, and learns what the uncertainty of being labelled "the UK's first climate change refugees" has meant for the village's residents.Producer: Emma Campbell
28/02/2327m 19s

A Greener Government?

Months of governmental chaos have seen contradictory policies on the environment come and go. Tom Heap asks where the Conservative Party now stands on the environment. Should we expect more onshore wind or a continuing ban, will farmers be paid to help wildlife? And what are the underlying trends in the Conservative Party? Are most activists and MPs signed up to a Green Growth agenda or are climate change sceptics and fossil-fuel fans still a powerful force in the party that has governed the UK for most of the post-war era?Producer: Sarah Swadling
29/11/2227m 29s

Community Energy

Community energy might conjure up images of off-grid villagers working together to put up solar panels on a remote community hall. This is one model, but Tom Heap finds that there are now many more ways to join the clean energy revolution.From urban solar rooftop projects which train up young people as fitters to huge wind farms owned by a growing online army of committed enthusiasts, community energy is having a moment.It seems an incredible but simple idea. If we all own a bit of our energy system then we can decide the price that we pay to keep warm and keep the lights on. So what is standing in the way of more community energy? Tom Heap discovers more about how all of us could get involved with the future of energy.Producer: Helen Lennard
22/11/2227m 36s

How can I be a more sustainable parent?

Since becoming pregnant, environmental historian and broadcaster Dr Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough has aspired to bring up her two children as sustainably as possible. In 2017, a Canadian study recommended that people could reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the number of children they have by one. It also pointed out how much bigger the carbon footprint of a child is in the West, compared to a child brought up in Malawi. Despite Eleanor's best efforts, she has found that raising 'eco babies' is not all that simple. From clothes and toys, to food, nappies and transport – parenting brings with it a whole pram-load of unexpected environmental impacts. And regardless of good intentions, parental pressures like a lack of support, the need for convenience and the price of eco-alternatives often means people fall back on more carbon-intensive options. So what needs to change to make it easier? Being a new parent is tough enough, without the feeling of failing the planet being added to the burden. In this programme, Eleanor sits down with her good friend Pamela Welsh, who also became a mother during the Covid pandemic, to discuss the areas where they are 'winning', and the occasions where they have been unable to make the greener-method work. They think about solutions and remind us that it is ok not to get it right all the time. Eleanor also meets individuals who are are attempting to come up with solutions to some of those difficulties - from mending clothes, recycling nappies, opening up cycling to parents with more than one child and renovating schools. Can the future of parenting be more eco? Presented by Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough Produced in Bristol by Natalie Donovan
15/11/2227m 45s

COP27: Meeting the Promises

The COP 27 summit in Sharm-El-Sheikh is welcoming world leaders and climate negotiators to Egypt. In a year that has been rocked by the war in Ukraine and global economic instability, can COP refocus the world’s attention on climate? Tom Heap and Matt McGrath will take a look back at some of the pledges made last November in Glasgow for COP 26 to find out whether countries across the world are keeping to the agreements made on areas such as deforestation, methane reduction, finance and technology. Everyone agrees that current geopolitics will make significant global agreements to decrease emissions difficult but there may be signs of hope in the actions of individual countries. Tom and Matt will try to decipher where we are and what we might be able to expect from this years ‘Conference of the Parties’.To help them pick through the details our panel of experts include Bernice Lee from Chatham House, Danny Kennedy from New Energy Nexus, Mia Moisio from Climate Action Tracker, Piers Forster from the University of Leeds and Ben Caldecott from the Oxford Sustainable Finance Group.Producer: Helen Lennard
08/11/2227m 29s

CSI Oceans

Anna Turns investigates what over 30 years of post mortems on dolphins, porpoises, and whales has revealed about the state of the seas. The Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme in England and Wales, and the Scottish Marine Animal Strandings Scheme, have carried out thousands of autopsies. Anna goes into the pathology lab with Rob Deaville from ZSL as he examines a Harbour Porpoise for clues about how it died, and how it lived. As Anna finds out from toxicologist Dr Rosie Williams and veterinary pathologist Dr Andrew Brownlow, evidence from post mortems shows animals' ability to survive and breed is threatened by pollution from long banned but peristent chemicals, known as PCBs. To find out how these chemicals could still be leaching into the environment Anna travels to the Thames Estuary with Professor of Environmental Geochemistry Kate Spencer. Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol : Sarah Swaddling
04/11/2227m 29s

The Lost World of Ice

The world's glaciers are melting at an unprecedented rate. 2022 has been a particularly disastrous year in the Swiss Alps, where new figures show that glaciers have lost 6% of their total volume of ice during this summer's heatwave. Three glacier-measuring stations have had to close this year, as there simply isn't enough ice left to measure. In this programme, Jheni Osman travels to the Alps to see for herself how much the glaciers are retreating. She meets up with Swiss archaeologists, trying desperately to save ancient artefacts which are now emerging from the melting ice, after thousands of years frozen in time. She talks to a mountain leader, who explains that routes used by generations of hikers and mountaineers are now closing, as melting ice makes more and more of them too dangerous to walk on. Jheni asks the head of Switzerland's glacier monitoring team whether anything can be done to save the remaining ice from eventual destruction. She also talks to a cartographer at University College London, who shows her how maps are having to be re-drawn, and even international borders re-considered, to take into account our vanishing glaciers.Produced by Emma Campbell
25/10/2227m 42s

Saving Vietnam's Wildlife

Life can be pretty tough for the pangolin. This scaly-skinned ant-eater is the most heavily trafficked mammal in the world. Followers of some branches of Chinese medicine believe pangolin parts can cure anything from blood clots to cancer and they're willing to pay big money for poached animals.As a boy growing up in rural Vietnam Thai Van Nguyen watched his neighbours capture and kill a mother and baby pangolin. His disgust inspired an intense urge to help the pangolin and the threatened habitats in which it lives. Founding an independent conservation organisation in Communist Vietnam isn't easy, nor is facing down heavily armed poaching gangs engaged in the trade with China. Despite the challenges Thai has set up the country's first effective anti-poaching unit, disrupting the trade and catching hundreds of smugglers red-handed.Peter Hadfield travels to Vietnam to see Thai and his team in action and gauge the impact of his work on local communities and the country's attitudes to its native wildlife.Producer: Alasdair CrossPhoto courtesy of Suzy Eszterhas
18/10/2227m 21s

The Prehistoric Hitchhiker's Guide to Climate Change

Early humans adapted and survived in the face of a changing climate. Eleanor Rosamund-Barraclough joins an archaeological dig in Malta to learn the lessons for our own time.A team led by Dr Eleanor Scerri of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History is making remarkable discoveries about waves of human and animal habitation of the Mediterranean islands, but what can the fate of giant dormice, pygmy elephants and the hunters who may have relied on them for survival tell us about contemporary island life in a dangerous period of rising sea levels and searing summers?Producer: Alasdair Cross
11/10/2227m 42s

An Environmental Paw Print

For many dog owners, watching your pet race around after a crow or leap joyfully into a stream is a source of great pleasure...but these natural behaviours all have an impact on the environment. Estimates of the UK dog population vary from 10 million all the way up to 13 million and the number has been rising in recent years, so their environmental paw print is growing.In this programme Tom Heap visits a nature reserve where dogs have been banned from some areas after being blamed for frightening wildlife, damaging rare habitats and adding excess nutrients to the soil via their excrement. He meets a farmer and dung beetle expert, who shows him how the drugs found in flea treatments and worming pills can leach out into nature. And what to do with all that poo - especially when it's wrapped in plastic bags?Meanwhile, across the world free-roaming dogs are having wide reaching effects. Dr Abi Vanak from the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment says the 60-80 million free-roaming dogs in India are putting some native species at risk of extinction.Producer: Heather Simons
04/10/2227m 49s

The True Cost of Energy

In the UK, more than half our electricity is generated without using fossil fuels. Despite that, the rocketing price of gas has lead to matching increases in our electricity bills. Why the disconnect? What could we be doing differently so that consumers benefit from cheap renewable power? And what will the current crisis mean for our long term aims of reducing our use of fossil fuels?In this programme, Tom Heap asks an expert panel how our energy market can be reshaped to produce smaller bills in a low carbon future.He's joined by: Glenn Rickson - Head of European Power Analysts with S&P Global Commodity Insights Emma Pinchbeck - CEO of Energy UK, the trade body for the British energy industry Michael Grubb - Professor of Energy and Climate Change at UCLProducer: Heather Simons
27/09/2227m 48s

Wild Highway

Running 12500km from the Arctic Circle to the borders of Greece, the European Greenbelt is one of the most ambitious conservation schemes ever devised. The idea was to use the no man's land of the Iron Curtain that divided Communist East from Capitalist West as a wildlife corridor to allow rare and endangered species to travel unimpeded across the continent.On the 20th anniversary of the Greenbelt, the writer and anthropologist, Mary-Ann Ochota takes to the road, from the industrialised peat bogs of Finland through the Baltic states and Germany's dying forests to the peasant farms of the southern Balkans. The wildlife of these borderlands is rich and varied but the conservationists feel that they're battling forces bigger than those that created the Iron Curtain in the first place.Producer: Alasdair Cross
21/09/2227m 53s

Future Tourists

Nature and wildlife tourism has surged in recent years. Millions of us seem to want to want to follow in the footsteps of David Attenborough; meeting mountain gorillas, ticking off Africa’s big five mammals or hitting the waves to meet whales and dolphins. But is wildlife tourism good or bad for the world’s most sensitive environments?The Covid-19 outbreak gave us a sudden, unexpected opportunity to answer that question. Some of the most magnetic natural places on the planet lost their international tourists for two years. Naturalist and broadcaster, Mike Dilger has been to the cloud forests of Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands to gauge the impact. Both of these extraordinary environments depend on tourism to pay for their protection, but should they continue to rely on travellers emitting vast quantities of carbon dioxide to get their fix of hummingbirds and marine iguanas?Mike is joined in the studio by Fiore Longo of Survival International, travel writer Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and Vicky Smith from the eco-travel website, Earthchangers.Producer: Alasdair Cross
13/09/2227m 52s

Steve Backshall Listens to the Whales

Steve Backshall explores whether slowing down and quietening noisy shipping could help protect Canada’s whale population.A busy shipping lane between Vancouver Island and the Canadian mainland – known as the Inside Passage - is home to a community of Orcas. These are the unmistakable, sleek and distinctive, black and white members of the dolphin family otherwise known as Killer Whales. They’re smart and social and have a sophisticated language of clicks and whistles which helps them hunt and communicate within their family pods. Paul Spong runs OrcaLab which, for over 50 years, has carried out research into these whales. He and his partner, Helena Symonds, have long suspected that noisy boats impact whales. Their experience of listening to these Orcas and monitoring their behaviour has shown that some family groups, associated with these waters, have left. Others only appear at the end of the cruise-liner season. There are hydrophone recordings which illustrate how propeller noise forces the orcas to ‘shout’ or stop communicating altogether which impacts family-pod relationships and hunting. Broadening the research is Janie Wray of BC Whales. While Paul and Helena concentrate on Orcas, BC Whales also research Fins and Humpbacks. Janie's team has recently increased the string of hydrophones which now stretches along the entire coast of British Columbia. This development coincided with the pandemic when the oceans became a little quieter: for a while the cruise liners and whale-watching boats disappeared. This phase could provide a breakthrough - if the recordings made during these quieter months can prove that the whales benefitted from the peace, can boats be persuaded to slow down or even change route?Another vital member of the research team is Dr. Ben Hendricks, he’s a software designer who has written a programme that can analyse vast amounts of recorded whale song very quickly, meaning humans no longer need to listen to everything in real time. All these different threads of research, when pulled together, could be enough to gather the evidence needed to further protect Canada’s resident and transient whale populations. Also taking part in the programme is Erin Gless of the Pacific Whale Watch Association. She says whale watching vessels have made improvements to ensure they view wildlife in a non-invasive way. The programme image is of Steve kayaking alongside an Orca.Presenter: Steve Backshall Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol: Karen Gregor
06/09/2227m 42s

Ukraine: A War on Nature

It's said that the environment is the silent victim of war. In this programme, Tom Heap finds out how the conflict in Ukraine is affecting environmental work in the country. With so many people forced to flee, what happens to projects which were trying to protect fragile wildlife habitats? He talks to an award-winning Ukrainian environmentalist who has had to temporarily abandon his conservation project around Chernobyl in order to help with the humanitarian aid effort. Meanwhile, with airstrikes taking place in some of the most industrialised areas in the east of the country, the risk of long-term contamination from damaged coal mines and nuclear installations is very real. Tom asks what lessons can be learned from previous wars around the world, and discovers how long-lasting the environmental impacts of military action can be. How can environmental concerns be can be given a voice, instead of remaining the silent victim, at a time when the focus is understandably on saving human lives?Produced by Emma Campbell
24/05/2227m 56s

Sustainable Sport for the Future

Two of the biggest sports events of the year, the Commonwealth games in Birmingham and the FIFA world cup in Qatar have pledged to be the most sustainable and green sporting events to date. Both have made bold statements 'the first sustainable commonwealth games' and the ‘first carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup'. Qasa Alom finds out if they can really deliver and just how sustainable and green these global sports events will be. Starting off with his home city of Birmingham Qasa discovers some of the changes taking place, from stadium infrastructure to transport and offsetting. Will these commonwealth games be the first games with a carbon neutral legacy and set a benchmark for future games?The sporting world is starting to rise to the challenge, and it must, already major International tournaments are being adversely affected by a warming climate. At the FIFA World Cup in Qatar teams will be playing in artificially cooled stadiums with games held, controversially, in the cooler month of November and December. Qasa finds out if future world class sports events will require radical solutions in a changing climate, and what sporting events can do to curb their own emissions. Producers for BBC Audio in Bristol: Perminder Khatkar and Helen Lennard
17/05/2227m 47s

How Green Is My Money?

Making your finances work harder against climate change. Tom Heap speaks to Richard Curtis, British film director and architect of Comic Relief, about his Make My Money Matter campaign. This encourages everyone to find out where their pension money goes. He also speaks to the boss of a UK bank, Bevis Watts, and to the campaign director of about how easy it is to move your bank account elsewhere. A special episode for anyone worried about what their money is - or isn't - doing to keep the planet green.Interviewees: Lisa Stanley of Good With Money Bevis Watts of Triodos John Fleetwood of Square Mile Investment Consulting and Research Sophie Cowen of Richard Curtis of Make My Money MatterThe presenter is Tom Heap and the producer in Bristol is Miles Warde
10/05/2227m 45s

Green Power in the Far North

Green industry is heading to Scandinavia's far north. Fossil fuel-free steel and clean, green wind energy are in great demand but what does this rapid development mean for the indigenous people of the region? Richard Orange reports from Sweden.Producer: Alasdair Cross
03/05/2228m 49s


Millions of trees were brought down by this winter's storms. Storm Arwen in November proved particularly damaging, taking out whole swathes of woodland in Scotland and the north of England. It comes at a time when there is more focus than ever on planting trees, with the urgent need to both tackle climate change and produce more home-grown timber. At the moment, the UK imports more than 80% of the timber it uses.In this programme, Tom Heap visits two forest estates in the North East of Scotland, to see for himself what havoc the high winds have wrought. One estate manager tells him that they'll be clearing up for the next three years, with an estimated 45,000 tonnes of timber now lying broken on the ground. Tom finds out what this means for the work of foresters on the estate, and how it will affect the value of the timber they'll be able to sell. Meanwhile he discovers why the National Trust for Scotland is seeing the damage caused by Storm Arwen as an opportunity to re-think the kind of woodland it has on its land.Tom talks to the Royal Forestry Society at their research site in the Chilterns, and finds out what techniques can be used to improve the resilience of woodlands to future storms. He asks whether - when the clear-up is over and it's time to re-plant - we may need to explore using different species of trees, better able to survive in the climate we expect to have in another fifty years' time. He also meets a meteorologist from Reading University, who explains what changing weather patterns may mean for storms in the future.Producer for BBC Audio in Bristol Emma Campbell
26/04/2227m 53s

Government Energy Strategy

The government announced its new energy strategy last week, outlining plans to tackle energy supply over the coming decades. In this edition of Costing the Earth, Tom Heap chairs a panel discussion which looks into the detail of the strategy, and asks what it will mean for both net zero targets and household bills. He is joined by a panel of experts: Roz Bulleid, Deputy Policy Director at the independent think tank Green Alliance; Chief Political Commentator at the i-newspaper, Paul Waugh; and environmental journalist, author and campaigner Mark Lynas.Produced for BBC Audio Bristol by Emma Campbell
25/04/2227m 50s

The World's Toughest Conservationists

It's not easy fighting for nature in many of the former Soviet states. Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent reports from Tajikistan, on the trail of the snow leopard and the extraordinary people who protect them.This high corner of Central Asia is home to the world's biggest species of wild sheep and goats, prey of arguably the most beautiful of the big cats- the extravagantly furred snow leopard. After the fall of the Soviet Union a vicious civil war killed 100,000 people and saw many more displaced and starving. Kalashnikovs and hungry people are never good news for wildlife and, sure enough, the wildlife of the mountains was decimated.In the last few years local conservationists have taken it on themselves to declare reserves and persuade their neighbours to reduce their hunting. With minimal funding from the government and international agencies these conservationists have had to find their own ways to pay for the protection of the reserves. Most of the money to employ rangers has come from selling licences to hunt small numbers of Marco Polo sheep, Ibex and Markhor wild goats. It's a controversial approach but, in sheer numbers of endangered species, it seems to be working. Can the improvements continue as climate change brings ever harsher winters and drier summers and regional instability keeps the wildlife tourists away?Antonia meets the conservationists trying their best to protect their wildlife in the face of enormous odds.Producer: Alasdair Cross
19/04/2228m 32s

Rip It Up And Start Again?

The pandemic has changed the way we work and shop meaning a growing number of offices and retail outlets are empty. So, what do we do with them? Knock them down and start again or find a sustainable way to reuse them? The buzz word is ‘retrofit’: redesigning and refurbishing an existing building. Elsie Owusu is an architect and, in this episode of Costing the Earth, she explores this current and contentious issue. It’s usually cheaper to build new, so what can be done to encourage developers and architects to change their plans.She visits Selkirk House on Museum Street in London. Developers want to demolish this 1960s concrete tower-block and build something bigger in its place. Campaigners say that a vast amount of CO2 emissions would be saved it the building is retrofitted.Architect, Peter Fisher, takes Elsie to a 1950s, concrete, former print-works which is being refurbished. Just five years ago Peter says the decision would have been made to demolish but, times are changing, and by choosing retrofit CO2 emissions will be reduced by 50%.Smith Mordak takes a wider view of the debate, arguing that a cultural shift is needed across architecture and the associated disciplines. The automatic response to a design challenge of building new, or even building at all, should be rejected; there are more creative and greener ways of thinking to explore first.Contributors: Simon Alford of the Royal Institute of British Architects; Howard Crawshaw of the Knight Property Group; Jim Monahan of Save Museum Street; Simon Sturgis of Targeting Zero; Peter Fisher of Bennetts Associates; Smith Mordak of Buro Happold.Producer: Karen Gregor
05/04/2227m 33s

Northern Ireland's Environmental Future

In Northern Ireland peace and prosperity have long been prioritised over environmental protection. Tom Heap asks if a new generation can push nature and wildlife up the agenda.For decades a blind eye was often turned to suspect developments in natural areas and breaches of pollution regulations. A more recent upsurge in large-scale dairy, pig and poultry farming has added to the burden on Northern Ireland's once green and pleasant land. New laws to fight climate change and a new subsidy regime for agriculture give Northern Irish politicians and regulators the chance to put things right. With the help of BBC Northern Ireland Environment Correspondent, Louise Cullen, Tom Heap considers the issues in advance of the Stormont Assembly elections.Producer: Sarah Swadling
31/03/2227m 39s

Energy Prices

Energy prices have hit new heights. Gas and electricity bills will rocket for most people at the end of this month as the price cap is lifted and nobody filling their car could fail to notice record prices at the pumps. Energy too is at the heart of the biggest conflict in Europe for decades. Russia’s war machine is paid for with oil and gas and the West’s response is shaped by our reliance on that power source.What does all this mean for the environment? Can we maintain focus on carbon emissions when Russian tanks are belching their way down Ukrainian streets? Or is it an opportunity to hasten our detox from fossil fuels as we see our addiction funding war? Tom Heap discusses our energy future with James Murray of Business Green magazine, Emma Pinchbeck, Chief Executive of Energy UK and the expert on new energy finance, Michael Liebreich.Producer: Alasdair Cross
22/03/2228m 24s

Carbon Farming

Landowners are being offered big money for land to absorb carbon dioxide emissions. What does it mean for British farming and the shape of the countryside? Tom Heap reports.Producer: Sarah Swadling
18/03/2227m 39s

Britain's Dark Waters

Perfluoroalkyl substances - or PFAS - are a group of thousands of man-made chemicals which have been widely used in everything from frying pans to firefighting foam. Anything which is non-stick, water-resistant or stain-repellent is likely to have been produced using PFAS. In the USA they have been linked to mass poisoning of water supplies, as the Hollywood film 'Dark Waters' documented. In this programme, Leana Hosea sets out to discover whether they are having an impact here. She teams up with environmental journalist Rachel Salvidge to investigate. They take water samples from drinking water around the country and have them analysed for the presence of PFAS. In Jersey Leana meets residents who believe their ill health is down to contamination of their drinking water, and whose blood has been shown to contain PFAS. She hears what the links are with health concerns, and finds out why firefighters are an at-risk group.Producer: Emma Campbell
15/03/2227m 47s

The Right to Swim

On a hot summer's day the River Wharfe in Ilkley in West Yorkshire is a tempting place to swim. In 2020 it was designated as the first inland waterway to be safe for bathing. Just over a year later the water was found to be polluted by animal and human faeces and locals and tourists were advised to stay out of the river.The River Wharfe certainly isn't unique, Britain's rivers are taking the brunt of rising populations, antiquated sewage treatment and intensive agriculture. Too much waste- human, animal and chemical- is entering our rivers, exposing swimmers and wildlife to infection. Extreme weather as experienced in February is only making matters worse.Charlotte Smith and Caz Graham search for solutions to Britain's polluted rivers.Producer: Hermeet Chadha
01/03/2227m 58s

Seeing the Wood for the Trees

There have been big promises about tree-planting numbers over the last few years - but is there much point in planting more trees, if we're not looking after the ones we've already got? The Woodland Trust estimates that only 7% of the UK's native woodlands are in good ecological condition - with pests, diseases, climate change and development all threats to tree health. Meanwhile a report from Botanic Gardens Conservation International says that a third of the world's trees are at risk of extinction.In this programme, Peter Gibbs finds out what's ailing our trees, and asks what can be done to nurse them back to health. He talks to scientists, campaigners and the government's Chief Plant Health Officer, and finds out about a project where researchers are on the hunt for trees with natural resistance to ash dieback, which may be able to re-populate the ash woodlands of the future. He also visits a 'research forest' in the Midlands, where scientists are piping extra carbon dioxide at some of their trees, to find out what the impact of rising CO2 levels is likely to be for trees in years to come.Produced by Emma Campbell
30/11/2127m 39s

All Aboard the Sir David Attenborough

The public wanted to name her Boaty McBoatface, but in the end she got a slightly more stately name. The UK's newest polar research vessel, the RRS Sir David Attenborough, has just set out on her maiden voyage to Antarctica, where she'll enable scientists to research climate change and its impacts on the polar regions.Following a hundred years of polar exploration, this ship will write the next chapter in UK polar science.In this episode, ocean physicist Helen Czerski gets aboard to poke around the new ship, and meets the crew members and scientists who will be taking her to the ends of the earth in search of the answers to some of the most pressing questions of our time. She finds out how the ship has been designed specially to encourage collaboration and bring together scientists from different fields. And she tries out the bunks and learns what life at sea will be like.Find out why krill can fight climate change, how you cook at sea in a storm and what the massive hole in the middle of the ship is for!Producer: Heather Simons
23/11/2127m 32s

Canoeing the Cam

Britain's rivers are in crisis, with only 14% of them deemed to be in a good ecological state. Chalk streams are particularly vulnerable, as so much is taken out of them for use in our water supplies. Pollution from sewage and agricultural run-off only add to the problem. In this programme Tom Heap takes a canoe trip along a waterway he knows well, the River Cam, to see for himself what's going on. He talks to environmental groups and local people, and asks whether the rapid expansion of homes and businesses in the area can sustainably continue in such a water-stressed region. He concludes that urgent action is needed if rivers like the Cam are not to run dry.Producer: Emma Campbell
23/11/2127m 55s

How green is my golf course?

Golf courses do not have a good reputation when it comes to the environment. Keeping the greens and fairways looking immaculate usually means using pesticide, fungicide and fertiliser - as well as large amounts of water. Wildlife such as pecking birds and digging moles, which can damage the pristine playing surfaces, are seen as a nuisance. But attitudes are starting to change in the golfing world. In this programme, Sybil Ruscoe finds out about efforts which are being made to make golf more environmentally-friendly. She visits a golf course in Bedfordshire, where the greenkeeper puts up bird boxes and encourages areas of wildflowers. During her visit, she meets a conservation advisor from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, whose job focusses specifically on golf courses - part of a new partnership set up last year between the RSPB and the world of golf. She talks to the sport's governing body and the golf greenkeepers association, to ask whether the game is doing enough to change its ways. She also hears from a geographer who argues that the game of golf is fundamentally environmentally unacceptable in a time of climate emergency. It all leaves Sybil, a golfer herself, wondering 'how green is my golf course?'Producer: Emma Campbell
19/11/2127m 39s

My Toxic Cocktail

We are all surrounded by synthetic chemicals in our everyday lives - from pesticide residues in food to chemicals used in the manufacture of household products - but most of us are not aware that they also make their way into our bodies. In this programme, environmental journalist Anna Turns investigates her own 'chemical body burden' - the amount of persistent, synthetic pollutants that have accumulated inside her system. A blood test shows her that traces of pesticides which were banned before she was even born can still be detected in her body. Analysis of the contents of her vacuum cleaner reveals that chemicals used to make furniture and electrical goods more fire-resistant are there too. Anna goes around her house, room by room, identifying the key sources of chemicals, and asking how they've travelled from the carpets and cleaning products into her own body. She talks to chemists and environmental scientists and asks what the threat to human health may be, and whether it matters that we now all carry around our own toxic cocktail.Produced by Emma Campbell
19/11/2127m 44s

COP26: A Turning of the Tide?

World leaders have offered up a suite of promises at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow but how many of them will make a real dent in our greenhouse gas emissions? Tom Heap talks to experts in sustainable finance, methane emissions, deforestation, clean technology and energy to gauge the impact made so far. He's also joined by two veterans of many COP meetings, University of East Anglia climate scientist, Corinne Le Quéré and Bernice Lee of Chatham House. What do they make of the conference that the world is watching?Producer: Alasdair Cross
09/11/2128m 12s

COP26: The Unheard Voices

As world leaders gather in Glasgow you can be certain of one thing - the loudest voices won't be coming from the people most impacted by climate change. Inuit hunters on melting ice and Pacific islanders losing their homelands to rising sea levels won't be flying Business Class to Glasgow - they won't have the chance to fight for their rights amongst the world powers and corporate interests. Tom Heap brings those voices to the banks of the Clyde for the first of two special editions of Costing the Earth from COP26.He hears from the Adivasi people of India, marching to stop their land being taken for new coal mines and meets Yessie Mosby, a Torres Strait islander who believes the Australian government should do much more to prevent his islands disappear beneath the rising seas. In Glasgow he talks to Sarobidy Rakotonarivo about the tensions between conservation and livelihoods in the forests of Madagascar and hears how conflict and climate change are inextricably linked in the humanitarian crisis around Lake Chad.Producer: Alasdair CrossPhoto: Courtesy of Vijay Ramamurthy
02/11/2128m 32s

Six Months on St Kilda

Abandoned by its entire population in 1930, St Kilda has been uninhabited ever since. What's it like to spend six months with the birds on one of Britain's most isolated islands?Conor McKinney is a naturalist and broadcaster with what might be- depending on your personality- either the best job in the world or the worst. St Kilda is seriously isolated- it’s an archipelago of islands over one hundred miles west of the Scottish mainland and 40 miles of rough Atlantic waves away from the nearest pub or shop. That isolation means that it has a unique environment. It’s packed with rare and endemic wildlife and the owners of the island- the National Trust for Scotland- want to keep it that way. The Ministry of Defence has a construction project on the main island of Hirta and it’s Conor's job to make sure that the boats and builders that will be coming and going don’t bring unwanted guests with them- things like sea squirts, Japanese knotweed or- worst of all- the rats that would very quickly decimate the extraordinary seabirds of St Kilda. Producer: Alasdair Cross
26/10/2127m 35s

Earthshot: The Winners

Taking inspiration from President Kennedy’s Moonshot which united people around a goal to put man on the moon and spurred the development of new technology in the 1960s, the Earthshot Prize is centred around five simple but ambitious goals for our planet. Chhavi Sachdev announces the winners of the inaugural prize and discusses how smart ideas from individual innovators and small companies can influence the upcoming climate debate at COP26 in Glasgow. Prizes like this prove that there are clever ideas being developed to ease our pressure on the environment, but how can those ideas be harnessed and scaled up to make a big difference globally? Chhavi is joined by Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme and by Juliet Davenport, founder of the green power company Good Energy, to discuss the best ways to make smart ideas part of the solution to the planet's biggest problems. Producer: Alasdair Cross
19/10/2128m 41s

Earthshot: More Fresh Ideas for the Environment

Taking inspiration from President Kennedy’s Moonshot which united people around a goal to put man on the moon and spurred the development of new technology in the 1960s, the Earthshot Prize is centred around five simple but ambitious goals for our planet. Chhavi Sachdev profiles more of the prize nominees from all around the world.This week Chhavi concentrates on the innovators working to reduce waste, provide clean water and develop clean energy solutions for communities without access to power. Japan is notoriously prone to natural disaster which makes it a perfect testing ground for disaster-management solutions. The Wota Box arose from the urgent need for clean water in locations hit by earthquakes or tsunamis. Using the latest techniques in artificial intelligence it controls a series of filters to remove pollutants and provide essential washing facilities where they're needed most. In Nigeria, Olugbenga Olubanjohas invented a portable battery which can be rented from a vending machine to power mobile phone chargers and laptops, bringing modern communication options to some of the poorest areas of Africa.Producer: Julian Siddle
12/10/2128m 40s

Earthshot: Fresh Ideas For the Environment

Taking inspiration from President Kennedy’s Moonshot which united people around a goal to put man on the moon and spurred the development of new technology in the 1960s, the Earthshot Prize is centred around five simple but ambitious goals for our planet. Over the next three editions of Costing the Earth, Chhavi Sachdev meets the prize nominees from all around the world.This week Chhavi concentrates on the innovators working to protect nature on land and in the oceans and meets those striving to improve the air quality of our cities. Vinisha Umashankar, an Indian schoolgirl, reveals her solar powered ironing cart which cuts pollution in her neighbourhood and the Living Seawalls team show off their beautifully carved additions to Sydney Harbour- works of art which provide marine life with a place to hide, feed and breed on the previously sterile sea walls of the harbour. Producer: Julian SiddlePhoto: Life returns to Sydney Harbour- courtesy of Leah Wood, Living Seawalls project
05/10/2128m 37s

Qasa’s Farm - Building Resilience in Bangladesh

Qasa Alom has always been told that his family farm in Sylhet, Bangladesh is his heritage. His parents have spent their time and money trying to maintain the estate and his father has always hoped Qasa would take on some of the strain. Born in Britain, Qasa had other ideas about how he wanted to spend his time but he now faces a new challenge; how to protect his family’s roots from climate change.Bangladesh’s low elevation and high population density make it one of the most vulnerable countries as climate change accelerates extreme weather conditions such as heat and floods and sea-levels rise. Qasa’s village has always faced flooding but the future looks more unpredictable. Now as Qasa considers his future commitment to the farm he finds a country that is battling extremes but also finding solutions.Early weather warning systems which incorporate local knowledge and using community resolve to insure everyone gets to safety are one example. Changing crops, farming shellfish and growing jute to build up soil naturally are also being trialled and, most importantly, migration by climate refugees is being planned for. As a leader in climate adaptation Bangladesh is leading the world but will it be enough to keep Qasa committed to helping to maintain his family’s way of life here?
29/09/2127m 23s

Britain's Changing Flowers

Naturalist and broadcaster Mike Dilger takes to the road to map the impact that global warming is having on Britain's plants and flowers. From the highest peaks of the Highlands to the lowest points of the East Anglian Brecklands our flowers are adapting to the changing seasons, but how many will survive and thrive into the future?Producer: Alasdair Cross
14/09/2128m 28s

Beaver Town

Adrian has a big idea. His home of Braunton, a village in North Devon, has a problem with flooding. Over the last decade he has seen it get worse. The village flooded badly in 2012 just after a million pound flood defence scheme was completed, and there was more flooding in 2016. Braunton has since had those defences upgraded, but more work is needed further up the valley. Instead of more expensive schemes, Adrian has an alternative solution - bringing back beavers to do the work for them.Beavers are nature’s engineers, their dams prevent flooding by holding water upstream and slowing the flow in rivers, while simultaneously creating new wetland habitats for species of insects, amphibians, birds, fish and plants to flourish in. These industrious rodents were hunted to extinction in Britain about 400 years ago, and are now beginning to make a comeback. A record number of beavers will be released by the Wildlife Trusts this year, but so far pretty much all licensed beaver reintroductions have been on individual private estates or within fenced enclosures.What Adrian is proposing would be the first community-led reintroduction of beavers on a landscape scale, and if successful in gaining permission, the project could provide a model for others. Working together with the Beaver Trust, Adrian now has nearly 50 local landowners on board and the project is gaining momentum. However there are many obstacles to overcome, not least that not everyone is in favour of beavers flooding their land. We visit Braunton as it begins its beaver journey and hear what can be learnt about managing the species from the River Otter Beaver Trial in South Devon, and from Scotland where there is a wild population in Tayside causing problems for farming. Can we move beyond keeping beavers in enclosures and learn to live alongside them?Presented by Lindsey Chapman and produced by Sophie Anton
25/05/2127m 58s


Government action on climate change is sluggish. Could rich individuals cut through red tape and fund measures to cool the planet from their own pockets? And should they be allowed?Presenter/producer: Jolyon Jenkins
18/05/2127m 43s

New Grid for the New Age

How will Britain's power system need to change for a zero carbon world? Tom Heap investigates.Producer: Alasdair Cross
13/05/2127m 28s

The South Australian Miracle

Australia's government is famous for its lack of interest in climate change. Despite increasing problems from bushfires and droughts, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his Liberal-led coalition government continue to promote coal-mining and dodge efforts to reduce the country's carbon emissions. It's all the more extraordinary then that one Australian state, governed by Mr Morrison's party is streets ahead of most of the world in its conversion to renewable energy. Peter Hadfield reports from Adelaide on the South Australian miracle.Producer: Alasdair Cross
04/05/2127m 13s


When a cargo ship blocked the Suez canal for nearly a week, the eyes of the media focussed on shipping. Hundreds of vessels were stuck as tailbacks built up at the entrance to what is one of the world's busiest trade routes. What effect does the sheer quantity of goods which we routinely move around the globe have on the environment? Are there ways of 'greening' shipping and lessening its environmental impact? In this programme, Lucy Siegle chairs a panel discussion which aims to find out.Producer: Emma Campbell
27/04/2127m 25s

Landfill Legacy

The UK has dramatically reduced the amount of waste which goes into landfill over the last 25 years, but there are are still decades worth of rubbish underground, buried by generations gone by. Until the 1970s there were almost no rules about what could be put into landfill and very few records were kept before the 1980s, so no-one really knows what's lurking underground. The 1990s saw a change of attitude, with the EU landfill directive and the introduction in the UK of the landfill tax. But coastal erosion means that some our old landfill sites are now disgorging their contents, and leaking rubbish from half a century ago back into the environment. Tom Heap visits a site on the Thames estuary, and sees bin bags, old tyres, broken glass, corroded batteries and bits of asbestos spilling out onto the shore. With more than a thousand UK landfill sites now believed to be at risk from erosion or flooding, Tom learns that the ghosts of our old disposal habits are coming back to haunt us - and asks what can be done about it.Producer: Emma Campbell
21/04/2127m 53s

Maritime Nation

How well protected is Britain's coast and its wildlife after Brexit? Chef and fisheries campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall joins Peter Gibbs to examine the health of our seas.Can our network of Marine Protected Areas be strengthened and expanded? What impact is climate change having on our waters? How can we lift the curse of plastic pollution from our beaches? Surfers, fishermen, campaigners and conservationists join Peter and Hugh to consider the issues.Producer: Jonathan Wiltshire
13/04/2127m 26s

Gene Editing Nature

The powerful gene editing technique CRISPR that allows us to rewrite DNA may soon provide a tool to help save our planet’s biodiversity. CRISPR has been described as ‘molecular scissors’ and is used to make targeted, precise changes to the DNA of plants and animals, with all the ethical questions it raises. Since it was developed by scientists 9 nine years ago, research into uses of CRISPR has been increasing in medicine and agriculture, as well as entering the fields of public health and environmental conservation, where genetic engineering had previously not been a realistic possibility. With the threat of climate change and the loss of species and habitats worldwide, gene editing has the potential to be able to help revive endangered species, and help them adapt to changing temperatures. And by combining CRISPR with a ‘gene drive’ – a technique that forces genes to spread through a population, we now have the ability to bend the rules of natural selection and control populations of invasive species or a pest that carries disease. But what are the risks and potential consequences of meddling with the complex processes of the natural world? Jheni Osman talks to scientists currently researching potential uses of gene editing for environmental conservation, including combining it with a gene drive to control grey squirrel populations, using CRISPR to find the genes responsible for heat tolerance in coral, and editing genetic diversity into species on the brink of extinction. At this early stage of the development of the science, Jheni hears about the particular ethical and practical considerations of altering the genomes of wild species and releasing them into the wild. Should we use this power to edit nature, and if so, how should it be controlled?Producer: Sophie Anton
06/04/2129m 4s

Killer Kitties

Realising your pet cat has brought home a 'gift' or perhaps a snack they plan to eat in front of you is never pleasant. Many owners will scramble to intercept and release the poor prey but that may be too little, too late. Cats have been blamed for an estimated 100million wildlife kills in the UK each Spring and Summer but it's hard to know what really goes on when they're out on the prowl at night. Birds, mammals, insects, amphibians...and sometimes the odd snake in some cases...but others don't seem fussed at all. Scientists have been monitoring and logging cat kills to build a clearer picture of their behaviour and take this beyond what they choose to bring home. Miranda Krestovnikoff explores the factors that may influence a cat's desire to kill and speaks to Hannah Lockwood from the University of Derby whose 'What the Cat Dragged In' project charting hundreds of cats and even using cameras to reveal the hidden truth about their nocturnal behaviour. She hears about more drastic measures and proposals outside the UK which put more responsibility on cat owners for what they hunt and gets practical advice about how cat owners might deter their pretty kitties from being savage predators, while still keeping it happy. Presented by Miranda Krestovnikoff and produced by Anne-Marie Bullock for BBC Audio Bristol.
30/03/2127m 53s

The New Environmental Sheriff in Town

Dame Glenys Stacey is charged with the job of keeping the government on track toward a greener future. She talks to Tom Heap in her first interview as the head of the new Office for Environmental Protection.If public bodies in England such as the Environment Agency, Natural England and local authorities fail to keep rivers clean and city air breathable then it will be Glenys Stacey who will try to make them to do better She was a well respected regulator of examinations at Ofqual and has plenty of experience of holding authorities to account, but does she have the powers and budget to keep the government green?Producer: Alasdair Cross
23/03/2127m 32s

The Lorax

Dr Seuss' fable of needless consumerism and environmental ruin, The Lorax, is half a century old this year. The 'shortish, brownish, oldish and mossy' character who 'speaks for the trees' increasingly features on placards at demos. Michael Rosen looks at the book's influence on the modern environmental movement and charts its journey from ignored to censored, embraced by the mainstream and inevitably turned into a Hollywood movie and used to sell SUVs.With Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell, Writer George Monbiot, Economist Kate Raworth, Playwright David Greig, Advertising 'guru' Rory Sutherland, Ben Stewart from Greenpeace, Steve Brezzo, Josh Golin, Terri Birkett and more.Producer: Ellie Richold
23/03/2127m 50s

Lockdown Planet

How has one year of lockdown changed our environment in the UK and around the world? Tom Heap is joined by air quality expert, Ally Lewis, psychologist Lorraine Whitmarsh and the BBC's South Korea correspondent, Laura Bicker to find out how we- and the natural world- have been changed by the pandemic.Producer: Maggie Latham
23/03/2127m 45s

How to Halve Emissions by 2030

The COP26 conference in Glasgow in November is going to be a very important moment in tackling climate change. We are currently not on track to meet the goal of limiting global temperature rise to between 1.5 and 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we need to halve total emissions by the end of 2030 if we’re to be on track to hit the 1.5 degree target and avoid the worst effects of a changing climate. To close the gap between pledges and action, countries need to sign up to policies and strategies that start to reduce emissions now. This is the challenge for the summit in Glasgow. Tom Heap is joined in the studio by Nigel Topping, the High Level Climate Action Champion for COP26, to discuss the ambition of the summit and the momentum that is building not just among governments but cities, investors and businesses to deliver net zero by mid-century. They hear from three experts who will give us real world practical solutions to achieve far-reaching carbon cuts by 2030: Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas, Chief Exec of the Green Finance Institute; Dr Stephen Cornelius, Chief advisor on Climate Change at WWF UK; and Dr Angela Wilkinson, CEO of the World Energy Council. Can we really halve emissions by 2030?Producer: Sophie Anton
02/03/2130m 22s

China 2060

In September at the UN General Assembly China announced that it will aim for carbon neutrality by 2060. Celia Hatton and guests discuss how China might meet this target, and what this means for the world. With Barbara Finamore, Senior Strategic Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sha Yu, Co-Director of the China Program at the Centre of Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland, and Steve Tsang, Director of China Institute at SOAS University of London.Producer: Toby Field
24/11/2027m 34s

Too darn hot

As some places in the world become too hot for humans to live, Tom Heap explores the cost to the environment of air conditioning.Air conditioning is one of the fastest growing sources of energy consumption, but it's already placing enormous strains on power grids, while also contributing to climate change. Across the world, building codes are making it virtually impossible to build new offices without it, and are setting "comfort standards" that don't take account of geography, climate or culture. As a result some of the hottest places in the world, such as Qatar, have buildings that are so cool that workers shiver and have to bring warm clothing to work. Meanwhile poor countries like Sudan have abandoned traditional architecture which allow a degree of natural cooling in favour of modern international building styles that require air conditioning in order to function. Which might be fine, except that the capital has frequent electricity blackouts which turn off the air conditioning and makes buildings unbearably hot. As more parts of the globe head towards temperature and humidity combinations that would make human life impossible without air conditioning, we are in danger of setting up systems that, should they fail, would have disastrous consequences.Meanwhile, the more we get used to living in temperatures that rarely change much, the less well equipped are bodies are becoming to deal with big changes when they occur. Luckily, there are techologies that could help solve some of the problem. It may not be necessary for us to cool and dehumidify the air around us in order to feel cool. Devices that suck radiant heat from us, like a cool sun, could keep us fresh at a fraction of the energy cost. Producer: Jolyon Jenkins
03/11/2027m 43s

The Future of Environmentalism

As our planet continues to warm, and climate issues move rapidly up the political agenda, the environmental movement itself is also changing shape.In the second of a two-part series looking at the past, present and future of the environmental movement, Journalist and Black and Green Ambassador Jasmine Ketibuah-Foley looks to the future. Speaking to academics, futurologists, and the activists and campaigners on the front lines, she asks how things are changing, who is changing them, and what they'll need to do to make sure the message gets through. From tactics to technology, from local to global, and from the affluent western world to some of the places climate change is hitting hardest, Jasmine follows the campaign for climate justice into the coming decades, and finds out what it might look like.Produced by Emily Knight
27/10/2027m 27s

A short history of environmental protest

It's fifty years since the first blossoming of environmental campaign groups. Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the organisation which was eventually to become the Green Party were all set up in the early 1970s - all within just a few years of each other. In part 1 of this two-part series, Tom Heap takes a look back over the last half century of environmental protest. He talks to some of the big names involved in green campaigning - from the early days up to the present and the rise of Extinction Rebellion. He asks what the movement has achieved and what challenges still lie ahead.Producer: Emma Campbell
20/10/2027m 54s

World on Fire

Last year wildfires in the Amazon made headlines news. This year we've hardly heard about them - but that doesn't mean they're not happening. In fact the number of rainforest fires in Brazil rose by almost 20% in June, reaching a 13 year high, according to government data. Some estimates now point to 2020 being an even worse year for forest destruction than 2019. Meanwhile, from California to Siberia, fires have been devastating landscapes and throwing more greenhouse gases up into the atmosphere. In this programme, Lucy Siegle and a panel of experts explore the causes of fires around the world, and asks what can be done to tackle them.Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Emma Campbell.
13/10/2027m 43s

Bushfire Animal Rescue

Record-breaking temperatures and months of severe drought fuelled a series of massive bushfires across Australia last winter. Dozens of people died and millions of hectares of bushland and forest were burnt.Australia's plant and animal life are well adapted to natural fire but the additional burden of climate change ensured that many of the fires were more intense and widespread than ever before. Much of the country's unique fauna had nowhere to hide.Peter Hadfield travels through the fire-ravaged regions of New South Wales to discover how local people are working to return injured animals to the wild and prepare habitats for a future that can only get hotter.Producer: Alasdair Cross
06/10/2027m 36s

The Great Leaky Loo Scandal

Do you know how much water you use? Despite campaigns to reduce our personal water usage from around 143 litres each per day to closer to 100, it's not improving. Meanwhile Tom Heap has discovered that an innovation to a product we use every day, an innovation which promised to save water is actually making things worse. Billions of litres are being wasted every week – enough to supply the cities of Edinburgh, Cardiff, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Belfast combined – welcome to the Great Leaky Loo Scandal. We reveal how this is happening and what can be done. Tom gets a revealing look behind the scenes at a plumbing manufacturer where flushing systems are tested and the science of 'solids discharge' is analysed. When water is being abstracted from rivers and being treated to meet our demands we ask if we need to take the resource more seriously. Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock for BBC Audio in Bristol
29/09/2027m 40s

Swimming in Superbugs?

Ellen Husain investigates the presence of pathoghens in the marine environment. She learns how surfers and regular sea swimmers may be more likely to have anti-microbial resistant bacteria in their bodies, and finds out about the ways in which antibiotics find their way into our oceans. Is the way we manage our seas actually fuelling the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria and increasing the risk of untreatable disease in future?Producer: Emma Campbell
22/09/2027m 47s

Build, Build, Build

With an ever greater demand for more housing, and Boris Johnson calling for the country to "build buld bulid" post lockdown, Peter Gibbs looks at current trends in house-building. Are the government's plans for "garden communities" as environmentally-friendly as they sound? And how could developers be encouraged to build in a way which incorporates nature rather than squeezing it out? Produced for BBC Audio in Bristol by Emma Campbell.
15/09/2027m 47s

Autopia to Utopia? Car-Free Cities

Lockdown saw many more people jumping on bikes and walking - as much as a way to get out of the house as get around - but pollution levels dropped and nature could be heard without the background roar of traffic. Jheni Osman asks if this the way it could or should be? Has this given us a new way of thinking about how we get around and can city leaders bank on this to change the infrastructure to be 'car free'?After 100 years of city design being built around the private car, this is a rare opportunity to bank on the behaviour change to reduce pollution, improve air quality and get more of us active. Temporary moves to give over more road space to public transport, bikes and pedestrians may give way to more permanent measures and has accelerated plans for 'Car Free Cities'. Jheni explores models that have been applied elsewhere, looks at changes coming in across Milan, Bristol and Birmingham and asks what's needed to make them work? Will we be zooming about on e-scooters and goods transported underground instead? Plans aren't without cost or controversy but is this a rare moment to make a radical change the new normal?Presented by Jheni Osman Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock for BBC Audio in Bristol.
08/09/2027m 44s

Forests of the Future

Just a few months ago politicians across the spectrum were promising trees, glorious trees, in abundance. In an unlikely game of Top Trumps the numbers of trees promised reached into billions, ultimately settling at an ambitious promise of 30,000 hectares a year by 2025.So, how are we going to reach this target over the next 5 years and is it even the right goal? Things have not begun well with thousands of saplings left to rot after they could not be planted due to coronavirus restrictions and campaigners condemning the government targets as ‘inadequate’. At the same time many experts urge caution as the current push for more trees could result in trees being planted on land which should be used for agriculture or on landscapes which are important carbon stores such as peatland.Even if we can find the space we may not have the tree stocks or the skilled workforce to create sustainable woodlands. The current coronavirus crisis has highlighted just how vulnerable the UK nursery industry is without long term planning. We need a trained workforce to plant and care for trees as well as plans for the trees grown to be used sustainably.However, there are other ways. Natural regeneration and nurturing existing woodlands could be a better way to capture carbon long term and improve biodiversity. What we plant and how will have a huge affect on how much carbon the tree absorbs depending on how long they will be left standing but landowners will want to see some return on land used for tree planting. Peter Gibbs delves into the detail behind the mantra of ‘right tree, right place’ to find out what we should be planting, where we should plant and how to create a forest fit for the future. Producer Helen Lennard
26/05/2027m 52s

Flooding Britain

What's the best way to prevent flooding? Caz Graham finds out whether there might be environmental alternatives to building ever-higher flood defences. She talks to a campaign group in Kendal in Cumbria, where there are multi-million pound plans to build flood barriers through the town centre, and asks the Environment Agency whether there could be more imaginative alternatives. Is Natural Flood Management the answer? Caz talks to academics and experts to find out what new solutions there might be, and what other countries are doing.Produced by Emma Campbell. Photograph by Stuart Atkinson.CORRECTION 22/06/2020 In the programme we said: "Those with doubts about the Environment Agency’s walls point to alternative strategies like Natural Flood Management – which holds water further upstream, slowing the flow into town, so the flood peak is lower. That’s phase 3 of the Environment Agency’s plan, and gets a tiny fraction of the £76 million budget – just £800,000." In fact the £800,000 for Natural Flood Management is actually in addition to the overall budget.
25/05/2027m 50s

Is this something I should be doing?

A decade ago, many people saw carbon offsetting as an excuse for carrying on bad behaviour. Need to fly? I can still fly ... look at me - I'm not so bad after all. And the critics lined up to shoot it down. So what has changed, asks Tom Heap, and is it something we should all be doing? With contributions from Juliet Davenport of Good Energy, Charlotte Ashton in Zimbabwe, Tim Brown of Tradewater, Mike Childs from Friends of the Earth and Professor Julia Jones who tells us about her experience of conservation projects in Madagascar.The producer in Bristol is Miles Warde
20/05/2027m 32s

Silencing with Noise

Sound is what the world does. From the tiniest bugs to the largest whales, animals use sound to communicate, for example, they sing to attract a mate and establish a territory. But this is all happening against a background of man-made noise that was, until the last few weeks, increasing in volume all the time. So what happens if you can’t hear or make yourself heard or you are too stressed or distracted to behave normally? Andy Radford, Professor of Behavioural Ecology at the University of Bristol explores the impact of this global pollutant and the mitigation measures that could help. Producer: Sarah Blunt
05/05/2027m 44s

Zero Carbon Britain

In June last year the UK government committed us all to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050. To reach that ambitious target we're going to have to change the way we travel, heat our homes and farm our food. Tom Heap is joined by an expert panel to measure our progress and gauge our chances of reaching net zero.Tom's joined by physicist Helen Czerski of University College London, James Murray, editor of Business Green and the author of Our Final Warning, Mark Lynas.Producer: Alasdair Cross
28/04/2027m 58s

Music's Green Day

In November 2019 the band Massive Attack announced it was working with the Tyndall Centre in Manchester to devise a strategy for touring without emitting carbon dioxide. They join a host of acts including Coldplay, The 1975, Radiohead and Billie Eilish all of whom intend to tour in as green a way as possible in the future. Tom Heap speaks to Chris Jones of the Tyndall Centre to find out what the key components are to produce a 'green' gig and how this could provide a template for bands in the future. But what of the smaller bands for whom touring is their main source of income? This is the question he puts to Kate Stables of the band This is the Kit who talks about the difficulties of balancing her environmental conscience with her desire to play music to a live audience. He also speaks to musicians Fay Milton and Sam Lee from the organisation Music Declares Emergency about what a band can do and where their responsibilities start and finish. Murray Matravers from the band Easy Life explains how shooting a video on a plastic recycling site in Morocco brought these issue home to him, and Surrey-based artist Bruch talks about how the environment sits at the heart of every decision she makes as a musician. Also featured are BBC Introducing bands Brand New Friend, Roving Crows, Lucy Leave and October Drift. This is more than just a debate about who should and shouldn't play live. This is a discussion about the role music plays in our lives and how we can best experience it whilst acknowledging its impact on the planet.Producer: Toby Field
21/04/2027m 45s

Covid-19: the environmental impact

Tom Heap talks through the environmental issues emerging during the coronavirus pandemic and asks what the legacy might be. He's joined by climate change expert Dr Tamsin Edwards from King's College, London to examine the effect of the lockdown. With millions of people now working from home, planes being grounded and fewer cars on the roads, what level of environmental improvement has there been, and will that be reversed once our lives return to normal? With the help of experts from the fields of climate change, remote working, ecology and environmental standards, we track the changes in air pollution and global temperature. What will the return to ‘normal' look like? With the UK aiming to be carbon neutral by 2050, Tom asks whether the pandemic can be seen as a trial run for a zero-carbon world. And, with the international climate meeting COP26 postponed, Tamsin considers how international climate targets might be affected. With contributions from Christiana Figueres - architect of the Paris climate agreement, environmental psychologist Lorraine Whitmarsh, air quality expert David Carslaw, Gina McCarthy of the Natural Resources Defense Council, business communications specialist Jon Sidwick and Julian Newman from the Environmental Investigation Agency.Producer: Melvin Rickarby
14/04/2027m 54s

Fantastic Plastic

Plastic waste is the scourge of developing countries. Many have poor waste collection and virtually no recycling. But there may be ways in which local people can put the waste to good useIn Cameroon a child called Pierre Kamsouloum wanted to play football, but had no ball. He got the idea of melting soft plastic, the kind that food is wrapped in, and moulding it into a crude football. A few years later, without a job and looking for a way to make money, he came back to the idea, and realised that if you mixed the molten plastic with sand, you could turn it into tough paving slabs, competitively priced. Now, with the help of NGOs, thousands of people across Cameroon and Gambia have been trained in the technique.In the Netherlands, design student Dave Hakkens had the idea of creating machines that people could use to recycle their plastic locally. Using quite basic technology, these machines shred, melt and then extrude plastic into moulds to make flat sheets, bowls, and even giant Lego-style house building bricks. The designs are all open-source and online, and a movement of thousands of people has grown up, building, improving and using Dave’s machines. In Guatemala, German environmentalist Susanne Heisse was depressed by the plastic pollution collecting at the side of Lake Atilan. Inspired by the actions of a neighbour, she started stuffing the waste into plastic drinking bottles, and so the idea of the eco-brick was born – a building block that can be strong and durable and at the same time sequesters the plastic and stops it breaking down into dangerous plastics.None of these ideas is without its difficulties and each has its critics. But until we find ways to live without plastic, could they be part of the solution?Presenter/Producer: Jolyon Jenkins
07/04/2027m 50s

Plastic Burnout

Every year billions of products are sold around the world in plastic packaging. But some countries lack a waste system to collect and recycle or dispose of the rubbish. The result can be that waste is dumped, set on fire or used as an accelerant in domestic fires.A new report by Tearfund claims to reveal the scale of the uncontrolled burning in six key countries. Tom Heap finds out what the implications of this are and asks if the product manufacturers which profit have a 'moral responsiblity' to help clear up. Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock
31/03/2027m 31s

Turning Japan Green

Cherry blossom is a perfect symbol of Japan's relationship with nature and the broader environment. It's beautiful, flawless and disappears with the wind. The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics are keen to use the event to push the nation further toward a sustainable future. When the delayed Games finally go ahead they're promised to run on 100% renewable energy and use recycled rainwater. Even the medals and podiums will be made from old mobile phones and recycled shampoo bottles.Peter Hadfield, a journalist based for many years in Japan, examines the efforts of the organisers and asks how far their efforts can push the Japanese people toward a greener future.Producer: Alasdair CrossPhoto courtesy of @nickluscombe
24/03/2027m 38s

Eco Homes Now!

The demand for housing is pushing through developments of millions of new build homes. So why aren't these all being built to the best energy efficiency standards possible with the technology that's now available? Tom Heap reveals how the scrapping of zero carbon homes has meant years of construction has not had to meet the higher standards hoped for. The new Future Homes Standard has just been consulted on but Tom Heap hears it's not just missing the mark for some groups but is at risk of reducing some standards altogether. Homes now come with an EPC - an Energy Performance Certificate - to test how reliable they are Tom trains thermal cameras onto a new build house to reveal any leaks or hidden short cuts that may be lurking behind the walls.Tom also gets a vision of the future - where clever design on village scale and with artificial intelligence could see us living in a low carbon way without even having to think too hard about it. Presented by Tom Heap Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
17/03/2027m 40s

Fate of the Falcons

The Naga people of north-east India and Myanmar have long been famed for their hunting prowess. In the days of traps and catapults a balance was maintained but the influx of high calibre guns and the arrival of the Chinese Medicine Trade have wiped out much of the jungle wildlife. Tigers and Asian Black Bear are now very rare sights and even deer are increasingly hard to find.Travel writer, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent visits Nagaland to meet the local tribal people who have decided that enough is enough. They've banned hunting around their villages and created their own wildlife refuges. Already the signs are positive, with the revival of the Amur Falcon which was once hunted by the thousand and now nests peacefully in enormous flocks in the forest canopy. Producer: Alasdair Cross
10/03/2027m 31s

Mark Ruffalo vs Chemical Pollution

When a frustrated farmer dumped a bag of VHS video tapes onto the desk of Cincinnati lawyer Rob Bilott it kick-started a legal process that would ultimately reveal that one of the world’s biggest chemical companies had poisoned thousands of people. The story of DuPont and their manufacture of the non-stick chemical family PFAS matters to the factory workers of Parkersburg, West Virginia but it also reveals the extent to which virtually all of us have been exposed to a chemical that for decades has lined our frying pans and takeaway food containers and guarded our sofas and carpets against stains.Rob’s story of his two decade battle with DuPont has inspired 'Dark Waters', a Hollywood film starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. In the first of a new series Tom Heap meets Rob and Mark to discuss the impact on the environment and human health of a family of chemicals that can build up in our bodies and take tens of thousands of years to decay.Producer: Alasdair Cross
03/03/2027m 47s

Election 2019

Britain's politicians have been promising the Earth on climate change. Tom Heap chews over the plausibility of their pledges.He's joined by Angela Francis of WWF, green finance expert Michael Liebreich, Ellie Whitlock from the UK Youth Climate Coalition and the editor of Business Green, James Murray.Producer: Alasdair Cross
03/12/1927m 34s

Vegan World

What would the British countryside look like if we all adopted the vegan diet recommended by many environmental campaigners? Tom Heap hosts a discussion with panellists from the National Farmers Union and the Vegan Society. We also hear from expert witnesses from Oxford University, Aberystwyth University, Harvard Law School and Rothamsted Research.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock
28/11/1927m 48s

Dry Me A River

Whilst this Autumn’s heavy rainfall has caused some rivers in the north of England to burst their banks and flood neighbourhoods there are rivers in the south-east with barely a drop of water in them. Tom Heap asks what impact this is this having on aquatic ecosystems. He talks to water companies and environmental campaigner Feargal Sharkey to find out how flora and fauna are changing as a result of the shortage of water. It's a particular concern for chalk streams, which provide a unique wildlife habitat found in very few places in the world. Tom asks who's the blame - the water companies for taking water out of the rivers, the Environment Agency for giving them permission to do it, or us consumers for using more water per person than we ever have before?Producer: Emma Campbell
12/11/1927m 50s

Iron Curtain Turns Green

The Iron Curtain was an accidental wildlife haven. 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tom Heap walks the borderlands to see how nature has continued to thrive.Before the fall of the wall naturalists in West Germany had noticed that some bird and mammal species favoured life in the deathzone with its lack of human disturbance. When the Soviet bloc crumbled they joined friends and colleagues in the East to declare a Greenbelt through Europe, from Trieste on the Adriatic to Lubeck on the Baltic.Against the odds their campaign has met with great success, creating new migration routes for some of Europe's biggest mammals whilst keeping developers away from most of the old border between East and West.Producer: Alasdair Cross
29/10/1927m 40s

Plastic Gardens

The last decade has seen a huge rise in the number of people opting for artificial turf in their gardens. Meanwhile businesses and corporations are making more use of plastic plants in both indoor and outdoor spaces. What effect does choosing fake over real plants have on the environment? Peter Gibbs investigates.Producer: Emma Campbell
22/10/1927m 34s

Powering Britain

Britain urgently needs a zero carbon source of reliable energy for our homes, industry and the new generation of electric vehicles. This summer's electricity blackouts suggest that we're a long way from achieving the goal. Tom Heap and a panel of power experts offer their solutions.Tom is joined by Jillian Ambrose, Energy Correspondent of The Guardian, the Chief Executive of the Committee on Climate Change, Chris Stark and CEO of power company Good Energy, Juliet Davenport.Producer: Alasdair Cross
16/10/1927m 26s

Carbon Free Islands

Orkney's strong winds and powerful tides have attracted renewable energy pioneers for decades. For much of the year the islands produce more energy than they can use. Turbines are shut down and green energy goes to waste. The UK government has spotted an opportunity, funding the REFLEX project which aims to use that excess energy to develop new ways to power a community. Tom Heap visits Orkney to see how hydrogen storage, huge batteries and electric ferries and cars can be lashed together with clever software to remove fossil fuels from an entire energy system.Producer: Alasdair Cross
08/10/1927m 49s

The e-DNA Revolution

From the Loch Ness Monster and mammoths to the Amazon river and uncharted river flies - 'environmental DNA' is revolutionising how we tell what species are present in a certain landscape. Traces of skin, mucus or gametes can be left by creatures in their environment and scientists can use samples from the water, air or soil and sequence the DNA found within to test for a specific species or to get a broader picture of what is there. It can help monitor for invasive species and even look back to ancient history. Samples can be taken by non-experts, in remote locations, quicker than some traditional methods and it's non invasive. Scientists say this can speed up and revolutionise how we chart our living world....which in some cases might flag up the most urgent need to intervene where species are threatened. The technique has been used recently by Prof Neil Gemmell from University of Otago working with experts from the Loch Ness Centre - to search for evidence of what is and isn't present in the depths but it's also being used in more applications around the world. Jheni Osman explores why scientists are so excited about this modern technique, how long the traces last and what it might reveal in the future. Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock
01/10/1929m 41s

Ghost Fishing

Plastic nets and equipment left in the ocean by fishing boats is estimated to make up over 10% of marine rubbish and in the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' over 40% of the accumulated plastic is lost fishing gear. Even worse these plastic 'ghost nets' can go on catching fish and attracting other wildlife which then become entangled too. Often these nets are very old and once they finally do start to degrade they add to the problem of 'microplastics' which are ingested by sea creatures. It's a big global problem but as Lucy Siegle discovers in Cornwall and Italy there are lots of solutions on offer and teams of enthusiastic volunteer divers who want to get these old nets out of the sea and into a recycling scheme.With the help of 'Ghost Fishing UK' Lucy takes a look at what can be done to prevent more 'ghost gear' being lost and to help get existing nets out of our oceans.
24/09/1927m 57s

Fire in the Amazon

How can we prevent a repeat of the devastating fires in the Amazon? Tom Heap and Lucy Siegle search for solutions.Producer: Emma Campbell
20/09/1927m 44s

Verity's Wild Garden

Verity Sharp wants to turn her small garden into a haven for wildlife. She's inspired by the Rewilding movement, but her neighbours aren't too keen on wolves in Wiltshire.Inspired by the work being done at Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex, Verity loves the idea of abandoning the lawn mower and letting nature take control. But will her abandoned garden turn into a natural paradise or an embarrassing mess that lowers the tone of the neighbourhood?Verity calls on the author of 'Wilding', Isabella Tree and rewilding pioneer, Germaine Greer for sage advice.Producer: Alasdair Cross
11/09/1927m 37s

Insect Extinction?

Insects are the most varied and abundant animals outweighing humanity by 17 times, yet they are in decline in many parts of the world. Insects have been called the ‘glue’ in nature and are essential for the proper functioning of all ecosystems as pollinators, food for other animals, and recyclers of nutrients. This month the United Nations IPBES report said insect abundance has declined very rapidly in some places, and the available evidence supports a “tentative” estimate that 10% of the 5.5m species of insect thought to exist are threatened with extinction. Leading entomologists tell Tom Heap that insects have an image problem when it comes to conservation and the first step is getting people to care about these little creatures. We hear about the weird and wonderful world of some insect species that are declining in the UK, including mayflies and dung beetles and discover just how they contribute to the systems we humans rely on. The conversion of natural environments to create farmland is one of the main causes of the decline, with the use of pesticides, urbanisation and climate change also major factors. Tom asks global pesticide manufacturer Bayer about what they’re doing to help reverse insect decline and considers how we can practically make more space for insects.Producer: Sophie AntonPhoto credit: Dr Beynon's Bug Farm
28/05/1928m 8s

Indian Impact

As India votes Navin Singh Khadka travels the sub-continent to find out if environmental issues are rising up the agenda.Amongst nations India is the third highest emitter of carbon dioxide. Its rapid pace of development is pushing emissions higher and worsening air quality. The BBC World Service Environment Correspondent visits the energy capital of India to find out if that link between development and environmental damage can be broken.Producer: Alasdair Cross
21/05/1926m 56s

Eco Anxiety

Is the future of the planet making you depressed? Do you feel paralysed, unable to imagine the happiness of future generations? As global governments fail to respond to the existential crisis of climate change it’s understandable that some people seem unable to conjure up a sense of hope, understandable that dozens of young British women have joined the Birthstrike movement, refusing to bring more children into the world. Verity Sharp meets the eco-anxious and asks if they are ill or simply more perceptive than the rest of us.Producer : Ellie Richold
14/05/1927m 30s

The State of Nature

A detailed snapshot of Earth's natural life is published this week. How sick is the planet and what can we do to reverse the damage? Tom Heap hosts a debate on the vital findings of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.Tom is joined by Sir Robert Watson, Chair of the IBPES, by the writer and broadcaster Gaia Vince and by Erica McAlister, insect specialist at the Natural History Museum.Producer: Alasdair Cross
07/05/1928m 19s

The Youth Are Revolting

Greta Thunberg and the global youth strikes for the climate have directed the worlds attention to the potential future they face on a warming planet. The words and actions of these young people have been noted by global leaders and promises of change have been made but for their efforts to have a lasting impact the promises need to become policy. Tom Heap asks one of the young organisers Tom Bedford if young people are really changing the narrative on climate change. The strikers' demands that the UK government recognises that we are living through a climate emergency has been taken up by some local councils whilst in the US proposals for a 'Green New Deal' are being taken seriously and Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. It seems young people's hope and energy is having an impact but to really change the planet's trajectory they need to bring more of their generation with them and convince the rest of society that their future demands sacrifice today.Producer Helen Lennard
30/04/1928m 7s

The Environment after Brexit

Where does Brexit leave the UK countryside? Tom Heap hosts a studio debate. On the panel: Shaun Spiers from the environmental think-tank, the Green Alliance; Heather Hancock, director of rural-based consultancy 'Rural Solutions', chair of the Food Standards Agency, and former chief executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Patrick Holden, founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust,.Producer: Emma Campbell
16/04/1927m 48s

The Wolf is Back!

Wolves were hunted out of many European countries over a century ago. In recent years they've been migrating back naturally and have now reached every country in continental Europe. Not everyone is happy - while their preferred food source is said to be deer and wild boar the killing of sheep and goats has angered many farmers. Tom Heap travels to the French Alps, meeting farmers to see if its possible to rear livestock alongside a wolf population and hears about projects to help - including an innovative scheme where volunteers camp out to protect the sheep. Tom's taken his own camping gear in the hope of getting closer to these creatures and hearing or possibly seeing them. He also travels to the Netherlands. Even here, they've had sightings of wolves since 2015, so he's going tracking in one of the areas they've been spotted - hoping for a sighting or a sign. Tracks or scat can give important evidence and may help indicate if the wolves have now settled here. How will the first resident female wolf - or eventually pack - for 140 years change life for the Dutch? Join him as they wait for important news. Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock
09/04/1928m 2s

Fast Fashion Slow Down

Fast fashion is responsible for more emissions than shipping and aviation combined and by 2050 could account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. Consumers have been informed about the ethical alternatives but whilst sales of more sustainably sourced clothes are increasing, the biggest success of 2018 was a fast fashion brand which often sells dresses for less than the cost of their postage. After grilling the fashion industry, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has recommended action to curb throwaway culture at an industry level. But can regulation really change a nation of shopaholics who buy more clothes than the people of any other country in Europe? Lucy Siegle finds out how social media has fuelled a huge increase in consumption and how regulation, industry leaders and new generations of consumers and campaigners may finally force the industry to curb its excess. Producer: Helen Lennard
03/04/1927m 41s

Dash from Gas

Around 90% of homes in Britain get their hot water and heating from gas-fired boilers. There are 23 million of them in Britain. The Chancellor has banned them from new homes after 2025 and by 2050 they'll be history. The government is committed to phasing them out to meet international climate change commitments.So what are the alternatives to the gas that's provided reliable, reasonably priced heat since it was first piped ashore from the North Sea in the late 1960s? Electric heating is a quick and easy replacement but we would need to massively increase the amount of green electricity that we generate. Hydrogen gas could be burnt in home appliances but producing hydrogen takes a lot of energy and expensive new infrastructure would be needed.Peter Gibbs is on the hunt for solutions, basing himself in the valleys of South Wales where energy companies and their customers are trialling new fuels, new smart technology and new payment methods to cut the carbon from heating our homes.Producer: Alasdair Cross
02/04/1927m 56s

Clean Air for Kids

Clean air - the fightback: Tom Heap investigates the problems caused by air pollution, and asks how it affects children's health. He visits schools in Manchester and London and finds out about new initiatives which hope to try to reduce pollution around school sites.Produced by Emma Campbell
19/03/1927m 50s

Tread Lightly

Tyres have an enormous impact on the environment. What can be done to produce and dispose of them more efficiently? Tom Heap reports.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock
12/03/1927m 45s

Hit the Gas!

From the cattle shed to the racetrack, ammonia is having a moment. In the wrong place it's a dangerous pollutant, in the right place it's a clean fuel for your car. Ella McSweeney and Peter Hadfield report on the two faces of the gas chemists know as NH3.The increasing global demand for milk means more big dairy herds. More cows means more dung and urine. Mixed together they produce ammonia gas which contributes to urban air pollution and destroys sensitive habitats. In Ireland scientists have spotted big problems in peat bogs. The mosses which help create the carbon-grabbing peat are dying off in areas down-wind of dairy, pig and chicken farms. Farmers are being asked to change the way they store and spread their slurry, but it could be too late for some of the island's most vulnerable bogs.Meanwhile, in Australia they're exploiting some interesting properties of ammonia. Environmentally-friendly hydrogen-powered cars have been around for years but they've failed to take off because hydrogen is costly and awkward to transport. By contrast, ammonia is very simple to move around from refinery to fuel station. Splitting the N from the H is straightforward, giving drivers a source of fuel that emits only water from the exhaust pipe.So can ammonia complete its journey from environmental villain to green hero?Producer: Alasdair Cross
05/03/1927m 56s

The Future of Our National Parks

2019 is the 70th anniversary of the legislation that created the first National Parks in the UK. At this crucial moment for the future of our countryside, Tom Heap asks how our best-loved landscapes can work better for people and wildlife. There are now 15 National Parks – all are protected areas because of their beautiful countryside, wildlife and cultural heritage. However, much has changed since the original legislation and many of these landscapes face significant challenges, including declining wildlife, a need for housing and poor public access. Tom visits two very different parks, the Cairngorms and the South Downs, to ask communities how they think National Parks should be improved to meet the needs of the 21st century. He considers some of the key issues; such as how to balance agriculture with enhancing and connecting habitats and how to deliver rural development and housing in protected landscapes.Producer: Sophie Anton
05/12/1827m 56s

Heat from the Deep

The heat contained in the top 3km of the Earth’s crust could power the planet thousands of times over. Despite that, less than 1% of the world’s electricity comes from geothermal energy. That may be about to change.Near Redruth in Cornwall a 3 mile deep hole is being dug- it will be the deepest in the UK. Cold water will be pumped down to the 200 degrees hot rocks below, the hot water returning will drive turbines to provide electricity for thousands of homes. Nearby, the Eden Project and the seawater lido in Penzance are building their own geothermal plants.But Cornwall is just the tip of the iceberg. Geothermal electricity was first produced in 1904 at Larderello in Tuscany. Today Enel Green Power supply a third of the region's electricity from natural steam and they have plans to get much bigger, exploiting an extraordinary bit of chemistry. When water goes above 374 degrees centigrade and 221 bars of pressure it becomes a supercritical fluid. This contains five times as much energy as 200 degree water, transfers energy twice as efficiently and has a lower viscosity. Overall, you can theoretically get ten times more energy than from a similar conventional borehole. The new technology also promises more efficient geothermal energy in regions far away from geological hot spots like Iceland and Italy. The only fly in the ointment is that some techniques involve creating bigger fractures in the rocks. Experiments at Basel in Switzerland provoked an earthquake. So can the incredible potential of new-gen geothermal be exploited without provoking protests?Producer: Alasdair Cross
27/11/1828m 32s

Art and the Environment

Climate change is hard to depict. Polar bears on melting ice caps are far away from everyday life and the data is often complex and confusing. So could art in its broadest sense help us to understand the implications of global warming and environmental degradation? Tom Heap takes a look at how the creative community is responding to what is arguably the biggest threat of our time and asks if art can succeed in eliciting a response where science has failed. Music and visual arts which make climate data sets tangible, clothing which make pollutants visible and artists who make their creative response a form of protest. These are just a few of the ways in which artists are responding to environmental issues but it remains to be seen if these visions can impact our collective beliefs and behaviours.
20/11/1827m 35s

March of the Wet Wipes

Over the last decade, wet wipes have become ubiquitous. There's a wipe for almost everything, from faces to furniture, and it's a multi-million pound industry. But our sewerage systems are paying the price. Tom Heap goes on a call-out with the teams whose job is unblocking the drains - and finds that the culprits are usually wet wipes. It doesn't stop with the sewers: wipes can now be found in their millions on our beaches and in our rivers - where they are affecting wildlife, and in some cases even changing the shape of the riverbed itself. Water companies say that nothing but pee, poo and paper should be flushed down the toilet. Many wipes are labelled "do not flush" - but Tom talks to experts who cast doubt over whether even the ones marked "flushable" really are. Producer: Emma Campbell
13/11/1827m 53s

Wetland Wonder

What have wetlands ever done for us? Apart from providing fresh water, carbon storage, flood mitigation, wildlife habitat and much more....they are said to be critical to human and planetary life. But a recent report claims despite this these ecosystems are disappearing three times faster than forests. Around 35% of the worlds wetlands were lost between 1970 and 2015 - but the UK lost most of its before then. So why don't we care? Are a 'bunch of bogs and ditches' less valued than a romantic forest? Tom Heap finds out what wetlands are and what they do for us and if policy makers and decision-makers need to value them more highly, should we too? The positive news is wetlands can be created and improved - both on a large scale and in our own gardens and neighbourhoods. Is it time to make some noise for the wonders of wetlands? Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock
06/11/1827m 32s

The Real Cost of Chinese Medicine

China's $900bn Belt and Road Initiative is taking Chinese money, expertise and workers all around the world. From South-East Asia all the way to South America, Chinese influence can be spotted at construction sites for roads, dams and railways. Evidence is mounting that this is bad news for rare and endangered species. Local people discover that Chinese workers have an appetite for the skin, bones and teeth of rare creatures for use in so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine. A market is established and before long an illicit trade is established, reaching all the way back to China.The Chinese government has just announced a partial reversal of its 25 year ban on the sale of rhinoceros and tiger parts. That decision is expected to boost the illegal trade in endangered species.Peter Hadfield has travelled across the world from the Kazakhstan steppe to the markets of Hong Kong, in search of the species threatened by the trade and the buyers of body parts. He discovers a new drive from scientists to create alternative compounds and asks if consumers will accept an artificial option.Producer: Alasdair Cross
30/10/1827m 54s


Could the war on plastic have unintended consequences for the environment? Tom Heap reports.Producer: Sarah Swadling
23/10/1827m 55s

Man vs Woman vs Planet

The environment affects us all so should gender matter when we consider how best to save the planet? Lucy Siegle and Tom Heap take on the gender divide to find out how global warming has a disproportionate impact on women and how solutions which put women in charge can be highly effective in saving carbon as well as creating equality.
16/10/1827m 57s

Helen Czerski's Arctic Expedition

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet. That's certain to impact on the weather we experience in Britain. Physicist Helen Czerski and an icebreaker full of scientists have just spent six weeks at the North Pole conducting experiments to find out much more about the impacts of this extraordinary change to our planet.Join Helen on the Arctic ice floes for the very latest research on the rapid changes to the far north.Producer: Alasdair CrossPhoto by Mario Hoppmann
09/10/1827m 39s

Electric Dreams

Is the time finally right to buy an electric car? Peter Gibbs has just taken the plunge. We join him on his first road trip to see if Britain really is ready to wave goodbye to diesel and petrol.He drops in on Robert Llewellyn, Kryten in Red Dwarf and the man behind the electric car Youtube channel, Fully Charged for some initial inspiration and a moan about the difficulties of charging on the road. He checks out the real environmental benefits with Nick Molden from Emissions Analytics. He asks the Gardeners' Question Time panel if they're ready to make the shift and hears from Roads Minister, Jesse Norman and the scientists at Warwick University who are making radical advances in battery technology.If they really can offer a car with a 300 mile range that can be charged in 10 minutes then the future may very well be electric. Producer: Alasdair Cross
02/10/1827m 56s

Fertility and the Environment

Sperm counts amongst men in the West have dropped by over 50% in less than 40 years. Today 1 in 6 couples has trouble conceiving but some animal species are also facing difficulty breeding. Science Journalist and IVF patient Jheni Osman asks what the latest thinking is on factors in the environment affecting our fertility. Forty years on from the birth of the first 'test-tube baby', Louise Brown, IVF has advanced further with many new tests and treatments available. But the success highlights the continuing struggle for many potential parents and the complexity of the issue. Jheni speaks to some of the leading lights in fertility about factors that have been considered and discussed in the past and why a new direction is being taken by some. Meanwhile in the animal world, fish, birds and other creatures are being affected by pollution from humans. Jheni hears what research has found in different species and asks what can be done.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock
25/09/1827m 51s

Ending the Plastic Age

How do we solve the plastic crisis? Tom Heap is joined by an expert panel to find fresh ways to cut down on plastic waste.It's become the environmental crisis that's caught the imagination. Since Blue Planet 2 broadcast heart-rending images of albatross and turtles tangled in plastic waste enormous pressure has been exerted on government and retailers to reduce the flow of plastic into landfill and the oceans. But what's the best way to dispose of plastic? How do we reduce our consumption of such an incredibly versatile material? Are there future plastics that will degrade and disappear without a cost to the planet?Lucy Siegle, BBC 'One Show' reporter and author of a new book, 'Turning the Tide on Plastic' joins Tom alongside Richard Walker, MD of Iceland supermarkets who has pledged to remove plastic packaging from own-label goods by 2023. Bath University's Janet Scott discusses plant-based alternatives to plastic and Dustin Benton of the Green Alliance explains how campaigners are keeping up the pressure on government to improve the treatment and recycling of waste.Recorded at Countryfile Live at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire.
19/09/1827m 45s

Verity and the Bees

Verity Sharp wants to keep bees. She already grows her own organic fruit and vegetables. To pollinate her garden and provide delicious honey, bees seem like the perfect addition. And then there's the warm glow of righteousness to look forward to- bees are in trouble and she'll be doing her bit.Or will she? As Verity seeks out the best advice on beekeeping she quickly discovers moral, philosophical and environmental problems to swerve, alongside the practical issues she'd been expecting. Could honeybees be in competition with hard-pressed wild pollinators? Will her hive actually reduce the insect diversity of her corner of the British countryside?Producer: Alasdair Cross.
11/09/1827m 49s

The Future of the Countryside

What do we want from our countryside and how much are we willing to pay for it? Tom Heap chairs a debate in response to the Government's 25 Year Environment Plan focusing on "Public Money for Public Goods " and asks what are public goods? Is food a public good? Should public money be used to support food production or conservation and the environment? How can environmental enhancement be measured? What will the landscape of the future look like? Producer: Sarah Blunt.
29/05/1827m 51s

Disappearing Alps

The permafrost is thawing, the mountains are crumbling and the glaciers retreating. What will be left of the Alps? Peter Hadfield reports from Switzerland.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
22/05/1827m 48s

Run Rabbit

When was the last time you saw a rabbit - dead or alive? Despite its reputation, a BTO survey suggests European rabbit numbers in the UK have declined by around 60 per cent over the last 20 years. In turn, other species from birds to invertebrates are also suffering as a result. Tom Heap tracks down the story. Myxomatosis wiped out the majority of the population in the 50s and 60s and can still affect the young but now scientists are concerned about Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease. Ironically this is deliberately released in some countries as a deliberate way to control the population but is thought to be behind large-scale declines in the UK through spreading naturally. He visits areas which have seen numbers disappear, to hear what they're doing about it and concerns it may pass on to other species. Now groups are asking walkers and cyclists to log rabbit sightings to get a broader picture of numbers but should we really be working on an antidote? Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
16/05/1826m 23s

Antarctic Assault

The whales, penguins and other seabirds and marine mammals of the Southern Ocean depend upon a reliable supply of the tiny shrimp-like krill. New developments in fishing and freezing technology mean that we can now join in the feast, popping krill pills for their high Omega 3 content.The writer and chef, Gerard Baker has been working on fishing boats and cruise ships in the Antarctic for twenty years. He's worried that there may not be enough krill to go around, particularly in the crucial regions where breeding penguins rely on an easily accessible source of food.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
11/05/1827m 23s

Outback Outrage

In the Australian Outback survival is tough for plants, animals and people. Food and water are always in short supply. If anyone, or anything, takes too much it can spell disaster. Peter Hadfield travels into the red heart of the continent on the trail of a surprising threat to the delicate balance- wild camels.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
08/05/1827m 44s

Demolishing Dams

Large hydro-electric dams continue to be planned and built in Africa, Asia and South America. In Western Europe and the US they're tearing them down. Peter Gibbs wants to know why.These wonders of engineering are a symbol of our ability to harness nature to produce renewable energy. The trouble is that many dams radically alter the natural life of rivers and harm their ecosystems. The majority of rivers in Europe and the US have dams on them, many of which are aging and no longer serve any useful purpose. Gradually the conversation is changing and communities are realising that dams don't have to be forever. Now there's a growing movement to remove the worst offenders and restore rivers to their natural state.France is currently embarking on the biggest dam removal in Europe. Two large hydro-electric dams will soon be demolished on the River Sélune in Normandy. Here a choice had to be made between energy production and biodiversity. Peter Gibbs meets the different groups involved in the project to find out how they are planning for the removals. Will the opening up of wild salmon migration routes and improvements in water quality make up for the loss of low-carbon energy?Producer: Sophie Anton.
24/04/1827m 51s

Shifting Spring

We've just endured a really tough winter but records suggest that Spring is on average beginning much earlier. Lindsey Chapman investigates how shifting seasons are affecting our wildlife.Bumblebees in January, daffodils blooming early, 'thuggish-vegetation' thriving as a result of mild winters and damp summers: the seasons appear to be blurring and wildlife is becoming confused. The overall impact is 'quite staggering' according to Matthew Oates, butterfly expert from the National Trust.In this week's Costing The Earth, Lindsey Chapman meets Matthew as he takes stock of our shifting seasons. He explains how early spring can throw several species out of kilter, creating a mismatch between wildlife and their prey. And what happens when- like this year- we get an icy snap in the middle of a mild spell?Lindsey meets the scientists studying the mechanisms driving the UK's climate, phenologists who have been studying the link between seasons and species and the naturalists who are spotting new species turning up on our doorstep. Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
23/04/1827m 37s

Undiscovered Colombia

Colombia is second only to Brazil in the extent of its rich biodiversity but armed conflict over a half century has limited exploration and charting of much of its land. Those researchers who braved it risked kidnap, injury or death. But in 2016 President Santos signed a peace treaty with the FARC guerrilla fighters which has opened the door for collaborations and exploration of previously occupied areas home to potentially thousands of new species of flora and fauna. Costing the Earth follows teams from Kew Gardens, led by Colombian Mauricio Diazgranados, as they travel into uncharted territories and reveal what they see. Presented by Tom Heap Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock BBC Audio and Music Production Bristol.
17/04/1827m 46s

Dunes into Bunkers

It's a decade since Donald Trump began building his golf resort on the enormous mobile sand dunes of Balmedie in Aberdeenshire. Conservation organisations bitterly protested and the idea of building golf courses on sensitive dune habitats seemed tainted. Today, however, a new course is being proposed for Coul Links on the stunning coastline to the north of Inverness. Peter Gibbs investigates the impact of Trump's development and the increasingly bitter controversy over the new course.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
03/04/1827m 39s


Anything made from oil can now be made from trees, so is a new age of wood about to dawn? Tom Heap visits Finland which is pushing for a new industrial revolution based on trees and plants rather than oil and coal. He takes a glimpse into a future where cars, clothes, computers screens, and everything else we buy could begin its life in the forest. And he finds out how the UK is leading the way towards wooden skyscrapers. Producer Sarah Swadling.
28/03/1827m 41s

Microfibre Detectives

Around two thirds of fibres produced globally are synthetic material - many used in our clothing. It's emerged that plastic microfibres are being shed when we wear and wash these items - which ironically include fleeces and kit worn by 'outdoorsy types' like Tom Heap. With microplastics in the marine environment now high on the agenda, Tom hears how these tiny invisible strands can be a major contributor to the scale of plastics in the oceans. They also pollute land and freshwater and are being consumed by creatures in our rivers as well as the seas.Tom takes his 'blue fleece of doom' to the experts - Professor Richard Thompson has been leading research on marine plastics for many years. He and Imogen Napper at the University of Plymouth have offered to wash his fleece to show how much it's shedding, where the fibres go and to discuss how much of a threat they might be to animals and humans. Is Tom to purge the plastics and pursue a life of naturism...or natural fibres only? Sophie Mather from Biov8tion hopes not. She says plastics have 'many beautiful benefits' and it's just a case of developing 'good' synthetic yarns. After being frustrated by the pace of microfibre research she crowdfunded to commission research form the University of Leeds to assess which factors affect breakage. Her years in textile innovation for some of the world's largest brands makes her believe fabrics can be designed to shed less and she is sharing the research with industry. Can she help save the synthetics and the fish? Presented by Tom Heap Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.
27/03/1828m 13s

A Greener Home For All

Our homes and their construction have a huge impact on the environment. The construction industry is estimated to contribute to 40% of worldwide energy use and in the UK alone the building sector uses more than 400 million tons of material a year, many of which have an adverse impact on the environment. Added to this is the impact on local air quality and green spaces and the energy used in heating, lighting and even furnishing new homes. The government has set a target of 300,000 new homes a year to help solve the growing housing crisis but this figure is nearly double the current rate of building. So is there anyway we can solve the housing crisis without nearly doubling our emissions? Tom Heap sets out to find out where, what and how we could build affordable and green homes for all.
13/03/1827m 52s

Coral versus Coal

The rapid decline of the Great Barrier Reef is one of the environmental crises of the decade. But who is to blame? Environmental activists have accused successive Australian governments of underestimating the threats to the reef from agriculture and the shipping industry but their focus is now on a coal mine.India's Adani corporation has government support for the development of one of the world's largest new mines at Carmichael, inland from the Great Barrier Reef. Construction would increase shipping traffic around the reef but the real concern is the extra carbon dioxide that the burning of millions of tonnes of coal would send into the atmosphere. This could increase the speed of climate change and lead to yet warmer waters around Australia, potentially killing even more of the coral of the Great Barrier Reef.Marine biologist and film-maker, Ellen Husain meets both sides of the debate to find out if new jobs from the mine could outweigh the damage to the reef and the jobs that reef tourism supports. Producer: Alasdair Cross.
07/03/1827m 35s

Defenders of the Reef

Marine biologist and film-maker, Ellen Husain studied the Great Barrier Reef for her Masters degree thirteen years ago. Today she's back to dive with her old supervisor. The picture is grim. So much of the life she remembers has gone, wiped out by the great coral bleaching events caused by rising sea temperatures. Some who love the reef are in despair, others who once chose to ignore the signs are finally energised, determined to do what they can to slow or even reverse the decline. Ellen meets the people of the reef- tour operators, aboriginal Sea Rangers and coral scientists- to discover if one of the great natural wonders of the world really can be saved.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
27/02/1827m 51s

Everything's Gone Green!

In the last General Election environmental issues barely merited a mention. Nine months on and the Prime Minister is making keynote speeches on recycling and Michael Gove is issuing a flurry of policy initiatives to get the green-minded voter on-side. Tom Heap sets out to discover why this remarkable transformation has taken place. Is it the Attenborough Effect, the power of the newly-green Daily Mail or a blatant attempt to woo the youth vote? Perhaps senior politicians have actually come to accept the gravity of Earth's predicament.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
20/02/1827m 26s

Bonn Climate Talks: Where Next?

Tom Heap is in Bonn for the United Nations annual climate change discussions.It is the first year with Donald Trump in power as president of the United States of America and Tom will be exploring what impact his climate stance will have on the conference talks and any future agreements.Tom's guests are Lou Leonard, senior vice president of climate and energy at WWF US. He leads their climate program in the US and he is in Bonn to represent the 'We Are Still In' movement, referring to President Trump's desire to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Rachel Kyte is Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL), and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All. Oliver Maurice is Director of The International National Trusts Organisation: the organisation that oversees all of the national trust organisations around the world, and Mark Pershin. Mark fronts an organisation called 'Less Meat, Less Heat' and he tells Tom about something called the 'Climatarian' diet.Tom will be taking stock of some of the topics disucssed in this series of Costing The Earth and asks how our attempts to combat climate change are proceeding and will proceed in the future. Will public responsibility and engagement with the problems that are now being faced galvanise more of the world's population into action?Presenter: Tom Heap Producer Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
14/11/1727m 39s

America's Climate Resistance

It's a year since President Trump was elected.In that time he has appointed a climate sceptic as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, he has insisted that he will bring the coal industry back, and he still has not appointed a science advisor.Roger Harrabin travels to the USA to meet those spearheading the resistance to President Trump's climate policies.In California he meets Governor Jerry Brown. Jerry is determined that California pushes ahead towards a cleaner future. He visits the world's largest battery storage plant near San Diego, and travels to the San Gorgonio Pass, the site of one of the world's largest wind farms.Heading east from California to Ohio, and coal country, Roger meets Bob Murray, head of the Murray Energy Corp. Bob is determined to see coal jobs protected, but even he believes that coal's heyday has passed, but he remains bullish.Roger also meets form science advisor to President Obama, Dr John Holdren. John thinks that economics should ensure that the USA remains on a path to cleaner energy.Producer Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
07/11/1727m 47s

Tony's Farm

When Anna Jones was growing up, the air was clean and the grass was lush. She lived on a farm in Shropshire, and phrases such as 'greenhouse gas emissions' and carbon footprints were associated with towns and cities - factories, cars and aerosols. Not anymore. We now know that 10% of the UK's greenhouse emissions come from farms, and there is a concerted effort to encourage farmers to reduce their carbon footprint. But in a world where the idea of stewardship has only recently taken hold, how do you communicate the importance of carbon emissions to a farmer? Anna starts with her father, Tony, first. The programme also features contributions from two other farmers - Ian Pigott and Rob Richmond, one arable, one dairy - who have both changed their ways; and Becky Willson, project officer with the Farm Carbon Cutting Toolkit, travels to Tony Jones' Shropshire farm to measure his carbon footprint.Producer: Miles Warde.
31/10/1727m 27s

Fish Farms of the Future

A new study suggests farmed fish could be key to feeding a growing global population. Fish are an efficient source of protein and already over half the fish we now eat are farmed. However, this phenomenal growth in the production of salmon and other popular seafood has had a detrimental effect on their wild cousins. Wild salmon numbers have fallen and conservationists blame the fish farms for the spread of disease, sea lice and the pollution of habitats. Most farmed fish also require a diet which includes smaller wild fish in order to help them create Omega-3 which has well documented health benefits for us all. This too has an impact on the wild fish stocks with many key species now under pressure.Tom Heap investigates the dramatic and novel approaches which the industry may need to adopt in order to keep up with our appetite for fish suppers and it seems the best solution for the health of our oceans might be to take the fish we eat and the food we need to feed them out of the sea altogether.Producer: Helen Lennard.
26/10/1727m 42s

Where Does Our Waste Go?

Where do the contents of our bins end up? Tom Heap lifts the lid on the recycling industry to find out what happens to our waste beyond the kerbside collection. What does 'recycling' mean? Are bottles and tins and plastic packaging recycled when they're collected from our homes? They might well be taken to the local MRF (Materials Recovery Facility) and separated out into different waste streams, but what happens then? Embarking on a road journey along the recycling chain, Tom Heap tracks his own domestic recycling refuse to find out how much - or how little - of it is actually recycled. Tom is accompanied on this road trip by waste expert Dr Karl Williams of the University of Central Lancashire's Centre for Waste Management, during which he devises what we're calling Karl's Top Ten Recycling Tips.1 It's not waste you're throwing away, it's a resource. 2 Recycling starts at home. 3 Read your local authority's recycling guide or visit their website as to what they collect, and do as it says. 4 Sort your recycling at source which is at your home. 5 If in doubt, put it in the residual bin or black bag, don't put it in with the recycling! 6 Where you can, separate different materials, (eg: take cardboard wrapping off plastic cartons, plastic film from paper). 7 Don't put your recycling in bags in the bin. 8 Household waste recycling centres will take those recyclables not collected at the kerbside by your council. 9 Where possible, separate glass from paper. 10 Remember you are giving materials the chance of a second life as something else.Producer: Mark Smalley.
17/10/1727m 44s

The Future of Fashion

It may seem odd when an industry that relies on seasonal trends and consumption talks about 'going green'. But Lucy Siegle has had a keen eye to the fashion industry and has been charting efforts to improve things. She heads to La Scala in Milan for the very first Green Carpet Fashion Awards, rubbing shoulders with Gisele, Anna Wintour and Giorgio Armani, where the big names in the industry are gathering to respond to calls for greener fashion. Is this the sign of new era starting from the top? Lucy heads back to the UK, where the 18-35 year olds are leading the charge in wanting more sustainable fashion. She reveals how we shop and looks at which fabrics could potentially challenge cotton and polyester and what it would take for them to be a mainstay in our wardrobes. For the fashion loving consumer who's not ready for a lecture, we reveal the new developments from retail and 'change disruptors' and ask if the 'lucky pants' theory could change our behaviour. Presenter: Lucy Siegle Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
10/10/1727m 57s

Dare to Share

The ability to share underused resources like holiday homes and car journeys through online sites has disrupted many sectors of the economy. Many people now travel using 'Airbnb' or 'Uber' and being able to deal directly with the owner of the property or the driver of the car has opened up additional revenue streams for some and cheaper travel options for us all. As many more industries are about to be 'disrupted' by sharing technology Tom Heap discovers how the sharing economy might also be good for the planet.New apps like Olio and Fat Llama or the Library of Things are designed to allow people to share everything from leftover food to lawnmowers. In a world where space is at a premium and less people will own their own home many of us may no longer want to store so much 'stuff'. The solution is to borrow what we need when we need it and many statistics suggest we have already reached a point of 'peak stuff'. Buying less manufactured goods may be bad for the economy but it could be good news for the planet. Tom finds out just how far the sharing economy can provide for his needs and asks if this shift in how and what we consume can really save energy and emissions.Producer: Helen Lennard.
03/10/1727m 52s

Guardians of the Environment?

Tom Heap asks if the Environment Agency is fit for purpose. After seven years of deep cuts to its staffing and budgets, Tom Heap asks the EA's Chair, Emma Howard Boyd, to respond to her critics. We hear from those who are concerned that the EA is doing too little, too late when it comes to protecting the quality of our rivers and the environment, and that it can appear toothless when dealing with the rising tide of waste crime. Senior Conservative politician, John Gummer, now Lord Deben, created the Environment Agency in 1995. He tells us that the organisation has become too cosy to government and has lost its independence. Emma Howard Boyd responds to these and other concerns, such as the EA's shedding of one third of its frontline enforcement officers over the last five years. Can it still safeguard our environment? Producer: Mark Smalley.
29/09/1727m 51s

Fight the Power

Meet Gina Lopez, the radical green activist who suddenly found herself appointed Environment Minister for the Philippines. Rodrigo Duterte was elected President with the promise to cut crime by killing thousands of criminals. He lived up to expectations, initiating a vicious war against suspected drug dealers, ignoring the protests of international human rights groups.But Duterte wasn't just tough on street criminals, he also planned to crack down on the environmental abuses of large corporations perceived to have exploited the people and landscape of the islands. To achieve those ends he offered radical green activist, Gina Lopez the office of Environment Minister. Flushed with sudden and unexpected power Lopez removed licences from mining companies she suspected of abusing the environment. Peter Hadfield tells the story of what happened next.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
20/09/1727m 31s

Battery Powered Britain

New developments in battery technology are changing the way we power Britain. More efficient, higher capacity batteries expand the range of electric vehicles and allow solar and wind power plants to provide smooth, 24 hour electricity. Tom Heap is in Cornwall where power companies and local innovators are developing a new battery-powered economic model that could be rolled out to the rest of the UK.From mining the lithium that makes the batteries to holiday parks producing clean power for the grid Cornwall is leading the way.Producer: Alasdair CrossPhoto: Nicholas Davies.
12/09/1727m 25s

Tourist Tide

Can beautiful places welcome mass tourism without environmental destruction? Tom Heap reports.There's been a summer of discontent in some of Europe's most popular tourist destinations. In Venice and Barcelona there have been a series of protests over their inundation by visitors. In the capital of the Basque country, San Sebastian, 'tourists go home' graffiti has appeared. Dubrovnik is capping the number of visitors allowed in the old city. Even the Isle of Skye told people not to come unless they had accommodation already booked.So how can the most popular places find a way to continue attracting visitors and their cash without destroying the beauty that was so appealing in the first place? Tom travels to Orkney which has become the most popular cruise destination in the UK and to Amsterdam which is trialling innovative ways to spread its millions of visitors beyond the Rijksmuseum, the coffee shops and the Red Light District.Producer: Sarah Swadling.
05/09/1727m 37s

James Wong on the World's Toughest Plants

Between 20 and 33% of the world's plant species are currently at risk of global extinction. That's the estimation of recently published studies. So how much will climate change impact on the variety, availability and price of the food on our plates? Botanist James Wong investigates the links between global warming and the rate at which crops are able to adapt and evolve to rapidly changing conditions. Speaking to farmers, plant breeders and scientists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and elsewhere he hears about the plant world's likely 'winners' and 'losers'. Having deeper roots and more efficient water-use strategies is a clear bonus, and one that's being addressed by British plant scientists who are developing more drought-resistant wheat varieties by breeding them with ancient antecedents of one of the world's most important crops. That's in the UK, but elsewhere around the world, James Wong learns that many plants are facing extinction before they have been recognised as being at risk, and perhaps in some cases even before they have been discovered. Producer: Mark Smalley.
30/05/1727m 52s

Future Forests

Can Britain revive its forests and grow the wood we need for a greener economy? Tom Heap investigates as we approach the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of The Forest. Tree planting in England has hit a forty five year low which is alarming both the timber industry and environmentalists. Tom visits a new woodland in Central Scotland combining conifers with native tree species to offer wildlife habitats, flood prevention, and public access as well as timber. Foresters hope this new generation of mixed woodland will overcome resistance to tree planting, from those who fear a dark monoculture of conifers. Meanwhile, Ella McSweeney reports on a conifer planting boom in Ireland which, it's claimed, could damage the environment and price small farmers off the land. Back in the UK, Tom discusses how producing hardwood timber from broadleaved woodlands might give them a more secure future. Producer: Sarah Swadling.
24/05/1728m 3s

Mekong Delta Blues

New dams threaten life on South-East Asia's most vital river, a river that provides food and water to 70 million people. The government of Laos is determined to develop the nation by building hydroelectric dams for electricity. Many people in the downstream countries of Cambodia and Vietnam are worried that the flow of the life-giving waters of the Mekong will be much reduced and fish life devastated. Peter Hadfield reports from the banks of the Mekong.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
16/05/1727m 22s

Exploding Penguins

The penguins of the Falkland Islands have thrived since the war of 1982, protected from human interference by Argentine landmines. Peter Gibbs finds out what happens when the mines are cleared.Producer: Matthew Teller.
09/05/1727m 41s

Made to Last?

How long do you reasonably expect your electronic gadgets and clothes to last? Has the cheapening of products meant we're too ready to let them go when they break and buy new? Jheni Osman is sick of things breaking and the energy and resources that went to making them going to waste. She meets those who are fighting back and lengthening the lifecycle of their goods. Around the country those who lack the skills or know-how to fix things are learning how in community parties and online. But some products are now being built so they're difficult or costly to repair. She meets the campaigners who are calling for companies to be upfront about the life expectation of a product alongside the price tag and learns how some companies are offering a 'lifetime product' with repairs and replacements offered if the items break. Is this the way more companies will go or is it commercial suicide? Can the fulfilment of fixing a laptop or amp transfer to clothing? We hear why we'll only go a certain way to 'make do and mend' but how even retailers, who've been part of the fast fashion fad, are pioneering new techniques to reuse clothes, find new fabrics and make them last longer. Can the new frock feelgood factor translate to making clothes last longer. Presented by Jheni Osman and Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.
02/05/1727m 55s

Insulation for the Nation

Our homes are responsible for 25% of our carbon emissions in the UK. Tom Heap asks if we can retrofit our homes to fight climate change.An Englishman's home is his castle, but most homes are not well defended against cold air and high fuel bills and if we are going to hit our 2050 carbon dioxide emissions targets we need to start a retrofit revolution from our front doors. Tom visits the house of his producer, Martin, to take stock of his 'typical' Edwardian terrace. Pre-1920s housing makes up a big proportion of UK homes and what Tom and a team of eco-house experts discover in Martin's house is not uncommon: draughty doorways, patches of damp, hot-spots and cold spots. Martin's home has room for improvement and so Tom then makes a whistle-stop tour of homes that are part of the SuperHomes network. SuperHomes is an organisation of determined householders who have made big changes to their dwellings to improve energy efficiency, cut bills and reduce emissions. They show that small changes can make a big difference.However, in order to tackle our ageing housing stock, a lot of skilled workers are needed. Energy consultant Peter Rickaby, and Gavin Killip from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University explain that we simply do not have the skilled workforce to carry out the necessary retrofit renovations. The problem will be, according to Professor Linda Clarke from the Westminster Business School, exacerbated by Brexit.Meanwhile, at his 'power station' in Notting Hill, Michael Liebreich, director of New Energy Finance at Bloomberg thinks we should think big: renovating all our homes could mean that we don't need big new power stations like Hinkley.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
25/04/1727m 56s

Sinking Solomon Islands

Five of the Solomon Islands have already been lost to sea level rise and many more are being rendered uninhabitable. For wildlife film-maker and marine biologist, Ellen Husain that's not just a disturbing quirk of climate change, it's a family concern.At the beginning of the 20th century her great uncle, Stanley Knibbs was the Chief Engineer and Surveyor of the Solomon Islands, drawing up some of the first maps of the region for the British Empire. He fell in love with this Pacific paradise and wrote a warm and witty memoir of his time with the islanders. One hundred years on Ellen is anxious to find out how the islands have changed. How is sea level rise at three times the global average disturbing the ancient rhythms of life? Can crops continue to be grown in land that grows saltier by the day? Can ancient traditions like shark-calling and megapode egg-collecting survive as tribal communities are broken up and moved to higher ground.? And what lessons can the rest of the world learn from the people on the frontline of sea level rise that we're all likely to endure over the next century.Producer: Alasdair CrossStanley Knibbs played by Mark MeadowsAll photos by Ellen Husain.
18/04/1727m 32s

Reasons to Be Cheerful?

The Skoll World Forum was set up by eBay founder, Jeff Skoll to pursue his optimistic vision of a sustainable world of peace and prosperity. But can the world's most pressing problems be solved by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and innovators? This year the forum will be attended by key speakers such as Bono, Atul Gawunde, Michael Porter and Don Henley. Tom Heap will be reporting from Oxford to ask whether there are reasons for optimism in poverty, health and conservation as we face fresh challenges from climate change and political uncertainty.Producer: Helen Lennard.
11/04/1728m 1s

Fishing Future

The British fishing industry suffered decades of sharp decline during our membership of the European Union. The European Common Fisheries Policy has long been regarded by many as a disaster, both for fishermen and for fish stocks. So will Brexit bring a bright new dawn? Will fishing boats from other nations be forced from our waters, could new 200 mile limits provide our fleet with copious fish to catch? Or will our Brexit negotiators focus on maintaining markets for big businesses like finance and the car industry, offering our fish stocks as sacrificial prawns?Tom Heap visits fishing communities in Peterhead, Hastings and Brixham to gauge the mood and meets the conservationists hoping that new measures could revive our fish stocks.Producer: Sarah Swadling.
04/04/1727m 40s

Unfrozen North

What happens in the world's most northerly town when the permafrost de-frosts? Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough visits Svalbard to find out.Longyearbyen, a three hour flight north of Oslo, is a mining town of just 2000 people, but a pretty high proportion of them are research scientists. They cluster in this relatively sheltered corner of the enormous Svalbard archipelago to study the geology and wildlife. As the Arctic rapidly warms nature is changing with it and there's nowhere better to study the impacts. Can Arctic plant species survive a warmer, wetter climate? Can reindeer, fox and polar bear adapt to the new conditions? And how are the people enjoying the relatively balmy new climate? Nordic scholar, Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough meets the stoical residents and experiences the 24 hour darkness of the Arctic winter for herself. Producer: Alasdair Cross.
28/03/1727m 33s

Trump's Big Sell Off

Tom Heap examines the future for America's Wild West- and its Mild East- under a Donald Trump administration threatening to sell off Federal land.The Bears Ears are two mountains in the south east corner of Utah that, along with the surrounding area, were designated a National Monument by President Obama at the end of 2016. In America, a national monument gives Federal Protection second only to a National Park. damaging commercial activities are largely banned.There are fears that the new Presidential administration will attempt to overturn the decision to protect the area and in his fiscal budget for 2018, President Trump has pledged to strengthen America's energy security by increasing funding for the development of oil, natural gas, coal, and renewable energy on public lands.That could mean that the Bears Ears, and other parts of the United States that are currently protected could be opened up to a new wave of exploration and exploitation.Meanwhile there are fears that President Trump could also overturn much of the progress that had been made to protect the environment made by previous administrations. Tom visits Boston, America's academic heart, to hear from Obama's former energy secretary, Professor Ernest Moniz and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, to find out what impact they think the next four years of a Trump presidency will have on the environment.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
21/03/1727m 57s

Heroines of the Rainforest

The Indonesian rainforest has suffered enormous damage over the last few decades. Logged for timber and cleared for palm oil production, the habitat of remarkable creatures has declined at an extraordinary rate, leaving the region's iconic Orangutan critically endangered.Peter Hadfield has travelled across Borneo to meet two remarkable women who have found a formula to reverse the decline. Dentist, Hotlin Ompusunggu and doctor, Kinari Webb set up a clinic which offered cheap healthcare to villages that agree to stop logging in their neighbourhood. The clinic also teaches low intensity farming practices, providing local people with fresh vegetables and a new income stream, bringing the traditional slash and burn agricultural techniques to an end.Hotlin has been awarded one of the Oscars of the conservation world- a Whitley Gold Award- and the hope is that the formula can be rolled out to other regions of the world threatened by deforestation.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
14/03/1727m 10s

Delivering Clean Air

Internet shopping continues to rise worldwide. That means a lot more delivery vans on the streets of our towns and cities. Those vans and trucks, often powered by dirty diesel engines, are contributing to air pollution problems that can cause significant increases in premature death and great discomfort for people suffering from heart and lung conditions.As part of the BBC's 'So I Can Breathe' season Tom Heap sets out to find innovative solutions. Could drones or robots be the answer? Could we cut out the middle man and use 3D printers to create everything we want at home? Perhaps it's simply a matter of converting all those vans to electric or gas power or even carrying out the majority of home deliveries by bike. With the promise of ever-quicker delivery times the search for a solution becomes ever more urgent if we're to prevent our consumer addiction becoming an air pollution crisis on every doorstep.Producer: Helen Lennard.
07/03/1727m 28s

Soil Saviours

Can soil play a role in the fight against climate change? Our soils are the biggest store of terrestrial carbon on the planet. This crucial non-renewable natural resource is under threat, and millions of hectares of farmland are lost every year through erosion and degradation of topsoil, releasing significant quantities of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. The French Government believes that soil can play a significant part in keeping the rise in global average temperatures below 2 degrees. They've introduced an initiative called "4 per 1000", which aims to improve the organic carbon matter in soil stocks by 4 parts in 1000 per year. They claim such an increase in soils around the world would be enough to offset all human emissions of greenhouse gases each year. Tom Heap talks to scientists and farmers to find out what can be done to put carbon back below our feet.Producer: Sophie Anton.
28/02/1727m 53s

Black Gold in Paradise

Yasuni National Park in Ecuador is widely recognised as the most biodiverse place on earth. Around 10% of all known life forms can be found within a few hundred acres of this part of the Amazon rainforest. Yet the forest sits on top of thousands of barrels of crude oil and the Ecuadorian government has now given the go-ahead for drilling. Tom Heap finds out what is at stake and asks why the Ecuadorian government which has one of the greenest constitutions in the world has decided to exploit the reserves.Producer: Helen Lennard.
23/02/1727m 25s

Rig Retirement

As many of the oil and gas platforms in the North Sea come to the end of their useful life, they're due to be decommissioned - sealed off, cleaned up and taken apart. The cost of this has been estimated to around £50bn and much of this will be footed by the taxpayer due to the tax breaks offered. But are there alternative solutions which might benefit the environment more? Tom Heap has exclusive access to an onshore decommissioning facility in Norway to which an oil platform has just been transported whole in a 'single lift'. He investigates the clean up process and asks how easily the sea floor can be returned to its natural state. He investigates if the alternatives are worth considering - could cleaning them up and leaving them in place actually form a sanctuary for marine and wildlife and allow the billions saved to be invested into environmental issues instead? Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.
14/02/1727m 58s

Fighting Fire

When wildfires engulfed the Canadian city of Fort McMurray last May 90,000 people were displaced and well over £2bn of damage was caused, making it one of the costliest natural disasters of all time. That fire proved to be just the start of a summer of flames that ripped through California, Greece and France. An area the size of India now burns every year and climate change is blamed for an increase in the length of the fire season across the boreal forests of North America.Tom Heap visits Fort McMurray to find out how a city could be so easily engulfed by fire and to meet the local scientists and firefighters working out fresh strategies to make sure it doesn't happen again.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
07/02/1727m 45s

America's Energy Independence

New President elect of the USA Donald Trump is a climate change denier, and so what does his rise to power mean for the environment? Among his early pledges he states: "The Trump Administration will make America energy independent. We will end the war on coal, and rescind the coal mining lease moratorium, the excessive Interior Department stream rule, and conduct a top-down review of all anti-coal regulations issued by the Obama Administration. "He promises to rip up climate deals and get the USA mining and burning fossil fuels again, giving jobs back to areas that need them.Costing The Earth will take each sector and try to predict what the next four years will hold for each energy generator. Is there any good news for the environment or will Trump's election usher in a return to dirty, polluting, fossil fuel-burning days that we were pulling away from?Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
01/12/1627m 55s

Cruising: A Dirty Secret

A new cruise ship terminal is planned for Greenwich. Enderby Wharf will bring holiday makers right into the heart of the UK's capital city.Greenwich is an existing pollution hotspot. Heavy traffic from nearby Trafalgar Road and the Blackwall Tunnel mean that air quality limits are frequently breached. Bringing a cruise ship into the area will further exacerbate the problem, increasing traffic bringing goods and services to the terminal.Residents have raised concerns that visiting ships would burn 700 litres of diesel an hour whilst in dock. That's the equivalent of over 650 HGV lorries idling in an already polluted part of the city. At least 9000 Londoners already die prematurely each year as a result of breathing dirty air.Southampton is a city built around its docks and so Tom Heap visits the Solent to find out how bad air pollution from cruise ships can be and asks what can be done by the industry to cut down on harmful emissions when the ships are in berth.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
15/11/1627m 57s

Putting the Fizz Back into Planet Earth

Can we find a use for all that pesky climate-changing carbon dioxide? If we can turn excess CO2 into something useful we might just be able to slow down the rate of global warming. It's a dream shared by lots of scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs.At the ACI Carbon Utilisation conference in Lyon, Tom meets the Germans turning CO2 into a fuel and the French researchers aiming to mimic nature's photosynthesis process. In Oxford he talks to a company making fertiliser from waste and a chemist creating innovative plastics whilst in Avonmouth he sees CO2 transformed into concrete blocks that are already being used in house building around the country.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
08/11/1627m 55s

Nuclear Futures

Our nuclear power stations are being pushed to run well past their planned life-span. Matthew Hill asks if this is putting us all in danger.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
01/11/1627m 32s

Forests of the Orangutan

Some of the last refuges of the Orangutan are under threat. As food manufacturers demand more palm oil for their processed products so the pressure grows on the forests of Indonesia which contain some the last of the Orangutan and some of the world's densest reserves of carbon-capturing peat. Peter Hadfield travels to Borneo to witness the forest being cleared and the peat being destroyed.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
25/10/1627m 27s

The British Countryside after Brexit

Tom Heap hears four radical visions for the future of the British countryside after Brexit. He's joined by Baroness Young, Chair of the Woodland Trust and former head of the Environment Agency and the RSPB, the writer and Guardian columnist George Monbiot, economist Michael Liebreich and by Welsh hill farmer Gareth Wyn Jones.Can they come up with a plan for the British landscape once the Common Agricultural Policy and European environmental legislation are consigned to history?Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
18/10/1627m 43s

Wildlife-Friendly Motorways

Motorways kill animals. That's unavoidable. But can road builders minimise the death toll with badger tunnels, bat flyovers, and green bridges covered in plants rather than tarmac? Tom Heap travels to the Gwent Levels and the Netherlands to find out.Producer: Sarah Swadling.
11/10/1627m 50s

Spiritual Greens

Tom Heap drops in on the 50th anniversary celebrations of the green magazine Resurgence. With its origins in the peace movement, the magazine has championed the spiritual side of the ecological movement. Tom talks to some of its most famous contributors - and their critics - to take stock of what the last half century of green activism has - and hasn't - achieved.Producer: Chris Ledgard.
04/10/1627m 41s

The Growing Season

The Met Office recently issued a report which states that the growing season in the UK is now one month longer than it was in the 1960's. Keen gardeners may notice that spring bulbs are coming up much earlier and that fruit like apples are flowering sooner in the year whilst some farmers can now bring in their harvest before the end of the summer. Peter Gibbs discovers that whilst there are opportunities for growers in more Northerly latitudes rapid changes globally may put yields of vital crops at risk. The UK's gardeners, crop scientists and farmers are not simply sitting back and admitting defeat though. A changing climate is a challenge which many growers are busy preparing for.Producer: Helen Lennard.
27/09/1627m 49s

Fruits of the Forest

Can the growing of fashionable super fruits save the Amazon rain forest? Peter Hadfield meets the native farmers finding ways to profit from the forest without chopping it down.In the dark days of the 1980s vast tracts of the Amazon disappeared every year, the trees sold for furniture production and the naked land converted into cattle pasture. International campaigns and the brave struggle of local activists eventually led to reserves being set up in which native people could harvest forest nuts, herbs and fruits without cutting down the trees. The fruits of the forest such as acai berries, cacao and passion fruit have proven such a hit with healthy eating enthusiasts that the business is booming, attracting the attention of big international food companies. Could the reserves turn out to be a victim of their own success? Could the forest's natural bounty be over-exploited? Peter Hadfield travels along the Amazon to meet the local people trying to balance their livelihood with the health of the forest.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
21/09/1627m 27s

Cities Without Cars

The battle in big cities continues: how do you keep cars out to cut congestion and reduce pollution? Chris Ledgard visits Paris and Barcelona to explore two different approaches. In Paris, the mayor's office wants to ban the most polluting cars, and coloured stickers are being introduced to help the authorities determine which vehicles can enter the city centre. Meanwhile, more and more Paris residents are turning to the electric car-sharing scheme, Autolib. We hear how it works. In Barcelona, urban ecologists are adapting the famous grid system designed by Ildefons Cerda to create 'superblocks' - large traffic-free spaces across the city where the sound of traffic is only distantly heard. Chris talks to the scheme's inventor, Salvador Rueda, and hears about his vision for Spain's second biggest city.Producer: Chris Ledgard.
14/09/1627m 44s

Big Oil Big Trouble

The big oil companies are the pantomime villains of the global warming debate. They've been accused of everything from climate change denial to commercial incompetence in a rapidly changing world. Campaigners attack their boardroom practices and push pension funds and universities to withdraw their investments.Tom Heap examines the reactions of the likes of Exxon, Shell, BP and Total to the mounting evidence of man-made climate change. How much did they know? How much did they lobby against meaningful action? He meets Lord Browne, the former head of BP who famously rebranded his company as 'Beyond Petroleum' to find out why the rest of the industry failed to join his campaign to cut emissions and invest in renewable energy.Tom and Lord Browne also discuss the changing rhetoric since the signing of the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. With fresh commitments to alternative fuels could the oil companies finally turn themselves from the villain to the principal boy, using their engineering expertise to halt the planet's changing climate?Producer: Alasdair Cross.
06/09/1627m 51s

The Sun King of China

Meet Huang Ming, the Chinese inventor who describes himself as, 'the number one crazy solar guy in the world'.One of the prize exhibits of his museum in northern China is a vintage solar panel. It's a water heater, installed by President Jimmy Carter on the roof of the West Wing of the White House. Back in 1979 the installation was meant to symbolise a new solar-powered future for America. Instead, oil prices fell and Ronald Reagan removed the White House panels.37 years on and it's China, not the US that's embracing the idea of a solar-powered economy. Huang Ming, an engineer, prominent political figure and businessman is leading the way with his foundation of Solar Valley. In 800 acres of land south of Beijing he employs 3000 people in solar research, development and manufacture.Peter Hadfield visits Solar Valley to see the fruits of the sun, from a solar-powered yurt to the world's biggest solar-powered building. He asks if Huang Ming can persuade his nation to turn its back on coal and oil and angle its face toward the sun.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
10/05/1627m 25s

Four Menus to Save the Planet

How should we eat to reduce our carbon footprint and save the planet? Should we all give up meat? Or eat only meat that's reared on grassland which couldn't be used for anything else? Or maybe eat intensively-reared meat that grows so fast that it has no time to emit a lot of methane before it's slaughtered? Aside from meat, how important are food miles? Some argue that food grown in hot countries and transported here by boat has a lower overall carbon footprint than food grown in Britain. Tom Heap chairs a debate from the Bristol Food Connections festival with four experts who have very different views, and present their own menus for low-carbon eating: Jasmijn de Boo, Chief Executive of the Vegan Society, Simon Fairlie, author of "Meat - A Benign Extravagance", Mark Lynas, environmental author, and Sean Rickard, agricultural economist. Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.
03/05/1627m 59s

After Chernobyl

When radioactive particles from the Chernobyl disaster landed in Germany's Black Forest one woman decided to change her country's relationship with nuclear energy forever.Julian Rush meets Ursula Sladek, founder of EWS Energy and prime mover in Germany's abandonment of nuclear energy.Following the story from the first detection of radioactive particles, through the persistent impact of radioactive caesium in the soil to the rapid development of renewable energy after the Fukushima disaster of 2011, Julian tells the story of the transformation that's known in Germany as the Energiewende. With Ursula's son, Sebastian he discusses the future for renewable energy in a nuclear-free nation and considers the influence Germany may have on the rest of Europe.Produced by Alasdair Cross and Melanie Brown.
26/04/1627m 46s

The Mars of the Mid-Atlantic

Ascension Island is a tiny scrap of British territory, marooned in the tropical mid-Atlantic roughly halfway between Brazil and Africa. It's the tip of a giant undersea volcano - rugged, remote and, up until around 150 years ago, almost completely devoid of vegetation.Peter Gibbs visits to learn how 19th-century botanist Joseph Hooker, encouraged by Charles Darwin, planted a forest on the island's summit to trap moisture brought by the trade winds, introducing a panoply of flora from around the world - ginger, guava, bamboo, ficus and dozens more.But is Ascension's cloud forest all it appears? He talks to conservationists struggling to cope with invasive species running riot, hears about the rescue of Ascension's tiny endemic ferns, encounters nesting turtles on the beaches and ventures among the chattering 'wideawakes' on the sweltering lava plains by the coast.Producer: Matthew Teller.
19/04/1627m 31s

Digging Climate Change

Professor Alice Roberts asks if archaeology can help us understand climate change.Producer: Helen Lennard.
12/04/1627m 42s

From Iceland with Love

The Ice Link interconnector would link Iceland's cheap and carbon free electricity from hydro and geothermal to the UK. It could provide the equivalent power of a medium sized power plant through a copper cable laid under the sea between the two countries. Crucially the power would be reliable and available when other renewable sources such as wind and solar are not. However, as Tom Heap discovers when he visits the land of fire and ice, environmental campaigners like Bjork fear that this green solution for UK homes could create a need to develop into the pristine wilderness of Iceland's Highlands. Should we pursue our global climate goals even if it has the potential to affect untouched and fragile landscape elsewhere? Tough decisions for Iceland and for us all. Producer: Helen Lennard.
05/04/1627m 42s

Beasts of the Border

As gates close against migrants entering Europe Tom Heap is in Croatia to examine the wildlife impact of the continent's new borders.Red deer have been found dying on the razor wire and the vulnerable local population of lynx is now split between Slovenia and Croatia. With a shrunken gene pool the lynx could soon be lost from the region.From the Austrian Alps, south through the Balkans to Greece the mountains provide a vital habitat for large carnivores like bear and wolf. As new fences rise across the region Europe's peak predators face a bleak future. Producer: Alasdair Cross.
29/03/1627m 43s


The government in Westminster has promised England a new, national anti-litter strategy. But how do you persuade a throwaway society to use a bin? Chris Ledgard reports on anti-littering campaigns, from the litter ambassadors in the Swiss mountains, to litter enforcement officers in Wolverhampton. And he meets David Sedaris, a man dedicated to cleaning up the streets where he lives. Producer: Chris Ledgard.
22/03/1627m 43s

The Environment after Exit

From Roman Snails and Great Crested Newts in East Anglia to the lemon sole of the English Channel and the wind turbines of Fife, European legislation has a significant impact on the look and health of our wildlife and landscape.Tom Heap examines the potential impact on the British environment of an exit from the European Union.Produced by Alasdair Cross and Robin Markwell.
15/03/1627m 24s

New York's Big Green Clean

Tom Heap visits New York to find out how the city is cleaning up its dirty waterways and bringing back oysters to the harbour.New York is highly populated. The 8 and a half million inhabitants of the five boroughs of Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, The Bronx and Staten Island use a lot of water and create a lot of waste. As a result the myriad of waterways, streams and creeks that all flow around the city, the network of 'sewersheds' that meander below the sidewalks, not to mention the vast rivers: the Hudson and the East River have all, over several centuries become increasingly dirty, polluted with litter, oil and worst of all raw sewage. Each time rainfall exceeds around half an inch, the aged Combined Sewage Overflow systems discharge into the rivers.But in light of 'Super Storm' events such as Sandy and Irene, New York has begun to tackle the problem.The city's Department of Environmental Protection has embarked on on a 'Green Infrastructure Plan'. Over the next 15 or so years $2.4 billion dollars will be spent on rebuilding the city to help it deal with high rainfall. There are 'green roof' projects, tree-planting programmes, and 'bioswales' are being constructed: all measures to try and reduce the impact of a storm of a similar ferocity wreaking such havoc in the future.Meanwhile a group of plucky scientists are attempting to bring oysters back to New York harbour: once home to the largest oyster beds in the world, New York produced more oysters than the rest of the world combined. New Yorkers rich and poor alike dined on the shellfish. The waters of the harbour became so polluted that they no longer thrive there, but scientists from the Billion Oyster Project aim to have a billion oysters living in the harbour by 2030, so convinced are they that the water quality will have improved sufficiently by then. Recent storms in the UK have shown that basic infrastructure struggles to cope when facing a deluge of heavy rain and strong winds, and so when a major storm event hits a major urban centre the results can be devastating.Tom Heap discovers what knowledge could be gained from the New York project and whether similar sorts of measures could be taken in towns and cities in the UK.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
08/03/1627m 53s

Acoustic Ecology

Peter Gibbs asks whether sound could become a vital tool in conservation, helping us understand far more about how wildlife interacts and how it is affected by changes in the environment . Technological advances in recording mean that we can now record huge amounts of data in remote locations. By using algorithms scientists hope to break down complex interactions between animals and their environment and be able to predict change or protect species. This is the emerging science of soundscape ecology. Scientists are hoping to apply big data solutions learnt from fields such as genetics to re-imagine conservation and asking all of us to listen and imagine what a world without natural sounds such as birdsong might be like.Producer: Helen Lennard.
03/03/1627m 57s

The City That Fell into the Earth

How do you move a city? Lesley Riddoch travels to Arctic Sweden to find out. Kiruna is gradually sliding into Europe's biggest iron ore mine. The city has to be rebuilt two miles away. That requires an extraordinary blend of planning, architecture, technology and stoicism. If anyone can do it then it's the Swedes.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
23/02/1627m 37s

Requiem for a King

Tom Heap tells the story of coal from Industrial Revolution to its apparent demise. As the world begins to fall out of love with coal, is it too early to write its obituary?Coal drove the Industrial Revolution in this country. It could be argued that it helped to put the 'Great' into Great Britain.Now, at least in Britain, we're turning our back on the sooty black stuff. The last deep pit, Kellingley Colliery, closed in December 2015 and all of the coal-fired power stations in the UK are set to close in the next decade. Coal is on its knees.But what about the rest of the world? China and the US have had an enormous appetite for coal and while both will continue to mine and burn the stuff for the coming decades, it is possible that we may have already reached 'peak coal' - the point at which coal demand will plateau, before declining.Coal will continue to lift developing countries through the various economic growth. It is expected that areas of South Asia will continue to depend on coal to generate power but even in those places they are hoping to implement new, cleaner ways of burning coal. The fuel could be facing a 'long sunset'.But is there a glimmer of hope?Carbon Capture and Storage has often been hailed as a potential cure-all for Carbon Dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, so could it step in now to save coal before it is confined to the annals of history?It may be too early to say. However in Canada there is one commercially operating plant. Many experts believe that we need CCS if we are going to seriously tackle our global CO2 emissions because, at least in the short term, coal will remain on his dusty throne for the coming decades.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
16/02/1627m 45s

Britain Disconnected

Extreme weather this winter has cut off large areas of Britain from the outside world. Does our Victorian infrastructure need an urgent update? With parts of Cumbria cut-off since early December, bridges down in Yorkshire, hundreds of ferry cancellations and the West Coast train line out of action until March it's increasingly clear that Britain can't cope with the strong winds and floods that are becoming the new norm.Should we embark on a new transport revolution, pouring concrete and laying steel to future-proof our roads and railways or should we accept a disconnected Britain? Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Sarah Swadling.
09/02/1628m 5s

Murder in Cambodia

Peter Hadfield travels to Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam to investigate the illegal trade in Siamese Rosewood.Rosewood is a hard wood that is highly prized because it can be carved into ornate items of furniture, but the appetite for the wood is so voracious that Siamese Rosewood is now becoming critically endangered. The wood is traded on the black market and now the Siamese Rosewood tree is close to being totally eradicated. Not only that, those responsible for the smuggling are leaving a trail of death and environmental destruction in their wake.Peter Hadfield goes in search of the tree. He's on the trail of the smugglers and discovers the measures being taken to try and safeguard the surviving trees.Presenter: Peter Hadfield Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
20/11/1527m 36s

In Conversation with David Attenborough

David Attenborough and a panel of influential thinkers on the natural world join Tom Heap to preview this month's Climate Summit in Paris. Can the world's leaders come to an agreement to save a warming planet?The director of Titanic, Avatar and Terminator, James Cameron tells Tom that a vegan diet can slash our carbon emissions. Former Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd recalls what went wrong at the last climate summit in Copenhagen and explains why he's so much more hopeful of real commitments on carbon emissions from the Paris meeting.David MacKay, the government's chief scientific advisor on energy policy until 2014, tells Tom that Europe's renewable energy policy is unfit for purpose and David Attenborough raises the thorny issue of our rising population.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
17/11/1527m 46s

River Quality

Campaigners claim England's river life is under threat from 'insidious' pollution, yet the Environment Agency says rivers are at their healthiest in 20 years. Tom Heap visits the River Itchen, in Hampshire, and the River Thames to discover where the truth might lie. This is an important moment for rivers, the next five year plan for improving them is about to be published. The Government Minister for the Natural Environment, Rory Stewart, tells Tom what his priorities will be. Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Sarah Swadling.
03/11/1528m 6s

Antipasto Agony

Bad news for lovers of tapenade and pesto. Olive trees are succumbing to a new disease. Tom Heap reports from Puglia on the ultimate foodie nightmare.The heel of Italy is currently gripped by an outbreak of Xylella fastidiosa, a voracious tree disease that is systematically devastating olive groves in the main areas of production for olive oil.95% of the world's olive trees are in the Mediterranean, and Italy is the world's second largest exporter of oil, behind Spain.Rural communities risk being torn apart as the disease threatens the livelihoods of farming families that have grown olives in the region for centuries. The whole environment is set to change as trees die, leaving the landscape totally bare.Tom meets the scientists about to wage war on the bacteria: Professor Giovanni Martelli and Dr Donato Boscia from the University of Bari. They are working to find a way of stopping the disease from spreading. If they are unsuccessful, olive production in the whole of the Mediterranean basin could be at risk.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
27/10/1527m 45s

Coast: 50 Years of Change

A new report from the National Trust reveals how how our coast has changed over the last 50 years. Tom Heap asks if we've become better or worse at protecting the nation's prime asset.He joins John Whittow who led a team of students to survey the coast in 1965 and compares his findings with a brand new study from Leicester University. Has the rapid urbanisation of the 1960s continued or has the tide been turned? What new threats are on the horizon?Producer: Alasdair Cross.
20/10/1527m 34s

Paying For Our Parks

Our National Parks are getting less money from central government - some have seen their grant cut by 40% in the past 5 years. To make up the shortfall, they're exploring new commercial opportunities.As well as coming up with individual fund-raising plans, the 15 National Parks in England, Wales and Scotland have formed a joint body, called National Parks Partnerships. It's exploring new ways of selling their collective logo: "Britain's Breathing Spaces". The idea is modeled on a similar organisation in the USA, which has done million dollar deals with companies like Disney and Coca-Cola.So, how far should our parks go down the commercial route? Tom Heap investigates.Producer: Chris Ledgard.
13/10/1527m 56s

Lungs, Lies and Automobiles

Have we been lied to about the quality of the air we breathe? Do car manufacturers, regulators and farmers have some explaining to do about their emissions to the atmosphere? Tom Heap investigates.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
06/10/1527m 38s

Where Have All Our Gardens Gone?

Urban Britain is paving over its front gardens. Lawns, hedges and hollyhocks are being replaced by tarmac and car ports. Each garden may be tiny, but with over 50 million front gardens in the UK, the numbers really add up. It's an environmental problem, quite literally on our doorsteps, and Jheni Osman is finding out what can be done about it.In Ealing, West London, Jheni meets Leigh Hunt, Horticultural Adviser to the RHS. He reveals that according to their statistics a quarter of all gardens in the UK are now completely under the asphalt. Added together, these tiny patches of grey contribute to many environmental problems - flash floods caused by rain run-off; the 'urban heat island' effect from bricks and mortar which act like storage heaters; and the loss of all-important wildlife corridors for the birds and bees of the cities.Meanwhile, up in the North of England, Jheni takes a look at how it SHOULD be done. With Horticulturalist Nigel Dunnett, she takes a walk around green and lush suburban Sheffield and spots innovative planting solutions to the problems of urban paving. Nigel tells her about the devastating floods which swept through Sheffield in 2007, and donning her hard hat, Jheni takes a look at the city's ingenious response to the disaster - a radical transformation of a former dual carriageway into a 1.3 kilometer green-way and 'Rain Garden'.Back in Bristol, Jheni visits two examples of the trend being bucked. A thriving bat colony roosting in an urban garden is a haven for all sorts of wildlife, and a communal planting scheme which is transforming the hard grey of the city centre into a food-growing paradise, complete with runner-beans and sweetcorn.Perhaps there is hope for our gardens yet.Produced in Bristol by Emily Knight.
29/09/1527m 18s

Oceans of Acid

As the oceans absorb manmade carbon emissions a chemical reaction takes place which is making sea water more acidic. This subtle shift in pH level is having a profound effect on the sea animals which use calcium carbonate to form their shells and skeletons and Marine Biologists are now discovering that this could have implications across the world's oceans. Already shellfish industries in America are being adversely affected and scientists are working hard to predict how the world's fisheries might respond in the future. Professor Alice Roberts discovers there are surprising lessons to be learnt from the past and hears why immediate action is needed to prevent further threats to biodiversity.Producer: Helen Lennard.
22/09/1527m 50s

Britain Rules the Waves

Britain still owns islands large and small across the globe, from Pitcairn to South Georgia and Bermuda to Ascension. Could we use the waters around these territories to protect vast swathes of the oceans from overfishing and development? Tom Heap meets the islanders and the conservationists eager to see if Britain really can lead the way.He takes to the water to see how Gibraltar is using its spawning grounds to restore the health of the Mediterranean and finds out what the enormous new no-fishing zone around Pitcairn could mean for the Pacific. Producer: Alasdair Cross.
15/09/1527m 46s

Sounds of the Seas

How noisy is the underwater environment? Tom Heap dips beneath the surface to find out if man-made noise is affecting the marine life that lives below the waves.Costing The Earth begins a new series with three programmes investigating the health of our oceans. The team tackles ocean acidification and how the UK plans to protect marine areas in its overseas territories but first Tom Heap delves into a mystery soundscape: one that exists underwater.Scientists are only just beginning to study the complex noises coming from beneath the waves. All marine life depends on sound to communicate but in a world that is becoming increasingly loud, whales, dolphins, fish of all shapes and sizes, all the way down to molluscs and the smallest organisms are finding their voices lost in a sub-aqua world of rumbles and crunches from various man-made sources.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
08/09/1527m 42s

Electric Island

The little Scottish island of Eigg is teaching the world how remote communities can power themselves with clean, green energy. Tom Heap meets the locals who've built the pioneering system and the international visitors who are eager to learn their secrets.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
19/05/1527m 42s

The Ozone Hole Thirty Years On

In May 1985 Joe Farman, Jonathan Shanklin and Brian Gardiner of the British Antarctic Survey published their paper in the scientific journal Nature. It revealed there was a large and expanding hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic and that the cause was the chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs then commonly used in aerosols and refrigerants.The size and speed at which the hole had formed was alarming and the paper helped convince governments across the globe to take action. The resulting Montreal Treaty of 1987 has been called the most successful environmental legislation ever passed. CFCs were effectively banned and their prevalence in our atmosphere has been slowly decreasing. The ozone layer hole does appear to be healing but the process is slow and increasingly complicated.Today the interplay between ozone and the greenhouse effect is only just becoming understood and even more worrying is new research which points to previously unknown CFCs and other ozone depleting substances accumulating in the stratosphere. BBC weather forecaster, Peter Gibbs celebrates the discovery which saved millions from skin cancer and hears about the need for continued vigilance.Producer: Helen Lennard.
12/05/1527m 58s

Britain's Environment: The Debate

How will the next government tackle Britain's environmental problems? The politics of the environment and our food supply are vital for the future of the planet. Tom Heap hosts a debate asking if this election campaign has raised the issues that need addressing. What specific commitments have the political parties made on nature? Where are the big ideas to tackle climate change? How can we secure our food supplies without wrecking the planet? Tom Heap will put these challenging issues to a panel that features philosopher, Roger Scruton, former Executive Director of Friends of the Earth, Tony Juniper, Chief Executive of the Soil Association, Helen Browning, Director of Forum for the Future, Jonathon Porritt and Heather Hancock, lead author of the independent review of the BBC's coverage of rural affairs.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
05/05/1527m 35s

China's Water Revolution

China has powered its development with water. When it needed energy for industry it built the largest hydro-electric dams in the world. When the farmland and factories of northern China were threatened with drought an enormous canal was built to pipe supplies from the south. China has the engineering skill, the capital and the will to challenge the limits that nature sets on development. But the exploitation of China's water resources has come at a great cost, forcing millions from their homes, polluting natural lakes and rivers and pushing rare animal species to the brink of extinction.Isabel Hilton, editor of the China Dialogue website, assesses the progress of China's water revolution and asks where its water will come from in the future. Can large-scale engineering continue to provide the answers or must government teach industry and the public to live within their means?Producer: Alasdair Cross.
28/04/1527m 37s


Tom Heap investigates whether eco-cities are living up to their promise.In years gone by, Costing the Earth has visited two eco-cities, which both promised that rapid urban development could be green, sustainable and profitable. Dongtan in China was meant to be part of "the quest to create a new world", according to British designers Arup. Masdar in the Arabian Gulf was to have "changed the world", according to British architect Norman Foster. But Dongtan never got built, thanks to Chinese political machinations and corruption, while Masdar has stalled, a victim of the world economic crisis.China is still pressing ahead with over 100 new eco-cities. But does the idea of the eco-city make sense anyway? Critics say that some very ordinary new cities are being branded as "eco" in an attempt to give them a green marketing gloss, and that promoting the idea of the virtuous self-contained eco-city can mask a failure to build sustainably in the rest of the economy.Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.
23/04/1527m 28s

Cycle City

The bulldozers have already begun work on London's 'cycle superhighways' or 'Crossrail for bikes'. Cycling enthusiasts have declared these segregated lanes to be the infrastructure which London needs to make cycling much more appealing for all. Andrew Gilligan, the Mayor's Cycling Commissioner says if Transport for London can get the engineering right then cycling in the capital will become safer and far more people might make the switch from cars, buses and trains to carbon free pedal power. The potential carbon and congestion savings are huge, up to 25% of transport emissions if we can reach the levels of cycling now seen in Copenhagen, and those who cycle are also healthier. However, to replicate Dutch or Danish bike culture cycling's appeal must move beyond the lycra-clad males to become the first choice for women, children and older people too.Tom Heap finds out if these cycle superhighways can really deliver for the capital and if the huge amounts of money being spent here and elsewhere across the country can ensure a cycling revolution for all of Britain's would-be bikers.Producer: Helen Lennard.
14/04/1528m 1s

Reds Return

Could the return of the Pine Marten mean the end of the Grey Squirrel takeover? Tom Heap examines emerging evidence that where Pine Marten populations are healthy, Grey Squirrel numbers crash and native Red Squirrels increase. Tom meets the researchers who found the connection in Ireland, and who are now investigating whether it's also happening in Scotland. The Pine Marten is itself recovering from years of persecution and is still only found in tiny pockets of England and Wales. If the Pine Marten really is the saviour of the Red Squirrel there could be an added incentive for its reintroduction.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Sarah Swadling.
07/04/1527m 51s

Climate Change: Inconvenient Facts?

With arctic sea ice shrinking and Antarctic sea ice growing, Tom Heap asks what is happening to the climate.Despite the consensus of scientists around the world, there are still some anomalies in the computer models of the future climate. Tom Heap is joined by a panel of experts to tackle some of the difficult questions that lead to uncertainties in our understanding of the changing climate.The perceived wisdom in the scientific community is that the climate is warming but evidence shows that even though Arctic sea ice is melting, there has actually been a growth in Antarctic sea ice. That, along with a documented slow down in the warming of the climate since 1998, has been a 'stone in the shoe' of the climate change story. So what is happening?Tom is joined by BBC and Met office weather presenter John Hammond to put these 'difficult' climate scenarios to a team of experts: Mark Lynas is an author and environmental campaigner, Mike Hulme is professor of Climate and Culture at Kings College London and Dr Helen Czerski is a broadcaster and 'bubble physicist' at UCL.With the help of this panel, Costing The Earth discusses how best to communicate anomalies that don't appear in climate models and make the science sometimes hard to comprehend.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
31/03/1528m 3s

The Price of Cheap Oil

In this week's Costing The Earth Tom Heap asks what the falling price of oil means for the environment.First thoughts would be 'not good'. Lower prices mean that people don't need to be so careful how much fuel they use so what will the consequences of this be? Will this halt the steady decline in car sales? Will people turn their heating up a notch when they're feeling chilly? Those are the direct impacts on people, but look further and could the drop in oil prices spell disaster for the renewable energy industry? And what will oil companies do? Will production rise, pushing prices down further? Or with prices falling, will oil companies find it increasingly expensive and barely cost effective to reach those hard to reach oil reserves?But it's far more complicated than that. Political insecurities and tensions around the world in oil producing states all help to paint a very complicated picture.Tom Heap tries to find his way through the political and economic maze to find out what hope there is for the environment should prices continue to drop.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
24/03/1527m 39s

Lava: A Dangerous Game

A report from the United Nations published this week highlights for the first time the international impacts of volcanoes. Previously regarded as a local problem for people in Iceland, Indonesia or Central America the UN now recognises that our interconnected world can be split asunder by relatively small eruptions.The 2010 eruptions in Iceland disrupted air travel for weeks, costing the global economy an estimated $4.9bn. In response enormous improvements are being made in the technology used to detect imminent volcanic eruptions. But is the technology enough on its own? Do changes need to be made in the way that vulnerable communities in the developing world are taught about the dangers on their doorstep? Can more be done to communicate risk without inducing panic?From Nicaragua to Iceland, Montserrat to Santorini, Tom Heap hears from the scientists on the frontline, men and women enchanted by the stunning beauty of volcanoes but well aware of their potential to destroy communities and change our climate.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
17/03/1527m 36s

Greening the Green Belt

The UK's housing crisis is acute. We need to build but where? Many critics point to the ample green space which surrounds some of our most overcrowded cities and towns. The green belt celebrates 60 years since it became part of National Policy but its history stretches back far further. The idea of a stretch of land which separates the urban from the rural has been commended as the defining planning policy of the nation. This legislation is at the core of our notion of what it is to live in a 'green and pleasant land'. But is it fit for purpose in the 21st Century? Many critics feel that it is now time to reassess the lines upon which these boundaries were drawn and make a strategic plan for how we want people to live and commute in the near future. The green belt protects many environmental assets closest to our cities but Tom Heap asks whether we are making the most of this vital natural asset.
10/03/1527m 48s

Hunting the Beefalo

A failed breeding experiment has led to a hybrid creature running riot in the Grand Canyon. The Beefalo is now growing in number rapidly and causing damage to the landscape, threatening the environment and eco-system and trashing ancient monuments of Native Americans. Yet with a hunting ban in the National Park how can they be controlled? Tom Heap goes in search of the legendary creature and the answers.The iconic bison is on the emblem on the National Parks yet in 1906 its numbers in America were falling so low 'Buffalo Jones' tried a cross-breeding programme with cattle to create the hardy 'beefalo' hybrid. The state eventually took over the herd and kept numbers down through limited hunting. But the beefalo is wise it seems and has learnt it can escape that threat inside the Grand Canyon National Park.An estimated population of around 600, and growing by up to 50% a year, is causing huge damage to the park. Its herds concentrate the damage in sensitive areas - drinking dry water holes, polluting them, over grazing and leaving bare soil, their success is damaging the landscape and eco-system. Now they're also kicking down ancient monuments of Native American tribes for whom the canyon is a spiritual home. Meanwhile tourists hoping to catch sight of the creatures have found their cars attacked. So how do you solve a problem like the beefalo? A massive consultation has begun to look at the lethal and non-lethal options and consider if a cull is a viable option despite the sensitivities in the park. Tom Heap goes tracking the beefalo and asks how much damage will be done before a solution is found. Presented by Tom Heap and produced in Arizona by Anne-Marie Bullock.
03/03/1527m 53s

Bristol: Green Capital?

Bristol has been named as Europe's Green Capital for 2015. Tom Heap finds out if local people will see real improvements in their city.Trapeze artists and a high wire act on a bicycle, spanning two former warehouses, heralded the start of Bristol's Year as European Green Capital for 2015. The award is a few years old now and goes to a city with outstanding green credentials and ambitions.So how is Bristol shaping up for it's year in the big green spotlight?A year ago Costing The Earth asked what the award meant, and how it would impact and improve the lives of Bristolians along with those living around the city.Now the award is here, so Tom Heap investigates whether there is substance beyond the stunts, gimmicks and planned festivals: are there radical plans afoot to put the environment in the forefront of Bristolians' minds?Solar Panels are appearing on roofs of council buildings across the city, projects and grants encouraging residents to insulate their homes are in full swing. Wildlife corridors are springing up, provision and distribution of sustainable food is gathering pace. There's an education programme featuring Shaun The Sheep for school children, piloting in Bristol and available nationwide from September but the city cannot ignore it's major problem: the traffic.Bristol has some of the worst congestion in the UK, and with that congestion comes poor air quality, and this ultimately costs lives.Costing The Earth asks if Bristol's traffic conundrums are solveable and if, after being green capital for a year, the number of deaths in the city caused as a direct result of air pollution, will fall.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
24/02/1527m 55s

The Ice in Iceland

Iceland is warming faster than most countries, two to four times faster than the global average temperature rise. A quirk of geography means that the island's plants and animals are having to cope with rapidly rising temperatures whilst their neighbours in the rest of northern Europe warm much more gradually. Glaciers are melting, trees are growing much faster and arable farming is suddenly possible and profitable.Tom Heap travels through Iceland to gauge the impact on the landscape and the people. Can the rest of the world learn lessons from Iceland's experience?Producer: Alasdair Cross.
17/02/1527m 54s

Taming Australia

Australian Premier, Tony Abbott is determined to develop his Northern Territory. With the enormous markets of South-East Asia on the doorstep of Darwin there's huge potential for oil, gas, mining and agriculture in the thinly-populated north.Locals welcome the prospect of jobs but there's a real concern that the extraordinary landscape of the north could be lost. Mining and intensive agriculture require water in vast quantities. To get it dams will have to be built and groundwater abstracted. That will disrupt the complex web of life in the river systems of the north. Fish, turtles and birdlife depend upon the seasonal flows and fluctuations that will be tamed in a developed north.Local Aboriginal people who own half of the land and make up 30% of the population still hunt and fish the rivers. Many worry that development will take their water but fail to offer them the jobs and modern facilities they would like to see.Julian Rush travels across the tropical savannah of Australia's 'top end' to gauge the impact of a populated and energised north, meeting the people and the wildlife that will have to live alongside the incomers.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
10/02/1527m 33s

Arctic Future

The melting sea ice of the Arctic creates opportunities and threats for the people and wildlife of the region. This week the leaders of the polar nations are in Iceland to map out a future for the region at the Arctic Circle conference. Will oil and gas production ravage the north or bring jobs and money to impoverished local people? Will Russian designs on Arctic riches provoke conflict or link the region to the global economy? And what's in it for Britain? Can our expertise in polar science help us influence the development of the region?Tom is joined by Jane Francis of the British Antarctic Survey, Malte Humpert of the Arctic Institute, Alexander Shestakov from the World Wildlife Fund and Duncan Depledge of the Royal United Services Institute.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
04/11/1427m 41s

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Despite being protected on paper, many of the world's and the UK's rare plants and flowers are being targeted by thieves and smugglers. From the moment a new species is discovered it can have a high price on its head, with collectors going to the ends of the earth to source a prized specimen. Tom Heap discovers how easy it is to find rare plants for sale on the net and how such trade not only threatens those plant species with extinction but could destroy the elements within them that could help in medicine. There are five times as many plants as animals protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species) meaning they can only be sold if a permit is granted but arguably there is less public concern about flora than fauna. Many orchids, cacti, cycads and various timbers are among them which the Border Force and Kew Botanic Gardens try to help monitor and police. But not all thieves are on expeditions to remote mountains. Tom hears how many of the UK's botanic gardens have been targeted. In some cases it may be an opportunist gardener but in other cases it involves organised crime. Some gardens are using new techniques to protect specimens or simply having to keep them locked away, out of sight.Some thefts which aren't in monitored collections may not even be discovered for months, if at all. Calls are being made for us to monitor pathways, hills and towpaths and report when plants disappear. But Tom also learns about clever new devices and scientific methods to help raise the alarm, detect illegal sales and prove guilt in the absence of a smoking trowel. Presented by Tom Heap. Produced by Anne-Marie Bullock.
28/10/1427m 57s

Making a Splash

Tom Heap meets Darren Reynolds, a health and environment professor, who has developed a mini treatment plant that can turn dirty water into clean drinkable water.The technology could be transported around the globe and put to use in places where clean water is scarce, such as in areas where there is a humanitarian crisis.Costing The Earth discovers how the machine works and looks at other technology that could improve the water supplies of millions of people around the world.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
21/10/1427m 44s

Scuba Squad: Cleaning the Ocean

Cleaning the ocean floor, one dive at a time. Miranda Krestovnikoff reports from the sea bed as she joins a new marine clean-up squad.Miranda joins NARC - Neptune's Army of Rubbish Cleaners - in their war against marine litter. Dave Kennard and his band of ocean cleaners dive off the coast of Pembrokeshire recovering fishing gear, bottles, cans and a whole miscellany of unwanted rubbish. They've found trolleys, whole cars, and even the kitchen sink.This week Costing The Earth looks at the problem of marine litter that sinks to the sea bed. What we see floating on the surface and washed up on beaches is only the tip of the ice-berg. It is estimated that 70% of litter that gets into the marine environment sinks.Miranda meets scientists and divers doing their best to combat the problem.Presenter: Miranda Krestovnikoff Producer: Alasdair Cross.
14/10/1427m 56s

Saving the Caribbean

The small islands of the Caribbean are acutely vulnerable to rising sea levels and a potential increase in the frequency and severity of hurricanes. Tom Heap travels to the Turks and Caicos Islands to ask if they're prepared for the worst nature can offer.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
07/10/1427m 55s

A Decade of Fracking

After a decade of fracking, communities in Texas are still arguing about the pros and cons of the shale gas industry. With the industry ready to begin production in Lancashire, Tom Heap compares and contrasts the hopes and fears of Texans with those of the villagers of the Fylde coast.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
30/09/1427m 47s

Power to the People

There's no doubt that 'People Power' can transform a community, when keen volunteers come together to collectively improve their lot.But what happens when People Power can be measured in watts and volts?Communities up and down the country are taking the power back - literally - from the Big 6, and starting a variety of schemes to generate their own energy. They're reducing their bills, strengthening community spirit - and helping the UK towards its renewable energy targets at the same time. And in January of this year, the government got fully on board with the movement too, publishing the first ever UK Community Energy Strategy.But just how easy is it to do? Can philanthropic locals really compete with the might of the UK Energy industry? And how does the money stack up? Tom Heap investigates.Produced in Bristol by Emily Knight.
24/09/1427m 46s

El Nino: Driving the Planet's Weather

Meteorologist, Peter Gibbs investigates the global impact of the weather phenomenon El Nino. Forecasts predict El Nino will occur at the end of this year, creating fear in many communities around the world.Flooding, drought and famine have all been caused by the phenomenon in the past. Peruvian fishermen are often the first to notice as warmer waters change the behaviour of coastal fish stocks. Peter hears what they've already noticed and finds out how these changes could have ripple effects around the world. The anchovies in Peruvian waters are caught to feed farmed salmon but they're also an important food source for seabirds. The warm waters could also cause an imbalance in marine life and weather changes that will impact on global crop yields. Peter Gibbs looks into the possible impacts of El Nino, how long it would take to recover and what's being done to prepare.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
16/09/1427m 42s

When Mosquitoes Attack!

Jheni Osman investigates whether the threat of mosquito-borne disease is moving closer to home in the UK. She joins Public Health England's Medical Entomologist, Jolyon Medlock, hunting for signs of the invasive Asian Tiger Mosquito in the motorway service stations of Kent. The mosquito has been spreading across the world in waste tyres exported for recycling. Jheni spends an evening as the bait in a trapping study, designed to find out whether there is a risk of West Nile Virus being spread by mozzies already living in the UK. And, it seems the boom in water butts has provided mosquitoes with a perfect breeding ground in our back gardens. Producer: Sarah Swadling.
09/09/1427m 58s

Texan Drought

Whilst many parts of the United States have suffered drought this summer, for Texas it's been going on for years. Wells and reservoir levels are at a fraction of what they should be and farmers and residents have been forced to face some big changes. Climatologists say this is the second worst drought in recorded history but if it continues it could soon surpass that experienced in the 1950s.Tom Heap visits cattle and crop farmer Kenneth McAlister who lives near one of the areas in 'exceptional drought' - Wichita Falls. The lack of rain has made it hard to grow feed and he's had to reduce his herd size. Many others have done the same or left farming altogether - which is beginning to change the face and identity of this state famed for ranching. Some recent light rain has only brought with it grasshoppers and dangerous weeds on the land.Meanwhile, to preserve water supplies in Wichita Falls evaporation suppressants are being sprayed onto reservoirs and water companies say they've started 'direct potable reuse' - reducing the stages between flush and faucet - which has garnered an interesting response.With over 1000 people moving to Texas each day and business being encouraged to boom Tom asks what's being done to save precious water supplies and ensure there's enough to go around.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
02/09/1427m 44s

The Diesel Decade

The air quality in our towns and cities has remained stubbornly filthy over the last ten years despite tightening regulations on the poisonous emissions our cars can legally belch out. That means more lung disease and more heart attacks.New research is pointing the finger of suspicion at the dramatic rise in the number of diesel vehicles on our roads. Take a look at the data from car manufacturers and it seems that diesel engines are getting significantly cleaner. Independent monitoring suggests something very different- real cars driven in the real world can emit up to five times more of some pollutants than the manufacturers claim.Tom Heap investigates the source of our pavement pollution and kicks off his campaign for cleaner air.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
26/08/1427m 56s

Britain's Overseas Wildlife

Britain's Overseas Territories from the Caribbean to the Falkland Islands contain a treasure trove of wildlife. A new report from the RSPB reveals that 94% of unique UK species live beyond our shores. But many of those astonishing creatures are at great threat from tourist development and invasive species.To discover whether we are doing enough to protect our secret garden of species Tom Heap visits the Turks and Caicos Islands, 150 miles to the east of Cuba.
20/05/1427m 46s

Energy Storage

Massive batteries? Compressing or liquefying air? Moving gravel uphill on ski lifts? Tom Heap looks at some of the big ideas proposed for storing energy using science or the landscape and explores which may become a reality if we're to keep the lights on. Huge investment is being made in renewable energy but as solar and wind fluctuate and are intermittent often energy goes to waste because the points at which they generate isn't when the demand occurs. So why not use that energy and store it in another form to be used when it's required? Many companies are proposing ideas to do that - from extending traditional pumped hydro to compressing or liquefying air, electrolysing water or shifting heavy materials up mountains. Or will a revolution in batteries - making them cheaper and from different materials - help the cause? Tom Heap takes a look at some of the bold ideas to see how far they'll go to keeping the lights switched on, what they'll cost financially and aesthetically and if there's any sign of committing to any of them at all.
13/05/1428m 0s

The Future of Our Food

Costing the Earth debates one of the most important issues facing the planet that affects all of us: Where will our food come from in the decades ahead.The world population is expected to rise to 9 billion by 2050. That's another 2.5 billion mouths to feed, roughly the number of people currently living in China and India today.Tom Heap is joined by an panel to chew over the question of what the world will eat as populations rise, climate changes and vital resources are depleted.The panel is made up of experts from the world of food and agriculture: Professor Charles Godfray from the Oxford Martin Programme for the Future of Food; Colin Tudge, the man behind the Campaign for Real Farming; new Groceries Adjudicator, Christine Tacon; Sean Rickard an economist who specialises in food and farming; Tristram Stuart: winner of the award for 'Best Initiative in British Food' at last week's BBC Food and farming awards, the food waste campaigner behind the Feeding the 5000 and Pig Idea projects.With Tom Heap in the chair they'll be debating whether we should put our faith in huge industrial agri-industry to feed the ever expanding world population or could organic farming hold the key? Will genetic modification be embraced as famine takes hold? Will vast factory farms pop up to avoid people going hungry, or will future farming operations be more holistic and community based, with everyone doing their bit to produce food for their friends and neighbours? Will we need to turn to algae, lab-grown protein and insect farms to keep our bellies full or will the developed world enjoy an artisan-baked, craft-brewed lifestyle whilst the rest of the planet scrapes a living from depleted soils?Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
06/05/1428m 2s

Chemical Weapons: 100 Years On

With the end of April being the deadline for Syria's President Assad to sacrifice his entire arsenal of chemical weapons, Tom Heap finds out the nitty-gritty of how they're going to be disposed of. This involves previously untried methods such as neutralising the most dangerous chemicals on board an American vessel, the MV Cape Ray. This, as we'll hear, presents its own problems. Other Syrian chemicals will be destroyed in Port Ellesmere in Cheshire, as well as in the United States, Germany and Finland.Tom puts these efforts of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) into a historical perspective, exactly 99 years after the first recorded use of chemical weapons in Ypres during the First World War.Producer: Mark Smalley.
29/04/1428m 0s

Power of Scotland

Scotland is the principal source of Britain's renewable energy as well as its oil and gas. What would independence mean for the UK energy market? Would England struggle to source clean energy? Could Scotland continue to subsidise its wind turbines and tidal energy schemes? What would a split mean for energy prices in Scotland and in the rest of the UK?Tom Heap reports from Edinburgh on an energetic debate that's certain to heat up as the Scottish independence referendum approaches.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
22/04/1427m 33s

Living It Small

Did you have a tree house or a den as a child and think you could happily live there? What is the smallest space you could live in without being driven doolally? As the demand for houses and the cost to buy and run them shoots upwards, it seems more of us may be thinking small and bijou is cosy and obtainable...and the environment could be benefitting by default. Tom Heap (6 foot 2 inches tall) explores the world of the micro-home - compact spaces often skimming minimum space standards. Some offering a cheaper way for people who work in expensive areas to live nearby or others boasting their green credentials or amazing design. But is space in the eye of the beholder? Designers claim use of light, storage and some clever little tricks and twists can make a home feel bigger than it is and possibly even make it more desirable for the cool kids. Let's face it, the modern TVs and music and reading collections all require far less space. Using movable walls or mezzanine levels can mean we re-use space, don't waste heat and light and saving on expensive land could mean it's a solution for those priced out of the countryside as well as the city. As our expectation of space has grown over the last century Tom asks if an Englishman's (or anyone else's) home is still his castle. Do the cool kids with clever design have the green answer to housing crisis or are they simple buying into overcrowding? Presented by Tom Heap. Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
15/04/1428m 1s

Flight from Disaster

When millions of litres of poisonous sludge poured out of a zinc mine in Andalucia in 1998 wildlife was devastated for miles around. As the tidal wave of filth headed for the marshlands of Donana National Park it became a disaster for Europe as well as Spain. The prime route for birds migrating between Africa and Northern Europe seemed certain to be poisoned for decades to come.Sixteen years on from Spain's worst environmental disaster Julian Rush returns to the region to discover how nature, with a little help, has reclaimed much of the devastated area. The birds have returned and flocks of British birdwatchers are enthusiastically following the Imperial Eagles, Griffon Vultures and millions of birds on their spring migration back to the UK. Laurence Rose of the RSPB shares his memories of the disaster and shows Julian the path of the pollution which has become a lush, green feeding ground for resting birds.The idyll, however, may be short-lived. Illegal boreholes dug to water enormous strawberry farms that export their produce to Northern Europe are sucking the life out of the marshes. Tourism is impinging on the wilderness and there are even advanced plans to resume mining at the site of the accident. With Andalucia desperate for jobs and foreign currency the local government is anxious to boost the region's industrial sector. Finding the best balance between industry and nature is vital for the future prosperity of this stunning area and for the exhausted birds that make their way across the Sahara to Britain's shores.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
08/04/1427m 38s

A Resilient World?

Following the publication of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Tom Heap and a group of climate experts debate how nations and populations around the world will have to adapt and prepare for the effects of climate change in the coming decades.Recent extreme weather events may suggest that the effects of climate change are beginning to show, so what can be done to mitigate the impact?Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
01/04/1428m 2s

Britain's Green Capital 2015

In 2015 Bristol will be European Green Capital. We discover exactly what the title means to the city and what makes Bristol so environmentally friendly.The 'Green Capital' award is new. It's been going for the last five years and next year Bristol will become the sixth. Miranda Krestovnikoff discovers why Bristol was successful in it's bid and what makes the city stand out from the rest of the country for it's environmental credentials.Miranda visits last year's winning city, Nantes to find out what makes a city European Green capital and what the legacy is for future generations living in Nantes. She discovers how the Green Capital award is spreading the environmental message across Europe and what Bristol can learn from previous winners.In this week's Costing The Earth Miranda Krestovnikoff talks to the team behind the bid to find out what big plans they have in store for Bristol as they prepare to become European Green Capital for 2015 and meets Bristol's flamboyant and eco-thinking mayor, George Ferguson, as he sets out the green agenda for the years to come.Presenter: Miranda Krestovnikoff Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
28/03/1428m 3s

Feeding the Crops of the Future

Tom Heap looks at whether we're running out of phosphorus. It's an essential element in fertiliser and all life on earth depends on it. Nowadays we get it from mining phosphate rock, which is a finite resource. Some scientists have predicted that we could run out within decades.Britain has no phosphate rock reserves of its own, and with 80 per cent of known rock under the control of one country, Morocco, should we be taking future supplies more seriously, as a matter of national security?Tom investigates whether there are alternatives to phosphate rock, such as extracting phosphorus from sewage. He learns about a nineteenth century gold rush in East Anglia, where fortunes were made from extracting phosphate from fossilised dinosaur bones and droppings. In an emergency, could we go back to this old method?Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.
18/03/1427m 52s

Future-proofing Forests

Ash dieback was discovered in the UK in late 2012 and since then has been killing many of the UK's ash trees. But it's not the only threat - many pests and diseases are attacking different species which make up our forests and ancient woodlands. Julian Rush asks if our trees are simply vulnerable victims, susceptible to diseases, or if they have the strength to fight back.He visits Wentwood in South Wales where phytophthora ramorum (PR) has infected larch trees causing the clear felling of over 70 acres, with more anticipated. He asks if this is the only solution and how the loss of the trees will also affect the animals and insects.As ash dieback also spreads across the UK, Julian visits the scientists working to trace a natural resistance in trees and breed a new stronger generation of trees. The urgency of the situation has forced them to share their findings sooner, open sourcing information and enlisting the help of the public which has already led to new findings and chance developments which might not otherwise have been discovered. Julian asks if enough is being done soon enough and if the scientists or the diseases are winning the race.With a swathe of other diseases also threatening he asks if we have to learn to live with disease and accept that change in our forests is inevitable. We are also talking to the chair of the committee of the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee who published their new report on Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity this week. Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
11/03/1427m 51s

Nuclear Waste's Final Destination

Nuclear power is back on the UK's agenda, but what to do with the long-lasting radioactive waste remains the problem.Costing The Earth investigates the best ways to dispose of the waste produced by the generation of nuclear power.Rob Broomby travels to France where more than 75% of electricity is generated by nuclear power stations. He visits Aube where they are taking care of low and intermediate level waste. It is being stored in concrete and then will be grassed over and monitored for the next 350 years.Rob also visits a planned site for future disposal of high level waste: deep below the surface in the Champagne-Ardennes region where they intend to bury the waste locked up in clay.Back in the UK the debate continues as we strive to find a final destination for radioactive waste.Presenter: Rob Broomby Producer: martin Poyntz-Roberts.
04/03/1427m 57s

A Greener Way to Go

Many of us are trying to lead a greener life, but how many of us will continue the trend to its logical conclusion... into death? On this week's Costing the Earth, Tom Heap takes to the ocean waves, the forest floor, and the lab, to try and suss out the 'greenest way to go'.Over 70% of us here in the UK choose to be cremated, and the majority of the rest are buried - '6 feet under' - in traditional cemeteries. But for those who might worry about the fossil fuel cost of being burned, or the toxic embalming fluids commonly used in burial, there are other options on the table.We take a blustery boat trip just off the Isle of Wight with one of the UK's only 'Marine Funeral Directors', to hear about the specially designed coffins that help you sink to your final resting place beneath the waves. And if you don't fancy sleeping with the fishes, how about sleeping beneath the shade of a mighty oak? Tom heads to the picturesque Downs of East Hampshire to hear how your final resting place could go hand in hand with an ambitious reforestation project. And he takes a glance into the future of the industry too, with two methods which could be out of a science fiction novel. How would you like your mortal remains to be chemically dissolved in high pressure alkali solution? Or perhaps freeze-dried and frozen, then shattered into an organic powder? And will these 'futuristic' new methods of getting our 'Ashes to Ashes', ever become available on our own shores?Produced in Bristol by Emily Knight.
25/02/1427m 47s

Britain Under Water

It's time to fight back against nature. For two months great swathes of Britain have been paralysed by torrential rain, storms and flooding. Tom Heap has had enough. In a special edition of 'Costing the Earth' he'll be eschewing the moaning and buck-passing in favour of a search for a long-term solution to Britain's vulnerability.With the help of an expert panel including Richard Betts from the Met Office, Phil Dyke from the National Trust, farmer Guy Smith and civil engineer Ola Holmstrom Tom will discuss the challenges in an era of climate change and the best solutions that science can offer.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
18/02/1427m 43s

A Toilet for the 21st Century

There are 2.5 billion people living on the planet without access to basic sanitation. As a result hundreds of children die from diseases such as diarrhoea every day, and women and children risk personal safety when they perform the simplest of human functions.In this week's Costing The Earth Dr Kat Arney looks at ways to allow everyone to have access to safe, clean, environmentally friendly toilets.She visits a toilet festival in London to find out about toilet designs that can be applied to every environmental condition across the globe: toilets that require no water, toilets that can turn waste into an asset in the form of fertiliser and toilets filled with waste-eating worms in a quest to design a toilet for the 21st Century.Presenter: Dr Kat Arney Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
11/02/1427m 30s

The End of Plastic

Tom Heap meets a man on a mission: Eben Bayer is determined to eradicate plastic and polystyrene from the packaging industry and replace it with a bio-degradable fungus.And he thinks he's cracked it. By combining fungus with agricultural waste to create packaging that's cheap, durable and biodegradable, Bayer hopes to disrupt an environmentally destructive industry valued globally at around £13 billion. He's looking at ways to roll his product out across the USA and beyond.Plus scientists are also looking at biodegradable plastics made from potatoes, and even shrimps and silk in what could be heralded as a real game-changerIn this edition of Costing The Earth, Tom Heap asks if it's too early to be reading the last rites to plastic.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
05/11/1328m 3s

Hot in the City

Heatwaves and rising temperatures are killing thousands of people each year and that's expected to increase dramatically in the future. Tom Heap asks if our cities are becoming uninhabitable and goes in search of the innovative design changes we migh have to incorporate into our homes, offices and cities to survive. The'urban heat island effect' has shown how temperatures can reach their highest in cities compared to the surrounding countryside. Rising Summer temperatures for prolonged periods, coupled with the intensity of thousands of people living, working and travelling in a confined area while blasting air conditioning to keep cool can mean the heat is held in our cities fails to ease overnight. This can lead to more than just getting hot under the collar - increased pollution, poor health and even death. Tom Heap sweats it out in New York and London to find out how we'll have to change to cope. Streets and building design can help to keep things cool so should we demolish Paris and start again? Building materials are being created to absorb and hold water and reflect the sun's rays but is that enough? Will concrete be done away with altogether? Trees and rivers could become the city's superheroes so should we be demolishing roads to prioritise them? Tom also heads to Milan to see a radical new housing design where trees and plants don't simply decorate but help form a 'vertical forest' to cool and shield the residents from scorching heat and pollution. Will this urban jungle become the forerunner of things to come? Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
29/10/1327m 40s

Our Neighbours Are Elephants!

Urban sprawl is now impacting on the habitats of wildlife in countries around the world, so how can wildlife and city dwellers live together?Reports from cities around the world ask what should be done if your new next door neighbours turn out to be wild animals: Bob Walker reports from Malaysia on the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants project that Nottingham University are working on to find out what is being done there to maintain a harmonius balance between humans and huge beasts that can cause a lot of damage.Julian Rush discovers if animals and humans can live harmoniously as cities spread across their habitats.Presenter: Julian Rush Producer: Steve Peacock.
22/10/1327m 50s

Mind the Gap

Our energy needs are growing as our energy supply dwindles. Renewables have not come online quickly enough and we are increasingly reliant on expensive imported gas or cheap but dirty coal. Last year the UK burnt 50% more coal than in previous years but this helped reverse years of steadily declining carbon dioxide emissions. By 2015 6 coal fired power stations will close and the cost of burning coal will increase hugely due to the introduction of the carbon price floor. Shale gas and biomass have been suggested as quick and easy solutions but are they really sustainable, or cheap? Carbon Capture and Storage could make coal or gas cleaner and a new study suggests that with CCS bio energy could even decrease global warming. Yet CCS has stalled in the UK and the rest of Europe and the debate about the green credentials of biomass is intensifying. So what is really the best answer to Britain's energy needs? Tom Heap investigates.
15/10/1327m 38s

CSI Landfill

Tom Heap discovers landfill mining: finding value in what's been thrown away. He visits Belgium to meet the first prospectors digging for treasure in trash.For years rubbish has been thrown away and sent to landfill sites, but now there are moves to look at what's been discarded as a resource.Metals, plastics, ceramics and minerals are all buried under ground. As waste in landfill decomposes it emits gases. All are rich pickings and valuable to those looking to recycle and reuse the waste we've thrown away as scientists and engineers look to close the circle of waste.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
08/10/1327m 46s

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Tom Heap reports on the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.He's joined by a panel of top scientists and thinkers to pick over the report and discover what the indications are for the global climate over the next few decades. The panel includes:Professor Julia Slingo, Met Office Chief Scientist Sir Mark Walport, UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, Author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" Professor Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture, King's College London Mark Lynas, Author and environmentalist Tony Grayling, Head of Climate Change and Communities, Environment AgencyPresenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
01/10/1327m 58s

Burn That Fat!

Fighting the fat can be a difficult issue - and not just for our waistlines. Old cooking oil from our takeaways and roast dinners can cause major problems - from polluting watercourses to blocking sewers and causing flooding if not disposed of carefully. But rising commodity prices and surprising new uses have turned it from waste product to wonder in some people's eyes.Tom Heap slides his way to a fat recycling plant where everything from large scale tubs of mayonnaise to tiny butter sachets and even pork scratchings are seen as a golden resource which can be treated and turned into fuels. Out of date or overcooked foods can still find a purpose - even 'frier sludges' are valued here.So how far would Tom go in pursuit of useful waste fat? A trip beneath the streets of London to the sewers sees him in search of 'fatbergs' - created by the build up of grease thrown down our sinks. Some as large as double-decker buses have been found which have to be blasted out to ensure they don't block the system and cause sewage to flood people's homes. Now instead of being sent to landfill they're being put to good use - despite being once of the most degraded fats on the spectrum. Meanwhile the University of Wolverhampton has been using oil from the local chippy and canteen for its lab experiments. They've been able to make a bioplastic - something so pure from something so dirty - that it will be used inside the human body to aid healing. Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
30/09/1327m 57s

Sharks Attacked

Ever since the film 'Jaws' hit the big screen, sharks have been portrayed as aggressive, indiscriminate killers. But in reality there are only a handful of deaths as a result of shark attacks each year, whilst around 70 million sharks are killed by humans, pushing many species to the brink of extinction.There are over 30 species of shark living in UK waters, but many are under threat.From the small, lesser known 'smooth-hounds' that are a couple of feet long, up to the larger species (blues and basking sharks are both regular visitors to our shores), they all face the pressure of being caught as by-catch. A legal loophole also means many sharks are at risk from having their fins sliced off to feed the demand for the delicacy 'shark fin soup'. They are also in demand for use in Chinese medicines.So what can be done to ensure these enigmatic sea creatures can be protected, and should they be?Miranda Krestovnikoff dons her wetsuit to take a closer look at the big fish living around the UK coast.Presenter: Miranda Krestovnikoff Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
17/09/1327m 57s

Waste Watchers

In 2011 a major report involving 400 experts from 35 countries issued stark warnings about the future food supply. The Foresight report stressed in order to feed a growing world population there was an urgent need to produce more food sustainable but also to deal with waste. It claimed globally 30% of food is never eaten. So did anyone listen?The amount of food waste has often been raised but Kat Arney goes in search of the game changers , to find out who's making effective changes to stop good food being binned while people are still hungry. She explores the widening gleaning movement - volunteers primed to hoover up the crops left in the farmer's field - to those changing the food production chain.She hears how recent weather events, the economy and food scandals have forced changes in supply and use of food. So will that change stick for good?Presenter: Dr Kat Arney Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
10/09/1327m 46s

The Palm Oil Palm Off

In June this year a thick haze descended over Singapore, causing record air pollution levels which left streets empty and forcing children, the sick and elderly to stay indoors. It was attributed to the illegal burning of forests in Indonesia to clear land to plant palm oil. It was a visible reminder of a practice which has been continuing for years but, say environmental groups, which must be stopped.Palm oil is in hundreds of products, from detergents and cosmetics to biscuits and now biofuels. But the burning of forests is destroying the habitat of endangered wildlife, destroying woodland and releasing carbon dioxide from the peat. Tom Heap asks if we've turned a blind eye to this issue. Some manufacturers have pledged to source sustainably but he asks how sure they are the oil they get is untainted.Costing the Earth heads to Indonesia to see the level of destruction, find out who's behind it and looks at the impact the haze has had on Singapore. In France politicians have called for a levy on palm oil and consumers have campaigned against it but is this an issue the British still want to know about?Produced in Bristol by Anne-Marie Bullock.
03/09/1327m 22s

Electric Cars Recharged

It has been the Next Big Thing for longer than most people can remember but there are signs that the much-derided electric car may finally be poised for its moment in the sun.For Costing the Earth, Tom Heap visits the factory where a major European car maker's latest electric supermini takes its place on the same production line as its petrol and diesel cousins.And he discovers that experts believe that success will come this time thanks to a combination of improved technology, commercial imperatives and a hefty dose of EU legislation.
27/08/1327m 44s

GM Update: Pig 26

Tom Heap investigates the latest developments in GM technology.He visits the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute for the latest on precision genome engineering in animals and discovers the story behind "Pig 26", the first genetically-modified pig.Scientist Bruce Whitelaw tells Tom Heap that Pig 26 has been genetically 'edited' with the hope that scientists at Roslin can create pigs that are resistant to African Swine Fever, an aggressive disease that is fatal to pigs. It's currently virulent in Russia and there's no reason why the disease couldn't arrive in the UK.Tom also meets Helen Sang who is currently working on breeding resistance to avian flu into chickens using genetic modification.Despite the fact the GM technology is being used, according to the scientists Tom meets, to improve animal welfare by making animals disease resistant, will GM technology ever be accepted by the public in the UK?We also hear from commentators from the USA, where a GM salmon is set to hit the supermarket shelves this year, and journalist and author Joanna Blythman believes that it is unlikely that a similar product would ever reach the shelves in the UK.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
21/05/1328m 1s

The Cost of Cruising

When the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground in January 2012 with the loss of 32 passengers and crew the environmental dangers to the Tuscan coastline were obvious. The complex salvage operation has begun and there's real concern that the movement of the settled wreck could result in a new disaster.Julian Rush reports from the island of Giglio on the hopes and fears of local people and considers the risks that the new generation of super-size cruise liners pose to some of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.Producer: Helen Lennard.
14/05/1327m 59s

Bees Fight Back

Much heat has been generated about about modern pesticides called neonicotinoids. Their supporters - the companies which make them, the farmers who use them and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - say they are vital to protect crops and boost yields in a hungry world. They say jobs would be threatened in a big way if they were outlawed and that there is no scientific proof that they are harming pollinating insects which are also vital to agriculture.On the other side of the debate are environment campaigners, scientists, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission and a House of Commons select committee. They say there is so much evidence that neonicotinoids kill bees and other useful insects that their use in farms and gardens cannot be justified. Beekeepers are divided, some fearing that the alternative chemicals would cause even more damage, some saying that the other threats to bees - disease and loss of habitat - are far more serious. Some even challenge the whole notion that bees are suffering a serious decline.For Costing the Earth, Tom Heap goes into the fields and hedgerows of England - and into the laboratory of the country's only Professor of Apiculture - to sort spin from science and facts from campaign catchphrases. He also hears from scientists and experts on the global health of pollinating insects and the crops that depend on them.Produced by Steve Peacock.
09/05/1327m 45s

Amphibian Extinction

Frogs, toads and newts are becoming a less frequent sight in our ponds and gardens. Globally 40% of amphibians - almost 2000 species - are threatened with extinction according to the IUCN red list. Some scientists even say we're on the verge of the 6th mass extinction. Yet with things at such an alarming state Tom Heap asks what's being done to save these creatures and if it's too little too late?Amphibians are a key part of the food chain but not only do they control less favoured bugs, they have also been described as 'hopping pharmacies' carrying important chemical compounds on their skin which have been used for medicines. If they disappear so does that link.Tom hears about the different factors which are impacting on numbers - including habitat loss, climate change and diseases such as chytrid fungus and ranavirus. Andrew Blaustein at the University of Oregon is currently doing research to find out why some species are more vulnerable to chytrid than others but has also found parasites causing mutations in frogs nearby - including some with up to 15 limbs.Meanwhile, of the UK's seven native amphibian species, one- the pool frog - has already died out. Tom travels to the secret location where they've been reintroduced from Sweden to find out how well they're doing and what can be learnt from this near-miss. Tom also gets his hands dirty on toad patrol, helping them cross busy roads as they come out of hibernation and return to their ponds for breeding. As he asks motorists to apply their brakes he also asks just how much this will do to halt their decline.Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
30/04/1328m 4s

Fish - The Next Fight

Tom Heap meets the activists hoping to bring an end to illegal fishing by tackling the problem head on: by getting in the way of pirate fishermen.The Black Fish is a relatively new NGO (Non-Governmental Organisation) who aim to stop the fishing of juvenile Bluefin Tuna in the Mediterranean and prevent to use of illegal drift nets - by cutting them. Drift nets were banned by the United Nations in 1992 but they are still used illegally around the world.The Black Fish are soon to launch unmanned reconnaissance aircraft in the Mediterranean to monitor illegal fishing and find out exactly who is doing it and where.Tom also meets campaigners who believe that the only way for fish stocks to recover is for a ten year moratorium to be imposed, allowing species of fish to become plentiful once more.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
23/04/1327m 41s

The Deepest Lake on Earth

Russia's Lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest lake in the world, containing 20% of the world's unfrozen fresh water. Dr Anson Mackay from University College London is one of a team drilling through the bed of this extraordinary body of water. The cores of sediment that they pull up from the depths will tell us not just about the environmental history of Baikal, they'll tell us about 1000s of years of global climate change. Today the lake is threatened by pollution, rising population and Mongolian gold mining. Can the story of the lake's past help preserve it for the future?Tom Heap tells the story of the expedition as we join Dr Mackay and his colleagues to piece together the history of Baikal and search for clues to the future of all freshwater on Earth.
19/04/1327m 44s

CSI Rhino

Tom Heap discovers an unlikely battle in the war to protect remaining wild rhino populations being fought here in the UK. Rhino horn is now worth twice as much as gold because of its perceived value in Asian medicine. New markets in Vietnam have increased the pressure from poaching on wild populations but also on horn found in museums and zoos in the UK. Museums are now warned not to display real rhino horn and zoos like Colchester have had to increase security measures to protect their live rhino. To help prevent illegally obtained horn from leaving the country scientists in the UK are setting up a DNA database of all the horn kept here in museums, private collections and on the heads of living rhino in zoos.Tom discovers that these highly threatened animals can be surprisingly gentle given their size and that thefts from UK museums have become increasingly common. The criminal gangs looking to profit from horn theft are highly organised and DNA forensics could be vital in achieving convictions.It is hoped that a reduction in illegal horn feeding the market will help put an end to the demand but there are also new arguments for a legal trade using farmed rhino whose horns could be regularly shaved. The debate around legalisation remains live but many agree that a worldwide DNA database would be the only way to regulate and prevent poached rhino horn being traded. Wildlife crime officers say that DNA forensics could be vital in helping protect rhinos and many other endangered species in the future.
09/04/1327m 42s

The Urban Farmers

Alice Roberts revisits the - quite literally - ground breaking 'Incredible Edibles' concept of Todmorden and finds that their inspiration has spread across the UK.Wasteland throughout our cities is being turned into productive agricultural land. Forget roof top gardens, green walls and window boxes, what we're talking about here is derelict, often hazardous brown field sites hidden within our urban landscapes that are now becoming a valuable link in our food chain. But that's not all, in reclaiming this land whole neighbourhoods are being regenerated. No site is too small or too large. From back-alleys on terraced streets in Middlesbrough to acres of polytunnel-lined, disused railway banks in Bristol, these once unproductive - and often hazardous - plots are now feeding their communities via vegetable boxes and even restaurant supply chains. With a little effort, could our cities really feed themselves? Could this be the answer to both our food security and the improvement of our urban environments?
03/04/1327m 35s

Exotic Pets

The demand for exotic and unusual pets is growing. Reptiles and amphibians , including snakes, lizards and geckos are popular pets for those looking for something alternative to cats and dogs. Some are captive bred or captive farmed and others are caught from the wild. The British Veterinary Association is re-evaluating its position on wild caught animals but the animal lobby group the Animal Protection Agency has called for a ban on the trade completely. They argue it causes suffering to the animals but also damages the environment.Miranda Krestovnikoff looks behind the scenes at Heathrow where officers have intercepted animals being smuggled in illegally. She also speaks to Traffic, the wildlife monitoring organisation about the impact on the ecosystems when species are taken out of the wild and also asks what happens when exotic pets are released into the UK countryside.But those involved in the pet trade in the UK say it's come a long way over the last 20 years. Miranda's invited to Exotic Pets UK which breeds some animals but also imports wild-caught species. They say they make the customers aware of where each species is sourced so they can make an informed decision but say if more people bred these animals in the UK there'd be less need to import. But Chris Newman from the Federation of British herpetologists and REPTA says the trade in species helps protect their habitat and a ban could actually threaten them.
26/03/1327m 48s

Green Babies

2013 is predicted to see the biggest baby boom in 40 years. Whether it's the Royal baby or an after effect of the Olympics nobody is certain. But what does this mean for the planet? Dr Alice Roberts, who is herself expecting, finds out whether population really is the biggest threat to our environment. The UK really is bucking the trend. In the US fears of a baby bust are coupled to predictions of economic decline. These are after all tiny unborn consumers. This is perhaps why many eminent nature watchers from David Attenborough to James Lovelock believe that over population is the biggest threat to our planet. No one can predict what a sustainable number of people would be but many agree that the predicted 10 billion plus is too many. At least, that is, if global rates of consumption increase to Western levels. George Monbiot points out that most growth in population is in the developing world where carbon footprints are often negligible. Paradoxically the key to lowering the birth rate is higher standards of living and that inevitably means increased consumption. The recent Royal Society Paper concludes that population and consumption must be tackled together. So can these new baby boomers become more sustainable? Alice Roberts takes a look at prams, poop and purees to find out if there is such a thing as an 'eco baby'. If there is, she discovers, it may not be in what we purchase on their behalf but about how they connect with the natural world. More and more evidence suggests being outdoors creates healthier, happier children and 'Project Wildthing' is an attempt to repackage and sell the concept of nature in order to compete with the marketing heavy worlds of toys and TV. Perhaps a new generation of nature lovers might want less stuff and enjoy the planet more.Producer: Helen Lennard.
19/03/1327m 22s

The House That Heats Itself

Miranda Krestovnikoff looks at new building materials for environmentally-friendly houses and asks where you should start if you want to build your own eco-home.Costing The Earth visits Ashley Vale in Bristol: a self-built community of eco-homes to find out, ten years on, if the project has been a success.Miranda also discovers the latest building materials and techniques available to those embarking on 'grand design' style projects and discovers how difficult and expensive it is to build your own environment-sensitive home.Presenter: Miranda Krestovnikoff Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
12/03/1327m 43s

Electrifying Africa: Beyond the Grid

Micro-solar lamps are now lighting parts of Africa that the grid cannot reach. Tom Heap investigates how the solar spread is emulating the wide reach of mobile phones in Africa.There are currently over 100 million kerosene lamps across Africa that are the main source of light in parts of the continent that are either off-grid or where people cannot afford to hook-up to the electricity grid. These lights are polluting, dangerous and expensive.Burning a kerosene light in a small room produces the same detrimental effect as smoking two packets of cigarettes. They are a fire hazard and they can cost as much as 15% of an average salary to fuel in some parts of the continent.Tom heap sets out to discover if a small desktop solar lamp that costs a fraction of the running expenses of a kerosene lamp can improve the health of millions of people and help to lift Africa out of poverty.This week's programme is produced in conjunction with BBC Newsnight and BBC World's 'Our World' programme. To watch the films made to accompany the programme visit the Newsnight and Our World websites.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
06/03/1328m 1s

Electrifying Africa: The Power Beneath

A geothermal revolution is set to electrify Africa. Tom Heap visits the Rift Valley in Kenya, a potential source of abundant energy to find out if promises to light up even the remotest parts of the continent are going to come true.Tom enters Hell's Gate National Park to meet the engineers harnessing the power of hot steam trapped beneath the crust, and heads north to the Menengai Crater to find geologists prospecting for power.Back in Nairobi Tom meets businessmen and shopkeepers held back by a lack of readily available electricity and visits the poor neighbourhood of Kibera to find out how power and light can transform the lives of all Africans living with limited electricity.This week's programme is produced in conjunction with BBC Newsnight and BBC World's 'Our World' programme. To watch the films made to accompany the programme visit the Newsnight and Our World websites.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
27/02/1328m 5s

Dash for Ash

By 2020 the UK must significantly reduce its landfill habit. A recent government report warned that we would run out of landfill space by 2018 and a European Directive means we must reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill from 48% to 35% or face big fines. Next year landfill tax will hit £80 per tonne. Unsurprisingly there has been a huge rise in planning applications for incinerators. 90 are proposed to add to the 30 currently in operation. Waste is big business. Tom Heap visits existing sites where our rubbish is currently being shipped abroad to create energy and heat in Europe and asks whether it is time we followed suit. New technologies such as gasification are currently being developed which will provide even more heat and power from our residual waste and they promise to be far cleaner than the mass burn incinerators on the continent, yet opposition remains strong. 'Costing the Earth' hears from local residents who fear the health implications if dioxins formed in the high temperatures are released. Environmental campaigners argue that even if the health risks can be addressed this solution only creates more carbon dioxide emissions when what we really need is more recycling and less initial waste. In his film 'Trashed' actor Jeremy Irons looks at how our waste affects our health and that of the planet. Tom asks if it's time for a national strategy on what goes into our bins and where our rubbish ends up. Producer: Helen Lennard.
19/02/1327m 28s

When Nettles Attack!

For years we've been warned that invaders from abroad are threatening the quiet majesty of the British countryside. But the latest evidence suggests that the threat from giant hogweed, Himalayan balsam and their foreign friends has been exaggerated. We should really be worried by some more familiar stalwarts of our downs and pastures.Nettles, brambles and ivy are marching across the unmanaged countryside, choking our most sensitive species, stamping out the variety we value in our landscape. In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap investigates the march of these domestic invasive species and asks if we should start the fight back.
12/02/1327m 49s

Robot Farmers

Satellite technology and advances in robotics are set to revolutionise the future of farming. Out go the heavy, soil destroying combines and tractors, in come a light army of mini robots which weed, spray and pick crops at the optimum time. Expert agronomists will advise thousands of farmers at a time. Using real data, farmers will be able to maximise the yield and quality of the crops as they leave the field. Sarah Cruddas meets the scientists engineering the robotic shepherds of the future, and hops into the cab of a self-driving tractor to experience labour and fuel saving precision farming. She also hears from Science Minister, David Willetts who believes that the UK can become Europe's centre of satellite technology. The data provided will, in the coming years, become more and more detailed enabling farmers to have a greater understanding of their land and allow them to produce yield maps and farm more efficiently than ever before. Costing The Earth ask if farms of the future will be run by a fleet of robots: from crop-picking automatons to swarms of electronic bees, and whether the farmer of the future be found in a control centre rather than out in a muddy field. Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
05/02/1327m 30s

Berlin's Big Gamble

It's an environmental experiment on an unprecedented scale. Germany's political parties have agreed to close the country's nuclear power stations and slash its use of coal, oil and gas. But can the industrial powerhouse of Europe really continue to churn out the BMWs and Mercedes on a meagre diet of wind and solar energy?In the first of a new series of 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap travels to Berlin to meet the politicians of right and left who share a vision for a green Germany and the industrialists who fear that blind optimism has replaced logic at the heart of government.Tom visits Feldheim, a tiny village that produces enough wind power to run a city and talks to the activists who plan to take over the entire electricity grid of Berlin and run the capital on alternative energy. Their enthusiasm is infectious but could the reality be power cuts and the departure of the industrial giants to the US and the Far East?The stakes are high. If the plan they've christened the Energiewende, or energy transformation, succeeds, then Germany will have created a low-carbon model for the UK and the rest of the industrialised world. If it fails Germany could lose its place as an economic superpower.
29/01/1327m 53s

Future Forests

The crisis in Britain's ash forests came as a shock to public and politicians. But is it a vision of the future for our woodlands? Stressed by climate change and vulnerable to pests and diseases crossing the English Channel the prospects seem grim. In a special edition of Costing the Earth Tom Heap asks what our forests will look like in the future. Is there anything we can do to stem the flow of disease, can our native trees be made more resilient or should we consider planting a wider range of trees? Tom visits Lithuania where ash dieback disease first came to attention in Europe to find out how they've come to terms with new threats to their forests and meets the experts and enthusiasts with a fresh approach to protecting our forests.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
13/12/1224m 47s

Tsunami Debris

Since the Japanese tsunami 1.5 million tonnes of debris has been floating across the Pacific towards the West coast of North America. Despite predictions that it wouldn't hit land until 2013 ,some material including a ship and a 66 foot dock have already beached - far earlier than expected. The dock itself - which landed in Newport, Oregon was covered in living creatures, including invasive species which could threaten native species and fisheries. It's also feared the debris could endanger wildlife that becomes entangled in or consumes it. As winter storms approach a new cluster of debris is expected. Tom Heap investigates what's being done to track it, what danger it poses, how it's being cleaned up and, in some cases, how possessions are being returned to their owners 5000 miles away.
09/10/1227m 45s

Wave Goodbye?

In the choppy waters around Orkney the hopes and dreams of hundreds of scientists, engineers and investors are being pushed to the limit. At the test sites of the European Marine Energy Centre eleven different ways of harnessing the power of the sea are being tested.After four decades of promise Britain seems to be on the verge of discovering how to turn the tides and the waves into useable electricity. All that's holding the industry back is money. Money, and the fearsome engineering difficulties of building and maintaining power stations in the harshest conditions imaginable.For 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap travels to Orkney to meet the international cast of maritime engineers welding, soldering and modelling their way toward a low carbon Nirvana.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
02/10/1227m 52s

Apocalypse Then and Now

During the Vietnam War two million tons of American bombs were dropped on the tiny nation of Laos, more than the combined weight dropped on Japan and Germany during World War Two. The environmental impact was horrific, destroying forests, killing endangered wildlife and poisoning water supplies. For forty years the people of rural Laos have had to live with the constant fear of stepping on one of the thousands of unexploded bombs that litter the countryside.Bomb clearance has been partial and sporadic but the sudden influx of mining companies coupled with the building of new roads and hydro-electric dams is speeding things up. Farmland which has been unusable for decades is being bought up, cleared of bombs and sold on to developers. In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap and Georgia Catt hear how the tough work of the bomb clearance teams is altering the environment of Laos. Local people may be glad to see the back of the American bombs but the roads and mines that replace them are changing the face of the country forever.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
26/09/1227m 21s

Cruel Harvest

The disastrous global harvest of 2012 has slashed food supplies from the parched Mid-West of the USA to the dusty plains of Ukraine. In this time of crisis many farmers are asking if they should continue to grow crops to be turned into fuel for cars and power stations when they could be feeding more people.Costing the Earth visits the American corn-belt of Missouri and the rape fields of Bedfordshire to investigate the international impact of the tightening food supplies and ask if we need to get used to more extreme weather patterns over the coming decades. Can scientists help farmers grow crops that are more resistant to drought and flood or should we accept that all of our fertile land should be turned over to food production?Producer: Steve Peacock.
19/09/1227m 45s

Chinese Salmon

In January 2011 the Scottish Government announced a new deal to supply salmon to China. If only 1% of its population chose to eat it the Scottish industry would have to double in size. The target set is to increase the industry by 50% by 2020. Conor Woodman asks how this can be done without impacting on the environment.Concerns about salmon farming include the spread of sea lice, escapes, pollution of the sea bed and the impact of sea lice treatment on other sea life. However it provides jobs, both directly and indirectly in areas often with fragile economies. Conor visits the island of Gometra in the Inner Hebrides where a new fish farm is being proposed. The island has no electricity and only a few residents but is classed as 'very sensitive countryside'. It's one of five new fish farm sites applied for in the last 6 months. While the residents there oppose it, many of those on neighbouring Ulva hope the jobs will attract more young people to the area. Conor speaks to the Scottish Association for Marine Science about how the industry is dealing with the environmental issues. He also hears about the new direction some of the industry is taking - Marine Harvest is moving out of traditional lochs to open sea locations which it hopes will lead to larger farms being permitted. He also speaks to a British company looking to introduce 'closed containment' systems by farming tanks of fish on land. Is this the new image of salmon farming in the UK and will these methods face issues of their own?Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
11/09/1227m 31s

People Power

In the UK thousands of people spend many hours - and pounds - looking to burn off energy at gyms and while playing sports. Could that energy be harnessed and used to power some of our gadgets and devices? Tom Heap puts on his trainers and breaks a sweat to find out. Trevor Baylis's wind-up radio revolutionised access to information in Africa by using human power rather than expensive batteries. The inventor also demonstrated his piezoelectric phone-charging shoes by walking across the Namib desert and he says there's far more potential for inventions that use our heat or movement to power the devices we use - saving on the mountain of batteries we throw away and replace each year. It also makes lighting and phone charging easier for countries not on the electric grid. It's possible you've even had some of your energy captured without realising. Tom sees the floor tiles storing energy from commuters', shoppers' and schoolchildren's footsteps to help power lighting. He learns about ink patterns on clothing that use energy from our movement to monitor our health and hears about futuristic implantable devices which could be powered by the body's internal movements. The experts say we won't be going off-grid to power our homes with exercise bikes but even tiny devices could be major players in helping our energy demands. Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.
04/09/1228m 26s

Britain's Wilderness

The first attempt in England to turn a landscape back into a wilderness is 10 years old this year.In this week's Costing The Earth, Miranda Krestovnikoff visits Ennerdale Valley, on the Western edge of the Lake District, to find out how the scheme is progressing.Rewilding, as the scheme has become known, allows natural processes to take place, in order to return the habitat to as natural an environment as possible. The landscape has been managed in such a way that natural flora and fauna have been encouraged back to the valley. Miranda meets those involved in returning the valley to a wilderness.In order for the project to be be a success, the major land owners in the valley: the National Trust, the Forestry Commission, Natural England and United Utilities have all been working together.Miranda discovers how successful the rewilding project has been and whether or not schemes of this type are worth attempting elsewhere in the UK: a country that has very little wilderness that has been untouched by human hands. She also finds out the vital role visitors to the area play in keeping the landscape alive.Presenter: Miranda Krestovnikoff Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
28/08/1227m 48s

Britain in 2060: The Seas

Rising sea temperatures are already bringing new species to our shores. Sunfish, sea turtles and basking sharks are common sights. But what can we expect to see in the fishing nets by 2060? The key to the species that visit these shores is the plankton on which they feed. Species of plankton more usually found in areas of the southern Atlantic ocean are now turning up on our shores, and so are the fish and mammals that feed on them.So will tropical species replace the cod and haddock in Britain's fish and chip shops? Will great white sharks patrol our beaches? Tom Heap takes to the water to predict the state of our seas in fifty years.Will we all be eating Boarfish and chips? Red Mullet Goujons? Tom Heap asks whether the waters around the UK are set to become home to exotic whales and dolphins such as these pictured below.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.All photos courtesy of the Sea Watch Foundation library.
21/08/1228m 3s

Britain from 2060: The Land

According to the latest predictions on global warming Britain from the 2060s could begin to look rather like Madeira. In the first of a two-part investigation into the impact of climate change Tom Heap visits the island 350 miles from the coast of Morocco to find out how we might be living in the second half of the 21st century.With a climate dominated by the Atlantic, a wet, mountainous north and a warm, dry, over-populated south Madeira already resembles Britain in miniature. The settlers who arrived from Portugal in the 15th century developed a complex farming system that found a niche for dozens of crops, from olives and oranges to wheat and sweet potatoes. Could British farmers prepare for a less predictable climate by studying the delicate agricultural arts of the Madeirans? Irrigation systems bring water from the wet north of Madeira to the parched south where 90 percent of the population live and most of the tourists visit. Should Britain accept the inevitable and invest in the water pipes that could keep the South-East of England hydrated with Scottish and Northumbrian water?Tom will also be studying the island's wildlife. Can Britain expect semi-tropical insects and reptiles to invade the south as our mountain hares and ptarmigan die out in the north? Or does Madeira's broad range of species offer hope of something subtly different but just as fascinating from the 2060s?Producer: Alasdair Cross.
14/08/1227m 41s

Jellyfish Invasion!

Jellyfish are taking over the world's oceans, eating baby fish and driving marine ecosystems back to the primitive Cambrian era. Or are they? Although incidents of human-jellyfish interaction are on the increase, it's hard to be sure that the jellies are really increasing in number over the long term. But then again, if we wait till we are sure, won't it be too late? Miranda Krestovnikoff investigates.Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.
22/05/1227m 52s

Pushing Water

There's a drought in most of England but plenty of water elsewhere. Why not move it? Yes, water is heavy, but it's also slippery and moves down hill. Tom Heap investigates why water companies seem so reluctant to trade with each other. Some suggest it's because they make their profits by pouring concrete in their own patch, rather than by doing deals with their neighbours. Others think it's because they don't pay a realistic price for the water they take out of rivers in the first place. So are the problems of water shortage as much to do with the economics of the industry as with the lack of rain? Producer: Jolyon Jenkins.
15/05/1227m 42s

Return of the king

In the rush to come up with new, clean ways to produce electricity many people assumed that dirty old coal was a fuel of the past, a relic of the Industrial Revolution. However, coal's dominance of the market in electricity generation is actually increasing. China is building many new coal-fired power stations. The booming economies of Poland, Australia and South Africa are almost exclusively reliant on coal whilst even the Germans have turned back to the black stuff as they abandon nuclear power.In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap investigates the dramatic revival of Old King Coal and asks if there are any realistic ways to turn our cheapest, most abundant fuel into a clean source of energy.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
08/05/1228m 0s

Genetically Modified Brunch

Genetically-modified crops provoked scepticism and outright objection from many environmentalists and food campaigners when they were first launched in the 1990s.A new wave of GM crops is on the way but this time, the scientists claim, they will offer clear benefits to the public. There will be orange juice that helps you lose weight, grains fortified with the zinc our bodies need and new sustainable sources of Omega-3. In 'Costing the Earth' investigates the second generation of GM and asks if, this time, British consumers will welcome them onto the supermarket shelves.Producer: Alasdair Cross
01/05/1227m 49s

Cruise Ships and Creeks

It is the third-largest natural harbour in the world but even so, it isn't deep enough for modern ships. Falmouth in Cornwall wants to invest £100 million to modernise its ship-repairing docks and facilities for cruise liners.The project would create hundreds of jobs, protect existing businesses and bring cash-laden tourists into the surrounding area. It depends on being able to dredge the channel into the harbour and that's where the problem lies - to do so would mean digging up rare calcified seaweed called maerl which is protected by law and lies in a special conservation area. It's a classic stand-off between economic development and protecting the natural environment- now specialist marine scientists have been called in to see whether both sides can be satisfied. Tom Heap gets to grips with rare seaweed and big bucks in Cornwall for 'Costing The Earth'.Producer: Steve Peacock.
24/04/1227m 44s

Britain in Flames

Last spring huge swathes of the British countryside, from Dorset to the West Highlands erupted in flames. In the wake of a dry winter and drought orders across the south there's a real risk of another year of serious wildfires.In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap investigates the causes of forest and moorland fire and the innovative ideas that could help us predict them, and fight them.At Crowthorne Forest in Berkshire, site of the most destructive of 2011's fires he meets the young families evacuated from their homes who are now planting saplings that should prove to be more fire-resistant than their charred predecessors. In Northumbria he joins the local fire and rescue service for an exercise designed to test their speed and efficiency in the face of fire. And in the forests of South Wales he finds out why the region is the arson capital of the UK.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
17/04/1227m 37s

What lies beneath

Mining is set to return to Cornwall as tin and tungsten prices continue to rise. Plus a rare earth metal called Indium, a key component in smart phones and flat screens, is enticing prospectors back to the mines of the South West.Tin mining has long been just a relic of Cornwall's past; a landscape dotted with old overgrown chimneys being the only evidence of the wheals once found all across the county.The last miners left South Crofty mine, near Redruth in the heart of Cornwall in 1998 when the price of tin made mining in the area unviable, but now investors and geologists have turned their attention to some of the other minerals lying underground alongside the tin. Rare earth metals are also hiding below the surface at South Crofty and could help bring prosperity to a much maligned part of the country.Just across the county border in Devon, mining is set to begin at Hemerdon, just outside Plymouth. Hemerdon is home to the fourth largest Tungsten deposit in the world and the price of tungsten is soaring.Tom Heap meets the new prospectors hoping to make the area profitable once again.Presenter: Tom Heap Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts
11/04/1227m 53s

Frozen Fish

The seas around the Antarctic contain some of our last healthy fish stocks. Tight regulation and vicious weather conditions have kept most trawlers out of the southern waters but the global demand for protein could push more fishermen to sail to the frozen south.For 'Costing the Earth' the chef Gerard Baker travels to South Georgia to hear how scientists hope to maintain the health of the southern oceans in the face of overwhelming odds. Could their experience help the rest of the world secure the future of fish?
03/04/1227m 33s

Sands of Time

Britain's sand dunes are running out of time. Coastal development and well-meaning conservation plans have locked them in place, frustrating the natural ebbs and flows that attract some of our rarest birds, insects and toads. On the coast of South Wales the conservation group Plantlife has decided to take drastic action. A fleet of bulldozers has appeared at Kenfig Sands, home of the rare fen orchid. The plan is to reconstruct this massive dune system, giving space for the natural processes of wind and wave to mould the landscape, returning the natural mobility that so many of our dune species need.Is Mother Nature being given a much-needed helping hand or should we leave what remains of our dunes well alone? Tom Heap reports from the Welsh coast.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
27/03/1227m 54s


The outbreak of Schmallenberg disease amongst sheep and cattle on British farms has provided a powerful reminder of how novel infections can develop, spread and kill before the authorities have a chance to react.Scientists are still working hard to fully understand the virus and a vaccine is still some way off so what can we do to protect ourselves against future disease outbreaks?And how can we discover what diseases could be heading our way? Tom Heap heads to the Kent marshes in search of one of the potential carriers of nasty illnesses: Culex modestus. It's known to be a successful carrier of West Nile Virus - a paricularly nasty illness - and while the mosquito has been found on the marshes of Kent the disease has not made it's way to the UK yet.Costing The Earth also discovers the vital role social media could play in monitoring future epidemics.Intensive farming, international travel, global trade and climate change are all playing a role in changing the diseases we encounter. In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap asks what epidemics we should expect in the future and examines the readiness of government, the medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
20/03/1228m 0s

The Power of Peat

In the fight against climate change the peatlands of the British Isles are one of our greatest assets. A healthy peat bog can absorb more carbon dioxide and store it for longer than forests of a similar size. But we're still destroying our peat at a frightening rate. It's mined for use by gardeners, it's burned in power stations, taken by traditional peat-cutters and ravaged by moorland fires. In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap meets the people leading the fightback. He takes to the skies above the Peak District where helicopters are dropping rocks and heather brash onto remote hillsides to heal the wounds caused by two centuries of acid rain. He joins the teams blocking drains and planting pods of sphagnum moss in an effort to bring carbon-sucking life back to the blasted heaths of the peaks.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
13/03/1227m 56s

Rebel Without a Car

The car was once the symbol of youthful cool. From James Dean through Steve McQueen to Ayrton Senna the car was a symbol of freedom, daring and sexual allure. Today the young of the western world have turned their back on the car. Half of American 17-year-olds have a driver's licence today compared with three-quarters in 1998 and in Europe car sales are down whilst public transport use is up. Is it simply that insurance costs have rocketed for young drivers? Is it because the young remain in education for longer? Are our youth becoming more environmentally aware or is it because cars have become safe, reliable and downright dull?In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap takes to the road from the Streets of San Francisco to the inner ring roads of the West Midlands to find out if the age of the car is coming to an end. He meets the marketing men, the manufacturers and the innovators struggling to retain a place in our affections for the motor car.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
06/03/1227m 30s

Nuclear Power Without the Nasties

The Fukushima disaster in Japan brought the nuclear revival to a juddering halt. But what if there was a cheaper, safer way to create nuclear energy?Thorium is an abundant radioactive element that offers the prospect of producing power without the danger of reactor meltdowns or the enormous amounts of long-lived waste left behind by conventional nuclear power plants. The Chinese and Indian governments have advanced plans for thorium reactors whilst French and British scientists are already developing the technology that can turn the theory into commercial reality.In 'Costing the Earth' Julian Rush investigates the prospects for a new wave of 'safe' nuclear energy.
28/02/1227m 23s

Tunnel Beneath the Thames

Every time more than two millimetres of rain drops onto the streets of London a combination of raw sewerage and rainwater overwhelms the Victorian sewers and pours into the River Thames, killing fish and disgusting the users of the river.The solution being proposed by Thames Water is an enormous 15 mile long tunnel buried beneath the river as it flows through the city. There's little doubt that it will clean up the river but is the health of a few fish really worth over £4 billion of Londoners' money and years of disruption for those who live close to the tunnel construction sites?In 'Costing the Earth' Professor Alice Roberts descends into Joseph Bazalgette's Victorian sewer system to see the extent of the problem and the scale of the new works. Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
21/02/1227m 51s

Bambi Bites Back

Bambi has never had it so good. Changes in farming fashion now provide deer with delicious things to eat and warm places to sleep all winter long. The result is a big increase in numbers and a rapid geographical spread, taking our native and introduced species into the most urbanised parts of our islands.In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap investigates the causes of the deer boom and some of the unexpected impacts. Deer take a heavy toll on young trees, enraging foresters and ruining the prospects for ground-nesting birds like nightingales. They're also meeting increasingly grisly ends, killed by on-coming cars or targeted by poachers armed with crossbows or air guns.So should we wring our hands or celebrate the success of our largest land mammals? Should we cull and control or aim to make a profit from nature's bounty? Tom joins a team of specialists from Scottish Natural Heritage for a late night deer count through urban Scotland and meets a stalker who is offering wealthy Germans the chance to bag a lowland stag. Producer: Alasdair Cross.
14/02/1227m 40s

Adapting Insects

In the battle to protect crops and eradicate disease, scientists are turning to ever more ingenious ways to defeat the old enemy - insects. Instead of just going for the kill, they're finding ways of changing behaviour, of recruiting the predator's enemies as our friends. They're using genetic modification and other breeding techniques to ensure that insects breed, but the young don't survive long enough to do any damage. So can we make insects do our bidding and create a world without pesticides? Professor Alice Roberts investigates for 'Costing the Earth'. Producer: Steve Peacock.
07/02/1228m 2s

Bottle Bank Wars

Since goldrush days San Francisco has been a magnet for those on the make. But the latest moneymakers aren't interested in striking gold, they're in search of cans and bottles. The city's efforts to boost recycling rates have been so successful that the value of rubbish has spiralled, leading to battles between official, unofficial and downright criminal garbage collectors.San Francisco now recycles 78% of it's trash: paper, bottles, cans, plastics and even food gets recycled or composted. This is partly due to the California Bottle Bill of 1987 that introduced legislation to ensure a deposit was repaid on bottles and cans that were sold in the state. The amount recyclers get depends on the package they return.The city has also made it extremely easy for residents to recycle. They now have three bins. A brown bin for food waste, a black bin for general waste and a blue bin for recycling.It's these now iconic blue bins that scavengers target, pillaging the bottles and cans before Recology, the city's official garbage collectors, can get to them. They then take the booty to recycling centers and collect a few bucks.The fear is that now small time pilfering by a handful of scavengers is becoming more organised with criminal gangs getting in on the act.Tom Heap hits the streets of San Francisco to meet those making cash from trash. Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
31/01/1227m 47s

Let it Snow!

With planes grounded, airports shut and chaos on the roads, last winter was the harshest in a century.Temperatures plummeted to minus 22 degrees in Scotland and the whole of the UK was covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice for weeks. Britain was brought to a standstill.It is estimated that the cold weather cost the economy around £700 million; energy demand rocketed with demand for gas breaking all records; 60,000 miles of roads were gritted; thousands of schools were shut.Weather forecasters are unsure if the last two winters are the shape of things to come, or whether the country suffered freak conditions.With winter 2011 approaching, Tom Heap finds out what preparations are being made to ensure the country's transport infrastructure, power stations, emergency services and food retailers are ready for another big freeze.Producer: Martin Poyntz-Roberts.
26/10/1127m 59s

March of the Pylons

Britain's electricity grid needs replacing. Our old power network is approaching obsolesence. That means that there's a real threat of a new army of pylons spreading out across some of our most beautiful landscapes.Since the advent of electricity, power cables have spread out from large, centrally-located coal-fired power stations. In the future we're going to be extracting our power from small sources dotted around the periphery of the country- wind, wave and hydro-electric stations far from the big power users of the major cities. To cope with this change a new national grid will have to be constructed. The shape of that grid and the method for transferring power is already provoking controversy. How acceptable are large pylons in our National Parks? How much more expensive is an underground cable? Tom Heap investigates the options.
19/10/1127m 26s

Gold of the Conquistadors

Five hundred years ago the Spanish Conquistadors enslaved the population of South America in their desperate efforts to squeeze more gold and silver from the mines of Peru, Chile and Mexico.Today the industry is booming again, driven by the global demand for copper and the rising price of precious metals. New technology has made the industry safer for workers but the sensitive environment of the Andes is under threat from the water demands of the mining process.
12/10/1127m 36s

High Speed Hell?

What you hear is not necessarily what you're getting. We all have our pet noise hates, but experts tell us that the nuisance caused by noise depends on a number of factors and certainly not just volume. For this week's Costing The Earth, Tom Heap consults the experts and discovers that our response to noise is not only subjective, it is easily influenced by context and even what we can see.Tom also looks at the environmental impact of major construction projects and asks what more could be done to limit the damage. Money, politics and diligent campaigning all have a part to play in ensuring that the latest technology is brought into play. Throw enough money at the problem and major projects like the High Speed rail line between London and Birmingham be significantly quieter and less disruptive than campaigners fear.
05/10/1127m 32s

Waters of Arabia

Take a walk through the narrow streets of Sana'a, capital of Yemen and you'll come across the last remaining radish gardens. These small bursts of greenery amidst the desert dust are all that remain of a system that once fed and watered the city. At the height of Arabic science and ingenuity elaborate irrigation systems brought water into the mosques to wash the faithful. The used water was then diverted into large gardens of fabulous fertility.Today Yemen is on the verge of a humanitarian crisis provoked largely by a chronic shortage of water. A fast expanding population coupled with a diversion of scarce water for the production of the narcotic drug, Khat has pushed the country's water supply to the limit. Reporter Leana Hosea has visited Yemen to find out if the wisdom of the Arabic engineers of the past can help bring water back to this parched nation.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
28/09/1127m 36s

A Very Large Hole in the Sahara

Scientists are looking at novel ways to halt sea-level rise and reverse global warming, but not the way in which Miranda Krestovnikoff is attempting to do her bit on Exmouth Beach...One idea proposed was to flood lowing lying parts of the planet - parts of the Sahara desert in order to accomodate rising sea level caused by global warming and the melting of ice-sheets and glaciers. An idea quickly dismissed by climate scientist Tim Lenton who joins Miranda on the beach as she attempts to empty the water from the ocean.Futuristic visions of the sky filled with trillions of tiny mirrors and giant man-made clouds over the oceans to reflect the power of the sun are just two ideas scientists have come up with in their quest to make a giant sunscreen for the planet and to try and cool the climate.And just next month a team of scientists from universities in the UK are carrying out an experiment to see if they can hoist a giant hosepipe one kilometre into the air. If successful they will attempt to upscale the experiment. The aim is to see if they can extend the pipe up to 20km should they ever need to spray aerosol particles into the air to recreate the effects of a volcanic eruption. Matt Watson leads the project and he explains how successful Mount Pinatubo was in lowering the earth's temperature for two years after it erupted.Miranda Krestovnikoff investigates which futuristic geoengineering concepts could become a reality if we continue to fill the atmosphere with greenhouse gases and what impact messing about with the climate could potentially have on weather systems across the globe.
22/09/1127m 39s

The Air That I Breathe

British air quality consistently breaches European regulations. It's not just London or the other big cities, towns the length and breadth of the country suffer from filthy air. In this week's 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap asks what individuals can do to improve the quality of the air they breathe.The first step is to find out where air quality is at its worst. New techniques, pioneered by Lancaster University, use the pollution-attracting powers of trees to allow scientists to draw up accurate pollution maps of urban areas. Combined with smartphone APPs they give every pedestrian the power to avoid pollution hotspots. Air pollution can be incredibly localised. Even by walking on a parallel street you can save your lungs from the worst of urban pollution.These new ideas also open up the possibility of citizen control of air quality. The right trees planted in the right part of the street can reduce pollution loadings by up to 40%, offering communities a real chance to change their neighbourhood. Even individuals can have an effect. Chemists at Sheffield University in conjunction with Helen Storey at the London College of Fashion are developing the idea of pollution-munching clothes. Wear some jeans sprayed with a titanium catalyst and you could remove pollution from the air as you walk.Producer: Alasdair Cross.
14/09/1127m 59s

Bug Mac and Flies

In tonight's Costing The Earth Tom Heap tucks into a portion of locusts and asks if eating insects is good for his diet and better for the planet than a piece of steak.Bugs such as crickets and caterpillars can convert food into protein at a more efficient rate than livestock, and with valuable agricultural land being overgrazed around the world, we could soon be looking for an alternative food supply. One suggestion is that insects have a role to play in feeding the world. They are easy to raise since farming insects has a low impact on the environment, and once over any cultural taboos we may have as diners, they are nutritionally valuable.Tom Heap gets stuck in to a locust stir-fry in Bristol before heading off to the Netherlands to witness the latest cutting-edge research into raising insects where he also tries a mealworm cookie: a biscuit that could potentially deliver a day's protein ration in one hit to famine stricken areas of the world.He then visits a farm of the future where row upon row of crickets and various pupae are being raised. They are currently destined for pet shops to be used as animal food, but could soon be turning up on a supermarket shelf near you.Beetle burger anyone?
07/09/1127m 46s

Cave Carnage

Deep beneath southern Europe there stretches a 500 kilometre long subterranean world. Underground rivers and vast caverns are home to unique and unusual species like the blind salamander and the freshwater sponge. Barely explored, the caves of Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Albania are facing up to a rash of environmental threats.In Costing the Earth Tom Heap will be joining caver and Whitley Award-winning biologist, Jana Bedek to explore the caves, spot the wildlife and witness the destruction. Waste dumping and agricultural pollution are damaging waterways all through the cave system but it's in Croatia that some of the toughest challenges exist. Preparing for European Union membership the country is pushing ahead with the development of highways and hydro-electric plants. The construction is threatening some of the most valuable wildlife sites on the continent but the damage is invisible to most local people and all but the most adventurous of visitors.Is damage unavoidable in the rush to join the EU or does Croatia risk losing its natural foundations?
31/08/1127m 30s

Nature's Medicine Cabinet

Take the venom from a scorpion, the suckers from a starfish and the sting from a bee. You won't create a spell to turn a prince into a frog but you might just find a new anti-asthma spray, a way to prevent the failure of heart by-passes or the answer to drug-resistant bacteria Rapid advances in genetic research are throwing open the medical treasure chest of the natural world. Chemicals that perform a clear function for a plant or animal can be isolated, studied and, in some cases, applied to complex medical problems.This is obviously good news for patients but could it also be good news for endangered wildlife? Could we soon be concentrating our limited conservation resources on saving the plants and animals that offer up something to humanity?Dr. Alice Roberts and medical writer John Naish explore nature's medicine cabinet and consider the ethical dilemmas.
25/05/1127m 51s

California Gasping

California has a rapidly expanding population, one of the world's most important agricultural zones and a chronic lack of water. That contradiction has led to 70 years of wrangling punctuated by outbursts of violence and corruption.A new plan is being drawn up which is intended to resolve the outstanding problems once and for all, finding a balance between the needs of farmers, consumers and the environment.Travelling from one of the primary sources of the state's water in the far north to the threatened landscape of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Tom Heap hears the voices of those who've spent their lives in these stunning landscapes, feeling themselves at the mercy of those in power.
18/05/1127m 39s

The Real Avatar

James Cameron and Sigourney Weaver are the latest to wade into the battle to stop the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil but it seems celebrity causes are less likely to win ecological battles than they were 20 years ago and with oil and gas prices spiralling big dams are back on the menu everywhere.In the 1990s Sting and the Xingu tribal people succeeded in creating enough worldwide protest to stop the Belo Monte dam being put into construction. Since then the World Bank has stepped away from financing big dams, distancing itself from projects which have often caused as many problems as they solve. One fifth of the world's freshwater is found in the Amazon. The Belo Monte dam will divert a significant amount of the Xingu river flooding 640km including much of the city of Altamira and displacing upwards of 20,000 people. It will cost $17 billion and environmentalists argue that this is only viable because it will lead the way for dams further upstream which could produce far more energy and because the electricity will power aluminium smelters and iron ore mines. They also site the devastating impact on wildlife and migratory fish which are staples for indigenous tribes, a likely increase in malaria from the stagnant water and significant methane release from the river bed as it dries.The Brazilian government, and many Brazilian people, argue that the dam is absolutely necessary and that this is renewable energy. With one of the world's fastest growing economies they need fuel, and hydro already provides 80% of the country's energy needs. Should privileged Western stars be listened to when they may not fully understand the issues and what is more important to the environment movement, conservation or carbon?
11/05/1127m 58s

Greening the Teens

Take your average teenagers, Trudy (13, loves sports and Twilight), Liam (16, loves computer games) and Craig (19, loves cars). So much of what they enjoy seems to be energy intensive but do this demographic really use more power? How do you get them to care about the environment they are going to inherit? That is the experiment Birmingham University are about to undertake. Can computer games, mobile alerts and social media create a generation of greens or are they already ahead of the curve? Farmworld is the most popular application on Facebook but could a real world equivalent to keeping and trading your animals online really help to change attitudes? Nestle have committed themselves to making the palm oil they use more eco-friendly after a Greenpeace spoof kitkat advert went viral but can teenagers pre-occupation with all things online always produce such results. And should the kids really have to shoulder the responsibility, after all it was probably their gas guzzling, gadget consuming baby boomer parents and grandparents that created the problem. The UK Youth Climate Coalition is launching a long-term campaign, which will see all 650 Members of Parliament in the UK 'adopted' by a young person in their constituency, in an attempt to keep climate change at the top of their agenda. How successful will their campaign be, even if the kids are alright can they really affect change at the top.
06/05/1127m 50s

Cocoa Loco

It used to be a treat but now a chocolate bar is one of the cheapest ways to fill up. Chocolate is the unlikely substance at the heart of commodity wars. Cocoa has been reported to be more valuable than gold but will this mean the end of the nation's coffee break. Over-farming has caused problems in chocolate producing countries in Africa and South America. The pressure to produce cheap cocoa has meant farmers have failed to replant and replenish. Soil has become unusable and mature trees are now reaching the end of their life cycle. Fair trade has been forced on even the biggest producers like Nestle as the only means to get the raw product. But, is it too little too late and is this late interest a real commitment to fair deals for farmers and their land?There is concern that speculation by financial traders has helped to push up food prices worldwide, creating an unsustainable bubble that makes it even harder for many in the developing world to afford to eat. Workers in the UK have also felt the impact - Burton's Foods blamed higher cocoa and wheat prices for the closure of its Wirral factory - where Wagon Wheels and Jammie Dodgers are made - with the loss of over 400 jobs.Palm oil is another growing problem. Cheap, easy to grow and lucrative, many cocoa farmers have switched to this crop and turned their land over to monoculture. Costing the Earth investigates the efforts to keep our favourite treat going and asks if this is the first commodity of many to succumb to over-production and unrealistically cheap market prices.
27/04/1127m 46s

Peak Leak

From the atolls of the Pacific to the Thames Estuary, shipwrecks of World War Two litter the oceans. After seventy years rust is starting to take its toll, breaching steel hulls and sending cargoes of munitions, chemicals and oil into the environment.For decades governments have turned a blind eye to the risk, anxious to avoid responsibility for ships sunk in foreign waters. However, as the number of pollution incidents rises it's becoming vital for expertise in underwater salvage to be pooled in a worldwide effort to identify and remediate the most dangerous wrecks.Tom Heap investigates the latest salvage techniques and asks if the cancellation of funding for coastguard rescue tugs could add to the risk of future wrecks in British waters.
20/04/1127m 38s

Deepwater Horizon - The Real Damage

President Obama described Deepwater Horizon as America's worst environmental disaster. If that was true why have fish numbers in the Gulf massively increased since the blow-out?One year on from the disaster Tom Heap travels through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana in search of the true economic and environmental impact of the spill. Did the political and media reaction cause more damage to the region than the accident itself? He'll also be asking what effect the reaction to the disaster could have on Britain's plans for deep water drilling.
13/04/1127m 41s

Fields Paved with Gold

Birmingham City Council is already fitting solar to 10,000 homes and farmers with more than 35 acres had hoped to earn as much as £50,000 a year harvesting solar energy. But, the government now seems to be backtracking on its promise of large subsidies. Spain's solar industry recently crumbled due to the false economics of government funding and they have a lot more sunshine than the UK. Germany too, which has the world's largest market for solar, has recently had to dramatically decrease promised feed in tariffs in order to prevent an unsustainable bubble.Detractors of solar argue that even if we covered the country in panels we would only produce the energy of a handful of power plants. Nevertheless the limited FIT offer is heralding a 'goldrush' in parts of the South West who hope to revive the local economy. Once the offer ends the industry must be able to sustain itself but in the UK is the latest renewable hot ticket worth the gamble? Even in sunny Cornwall five figure planning application fees have put off many investors and new uncertainty over feed in tariffs has stalled planned projects.There are those who believe covering the roofs of some of our most loved National Trust Institutions like Dunster Castle with panels will be an expensive mistake. Others believe that any government or public body influence will only falsely inflate and then ultimately suppress the real value of solar. As ever the industry relies on growing take up making technology cheaper and increased funding for research increasing efficiency even in Britain's darkest parts. Low cost organic solar cells being developed at Cambridge University could be the answer but can we afford to wait for them to come online.
06/04/1128m 7s

Alien Invaders

The threat to wildlife from invasive species is now one of the greatest across the world and it is growing. Killer shrimp are the latest non-native species to be found in a formerly quiet and respectable area of Cambridgeshire. In the UK we have endlessly debated the problem of the grey squirrel and Japanese knotweed but in Spain the invaders are being driven out permanently. Can their plan work and would eradication return native species to abundance or simply create new problems in our ecosystems?Recent studies suggest the rise in invasive species stems from international trade. Global warming has also contributed to species migration and survival in the wild. The Spanish authorities have drawn up a list of 168 offending species including the raccoon and mink, zebra mussels, and one of the worse offenders the ruddy duck. In New Zealand rats are driving the yellowhead bird to extinction and the chrytrid fungi is causing a worldwide decline in amphibians but can species really recover after competition is successfully eradicated? It seems that in some cases they can. The near extinct black vented shearwater is recovering on a Mexican island after the eradication of cats, goats and sheep. The wallaby is also recovering after red fox were taken out in Australia. However, there are also a growing number of scientists who argue that to eradicate invasives is costly, cruel and ultimately unnecessary. In Puerto Rico invasive species have been the only plant and wildlife able to survive in eroded soils. Their encroachment has returned lifeless areas to thriving jungles, eventually providing a more encouraging environment for native species to return.If we can't beat them then it may even be time to learn from these ecological survivors. Producer Helen Lennard Repeated on 31:03:2011 13:31:00.
30/03/1128m 4s

Britain's Nuclear Future

Britain is running out of power. Ten new nuclear reactors were supposed to provide the solution. In this week's 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap asks if the events in Japan have dealt a fatal blow to the future of the industry. Tom will be examining the changes in safety regimes that may be provoked by the ongoing disaster. He'll also be asking if the economic case for nuclear has changed and looking ahead to the future supply of uranium. Producer: Alasdair Cross.
23/03/1127m 30s

Carbon Trading

It sounded like the perfect answer. Carbon trading could halt global warming, boost 'green' investment in the developing world and make money for city traders. Four years on and Europe's complex system to cut emissions from our factories has comprehensively failed. Despite vast amounts of money and effort being thrown at the scheme the current phase of carbon trading has, according to one report, cut emissions by a third of one per cent. In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap asks if capitalism's big idea has a future or just a murky past.Back in the 1990s, in a desperate attempt to get the United States to sign up to binding reductions in the emission of greenhouse gases the concept of carbon trading was developed. The idea was that polluting industries would be forced to buy the right to pollute in the form of carbon credits. If they wanted to pollute more they'd have to pay. If they polluted less then they could make a profit by offering their surplus credits to other businesses. Over time the number of credits would be reduced, bringing worldwide carbon emissions tumbling in a relatively pain-free way.The truth, as Tom discovers, is very different. The US has refused to take part, Japan and Korea have shelved plans to join in and the issue splits the Australian government. Only in the European Union has a system been developed and even here corruption, theft and a vast surplus of credits have combined to damage the policy's reputation and blunt its effectiveness.Despite doubts about the system it's influence is spreading fast. Many businesses are using a system of voluntary carbon off-setting to ease the conscience of their customers. Buy a flight or a 4 x 4 and you'll often be asked to pay a little extra to fund carbon-reduction schemes in the developing world. Closer to home the idea of habitat banking is gaining ground. This could give developers the chance to build on a wildlife-rich area as long as they pay to create the equivalent habitat elsewhere. It's a concept that's popular within the coalition government and supporters expect it to become a major part of conservation policy in England within the decade.Should we worry about this commodification of our environment or embrace the arrival of money and markets into the campaign to save our planet and improve the green space on our doorstep?
16/03/1127m 37s

Fur or Faux?

One of the most controversial clothing trends in Britain is the fashion revival of fur. In this week's 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap investigates the claims by the British Fur Trade Association that fur is natural, renewable and a sustainable resource that's kind to the environment .He visits a fur a farm in Copenhagen where farmer Knud takes Tom around his farm that can house up to 24,000 mink. Tom sees for himself the conditions in which the animals are kept, how they're killed and how their pelts are used.But how does Knud, and the wider industry, respond to recordings of animal cruelty and neglect from other European fur farms? And what about charities like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) who back in the 1990s ran a very successful campaign that vilified the wearing of fur? What do they make of the 'green' credentials of fur and its come back in the fashion world. Producer: Perminder Khatkar.
10/03/1127m 44s