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Costing the Earth

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London, United Kingdom




Programme looking at man's effect on the environment and how the environment reacts, questioning accepted truths, challenging those in charge and reporting on progress towards improving the world




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...

Duration: 00:27:25

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...

Duration: 00:27:37

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...

Duration: 00:27:51

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...

Duration: 00:28:03

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.

Duration: 00:27:22

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.

Duration: 00:27:41

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...

Duration: 00:27:55

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...

Duration: 00:27:56

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...

Duration: 00:27:32

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...

Duration: 00:28:01

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...

Duration: 00:27:39

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...

Duration: 00:27:33

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...

Duration: 00:27:57

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...

Duration: 00:27:10

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?...

Duration: 00:27:27

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...

Duration: 00:27:53

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...

Duration: 00:27:25

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...

Duration: 00:27:58

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...

Duration: 00:27:45

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...

Duration: 00:27:55

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