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Science

Costing the Earth

Updated about 1 month ago

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

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

iTunes Ratings

37 Ratings
Average Ratings
32
4
0
0
1

Empowering, insightful and actionable! 🙌

By JoshCrist - Jan 09 2020
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Whether you’re already deep into your journey of understanding our environmental impact, or just getting started organizing your life in a way that supports a sustainable relationship with the planet - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Tom does an incredible job leading conversations that cover the entire range of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical challenges we all face learning to reconnect with an authentic style of living that doesn’t drain Earth’s resources (or leave us worse-off). Highly recommend listening and subscribing!

Meaningful engagement with environmental topics

By genleevia - Nov 08 2016
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An excellent and engaging perspective on to-the-minute environmental topics.

iTunes Ratings

37 Ratings
Average Ratings
32
4
0
0
1

Empowering, insightful and actionable! 🙌

By JoshCrist - Jan 09 2020
Read more
Whether you’re already deep into your journey of understanding our environmental impact, or just getting started organizing your life in a way that supports a sustainable relationship with the planet - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Tom does an incredible job leading conversations that cover the entire range of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical challenges we all face learning to reconnect with an authentic style of living that doesn’t drain Earth’s resources (or leave us worse-off). Highly recommend listening and subscribing!

Meaningful engagement with environmental topics

By genleevia - Nov 08 2016
Read more
An excellent and engaging perspective on to-the-minute environmental topics.
Cover image of Costing the Earth

Costing the Earth

Latest release on May 26, 2020

Read more

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

Rank #1: Made to Last?

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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.

May 02 2017

27mins

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Rank #2: The Future of Our National Parks

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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

Dec 05 2018

27mins

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Rank #3: Electrifying Africa: The Power Beneath

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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.

Feb 27 2013

28mins

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Rank #4: America's Energy Independence

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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.

Dec 01 2016

27mins

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Rank #5: Exotic Pets

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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.

Mar 26 2013

27mins

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Rank #6: Four Menus to Save the Planet

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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.

May 03 2016

27mins

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Rank #7: Bees Fight Back

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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.

May 09 2013

27mins

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Rank #8: Demolishing Dams

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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.

Apr 24 2018

27mins

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Rank #9: Insect Extinction?

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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 Anton

Photo credit: Dr Beynon's Bug Farm

May 28 2019

28mins

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Rank #10: Shifting Spring

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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.

Apr 23 2018

27mins

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Rank #11: Nuclear Futures

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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.

Nov 01 2016

27mins

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Rank #12: Climate Change: Inconvenient Facts?

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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.

Mar 31 2015

28mins

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Rank #13: Vegan World

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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

Nov 28 2019

27mins

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Rank #14: When Nettles Attack!

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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.

Feb 12 2013

27mins

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Rank #15: Cruising: A Dirty Secret

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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.

Nov 15 2016

27mins

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Rank #16: Eco Anxiety

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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

May 14 2019

27mins

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Rank #17: Amphibian Extinction

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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.

Apr 30 2013

28mins

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Rank #18: America's Climate Resistance

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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.

Nov 07 2017

27mins

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Rank #19: Carbon Trading

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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?

Mar 16 2011

27mins

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Rank #20: Dry Me A River

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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

Nov 12 2019

27mins

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Forests of the Future

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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

May 26 2020

27mins

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Flooding Britain

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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.

May 25 2020

27mins

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Is this something I should be doing?

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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

May 20 2020

27mins

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Silencing with Noise

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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

May 05 2020

27mins

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Zero Carbon Britain

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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

Apr 28 2020

27mins

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Music's Green Day

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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

Apr 21 2020

27mins

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Covid-19: the environmental impact

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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

Apr 14 2020

27mins

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Fantastic Plastic

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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 use

In 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

Apr 07 2020

27mins

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Plastic Burnout

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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

Mar 31 2020

27mins

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Turning Japan Green

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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 Cross

Photo courtesy of @nickluscombe

Mar 24 2020

27mins

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Eco Homes Now!

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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.

Mar 17 2020

27mins

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Fate of the Falcons

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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

Mar 10 2020

27mins

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Mark Ruffalo vs Chemical Pollution

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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

Mar 03 2020

27mins

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Election 2019

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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

Dec 03 2019

27mins

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Vegan World

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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

Nov 28 2019

27mins

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Dry Me A River

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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

Nov 12 2019

27mins

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Iron Curtain Turns Green

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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

Oct 29 2019

27mins

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Plastic Gardens

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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

Oct 22 2019

27mins

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Powering Britain

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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

Oct 16 2019

27mins

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Carbon Free Islands

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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

Oct 08 2019

27mins

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iTunes Ratings

37 Ratings
Average Ratings
32
4
0
0
1

Empowering, insightful and actionable! 🙌

By JoshCrist - Jan 09 2020
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Whether you’re already deep into your journey of understanding our environmental impact, or just getting started organizing your life in a way that supports a sustainable relationship with the planet - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Tom does an incredible job leading conversations that cover the entire range of mental, emotional, spiritual and physical challenges we all face learning to reconnect with an authentic style of living that doesn’t drain Earth’s resources (or leave us worse-off). Highly recommend listening and subscribing!

Meaningful engagement with environmental topics

By genleevia - Nov 08 2016
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An excellent and engaging perspective on to-the-minute environmental topics.