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Down to Earth

We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7:20pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

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We meet the people behind fascinating environmental, health and technological innovations in a bid for sustainable solutions to our changing world. Saturday at 7:20pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Burning crisis: The era of the megafire

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Between July and August, the south-western French region of Gironde was hit by major wildfires, destroying nearly 30,000 hectares of forest. The magnitude and fury of the blaze shocked the country, with many now using the term megafire to describe the disaster. So has France entered a new era of megafires? We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Sep 10 2022

12mins

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Crippling drought, rising tensions

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The summer of 2022 has seen unprecedented droughts that have ravaged crops, threatening the livelihoods of millions across the world. France wasn't spared, with almost all departments facing water restrictions. Increasingly, farmers are turning to water reservoirs, a method decried by environmentalists. In this episode of Down to Earth we travel to western France, where tensions are mounting over the management of water supplies.

Sep 02 2022

12mins

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Why are Paris' iconic sparrows disappearing?

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Nearly a quarter of Paris' house sparrows have vanished in less than 15 years. It's a global phenomenon that baffles scientists and conservationists. In London, Hamburg and Amsterdam, the species is also in free-fall. We take a closer look.

Jul 22 2022

12mins

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Planting trees: Climate cure-all?

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It sounds like an effortless solution to one of humanity's greatest challenges: using trees as a tool to capture carbon dioxide. As the climate crisis deepens, countries and companies have embarked on a global tree-planting spree. But could they end up doing more harm than good?

Jul 08 2022

12mins

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Bottom trawlers: Engines of marine destruction

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Bottom trawling is often singled out by scientists and activists as one of the world's most destructive fishing techniques. It's prevalent in European waters. Nothing escapes the vast nets: fish, crustaceans, but also coral reefs and seagrass beds. Wherever trawlers go, the ocean floor turns into a desert. In this edition of Down to Earth we head to Spain, where bottom trawling is rife, even in marine protected areas.

Jun 24 2022

11mins

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Sand: Digging into a crisis?

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The word sand usually conjures up images of a holiday on the beach. But the fine grains also happen to be a precious commodity. Humans extract 50 billion tonnes of sand and gravel every year, making it the second most exploited resource on the planet. Can the world keep digging for more? The Down to Earth team investigates.

Jun 10 2022

12mins

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The dilemma of saving Venice: Lagoon or city?

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Throughout history, Venetians have learned to live with high tides, known as acqua alta. But now, climate change is taking its toll on the ancient city, with flooding increasing in both frequency and intensity. Massive barriers, which temporarily separate the Venetian lagoon from the sea, have been designed to fend off the water. But they have also raised a difficult question: should Venice save itself or the lagoon’s fragile ecosystem?

May 27 2022

12mins

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Geothermal energy: A new, green lease of life for old coal mines

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Coal mining has long polluted the natural environment, with devastating consequences. But today, could it be a source of renewable energy? Down to Earth travels to the UK where disused, flooded coal mines are now reservoirs of geothermal energy.

May 13 2022

11mins

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Can Europe afford to wean itself off Russian gas?

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Europe is at a crossroads. Amid the war in Ukraine, can the continent wean itself off Russian gas? An energy transition is underway, but the alternatives could lock countries into dirty fossil fuels for years to come. We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Apr 29 2022

12mins

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Dam busters: Tearing down concrete walls to save Atlantic salmon

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Since the 20th century, European rivers have been dammed and diverted for the sake of generating renewable energy. But the concrete walls have left an indelible mark, upending entire ecosystems. Migratory fish species in particular are paying the price. Atlantic salmon can no longer find they way back to their home streams to spawn, pushing the species to the brink of extinction. Should dams be torn down in the name of biodiversity? We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Apr 15 2022

11mins

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Chemical pollution: Surfing in toxic waters

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Scientists have issued a stark warning: chemical pollution has officially exceeded the limits safe for humans and the planet. The ocean, which has become a dumping ground for a cocktail of toxic pollutants, is bearing the brunt of this pollution. We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Apr 01 2022

6mins

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Winter droughts: The new normal?

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Parched soil and empty reservoirs aren't just warning signs of droughts in the summer, they’re also becoming the new normal in the early days of winter. Can science or nature help farmers endure future dry spells? We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Mar 18 2022

12mins

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Climate change: The end of skiing?

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As climate change takes its toll, warm winter and unreliable snow are now the new reality. Will skiing become a relic of the past? Ski resorts can improvise and adapt, but can they survive? We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Feb 18 2022

12mins

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DNA: New home for world's data?

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Nature has its very own information storage technology: DNA. For millions of years, the double helix has been the primary code for all living things. But could DNA also become the ultimate storage solution for our digital information? We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Feb 04 2022

6mins

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Magic mushrooms: Sustainable allies

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Fungi are normally associated with the forest floor and, yes, mould. In reality, they are fascinating living beings with hidden superpowers. Whether it's detoxifying polluted soil, or even replacing fossil fuels, mushrooms could be an invaluable ally for the planet. In this episode of Down to Earth, we meet the scientists and entrepreneurs working to unlock their full potential.

Jan 21 2022

6mins

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Climate code red: The race to green steel

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From the construction industry to car manufacturing, steel is everywhere. It's the most commonly used metal, but also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. In this edition of Down to Earth, we take a closer look at what can be done to clean up one of our dirtiest industries.

Jan 07 2022

6mins

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Flash floods: Rebuild and prepare

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Flash floods engulfing cities and washing away entire communities are yet another reminder of the climate crisis. But are we bound to live with the ever-present danger of deadly downpours? And how can cities prepare for the next big disaster? We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Dec 10 2021

6mins

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Wind and water: Orkney’s island powerhouse

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Last year, this Scottish archipelago produced more electricity from green sources than it can use. Its secret? The power of tides, waves and wind.

Nov 26 2021

6mins

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Gassy grazers: The Dutch dilemma

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The Netherlands is one of Europe's largest per capita emitters of greenhouse gases and the livestock industry is largely to blame. Home to 4 million cows, the country is now under pressure to tackle methane emissions but also a so-called nitrogen crisis ravaging ecosystems. The government is even considering plans to reduce livestock numbers. We take a closer look in this edition of Down to Earth.

Nov 12 2021

6mins

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COP26: Keeping 1.5°C alive

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It's been billed as the most consequential climate summit since the Paris agreement. Is COP26 in Glasgow our last chance to rein in global warming? We take a closer look in this special edition of Down to Earth.

Oct 29 2021

11mins

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