Costing the Earth

Costing the Earth

www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006r4wn
Fresh ideas from the sharpest minds working toward a cleaner, greener planet


Insect Extinction?
May 28 • 28 min
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…
Indian Impact
May 21 • 26 min
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…
Eco Anxiety
May 14 • 27 min
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…
The State of Nature
May 7 • 28 min
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.…
The Youth Are Revolting
Apr 30 • 28 min
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…
The Environment after Brexit
Apr 16 • 27 min
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…
The Wolf is Back!
Apr 9 • 28 min
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…
Fast Fashion Slow Down
Apr 3 • 27 min
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…
Dash from Gas
Apr 2 • 27 min
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…
Clean Air for Kids
Mar 19 • 27 min
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…
Tread Lightly
Mar 12 • 27 min
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
Hit the Gas!
Mar 5 • 27 min
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 Future of Our National Parks
Dec 5, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Heat from the Deep
Nov 27, 2018 • 28 min
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…
Art and the Environment
Nov 20, 2018 • 27 min
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…
March of the Wet Wipes
Nov 13, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Wetland Wonder
Nov 6, 2018 • 27 min
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…
The Real Cost of Chinese Medicine
Oct 30, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Plasticphobia
Oct 23, 2018 • 27 min
Could the war on plastic have unintended consequences for the environment? Tom Heap reports. Producer: Sarah Swadling
Man vs Woman vs Planet
Oct 16, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Helen Czerski’s Arctic Expedition
Oct 9, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Electric Dreams
Oct 2, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Fertility and the Environment
Sep 25, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Ending the Plastic Age
Sep 19, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Verity and the Bees
Sep 11, 2018 • 27 min
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…
The Future of the Countryside
May 29, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Disappearing Alps
May 22, 2018 • 27 min
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.
Run Rabbit
May 16, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Antarctic Assault
May 11, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Outback Outrage
May 8, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Demolishing Dams
Apr 24, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Shifting Spring
Apr 23, 2018 • 27 min
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,…
Undiscovered Colombia
Apr 17, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Dunes into Bunkers
Apr 3, 2018 • 27 min
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.…
Superwood
Mar 28, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Microfibre Detectives
Mar 27, 2018 • 28 min
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’…
A Greener Home For All
Mar 13, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Coral versus Coal
Mar 7, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Defenders of the Reef
Feb 27, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Everything’s Gone Green!
Feb 20, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Bonn Climate Talks: Where Next?
Nov 14, 2017 • 27 min
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…
America’s Climate Resistance
Nov 7, 2017 • 27 min
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.…
Tony’s Farm
Oct 31, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Fish Farms of the Future
Oct 26, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Where Does Our Waste Go?
Oct 17, 2017 • 27 min
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…
The Future of Fashion
Oct 10, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Dare to Share
Oct 3, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Guardians of the Environment?
Sep 29, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Fight the Power
Sep 20, 2017 • 27 min
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,…
Battery Powered Britain
Sep 12, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Tourist Tide
Sep 5, 2017 • 27 min
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…
James Wong on the World’s Toughest Plants
May 30, 2017 • 27 min
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?…
Future Forests
May 24, 2017 • 28 min
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…
Mekong Delta Blues
May 16, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Exploding Penguins
May 9, 2017 • 27 min
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.
Made to Last?
May 2, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Insulation for the Nation
Apr 25, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Sinking Solomon Islands
Apr 18, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Reasons to Be Cheerful?
Apr 11, 2017 • 28 min
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…
Fishing Future
Apr 4, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Unfrozen North
Mar 28, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Trump’s Big Sell Off
Mar 21, 2017 • 27 min
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,…
Heroines of the Rainforest
Mar 14, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Delivering Clean Air
Mar 7, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Soil Saviours
Feb 28, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Black Gold in Paradise
Feb 23, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Rig Retirement
Feb 14, 2017 • 27 min
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…
Fighting Fire
Feb 7, 2017 • 27 min
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…
America’s Energy Independence
Dec 1, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Cruising: A Dirty Secret
Nov 15, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Putting the Fizz Back into Planet Earth
Nov 8, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Nuclear Futures
Nov 1, 2016 • 27 min
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.
Forests of the Orangutan
Oct 25, 2016 • 27 min
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…
The British Countryside after Brexit
Oct 18, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Wildlife-Friendly Motorways
Oct 11, 2016 • 27 min
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.…
Spiritual Greens
Oct 4, 2016 • 27 min
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 -…
The Growing Season
Sep 27, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Fruits of the Forest
Sep 21, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Cities Without Cars
Sep 14, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Big Oil Big Trouble
Sep 6, 2016 • 27 min
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…
The Sun King of China
May 10, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Four Menus to Save the Planet
May 3, 2016 • 27 min
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…
After Chernobyl
Apr 26, 2016 • 27 min
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…
The Mars of the Mid-Atlantic
Apr 19, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Digging Climate Change
Apr 12, 2016 • 27 min
Professor Alice Roberts asks if archaeology can help us understand climate change. Producer: Helen Lennard.
From Iceland with Love
Apr 5, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Beasts of the Border
Mar 29, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Litter
Mar 22, 2016 • 27 min
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…
The Environment after Exit
Mar 15, 2016 • 27 min
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…
New York’s Big Green Clean
Mar 8, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Acoustic Ecology
Mar 3, 2016 • 27 min
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…
The City That Fell into the Earth
Feb 23, 2016 • 27 min
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,…
Requiem for a King
Feb 16, 2016 • 27 min
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…
Britain Disconnected
Feb 9, 2016 • 28 min
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…
Murder in Cambodia
Nov 20, 2015 • 27 min
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…
In Conversation with David Attenborough
Nov 17, 2015 • 27 min
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…
River Quality
Nov 3, 2015 • 28 min
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…
Antipasto Agony
Oct 27, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Coast: 50 Years of Change
Oct 20, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Paying For Our Parks
Oct 13, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Lungs, Lies and Automobiles
Oct 6, 2015 • 27 min
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.
Where Have All Our Gardens Gone?
Sep 29, 2015 • 27 min
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,…
Oceans of Acid
Sep 22, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Britain Rules the Waves
Sep 15, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Sounds of the Seas
Sep 8, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Electric Island
May 19, 2015 • 27 min
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…
The Ozone Hole Thirty Years On
May 12, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Britain’s Environment: The Debate
May 5, 2015 • 27 min
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…
China’s Water Revolution
Apr 28, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Eco-Cities
Apr 23, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Cycle City
Apr 14, 2015 • 28 min
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…
Reds Return
Apr 7, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Climate Change: Inconvenient Facts?
Mar 31, 2015 • 28 min
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…
The Price of Cheap Oil
Mar 24, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Lava: A Dangerous Game
Mar 17, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Greening the Green Belt
Mar 10, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Hunting the Beefalo
Mar 3, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Bristol: Green Capital?
Feb 24, 2015 • 27 min
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…
The Ice in Iceland
Feb 17, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Taming Australia
Feb 10, 2015 • 27 min
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…
Arctic Future
Nov 4, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Where Have All the Flowers Gone?
Oct 28, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Making a Splash
Oct 21, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Scuba Squad: Cleaning the Ocean
Oct 14, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Saving the Caribbean
Oct 7, 2014 • 27 min
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…
A Decade of Fracking
Sep 30, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Power to the People
Sep 24, 2014 • 27 min
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…
El Nino: Driving the Planet’s Weather
Sep 16, 2014 • 27 min
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…
When Mosquitoes Attack!
Sep 9, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Texan Drought
Sep 2, 2014 • 27 min
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.…
The Diesel Decade
Aug 26, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Britain’s Overseas Wildlife
May 20, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Energy Storage
May 13, 2014 • 28 min
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.…
The Future of Our Food
May 6, 2014 • 28 min
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…
Chemical Weapons: 100 Years On
Apr 29, 2014 • 28 min
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…
Power of Scotland
Apr 22, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Living It Small
Apr 15, 2014 • 28 min
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…
Flight from Disaster
Apr 8, 2014 • 27 min
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…
A Resilient World?
Apr 1, 2014 • 28 min
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…
Britain’s Green Capital 2015
Mar 28, 2014 • 28 min
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…
Feeding the Crops of the Future
Mar 18, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Future-proofing Forests
Mar 11, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Nuclear Waste’s Final Destination
Mar 4, 2014 • 27 min
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…
A Greener Way to Go
Feb 25, 2014 • 27 min
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…
Britain Under Water
Feb 18, 2014 • 27 min
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…
A Toilet for the 21st Century
Feb 11, 2014 • 27 min
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…
The End of Plastic
Nov 5, 2013 • 28 min
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…
Hot in the City
Oct 29, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Our Neighbours Are Elephants!
Oct 22, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Mind the Gap
Oct 15, 2013 • 27 min
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…
CSI Landfill
Oct 8, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
Oct 1, 2013 • 27 min
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.…
Burn That Fat!
Sep 30, 2013 • 27 min
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.…
Sharks Attacked
Sep 17, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Waste Watchers
Sep 10, 2013 • 27 min
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…
The Palm Oil Palm Off
Sep 3, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Electric Cars Recharged
Aug 27, 2013 • 27 min
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…
GM Update: Pig 26
May 21, 2013 • 28 min
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.…
The Cost of Cruising
May 14, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Bees Fight Back
May 9, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Amphibian Extinction
Apr 30, 2013 • 28 min
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…
Fish - The Next Fight
Apr 23, 2013 • 27 min
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…
The Deepest Lake on Earth
Apr 19, 2013 • 27 min
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…
CSI Rhino
Apr 9, 2013 • 27 min
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 Urban Farmers
Apr 3, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Exotic Pets
Mar 26, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Green Babies
Mar 19, 2013 • 27 min
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…
The House That Heats Itself
Mar 12, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Electrifying Africa: Beyond the Grid
Mar 6, 2013 • 28 min
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…
Electrifying Africa: The Power Beneath
Feb 27, 2013 • 28 min
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…
Dash for Ash
Feb 19, 2013 • 27 min
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…
When Nettles Attack!
Feb 12, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Robot Farmers
Feb 5, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Berlin’s Big Gamble
Jan 29, 2013 • 27 min
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…
Future Forests
Dec 13, 2012 • 24 min
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…
Tsunami Debris
Oct 9, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Wave Goodbye?
Oct 2, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Apocalypse Then and Now
Sep 26, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Cruel Harvest
Sep 19, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Chinese Salmon
Sep 11, 2012 • 27 min
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…
People Power
Sep 4, 2012 • 28 min
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…
Britain’s Wilderness
Aug 28, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Britain in 2060: The Seas
Aug 21, 2012 • 28 min
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…
Britain from 2060: The Land
Aug 14, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Jellyfish Invasion!
May 22, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Pushing Water
May 15, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Return of the king
May 8, 2012 • 28 min
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…
Genetically Modified Brunch
May 1, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Cruise Ships and Creeks
Apr 24, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Britain in Flames
Apr 17, 2012 • 27 min
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…
What lies beneath
Apr 11, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Frozen Fish
Apr 3, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Sands of Time
Mar 27, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Outbreak
Mar 20, 2012 • 28 min
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…
The Power of Peat
Mar 13, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Rebel Without a Car
Mar 6, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Nuclear Power Without the Nasties
Feb 28, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Tunnel Beneath the Thames
Feb 21, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Bambi Bites Back
Feb 14, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Adapting Insects
Feb 7, 2012 • 28 min
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…
Bottle Bank Wars
Jan 31, 2012 • 27 min
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…
Let it Snow!
Oct 26, 2011 • 27 min
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…
March of the Pylons
Oct 19, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Gold of the Conquistadors
Oct 12, 2011 • 27 min
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…
High Speed Hell?
Oct 5, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Waters of Arabia
Sep 28, 2011 • 27 min
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…
A Very Large Hole in the Sahara
Sep 22, 2011 • 27 min
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 Air That I Breathe
Sep 14, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Bug Mac and Flies
Sep 7, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Cave Carnage
Aug 31, 2011 • 27 min
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,…
Nature’s Medicine Cabinet
May 25, 2011 • 27 min
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…
California Gasping
May 18, 2011 • 27 min
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…
The Real Avatar
May 11, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Greening the Teens
May 6, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Cocoa Loco
Apr 27, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Peak Leak
Apr 20, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Deepwater Horizon - The Real Damage
Apr 13, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Fields Paved with Gold
Apr 6, 2011 • 28 min
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.…
Alien Invaders
Mar 30, 2011 • 28 min
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…
Britain’s Nuclear Future
Mar 23, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Carbon Trading
Mar 16, 2011 • 27 min
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…
Fur or Faux?
Mar 10, 2011 • 27 min
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…
OK Coral
Mar 2, 2011 • 28 min
90% of the world’s coral is under threat, but could this frontline ecosystem also offer signs of hope? Ocean acidification is one of the biggest threats to coral but in Egypt tourism also contributes. Much of the coastal resorts waste is pumped directly…
The Real Eco Warriors?
Feb 23, 2011 • 27 min
According to senior military figures, by the time a gallon of fuel reaches the frontline in Afghanistan its cost has increased to £250. Add in the cost of escorting those tankers in terms of lives and you have a pretty powerful incentive for the military…
Digging Britain
Feb 16, 2011 • 27 min
The Staffordshire and Frome Hoards are just two of the most exciting archaeological finds in recent years. Both were found by amateur treasure hunters in the UK using metal detectors. A good news story in these tough times but what is the real affect of…
Arctic Dreams
Feb 9, 2011 • 27 min
The melting of the Arctic is sparking a goldrush, bringing energy and mineral companies north in search of oil, gas and minerals. To the people of the north it’s a confusing time. New business and industry can offer jobs and money but they threaten the…
Into the Arctic
Feb 2, 2011 • 27 min
In 2010 the Canadian Arctic experienced its warmest year on record. Suddenly the area’s resources- oil, gas, iron ore, uranium, even diamonds- seem accessible. From Siberia through Greenland to Canada and Alaska energy and mining companies are descending…
Spring Forwards, Fall Backwards
Oct 27, 2010 • 27 min
On October 31st we’ll all dutifully turn our clocks back by one hour, plunging our evenings into premature darkness. There’s mounting evidence that this annual ritual has a real environmental cost. Alice Roberts takes a look at the arguments from the…
Grapes of Wrath
Oct 20, 2010 • 27 min
Wine drinkers face an uncertain future. A decade of great vintages, plentiful supplies and cheap prices could be about to come to a shuddering halt. In the classic wine regions of Europe there are huge concerns over climate change and land use. Burgundy’s…
Can Lawyers Save The World?
Oct 13, 2010 • 28 min
Climate change has already claimed its first victims. Displaced people from the Carteret Islands, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Niger delta have already become climate refugees but from whom can they seek refuge or even compensation? Environmental…
Plastic Pollution
Oct 6, 2010 • 28 min
What’s happening in the Gulf of Mexico is quite literally a drop in the ocean compared to the growing plastic pollution further out in the Pacific and now found closer to home in the North Atlantic. Thirteen years after the world woke up to the threat…