Go Advanced Search
 

Subscribe to this:

Podcast
Podcast
iTunes Podcast




Podcasts in These Categories
Find More Titles by

Costing the Earth Podcast

Costing the Earth Podcast

Product Details

Description

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


People Who Liked Costing the Earth Podcast Also Liked These Podcasts:
Reviews & Ratings
User Reviews         Rate this title  

Podcast Episodes




If this Podcast isn't working, please let us know by emailing us and we will try to fix it ASAP:

Podcast Feed URL:

 Podcast Website:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006r4wn

Insulation for the Nation

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 25, 2017


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Sinking Solomon Islands

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 18, 2017


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Reasons to Be Cheerful?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 11, 2017


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Fishing Future

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 04, 2017


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Unfrozen North

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 28, 2017


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Trump's Big Sell Off

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 21, 2017


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Heroines of the Rainforest

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 14, 2017


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

Download File - 24.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Delivering Clean Air

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 07, 2017


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Soil Saviours

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 28, 2017


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Black Gold in Paradise

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 21, 2017


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Rig Retirement

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 14, 2017


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Fighting Fire

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 07, 2017


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



America's Energy Independence

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 22, 2016


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.

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cruising: A Dirty Secret

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 15, 2016


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.

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Putting the Fizz Back into Planet Earth

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 08, 2016


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Nuclear Futures

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 01, 2016


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.

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Forests of the Orangutan

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 25, 2016


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The British Countryside after Brexit

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 18, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Wildlife-Friendly Motorways

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 11, 2016


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Spiritual Greens

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 04, 2016


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Growing Season

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 27, 2016


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Fruits of the Forest

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 21, 2016


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cities Without Cars

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 13, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Big Oil Big Trouble

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 06, 2016


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Sun King of China

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 10, 2016


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Four Menus to Save the Planet

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 03, 2016


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.

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



After Chernobyl

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 26, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Mars of the Mid-Atlantic

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 19, 2016


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Digging Climate Change

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 12, 2016


Professor Alice Roberts asks if archaeology can help us understand climate change. Producer: Helen Lennard.

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



From Iceland with Love

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 05, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Beasts of the Border

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 29, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Litter

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 22, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Environment after Exit

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 15, 2016


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



New York's Big Green Clean

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 08, 2016


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Acoustic Ecology

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 01, 2016


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The City That Fell into the Earth

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 23, 2016


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Requiem for a King

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 16, 2016


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain Disconnected

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 09, 2016


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Murder in Cambodia

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 10, 2015


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



In Conversation with David Attenborough

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 17, 2015


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



River Quality

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 03, 2015


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Antipasto Agony

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 27, 2015


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Coast: 50 Years of Change

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 20, 2015


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Paying For Our Parks

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 13, 2015


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Lungs, Lies and Automobiles

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 06, 2015


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.

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Where Have All Our Gardens Gone?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 29, 2015


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

Download File - 25.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Oceans of Acid

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 23, 2015


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain Rules the Waves

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 15, 2015


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Sounds of the Seas

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 08, 2015


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Electric Island

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 19, 2015


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Ozone Hole Thirty Years On

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 12, 2015


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain's Environment: The Debate

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 05, 2015


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



China's Water Revolution

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 28, 2015


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Eco-Cities

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 21, 2015


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cycle City

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 14, 2015


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Reds Return

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 07, 2015


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Climate Change: Inconvenient Facts?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 31, 2015


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.

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Price of Cheap Oil

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 24, 2015


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Lava: A Dangerous Game

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 17, 2015


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Greening the Green Belt

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 10, 2015


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Hunting the Beefalo

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 03, 2015


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Bristol: Green Capital?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 24, 2015


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Ice in Iceland

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 17, 2015


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Taming Australia

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 10, 2015


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Arctic Future

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 04, 2014


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 28, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Making a Splash

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 21, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Scuba Squad: Cleaning the Ocean

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 14, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Saving the Caribbean

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 07, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



A Decade of Fracking

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 30, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Power to the People

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 24, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



El Nino: Driving the Planet's Weather

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 16, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



When Mosquitoes Attack!

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 09, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Texan Drought

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 02, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Diesel Decade

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Aug 26, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain's Overseas Wildlife

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 20, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Energy Storage

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 13, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Future of Our Food

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 06, 2014


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Chemical Weapons: 100 Years On

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 29, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Power of Scotland

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 22, 2014


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Living It Small

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 15, 2014


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Flight from Disaster

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 08, 2014


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



A Resilient World?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 01, 2014


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain's Green Capital 2015

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 25, 2014


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Feeding the Crops of the Future

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 18, 2014


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Future-proofing Forests

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 11, 2014


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Nuclear Waste's Final Destination

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 04, 2014


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



A Greener Way to Go

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 25, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain Under Water

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 18, 2014


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



A Toilet for the 21st Century

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 11, 2014


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The End of Plastic

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Nov 05, 2013


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Hot in the City

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 29, 2013


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Our Neighbours Are Elephants!

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 22, 2013


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Mind the Gap

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 15, 2013


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



CSI Landfill

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 08, 2013


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 01, 2013


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Burn That Fat!

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 25, 2013


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Sharks Attacked

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 17, 2013


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Waste Watchers

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 10, 2013


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Palm Oil Palm Off

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 03, 2013


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Electric Cars Recharged

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Aug 27, 2013


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



GM Update: Pig 26

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 21, 2013


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Cost of Cruising

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 14, 2013


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Bees Fight Back

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 07, 2013


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.

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Amphibian Extinction

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 30, 2013


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.

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Fish - The Next Fight

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 23, 2013


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Deepest Lake on Earth

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 16, 2013


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



CSI Rhino

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 09, 2013


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Urban Farmers

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 02, 2013


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Exotic Pets

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 26, 2013


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.

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Green Babies

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 19, 2013


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The House That Heats Itself

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 12, 2013


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Electrifying Africa: Beyond the Grid

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 05, 2013


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Electrifying Africa: The Power Beneath

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 26, 2013


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.

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Dash for Ash

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 19, 2013


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



When Nettles Attack!

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 12, 2013


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.

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Robot Farmers

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 05, 2013


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Berlin's Big Gamble

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Jan 29, 2013


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Future Forests

Author: BBC Radio 4
Thu, Dec 13, 2012


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

Download File - 22.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Tsunami Debris

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 09, 2012


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Wave Goodbye?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Oct 02, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Apocalypse Then and Now

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 26, 2012


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

Download File - 25.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cruel Harvest

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 19, 2012


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Chinese Salmon

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 11, 2012


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



People Power

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Sep 04, 2012


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

Download File - 26.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain's Wilderness

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Aug 28, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain in 2060: The Seas

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Aug 21, 2012


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain from 2060: The Land

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Aug 14, 2012


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Jellyfish Invasion!

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 22, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Pushing Water

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 15, 2012


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Return of the king

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 08, 2012


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Genetically Modified Brunch

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, May 01, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cruise Ships and Creeks

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 24, 2012


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain in Flames

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 17, 2012


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



What lies beneath

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 10, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Frozen Fish

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Apr 03, 2012


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Sands of Time

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 27, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Outbreak

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 20, 2012


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Power of Peat

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 13, 2012


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Rebel Without a Car

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Mar 06, 2012


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Nuclear Power Without the Nasties

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 28, 2012


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Tunnel Beneath the Thames

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 21, 2012


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Bambi Bites Back

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 14, 2012


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Adapting Insects

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Feb 07, 2012


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Bottle Bank Wars

Author: BBC Radio 4
Tue, Jan 31, 2012


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Let it Snow!

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 26, 2011


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



March of the Pylons

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 19, 2011


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

Download File - 25.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Gold of the Conquistadors

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 12, 2011


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



High Speed Hell?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 05, 2011


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Waters of Arabia

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 28, 2011


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



A Very Large Hole in the Sahara

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 21, 2011


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Air That I Breathe

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 14, 2011


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Bug Mac and Flies

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Sep 07, 2011


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cave Carnage

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Aug 31, 2011


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Nature's Medicine Cabinet

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, May 25, 2011


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



California Gasping

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, May 18, 2011


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Real Avatar

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, May 11, 2011


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

Download File - 25.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Greening the Teens

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, May 04, 2011


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

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Cocoa Loco

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Apr 27, 2011


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Peak Leak

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Apr 20, 2011


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Deepwater Horizon - The Real Damage

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Apr 13, 2011


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

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Fields Paved with Gold

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Apr 06, 2011


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Alien Invaders

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Mar 30, 2011


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

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Britain's Nuclear Future

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Mar 23, 2011


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

Download File - 25.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Carbon Trading

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Mar 16, 2011


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?

Download File - 25.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Fur or Faux?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Mar 09, 2011


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

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



OK Coral

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Mar 02, 2011


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 into the sea and plastic bags litter the sea bed. Step forward eco divers. Volunteers who clean up reefs on their holidays and not just in the Red Sea. Neptunes Army of Rubbish Cleaners dive in Wales to keep the Pembrokeshire marine environment free from litter but can this army of volunteers across the planet really make a difference. As well as litter coral has also been found to be threatened by noise pollution. Young coral find their way home by listening to the noise of animals on the reef and increasing marine noise threatens their ability to do so. Climate change is also a factor in ocean acidification but it may not be all bad news. A recent report in Australia suggests that ancient coral which drowned could return to life with warming seas. Further research at the University of Essex suggests that often coral bleaching does not always equate to coral death. More promising still is research at the University of Exeter where scientists have discovered that some coral in the Arabic Sea, where waters have warmed most quickly so far, has been able to adapt to rising temperatures. What these fragile structures need most is time and space to recover. Marine conservation zones have worked well on the Great Barrier Reef and in the UK's own territorial waters of Chagos but closer to home in Barra the pressures of conservation versus fishermen's livelihood have become all too apparent.

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



The Real Eco Warriors?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Feb 23, 2011


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 to cut down its fuel consumption. Top officials in the United States and in the UK are taking this message seriously, investing in research into alternative fuels, portable battlefield power systems and energy reduction strategies. There's already a company of US Marines operating in Afghanistan with solar powered communications systems whilst back home military chemists are working on fuels from algae. Their ultimate aim is for frontline military bases to produce their own vehicle fuel from on-site tanks of algae, completely eliminating the need for long convoys of fuel tankers. One British company is building enormous fuel-efficient airships that will spend weeks in the air patrolling Afghanistan whilst another builds generators that turn frontline waste into power for military camps. Could all this military effort be just the tonic that civilian green technology needs? Could the military's cash, expertise and sense of urgency push forward the stagnant technology of solar, wind and alternative fuels? Tom Heap investigates the real eco-warriors in this week's 'Costing the Earth'. Producer: Alasdair Cross.

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Digging Britain

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Feb 16, 2011


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 legions of unqualified diggers on Britain's heritage and landscape? The growing popularity of metal detectors has meant big finds in the past few years but a new detector has been produced which triples the depth at which small objects can be detected. So far detecting has been tolerated in Britain on the basis that it only digs up land to plough depth and therefore doesn't exacerbate disturbance of historically significant sites. This new development adds fuel to what is already a heated debate. Archaeologists feel that treasure hunters take valuable finds from sites which should be excavated properly, archaeology is all about context they argue and once artefacts are removed our heritage is lost. The Countryside Alliance is warning landowners not to allow metal detectors on their land in order to avoid disputes but many detectors have signed up to a voluntary code designed to minimise their impact on farmland. The detectors argues that without their valuable help today's agrochemicals will destroy a base metal object within a few years of it being in the ground. Coins have been destroyed in the last 50 years which have been in the ground for millennia. Stone implements are also broken with today's modern mechanical ploughs. There are 30,000 metal detectorists today. They started detecting landmines after the war but will they continue to offer a service to the landscape and its heritage or simply take what it has to offer.

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Arctic Dreams

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Feb 09, 2011


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 pristine environment and seem certain to further dilute the native culture. In this second programme on the future of the melting north Tom Heap visits Arctic Canada to find out more about the impact of development on flora, fauna and the native people. He hears how the Inuit have taken up semi-western lifestyles only in the last fifty years. They were persuaded by the Canadian government to leave behind a life of small family groups following the seasonal movements of caribou, seal and whale in return for subsidised lives in new settlements scattered across the north. Their children were taken away from their parents to residential schools hundreds of miles away. The separation and inevitable abuse destroyed families and turned a proud, independent culture into one of dependence. Communities are still dealing with the fall-out, suffering the worst rates of suicide, alcoholism, violence and premature death in Canada. In recent years the Inuit have gradually come to take more control over their own destiny. Today they have the power to say 'yes' or 'no' to miners and oil prospectors. A new generation of native leaders is determined that any money to be made from the natural resources will go toward turning around their communities. Tom Heap meets local people to find out how they want development to proceed and hears from politicians and academics how the native people fit into the international picture. Will the Inuit really have a voice when the US, Russia and Canada begin squabbling over the region's resources? Producer: Alasdair Cross.

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Into the Arctic

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Feb 02, 2011


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 on the north, eager for a slice of the profits they believe to be waiting for them in the gathering slush. In the first of two programmes Tom Heap is in Arctic Canada to find out more about the new goldrush and to ask if the scramble for resources could reignite the great Cold War rivalries. The Arctic has held a fascination for Europeans for centuries. Vikings, fishermen and whalers plundered for short summer seasons and in 1576 Sir Martin Frobisher sailed around Baffin Island in search of the North-West passage to the riches of the east, a search that would obsess sailors for the next 350 years. Today the passage is clearing and shipping lines are examining the possibility of a high speed route between Western Europe and China. The clearing of the ice is also making oil exploration easier and allowing mining companies to access the mineral wealth of the north. That wealth is also attracting the attention of the national governments that claim a share of the Arctic. It's three years since the explorer, Artur Chilingarov piloted his submarine to the seabed beneath the North Pole, planted a flag and claimed it for Russia. The diplomatic repercussions of that dramatic act are still being felt around the Arctic today. Does that make economic, diplomatic or even military conflict inevitable or can the Arctic states share out the spoils without further damaging one of the most fragile environments on earth? Producer: Alasdair Cross.

Download File - 25.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Spring Forwards, Fall Backwards

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 27, 2010


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 Greenwich Meridian to Cornwall and the Western Isles to find out who could benefit and who might suffer from a change in the way we set our clocks.

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Grapes of Wrath

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 20, 2010


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 greatness is based upon the relatively low temperatures that allow its chardonnay and pinot noir grapes to ripen slowly. Gradually rising temperatures in the region are ripening the grapes more quickly, increasing sugar and therefore alcohol levels. The subtle flavours are threatened and, given the strict geographical rules of the French system, the very existence of Burgundy wine could be under threat. Meanwhile, in Germany's Mosel Valley construction has already started on a motorway and spectacularly ugly bridge that will cut across the vineyards. Local winemakers fear that the delicate geology of the region will be shattered forever, altering the conditions that create the world's finest riesling. The New World doesn't escape the environmental problems facing the industry. In Australia decades of over-abstraction and drought have denuded vital water supplies whilst climate change could make many of the wine-making regions inhospitable to all but the hardiest grapes. Tom Heap considers the threats to the world's wine and asks what can be done to protect our best vineyards from environmental change. Producer: Alasdair Cross.

Download File - 25.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Can Lawyers Save The World?

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 13, 2010


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 Justice Foundation is calling for legally binding agreements to protect those displaced and there are various legal cases in action that could set a precedent for compensation. 400 Alaskan residents are suing energy companies for creating a public nuisance and for conspiracy (in funding research to 'prove' there is no link between climate change and human activity). Tuvalu, the low lying nation in the pacific, has threatened to sue Australia and the United States for their contributions to climate change and in the latest and most high profile case Katrina victims are taking the big oil companies BP, Shell, Chevron Exxonmobile, to court. So far displaced people have not been defined as refugees so they have no legal rights but countries could be expected to take a number of migrants equivalent to their contribution or compensate victims for their loss. Myles Allan of Oxford University has set up models to predict how much climate change attributable to man has caused extreme weather conditions like the flooding here in the UK in 2000. Sophisticated modelling could make it easier to attribute blame and a recent ruling in the European Court means that victims of environmental crime should find it a lot easier to take their cases to court. Big insurance companies are already warning their clients to expect compensation suits but there is still some way to go before precedent has been set in the case of climate change and nobody knows what will happen once these floodgates have opened. Tom Heap talks to victims of Katrina who are already taking lawsuits and flood victims in the UK on the anniversary of the 2000 flooding to find out whether the courts can really offer compensation where international governments have failed to act.

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



Plastic Pollution

Author: BBC Radio 4
Wed, Oct 06, 2010


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 from plastic polluting our seas and CTE's award-winning expose of the potential threat to our food, we reveal how far from winning the war on plastic pollution it's actually getting worse. Along British beaches UFO's - unidentified floating objects are appearing in larger quantities than ever before. The Marine Conservation Society recently reported that the amount of plastic on our beaches has more than doubled in the last 15 years and more and more of it ends up inside or wrapped around our wildlife. Nobody knows what these oddly shaped bits of plastic are or where they have come from but there are increasingly urgent attempts to find out how much of it might be out there and what we can do to stop it. The Pacific Gyre, a vortex of floating plastic already twice the size of France, is well documented but Gyres in the North and South Atlantic, The Indian Ocean and a further Pacific patch whilst long suspected have only just been discovered. Anna Cumming of the 5 Gyres Project discovered the North Atlantic Gyre in February and the Project is about to sail for the Southern Atlantic. High profile campaigners like David de Rothschild, who sailed to the Pacific Gyre on a boat made of plastic bottles called The Plastiki, have told us about the sheer horror and size of the rubbish patch, now Costing the Earth looks at what can be done about it. The Plastiki boat has been made using a revolutionary new plastic which is completely recyclable, a new plant in Ireland plans to turn plastic waste into fuel and there is even a new plastic being made from algae. The University of Sheffield are also researching the use of microbes to break down the plastics already in the sea. Prevention would be the key but with the gyres themselves only the tip of the problem and 70% of the plastic we allow into the sea sinking to the sea-bed a solution to disperse these giant rubbish islands is essential.

Download File - 25.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device)
Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)



More Details

  • LearnOutLoud.com Product ID: C085916