Costing The Earth

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Antibiotics have saved millions of lives this century but the race to find new, stronger drugs has become critical as strains of resistant bacteria develop.

This is partly due to the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture to promote growth in farm animals.

This programme asks why farmers use antibiotics and whether they can stop.


A nine-part environmental series.

In the second of two programmes on global climate change, Jeremy Cherfas looks at the factors shaping the political consensus around this issue.

There is a clearly identified enemy - greenhouse gases - and a consensus that something must be done.

Why, then, are we in danger of wasting the opportunity?


A nine-part environmental series.

In the second of two programmes on global climatic change, Jeremy Cherfas looks at the factors shaping the political consensus on this issue.

There is a clearly identified enemy - greenhouse gases - and agreement that something must be done.

Why, then, are we in danger of wasting the opportunity?


Roger Harrabin takes a personal journey through the Philippines, looking at the main environmental issues facing the country.


A look at the environmental consequences of choices we make every day of our lives - from the coffee we drink and the jeans we wear to our journey to work.

With Jeremy Cherfas.


Water is essential for life and, while we may take it for granted, many countries are prepared to go to war for a safe, clean water supply.

So what is the real price of water? And is it the environment that is paying?


The last in the current series.


A look behind the news at the environment.


British Gulf War veterans have tested positive for uranium poisoning and the civilian cancer rate in Iraq is increasing.

Yet both the Ministry of Defence and the UNITED STATES military have denied that depleted uranium has any detrimental effects.

The US has recently admitted using it in Kosovo.

This programme investigates the truth about depleted uranium.


Forty percent of antibiotics used in the world are used in agriculture, not to fight disease but to promote growth in farm animals.

Strains of resistant bacteria are overpowering our current range of drugs.

This programme investigates the use of antibiotics in farming.


Series exploring environmental issues.

Tom Feilden asks what garden pesticide use is doing to our wildlife.


Series exploring environmental issues.

Tom Feilden asks why we are using ever-increasing amounts of pesticide in our gardens.


Eco Island: Will Mallorca's new environmental tax on tourists turn lager louts into bird watchers? Miriam O'reilly investigates.


The Energy Gap: Our NUCLEAR industry is being phased out, our gas supplies are running out and the coal mines have closed.

So how will Britain be powered in 20 years time?


The Peace Dividend? Could Northern IRELAND's wildlife be the big loser in the peace process? Alex Kirby reports.


Tom Feilden investigates the effect of antibiotics on the environment.


Tom Heap explores the impact of professional football on the environment.

With travel and litter as well as lighting and water demands, just one match can have a huge impact.

Goalkeeper David James has seen how other countries have taken measures to improve sustainability, and believes that more clubs in the UK could play their part.

Tom assesses measures currently in place and visits the team claiming to have the UK's first sustainable stadium.


Perth, the most isolated city in the world, has been forecast to become a future ghost metropolis by environmentalist Tim Flannery.

The city is highly vulnerable to climate change, and although plans exist for prolonged drought conditions the local ecology remains extremely fragile.


Drought is set to be a permanent way of life in Australia even after the summer ends.

How is the driest country on the driest continent in the world going to manage its water supplies to ensure that its growing population has enough?


As the changing weather patterns show increased rainfall and a greater threat of flooding in the UK, Charlotte Smith asks whether agricultural practices could or should play a greater role in flood prevention.


Miriam O'reilly looks at attempts to manage the UK's fish stocks through the Common Fisheries Policy and their apparent failure.

She visits Iceland, long hailed as a good example of sustainable fishing, to hear how politicians have just slashed cod quotas.

She asks whether European politics works against the UK when it comes to rebuilding our stocks and whether scientists are taken seriously enough.


The world's population predicted to grow to 9 billion people by 2050.

Tom Heap asks whether this is the one environmental issue we should be concentrating on above all others, yet shying away from because of its controversial nature.


One of the key arguments against biofuels is the potential for food shortages as more land is given over to growing energy crops.

So can we feed ourselves as well as produce renewable fuels? Tom Heap investigates.


The environmental series looks at the politics of famine.

At a time of heightened food insecurity, are the food aid policies of many UK-based aid agencies actually contributing to the problem?


Who really makes the biggest difference on climate change - those living on the edge or those working firmly within the system? Tell us about your experience of environmental campaigning via the Costing the Earth Facebook site (link below).

A recent Christian Aid survey found that 93 per cent of people think everyone in the UK should have the right to peaceful protest, 50 per cent think the police are too heavy handed, and 18 per cent are put off protesting in the future due to heavy-handed policing.

Costing the Earth finds out about those who continue to campaign on the planet's behalf; is it really getting harder for them to make an impact on how we and our governments behave?

Mark Carter has been on hunger strike for over 46 days to highlight the plight of the seal.

Some might see his actions as mad, but for Mark this is the only way to affect the government's proposed marine bills.

During the last 10 years the common seal population has declined by a third but they are still being killed and for Mark, at least, the only solution is a ban on these culls.

What effect will 500 signatures have against the interests of the fishing industry, and, whatever the results, how will he react?

Jonathan Porritt recently resigned his post at the Forum for the Future with the dire warning that, 'A combination of political paralysis, corporate vested interest and our conservative-co-opted media' alongside 'basic entitlements protecting the rights of dissenting voices being eroded' mean tough times for green activists.

The recent G20 protests saw some of the most draconian police tactics for some time.

Using laws intended to prevent terrorists in the wake of 9/11 like Stop and Search, green activists have often found themselves at the front line of human rights issues.

At the same time, the government's recent moves to change planning laws and rush through proposals for wind farms and nuclear plants via the Infrastructure Planning Commission quango could mean that contentious plans go ahead before activists have time to launch protests.

Is it really getting harder for people like Tim, a regular at Climate Camp who has been informed that his photo and details are on police file, to affect change?

Equally important is whether the long-used methods of mass camps, extreme acts and even advertising really have the impact that changing policy and people's behaviour requires.

A recent report from the World Wildlife Fund suggests not.

Could Whitehall workers or investment bankers be making a bigger difference without even trying, and if these methods haven't worked, what next?

We follow Mark and Tim's stories to find out what one individual's efforts can achieve and look at the big protests of recent years to find out what the future of green activism might hold.

Tom Heap finds out if eco-activists are facing their toughest challenges yet.


Do we need to set a price on the environment to get policy makers, business and individuals to really take it seriously? Alkborough Flats on the Humber Estuary is a haven for birdlife but has also offered £400,000 worth of flood protection a year.

The carbon storage in its sediment is valued at a further £14,500 plus there's additional revenue from recreation and tourism.

Bees are another example.

Their services to farming are estimated at £200 million a year with the retail value of what they pollinate closer to £1 billion.

Upland farming is already heavily subsidized but should they be paid not to farm (which can cause costly contamination in drinking water for example) and instead be paid to maintain water quality, guard against flooding and maintain wildlife habitats? If real monetary reward is to be gained could there be many more people keen to hear the environment message.

Or is this an over simplification of the value of our natural resources.

After all we are already dealing with the fallout of what some see as a failed reliance on capitalist economics.

What was a theoretical issue is becoming reality.

Right now the National Ecosystem Assessment is taking place.

Government-sponsored inspectors are actually pricing up the services provided by our environment with a view to embedding them in policy.

Tom Heap meets the economists and leading figures from the world of banking and accounting who could be the unlikely answer to safeguarding biodiversity.

Tom Heap finds out if it's really possible, or desirable, to put a price on nature.


The UK's carbon capture and storage (CCS) sector could sustain 100,000 jobs by 2030 and generate up to £6.5bn a year.

The Energy Act 2010 made law plans to raise a levy on power users to establish four CCS projects in Britain and the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), says Britain is now at the forefront of this new technology.

But could this also put Britain at the forefront of an expensive mistake?

Christene Ehlig-Economides, professor of energy engineering at Texas A&M, and Michael Economides, professor of chemical engineering at University of Houston recently published a report looking at the need to store CO2 in an enclosed space.

Their calculations suggest that the volume of CO2 to be disposed cannot exceed more than about 1% of pore space.

This will require from 5 to 20 times more underground reservoir volume than has been envisioned by many, and it renders geologic sequestration of CO2 a non-starter.

"It is like putting a bicycle pump up against a wall.

It would be hard to inject CO2 into a closed system without eventually producing so much pressure that it fractured the rock and allowed the carbon to migrate to other zones and possibly escape to the surface," Economides said.

Their findings have been disputed but in another blow to CCS The Mongstad project in Norway, developed by oil firm Statoil, which was seen as one of the first to start full-scale operation has been set back.

The current government cannot commit to the money needed to keep the project on track so it will be put on hold until at least 2014.

But does this mean the idea should be given up by our own new government? At the University of Nottingham Mineral carbonation is a promising technology which captures CO2 by reacting it with magnesium or calcium rich minerals, producing valuable carbonates and doing away with the need for vast underground storage.

If it works it could provide a much needed solution with less inherent risk.

The big question remains how much we are willing to pay for the fix.

Tom Heap investigates.

Tom Heap asks if Carbon Capture and Storage could be a magic bullet for climate change.


Environmental investigation series.

* *2009051120090514

Tom Heap examines the carbon footprint of older people.

This age group are said to be heavy consumers, but they could also play an important part in preparing for climate change in an ageing society.

A Burning Solution * *2009041320090416

Sales of wood burning stoves have rocketed over recent months.

So much so that producers have struggled to meet demands.

But could the latest 'must have' accessory for the style-concious householder be part of the solution in meeting our renewables targets?

Burning woodchip - or biomass - can provide both heat and electricity.

It is environmentally friendly since the carbon has already been captured by the tree as it has grown and it is a renewable resource, so has wood's time come?

In this week's Costing The Earth we look at the range of biomass heating schemes in the UK – from small-scale wood-burning stoves that can effectively heat a home, to huge projects that are on the horizon: a massive biomass power station is planned at Port Talbot in South Wales.

On the way we meet a bona fide environmental maverick in Barnsley where government renewable targets have been reached decades in advance.

We find out what the government is doing, if it really is green, and whether vast swathes of woodland would be chopped down to make an impact on our renewables target.

And with the Port Talbot plant set to import a lot of the biomass from Canada, how sustainable is that project?

A Fire In Provence20031113

This summer southern FRANCE suffered its worst forest fires for decades.

Hundreds of thousands of hectares of prime wildlife habitat have been destroyed.

Miriam O'reilly takes a rare opportunity to visit the still-smouldering ruins of these great forests and find out what the destruction means for the wildlife and the people of the region.

What does fire do to nature, how quickly does it recover? How does the species balance change? What arguments ensue over the devastated land and are developers keen to take on the blasted heaths or will new trees be planted?

A Green Utopia?20020912

Series exploring environmental issues.

`A Green Utopia?' Alex Kirby asks if the next generation of new towns can avoid the mistakes of the past.

A Very Large Hole In The Sahara2011092120110922

Scientists are looking at novel ways to halt sea-level rise and reverse global warming.

Miranda Krestovnikoff investigates which futuristic geoengineering concepts could become a reality.

Miranda Krestovnikoff discovers ways that scientists could use to halt sea level rise.

Adapting Insects2012020720120208

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.

Can we adapt disease-carrying insects to become friends not foes? Alice Roberts reports.

Alien Invaders2011033020110331

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.

Invasive species are a growing problem.

Tom Heap asks if we can really live without them.

America - The Villain?20020905

As the JOHANNESBURG earth summit draws to a close, Tom Feilden asks whether the UNITED STATES is really the environment's arch-enemy.

Antarctic Treaty2009040620090409

Tom Heap reports on the Antarctic Treaty, a unique but little-known beacon of global co-operation which has kept the soldiers at bay and the scientists in harness on the continent for the last 50 years.

It has survived Cold War tension, the Falklands war and rapacious fishing to emerge as a textbook study of how diplomacy can avoid conflict.

But can it rebuff the pressures of the next 50 years, with tourists, bio-prospectors and energy companies all scouring the planet for scarce resources?

Apocalypse Then And Now2012092620121023

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.

Aquatic Plastic - Can Lawers Save The Earth?2010101320101014

Could courts of law be the first refuge for victims of climate change? Tom Heap finds out.

Bambi Bites Back2012021420120215

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.

Deer numbers are rising fast. Tom Heap asks what this means for the rural landscape.

Beasts Of The East2003080720030814

How will Poland's wealth of wildlife fare when the country joins the European Union? Alex Kirby investigates.

Better Living Through Chemistry?2009010520090108

Tom Heap investigates how being exposed to a cocktail of pesticides could potentially damage our health.

A High Court ruling in November 2008 found in favour of a woman who claimed that prolonged exposure to pesticides sprayed in the fields surrounding her home had made her ill.

In the light of this, the EU has proposed that several pesticides be banned, but how might crop yields and food prices be affected should a ban be implemented?


A look at the new generation of green fuels and how the technology can best be utilised in this country.

Are we going down the American road of heady enthusiasm for green fuels, or is a more cautious approach necessary?

Black Gold In The Arctic20031127
Black Monday, Green Tuesday?2009011220090115

Tom Heap considers how the recession is likely to affect attitudes towards the environment.

If the current financial and environmental problems are rooted in our taste for consumption, surely an economic slowdown is a painful but necessary step in the right direction towards a greener planet? Fewer cars on the roads, fewer flights in the air and an enforced prudence when it comes to personal spending will mean less energy use and less waste.

But as the government advocates spending our way out of recession, some environmentalists fear that there will be a rush to develop a more environmentally-damaging infrastructure in order to keep the economy buoyant.

Others say that we are on the threshold of a new green world where workers in traditionally polluting industries such as car manufacturing will be able to switch to new green jobs.

Blackpool: The New Dallas?2010090820100909

The Deepwater Horizon disaster proved the dangers of searching for our oil and gas in ever more challenging environments.

Oil companies that had been keen to explore in deeper, colder and more isolated waters have been forced to take a step back and reconsider their options.

Their response has been to launch an extraordinary land grab, buying up the rights to explore vast tracts of the US and Europe in search of unconventional oil and gas.

From Lancashire to Gdansk and New York to the Rockies enormous reserves of shale gas lurk temptingly close to the centres of population.

Recent advances in extraction techniques have launched an industry in the US and persuaded the major oil companies to begin prospecting expeditions throughout Europe.

The advantages are obvious, removing our dependence on the Middle East, cutting back on the costs of transport and transmission.

The disadvantages are less obvious but could be fatally insurmountable.

In the US shale gas producers are blamed for poisoning water courses and even causing earthquakes.

Exploratory drilling is already happening within sight of the Blackpool Tower so the need to consider the pitfalls and potentially enormous prizes of land-based oil and gas in the UK is urgent.

Deepwater drilling for oil and gas is dangerous.

Can we find our supplies closer to home?

Bottle Bank Wars2012013120120201

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.

In San Francisco, recycling is so profitable that they're fighting over the trash.

Britain From 2060: The Land2012081420120815

What will Britain's landscape look like in 2060? Tom Heap on our changing climate.

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.

Britain In 2060: The Seas2012082120120822

What fish can we expect in our seas in 2060? Tom Heap investigates climate change Britain.

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.

Britain In Flames2012041720120418

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.

Is the UK ready for a new season of wildfires? Tom Heap investigates.

Britain's Nuclear Future20110323

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.

What next for the British nuclear industry? Tom Heap reports on the future of fission.

Britain's Wilderness2012082820120829

The first attempt in England to turn a landscape back into a wilderness is 10 years old.

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.

Bug Eats Bug2003072420030731

Tom Feilden finds out if predators could save the British countryside from insect invasion.

Bug Mac And Flies2011090720110908
Building A Better City2003073120030807

Britain's cities are being rebuilt on a scale unprecedented since 1945.

Miriam O'reilly asks if we are getting it right this time.

Buildings * *2009091420090917

The places where we live and work account for well over a third of the energy the world uses - our homes, offices, cinemas and sports centres are a much bigger problem for the planet than cars, lorries, planes and ships.

Does that mean we can fly as much as we like as long as we sort out the problems on the ground? Tom Heap investigates.

A recent report backed by some of the world's leading corporations identified buildings as major contributors to problems of climate change.

The even worse news is that most of the homes, offices and public buildings that will be standing in the middle of the century have already been built, so they will have to be expensively adapted if they are to be made green enough to meet even modest energy-saving targets.

The business leaders behind the report have said that although the work is expensive, it will pay for itself in reduced energy bills in a surprisingly short time.

But they also say that it simply won't get done until governments make it compulsory.

Have the politicians got the bottle? Do the numbers really work? Tom Heap visits homes, offices and experts to ask whether payback time has arrived, who is footing the bill, and how much disruption it will mean at home, at work and at play.

Tom Heap asks if we are looking in the wrong place for solutions to climate change.

California Gasping2011051820110519

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.

Is California's desperate search for water at an end? Tom Heap reports.

Carbon Trading2011031620110317

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?

Why has capitalism's answer to climate change failed? Tom Heap investigates.

Cave Carnage2011083120110901

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?

Europe's strangest species are under threat of extinction.

Tom Heap investigates.


With 5% of the world's flora and fauna Brazil's enormous Cerrado region is a rich mosaic of grass and woodland that is being destroyed at twice the speed of the Amazon rainforest.

Taking up one quarter of Brazil's land mass the Cerrado lacks the high profile of the Amazon or its celebrity supporters, making it easier for the fast expanding sugarcane and soya industries to take bigger bites out of the savannah.

That can mean the loss of unique species and the destruction of traditional ways of life in the region.

For 'Costing the Earth' Tim Hirsch visits the Cerrado to hear from local people who are trying to save their land by making it pay.

Ice creams flavoured with unusual Cerrado fruits and bird-watching holidays for British tourists may not be able to compete with large-scale farming but locals hope they'll give the area the publicity it needs for real protection.

Brazil's Cerrado is one of the world's richest eco-systems.

Can it be saved?


When Chernobyl and its NUCLEAR legacy erupted into our lives 13 years ago, the world woke up to the global implications of the NUCLEAR industry.

The programme investigates why we are still waiting for all of the reactors on the Chernobyl site to be closed down.

Chinese Salmon2012091120120912

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.

Conor Woodman asks how farmed Scottish salmon production can increase by 50% sustainably.

Cleaning Up The Ganges2010052620100527

The Ganges, above all is the river of India, which has held India's heart captive and drawn uncounted millions to her banks since the dawn of history.

The story of the Ganges, from her source to the sea, from old times to new, is the story of India's civilization and culture, of the rise and fall of empires, of great and proud cities, of adventures of man".

So said India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Ganges holds a sacred place in the Hindu religion.

It is a requirement for the 830 million Hindus in the world today to bathe in its waters at least once in their lifetime.

Today the Ganges is a filthy shadow of its former majesty but all that is about to change.

The World Bank is lending the Indian government $1.5 billion to help clean the river, but it is 10 times the length of the Thames and many argue that its distance from the sea, its proximity to so many fast-growing cities, as well as India's lack of a sewage system mean that it is an impossible task.

Efforts to clean-up the Ganges tributary, the Yamuna, have failed and scientists argue that more money is needed to expand treatment plants in Lucknow, Allahabad and Kanpur but sewage first needs to reach these plants.

Some argue that water management is the source of the problem and that this is where money should be spent.

Climate change and dam building are drying up the river at its source and they argue the only way to clean it is to increase the flow of clean supply.

Tom Heap travels the banks of the river to find out if the Holy Ganges can be saved.

Producer: Helen Lennard."

Cocoa Loco2011042720110428

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.

Cocoa costs have soared recently.

Tom Heap asks if costly chocolate might be good for all.

Countdown To Copenhagen * *2009102620091029

Tom Heap looks behind the jargon and political scene-shifting to ask whether or not a definitive new deal on climate change will come out of the talks at Copenhagen in December 2009.

Politicians from around the world will attempt to thrash out a deal in Denmark's capital city to limit the damage that the changing climate on the planet.

Most now accept that this means drastic cuts in the use of oil, coal and gas.

Getting agreement on how that should be achieved among 192 nations seems impossible.

Tom seeks to find out how to interpret the codes of official statements and off-the-record briefings.

He also hears from some of the people who will have to live with the consequences and ask how their voices are working their way into the Copenhagen process.

These include the President of the Maldives, who warns that his fight against the encroaching seas is our fight too.

Children in Sri Lanka who have been exchanging experiences with English counterparts by the sea in Essex, and a group of children working under the banner Generation Green struggle to produce an action plan for Downing Street.

And in case anyone thinks the Jeremy Clarkson worldview has withered in the face of this upsurge of youthful greenery, Tom joins a group of boy and girl racers in Cheltenham for a petrol-fuelled conversation about living now and paying later.

Tom Heap on the prospects for the United Nations' crucial climate change conference.

Crisis, What Crisis?2009020920090212

Miriam O'reilly investigates whether the crash in prices for old newspaper and plastic bottles has made recycling a waste of time.

Cruel Harvest2012091920121016

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.

Cruise Ships And Creeks2012042420120425

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.

Falmouth's plans to attract cruise ships could damage the environment. Tom Heap reports.

Current Concerns20020425

Series exploring environmental issues.

`Current Concerns'.

Alex Kirby discovers that some miscarriages can be caused by household appliances.

Deep Sea Treasure20100414

Our explorations of the deep oceans have so far given us only tantalising glimpses of weird and wonderful species.

A team from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton is currently sailing through the Caribbean and the Southern Ocean on a mission to provide us with much more than a few fuzzy photos of a giant worm or an upside down prawn.

They want to tie-up the loose ends, telling us just how the many islands of life in the deep actually interact.

They hope their mission will greatly aid conservation efforts and make the exploitation of the ocean's resources fairer and more sustainable.

'Costing the Earth' joins the expedition as it sails from southern Chile and launches Isis, a remote-controlled submarine armed, for the first time, with high definition cameras.

The crew of the RRS James Cook explore the depths of the ocean in search of new life.

Deepwater Horizon - The Real Damage2011041320110414

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.

Eco-city Limits * *2010032920100401


Architects, developers and visionaries have been promising them for the past decade.

Dongtan was supposed to be the green Shanghai, the Thames corridor was supposed to be a linear eco-city, Florida's building a car-free city for 100,000, eco towns were to spread around the UK.

But time and time again economic reality intrudes, plans are shelved or diluted and another commuter suburb is thrown up with a token wind turbine.

The answers might be found at the World Future Energy Summit in the extraordinary setting of Masdar City in Abu Dhabi.

$20bn has been committed by the government to ensure this city is the first zero carbon conurbation.

With the money made supplying the world's fossil fuel the Abu Dhabi emirate has employed Norman Foster to create the anti-Dubai- a car and skyscraper-free city powered by the sun.

If anyone can do it then the cash-rich, democracy-free, hugely ambitious rulers of Abu Dhabi are the men to back.

Progress is rapid with students already attending the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology with its focus on renewable energy and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) making its home as the first international agency to be located in the Middle East.

With the great and good of the sustainability movement gathered together in Masdar City in early 2010 it's a perfect opportunity to test the concept- a real model for the cities of the future or a green smokescreen for the oil states' carbon- hungry habits.

Tom Heap tests the limits of an eco-city being built in a desert.

Energy Use High2009012620090129

Miriam O'reilly investigates the government's school building programme.

She hears that unneccessarily complicated 'green features' are being built into some new schools, hampering teachers from getting on with the job of teaching and in some cases causing schools to use up to three times more energy than ones that were built ten, 20 and even 100 years ago.

Fake Plastic Sea2010100620101007

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.

Dr Alice Roberts investigates the growing problem of plastic floating in the sea.

Fields Paved With Gold2011040620110407

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.

Tom Heap asks whether the UK is ready for a solar goldrush.

Frozen Fish2012040320120404

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?

Is it too late to save the healthy fish stocks of the Antarctic? Gerard Baker reports.

Fur Or Faux?2011030920110310

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.

Campaigners for fur claim it's natural, renewable and sustainable.

Tom Heap investigates.

Fusion Future2010030820100311

For 50 years nuclear fusion has been touted as the safe, cheap, limitless fuel of the future.

In 2010 the future may finally arrive.

The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in the United States is expected this year to fire a laser which will demonstrate, for the first time, more energy coming out of a fusion reaction than has been put in.

For many scientists it will be the public proof that all their work has been worthwhile, that the future really does belong to fusion energy.

Tom Heap meets the world's top fusion scientists and, from a safe distance, witnesses a fusion reaction taking place.

He asks what the enormous recent advances in fusion research really mean.

Can we expect a fusion power station to be boiling our kettle in 10, 20 or 100 years? Is there enough fuel available to move from experimentation to real-world energy production? How safe is the whole process? It may produce much less radioactive waste than conventional nuclear power stations, but the fuel used is the raw material for hydrogen bombs.

Does the future belong to fusion?

Tom Heap investigates the real potential of fusion power.

Future Forests2012121320121215

Is the crisis in the UK's ash forests a vision of the future? Tom Heap reports.

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.

Gold Of The Conquistadors2011101220111013

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 rapacious water demands of the mining process.

In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap asks if the modern mining companies are helping to end poverty in Central and South America or acting like modern-day conquistadors.

Mining is booming in South America.

That's bad news for the environment.

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 and Chile.

Tom Heap investigates the mining boom in South and Central America.

Grapes Of Wrath2010102020101021

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.

Is the golden age of wine coming to an end? Tom Heap reports from the Mosel Valley.

Grapes Of Wrath20101028

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 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.

Is the golden age of wine coming to an end? Tom Heap reports from the Mosel Valley.

Green Cities2007053120070601

The urban environment has not been traditionally associated with wildlife, but experts are finding that the city can provide a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna.

Conservationists fear that many of our most precious species could be lost in the rush to build more houses.

But as Tom Heap discovers, this is not just a case of environmentalists against planners.

Wildlife and green spaces are becoming increasingly important in today's towns and cities.

Green Dream Homes2003081420030821

How easy is it to build your own eco-friendly house? Miriam O'reilly investigates.

Green On Green *2008082820080829

With the urgent need for alternative sources of energy, there are some difficult choices to be made between power generation and the environment.

It has been suggested that influential pressure groups such as the RSPB, WWF and Greenpeace need to decide where they stand on green energy and should possibly be prepared to make sacrifices for the greater good of the planet.

Greening Fido *2010022220100225

The average cat emits half a tonne of CO2 and a dog 1.75 tonnes per year.

Using calculations based on how much land is needed to produce the food they need, a New Zealand couple have found that a large dog has a bigger carbon footprint than a 4 x 4 Toyota Landcruiser.

Few people even know what goes into their pets' food and then there's the wider impact of our pets: the feline killer instinct towards wildlife, the never-ending cycle of poo which needs bagging and binning and the toys and bedding, shipped from other parts of the world to keep them happy.

Curbing global warming could also be vital to your pet's future.

Scientists have warned that the small heartworm that kills dogs, cats and foxes is already on the rise in the UK with more cases appearing in the north of the country because of warmer, wetter summers.

Furthermore, because of the increased numbers of pets coming into the country from abroad without quarantine, there is a greater threat of exotic diseases that can become established in warmer temperatures and may even pose a threat to humans.

To find out what can be done, Alice Roberts takes her own pets to boot camp.

One good dog goes on a vegan diet, while her other pampered pooch lives it up on meat-rich foods.

The results are suprising.

So should we be giving up the age-old bond between man and dog or do the studies which claim your bundles of fur are essential to your wellbeing mean their CO2 emissions are worthwhile? Could we even put them to good use? There are the methane digesters in San Francisco using their by-products to produce gas and electricity, the innovative student who has set up a hamster wheel generator for his mobile phone or the increasingly trendy option of having a pet that you can eat.

Get a hen and save on food miles for your breakfast.

Could it be time to put an end to our pets? Alice Roberts asks if Fido can ever be green.

Greening The Teens2011050420110505

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 does this demographic really use more power? How do you get them to care about the environment they are going to inherit?

That's the experiment Birmingham University is 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?

Costing the Earth finds out if teenagers can really learn to turn the lights out.

Guilt-free Flying *2009101920091022

Can technology turn aviation green? A new report suggests that flying has a 4.9 per cent share of the overall contribution to climate change.

That is a figure that seems certain to rise once the dampening effects of recession disappear.

Tom Heap asks if this means that the era of cheap flights is over, or can man's infinite capacity for invention keep the industry alive? Tom explores the options with Iron Maiden singer, professional pilot and keen enthusiast for 'green aviation', Bruce Dickinson.

They examine the use of lighter materials for aircraft, changes in air traffic control to cut down time spent in the air and more radical solutions, from biofuels to the rebirth of the airship.

Can technology remove the guilt from flight? Tom Heap and Bruce Dickinson investigate.

Gulls: Code Red * *2008090420080905

Seagulls are breeding rapidly, thriving and getting bigger.

With the decline of fishing in coastal waters, they have been moving inland to more benign conditions in towns and cities, especially where there are landfill sites.

Experts fear trouble if urban gulls are allowed to go on breeding unchecked, but measures to control their population are proving ineffective.

High Speed Hell?2011100520111006

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.

How much disruption will a new high speed rail line really cause? Tom Heap reports.

The high speed rail line between London and Birmingham has already provoked plenty of anger along the length of its proposed route.

But what's the truth about the level of noise and disruption that a development like this will really cause?

In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap enlists a team of experts in noise, smell and psychology to test the impact of Britain's first high speed line to the Channel Tunnel and to gauge the likely impact of High Speed 2.

He'll also be talking to railway historian Christian Wolmar to find out how rural Britain reacted to the sight of steam locomotives powering past the hay ricks and pitchfork-wielding peasants.

Producer: Steve Peacock.

Home Power20020411

Series exploring environmental issues.

`Home Power'.

Alex Kirby discovers how to turn one's home into a power station.

Hurrah For The Eco Car *2008092520080926

Politicians tell us that the future of motoring is electric, and several of the major car companies are launching a new generation of greener vehicles using hydrogen fuel technology.

All are being trumpeted as the salvation of the motor car in a world without oil.

But despite being promised green cars as long ago as the 90s, very few have yet to materialise on our roads.

Tom Heap investigates

In Cod We Trust2003082820030904

Alex Kirby investigates the social and environmental consequences of the impending extinction of North Sea cod.

Jellyfish Invasion!2012052220120523

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

Katrina: An Unnatural Disaster2010090120100902

Bad weather shouldn't cause more than 1800 deaths in the world's richest country.

Five years on from Hurricane Katrina Tom Heap investigates the real reasons for the New Orleans death toll.

It may be classified as a natural disaster but the famously fractious locals agree on one thing- nature had nothing to do with it.

They suggest corruption, complacency and the nagging suspicion that a dirt poor, predominantly black city could never expect much help from Washington's power brokers.

In the first of a new series of 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap returns to the city to dig a little deeper, identify the villains and gauge the city's chance of surviving the next big storm.

Should the oil industry shoulder the blame? Decades of oil extraction from the Louisiana coast has lowered the land, leaving it more vulnerable to flood and to the depredations of the industry's offshore drilling.

How about the US Army? They were charged with building hard defences against a once in 250 year hurricane yet the levees failed throughout the city.

Today the same organisation is re-building the defences, this time with a promise to defend the city against a once in a hundred year flood.

How can a city rebuild with a promise like that? And what of the wetlands and barrier islands that experts had warned were disappearing fast, leaving the coastline unprotected? How many of the $14bn that's flowed through the city are actually being used to rebuild long-term, natural protection for the city?

Tom Heap helps the people of New Orleans in their search for answers.

Five years after the devastation of Katrina, is New Orleans safe from hurricane and flood?

Keep On Trucking *2010020820100211

While aviation is often seen as the climate change villain, the transport of freight by road and ship is often ignored.

Shipping is a far bigger polluter and seems unlikely to benefit from the investment in technology which airlines have planned.

Could there be a way to cut down emissions from freight transport? Tom Heap finds out just how much pollution is being shifted needlessly around the place by hitching a lift with a 25-year-old Londoner, who was named the UK's Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2009.

His business,, is a bit like eBay, but for shipping your stuff.

The business has been going for just over a year and has already saved over 1.6 million kg of CO2 by making use of spare capacities.

On a larger scale Eddie Stobart's is Britain's best known haulier.

The company recently made moves into rail freight but questions remain on how many of our deliveries can be made by rail and if the freight industry as a whole is really facing up to the question of how to decarbonise transport.

Our goods need to be delivered, but at what cost? Tom Heap goes trucking to find out.

Let It Snow!2011102620111027

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.

Tom Heap investigates ways to keep Britain moving if we have another harsh winter.

March Of The Pylons2011101920111020

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? Are new wireless power transfer technologies up to the job?

Tom Heap investigates the options.

Producer: Alasdair Cross.

Does that mean a new invasion of the pylons?

Nature Fights Back20030417

Was last year's oil spill off the coast of Galicia the disaster it seemed? How quickly can nature recover from the mistakes of man?

Nature's Medicine Cabinet2011052520110526

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?


Alice Roberts and medical writer John Naish explore nature's medicine cabinet and consider the ethical dilemmas.

Can plants and animals inspire a new generation of medicine? Alice Roberts reports.

Norfolk Under Water20031120

Global warming will affect the Norfolk Broads sooner than any other area of the UK.

Tom Feilden investigates what is being done to protect the National Park.

Nuclear Power Without The Nasties2012022820120229

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.

Producer: Alasdair Cross.

Could there be a cheaper, safer way to create nuclear energy? Julian Rush investigates.

Obama's Green Dream *2009042720090430

Tom Heap asks whether political and vested interests will shatter President Obama's dream of leading the United States and the world towards a greener future.

Obama campaigned for a low-carbon economy and as soon as he came to power he set about laying the foundations for one.

He wants to create green jobs in traditional industries like car making - electric cars of course - and construction, making American homes and offices more energy efficient.

His biggest challenge will be to wean the country off its dependence on fossil fuels and make 'clean' energy profitable.

For that he needs to bring in a system called carbon cap and trade and needs the support of senators and members of congress to do so.

However, even members of his own party are reluctant to back what they see as a vote-losing policy and energy companies with investments in coal, gas and oil are lobbying hard against it.

Can the President prevail?

Obama's Green Dream *20090507

Tom Heap asks whether political and vested interests will shatter President Obama's dream of leading the United States and the world towards a greener future.

Obama campaigned for a low-carbon economy and as soon as he came to power he set about laying the foundations for one.

He wants to create green jobs in traditional industries like car making - electric cars of course - and construction, making American homes and offices more energy efficient.

His biggest challenge will be to wean the country off its dependence on fossil fuels and make 'clean' energy profitable.

For that he needs to bring in a system called carbon cap and trade and needs the support of senators and members of congress to do so.

However, even members of his own party are reluctant to back what they see as a vote-losing policy and energy companies with investments in coal, gas and oil are lobbying hard against it.

Can the President prevail?

Will political and vested interests shatter President Obama's plans for a greener future?

Ocean Revival20020404

Series exploring environmental issues.

`Ocean Revival'.

Can science bring back our fish? Tom Feilden reports.

Ok Coral2011030220110303

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.

Could coral provide answers as to how our environment adapts or fails? Tom Heap finds out.

Old Bricks, New Tricks2008091120080912

Miriam O'reilly explores possible solutions to housing problems.

According to the government, eco-towns could not only alleviate housing shortages for young families and first-time buyers but also provide the means to cut carbon emissions.

But some housing experts suggest that recycling derelict buildings and contaminated land could provide an even better answer.


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.

Intensive farming, international travel 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.

Where will the next pandemic come from and how can it be stopped? Tom Heap investigates.

Overheating Butterflies20020502

Tom Feilden reports on how British wildlife is reacting to global warming.

Peak Leak2011042020110421

From the atolls of the Pacific to the Thames Estuary shipwrecks of World War Two litter the oceans of the world.

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 increase it's becoming vital for expertise in underwater imaging and 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 abolition of rescue tugs around the coastline of Britain could add to the risk of future wrecks.

Producer: Alasdair Cross

People Power2012090420120905

Tom Heap finds out how people can use their own energy to power gadgets and lighting.

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.

Pits And Pyres20020418

Series exploring environmental issues.

`Pits and Pyres'.

Tom Feilden reports on the environmental legacy of the foot-and-mouth epidemic.

Plants To Pills2010031520100318

Tom Heap witnesses the international police operation against the trade in endangered species.

Interpol's Operation Tram has been busy across Europe, seizing traditional medicines suspected of containing endangered species.

Tom follows the raids in the UK, uncovering the effects the trade has on the world's plants and animals.

Tom Heap witnesses the worldwide police operation against the trade in endangered species.

Preserving The Past20031211

Acid rain, car fumes and climate change.

They're gradually eating away at the world's greatest monuments.

Alex Kirby finds out if science can help preserve our heritage.

Programme Catalogue - Details: Repeat19950903

Producer: MITCHELL, J

Next in series: 05 November 1995

Previous in series: 27 August 1995

Broadcast history

03 Sep 1995 21:30-21:59 (RADIO 4)

Recorded on 1995-09-01.

Progress And Pelicans20020509

Alex Kirby investigates how the injection of western capital is endangering the bird life of eastern Europe.

Protecting The Past * *2010021520100218

Alice Roberts investigates the threats posed to our great historic sites by climate change.

Is there anything we can do to save the most vulnerable properties from extreme weather and regular flooding?

All over the world conservators and policy makers are pondering the implications of global warming for our most important heritage sites.

Alice visits three sites to investigate possible responses to the problem.

In Ireland she visits Newgrange, the stunning centrepiece of a Neolithic landscape which finds itself assaulted by regular flooding of the nearby River Boyne and ever more extreme rainstorms.

Europe's greatest collection of Megalithic art is being eroded faster than ever and undiscovered archaeology is being ploughed into the ground as local farmers turn from farming cattle and sheep to the arable farming that suits the changing climate.

At Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh the laser-scanners from Historic Scotland are part way through their ambitious attempt to record 3-D models of the pick of the World Heritage Sites.

They have already fired lasers at the presidents' heads on Mount Rushmore and are set to visit Machu Picchu and Orkney's Skara Brae, an ancient village at imminent risk of destruction from rising sea levels and more frequent storms.

Is all we can do really to record, scan, photograph and despair, or can our historic landscapes be saved with enough time, vision and money? On Exmoor the National Trust is devising a plan to manage an entire river from source to sea.

The aim is to avoid another Boscastle-style disaster where sudden, unprecedented rainfall overwhelms a river and the historic sites on the coast below.

Pushing Water2012051520120516
Raising A Stink *20090504

Tom Heap investigates the potential savings available by harnessing the power of sewage through anaerobic digestion and the fertilisation of farms using human waste.

Some experts believe that millions of pounds could be saved if we could overcome fecophobia, a fear of human waste.

Each flush of the toilet chain sends upto 13 litres of purified drinking water racing down the u-bend into the vast, largely Victorian sewage system that comprises of 300,000km of sewers that serve 9,000 wastewater treatment plants that receive 10 billion litres of sewage every single day.

With the UK producing approximately 25 million tonnes of wet sewage sludge each year, Dr Stephen Smith, director of the Centre for Environmental Control and Waste Management at Imperial College, London, estimates that the nitrogen and phosphorus content of digested sewage sludge could be worth 20 million pounds in terms of the artificial farm fertilisers it would replace.

Rare Earth Metals2010051920100520

Most of us may never have heard of Rare Earth Elements but these precious metals such as terbium, lanthanum and neodymium are vital to the electronics we rely on and increasingly to the green technologies we hope to utilise in the future.

The automobile industry uses tens of thousands of tons of rare earth elements each year, and advanced military technology depends on these elements, too.

Lots of green" technologies depend on them, including wind turbines, low-energy light bulbs and hybrid car batteries.

97% of these elements are mined in China and as demand has skyrocketed over the last decade from 40,000 tons to 120,000 tons China has started reserving supplies for its own economic expansion.

Now, it only exports about 30,000 tons a year - only a quarter of the supply the world needs now and far less than the demands of the green technologies needed for a carbon free future.

The elements themselves are abundant in the Earth's crust.

New sources have been found in Greenland and Utah but extraction is difficult and demand seems certain to outstrip supply.

Tom Heap searches for solutions to the looming crisis.

Producer: Helen Lennard.

Tom Heap finds out if the supply of metals vital to electronics could be exhausted by 2012"

Rethinking Climate Change2010051220100513

Could there be a better way to fight climate change? A group of top scientists has become exasperated with fighting what they see as a losing battle against carbon dioxide emissions.

They want to open an entirely new front.

2009 was a depressing year for anyone who felt a sense of urgency in tackling climate change.

The failure of the Copenhagen summit to agree international action was bookended by a series of scandals which seemed to undermine the credibility of some of the associated science.

For many of the scientists intimately involved with climate analysis the events of 2009 were the ultimate stamp of failure on a long process that had done little to convince public or politicians of the need to act and nothing to actually turn back global warming.

These scientists, authors of a new report to be published on the 11th of May, believe that they need to start afresh if we are to have any hope of success.

They point out the obvious failure to reach multi-national agreements on curbing emissions.

Future strategy should be led by individual groups, governments and temporary alliances.

Efforts should focus on practical solutions that bring other benefits alongside emission-control.

If a strategy brings about poverty reduction or economic renewal then it is much more likely to attract widespread support than any programme labelled as 'anti-climate change'.

The group also believes that the focus on carbon dioxide has been mis-guided from the start.

Around half of the greenhouse effect can be attributed to emissions other than CO2 from oil, gas and coal, and most of those emissions are easier to reduce.

We should tackle black soot, reactive nitrogen and methane before we make the kind of tough decisions needed to fight carbon dioxide.

In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap conducts a thorough examination of the new approach, asking if it's right to abandon all the efforts made over the last decade.

Can we really save the planet without every major nation signed up to the same plan?

The battle against climate change needs a radical rethink.

Tom Heap reports.

Return Of The King2012050820120509

Coal is the dirtiest fuel, but consumption is rising. Tom Heap investigates.

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.

Sands Of Time2012032720120328

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.

Britain's sand dunes are running out of time. Tom Heap joins the battle to save them.

Saving The Everglades20030403

Tom Feilden asks if an eight billion dollar plan can save America's wettest wilderness from Florida's rapacious developers.

Sell-by Dates2009090720090910

In the UK, 370,000 tonnes of food is misguidedly thrown away each year after passing its best-before date, with a further 40,000 tonnes not even opened by consumers.

An additional 220,000 tonnes of food is thrown away while still in date and 440,000 tonnes of food is thrown away after its use-by date.

And that is just the food that reaches our fridges and fruitbowls.

There are an estimated 1.6 million tonnes of food thrown away by British retailers making up just some of the 5.4 million tonnes of food the UK throws away every year.

So where does all this confusion come from? According to one survey, more than one-third of Britons believe that any product past its 'best-before' date is liable to poison them and should never be eaten.

Added to this confusion is the less than scientific way in which 'use-by' dates are often set with a 'worse case scenario' applied to all products, protecting the consumer but also the industry.

With dates now applied to all kinds of produce, from soft fruit to hard cheese, Tom Heap seeks to find out where these dates came from, who sets them, who benefits and how we might learn to live without them.

Spring Forwards, Fall Backwards20101027

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.

The clocks change next week.

Alice Roberts asks if this is madness for the environment.

Summer Of Mud *2008082120080822

Renewable energy powered stages, biodegradeable tent pegs and car-share schemes all sound great when trying to reduce the environmental impact of summer festivals, but do they really make any difference? How much do festival-goers and performers really care about the environment?

Supergrid * *2009092120090924

Carbon-free energy could become a greater possibility if we help to form a Europe-wide 'Supergrid', but what is it, how will it work and who will pay for it? Tom Heap finds out.

Even if it does sound like science fiction, the European Union want to be able to power the entire continent with green energy: from solar panels to wind and wave turbines, from geothermal to hydroelectric power stations.

The 'Supergrid' project will lie from the North Sea, going down to the Sahara Desert, from Iceland's volcanoes to the tides of Finland, from the winds of Scotland to the Black Sea and to the sun of the Middle East.

The Air That I Breathe2011091420110915

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.

How can you help your family breathe clean air? Tom Heap investigates.

The Big Clean Up * *2010030120100304

When Corby council was ruled to be negligent in its efforts to clean up the site of the town's enormous steelworks, a shiver ran through the building industry.

For a decade builders have been urged to build new homes, offices, schools and hospitals on brownfield land.

It meant that ex-industrial eyesores were cleaned up and it saved greenfield land from the bulldozers.

The rejuvenation of Corby was one of the biggest brownfield building projects in the country and, many believe, it was an unmitigated disaster.

The High Court ruled that the council had failed to oversee the works, resulting in dangerous contaminants spreading far and wide across the town.

Numerous birth defects have been blamed on the contamination and the council could face a legal and compensation bill running into millions of pounds.

Alice Roberts asks what impact the Corby decision has had on Britain's building industry.

Will it be cheaper and safer for risk-averse councils and builders to turn their attention back to greenfield land?

We need to build new homes and schools on ex-industrial land, but how safe is it?

The Bugs Bite Back2007092020070921

Tom Heap investigates the battle against domestic pests.

From bedbugs to carpet mites and flies, the insect population in our homes is increasing.

Experts say the causes are our greater mobility and and the fact that we spring clean less efficiently.

Nor do we like using so many chemicals to kill insects, making them increasingly resistant in our warmer winters.

The Carteret Islands - Sharks In The Garden * *2009052520090528

Tom Heap reports on the first large scale human evacuation due to climate change.

The Carteret Islands, a small coral atoll in the South Pacific are slowly being submerged by the rising sea, forcing the removal of hundreds of islanders to nearby Papua New Guinea.

The Great Flood Of Paris20100421

Paris in 1910 was at the centre of the world's cultural and intellectual life.

New metro tunnels and new sewers were making life cleaner and faster for two and a half million Parisians.

There was such confidence in the efficiency and modernity of the city that early reports of floodwater tumbling down the River Seine were largely ignored.

Nature, surely, had nothing with which to threaten the greatest city in the world?

In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap chronicles the causes and effects of Europe's greatest ever urban flood.

Assisted by the new tunnels, the waters of a wet winter rose beneath the city making hundreds of thousands homeless, bringing Parisian life to a complete halt for many weeks.

To many residents it seemed as if the city was doomed.

Surely the huge class divisions, seen so recently in the Paris Commune, exacerbated by food shortages would lead to riots and ultimately revolution.

Tom tells the story of the extraordinary unity that somehow prevailed and the great engineering efforts to drain and re-build the city.

He joins modern Parisians to hear how the lessons have been learned and acted upon.

Could a 'once in a century' flood threaten the city again? Could London learn from the pain of Paris? What can we all learn from the stoicism and heroism demonstrated by Parisians rich and poor in the face of disaster?

Paris was devastated by flood 100 years ago.

Tom Heap learns the lessons for today.

The Great Mineral Heist2009092820091001

Over the past 70 years the levels of crucial minerals in our basic foods have declined significantly.

This is bad news for consumers in the west, but potentially deadly news for those in the developing world who cannot afford a perfectly balanced diet.

Alice Roberts sets out to uncover the culprit and find a solution.

Do we need to shorten our food chains, de-intensify our agriculture, or simply turn to the varieties of fruit and veg enjoyed by our grandparents?

In Perthshire, Moira and Cameron Thomson spread their own mixture of compost and rock dust onto their poor Highland soils.

They are convinced that the rock dust is replacing the lost minerals from the soil, resulting in enormous and very tasty broccoli, parsnips and carrots.

Meanwhile at the University of Nottingham, Dr Martin Broadley uses a combination of mathematics and applied biology to find a way to breed crop roots that extract more of the minerals that are available in the soil.

From the Cotswold kitchen of food writer Diane Purkiss to the world's largest potting shed at the National Soil Archive in Aberdeen, Alice compares and contrasts the diet, soils and plants of the 1930s and the present day in her search for the world's lost minerals.

The Greens Revolution2009011920090122

Tom Heap, who vowed as a teenager, on environmental grounds, that he would never play golf, re-examines his prejudices and investigates whether his view of golf is still a valid one.

Does golf ruin good countryside and threaten wildlife, or have the clubs found ways to work in a more environmentally-friendly way? Tom finds that golf courses can, in many cases, actually represent an ideal of land stewardship: ecologically responsible, rich in biodiversity and sensitive to the environment, they can be crucial to the success of many native species of flora and fauna.

Tom Heap investigates whether golf courses are environmentally damaging.

The Hydrogen Bubble20031218

President Bush believes that we'll all soon be driving cars powered by hydrogen gas.

The Miracle Of St Mark20020919

Series exploring environmental issues.

`The Miracle of St Mark'.

Tom Feilden on Venice's 2,000-year battle with the environment.

The New Diggers *2010020120100204

In 1649 the chaos of the English Civil War inspired a group that declared our land to be a common treasury and began to plant fruit and vegetables on common land in southern and central England.

It was a response to a shortage of food and what the Diggers saw as the misuse of productive land by the large landowners.

Alice Roberts meets the new Diggers - groups and individuals across the country determined to tackle the looming food crisis by making the wasteland grow.

In Todmorden in West Yorkshire locals began by secretly planting up the gardens of their derelict heath centre.

Today the whole town seems to throb with fertility; new allotments fill the retirement home gardens and feed the residents, an aquaponics growing system is being built behind the secondary school and pak choi self-seeds through the cracks in the town centre pavements.

Near Gateshead a National Trust-owned stately home has cleared its enormous Georgian walled garden and invited local people in to create their own allotments.

Meanwhile, a farming estate in Oxfordshire has decided that a reliance on arable farming leaves it vulnerable to world markets.

New farmers and growers are being invited to rent small plots of land to try their hand at making the tricky transition from amateur grower to real farmer.

Alice Roberts asks if this grassroots revolution will produce enough food to feed Britain.

Will it transform the shape of our countryside and the look of our towns?

Alice Roberts meets the people making Britain's wasteland grow.

The Power Of Peat2012031320120314

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.

The peatlands of the British Isles are being destroyed. Tom Heap reports.

The Real Avatar2011051120110512

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?

Tim Hirsch travels to the Amazon to see the 'real Avatar' and the dam which threatens them

The Return Of Old King Coal20120501

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.

Coal is the dirtiest fuel, but consumption is rising. Tom Heap investigates.

The Revenge Of The Stairs2010092220100923

Often take the stairs in a modern building? Thought not.

If you've ever opted to avoid the lift in a plush pad, you've probably wandered miles of corridor only to be confronted with a fire escape sign giving a sneaking suspicion that the moment you push that door, alarms will scream, firefighters will swoop and you'll be scorned as some Luddite freak.

In a public building it's simpler: stairs stink of stale beer and fresh urine.

The lift wins every time.

But now there's a fightback.

New York City's bosses have declared stair-climbing as key to their citizens' survival.

In fact, they've sent 'Active Design Guidelines' to architects and city planners, pushing them to build more exercise into their grand plans.

The logic is obvious but radical.

New York City's early skyscrapers did so much to relegate steps and elevate the elevator.

The rationale of our built environment has always been convenience.

Yet, the health and design chiefs of NYC want more walking and cycling alongside renewed mastery of the stairs - they want getting around to take more effort, to be harder.

The city bosses come equipped with a persuasive historical parallel.

In the 19th century, the big city killer was infectious disease like cholera and TB and we 'designed out' the danger through better buildings and clean water systems.

The threats now are obesity, diabetes and heart trouble resulting, at least partly, from our slobby lifestyles.

Can we take a lead from New York and re-design our own cities to improve the health of everyone who lives and works there? Tom Heap travels from the Bronx to the Mile End Road to find out.

Can we redesign our cities to improve our health? Tom Heap investigates.

The Revenge Of The Stairs20100923

Can we redesign our cities to improve our health? Tom Heap investigates.

The Story Of Bst19990704

`The Story of BST'.

Bovine somatotrophin, or BST, was the first genetically engineered product to be brought to market.

It is a growth hormone which is injected directly into dairy cows to increase milk production.

It can cause disease and birth defects in cows, and there are questions concerning its effects on humans.

In the first of two programmes, Alex Kirby investigates the political and health implications of BST.

The Three Peaks Challenge2009100520091008

Every year around 60,000 people set out on the Three Peaks Challenge, aiming to climb the highest mountains in England, Wales and Scotland.

Most do it to raise money for charity but there are increasing worries that the challenge is putting too much pressure on the environment, destroying some of our most beautiful places.

Alice Roberts sets out with a group of enthusiastic trekkers to find out if the environment is suffering as charities prosper.

The Challenge used to be centred around the longest day in June, giving trekkers the chance to climb Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell Pike in daylight.

More recently, however, it has become such a charity money-spinnner that groups tackle the peaks from April to October.

At the height of the season as many as 1,000 people can be trekking up each mountain, often in the dark.

The Challenge speeds up the erosion of paths, damages fragile Alpine plant systems and adds to the pressure on the areas' toilets and litter bins.

Banning the Challenge would destroy an important income source for hundreds of charities and breach the principle of open access to these iconic mountains.

Can Alice find a solution? Can people enjoy the physical challenge of the mountain environment and continue to raise money for charity without destroying some of Britain's wildest and most beautiful places?

Are charity mountaineers damaging our highest peaks? Alice Roberts reports.

The Wind Rush Generation2007083020070831

Miriam O'reilly reports on the current flood of proposals for onshore wind farms across the UK, with local and international energy companies hoping to bag the best remaining sites to erect wind turbines.

But how effective are they? Research shows that we are frequently being misled about wind energy and that we are paying more to subsidise a still unreliable source of electricity.

This Farming Land20031204

Will the British landscape be affected by changes in European farming policy?

Totally Uncool2009020220090205

Investigating those businesses and organisations that over-use air conditioning, and in doing so make a significant contribution to global warming.

It is a little-known fact that the gases used in air conditioning and chiller cabinets are between two and three thousand times more potent in terms of global warming than CO2.

And yet air conditioning is becoming more commonplace in modern buildings and the home.

The other major source of these harmful HFC gas emissions in Britain is supermarket chiller cabinets.

Some supermarkets are making efforts to switch to natural 'green freeze' refrigerants, though others are reluctant to act.

Investigating the harmful effects of the over-use of air conditioning and chiller cabinets

Tsunami Debris2012100920121010

How 1.5m tonnes of debris from the Japanese tsunami is heading towards North America.

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.

Tunnel Beneath The Thames20120222

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.

Raw sewage regularly pours into the River Thames. Alice Roberts looks for an answer.

Turbines In The Back Garden2010032220100325

Can you make money from electricity? New rules are designed to make it profitable for individuals to erect wind turbines and put solar panels on their roofs, using the electricity for their own use and selling the surplus to the grid.

Tom Heap is planning a turbine for his home on the windy Isle of Mull.

If anyone can make a packet from the wind racket, then surely it's Tom.

He crunches the numbers to discover just what kind of income he can expect from his new turbine.

Is it reliable, low maintenance and highly profitable? If it stacks up for his home, how do the figures look for urban dwellers? Could we all be giving power rather than taking it? Could we all be making a little pocket money from the sun and the wind?

Do new rules make it profitable to make your own electricity? Tom Heap investigates.

Virtual Warming * *2009042020090423

Every twitter, Facebook posting and You Tube video viewed has a carbon cost that is becoming increasingly dear, as our use of computers grows exponentionally.

  • the expanding digital cloud contributes 2 per cent of global emissions of carbon dioxide, about the same as aviation, and it's rising.

    the high energy demands of the massive data centres needed to store all our information are of growing concern to both the government and industry.

    but how can they be made greener and more efficient? costing the earth investigates.

    the contribution to global co2 emissions of huge ict dataprocessing warehouses

  • Volcanoes: Friend Or Foe20100428

    'Costing the Earth' looks at the environmental effects of the recent Icelandic eruption.

    Could volcanoes hold the key to climate change or simply dwarf man's attempt to control his impact on the environment?

    The ash cloud from Eyjafallajokull has grounded European and transatlantic flights but before environmentalists cheer at the carbon saved they need to examine the longer term effects on climate.

    The volcano erupted beside the 5th biggest glacier in Iceland and could have caused huge glacial melt.

    Scientists are warning 'increased rumblings from below' mean that Iceland's volcanoes may be about to enter a more active phase.

    If so it could be a timely reminder that whatever Copenhagen-style summits decide or don't, the environment is not solely in the hands of even the most powerful global leaders.

    Looking back in history the 1783 eruption in Iceland killed over half the local livestock, caused crop failure and starvation throughout Europe and even weakened the monsoon season in India.

    The Geological Society investigated the threat of a much larger 'super volcano' in 2005 and found that it could threaten the fabric of civilisation.

    But it's not all gloom.

    Scientists in Canada and the United States have been arguing that as natural sulphate particles lowered the temperature by 0.5 degrees in 1991 after the Pinatubo eruption in the Philippines volcanoes could hold the key to halting climate change.

    They want to investigate the possibilities of controlled stimulation, but could small eruptions like the Icelandic one hold at least some of the answers they might need?

    Could volcanoes be unlikely allies in the fight against climate change? Tom Heap reports.

    War On Waste2007052420070525

    Miriam O'reilly investigates the reality of recycling our rubbish rather than sending it to landfill.

    With different systems of waste disposal in virtually every borough in England and Wales, the public are confused.

    Councils are cutting their waste collection services to fortnightly, ostensibly to encourage recycling.

    However, many people think this is just a cost-cutting exercise and a money spinner for private contractors.

    Waters Of Arabia2011092820110929

    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.

    Will Yemen be the first nation to run out of water? Leana Hosea reports from Sana'a.

    Wave Goodbye?20121002

    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.

    What Lies Beneath20030501

    We're no better at predicting earthquakes and volcanic eruptions than the Ancient Greeks.

    Tom Feilden meets the scientists who plan to change that.

    What Lies Beneath2012041020120411

    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

    Mining is set to return to Cornwall as tin and tungsten prices continue to rise.

    Whose Amazon Is It Anyway? * *2009051820090521

    In negotiations for the global climate change deal due to be sealed at the UN conference in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, a key issue will be the system of financial incentives to reward developing countries that succeed in reducing the rate of deforestation.

    This implicitly recognises tropical forests - especially the Amazon, biggest of them all - as part of the common global heritage, and in Brazil this can play into long-standing and widely-believed fears of an international plot to wrest sovereignty of the forest from the Brazilian nation, for financial and strategic ends.

    The sensitivity of this issue was shown by the furore over Johan Eliasch's acquisition of a large area of forest and the perception that through the Cool Earth website, sovereign Brazilian territory is in effect being sold online.

    The fears have been further stoked by reports from the Brazilian intelligence service and serving military officers, claiming that the presence of large numbers of international NGOs working in indigenous-controlled frontier areas represents a significant security threat.

    Under the Amazon Fund system set up by the Brazilians this year, foreign donations (one billion US dollars anticipated in 2008-2009) linked to reduced deforestation are administered entirely by a committee of Brazilians, aimed at pre-empting claims of 'internationalisation' of the Amazon.

    This programme looks at how this debate is playing out in Brazil; on the one hand, deforestation is increasingly seen as a national disgrace that stains the country's global reputation, but on the other is a reluctance to be lectured by interfering foreigners who destroyed their own forests centuries ago.

    How arguments about the protection of the Amazon rainforest are playing out in Brazil.

    Working From Home2010091520100916

    In the UK we spend 22 million hours a day getting to and from work.

    Commuters who work in London spend the longest and the most amount of money and almost all workers know the pain of cancelled trains, traffic jams and overcrowded carriages.

    Unsurprisingly flexible working is now the most sought after job perk for city employees, often ahead of salary, but does working from home really save on carbon emissions?

    Various studies have calculated the amount of carbon video-conferencing can save and it seems to stand to reason that doing away with daily commutes and overly air conditioned high rises would save CO2.

    The US is already well ahead with government directives to encourage remote working.

    However most of these studies have been commissioned by telecommunication and IT companies, a recent study by independent consultants WSP Environmental found that home workers typically produce almost a third more CO2 in a year than employees based in the office.

    Another study in the US suggests that at best the savings are insubstantial; telework in the US currently saves just 0.01 to 0.4%.

    What is certain is that this revolution will rely heavily on technology and whether multiple servers and screens can be run without multiplying our energy use.

    Dr Alice Roberts takes some real life case studies to find a definitive answer to how green working in the office shed really is and to take a look at which innovative solutions in Green IT, social networking and even decarbonised transport might really revolutionise the way we work.

    Dr Alice Roberts finds out if we can save the planet by staying in our pyjamas.

    01Turbines Or Tearooms2009083120090903

    All over the country renewable energy schemes are being thwarted by local people determined to stop wind farms and bio-mass plants being built on some of the most beautiful doorsteps in Britain.

    In the first of a new series of ‘Costing the Earth' Tom Heap asks if radical action is needed to break through the blockade.

    Should the new planning laws intended to rush through urgently needed road and airport projects be extended to all green energy projects? Or should developers make more effort to get local people on board? If locals can see an immediate financial benefit will they drop their opposition?

    Tom Heap travels from Sussex to Orkney to meet the protestors and find out how they can be brought on board the green energy revolution.


    A nine-part environmental series.

    3: The Clyde, once the dirtiest river in Britain, has had new life breathed into it.

    But the waste that would once have been dumped in the river is proving a problem for the city of GLASGOW.


    A nine-part environmental series.

    3: The Clyde, once the dirtiest river in Britain, has had new life breathed into it.

    But the waste that would once have been dumped in the river is proving to be a problem for the city of GLASGOW.

    03Liquid Gold - Alaska, Part 120020103

    Tom Feilden explores how oil under the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is creating a cultural division.


    A nine-part environmental series.

    4: Cities are growing and spreading, consuming everything in their paths, and city life is becoming more of a strain - not only on people, but on the environment as well.

    04Liquid Gold - Alaska, Part 220020110

    Tom Feilden asks whether the economic benefits of drilling for oil in alaska outweigh the environmental damage.


    A nine-part environmental series.

    5: A look at environmental cost of industrial agriculture.

    Is the drive to produce more food destroying the very land it depends on?

    05On The Scrapheap20020117

    Series exploring environmental issues.

    5: `On the Scrapheap'.

    Alex Kirby asks if new laws about the disposal of unwanted household equipment will really ensure more recycling.


    A look at the power of the World Bank, the future of British aid and the environmental consequences of misdirected money.

    With Jeremy Cherfas.


    Series exploring environmental issues.

    6: `Update'.

    Alex Kirby updates previous investigations.


    An eight-part environmental series.

    1: `Forestry'.

    Eighty per cent of the world's old growth forests have now been destroyed or degraded and much of the remainder is being heavily logged.

    In the aftermath of Earth Summit II, this programme asks what can be done to protect the remainder of the world's forests.

    197C02Green Architecture1997073019970803

    A recent report says that British homes are the most environmentally damaging in Europe.

    This programme looks at why so much of the affordable housing available in Britain is so poorly designed and energy-inefficient, and asks how a sustainable future is going to be realistically achieved.

    197C03Integrated Transport1997080619970810

    Jeremy Cherfas presents an eight-part series on the environment.

    3: `Integrated Transport'.

    This week's programme looks at what `integrated transport' means.

    One of the stated aims of the Government is to introduce an `effective and integrated transport policy at national, regional and local level.' In the transport battle for hearts and minds, the car has won hands down, but at what cost? What alternatives are there and who is going to pay for them?

    197C04Environmental Protest1997081319970817

    An eight-part series on the environment.

    4: `Environmental Protest'.

    From the Rainbow Warrior to tunnelling in MANCHESTER, active protest seems synonymous with the environmental movement.

    Jeremy Cherfas asks whether it achieves anything, and whether it is time to move into the boardroom to be more effective.


    The scientists say that if we carry on fishing the North Sea unabated, the stocks of cod will collapse.

    Jeremy Cherfas talks to fishermen, scientists and politicians in CANADA and Scotland, and asks how communities who have made a living from the sea for generations live up to the hardest question of all: how do we preserve a way of life and also sustain the stock?


    An eight-part series on the environment.

    6: `Aid'.

    The promise by the British Government to decouple aid payments from tied business deals was widely welcomed by all environmental organisations.

    Jeremy Cherfas looks at the power of the World Bank, the future of British Aid and the environmental consequences of misdirected money.

    197C07Nuclear Waste And Recycling.1997090319970907

    Jeremy Cherfas looks at the problems of NUCLEAR waste, and an innovative way to encourage people to recycle.

    197C08 LASTUtilities1997091019970914

    Jeremy Cherfas calls the utilities industry to account and asks whether making gas and electricity cheaper means that customers use more of it.

    Is the industry mortgaging our future in its rush for profits?


    A nine-part environmental series.

    1: In the first of two programmes on global climate change, Jeremy Cherfas examines the effects on nature, the economy and society of the biggest problem of the 21st century, and asks what the cost of delaying action might be.


    Jeremy Cherfas presents a four-part environmental series.

    1: Harnessing the power of water to provide electricity is often considered to be an environmentally friendly way to provide cheap power while kick-starting an emerging economy into the industrial age.

    But is it always the panacea it seems?

    198A02Green Games19980322

    Jeremy Cherfas presents a four-part environmental series.

    2: The Sydney Olympic games in the year 2000 have been heralded as the `green games'.

    The OLYMPICS should be the perfect occasion for promoting all that is new in green technology, but has the opportunity been missed? This special report examines the reality of the green games.

    198A03Costing The Earth19980329

    Britain is still the world leader in one thing - treating NUCLEAR waste.

    But is it an industry we can be proud of, or are the problems that go along with reprocessing our own waste - and that of other countries - too complex? Is the risk too high, and are we storing up problems for the future? In the first of two programmes to complete the series, `Costing the Earth' looks at the price of the NUCLEAR legacy.

    198A04 LAST19980405

    The second of two programmes about the NUCLEAR legacy.

    Britain is still the world leader in NUCLEAR waste treatment - but at what cost?


    Economies are built on the car, but exhaust fumes are poisoning us and adding to the problem of global warning.

    The car will not go away, so how can it be made cleaner, and who will be the winners and losers of the alternative car race? Presented by Guy Linley-Adams.


    The debate surrounding radiation and health is not a new one.

    The incidence of childhood leukemia near NUCLEAR generating sites is well known, but the reason for this occurrence has long been speculation.

    This programme looks at new scientific evidence that shows how low levels of radiation are having profound effects on genetic material, leading to serious implications for our health.

    Presented by Guy Linley-Adams.



    Most people think that global warming is due to the weather, but it is actually the oceans that hold the key to changes in our environment.

    Scientists have discovered that computer models of the oceans can be used to investigate the past, monitor the present and predict future changes in our oceans.

    Presented by Guy Linley Adams.

    198B04Bioremediation, Or Natural Solutions19980610

    `Bioremediation, or Natural Solutions'.

    Why do we use chemicals to right our environmental wrongs when nature could provide our answers? Guy Linley Adams looks at bugs that clean up oil slicks, bacteria that absorb nitrates and trees that can act as indicators of pollution.


    Do we know what is in the products we use every day in our homes and gardens? Guy Linley Adams looks at the cost to the environment of whiter-than-white clothes and a kitchen floor you could eat your dinner off.



    Tighter regulations have meant that we change our tyres more frequently than ever, but where do they go? As landfill will no longer be an option, `Costing the Earth' investigates the possibility of an environmental solution.

    Presented by Guy Linley-Adams.


    Five years ago, nations surrounding the North Sea were shamed by a report describing how they were polluting their own back yard, and Britain came in for particular criticism.

    But Brussels - the city which is pointing the finger - turns out to be one of the worst offenders.

    Presenter Guy Linley Adams.


    From the panda to the elephant, we seem to love big and cuddly animals, yet we have brought many species to the edge of extinction.

    IVF and cloning are being seen as a possible way to widen the gene pool, but will the science that is transforming our lives really come to the rescue?


    Our chemical past is catching up with us - millions of canisters of mustard gas and phosgene have been dumped at sea and buried in sites around the country, and a veil of secrecy covers any attempts to find out their whereabouts.

    How can the Earth be made safe for future generations?


    Five years ago, nations surrounding the North Sea were shamed by a report describing how they were polluting their own back yard, and Britain came in for particular criticism.

    But Brussels - the city which is pointing the finger - turns out to be another of the worst offenders.


    Another groundbreaking environmental issue.


    Malaria continues to be a global menace.

    Three million people die from it every year and it is mainly a disease of the developing world.

    Yet lobbyists are succeeding in enforcing a worldwide ban on a pesticide that is the most effective weapon against it - namely DDT.

    This programme investigates the dilemma and the power of the environmental lobby.

    199B01The Story Of Bst1999050319990711

    `The Story of BST'.

    Bovine somatotrophin, or BST, was the first genetically engineered product to be brought to market.

    It is a growth hormone which is injected directly into dairy cows to increase milk production.

    It can cause disease and birth defects in cows, and there are questions concerning its effect on humans.

    In the first of two programmes, Alex Kirby investigates the political and health implications of BST.

    In the last of two programmes, Alex Kirby investigates the political and health implications of BST.

    199B02The Story Of Bst19990510

    `The Story of BST'.

    Bovine somatotrophin, or BST, was the first genetically engineered product to be brought to market.

    It is a growth hormone which is injected directly into dairy cows to increase milk production.

    It can cause disease and birth defects in cows, and there are questions concerning its effect on humans.

    In the second of two programmes, Alex Kirby investigates the political and health implications of BST.

    199B03The Oceans1999051719990718

    `The Oceans'.

    The oceans cover seven-tenths of the planet, yet despite the huge technological advances of the last 50 years, less than one per cent of the deep sea has been seen.

    Now the race is on to harvest its riches and uncover its secrets.

    But who has the right to exploit the ocean, and is anyone protecting the seas?


    When Chernobyl and its NUCLEAR legacy erupted into our lives 13 years ago, the world woke up to the global consequences of the NUCLEAR industry.

    The programme investigates why we are still waiting for all of the reactors on the Chernobyl site to be closed down.

    200A01Green For Danger?20000103

    Exploring the issues which affect all our lives.

    `Green for Danger?' Recent food scares have fuelled a massive increase in the demand for organic food.

    But what are we actually getting for our money? Alex Kirby talks to farmers, retailers and scientists in Britain and America and explores claims that organic food might actually be doing us harm.

    200A02Life In Earth20000110

    Exploring issues which affect all our lives.

    `Life in Earth'.

    Alex Kirby investigates ecologists' warnings that an ecosystem of insects and microscopic life forms- which they characterise as a `rainforest beneath our feet' - is being destroyed by modern farming methods, with long-term dangers to the planet.

    200A03Storm Alert20000117

    Scientists have warned that the destructive hurricanes and cyclones of 1999 were a mild warning of the storms to come.

    Adverse weather conditions have killed thousands in INDIA, caused billions of dollars of damage in the USA and caused increasing disruption even in Britain.

    Alex Kirby talks to people most at risk from extreme weather and finds out what science can do to protect them.

    200A04Before It20000124

    `Before It's Too Late'.

    Global warming has been identified by the United Nations as the biggest threat to the future of our planet.

    Alex Kirby explores the scientific evidence and talks to people in less developed countries who fear catastrophic consequences if the major industrial nations fail to curb their greenhouse gas emissions.

    200A05Bridging The Peace Line20000131

    Exploring issues which affect all our lives.

    `Bridging the Peace Line'.

    Alex Kirby visits west Belfast to find out how both Protestants and Catholics are working to rebuild an environment scarred by decades of violence and urban decay.


    Exploring issues which affect all our lives.


    Alex Kirby embarks on a journey in search of tranquillity.

    As the roar and blare of modern urban life spreads increasingly into the British countryside, is there any escape from light and noise pollution?


    Exploring the issues which affect all our lives.

    Smoking is blamed for four million deaths a year, but the technology exists to radically reduce that figure.

    Alex Kirby talks to scientists working on safer cigarettes, and asks the tobacco companies why they are not implementing measures which would make their products less dangerous.


    The deadly E coli 0157 bacteria killed 21 people in an outbreak of food poisoning in Scotland.

    Recently a girl died after contracting the disease on a DEVON beach.

    The number of people being infected is growing every year and the bacteria has been found in a wide range of animals.

    Alex Kirby reveals how it may be only a matter of time before people start falling ill through contact with their pets.

    200B03Powering The Future20000511

    `Powering the Future'.

    Alex Kirkby explores a future in which all our energy needs are met from clean, renewable sources such as solar, wind and wave power.

    200B04The Soya Trap20000518

    4: `The Soya Trap'.

    Alex Kirkby reports on the plight of millions of Third World farmers who have been forced into POVERTY and debt after being encouraged to invest in modern farming methods and grow soya and other cash crops for export.

    In INDIA thousands of farmers have been driven to suicide.

    Kirby asks who is responsible and talks to farmers who are fighting back.


    Alex Kirby reports on new evidence of risks to health from the cocktail effect of synthetic chemicals in our environment.

    Of thousands of these chemicals, only a small percentage are tested for their individual toxic impact - and none are tested in combination.

    200B06Waste Not, Want Not20000601

    `Waste Not, Want Not'.

    Alex Kirby looks forward to a Britain in which all our waste would be reused, recycled, composted or turned into energy - a necessary development as we run out of options for disposing of the millions of tons of waste produced every year.

    200C01Danger On The Line20000921

    First in a new series exploring issues which affect all our lives.

    Alex Kirby investigates disturbing new evidence linking overhead electricity power cables and cancer.

    200C02The Dark Side Of Light20000928

    Series exploring issues which affect all our lives.

    Alex Kirby investigates how light pollution is driving people from their homes, creating hazards for motorists and even threatening our long-term health.

    200C03The Dark Side Of Light20001005

    Series exploring issues which affect all our lives.

    4: Risk.

    Life is full of risk, but do we worry too much, and are we worrying about the wrong things? Alex Kirby investigates.

    200C05Pathogen Pollution20001019

    Series exploring issues which affect all our lives.

    5: Pathogen Pollution.

    Alex Kirby investigates the threat to animals from infectious diseases spread by humans.


    Series exploring environmental issues.

    6: `Follow-up'.

    Alex Kirby returns to issues explored in previous series.

    Why is the ozone layer still being destroyed, and what is the continuing threat from the NUCLEAR power plant at Chernobyl?


    Series exploring environmental and consumer health issues.

    1: Breaking the Food Barrier.

    Alex Kirby meets the people who try to identify contaminated imported food before it reaches our dinner tables and asks if enough is being done to protect us.

    201A02Building A Better Sandbag20010111

    Series exploring environmental issues.

    Alex Kirby looks at a range of measures which could lessen the impact of flooding upon Britain, and asks why lessons have not been learnt.

    201A03Depleted Uranium2001011819990725

    Series exploring environmental issues.

    Alex Kirby investigates concerns that the use of depleted uranium by Allied forces during the Gulf War and in Kosovo has resulted in an increasing number of deaths and chronic illnesses among soldiers and civilians, and even caused birth defects among war veterans' children.

    `Depleted Uranium'.

    British Gulf War veterans have tested positive for uranium poisoning, and the civilian cancer rate in Iraq is increasing.

    Yet both the Ministry of Defence and the UNITED STATES military have denied that depleted uranium has any detrimental effects.

    The US has recently admitted using it in Kosovo.

    This programme investigates the truth about depleted uranium.


    Series exploring environmental issues.

    4: Wildlife for All.

    Alex Kirby finds out what can be done to bring people and nature back together, since towns, pollution and intensive farming have driven our wildlife under cover.


    Series exploring environmental issues.

    5: Allergies.

    More than half the British population suffers from allergies, ranging from minor irritations to life-threatening conditions.

    Alex Kirby finds out about recent advances in the understanding of the allergy.


    Series exploring environmental issues.

    6: Update.

    Alex Kirby finds out what progress has been made on issues raised in previous series, such as concerns about overhead power lines, toxic fumes in aircraft and global warming.


    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    He asks if the time has come to insist on licences for farmers, so that bad practice can be driven out of the industry, not only to protect against disease, but also to cut deaths and injuries from heavy machinery.


    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    In the first of two programmes about the patenting of natural resources, he focuses on an American seed merchant who patented the Mexican yellow bean and now demands royalties on any beans sold in the US.

    201B03Patenting The Planet20010426

    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    In the second of two programmes about the patenting of natural resources, he explores the fine line between bio-prospecting and bio-piracy.

    INDIAns in southern Mexico are claiming that their way of life is under threat from people who are stealing their plants and their knowledge.


    Series exploring environmental issues.

    Alex Kirby looks back at issues addressed in previous programmes and brings the stories up to date.


    Scientific consensus is that we are at greater risk from pollution inside our homes than out.

    Where do the dangers lie, and what can we do to avoid them?

    201B06Writing On The Wall20010517

    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    He considers graffiti, which has decorated and defaced our world since man first lifted a charred stick to a cave wall, but which is now blamed for giving our streets an air of desolation and threat.

    201C01Chemical Soup20010906

    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    `Chemical Soup'.

    He continues his investigation into indoor air pollution and reveals that danger from volatile chemicals lurk in our homes, offices, schools, shops, in cars and on buses and trains.

    201C02Throwaway Food20010913

    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    `Throwaway Food'.

    He finds out who is to blame for the over 8 million tons of food which are wasted each year by the food industry and consumers, most of which ends up on landfill sites, where it generates greenhouse gases.

    201C03A Nuclear Renaissance?20010920

    Series exploring environmental issues.

    `A NUCLEAR Renaissance?' Alex Kirby examines the government's policy on NUCLEAR energy.

    201C04Sense And Sensitivity20010927

    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    He reveals evidence that our modern environment is causing remarkable changes in us.

    201C05Hunting The Whale20011004

    Series exploring environmental issues, with Alex Kirby.

    `Hunting the Whale'.

    He asks if a collapse of the 15-year-old moratorium on whaling would be disastrous or not.

    201C06Danger In The Deep20011011

    Alex Kirby investigates warnings about NUCLEAR, chemical and plastic waste pollution in the oceans.

    201D01Alien Invaders20011220

    Series exploring environmental issues.

    `Alien Invaders'.

    Tom Feilden investigates the extent of the damage being done by imported plants and animals.


    With LONDON's population forecast to rise by 700,000 in the next 15 years, Tom Feilden asks how the city can cope with the fastest period of growth since the Industrial Revolution.


    Next month, millions of gallons of water will be blasted through the Grand Canyon.

    Alex Kirby discovers why naturalists are looking forward to this man-made flood.


    Environmental series.

    A huge aluminium smelter is about to be built in Europe's largest wilderness.

    Can Iceland's unique culture and wildlife survive the march of industry?


    Naming Nature: A group of British and American scientists intends to find every undiscovered creature on the planet within the next 25 years.

    Tom Feilden finds out why.


    The Acid Test: Have we solved the problem of acid rain? Alex Kirby investigates.


    Washing the War Zone: Alex Kirby meets the United Nations team whose job is to clear up after the pollution of war.

    204B01The Salt That Ate Australia20040401

    Costing the Earth returns with a new series of investigations into our environment.

    In the first programme Miriam O'reilly discovers why salt is eating Australia alive.

    Adelaide's infrastructure is being ravaged by high levels of salt in the groundwater.

    Rails, pipelines, bitumen and concrete are being consumed and corroded.

    It is estimated that by 2050 Adelaide's water will not be fit to drink.

    Meanwhile vast swathes of Australia's most productive farmland are being devoured by rising salt levels.

    O'Reilly asks if Australians can avoid environmental catastrophe.

    204B02Scraping The Sea Bed20040408

    East Anglia is sinking.

    Could offshore dredging for sand and gravel be to blame? Alex Kirby reports.

    204B03Building A Better Road20040415

    Can we make our roads safer, quieter and more wildlife-friendly? Miriam O'reilly investigates the latest in road-building technology.

    204B04Hurricane Hope20040422

    Although the eastern US seaboard was devastated by Hurricane Isabel last year, the effect on local wildlife may prove to be beneficial.

    Alex Kirby investigates.

    204B05Can You Believe It?20040429

    How well do the media cover Planet Earth's big stories? Miriam O'reilly investigates.


    ASTHMA rates have doubled in Britain in the last 20 years.

    Miriam O'reilly hears why global warming may be to blame.

    204C02Death On The High Seas20040729

    Dismantling ships is a dirty and dangerous industry.

    Alex Kirby asks whether British companies should be bidding for business in this field.

    204C03Power Failure20040805

    As Britain's power stations approach the end of their natural lives, Miriam O'reilly asks if small-scale neighbourhood installations can offer viable alternatives.

    204C04Modified Medicine20040812

    Britain's fields could soon be used to grow antibodies to combat AIDS and TB.

    Tom Heap investigates.

    204C05Bush Fire20040819

    Every year, devastating conflagrations burn ever closer to Australia's cities.

    Miriam O'reilly investigates how the suburbs of Sydney might be saved by Aboriginal wisdom.

    204C06 LASTDeath Of The Nile20040826

    Egypt's water supplies are under threat from its drought-prone neighbours to the south.

    Alex Kirby asks if the world's first water war is imminent.

    204D01Future Food20041111

    Scientists are looking forward to the day of the sandwich which lasts seven years and the diet which helps to fight cancer.

    Tom Heap investigates.

    204D02Designed For Life20041118

    Does sustainable design have a place in our consumer society?

    204D03Stinking Solutions20041125

    Tom Heap investigates nuisance odours.

    204D04Wrecking Our Seas20041202

    Britain's coast is littered by shipwrecks which leak oil, high explosives and even NUCLEAR materials into the sea.

    Alex Kirby investigates the threat.


    A look at man's effect on the environment and at how the environment reacts.

    204D06 LAST20041216

    Alex Kirby investigates Britain's most extreme weather.


    One of the main weapons against the mosquitoes who spread malaria is the pesticide DDT, yet this is being phased out due to environmental concerns.

    Miriam O'reilly investigates.

    205B02The Best Meal You'll Never Have20050414

    Almost 40% of the food produced in the UK never reaches our plates.

    Tom Heap investigates a trail of shocking waste...

    or golden opportunity.

    205B03Aliens On The Forest Trail20050421

    Alex Kirby investigates what can be done to repair our ancient woodlands after the damage wrought by commercial forestry during the last century.

    205B04Toxic Shock20050428

    Scientific research indicates that the presence of chemicals in the environment may affect the behaviour of wild animals.

    Tom Heap investigates.

    205B05Gas Guzzling Goes Green20050512

    Tom Heap visits Illinois with a party of British farmers and discovers that the US has much to show us on the subject of green fuel.

    205C01The Real Cost Of Cheap Flowers20050728

    Flowers are the commodity that should prove fair trade can work.

    Grown in Africa, Asia and South America, flowers can provide a way out of poverty, but do they?

    Miriam O'reilly goes to Africa to investigate the real cost of the flower trade.

    205C02Can Technology Save The Planet20050804

    After the disappointment of the G8's failure to tackle climate change it seems technology will have to solve our environmental problems.

    Costing the Earth asks can technology provide the answer and will it come in time?

    205C03Wildlife Gardens20050811

    Gardeners are increasingly bombarded with advice about how to garden in a wildlife-friendly manner.

    But how much of this advice is backed up by sound science?

    Are slug pellets really bad for hedgehogs? Do nettles attract butterflies? Is it important to plant only native species? Alex Kirby investigates.

    205C04Dropping Us All In It20050818

    Miriam O'reilly investigates the spiralling cost of picking up and disposing of rubbish cast aside on Britain's streets and dumped in the countryside - from the fields of Somerset to the nave of Westminster Abbey.

    205C05Dream Homes20050825

    Tom Heap asks whether the British countryside has become such a desirable place to live that it is in danger of becoming a victim of its own success.

    As city dwellers flood out and country people campaign for homes they can afford, should anyone have a right to choose where to live?

    205C06 LASTSaving The Life Aquatic20050901

    Our British seas are increasingly in demand - tourists, fishermen, anglers, dredgers and wind farms are all competing for a slice of the action, whilst ecologists are calling for protected areas and no-fishing zones.

    The government are planning a new marine bill, hoping to balance the needs of wildlife protection and industry.

    Can a marine bill really achieve this goal?

    Tom Heap travels to the Isle of Mull to explore the battle for the oceans whilst sea kayaking, whale watching and examining the age-old relationship between people and the sea in our coastal towns.

    205D01Spain Turns To Sand20051117

    The Sahara Desert is about to leap across the Mediterranean Sea.

    Miriam O' Reilly reports on Spain's battle against the desert.

    205D02The Return Of Sail20051124

    It's 120 years since sailing ships ruled the high seas, but spiralling oil prices could mean the rebirth of sail power.

    Tom Heap reports.

    205D03When Trees Turn Bad20051201

    Miriam O'reilly investigates the dangers of our adoration of the tree, as planting trees seems to be regarded as the remedy to several environmental problems - whether it be combatting global warming, desertification, drought or flood.

    But a report from the UK Department for International Development revealed that billions of pounds are being spent on tree-planting schemes around the world.

    Most, if not all, of that money is apparently being wasted.

    205D04Going For Green20051208

    Will the Olympics clean up East London or leave a legacy of useless concrete? Miriam O'reilly investigates.

    205D05Saving America's Oil20051215

    How did America's oil industry survive Hurricane Katrina? Tom Heap reports.

    206B01Slash Your Bills2006042020060421

    Tom Heap has just bought a new home.

    He's determined to cut his power bills and shrink his family's contribution to global warming.

    But just how easy is it to insulate and power your house with the latest green gadgets? Do we really need wind generators and solar panels on our roofs, or just a bit more loft insulation?

    206B02Eco-city, China2006042720060428

    China is engaged in the greatest programme of city building the world has ever seen.

    Can it be done without destroying the environment? Miriam O'reilly investigates.


    What happened to John Prescott's ten-year transport vision? Launched in a blaze of publicity in 2000, Mr Prescott promised to spearhead a huge investment programme in Britain's road and rail systems.

    But six years on, is Britain on its way to waving goodbye to polluted roads and cancelled trains?

    Tom Heap and Miriam O'reilly travel the country by road and rail to get the real story of life in the slow lane.

    206B04Meet The Freegans2006051120060512

    A growing band of eco-warriors is protesting against our throwaway culture by feeding and clothing themselves from supermarket skips.

    Miriam O'reilly joins them for a weekend of skip-diving to discover whether Freeganism is philosophy or fad.


    Japan looks set to take control of the international whaling commission, bringing two decades of conservation efforts to an end.

    Tom Heap asks if whales will once again be pushed close to extinction.

    206B06 LAST2006052520060526
    206C01Guerrilla Gardeners2006080320060804

    Can the Guerrilla Gardeners transform Britain's inner cities into green oases? Tom Heap joins them on a mission.

    206C02Living Without Oil2006081020060811

    Sweden aims to be the first nation to live without oil by 2020.

    The Swedes claim it will gain them an economic and technological lead over the rest of the world.

    Can they pull it off? Should Britain follow their lead? Tom Heap investigates.

    206C03The Rainmakers2006081720060818

    When China suffers from drought, they don't bring in a hosepipe ban, they call in the 'rainmakers'.

    Miriam O'reilly reports from Nanjing.


    Dubai is home to a huge construction project, creating a series of artificial islands.

    The glitterati love them, the local fish aren't so sure.

    Tom Heap investigates.

    206C05Attack Of The Killer Weeds2006083120060901

    The rich grassland of Britain's hills and dales is under threat from the latest change in European farming policy.

    Miriam O'reilly investigates.

    206C06 LAST2006090720060908

    Miriam O'reilly travels from the South Downs to Nanjing in search of the secrets of the people who believe they can turn the rain on and off like a tap.

    206D01Mermaid's Tears20061208

    Plastic rubbish in the ocean has been described as a plague by one American scientist.

    It is dumped overboard by fishing boats and drifts in from land where it's been dumped by people, and it's killing our sea life.

    But the more worrying aspect of these islands of rubbish in our seas is how long the plastic stays in the environment and what happens to it when it breaks down into tiny particles.

    These so called 'Mermaid's Tears' are barely visible to the human eye, yet are mistaken for food by filter feeders and are passing into the food chain.

    Presented by Tom Heap


    Is the world getting noisier? Many of us think noise levels today are unacceptably high.

    In fact, research has shown that it makes us ill and effects the learning ability of children.

    So as the government prepares a noise strategy, Miriam O'reilly asks what steps we can take to manage noise in the environment.


    joined the EU in 1986 and rushed headlong into a programme of modernisation and development.

    Roads and dams were built with European funds and holiday complexes sprang up to cater for the mainly British tourist market who holiday and play golf in the Algarve.

    But what this drive for economic development has also done is kill off much of Portugal's wildlife.

    41% of species are now on an international 'Red List' of endangered species.

    The Iberian lynx is officially extinct in Portugal, although there are some being bred in captivity in neighbouring Spain, and hundreds of other species from eagles to butterflies are under threat.

    The programme visits southern Portugal and discovers why events there should act as a warning for countries such as Bulgaria and Romania when they join the European Union.

    206D04Solo Living20061229

    Demand for new housing is being fuelled by more of us living alone.

    Almost three quarters of the expected growth in England over the next 20 years is attributed to one-person households.

    Researchers claim this lifestyle is selfish - consuming more land, and resources than those sharing homes.

    Tom Heap asks whether solo living is a ticking time bomb for the planet.

    206D05Indian Stone2007010420070105

    Tom Heap examines the increasing demand for natural stone within the UK and why it has led to the resource being imported from India.

    Ironically, the original 'granite city' of Aberdeen is now importing much of its granite to restore its traditional buildings.

    206D06Green Supermarkets2007011120070112

    It's been plastic bags at dawn as the supermarkets vie for position as greenest in the land.

    But is their desire to care more for the environment genuinely altruistic, and can cheap, mass produced food ever really be good for it?


    Miriam O'Reilly looks at the nation's traditional orgy of spending over the festive period and its impact on the environment.

    She meets a man who believes that only through individuals changing their lifestyles can the world have a sustainable future.


    Tom Heap investigates the apparent increase in Britain's rodent population, variously attributed to food waste, fewer refuse collections and less money put into control and eradication.

    He looks at how we control rats in urban and rural environments and asks why the system appears not to be working.

    208A03Seeds Of Discontent2008011720080118

    Tom Heap asks whether genetically modified crops are the answer to feeding the world's ever expanding population.

    GM foods have been rejected by the British public, but there is no such problem in the US, where they have become part of the staple diet.

    Lord Taverne believes they could go a long way towards feeding the world's hungry and starving, but is there scientific evidence to support his viewpoint?

    208A04* Carbon Labelling2008012420080125

    A new label on supermarket food will reveal how much carbon was emitted during its manufacture.

    This is all part of the government's effort to get us to reduce our carbon footprints, but how can it be presented to the customer in a way that makes sense? And while labelling may be a good selling point for the environmentally conscious shopper, it leaves a lot of questions about our food unanswered.

    Tom Heap tries to make sense of some of the possible dilemmas.


    Britain is committed to meeting EU targets to generate one fifth of our energy from renewable sources by 2020, but what are our chances of actually getting there?

    Although Britain enjoys access to some of the world's richest sources of renewable energy, uncertain costs and lengthy planning processes are causing huge delays in production.

    Critics claim that the current system has failed so badly that it has hardly been worth bothering.

    Tom Heap investigates.

    208A06Bring Me Sunshine2008020720080208

    Solar power is a frequently overlooked form of renewable energy, but some experts believe it may be the most viable to meet our needs in future, even in the less-than-sunny UK.

    Miriam O'Reilly looks at Britain's use of this natural resource and reports on ambitious plans to build solar plants in the deserts of North Africa, producing electricity for export to Europe.

    208B01Greening The Building2008050120080502

    Tom Heap asks whether the building industry is equipped to meet demanding government targets on energy-efficient homes.

    He visits a project near Manchester where a team of academics, working closely with developers and builders, is attempting to measure the energy efficiency performance of new homes.

    The results suggest that the trade has a lot of work to do to update its skills and its mindset.

    208B02* Do Happy Animals Cost The Earth?2008050820080509

    Tom Heap demolishes some myths about free-range farming.

    The popular conception is that free range is not only good for animal welfare but is also somehow greener than the industrial alternative.

    But sometimes the best environmental option is to buy meat raised on intensive farms.

    Tom does the sums and compares the environmental costs of the veggie burger against the beefburger.


    Ecotourism is a tired concept, but so-called green holidays are becoming increasingly popular and the travel industry is using the idea to market a growing range of products of highly dubious environmental benefit.

    This programme challenges the notion that one's conscience can be salved by offsetting the carbon used on a flight to a turtle reserve.

    It also finds that it might well be better for the planet to fly to Benidorm than try camping in Wales.

    208B04The Great Green Gadget Makeover * *2008052220080523

    New electronic technology is draining power at an unprecedented rate.

    Computers, mobile phones, games consoles, widescreen televisions and digital radios now account for a vast amount of our electricity usage each year, creating more carbon emissions.

    But can we change our behaviour? Tom Heap meets a self-confessed gadget addict to find out.

    208B05All Wrapped Up And Nowhere To Go2008052920080530

    Plastic bags and packaging are anathema to the environmentalist.

    Yet packaging can help to sell a product, and how many of us can honestly deny that attractive packaging has never influenced our buying choices?

    This programme looks at the debate over wrapping and asks how much packaging our food needs, whether biodegradable bags are better or worse for the environment, and if some of the plastic we so despise could actually be saving us money at the till.

    208B06 LASTThe Shipping News *2008060520080606

    Following the beaching of the MSC Napoli in Lyme Bay last year, Miriam O'Reilly looks at what the shipping industry is doing to prevent another catastrophe for marine birds.