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BBC Radio 4 - Costing the Earth

Costing the Earth

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

Costing the Earth

  • Plastic Burnout
    Every year billions of products are sold around the world in plastic packaging. But some countries lack a waste system to collect and recycle or dispose of the rubbish. The result can be that waste is dumped, set on fire or used as an accelerant in domestic fires. A new report by Tearfund claims to reveal the scale of the uncontrolled burning in six key countries. Tom Heap finds out what the implications of this are and asks if the product manufacturers which profit have a 'moral responsiblity' to help clear up. Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock

  • Turning Japan Green
    Cherry blossom is a perfect symbol of Japan's relationship with nature and the broader environment. It's beautiful, flawless and disappears with the wind. The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics are keen to use the event to push the nation further toward a sustainable future. When the delayed Games finally go ahead they're promised to run on 100% renewable energy and use recycled rainwater. Even the medals and podiums will be made from old mobile phones and recycled shampoo bottles. Peter Hadfield, a journalist based for many years in Japan, examines the efforts of the organisers and asks how far their efforts can push the Japanese people toward a greener future. Producer: Alasdair Cross Photo courtesy of @nickluscombe

  • Eco Homes Now!
    The demand for housing is pushing through developments of millions of new build homes. So why aren't these all being built to the best energy efficiency standards possible with the technology that's now available? Tom Heap reveals how the scrapping of zero carbon homes has meant years of construction has not had to meet the higher standards hoped for. The new Future Homes Standard has just been consulted on but Tom Heap hears it's not just missing the mark for some groups but is at risk of reducing some standards altogether. Homes now come with an EPC - an Energy Performance Certificate - to test how reliable they are Tom trains thermal cameras onto a new build house to reveal any leaks or hidden short cuts that may be lurking behind the walls. Tom also gets a vision of the future - where clever design on village scale and with artificial intelligence could see us living in a low carbon way without even having to think too hard about it. Presented by Tom Heap Producer: Anne-Marie Bullock.

  • Fate of the Falcons
    The Naga people of north-east India and Myanmar have long been famed for their hunting prowess. In the days of traps and catapults a balance was maintained but the influx of high calibre guns and the arrival of the Chinese Medicine Trade have wiped out much of the jungle wildlife. Tigers and Asian Black Bear are now very rare sights and even deer are increasingly hard to find. Travel writer, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent visits Nagaland to meet the local tribal people who have decided that enough is enough. They've banned hunting around their villages and created their own wildlife refuges. Already the signs are positive, with the revival of the Amur Falcon which was once hunted by the thousand and now nests peacefully in enormous flocks in the forest canopy. Producer: Alasdair Cross

  • Mark Ruffalo vs Chemical Pollution
    When a frustrated farmer dumped a bag of VHS video tapes onto the desk of Cincinnati lawyer Rob Bilott it kick-started a legal process that would ultimately reveal that one of the world’s biggest chemical companies had poisoned thousands of people. The story of DuPont and their manufacture of the non-stick chemical family PFAS matters to the factory workers of Parkersburg, West Virginia but it also reveals the extent to which virtually all of us have been exposed to a chemical that for decades has lined our frying pans and takeaway food containers and guarded our sofas and carpets against stains. Rob’s story of his two decade battle with DuPont has inspired 'Dark Waters', a Hollywood film starring Mark Ruffalo and Anne Hathaway. In the first of a new series Tom Heap meets Rob and Mark to discuss the impact on the environment and human health of a family of chemicals that can build up in our bodies and take tens of thousands of years to decay. Producer: Alasdair Cross