Still from "earthrise" - "Water: Saving Every Drop"
S1 E10: Eco Burials & Protecting The Great Barrier Reef

Eco Burials & Protecting The Great Barrier Reef

Green Goodbyes 

Death is a messy business. In America alone, 1.6 million tons of cement and over 870,000 gallons of embalming fluid — commonly containing formaldehyde — are buried along with 2.5 million caskets every year.

“What you have here is a landfill … a toxic landfill,” says Glen Ayers of the Green Burial Committee as he looks around a traditional graveyard in Massachusetts.

Proponents of natural burial want to reduce the pollution and resource waste associated with funerals, which also includes burying masses of hardwood and steel.

One solution is to use eco-friendly biodegradable coffins made out of cardboard or even banana leaves. Campaigners also hope to increase the number of natural burial sites, where plots blend in with the natural surroundings. There are currently fewer than 40 in the US.

Russell Beard travels to Massachusetts to meet the people hoping to bid the world a green goodbye.

How it works: Fixing the ozone layer 

Declared as "perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date" by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the 1987 Montreal Protocol has helped protect life on earth. The treaty saw world leaders come together to stop harmful chemicals destroying parts of the ozone layer.

The ozone layer formed around the earth after aquatic bacteria began to release oxygen through photosynthesis 2.4 billion years ago. This protective layer keeps out the sun’s most harmful UV rays and helped life on earth to emerge from water onto land.

But scientist discovered a hole in the earth's ozone layer in the late 1970s and they soon realized that it was created by man-made chemicals.

Present in everything from fridges to fire extinguishers, chlorine based gases known as chlorofluorocarbons (or CFCs) were damaging the ozone layer, and as a result harming plantlife and exposing humans to a greater risk of skin cancer.

In this "earthrise" animation, we look at how the ozone layer works and how international action was able stop damage to the earth’s protective layer.

Reef Killers

Australia's iconic Great Barrier Reef has lost half its coral since 1985 and around 40 percent of this is believed to be down to the venomous Crown of Thorns starfish.

Scientists believe that a combination of global warming and nitrogen-based fertilizers from on-shore agriculture may have created the perfect conditions for the coral munching starfish, which are breeding in massive numbers.

Tamara Sheward heads to the Great Barrier Reef to meet divers culling the starfish — a painstaking process in which the creature’s stomach and each of its limbs is injected with a dry acid.

She also meets Dr. Jairo Rivera Posada from James Cook University in Townsville, who has developed a potential new weapon against the starfish - a protein solution derived from Ox bile and which kills the starfish in just one hit.

Available until
2019-07-17T00:00:00-07:00

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Water: Saving Every Drop

Estimates say that by 2030, if we carry on as we are, the world will have only 60 percent of the water it needs. In India's Ladakh, rising temperatures are leading to glacial melt and water shortages in the mountains of the Himalayas. The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is also struggling as it experiences severe drought.  

"earthrise" investigates the local solutions being developed in Ladakh and Jordan to help ease the increasingly worrying water problems. 

Land: Gaining Ground

The survival of people and wildlife depends on the health of the land. The economic prosperity of a country is linked to the richness of its resources. But our demand for these is destroying the land and all it harbors.

Our consumption of the earth's natural reserves has doubled in the last 30 years. Now, a third of the planet's land is severely degraded. Each year, we lose 15 billion trees and 24 billion tonnes of fertile soil. And at least 10,000 species go extinct every year.

earthrise

earthrise visits Patagonia National Park to find out how it became one of the biggest conservation projects in history.

Air: Changing the Atmosphere

Every year seven million people die from air pollution. It's the world's biggest environmental killer.

Italy is Europe's most polluted country: in 2012, more than 84,000 people in the country died prematurely owing to bad air quality. To combat this, scientists have developed a new type of photocatalytic cement that absorbs pollutants and turns them into harmless salts. 

  • 2019-09-05T18:30:00-07:00
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Feeding The Billions

earthrise explores potential new strategies to satisfy the growing food demand, from restaurants growing potatoes in the air to jellyfish as a potential sustainable meat alternative.

Food: Farming for the Future

Climate change has disrupted weather patterns across the globe, destroying farmland and increasing pest outbreaks. As a result, both the livelihoods of farmers and food supplies have been pushed to breaking point.

"earthrise" sets off to South Africa and Nepal to see how some newly developed solutions are helping farmers to produce food for a growing population as conditions change.

  • 2019-09-12T18:30:00-07:00
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Protecting Precious Landscapes

earthrise discovers rich landscapes threatened by industrial development and the fight to save these precious ecosystems.

Winds of Change

A look at how communities in India and Denmark have adjusted their way of living, turning it into a greener alternative.

In Denmark, see how a 100%-renewable community on Samso Island is investing in its own green society. In India, a new method of cremation is helping Hindu tradition become more environmentally friendly.

  • 2019-09-19T18:30:00-07:00
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