Areas of deforestation | Still from "earthrise" episode "Protecting Precious Landscapes"
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

Airdates

  • 2019-10-24T18:30:00-07:00
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Fighting Insectageddon: Why Bugs Matter

"earthrise" travels to the U.K. and New Zealand to meet the scientists trying to stop the decline of insect populations.

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.

Forest-Friendly Fires

In a busy market in the Ugandan capital of Kampala, a group of women gather to cook. While the dishes they prepare are traditional, the brightly coloured stoves they cook on are new.

The locally made Ugastove, which requires on average half the amount of charcoal of traditional cookers, saves money in reduced fuel costs, cuts carbon emissions and reduces deforestation.

  • 2019-10-17T18:30:00-07:00
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Turning The Tide On Plastic: Creation and Art From Waste

Cheap and versatile, plastic is used for everything. The problem is, it's also indestructible. As a result, it piles up in landfills where it leeches toxic chemicals into soil and groundwater, or ends up in the ocean affecting wildlife and getting into food chains.

Approximately 268,000 tonnes of plastic float in our oceans - that's five trillion individual pieces. If nothing changes, it is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight than fish in our oceans.

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.

  • 2019-10-24T18:30:00-07:00
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Food for Thought

A look at the state of global food security amid rising concerns about the world population and climate change.

In New Haven, Connecticut, a community of scientists, fishermen and foodies are redefining their relationship with the sea using 3D ocean farming. In Africa, farmer-managed natural regeneration is restoring farmland to improve food security. In Holland, scientists are racing to future proof our planet against our love of meat.

  • 2019-10-30T11:30:00-07:00
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Survival: Driving Change

China and the United States are the world's two biggest carbon dioxide emitters, but what approach are these countries' governments taking in the fight against climate change?

In Shenzhen, one of China's most populous cities, new regulations to tackle air pollution are helping to unleash a revolution in clean energy and transport. Stephanie Wong visits Shenzhen to learn more about how the city is cleaning up its transport. 

  • 2019-10-31T18:30:00-07:00
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Shelter: Building Better Cities

Half the world's population live in cities, and by 2050 the figure will increase to two-thirds, or about 6 billion people. The environmental impact is already extensive. As the global population expands, so too do pollution and pressure on resources.

  • 2019-11-07T17:30:00-08:00
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