It’s not a good time to be a meat eater. Pressure is growing to tackle climate change – and the livestock sector produces 15% of global greenhouse emissions, with cattle farming accounting for two thirds of that. Not only do cows produce damaging methane gas, but creating pasture for the animals has led to widespread deforestation.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Colombia: 34 million hectares of land there is devoted to cattle ranching. The land that’s been cleared to graze cattle is often left without trees, meaning the soil quickly becomes arid and useless.
Now an ambitious project aims to demonstrate that cattle ranching can be ecologically sound. An expert team is helping more than 4,000 farmers dramatically remodel their land. Instead of open fields, they are planting trees and shrubs, and allowing small plants to grow among the grass.
This more intensive planting helps to store carbon and provides a healthier diet for cows, meaning they produce less methane and more milk and meat. But are other cattle farmers likely to follow suit and adopt this “silvopastoral” approach?
Presenter: Kat Hawkins
Reporter: William Kremer
(Photo credit: BBC)
Working Less For The Same Pay
Matsuri Takahashi was 24 when she died. She took her own life after doing more than 100 hours overtime a month at a large advertising company in Japan.
She was a victim of karoshi - dying as a result of overwork. It’s a phenomenon that’s well known in Japan where stories of employees working ridiculously long hours – sometimes until four or five in the morning - are common.
The government has introduced a new law to limit overtime, although critics say it doesn’t go far enough and the whole working culture needs to change.
Working long hours doesn’t necessarily mean more work gets done, so elsewhere, a company in New Zealand has reduced hours without cutting pay. Staff are given a day off each week if they can get five days’ work done in four. Should we all be doing this?
Presenter: Nick Holland
Reporters: Jamie Ryan and Mariko Oi
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Could a device invented in the 1930s help end period poverty?
Period poverty affects girls and women across the world who can’t afford to buy sanitary pads or tampons each month. So what are the alternatives? We look at two very different solutions.
In a refugee camp in Jordan, we follow one woman as she tries to get a sanitary pad micro-factory off the ground.
While in Malawi, they’re handing out menstrual cups to teenagers - which last for 10 years and don’t produce any waste.
Presenter: Vibeke Venema
Producer: Tom Colls
(Photo Caption: A menstrual cup / Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The tree detectives tackling illegal logging
If you examine the atoms in a piece of wood, you can tell to the nearest 10km where it has come from. Environmental factors, such as the climate, affect trees as they grow and that signature remains in the wood after it is processed.
An international group of scientists is hoping to use this information to tackle illegal logging, which contributes to a loss of biodiversity and costs governments billions of dollars in lost revenues each year.
It’s thought that up to 30% of timber on the global market comes from illegally-sourced wood, and ends up as all sorts of items in shops around the world.
Now, stable isotope analysis is being used to identify the unique profile of these products. And when scientists find items don’t come from the place specified on the label, the information can be used to hold shops accountable.
We visit the wood archive at Kew Gardens and speak to experts using this technology to help stem the flow of illegally-smuggled timber and protect the planet’s endangered forests.
Presenter: Tom Colls
Reporter and Producer: Nicola Kelly
(Photo Caption: Logging in the Amazon / Photo Credit: Getty Images)
The reuse and refill revolution
Should we reuse and refill plastic packaging to limit the amount being thrown away? Nick Holland looks at different ways people are trying to make this happen. One idea is to take used containers back to the supermarkets where, in the future, giant vending machines could refill them.
But the scale of the challenge is huge and getting consumers to change their shopping habits will be hard.
Presenter: Tom Colls
Producer and Reporter: Nick Holland
(Photo Credit: BBC)