Iain travels into the stratosphere in a Cold War fighter, gets his eyebrows singed in Siberia and discovers why Argentina is one of the stormiest places on Earth. All to show why our atmosphere is unique and utterly crucial for life.
Volcanoes have a fearsome reputation. In reality, they are the most important force in the creation of the planet as we know it today. Iain abseils into a lava lake and cave dives in a cenote to show how the heat that fuels volcanoes also drives some of the most fundamental processes on the planet.
Ice may be nothing more than frozen water but, as Iain explains, it holds extraordinary power. Descending 150m down a frozen waterfall, he sees a glacier in action from below and discovers why the huge Jacobshaven glacier is retreating, he shows how it shaped our past and may now threaten our future.
In the final episode of the series, Anita Rani investigates the tsunami of single-use plastic that parents pick up in the form of give-away toys. It turns out that McDonald's are the largest toy distributor in the world, handing out over 1.4 billion plastic toys per year worldwide. They claim on their website that they are recyclable, but a visit to Simon Ellin, the CEO of the Recycling Association, makes it very clear that while that may be true in theory, in reality it’s not that simple. Meanwhile, Hugh is in Scotland. He’s learnt that at the same time as the public are trying to reduce the amount of plastics in their lives, the plastics industry has big plans to increase plastic production by 50% before 2040. To find out more, he visits the INEOS factory in Grangemouth, owned by the richest man in Britain, where they produce a staggering 60-70 billion tiny plastic pellets every day.
Six months after the explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant and the release of radiation there, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to discover whether nuclear power is safe. He begins in Japan, where he meets some of the tens of thousands of people who have been evacuated from the exclusion zone. He travels to an abandoned village just outside the zone to witness a nuclear clean-up operation.
In the Vega Archipelago, in the north of Norway at the Arctic Circle, people have formed a unique partnership with wild eider ducks. The provide the birds with shelter in hatcheries, and in return, after the breeding season, collect the precious eiderdown, with which the ducks line their nests.
As scientific studies confirm sea level changes throughout the globe, major coastal cities like Miami are now fighting back against these rising tides, before it's too late. Parts of Miami Beach are under serious threat, with major economic and social dangers looming large.
The World's largest environmental organizations are failing to address the single most destructive force facing the planet today. Follow the shocking, yet humorous, journey of an aspiring environmentalist, as he daringly seeks to find the real solution to the most pressing environmental issues and true path to sustainability.
2014 • Environment