In 1998, wildlife enthusiast and photographer Chris Packham had a remarkable encounter with the Orang Rimba, a tribe of hunter gatherers in the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia. It was the first time he had ever seen people living in perfect harmony with their environment. One photograph in particular that Chris took, a picture of a young tribal girl, has since become immensely important to him as a barometer of how we are treating our planet. In this real-life detective story, with no clues as to her identity or whereabouts other than his original photograph, Chris sets off to Sumatra 20 years on to try to find her; the girl in the picture. Chris's search is further complicated because her tribe is nomadic and often cover vast distances on foot, and since he was last there, millions of hectares of her rainforest habitat has been destroyed. Piecing together the clues, Chris discovers to his horror that the girl's close-knit group of Orang Rimba was attacked not long after he met them, and a number of them killed. But was the girl among them? Chris travels into the heart of Sumatra and tries to discover the girl's fate by meeting the men who pulled the murdered tribespeople's bodies out of the river. On his way, he discovers just how much of Sumatra's once pristine rainforests have been replaced by palm oil plantations, palm oil which is in around 50% of the products we buy in our supermarkets. Chris learns some uncomfortable truths about how we are all in some way connected to deforestation.
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Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton are guided by professional mountaineer Kenton Cool, a veteran of twelve Everest summits. As they head up the mountain, into the notorious "death zone", physical exhaustion, extreme conditions and misfortune will test the pair to their limits, 65 years after Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers known to have reached the summit. Since that day in 1953, more than 4000 people have successfully climbed Everest but nearly 300 climbers have died on her icy slopes. As Ben and Victoria begin their expedition and face their fears, they know Everest will be life-changing.
2018 • Environment
Adventurer and journalist Simon Reeve heads to one of the most spectacular countries in the world - Colombia. For 50 years, Colombia has been in the grip of a brutal civil war that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced seven million. But in late 2016, a peace deal was signed promising to end the conflict and finally bring peace to the country. In this hour-long documentary for the award-winning This World strand, Simon explores Colombia at a pivotal point in its history. He travels into the jungle and comes face to face with the guerrilla army FARC, which is now promising to lay down arms. In the Pacific coast city of Buenaventura, Simon finds out more about the fearsome right-wing paramilitary gangs who now dominate the cocaine trade. As the FARC abandon the countryside, there is a fear that these groups will only grow in power. Travelling in the countryside, Simon meets the coca farmers who are demanding government support to stop growing coca and stop the flow of money to criminal gangs. With land ownership, poverty and drugs at the heart of Colombia's problems, it is in the countryside that the country's precarious future will be decided.
We are all seeing rather less of the Sun. Scientists looking at five decades of sunlight measurements have reached the disturbing conclusion that the amount of solar energy reaching the Earth's surface has been gradually falling. Paradoxically, the decline in sunlight may mean that global warming is a far greater threat to society than previously thought.