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 On his way, he discovers just how much of Sumatra's once pristine rainforests have been replaced by palm oil plantations, palm oil which is in around 50% of the products we buy in our supermarkets.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.
The disaster began during a routine systems test at reactor number four of the Chernobyl plant located near the town of Pripyat, on April 26, 1986. After a power surge, an emergency shutdown was attempted and after a subsequent power spike, there was a reactor vessel rupture and a series of steam explosions. The cascading course of events led to exposing the graphite moderator of the reactor to the air, causing it to catch fire. This sent a plume of highly radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. The fallout from Chernobyl prompted mass evacuations as it drifted over an extensive geographical area, including the western Soviet Union and Europe. Over 350,000 people were resettled from contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia, and the Ukraine. Thirty-one deaths are directly attributed to the accident, and all the deaths were among reactor staff and emergency workers. This is the kind of atmosphere Nelson and Ochota are investigating on Life After: Chernobyl as they attempt to determine how the radiation continues to impact the affected areas. They are allowed to stay for as long as they need to in order to conduct their ground-breaking research, but the duo must also be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Broadway World noted in their Life After: Chernobyl article that by staying in the area for too long, the radiation exposure could reach dangerously high levels in their bodies, and they must always monitor the radiation levels.
2014 • Environment
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.
Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have released over 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide or CO2 into the earth's atmosphere. In the year 2019 we were still pumping out around 37 billion more. That’s 50% more than the year 2000 and almost three times as much as 50 years ago. And it’s not just CO2. We’re also pumping out growing volumes of other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Combining all of our greenhouse gases, we’re emitting 51 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents each year. And emissions keep rising – but they need to get down to 0!
Their beauty has captivated us for millennia. Their cost can be extraordinary–some are even considered priceless. Precious gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, opal, and jade are the ultimate treasures of the earth, and each one is made from a specific–and often torturous–recipe of chemistry, pressure, and heat. The secrets to their sparkle, color, and even strength lie deep inside the gems themselves, but could they also hold clues to one of the most enduring mysteries in the field of geology? From Tiffany’s workshop in New York to the sapphire mines of Sri Lanka, from North Carolina’s emerald fields to the jade-laden Forbidden City of China.