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29 October 2014
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BBC FOUR season marks Earth Summit

27 August to 2 September 2002, with selected programmes also shown on BBC TWO

As world leaders gather in Johannesburg for the United Nations World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), BBC FOUR presents a season of specially commissioned programmes that explore environmental problems and try to separate the scare-stories from the facts.

The season investigates how much progress has been made since the last summit in Rio ten years ago and looks in detail at specific cases - and at the wider scientific debate.

BBC FOUR presents its own alternative Earth Summit: The Debate (8.30-10.00pm, 2 September; also on BBC TWO at 11.20 pm on 3 September) featuring prominent economists and ecologists discussing various issues which will also be addressed at the WSSD.

Topics on the agenda for BBC FOUR's Earth Summit: The Debate include - health care and the AIDS crisis, economic growth and the environment; famine and access to clean water.

The panel will include economist Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University Earth Institute, anti-globalisation activist and author of No Logo Naomi Klein, Malaysian economist and director of Third World Network Martin Khor and Yolanda Kakabadse, director IUCN, World Conservation Unit.

Danish scientist Bjorn Lomborg has made a sensational conversion from eco-warrior to arch critic of the eco-scare industry.

In The Sceptical Environmentalist (BBC FOUR, 7.10pm, 2 September and BBC TWO, 11.20pm, 4 September) Lomborg spells out why he has turned his back on the environmental campaigners.

He believes that the environmental movement is an ideology in crisis, that it often forces the facts to fit the message, and that the world is actually in pretty good shape.

Lomborg claims environmentalists are deliberately hyping up problems to generate money for research and campaigns.

The Bushmen's Last Dance (BBC FOUR, 9.00-9.50pm, 29 August and on BBC TWO, 11.20pm, 5 September) examines the plight of the bushmen in Botswana's Central Kalahari Game Reserve.

The bushmen have hunted and gathered on this site for more than 20,000 years but the Botswanan Government inisists they leave their homeland and the "stone age" behind and join the 21st Century.

Some campaigners claim diamonds found on the reserve are the real reason behind the bushmen's expulsion - but the programme finds big business "not guilty".

Children of Rio (BBC FOUR, 8.00pm, 31 August) has followed the lives of 12 children since they were born around the world during the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio.

The film is a moving record of the lives of children growing up in a fast changing world. Their life stories reflect the human side of the environment/development debate, and put to the test the promises made by the world's leaders in Rio.

The programme revisits the children in Brazil, China, Kenya, India, England and South Africa. Now aged ten and able to speak for themselves, the programme looks at how their lives have changed, and asks: "What impact have the promises made in Rio had on the lives of these children and their families?"

State of the Planet with David Attenborough (BBC FOUR, 9.45pm, 30 August) is a two hour version of the ground breaking series State of the Planet, first transmitted as a three part series in November 2000.

It is his personal investigation into the impact that humans are having on the natural world and the future of life on earth.

Five times since life began mass extinction has rocked the planet, but this programme asks if the world is now heading for the greatest extinction yet.

News stories of rainforest destruction, global warming, rising sea-levels and meteorite collisions paint a worrying, complex story but David Attenborough believes that the natural rules that govern both the past, present and future are simple, and, by understanding them, humans do have the power to save life on Earth, if they so choose.

Attenborough says: "Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there is a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics.

"I have been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy and habitable by all species."

Throughout BBC FOUR’s Earth Summit season, there will be a series of six ten-minute programmes shown daily, looking at various ecological and environmental issues.

Rainforest Refugees (BBC FOUR, 7.00pm, 27 August) examines how the increased demand for palm oil for comsetics and soaps has led to an explosion in palm oil plantations which has devastated the Orangutans' habitat.

The world's coral reefs are proving to be the first great casualty of global warming. Death on the Reef (BBC FOUR, 7.00pm, 28 August) examines how El Nino in 1998 led to a rise in sea temperatures in the Indian Ocean and subsequently destroyed nearly half its coral reefs.

Sea temperatures are predicted to rise even higher and the latest victim is the Great Barrier Reef which could die within 50 years unless greenhouse gases are cut dramatically.

The wildlife of Namibia has been under increasing pressure from poachers and an expanding population.

But Desert Revival (BBC FOUR, 7.00pm, 29 August) shows how local people, including ex-hunters, are now managing their own conservation schemes financed by foreign tourists who come to see the wildlife which is rebounding strongly.

Killer Shrimps (BBC FOUR, 7.00pm, 30 August) reveals the hidden cost of many shrimps and prawns bought in supermarkets as they have led to the destruction of half of the world's mangrove swamps.

The swamps are cleared to make way for shrimp farms but the environmental impact is enormous. The farms themselves are so pulluting they can only be used for three or four years before they become too poisonous.

This report from a protected mangrove reserve in Ecuador discovers the shrimp industry is having a serious impact on the local community.

The End of the River (BBC FOUR, 7.00pm, 31 August) tells the story of the Colorado river which flows through the Grand Canyon but no longer reaches the sea.

Its waters are extracted for large agricultural projects in the deserts of southern America and for the desert cities of Los Angeles and Phoenix.

But removal of the Colorado's water has destroyed the Canyon's ecosystem and the way of life of a tribe of indigenous fishermen at the river's mouth.

The Flacon's Warning (BBC FOUR, 7.00pm, 1 September) investigates the disturbing discovery that man-made flame retardants are being found in the yolks of Peregrine Falcons in Lapland.

The discovery shows that chemicals emitted by computers have found their way into the wilderness as well as the human food chain via mothers' milk. The programme asks why nothing is being done to restrict the use of these chemicals.

There will extensive online coverage of the Earth Summit on BBCi.

Visit or for international visitors:

Other BBC radio and television stations and channels will provide special programmes, in depth news bulletins and features on the Johannesburg Summit.



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