In this topical and lively series, contemporary stories and events are explored through the examination of archive material of events that have gone before.
With the benefit of hindsight, how do the events of previous decades seem to us now?
Programme two: Smog
Smog was an issue regularly in the headlines in the months preceding the Beijing Olympics. Athletes worried about how the yellowish brown cloud over the city would affect their health.
But smog is hardly a problem confined to recent times. As George Arney finds out, smog is a silent killer and a phenomena that began with the industrial era.
In Donora, Pennsylvania, in 1948, a combination of weather conditions and pollution claimed 20 lives and made half of the entire town population sick.
This event led to a greater understanding of the effects of polluted air and the creation of the Clean Air Act.
London had terrible and largely unreported problems with lethal smogs, caused by coal fires.
The problem is intensified by deforestation, it adds to the effects of global warming, it creates acid rain and continues to be a common problem today in cities such as Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Beijing and New Delhi.
First broadcast 12 December 2008