What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power

Justin Rowlatt and poppy farmers

If you have ever doubted whether solar power can be a transformative technology, read on.

This is a story about how it has proved its worth in the toughest environment possible.

The market I'm talking about is perhaps the purest example of capitalism on the planet.

There are no subsidies here. Nobody is thinking about climate change - or any other ethical consideration, for that matter.

This is about small-scale entrepreneurs trying to make a profit.

Read full article What the heroin industry can teach us about solar power

Greta Thunberg, the climate campaigner who doesn't like campaigning

  • 4 July 2020
  • From the section Stories
Justin Rowlatt and Greta Thunberg

It sounds like a year off made in heaven.

How about you take Arnold Schwarzenegger's electric car on a road trip around America?

Read full article Greta Thunberg, the climate campaigner who doesn't like campaigning

Could the coronavirus crisis finally finish off coal?

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Media captionHere are some coal-fired power stations being demolished over the years

The coronavirus crisis has changed the way we use energy, at least for now. But could the global pandemic finally finish off coal, the most polluting of all fossil fuels?

The Covid-19 crisis has been an extraordinary and terrifying time for us all, but it has been a fascinating period to cover environmental issues.

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Climate change: Greta Thunberg calls out the 'haters'

Great Thunberg Image copyright EPA
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Greta Thunberg is angry, and not just about climate change.

"The haters are as active as ever", the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist posted on social media on Thursday, "going after me, my looks, my clothes, my behaviour and my differences". Anything, she says, rather than talk about the climate crisis.

Read full article Climate change: Greta Thunberg calls out the 'haters'

Climate change action: We can't all be Greta, but your choices have a ripple effect

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Is individual action pointless in the face of climate change? Let's not beat around the bush: the simple answer has to be "yes".

Think about it: what difference does one person forgoing a lamb chop for a lentil bake, deciding to catch the bus rather than take their car, or deciding not to jet off for that autumn getaway in the Balearics make if the other 7,699,999,999 of us humans here on Earth don't do anything?

Read full article Climate change action: We can't all be Greta, but your choices have a ripple effect

Leaving India and the best shave in the world

  • 16 June 2018
  • From the section India
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Media captionThe barber who gives the world's 'best shave'

I've never been lithe enough for yoga or patient enough for meditation, but during my time in India I did discover a path to a kind of transcendence: a street shave.

Getting one has become something of a ritual for me on a quiet morning. I'll cycle lazily to the local market and to Balwant Singh.

Read full article Leaving India and the best shave in the world

The story barely reported by Indian media

  • 28 May 2018
  • From the section India
A man reading a newspaper in India Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption India languishes towards the bottom of the rankings for press freedom

It is a potential scandal that claims to strike at a key pillar of Indian democracy - the freedom of the press - yet it is barely being reported in the Indian media.

There's a simple reason for that: this alleged scandal involves many of the most powerful media institutions in the country.

Read full article The story barely reported by Indian media

Why are so many people denied the painkillers they need?

  • 21 May 2018
  • From the section India
Dr MR Rajagopal with a patient in a clinic
Image caption Dr MR Rajagopal, has been campaigning for decades to change the law to simplify the rules around opioids

The world is suffering from an invisible epidemic, an epidemic of pain.

As many as 60 million people are reckoned to suffer avoidable agony every year.

Read full article Why are so many people denied the painkillers they need?

Up close and personal with the biggest drone squadron ever

  • 25 March 2018
  • From the section Asia
US military plane over Afghanistan

Before taking office, Donald Trump called the war in Afghanistan a "total disaster". But last August he changed his mind and announced that the US would stay until the war was - in his words - "won". Military commanders see air power as key to the hoped-for victory, and have assembled in the country what they say is the biggest drone squadron ever.

I'm lying in the belly of a KC-135 "stratotanker", peering down at the snowy IS-infested mountains of north-eastern Afghanistan.

Read full article Up close and personal with the biggest drone squadron ever

Russia 'arming the Afghan Taliban', says US

  • 23 March 2018
  • From the section Asia
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Media captionGen John Nicholson: "We know that the Russians are involved"

Russia is supporting and even supplying arms to the Taliban, the head of US forces in Afghanistan has told the BBC.

In an exclusive interview, Gen John Nicholson said he'd seen "destabilising activity by the Russians."

Read full article Russia 'arming the Afghan Taliban', says US