BBC News Science & Environment





Myles Allen on understanding climate change

The physicist behind net zero. Prof Myles Allen talks to Jim Al-Khalili.
Professor Myles Allen has spent thirty years studying global climate change, trying to working out what we can and can't predict. He was one of the first scientists to quantify the extent to which human actions are responsible for global warming. As a lead author on the 3rd Assessment by the International Panel on Climate Change in 2001, he concluded that ‘most of the observed global warming was due to human influence’. More recently, (having established that calculating a safe concentration of greenhouse gases was very difficult indeed), he worked out instead how many tonnes of carbon would be acceptable, a shift in emphasis that paved the way for the current Net Zero carbon emissions policy. Myles tells Jim Al-Khalili how our ability to predict climate change has evolved from the early days when scientists had to rely on the combined computing power of hundreds of thousands of personal computers. He sheds light on how the IPCC works and explains why, he believes, fossil fuel industries must be forced to take back the carbon dioxide that they emit. If carbon capture and storage technologies makes their products more expensive, so be it. Producer: Anna BuckleyImage Credit: Fisher Studios, Oxford.

A Mathematician's Guide to Beauty

Mathematician Vicky Neale explores the idea of the beautiful in maths.
What does a mathematician really mean when they describe something as beautiful? Is it the same type of beauty we perceive in art or music or landscapes - and is it something that the average member of the public can grasp?Mathematician Vicky Neale has felt a deep emotional and aesthetic response to her subject since she was little. Now a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford University, in this programme she presents her own personal take on what constitutes the idea of the beautiful in mathematics - drawing connections between other fields like art, music, literature and engineering.Vicky talks to celebrated maths communicator Marcus du Sautoy about the connections between mathematics and literary narrative, and interviews the acclaimed structural engineer Roma Agrawal about how she strives to create beauty when she’s engineering skyscrapers, sculptures and bridges.Meanwhile, pianist Nicholas Ross tells us how composers like Mozart have used mathematical ideas like the Golden Section and Fibonacci Sequence to structure their works. Does it really have an impact on a listener’s enjoyment of them?Historian June Barrow-Green outlines the history of beauty in maths - from the Ancient Greeks, through a Sanskrit treatise on beauty, to the philosophy of GH Hardy whose Mathematician’s Apology of 1940 famously said “there is no permanent place in the world for ugly mathematics”.Vicky also takes a stroll around a wet Blenheim Palace - or at least tries to - with philosopher Angie Hobbs, to explore what mathematicians and artists mean by aesthetic ideas like “elegance”, “economy” and “surprise” - and why they appeal.Producer: Steven RajamA Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4
Why seagrass is so important to our environment
Ade Adepitan takes a dive in the Maldives to swim in seagrass and learn about its properties.

Is your pension contributing to climate change?

BBC Ideas explores the connection between your investments and the health of the planet.
Sustainable finance experts Nina Seega and Steve Waygood explore the connection between your investments and the health of the planet.

Protesters to oppose coal mine extension

Jill Archbold

BBC Look North

Climate activists are expected to stage a protest in County Durham later against plans to expand an opencast coal mine.

The owners of the Bradley site near Dipton, Banks Mining, want to extend the site to extract more coal.

Extinction Rebellion members are set to gather outside Durham's County Hall. A decision about the plans will be made by councillors later this year.

Dipton mine site