Bionic Planet: Your Guide to the New Reality
About This Show
Earth. We broke it; we own it; and nothing is as it was: not the trees, not the seas – not the forests, farms, or fields – and not the global economy that depends on all of these.
Bionic Planet is your guide to the Anthropocene, the new epoch defined by man's impact on Earth, and in each episode, we examine a different aspect of this new reality: sometimes financial, sometimes moral, but always practical.
Most Recent Episode
019: Can Europe Tap The Private Sector To Protect Its Environment?
2 days ago
Our show today starts with two French communes -- namely, Contrexéville and Vittel -- because these two have some of the cleanest, purest water in all of Europe, but they also almost didn't. Up until 1992, the farms here -- like those across Europe and around the world -- had been dribbling pesticide and cow poop into the water, while home-owners and businessmen had been doing the same for crude oil and other pollutants. But then the communes undertook a massive environmental overhaul. Farmers started getting rid of their cows and weaning themselves off of pesticides by rotating their crops in ways that didn't give bugs a chance. Home-owners and businesses started digging up their oil tanks and replacing them with natural gas installations. Today, more than 90 percent of the land in both communes is under some sort of environmental protection. But this overhaul wasn't led by environmental regulators. It was led by a private company with a very clear incentive. The company was Swiss food giant -- and perpetual water bad boy -- Nestlé, and its incentive was the fact that its lucrative Vittel, Contrex and épar mineral waters were only lucrative because they're certified as "natural". To keep that certification, they had to clean up the rivers that feed the aquifer that in turn feeds the springs that the waters gurgle up from. The stakes were high enough – and the incentive strong enough – that Nestlé created a separate consultancy called Agrivair and spent more than €24.5 million throughout the 1990s “to design a system to either compensate farmers for their change in practice, or acquire the land and lease it for free under conditions targeting groundwater protection,” according to a new report called “State of European Markets 2017: Watershed Investments”. The report is one of three market outlooks that the Forest Trends initiative Ecosystem Marketplace created to support a cluster of new online university courses launched