Podcast – ‘What on Earth?’

Welcome to 'What on Earth?', the podcast of the Environmental Investigation Agency where we meet the investigators, campaigners and the people behind the scenes who make us so effective in the fight against environmental crime.

Episode 46

EIA at 40 – ‘You’ve got to worry about being accused of espionage or something more serious’
Published: 21 June 2024

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, as well as sharing films and stories from our archive, we’ve also recorded a short series of new podcasts with some of the longest serving campaigners to get an insight into how the organisation has evolved over four decades.

In this episode, Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman talks with EIA UK Campaigns Director Julian Newman about his early days in the organisation, from going undercover as a refrigerant trade with an unwieldy camera hidden in a sports bag to night trekking through the forests of Indonesia to expose major illegal logging operations, and looks at the challenges that lie ahead in investigation environmental crime.

Episode 45

EIA at 40 – ‘You can take on the biggest, whether it’s the oil industry or illegal logging’
Published: 17 May 2024

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, as well as sharing films and stories from our archive, we’ve also recorded a short series of new podcasts with some of the longest serving campaigners to get an insight into how the organisation has evolved over four decades.

In this episode, EIA’s Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman talks with EIA US Executive Director Alexander von Bismarck about the changes he’s seen in the organisation and the challenges it faces in the future.

Episode 44

With the clock ticking, can we agree a Global Plastics Treaty by the end of 2024?
Published: 15 April 2024

After a strong opening to UN talks in pursuit of a Global Plastics Treaty, recent rounds of negotiation have been hindered by the efforts of fossil fuel industry lobbyists as well as by some countries keen to water it down and rein in its ambition.

In this episode, EIA Ocean Campaign Leader Christina Dixon and Ocean Campaigner Jacob Kean-Hammerson join Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman to talk about progress to date and what to expect when the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee – INC-4 for short – opens in Canada later this month.

Episode 43

Will Mexico’s crackdown on illegal fishing give vaquita porpoises a fighting chance?
Published: 28 March 2024

With only an estimated 10 individuals left, the vaquita porpoise is the world’s most endangered marine mammal, pushed to the edge of extinction by illegal fishing for the dried swim bladders of totoaba fish which are in high demand in Asia.

But despite the species’ alarmingly low numbers, recent action in their range by Mexico’s Navy appears to give them a fighting chance – now we need consumer countries to take meaningful action to curtail the illegal trade that’s killing them.

Episode 42

EIA at 40 – ‘I’ve been threatened by senior government officials, shouted at and screamed at’
Published: 28 March 2024

In the countdown to EIA’s 40th anniversary later this year, as well as sharing films and stories from our archive, we’ve also recorded a short series of new podcasts with some of the longest serving campaigners to get an insight into how the organisation has evolved over four decades.

In this episode, EIA’s Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman talks with EIA UK Executive Director Mary Rice about the highs and lows she’s experience and about the challenges to come.

Episode 41

Oppression, sanctions and blood teak, hallmarks of Myanmar’s coup
Published: 22 Jan 2024

On the third anniversary of the Myanmar military seizing power, the country has effectively seen a return to the violence, plunder and human rights abuses of the former dictatorship in pursuit of control and hard currency.

Despite international sanctions, the current regime still seeks to fund itself through illicit exports of valuable commodities, especially of precious teak which is much sought after for luxury boatbuilding.

Episode 40

Drilling down into the detail of eco crime prosecutions on our open access Crime Tracker
Published: 19 Dec 2023

More than two years ago, EIA unveiled our Environmental Crime Tracker, an open access online tool to help analyse and better understand wildlife and forest crime around the world. Recently, we expanded its capabilities even further with a new dashboard to help assess the prosecutions of environmental crimes.

In this episode, Data Manager Royce To and Data Analyst Shaliza Malik from EIA’s Intelligence and Investigations team talk with Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman about the Tracker and the value of its new prosecutions feature.

Episode 39

Is the palm oil in so many of our products still a problem and will it ever be truly sustainable?
Published: 08 Dec 2023

Palm oil is cheap, versatile and used widely in countess thousands of products and in biofuels, but its production has been linked to human rights abuses, illegal logging and deforestation, causing considerable harm to indigenous peoples and the habitats of endangered orangutans.

In this episode, EIA Forests Campaigner Siobhan Pearce talks to Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman about the various problems associated with palm oil and what is being done to address them.

Episode 38

Why can’t we rely on technology to clean the oceans of our plastic waste?
Published: 14 Nov 2023

The terrible scale of our planet’s plastic pollution crisis has been making headlines in recent years, as have a number of apparent technological solutions to the problem – but can we really rely on physical ocean clean-ups to sort out the mess for us?

Special guest Ewoud Lauwerier, Plastic Policy Expert with OceanCare, and EIA Ocean Campaigner Jacob Kean-Hammerson join EIA Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman to discuss the findings and implications of our new jointly produced report Clean-ups or clean-washing? How plastic pollution clean-up technology can actually harm the environment and obstruct policy progress.

Episode 37

What to expect as we enter round three of talks for a Global Plastics Treaty
Published: 7 Nov 2023

EIA’s Ocean campaigners were among the first to spot the rising crisis of plastic pollution and we’re proud to have helped lead the call for a new Global Plastics Treaty to tackle it. This month we’ll be in Nairobi to attend the third session of the UN’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee working out the detail.

In this episode, EIA Ocean Campaign Leader Christina Dixon and Ocean Campaigner Jacob Kean-Hammerson join Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman to bring us up to date on what’s been happening at the talks so far and look ahead at what progress we can expect and any potential obstacles.

Episode 36

The threatened species in traditional medicines and the big names investing in them
Published: 23 Oct 2023

Illegal wildlife trade is happening on a large scale to supply the parts and products of protected species such as leopards, pangolins, rhinos and tigers to serve as ingredients in some traditional Chinese medicines.

In this episode, EIA Legal and Policy Specialist Avinash Basker talks to Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman about the findings of our new report, Investing in Extinction, and the reputation risk to which major international household names might be exposing themselves by investing in this aspect of the traditional medicine industry.

Episode 35

Why are World Heritage Sites such a vital tool for saving endangered species and habitats?
Published: 29 Sep 2023

In this episode, we take a look at the work of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which has just met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and discuss what happened – and what didn’t happen – at the meeting and how World Heritage Sites can be an important tool when it comes to bolstering protection for endangered species and unique habitats.

EIA Senior Wildlife Campaigner Lindsey Smith was keeping close tabs on the Riyadh meeting and shares her insights with podcast host Paul Newman, EIA’s Senior Press and Communications Officer.

Episode 34

On World Rhino Day 2023, how is this magnificent species is doing versus illegal trade?
Published: 20 Sep 2023

Much of the past decade has been a tough time for endangered rhinos, to judge from the recorded seizures of rhino horn being smuggled around the world – but it’s not all bad news for this threatened species …

In this special episode for World Rhino Day, EIA Senior Wildlife Policy Analyst Taylor Tench talks with Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman about the current state of rhino conservation, the progress that has been made and the challenges still remaining.

Episode 33

Iceland has resumed its slaughter of whales, but what future does the industry have?
Published: 19 Sep 2023

After spending most of the summer in port, Iceland’s last whalers have been given the green light by their Government to resume the hunting and killing of endangered fin whales.

In this episode, EIA’s Senior Ocean Adviser Clare Perry and Senior Ocean Campaigner Sarah Dolman talk to Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman about what this development might mean for whales and what likelihood there is of the hunts ending for good.

Episode 32

As negotiations for the first Global Plastics Treaty continue, what about the Big Oil lobby?
Published: 22 May 2023

The UN Environment Assembly is in the process of negotiating a new Global Plastics Treaty, with the second phase of talks kicking off at the end of May to hammer out the detailed needed to properly address the fast-rising threat of plastics pollution.

In this episode, EIA Ocean Campaign Leader Christina Dixon and Ocean Campaigner Jacob Kean-Hammerson talk about their preparations for the second meeting of the International Negotiating Committee and the role of the influential fossil fuels lobby in the process.

Episode 31

Cultivating Plastics – how the use of agriplastics sows the seeds of pollution in farming
Published: 28 March 2023

The plastics used in agricultural production – commonly called agriplastics – account for only 3.5 per cent of the plastic used around the world each year, but they directly pollute the human food chain and harm the wider environment.

As EIA releases the first of a new series of reports on the problems with agriplastics, EIA Ocean Campaigner Lauren Weir joins Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman to talk about its findings.

Episode 30

Methane madness – why the EU must tackle harmful emissions from its energy imports
Published: 25 February 2023

The European Union has ambitious plans to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030 – but one major problem is its reluctance to address the huge amount of harmful methane released into the planet’s warming atmosphere from the its imports of coal, gas and oil.

In this episode, EIA Climate Campaigner Kim O’Dowd joins Senior Press and Communications Officer Paul Newman to talk about the findings of our latest report, Hidden Harm, and what the EU should be doing about the situation.

Episode 29

How we’re using artificial intelligence to help tackle the illegal trade in tigers
Published: 09 February 2022

In partnership with the UK’s Alan Turing Institute, EIA is currently working on an ambitious project to create a database of tiger stripe patterns – as individual as human fingerprints – to help identify and trace animals in the wild and in illegal trade.

In this latest episode, EIA Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman is joined by Shaun Buckley, a Data Scientist at the Turing Institute, to talk about the project and the challenges of developing this new cutting-edge tool.

Episode 28

What can we expect from the opening negotiations for the world’s first Global Plastics Treaty?
Published: 25 November 2022

In March this year, the United Nations Environment Assembly agreed to forge ahead with a new Global Plastics Treaty and next week sees work start in earnest to get the detail in place to address the fast-rising threat of plastics pollution.

In this episode, EIA Ocean Campaign Leader Christina Dixon and Ocean Campaigner Jacob Kean-Hammerson talk about why work on this treaty is so important and what to expect from the negotiations.

Episode 27

Its meetings are a big deal, but just what is CITES and what does it do?
Published: 7 November 2022

One of the biggest dates in the environmental calendar is happening from 14 November when the 19th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – aka CITES – opens in Panama City. But just what is CITES?

In this episode, Justin Gosling, the Senior Project Coordinator for EIA’s Securing Criminal Justice projects in West and Central Africa, talks with EIA Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman about the Convention, how it came about, what it does and – just as importantly – what it doesn’t do.

Episode 26

World Ozone Day – what’s next for the Montreal Protocol as it marks its 35th anniversary?
Published: 16 September 2022

On 16 September, the United Nations marks the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer – and for EIA’s Climate team, it’s an opportunity to look back at the Montreal Protocol as it marks its 35th anniversary and to consider its role in addressing present and future challenges to the planet.

In this episode, EIA Climate Campaigner Sophie Geoghegan talks to Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman about the impact of the Protocol – the most successful international environmental agreement ever – and why it remains so vital for all our futures.

Episode 25

International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies – the problems with methane
Published: 7 September 2022

It’s the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies, so let’s talk about the problems with methane!

Record-breaking temperatures and crippling heatwaves throughout the summer have been a clear and present reminder of the mounting threat of climate change – and methane emissions are a major driver of that global warming. The good news is that they’re relatively easy to tackle.

Today (7 September) is the UN International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies and Climate Campaigner Kim O’Dowd talks about the dangerous impacts of methane pollution on climate change as well as on human health and what EIA is doing about it.

Episode 24

Fighting for the forests – documenting a partnership forged to take on environmental crime
Published: 17 August 2022

When just about every aspect of the human world was upended by pandemic lockdowns back in 2020, EIA and many others had to claw their way up a steep learning curve to find new ways to effectively carry out vital work – and as if that wasn’t challenge enough, our Forests team set out to make a documentary film!

In this episode, EIA Forests Team Leader Faith Doherty and Kaoem Telapak’s Mardi Minangsari talk with Senior Press & Communications Officer Paul Newman about the reasons for embarking on a major documentary project, the obstacles overcome and the special relationship that has been built between both organisations over two decades of campaigning to save the world’s precious rainforests.

Episode 23

Ban it and keep it banned … the high cost to elephants of legal ivory trade
Published: 1 June 2022

Last week, Zimbabwe hosted what it called an ‘Elephant Summit’ for itself and several other African nations – including Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia – with the aim of restarting the legal international trade in ivory and selling off their stockpiled elephant tusks.

And in sharp juxtaposition to this potentially lethal move, the UK Ivory Act is due to come into effect next week, banning virtually all trade in ivory in the country.

In this episode, EIA Senior Wildlife Campaigner Lindsey Smith and Wildlife Campaigner Rachel Mackenna take a look at these latest developments affecting elephant conservation and consider likely next steps.

Correction – only Japan was a buyer at the first CITES-approved one-off sale of stockpiled ivory; both China and Japan were approved buyers for the subsequent one-off sale

Episode 22

Will a new strategy on environmental crime tame Nigeria’s Wild West?
Published: 25 May 2022

In recent years, Nigeria has emerged as a hotspot for wildlife and forest crime, with the country viewed as a less-risky proposition by wildlife traffickers in other African countries trading everything from elephant ivory and pangolin scales to timber – but all that could be about the change.

In this episode, special guest Wilson Ogoke, Wildlife Policy Coordinator with the Africa Nature Investors Foundation, talks with EIA Wildlife campaigners Philip Rekret and Justin Gosling about the country’s new environmental crime strategy and how effective it may prove to be.

Episode 21

Plastic pollution is in the air, land and seas – and now it’s been found in our blood
Published: 6 April 2022

Billions of tonnes of plastics have been produced by human beings and it can be found polluting every corner of the planet, from the highest mountains to the deepest seas. New research has just revealed that it’s also present in human blood.

In this episode ahead of World Health Day (7 April), we’re delighted to be joined by special guest Ben Jack, Programme Director of Common Seas, to talk about his organisation’s ground-breaking findings and by EIA Ocean Campaigner Tom Gammage to consider how this new research could contribute to a global plastics treaty.

Episode 20

We’re facing a grim future under runaway climate change –­ but we don’t have to choose it
Published: 4 March 2022

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week published its latest report pulling together all the most recent data on global warming and its impacts – and it makes for particularly harrowing reading.

In this edition, EIA Climate Campaigner Sophie Geoghegan unpacks the main findings of the report and explains why, despite the grim outlook, it’s not a future we have to be locked into.

Episode 19

A global plastics treaty – why the world needs one and how it’s getting closer to reality
Published: 16 February 2022

In just a few days, the United Nations Environment Assembly is due to start work on the creation of a global plastics treaty to tackle the very real planetary emergency of plastic pollution.

In this edition, Christina Dixon, EIA Ocean Campaigns Deputy Leader, talks about why the world so urgently needs an international agreement to tackle the plastics crisis and how close we may be to achieving one.

Episode 18

A climate for action – as the dust settles on CoP26, what’s next in the fight against climate change?
Published: 8 December 2021

The UN CoP26 climate change summit threw an international focus on global warming and what needs to be done to mitigate its worst potential impacts – but was the conference a success or a failure? And what needs to happen next to avert catastrophe?

Climate campaigners Sophie Geoghegan and Kim O’Dowd join Paul Newman to reflect on the outcomes of CoP26 and discuss what needs to happen next.

Episode 17

Plastic waste: ‘A terrible and insidious threat to human and environmental health’
Published: 8 October 2021

Following the launch of the new EIA report The Truth Behind Trash, Ocean campaigners Tom Gammage and Lauren Weir talk about the scale and impact of the problem and what EIA is doing to help address it.

Episode 16

A dam too far – playing destructive power politics in the heart of a World Heritage wilderness
Published: 2 August 2021

EIA’s Elephant Campaign Team has called for the Selous to be stripped of its World Heritage status due to the damage caused by construction of a massive hydropower project, but the World Heritage Committee stopped far short of taking such a step.

Wildlife Campaigner Rachel Mackenna explains why we were pressing for delisting and talks about what actually happened at the meeting and what might be next for the Selous.

Episode 15

The chilling illegal trade that’s helping to dangerously heat up the world
Published: 15 July 2021

As another major bust of 17 tonnes of illegal HFC gases is made in Europe just days after the release of our new report Europe’s Most Chilling Crime, Climate Campaigner Sophie Geoghegan discusses the findings of our undercover investigations and looks at what needs to be done to tackle the illegal trade.

Read and download the report and watch our shocking short film.

Episode 14

How our new global Tracker zeroes in on environmental crime data
Published: 11 June 2021

Plundering the world’s precious natural resources is a multi-billion dollar business and, as such, keeping on top of the facts, statistics, seizures and trends of environmental crime means understanding huge amounts of raw data – data which can now be much more easily managed with EIA’s new Global Environmental Crime Tracker.

Episode 13

Africa’s epicentre of pangolin scale and ivory trade – tackling the drivers of wildlife crime
Published: 26 April 2021

Just a few short years ago, pangolins were said to be the most trafficked species you’ve never heard of, poached for their meat and scales, but they became much more famous after they were potentially connected to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and, most recently, EIA’s investigations revealed that West and Central Africa have become the epicentre for pangolin scale trafficking to Asia.

Episode 12

Myanmar: ‘Anybody investing in the natural resource sector is, in essence, supporting the military’
Published: 26 March 2021

EIA’s Forests team has been working on the ground in Myanmar since the country began to emerge from under the shadow of brutal military dictatorship in 2011, exposing illegal timber trade and helping to provide the tools for meaningful reform of its natural resources sector – but all that changed with the coup on 1 February.

Episode 11

Intelligence Week special – meet the team behind the scenes of so much of our success!
Published: 26 February 2021

As part of our special Investigator Week to celebrate the team’s work, in this episode we get to talk with Mel, our Senior Intelligence Analyst, and her two colleagues, intelligence analysts Martina and Denitsa, about what they do and why it’s key to our success.

Episode 10

Checking out on plastics – are the top UK supermarkets doing enough in the fight against plastic pollution
Published: 16 February 2021

Whether it’s in the oceans or on the land, the scale of plastic pollution is increasingly impossible to ignore and there’s a rising tide of tide of public opinion wanting to see it tackled.

Episode 9

Exposing the nexus of environmental crime – where the illegal wildlife and timber trades intersect
Published: 1 February 2021

James Toone, a Senior Campaigner who works across our Wildlife and Forests projects, talks about how timber and wildlife crimes actually have much in common.

Episode 8

Out of Africa – why West and Central Africa is a hotspot for ivory and pangolin trafficking
Published: 29 January 2021

In the week that we released our new illegal wildlife trade report Out of Africa, Senior Wildlife Campaigner Shruti Suresh and Senior Pangolin Campaigner Chris Hamley discuss its findings and what needs to be done to address the situation as a matter of urgency.

Episode 7

How wildlife criminals have adapted to work from home under pandemic lockdown
Published: 5 November 2020

The global coronavirus pandemic has dramatically curtailed the way human society functions, impacting on just about every aspect of modern life – but some things never change and wildlife crime has continued throughout the crisis.

Episode 6

Why should you care about what’s going on with Vietnam’s timber sector?
Published: 30 October 2020

New timber import regulations came into effect on 30 October 2020 in Vietnam – which is currently implementing an agreement with the European Union to keep illicit timber out of its huge wood furniture industry.

Episode 5

Following the money – hitting the illegal wildlife trade where it hurts
Published: 2 July 2020

The global illegal wildlife trade is worth billions every year, money which fuels further environmental crime, drives corruption and undermines sustainable development and conservation – but these huge profits are seldom targeted.

Episode 4

Tipping the scales in our favour – the burning case for urgent action to tackle climate change
Published: 23 June 2020

Our attention may be consumed by the coronavirus crisis, but the very real threat of climate change hasn’t gone anywhere. Although the world is fast approaching potentially irreversible climate change tipping points, swift action to tackle refrigerant greenhouse gases could go a long way to help.

Episode 3

Not-so-fantastic plastic – why the world needs a global treaty to end plastic pollution
Published: 4 June 2020

Humans produce a staggering 275 million tonnes of plastic waste a year and very little of it is recycled – mostly, it ends up in the environment, polluting land and sea while having a terrible impact on our natural world. Could the solution be a new global treaty to join forces and fight it together?

Episode 2

Is the coronavirus pandemic a warning to stop exploiting wildlife?
Published: 29 April 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has plunged a third of the world’s population into lockdown and thrown a harsh spotlight on our dysfunctional and exploitative relationship with wildlife. Is it a warning to seriously mend our ways?

Episode 1

Why is Indonesia abandoning its timber export regulations?
Published: 23 April 2020

Twenty years ago, the chaos and violence in Indonesia’s forests spurred efforts to put an end to industrial-scale illegal logging and to keep stolen wood out of the country’s exports – but now the Government wants to significantly water down the rules, using the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse.

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