Surprising stories from unusual places. With ideas too big for a single episode, The Compass presents mini-series about the environment and politics, culture and society.
Gambling: A sure bet? USA
Native American Tribes have flipped their fortunes by building casinos on their land, but that is under threat from the new players in the market - the online sports betting companies. Dr Heather Wardle meets Greg Sarris, Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria in Northern California, who shows her why his tribe’s casino is a lifeline to the local community, and how online betting on smartphones is the new threat to his tribe’s survival.
(Photo: USA Graton Casino, owned by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria)
Gambling: A Sure Bet? Albania
Albania was plagued by problems caused by gambling; high levels of debt, divorce and suicide triggered the government to ban it. But it did not have the desired effect. Instead the ban sent the industry underground and into the hands of organised criminal gangs. Dr Heather Wardle sets Fatjona Mejdini, a journalist who writes about Albania’s development, the task of investigating the state of gambling in her country and asks whether banning betting can solve the problems caused by it.
Gambling: A Sure Bet? Kenya
Jonah is a university student, and a gambler. For him it is the only way he can earn a living. He explains why there are so few opportunities for young Kenyans like him and why betting on foreign football matches has become such an attractive and easy way to make money to fund his university studies. Gambling behaviour expert, Dr Heather Wardle, wants tougher laws on gambling but she wonders how that might impact the University students who need the money they earn from betting.
Producer: Lydia Thomas
(Photo: Jonah betting on the Premier League with his friends)
Water is at the heart of many of the most serious ecological crises we face, including the biggest one of all: the climate emergency. Alok Jha shows how water itself may offer solutions to give us hope.
Alok witnesses nuclear fusion in action at an experimental reactor in England. Simple seawater provides the fuel for this futuristic technology that has the potential to solve the world’s energy problems and eliminate fossil fuel power generation.
Meanwhile chemist Fernando Romo walks us through the fascinating science of artificial photosynthesis, which allows humans to mimic plants, drawing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and storing energy in the process.
But water historian Terje Tvedt cautions that the more reliant human societies become on water technologies, the more vulnerable we make ourselves to changes in the water landscape. An innovative 3D mapping project by activist geographer Hindou Ibrahim shows how technology must be married to grassroots organising and political action if it is to break out of the lab and help secure our water future.
(Photo: Water droplets on a leaf. Credit: Getty Images)
Journalist Alok Jha argues that if humans are to survive and thrive for the rest of the 21st Century we must urgently transform our relationship with water.
Many of the serious geopolitical tensions over water as a resource that we looked at in the previous episode of this series are rooted in worsening ecological crises. In this episode, Alok shows how the global water crisis is inextricably linked to the climate crisis – and how neither can be dealt with alone.
In Bangalore, we hear how incredible pollution levels led to a lake catching fire, before revealing how local water management decisions play into the global groundwater emergency. Then former Nasa scientist Jay Famiglietti provides a satellite perspective on the problem, showing how water disasters are both a result of the climate crisis and help fuel it.
Back on earth, we hear what this means for Hindou Ibrahim’s pastoralist cattle herder community living on the edge of the rapidly shrinking Lake Chad, and Alok puts water lobbyist Maggie White on the spot to ask why water is not the urgent global priority it should be for leading politicians and policymakers.
(Photo: Aerial photo of the Lake Chad, in the Bol region, 200km from Chad capital city N'Djamena. Credit: Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty Images)
Water as a resource
Journalist Alok Jha shows how the way we are using freshwater has made it a precious finite resource. And it’s a resource on the edge of collapse. By 2050, over half the world’s population will live in a water-scarce region. But rather than working together to manage crucial water supplies, powerful states are manoeuvring to control the remaining stocks for themselves.
Beginning with one family’s well drying up in the desert of Arizona, and following the story all the way to political tensions in the Middle East, Alok argues that we need to recognise water as the most important shared resource in the world and take advantage of its cross-border nature to encourage international cooperation.
(Photo: The Jordan river on mountainside. Credit: Getty Images)
Best BBC podcast
While I love so much of the BBC’s material, this podcast is a standout. The diverse topics are fascinating and well covered. An in depth look at our world from so many angles, I’m endlessly entertained. Well done BBC
Robin Lustig’s new series
On freedom of speech is well written, presented and so topical.
Very impressive scope of stories researched for each episode. I’ve learned more from these multi-episode series than any other news/educational podcast I’ve found. None of the topics under discussion cover commonly known content - as so many other programs do. Rather, each features insider interviews that expose angles of contemporary issues I’ve never encountered despite being a news junkie. I can’t imagine the expense of bringing interviewers to so many distant (from one another) locations, organizing the many layers of translation that are typically needed for each story - If the story is in Cambodia, the interviewees include Mandarin, Vietnamese, English and Khmer speakers.