See humanity’ s latest disaster in great style
Muck about with earth’ s vast web and expect repercussions elsewhere
Strange Days on Planet Earth 8.35pm, ABC
CLIMATE change sceptics and Aunty bashers, take note. Tonight the ABC begins a four- part series called Strange Days on Planet Earth and you ’ ll hate it.
This 2004 National Geographic production dismisses quibbles about global warming and humanity ’ s role in the same with a quick the debate
‘‘ is largely over ’’ , tossed out right up front. It then goes on to count the many ways we humans are stuffing up the planet.
Worse, the series commits these and other politically correct sins in style. The graphics are great. The wildlife and nature footage is stunning. The narration by American actor Edward Norton is restrained, in keeping with the content. So is the soundtrack, which allows poignant audio — such as the cry of a deer, attacked by wolves — to hit home.
Moreover, individual episodes are not simply a review of selected scientific findings about the topic du jour. Instead, seemingly disparate phenomena are presented and eventually drawn together. The message? Global systems — geological, biological, atmospheric and oceanic — are interconnected. Muck about with one part of the earth ’s vast web and expect repercussions elsewhere. Tonight, for instance,
The One Degree Factor takes viewers to Porcupine River in western Alaska where we follow the seasonal migrations of the region ’ s declining herd of caribou. ( Keep an eye out for the no- frills birth of a caribou.) Next we join scientists investigating shifting populations of tide- pool animals along the US west coast and others tracking the shifting abundance of tiny shrimp- like marine animals called krill.
We travel to Trinidad, where the rate of childhood asthma has skyrock- eted, and observe dying sea fan corals of the US Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, over in Africa, Nigeria ’ s Lake Chad has shrunk to zip.
Stay tuned for a forensic analysis of how these events are intertwined and you ’ ll forgive the producers for their relentless northern perspective, from imperial measures such as Fahrenheit to vox pops with representative Americans. Later episodes tackle feral species, as well as toxic waterways and seas in similar style. But episode two,
Predators, i s t he cracker. It reveals what happens when the big guns of the animal world are taken out, by accident or design. I confess to a sniffle watching Venezuelan experts rescue animals — from sloths, monkeys and insects to leopards — when a river is dammed, turning their jungle habitat into denuded islands.
In contrast, it ’ s heartening to follow the reintroduction of 31 grey wolves to Yellowstone National Park. Even the Aspen trees are making a comeback. Remember, as Norton says, it ’ s all connected.
Boat stranded on Lake Chad, Nigeria