Reading Planet Earth, part One.

An unmissable series of four 1-hour videos from National Geographic.

In my summary yesterday of what had come out of the Posts about man’s influence on the planet, I wrote, “But one of the most wonderful aspects for me was the incredible sharing of ideas and resources.”  I then gave many details of those resources.  One of the great links was a blogsite called Dogs of Doubt.  On that blogsite I came across an item published on the 8th March, called Strange Days on Planet Earth.  With permission I repost how that item was introduced.

While the average global temperature on Earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius in the last century, in some places on Earth the temperature has increased by a phenomenal 11 Degrees, for some species, already adapted to life as it has been for millions of years such changes puts them in great danger.

Inter-species transfer from one continent to another through what many thought were harmless human activities has placed great pressures on the survival of local animals, insects and even plants, all of which were not prepared for the arrival of newer, more aggressive species.

In many areas of the world some ocean species are actually relocating themselves in order to survive the loss of their food resources and habitats due to the warming of the oceans.

Herds of animals are vanishing as they struggle with warming temperatures which bring in longer breeding seasons for many insects in turn affecting the living standards and health of the many animals they attack.

On land and across the world entire lakes are either disappearing or being reduced in size through the effects of long lasting droughts, the lack of rain waters in some parts is changing much of our surrounding environment and the dust this causes in some parts of the world is affecting the health of children thousands of miles away.

In the oceans plankton are down 20% to what they were in the 1950s, when the waters are cold they do well but now that the waters are warmer their numbers are falling drastically.

Every little change that occurs on earth through global warming might not mean much to some, but all these changes will eventually add together until our environment reaches a breaking point from which none of us may survive.

This video series from National Geographic aims to create an innovative type of environmental awareness by revealing a cause and effect relationship between what we as humans do to the Earth and what that in turn does to our environment and ecosystems, the series creates a new sense of environmental urgency.

Each of the four episodes is constructed as a high-tech detective story, with the fate of the planet at stake.

Jean and I have watched the first two episodes in full and are about 60% through the third.  They are both spell-binding and eye-opening.  I believe they were first aired by PBS back in 2005 but, no matter, they are even more relevant today.

So for today and the rest of the week I shall provide a link to the YouTube copy of each programme.  Please, if you can, do put aside an hour to watch each video and, even better, please give us your feedback to Learning from Dogs.

The first episode is called Invaders.

National Geographic – Strange Days on Planet Earth – Part 1 of 4 – Invaders

Around the globe, scientists are racing to solve a series of mysteries. Unsettling transformations are sweeping across the planet, and clue by clue, investigators around the world are assembling a new picture of Earth, discovering ways that seemingly disparate events are connected. Crumbling houses in New Orleans are linked to voracious creatures from southern China. Vanishing forests in Yellowstone are linked to the disappearance of wolves. An asthma epidemic in the Caribbean is linked to dust storms in Africa. Scientists suspect we have entered a time of global change swifter than any human being has ever witnessed. Where are we headed? What can we do to alter this course of events? National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth, premiered on PBS, explores these questions. Drawing upon research being generated by a new discipline, Earth System Science (ESS), the series aims to create an innovative type of environmental awareness. By revealing a cause and effect relationship between what we as humans do to the Earth and what that in turn does to our environment and ecosystems, the series creates a new sense of environmental urgency. Award-winning actor, writer and director Edward Norton (Primal Fear, American History X, Italian Job) hosts the series. A dedicated environmental activist, Norton has a special interest in providing solar energy to low income families. Each of the four one-hour episodes is constructed as a high-tech detective story, with the fate of the planet at stake.

14 thoughts on “Reading Planet Earth, part One.

  1. Thanks for launching yourself into this project, Paul (i.e. deciding to post all four episodes). I for one will be watching…

    I knew about the dangers of invasive species (e.g. rhododendrons from the Himalayas that have overtaken large amounts of woodland in the UK); and of the pitfalls (as well as the benefits) of deploying biological (as opposed to chemical) counter-measures…

    However, what I was not aware of was the way in which the “globalisation of trade” will cause the “globalisation of species”; and threatens to reduce biodiversity simply by bringing uniform distribution to everything?

    Can two-thirds of land mammals be at risk by this alone? I knew we were threatening biodiversity by habitat destruction but to learn that we are also threatening it by globalisation too – this is very scary… Talk about unintended consequences….

    If we are indeed causing “the great re-shuffling of life” – it looks like we are about to fumble it; and drop most of the cards on the floor…


    1. Thanks Martin,

      Yes, the films are deeply interesting and in many ways connect all the ‘dots’. I sense, hopefully not naively, that there is a growing groundswell of awareness that may, just may, bring about the change needed before it becomes too late.



      1. Paul, NO! all the dots are not yet connected, so far you have only noted two global effects caused by our abuse of the environment:

        Global Warming and Globalization of the species.

        But there are two other great dangers which must also be understood, only then will people have a complete understanding of the issues affecting us all. All in all, four gargantuan and totally different global effects which may yet turn out to bring us something akin to the the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

        One more blog coming up tonight.


      2. PS, thank you for that clarification. I’ll wait for your Post to arrive here and perhaps refer to it when I ‘introduce’ the final video on Friday. Paul


      1. In Storms of my Granchildren, Hansen laments long an loudly over NASA’s failure to invest (20 years ago) in appropriate satellite development that would by now have plugged this gaping hole in our knowledge – namely the cooling effect of sulphates, aerosols and particulates in the atmosphere.


  2. A slight tangent, but anyone who claims that GM foods are nothing to worry about would do well to watch this. As we’re so blatantly incompetent at handling the species that do exist, anyone who suggests that a created species can possibly be ‘safe’ is talking complete and utter nonsense.


    1. You’re somewhat late to arrive at this particular Party (or is it a Wake?) but welcome nonetheless.

      I guess I do not need to ask for your opinion ofthe latest deveopments on the synthetic life front (with which I am sure I would agree – as I think it is meddling in stuff we should not – like playing God).

      However, despite all the bravado, I am very much a pragmatist and, as such, tend to consider each new scientific development on its merits… As such my only gripe with GMOs was the tendency for their deployment to be mainly in the interest of multi-national corporations rather than the farmers (i.e. similar to my objection to the marketing of powdered baby milk to perfectly healthy mothers). Compared to this, stem cell research – although a much greyer area – does seem to have some very appealing potential benefits (although playing God is a very clear danger there too)… Discuss.


      1. Jean and I watched the film Home last night (as featured on Joining the Dots post yesterday) and the way that food is being produced, and the oceans denuded, was truly frightening. What a strange race we are!


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