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The World Set Free

   2014    Nature
This episode explores the nature of the greenhouse effect (discovered by Joseph Fourier and Svante Arrhenius), and the evidence demonstrating the existence of global warming from humanity's influence. Tyson begins by describing the long-term history of the planet Venus; based on readings from the Venera series of probes to the planet, the planet had once had an ocean and an atmosphere, but due to the release of carbon dioxide from volcanic eruptions, the runaway greenhouse effect on Venus caused the surface temperatures to increase and boiled away the oceans. Tyson then notes the delicate nature of the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can influence Earth's climate due to the greenhouse effect, and that levels of carbon dioxide have been increasing since the start of the 20th century. Evidence has shown this to be from mankind's consumption of oil, coal, and gas instead of from volcanic eruptions due to the isotopic signature of the carbon dioxide. The increase in carbon dioxide has led to an increase in temperatures, in turn leading to positive feedback loops of the melting polar ice caps and dethawing of the permafrost to increase carbon dioxide levels. Tyson then notes that humans have discovered means of harvesting solar power, such as Augustin Mouchot's solar-driven motor in the 19th century, and Frank Shuman's solar-based steam generator in the 1910's. Tyson points out that in both cases, the economics and ease of using cheap coal and oil caused these inventions to be overlooked at the time. Today, solar and wind-power systems would be able to collect enough solar energy from the sun easily. Tyson then compares the motivation for switching to these cleaner forms of energy to the efforts of the Space race and emphasizes that it is not too late for humanity to correct its course.
Series: Cosmos 2014

The Inner Planets: Mecury and Venus

   2007    Science
Scorched by their proximity to the sun, Mercury and Venus are hostile worlds; one gouged with craters from cosmic collisions and the other a vortex of sulphur, carbon dioxide and acid rain. Prime examples of planets gone awry, do they serve as a warning for ominous scenarios that might someday threaten Earth?
Series: The Universe

Earth: Venus Evil Twin

   2015    Science
There is a hellish planet in our solar system; covered in thick dense clouds and roasted by colossal temperatures. It will be inevitable that the Earth will someday not only be like Venus, but actually put it to shame. A billion years from now, Earth's oceans will boil off, triggering a runaway greenhouse effect, and the temperature will be so high, its all surface will melt. In the distance future, Earth could be the evil twin of Venus. To understand how our world will be destroyed we need to look at what happened to Venus.
Series: How the Universe Works Season 4

Growing

   1994    Nature
The second episode is about how plants gain their sustenance. Sunlight is one of the essential requirements if a seed is to germinate, and Attenborough highlights the cheese plant as an example whose young shoots head for the nearest tree trunk and then climb to the top of the forest canopy, developing its leaves en route. Using sunshine, air, water and a few minerals, the leaves are, in effect, the "factories" that produce food. However, some, such as the begonia, can thrive without much light. To gain moisture, plants typically use their roots to probe underground. Trees pump water up pipes that run inside their trunks, and Attenborough observes that a sycamore can do this at the rate of 450 litres an hour — in total silence. Too much rainfall can clog up a leaf's pores, and many have specially designed 'gutters' to cope with it. However, their biggest threat is from animals, and some require extreme methods of defence, such as spines, camouflage, or poison. Some can move quickly to deter predators: the mimosa can fold its leaves instantly when touched, and the Venus flytrap eats insects by closing its leaves around its prey when triggered. Another carnivorous plant is the trumpet pitcher that snares insects when they fall into its tubular leaves. Attenborough visits Borneo to see the largest pitcher of them all, Nepenthes rajah, whose traps contain up to two litres of water and have been known to kill small rodents.
Series: The Private Life of Plants

Catastrophes that Changed the Planets

   2011    Science    3D
The planets of our solar system have experienced epic catastrophes throughout their long history, both raining down from outside and bubbling up from within. We'll voyage back in time to investigate the violent events that profoundly shaped the planets, including earth itself. We'll witness stunning revelations about what transformed Mars into a barren, hostile desert... The disaster that changed Venus from temperate to hellish... The impact that blew away Mercury's mantle, turning it into a planetary core... A colossal disturbance that rearranged the orbits of the gas giants... Titanic impacts on Jupiter... And how a lost moon may finally explain Saturn's rings.
Series: The Universe
The Story of Science
The Story of Science

   2010    History
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works

   2014    Science
Cosmos
Cosmos

   1980    Science
Hidden Kingdoms
Hidden Kingdoms

   2014    Nature
Oceans
Oceans

   2009    Nature
Empire of the Tsars
Empire of the Tsars

   2017    History
Making a Murderer
Making a Murderer

   2015    History