Last Watched

"Environmentalism"  Sort by

Frozen Planet: On Thin Ice

   2011    Science
Sir David Attenborough journeys to both Polar Regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet. David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be Open Ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. Next David travels to see what's happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level. Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It's not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.
Series: Frozen Planet

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: A Spacetime Odyssey

The Southern Ocean

   2009    Nature
The Southern Ocean, which circles the globe without being blocked by land, is home to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), the longest of the world's ocean currents. Also known as the "channel", it connects the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Ocean basins and exerts a powerful influence over the Earth's climate. The ACC carries 150 times more water around Antarctica than the flow of all the world's rivers combined.
Series: Oceans

The Mediterranean Sea

   2009    Nature
The sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea are home to over 700 varieties of fish and almost 10 per cent of the world's marine species. Its coastline is one of the most densely populated in the world and the human pressure on this sea is magnified each summer with the influx of holiday makers. Western civilisation developed around these shores but now human activity is having a profound effect on this endangered sea.
Series: Oceans

The Arctic Ocean

   2009    Nature
With much of it covered in ice all year round and with no daylight from October to March, the Arctic Ocean is one of the world's most remarkable oceans. Its home to a multitude of unique life forms, all highly adapted to cope with the extreme and seasonal conditions. The impacts of climate change are more strongly felt here than anywhere else in the world.
Series: Oceans
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
Zeitgeist
Zeitgeist

   2007    Culture
Walking with Cavemen
Walking with Cavemen

   2003    History
Coronavirus Special
Coronavirus Special

   2020    Medicine
Bronze Age
Bronze Age

   2016    History
Reel Rock
Reel Rock

   2014    Culture
Through the Wormhole
Through the Wormhole

   2011    Science
Planet Earth
Planet Earth

   2007    Nature