As we enter a new calendar year, most of us have taken time to reflect on the past 12 months and beyond, as well as looking to the future at what opportunities and challenges lay waiting for us. Perhaps the largest challenge facing us, the human race, is climate change and the destruction of the natural world around us.
With many of us still enduring a period of time in which we are constrained to our homes much more than usual, the National Digest recommends three shows to watch to once again connect you with nature, hopefully inspiring you to get out and enjoy it when possible, as well as making more decisions to benefit the natural world around you.
A Perfect Planet
If you were not expecting a David Attenborough appearance at the top of this list, you must have never watched a nature documentary in your life! Fortunately, the BBC decided to treat us at the start of 2021 with yet another dose of Attenborough, who for decades has been the voice of nature for millions.
Allow the soothing tones of 95-year-old Attenborough to guide you through five one-hour episodes of stunning visuals, gripping storylines and hard-hitting truths over the current state of the planet. Attenborough marvels at the awe-inspiring beauty of planet Earth and the natural forces behind it.
Not only will you be entertained by the exotic animals and rarely seen natural wonders, Attenborough will talk you through the decisions we can make as humans, both individually and as groups, to become a force for good.
“If Gaia has a voice, it is Attenborough’s distinctive, much-mimicked, slightly breathless one, and it helps make A Perfect Planet a near-perfect program. The cinematography is as awesome in scale and majesty as anything that has gone before, capturing both vast panoramas of tropical atolls and the tiniest wrinkly detail of a giant tortoise’s backside,” Sean O’Grady of the Independent wrote about the show.
“The theme of the series is clever and novel, each episode analyzing one of the great forces of nature that have created “the only planet in the universe, so far as we know, where there is life” – the sun, weather, oceans and so on. This week it’s volcanoes, which are obviously magnificent in themselves, but underestimated as “good” sources of carbon dioxide emissions, belching out just enough gas to keep Earth balanced at the right temperature – but now man-made emissions are 100 times greater than all the volcanoes on Earth, with results we know only too well.
“The usual climate crisis sermonising is in there (and quite right too), but not until about halfway through, and not too hectoring; it is a delicate balance between entertainment and education.”
Although released in 2012, Chasing Ice’s message of rapid climate change and a calling to arms is more relevant today than ever before. The hour-and-a-half long documentary, available on Amazon Prime, charts National Geographic photographer James Balog’s efforts as he goes to extreme lengths to capture the effects of global warming.
Watch Chasing Ice to once again appreciate the monumental impact our actions as humans have on the planet and how it is being destroyed in front of our eyes. Watching may also inspire action as Balog’s dedication and willingness to risk his life for the benefit of his planet is clear for all to see.
“Jeff Orlowski’s documentary begins as a straightforward biographical profile, before shifting up into something more urgent, impassioned and compelling. Its subject, James Balog, is a photographer who goes to extremes to prove the existence of global warming: his latest expedition involves descending Arctic cliff faces to fit time-lapse cameras with which to monitor glacial erosion,” a Guardian review of the documentary said.
“Orlowski’s framing – interspersing field footage with talking heads – is somewhat conventional, but the images he and Balog have collated are consistently breath-taking and accumulate real power. The cameras look on in vain as massive ice sheets shear off, leaving once-mighty glaciers – characterized in the manner of the endangered species in Attenborough documentaries – to slump into the sea. Behind them, they leave nothing – save colossal insurance premiums for those areas subsequently flooded by displaced waters.
“If any film can convert the climate-change sceptics, Chasing Ice would be it: here, seeing really is believing.”
Flight of the Butterflies
A shorter documentary, Flight of the Butterflies concentrates less on the decline of nature and more on its beauty and the beauty of the creatures we inhabit the Earth with, as well as the challenges they face on a daily basis.
Watch Flight of the Butterflies (on Amazon or iTunes) for a stunning visual display of the natural world, as well as to be reminded of the wonders of life and what some creatures go through just for the continuation of their species.
“You’ll leave better informed about monarchs and environmental concerns, but also a little awed by the twists and turns and darn good luck behind a lot of scientific advancements,” Kim Ode of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote.