Drowning in Plastic • 2018

Category: Environment
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Liz Bonnin works with some of the world's leading marine biologists and campaigners to discover the true dangers of plastic in our oceans and what it means for the future of all life on our planet, including us. Trillions of pieces of plastic are choking the very lifeblood of our earth, and every marine animal, from the smallest plankton to the largest mammals, is being affected. Can we turn back this growing plastic tide before it is too late?

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In the depths of the Black Sea lies a landscape of eternal darkness. With no light and no oxygen in the sea's anoxic layer, no life can survive, except perhaps the ghosts of ancient mariners whose ships foundered thousands of years ago. Because the environment cannot support the organisms that typically feast on organic materials, such as wood and flesh, there is an extraordinary opportunity for preservation, including shipwrecks and the cargos they carried. In the year 2000, on his third trip to the Black Sea, explorer Dr. Robert Ballard discovered a miraculously well-preserved Byzantine shipwreck, but his team could only take pictures. Now, Ballard returns with archaeologist Dr. Bridget Buxton and Dr. Sergiy Voronov of the Ukrainian Department of Underwater Heritage, and uses state-of-the-art technology and a revolutionary $1.5 million robot known as "Hercules" to excavate two shipwrecks for the first time ever, including one of the most pristine ancient vessels ever found. In 2006, Ballard and the team returned to survey the area for more shipwrecks, and last year began excavations on Sinop D, and Chersonesos A, a 10th-century shipwreck found off southern Crimea at a depth of 135 meters. At Chersonesos A, the team excavated the ship's cargo of nearly 200 jars commonly found at Byzantine sites on the shores of the Black Sea, including Chersonesos. The bright orange color of the nearly 1,000-year-old jars was completely preserved, to the team's amazement. From there, the team sailed to the deeper site, Sinop D, which was the focus of the 2007 survey. The team hoped to answer questions about the ship's construction, its cargo, and how the anoxic conditions had affected its preservation. Ballard and his team have only two weeks, so they must work in perfect precision on their hunt for the Ghost Ships of the Black Sea. Ballard calls this site "the greatest museum on Earth," but his team of marine archaeologists has only begun to scratch the surface of the Black Sea's depths.

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Two hundred million years ago the continent we know as Eurasia - "the vast swathe of land that extends from Europe in the West to Asia in the East" - didn't exist.

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Volcanoes have a fearsome reputation. In reality, they are the most important force in the creation of the planet as we know it today. Iain abseils into a lava lake and cave dives in a cenote to show how the heat that fuels volcanoes also drives some of the most fundamental processes on the planet.

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In Antarctica both humans and animals do what it takes to adapt to and survive the harshest climate on earth. Our scientists focus their research in the icy waters to determine how climate change and human interaction have affected the marine ecosystem. Human life in the Antarctic can be put in danger when the technology it relies on fails.

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Mathematicians Dr. Hannah Fry, Prof. Norman Fenton and Prof. David Spiegelhalter reveal the three numbers that tell the story about the past, present and future of the earth's climate.

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