Chris Packham aims to raise enough money to plant 100,000 trees across Britain, by asking viewers to contribute to The Woodland Trust. Martin Hughes-Games, JB Gill and Clare Nasir also take a closer look at the science of trees, exploring how they can lower carbon emissions, fight flooding and reduce pollution.
In the third episode, Iain discovers the remarkable impact of just one plant: grass. On the savannah of South Africa he sees how grass unleashed a firestorm to fight its greatest enemy, the forests. He shows how cutting your finger on a blade of grass shows us how it transformed life in the oceans. In Senegal, he meets the cleverest chimps in the world. And, in the ruins of the oldest temple on Earth, he tells the extraordinary story of how grass triggered human civilisation.
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.
Humans, octopi and pine trees alike are all made up of cells, tiny but sophisticated systems that keep life going. Cells are almost like tiny factories run by robots, with the nucleus, DNA, proteins, lipids, and vitamins and minerals all playing critical roles. George Zaidan and Charles Morton lay out the blueprint of a cell and explain how biochemistry binds all life together.
Two hundred million years ago there was an extraordinary development in the history of life: an ancient group of reptiles made a giant evolutionary leap into the skies. In this groundbreaking, BAFTA winning, documentary, David Attenborough travels back in time to discover how and why these creatures took flight, and why after 150 million years of aerial domination they vanished. Using state of the art CGI, and based on new finds and the latest research, Flying Monsters recreates these spectacular creatures and takes us into their world. Beginning on Dorset’s 'Jurassic Coast', David’s journey takes him to sites around the world, from Southern France to New Mexico. With the help of a team of scientists he unravels one of palaeontologys enduring mysteries, how did lizards the size of giraffes defy gravity and soar through prehistoric skies? Driven by the information he finds as he attempts to answer these questions, Attenborough finds that the marvel of pterosaur flight has evolutionary echoes that resonate even today.
2011 • Nature