Nature in high definition

A new mini-series is reshaping the way we see our planet.

It isn’t often that something comes along able to transform our perceptions of the planet we live on. Some would argue this occurred last in 1959, when the U.S. satellite Explorer VI took a picture of our giant blue planet swirling in space. Others might cite more recent examples, such as the advent of Google Earth. In either case, we have technology to thank for a new understanding.

The most recent attempt at such historic proportions is a documentary mini-series produced by the Discovery Channel and the BBC. The series was filmed entirely with High Definition cameras, providing viewers with a breathtaking look into the workings of our planet. Each of the eleven episodes cost more than $1 million to make, and it’s clear that no expense was spared.

The series, remarkable not only for its clarity, captures previously unseen footage: a snow leopard hunting a markhor, grizzly cubs as they first leave the den and the clever hunting tactics employed by wolves are only a few examples.

The show has earned many fans. Several news magazines have written strong reviews for the show. Oprah thought the show was so important she dedicated an entire hour to the series.

Some people see a political goal that could result from this film about nature. They argue that if we wish to save the environment from the calamity of man, people must know the stakes. It’s the idea that, if all people know is the concrete jungle, why should they care about the elemental one? This point may as well be true, but who really knows?

The only drawback to the program is that the full experience requires a High Definition TV – not exactly a deal-breaker, but such luxuries are not plentiful among cash-strapped college students.

Either way, watch it wherever you can, or can’t, find a High Definition set. The program is a revealing look at our planet, and the footage begs us to look closer at all that is here.

The next new episode airs on the Discovery Channel this Sunday, April 8th.