One of the consequences of large screen entertainment for me has been viewing programs about nature and all that. My 26’ squarish TV days never saw me watch any of that stuff, not even when someone thinks he’s making friends with a guerrilla. A kind of snobbish attitude was being fostered on ‘the natural world.’ Finding safe havens in pretty adjectives and sensational wonderments.
But plasma screen and projection 100’ screen High Definition viewing has come along in my mature years. Discs like Planet Earth, Civilisation, Human Planet, Earth Story, Planet Dinosaur and The Ascent of Man have been devoured and savoured and re-watched. So where does Iain Stewart’s Earth box set fit in?
Well for a start you can experience what you think you already know in a different way. Or you can simply enjoy the original visuals. Or the John Noakes style of adventure reporting. That should pin my age down for you. But as well as these factors I would say Stewart is not afraid to venture into the political aspects of human to life interaction. Not tagged on one liners but carefully constructed positions.
Somewhere in this set I came across something fundamentally new in respect of earth’s formation. Apparently this planet collided with another to make it go the way it has. I do not agree with that. It is too neat. The theory not Iain Stewart’s portrayal of it. For me his best program is Fire on the How Earth Made Us series. This answered my questions about carbon and how oil is formed. He starts from burning wood then to charcoal then how trees left in water become coal and finally how shallow seas evaporate leaving skeletons and other life forms to eventually become oil. I never knew.
But did he pull his punches there? Just when he was suggesting that oil is running out he moves into oil’s carbon effect on the planet; greenhouse gases, global warming (back to pretty adjectives) and how man needs to reduce his desire to burn oil, gas and coal. Are we being socially prepared for a no oil future? My question not his. He also informs us how the onset of farming prevented a new ice age. But he does not link the total farming of our current age with rising global temperatures.
In the Wind program he shows how it helped create the slave trade. He could have mentioned how the discovery of oil led to the end of slavery. One of the overriding effects of all this information, this scientific information is to realise just how fragile we all are on this place where we live. And yet humans have stepped back from the brink before. He did not mention the coal fire days of smokey cities. That is all gone now although Los Angeles and Tokyo have a petrol versions; invisible pollution.
Is it folly to suggest that humans can effect the weather, the climate? When you see how dynamic, how mixed-up all our gases and rocky debris are in this Universe you could think how ridiculous, how pompous it is to believe that little Man could settle it down. But to live life without a balance between what we use and what we put back is self defeating. The individual human is balanced; the social human is deranged.
on 21 October 2012
The BBC excels at all that is "documentary" and this is but one more work that proves the theorem. It carries one through the evolution of our little blue heaven, and is pretty much spot on when it comes to current thinking. The narrative is terse and concise, the photography beyond any amateur's dreams, the science compacted and distilled to essential nuggets of enlightenment.
Viewers of all ages and educational levels will fine herein entertaiment, instruction, and not a few tugs at the old heart-strings as we are swept through the story of the cradle of Humanity, our own Earth. About its strengths and fragilities, global warming and cooling, past and future.
How fortunate we are to have such beauty brought into our homes and lives through the efforts of the BBC and the magic of technology!
on 5 March 2015
I've really enjoyed this, content-wise, and Stewart is an engaging presenter. I think it is worth buying, but there is a caveat in that whilst some of the footage is exceptional, overall the picture quality is a little disappointing in comparison with the likes of 'Planet Earth', for example.
on 24 August 2012
Oceans, Atmosphere, Ice and Volcanoes. The superlative Forces that drive our Climate, give us protection, feed us and ultimately destroy us! A tour around the World with Iain Stewart to understand the mechanisms of these powerful 'Engines' and their effects in Earth's Life.
"Earth, the Power of the Planet" is divided in four Programs and two Discs:
Disc One: Volcanoes, Atmosphere and Ice.
Disc Two: Oceans and Rare Earth.
Volcanoes. A journey through Carbon Dioxide, its relationship with the other 3 Elements and Us.
As a Volcanologist, Stewart starts in Ethiopia Afar Region, the home of Erta Ale one of the important Volcanoes being studied for 40 Years. Its huge Crater of constant molten Lava, holds the key to Science understanding the movements of the Planet's Crust. Mount Etna in Sicily and Mount St. Hellen in the USA are also under the Eye of Scientists for reasons well explained.
He continues through Iceland another important geological Place, New Zeeland, European Alps, South American Andes and the Hymalayas, all, the result of Continent collisions billions of years ago.
The Atmosphere. With the right ingredients and conditions it can be an explosive mixture! In normal conditions, it's the thin Line that protects us! Amazing examples in South Africa, Sahara, Argentina and in the Air!
Ice. The Mirror of Clime changing! Some experiences in Siberia show worrying signs of Permafrost melting. Enormous amounts of Methane is trapped in the Ice, and the release of this Gas in a massive scale into the Atmosphere has still unknown consequences! The retreating of Ice is another problem. The massive Jacobshavn Isbrae Glacier ( West Coast of Greenland ), has retreated 10km over the last 10 years and Columbia Glacier in Alaska, 15 km since 1980. The reason is, these and other Glaciers are speeding up towards the Sea. Scientists don't know why but there's something we all know: Sea level rising is already happening! The Planet doesn't mind but, it won't be the same with Us.
The Oceans. A complex system of currents ( the Conveyor ) linking the entire Planet, provide vital sources of Nutrients, Energy and Oxygen. Birth of Early Life, they drive Weather Systems and keep Earth habitable. Interesting examples of this in Amazon, Hawaii, Australia, USA and the Mediterranean Sea.
Rare Earth. A Picture of this fantastic World! Its unique position in Solar System, right distance from the Sun, exclusive and apropriate Moon, remarkable protection of a massive Jupiter and Human Kind 'threatning' Its stability!
"How Earth Made Us" is an extension of the first four Programs, and Stewart speaks about the next 5 Forces that rule Life also compiled in two Discs: Water, Deep Earth, Wind, Fire and Human Planet.
A descent into the deepest tough hidden Places on Earth and a relationship betwen Elements and Civilizations. A Lesson of History very well written, presented and filmed.
Computer Digital Technology and Satellite images are very helpful.
Iain Stewart is brilliant! Geologist, Professor and Explorer, he stands before us with a Big Book of Earth's entire History in his hands! His explanations are clear enough for everyone to understand him. His presence is everywhere! On Land, beneath the Ice, underwater, underground, in the Air, and it's a very pleasant and funny experience to travel with him!
The Extras are resumed to a short interview with him, speaking about the three most frightning experiences he went through.
on 28 April 2013
I like a good documentary, and this one is. I like to learn something new and see something spectaculary. I got it all in the film about the evolution of our World. I hope one day to be able to visit some of the Places shown on this film, especially Australia and New Zealand. Erta Erle in the northeast corner of the African continent is fantastic, but as a tourist impossible to visit. It is in the middle of bandit country, as the speaker so well said it..
on 5 September 2014
I was a bit wary buying this product as although the title says it is Region Free, the description below says that it isn't compatible with US spec players. As this was meant to be a present for my dad who lives in Malaysia, I was't sure whether the DVDs would play. I was not able to find any help online, so I took a chance and bought it anyway.
I'm glad to say that there have been no issues whatsoever with the DVDs. My dad has a Phillips BDP-5000 blu-ray player, and it is meant for Region A/1 blu-rays (the Americas and South East Asia).
Before buying the discs for yourselves however, I would suggest you do a quick search to see if your DVD players are able to play 50i discs; from what I've read though, almost all US-spec blu-ray players are able to.
The documentary itself is great, amazing picture quality. A heads up- Prof. Stewart is Scottish so it may be slightly tricky to follow for viewers who are not familiar with the accent.
on 18 March 2014
I found this box set amazing - its an exciting way to look at how the seperate eliments make the world go round so to speak - the visual context is outstanding - a must for those of us who are interested in our planet and what makes it tick!
on 23 September 2010
Both of these Blu-rays are top notch. I bought 'The Power Of The Planet' a couple of years a go and was blown away by how briliant it was, I later bought 'How Eath Made Us' and was wqually impressed. Dr Iain Stewart is a fantastic presenter and injects his huge enthusiasm into the subjet making the viewing all the more enjoyable.
This set is a must have for geology fans, 'The Power Of The Planet' is split into 5 episodes each focusing on one major geological element of the planet. Volcanos, Atmosphere, Ice, Oceans and Rare Earth (the theory that discusses the odds of us being here and that we maybe unique in the universe). Each is just as interesting as the next with some of the locations that are visited being amamzing.
'How Earth Made Us' is the weaker of the two in my opinion but is still a superb watch. It focuses more on human impact and the way humans have adapted to live with the different geological aspects. Each epiosode focuses on something different. The episodes include Water, Deep Earth, Wind, Fire and Human Planet. THe water one was the weakest in my opinion, focusing more on human history than geology but the other 4 are fantastic with the Human Planet being a real eye opener when it comes to our impact on the planet and argues that we are now the biggest force of nature.
An excellent set, I've watched both Blu-rays twice and I will again. I do recommend buying 'The Power Of The Planet' book as well as it adds a lot of extra information to the brilliant Blu-Ray. It is a great read and very easy to take in.
To sum up, if you enjoy learning about how our planet works, this set is for you. Brilliantly presented, great diversity and some suggestive theories that really get you thinking. Buy it and don't look back!
on 2 January 2014
(sorry if my English is not very good, I'm Spaniard)
This box is one of the best documentary series I've discovered -even taking into consideration that I've become addict to the BBC-Earth series few months ago.
Firstly, these series are not about animals. Please, don't blame on me, I love animal documentaries, but these are the most typical. The series in The Box Set cover matters not frequently touched in the more commercial documentaries.
Prof. Iain Stewart is amazingly didactic and makes tough subjects interesting and easy to understand. The graphics, videos and charts are intelligent, conceptual but, at the same time, simple and understandable.
I noticed terrible difference between the two series in the box "The power of the Earth" (2008) and "How the Earth made us"(2010)... The first one (also first chronologically talking) is much more better. In "The power of the Earth" each chapter covers the different strengths that makes the life possible on Earth, and how they have influence in our living in an open-general point of view. From the volcanos to the ice, including the atmosphere, the water and other powers that, unnoticedly, have provided a difference to the Earth to make life and evolution possible since the Earth creation by stardust.
The second one, "How the Earth made us", describes some powers that shape our existence in some manners, but, in my opinion, not all the relations explained here are as clear and direct as in the first series. I think that the second attempt tries to take advantage of the success of the first one, but they didn't got such a good result. It's a good documentary, but not as exceptional as the first one.
All in all, I think that this box is a MUST HAVE in the collection of a documentary-lover and in the mind of the people that want to understand better how our planet works and why the Earth is, up to now, the only planet with demonstrated living existence.
Buying the pair on blu-ray has worked out as a good bargain.
Personally I'm a geology groupie, and the most enthusiastic compelling geology lecturers are volcanologists (mainly because what they study can potentially kill them, by suffocating gases, extreme heat, choking ash or by banging them on the head with a lava bomb). In consequence, they tend to be a bit perkier than the rest of us. When you add Scotland into the mix, a place where the pretty old rocks to start with have been metamorphosed by past igneous activity into an entire reference book, you end up with Iain Stewart, a terribly gneiss (sorry, nice) man with bags of energy and daring. I too have walked down the Mid Atlantic ridge in Iceland (handily it's located above water)and it's just as fantastic as he makes it. I'll let him abseil down active Ethiopian volcaones though.
As blu rays, Power of the Planet uses an awful lot of stock film (well you can't exactly go back and refilm Mt St Helens blowing up in HD, can you). So it's only the new material that is a slight improvement over the DVD. How Earth Made Us was made in a more lush manner and compares well with the high class BBC nature docs. More series please!