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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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This is a series of five hour-long documentaries, hosted by vigorous vulcanologist Dr Iain Stewart, who examines how the Earth works and how it has developed over 4.6 billion years.
Stewart starts with the effect that volcanos have had on the planet, then its atmosphere (storms and so on), then the effect of ice (which also covers the melting of the glaciers), then water (the action of the oceans and their all important currents), and finally the earth's place in the universe and how it's been shaped by extra terrestrial events.

Each programme is packed with dramatic filming, plenty of detailed geological / meteorological information, and masses of enthusiasm from Stewart who scampers across the landscape, doing his best to bring a sense of drama and majesty to these (literally) earth shattering (and forming) events. For instance, did you know that earth once had a twin planet, and the destruction of that planet went a long way towards making Earth inhabitable?
The series makes for enjoyable viewing, and explains in reasonable depth the forces at play and how they have affected human evolution and geography. The looming presence of the current world situation is inescapable -- which makes the episode about glaciers especially relevant. But each programme contains a few gems, like scuba diving between two continents, or going inside a glaciers to watch it grinding away at the bedrock, or exploring a six-foot tall pocket of salt crystals.
Stewart is one of the new breed of TV documentary presenter -- he's on screen almost all the time, and the action follows him exploring different scenarios. This can get a bit wearing so you might want to space out how you watch the episodes (especially as his accent slithers from Scottish to strangely mid-Atlantic now and then!). But Stewart's understanding of the science lifts the series overall -- it is so much better to watch an expert presenter who understands their subject, than to be lectured by a celebrity who can barely get to grips with the script...
Even so, it does get a bit rich to be reminded that climate change is upon us, when the presenter (however well informed) has spent the past 50 minutes galloping from one side of the world to the other and back! In the oceans programme, for example, the film grew went to South America to record a spectacular tidal bore and thus demonstrate the effect that the moon has on our planet's tides. Well, the River Severn may not have been quite so dramatic, but it is rather more on our doorstep...

Minor grumbles aside, this is a well researched documentary series which displays the secrets and majesty of the planet in an entertaining style. It keeps the viewer interested all the way through, and avoids repeating itself or trailing the next item over and over. It's well edited, informative and occasionally unexpected. The final epsiode, which considers how rare complex life may be in the universe, is a little chilling (and Stewart uses his favourite word; 'catastrophe' only 15 times too often), and inevitably hammers home the message that we are changing the planet at a startling speed, but it also reinforces the fact that in geological terms the earth will always recover. In time. It's only mankind's future that is at risk.
Five hours viewing for 15 quid isn't a bad price, either.
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on 16 December 2007
This is one of those now rare series of programmes that is actually worth watching. It packs in so much information on the world into a short five hours without making you feel totally inundated with it. It's nice to see new programmes as well, that have the presenter actually knowing what they're talking about rather than having a celebrity doing it and being totally clueless.

This series is basically about showing you what has shaped our planet and made it what it is today: volcanoes, atmosphere, ice and oceans. It also always gives examples rather than just saying it and then leaving it. The only slight problem I have with it is in some examples it will tell you what happened (ie. when Africa and Spain collided to shut down the Mediteranean Sea), but doesn't go into detail on how it got back on track. Minor problem though.

Dr Iain Stewart has seen some truly remarkable places around the world that very few others will ever see. He does occasionally delve into climate change and what we're doing to the planet whilst also jetting to all sorts of places (Greenland, Hawaii, Amazon, Ethiopia to name but a few). This, however, can be excused as someone's got to tell you about how the Earth works and wouldn't be nearly as interesting and captivating if there wasn't a 'hands-on' approach to it all.

In a nutshell...well worded, well presented, not patronising in the slightest, jam packed full of interesting information. The enthusiasm he shows to his work adds to it's watchability immensely. Brilliant! 5 stars!
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on 20 October 2009
I primarily want this video for educational purposes. Unfortunately, teaching geology and plate tectonics does not inspire every student to try their utmost. Perhaps the concepts are just too obscure (entire continents moving because of convection currents tests the credulity of most teenagers) or perhaps there is a need to shy away from forces so vast that they make us look not only minuscule, but perhaps irrelevant.
There is a powerful need to show the processes visually. And to present them in an attractive manner.
"Earth: the Power of the Planet" succeeds in spades. Not only are the visuals imaginative, but the presenter is young and has an undeniably appealing Scottish accent.
I've only had the DVDs for a short time, and have not yet managed to screen all of them, but I've shown the first episode (Volcano) to two classes: the result was more than satisfying, with both classes paying close, and quiet, attention. I didn't even have to provide them with a worksheet to focus their attention.
So far, I rate this four and a half volcanic cones.
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on 5 January 2008
I absolutely love this series and I can't wait to get it on DVD. Dr Ian Stewart is a very enthusiastic presenter who clearly knows his stuff! The cinematography is excellent and shows you things other series' never have. The inside of a glacier for example!

Yes, we are frequently reminded of the danger we present to our planet but is this a bad thing? I think not! We are also shown how incredible it is that we are here at all and I think we all need a little humble pie every now and then!

Dr Stewart also did another series. I think it was called journeys around the ring of fire (or something similar) and I reccommend that too!
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on 19 December 2007
Outlandishly fascinating investigation of how this little planet we live on is what it is today.
Some slightly speculative guesstimation on certain events but undoubtedly the best explanation for the way of the world and how it developed human has produced to date. Not sure about the earth twin theory and strangely offered no reason for putting it forward.
The water episode is the weakest but only because the other 4 are just so awe inspiring.
The format of ending on a dour note was a little tiresome but our western culture seems to like a bit of drama and frankly there's no bigger drama playing out than the one we're living out now. I wish I could live long enough to see how we fair.
If you want the story of the earth explained to you in a manner that'll leave you gob smacked then get this!
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on 8 March 2008
This is an amazing series. In my opinion one of the very best the BBC has ever done. The imagery is breathtaking and Dr Iain Stewarts enthusiastic commentary captures the imagination. Makes you appreciate what an amazing planet we live on and how lucky we are being able to enjoy it.
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on 17 March 2008
BRILLIANT - a must see, in laymans language, breathtaking stuff. One is being educated without knowing it - treat yourself, you will not be disappointed - five stars is not enough.
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on 4 October 2015
If you have any interest in life on earth then how about checking out the life of "EARTH" because this dvd can only be described as utterly AMAZING ! Never before have i looked at the planet as i will now after watching this Wonderfully mind broadening film. Presented by DR . IAIN STEWART who explains things that you would never have believed about our Planet. With breathtaking locations,stunning facts and a delight to watch too. I would urge anybody with the slightest interest in the history of our Planet Earth to buy this DVD and prepare to be ASTONISHED !!
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on 16 December 2007
A well organised documentary showing how different major forces have contributed towards the planet we take for granted, also he explains different reasons for global warming aside us; such as the fact that we are still in the latter end of an ice age.
I feel privileged to have DR Iain Stewart as a lecturer at Plymouth uni.
Overall it is an excellent documentary worthy of 5 stars presented by a passionate Geologist. (Hopefully i'll be like him in a few years!!)
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on 28 March 2009
The producer of this DVD Iain Stewart takes us around the Earth with visual splendor to teach in a very interesting way how the Earth was formed, developed, went through evolutionary stages, the catasptrophes it survived, how life started, the evolutionary stages and shocks it went through, how ecosystems formed, how they interact to provide an inhabitable environment and how mankind is changing this environment to threaten the ecosystems and therefore life on Earth including human life. This may sound like green peace mouth cliche, but I recommend the viewer to approach the film without any prejudice. There is a lot of information about volcanoes, glaciers, the atmosphere, the early life forms, Earth's geological and biological history. These are explained in a way that shows how everything is connected with causality. The explanations flow very clearly from topic to topic, asking thought provoking questions to the viewer at the right times and subsequent explorations of the possible answers by taking us back to Earth's early history and / or to different regions of Earth. We are shown evidence of various ancient catastrophes and events that profoundly changed the climate on Earth which destroyed some species but also created the necessary conditions for new species to come into existence millions of years later.

To explain this in a little more detail, various life forms such as dinasours and others have become extinct at each catastrophe several times over the past millions of years. But each time as some life forms were being destroyed some other species survived and some new species came into existence and evolution continued millions of years after the catastrophe as the Earth's atmosphere, oceans, land and ecosystems gradually recovered. The most important of these were the ice age of 700 million years ago, the interruption for millions of years in deep ocean currents and the 15 kilometer wide meteorite crash of 65 million years ago that wiped out the dinasours. Some antique human civilizations also dissapeared such as the Mayas. Although the Mayan dissapearance was not caused by a natural disaster it is an example of why we should not take the continuity of our present civilization for granted. In fact, the possible future of our planet and humankind is also discussed. Iain Stewart's closing remarks are very meaningful ; it is not the Earth's survivability that is at peril, it is the continuity of the human beings that is questionable. The Earth will continue one way or another, it has survived many natural catastrophes before. In contrast with the naturally occured profound changes in Earth's climate and ecosystems millions of years ago nowadays these unfavorable changes that have already begun again are man made and their rates are accelerating ; eg. releasing too much carbon dioxide gas into the atmosphere and deforestation by humans that reduces the planet's capability to absorb the extra carbon dioxide causing global warming which throws many ecosystems off balance. The ecosystems that were designed to interact with one another to keep Earth inhabitable are quickly becoming dysfunctional.

Yet pretty soon excessive Carbon Dioxide generation may become the least of our worries ; a much worse danger may be imminent. This is the probable release of an even more poisonous and more green house effect gas called methane currently trapped in ice covering Siberia. This methane is formed by chemical reactions of plants under the ground below the Siberian ice on land covering a surface area bigger than the American continent. Many scientists believe that if global warming caused by the excessive increase in the level of Carbon Dioxide continues to raise atmospheric temperatures, most ice around the world including in the poles and in Siberia may melt. In that case, melting Siberian ice would release methane bubbles so far trapped in it. This could increase the level of methane in our atmosphere tenfold accelerating the global warming rate to such a high rate that global warming caused previously by Carbon Dioxide alone would remain very slow in comparison.

A superior aspect of this DVD to some other science DVDs is that it is presented by an expert on the topic, not by a celebrity ; he does not appear visually throughout the DVD, we just hear his voice as we watch the volcanoes erupt etc..Whereas in many celebrity sometimes even professor presented science DVD's we watch the celebrity or the professor's face more often than pictures of the natural events that are the subject of the DVD. I don't mind seeing the presenter from time to time but some DVDs exaggerate it as if the presenter wants to promote himself more than he wants to present the topic. You won't find that in this DVD, the presenter does not appear visually at all so all visual time is devoted to pictures of nature.

The producer has done a terrific job, because when I compare this to a recent class lecture I attended about a similar topic in a prestigious American University, I witnessed that the class lecturer made such and important and interesting topic very boring for the students to listen to. Because in contrast to this DVD the university professor who was lecturing the class was talking very fast for 45 minutes in each class without ever stopping, jumping from topic to topic with no central theme, using no beautiful visual slides, scribbling illegibly on the slides on an overhead projector, not keeping track of feedback from the audience ( students ). The students would have learned much more about this subject by watching this DVD and would have been entertained at the same time instead of attending that professor's lectures. This DVD is interesting for everyone but it is especially a rich source for high school and university students doing a project about the Earth's geology, biology and ecosystems.
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