Tuesday, June 29, 2010

DVD Review - How the Earth Changed History

How the Earth Changed History (released on DVD and Blu-ray June 29) answers the following questions: How did the Earth alter human progress--and finally, how do humans alter the Earth?

Narrated by Professor Iain Stewart, the series takes us through 5 parts--"Water," "Deep Earth," "Wind," "Fire," and "The Human Planet." Each parts covers basic science and, of course, history--all synthesized in a neat package which is easy to digest and understand. There's a rather aimless feeling in the first couple parts, without much to tie them together, until "Fire" and "The Human Planet" when Stewart busts out his thesis--the balance between humans and the Earth is tense and must be kept in good order.

Along with the breathtaking visuals, How the Earth Changed History grabs your attention as Stewart bounds across every nook and cranny of the Earth from a narrow coal tunnel in England to the deserts of the Sahara. His youthful enthusiasm and clear voice helps greatly. He's involved at every step and he's rather daring, doing certain things. such as walking through fire (with a suit, of course), which I would never do.

My complaints, few as they may be, warrant a couple lines. First, the assertion that history and climate is somehow "untold" is stretching it. There are plenty of history books which mention climate change, albeit not as in depth, along with the usual overextension and peasant revolts in regards to civilization collapse. In fact, Jared Diamond's excellent book, Collapse, is dedicated to the exact subject. Second, the doom and gloom of global warming is poured on in the final ten minutes. However, the solution isn't much of one. Carbon sequestration and finding new energy sources are discussed, but the urgency to implement these plans isn't conveyed.

How the Earth Changed History provides a solid foundation of science and history, notably the effects climate had on human development and shows the converse--the effects humans have on climate--in modern day. All in all, it's a very solid production and educational as well.

Score: 8.7/10

Own it on DVD June 29!
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