Discovery Channel backtracks, promises to air climate change episode of new Frozen Planet series

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
December 07, 2011



Discovery Channel has announced that it will, in fact, air the last episode of the new series Frozen Planet, which focuses solely on the impact of climate change at the world's poles. By the creators of universally-acclaimed Planet Earth, the full series explores the wildlife and environs of the Arctic and Antarctic, but the Discovery Channel came under fire after it announced it would not air the last episode, called "On Thin Ice", which deals specifically with climate change. A petition on Change.org garnered 75,000 signatures calling on the Discovery Channel to air the full series, before the network caved and announced it would do so.

Last month, the network had stated it would not air "On Thin Ice" due to "scheduling conflicts," but many believed it was cutting the episode because it specifically addressed climate change, an at times contentious issue in the U.S., although the vast majority of experts agree the world is warming due to human activities, such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation. Global temperatures are currently 0.8 degrees Celsius (1.44 degrees Fahrenheit) higher since the Industrial Revolution. The 13 warmest years on record have all occurred in the last 15 years with the 2000s being the warmest decade to date.

The Arctic as viewed by NASA's MODIS Satellite in June 2010. Greenland is the bright island on the bottom-left.
The Arctic as viewed by NASA's MODIS Satellite in June 2010.
The poles have seen more significant changes than the rest of the planet to date, since warming there has been faster, especially in the Arctic. Dwindling sea ice—which hit its lowest volume yet recorded this year—is imperiling key species such as polar bears and walruses, as well as upending the lives of indigenous people in the Arctic. There are also fears in the Antarctic that climate change could upset the survival of numerous penguin species. In addition, the melting ice sheet in Greenland threatens to raise sea levels significantly.

The head of Discovery Channel, Eileen O'Neill said of the series, "You see an environment that's changing, if not disappearing, in our generation." She added that, "You see sequences that have never been captured on film before—a world you would expect to see in a 'Narnia' film, not on this planet."

The BBC also came under heavy criticism for its decision to sell the series to other worldwide networks piecemeal, instead of requiring networks to buy the entire series as is.

Legendary broadcaster and conservationist, David Attenborough, who narrates the series told the Guardian, that "these are fascinating, low-temperature ecosystems with wonderful, amazing things to be discovered. So most of the series is about that, but if you're going do it as thoroughly as we hoped to, you have to at some stage address the question of whether or not we are damaging it, or it's disappearing or changing."

Attenborough made his first trip to the North Pole for the series at the age of 80. A part of this trip appears in the final episode as he directly addresses viewers on the issue of climate change.













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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (December 07, 2011).

Discovery Channel backtracks, promises to air climate change episode of new Frozen Planet series.

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/1207-hance_discovery2.html