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Planet Earth

Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it! The multiculturalism of the San Francisco Bay Area and the international nature of the World Wide :-) Web are constant reminders to me of the many many people who do not. Happy Holidays to all of you, in honor of your year-end holidays!

We celebrate Christmas at my house, and a wonderful gift that I received from my family is the complete DVD series of Planet Earth by BBC Video. Those of you who have somehow escaped :-) the advertising for Planet Earth have actually missed an opportunity. The Discovery Channel has been showing the series (in high-definition [HD] where available) and offering a special on the first disk of the series (I sent one to my 85-year-old Dad) for some time. David Attenborough, Narrator Planet Earth, describes the series as “…more a celebration of our planet, not a lament about the state of it.” (It is one characteristic of humans that we often destroy places before we even know what is there.) The American version is narrated by Sigourney Weaver. The epic series, Planet Earth, had an unprecedented production budget, utilized high-definition photography, and employed “revolutionary high-speed cameras.” According to the DVD box, the series was “five years in the making, over 2000 days in the field” and used 40 videographers across 200 locations.

What a perfect Christmas gift for a photographer who loves Nature (with a capital “N”)! If travel budgets limit my own personal travel to all of the locations depicted, I can take solace in two things: 1) that California is a microcosm of many of the world’s environments, with a broad diversity of biomes, and 2) that the incredible photography of Planet Earth can “transport” so many of us to these filmed locations!

I have seen a handful of the episodes, as many as I could. Soon I will have seen them all.

The DVD set includes five disks with the following content:

  • Disk 1: From Pole to Pole, Mountains, Fresh Water
  • Disk 2: Caves, Deserts, Ice Worlds
  • Disk 3: Great Plains, Jungles, Shallow Seas
  • Disk 4: Seasonal Forests, Ocean Deep
  • Disk 5: Saving Species, Into the Wilderness, Living Together

At this time in Earth’s history, we face unprecedented problems of a Global nature. Global Warming is just one, but perhaps represents the greatest immediate need for attention, given the accelerating nature of changes. In my life, I have seen the slow (in human terms) shift of focus from the national levels to the international and truly global levels. In my mind, one of the early milestones in this shift in focus was the photography of Earth from space, by astronauts and cosmonauts. As a species, many of us began to realize several things: that our planet is incredibly beautiful, that we are all on this planet together, and that the planet we have been “issued” is the *only one that we have*, at least for now.

One of my hopes for the New Year of 2008 is that we all become more intelligent stewards of our Planet Earth.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo

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