The documentary series reveals the extraordinary riches and wonders of the polar regions that have kept people visiting them for thousands of years. Today, their survival relies on a combination of ancient wisdom and cutting-edge science.
Most Arctic people live in Siberia, either in cities like Norilsk - the coldest city on earth - or out on the tundra, where tribes like the Dogan survive by herding reindeer, using them to drag their homes behind them. On the coast, traditional people still hunt walrus from open boats - it is dangerous work, but one big walrus will feed a family for weeks. Settlers are drawn to the Arctic by its abundant minerals; the Danish Armed Forces maintain their claim to Greenland's mineral wealth with an epic dog sled patrol, covering 2,000 miles through the winter. Above, the spectacular northern lights can disrupt power supplies so scientists monitor it constantly, firing rockets into it to release a cloud of glowing smoke 100 kilometres high.
In contrast, Antarctica is so remote and cold that it was only a century ago that the first people explored the continent. Captain Scott's hut still stands as a memorial to these men. Science is now the only significant human activity allowed; robot submarines are sent deep beneath the ice in search of new life-forms, which may also be found in a labyrinth of ice caves high up on an active volcano. Above, colossal balloons are launched into the purest air on earth to detect cosmic rays.
At the South Pole there is a research base designed to withstand the world's most extreme winters. Cut off from the outside world for six months, the base is totally self-sufficient, even boasting a greenhouse.
TelegraphIn the final episode of the popular series, which will be broadcast on BBC One on December 7th, Sir David claims that the Arctic could be ice free in summer by 2020 and polar bears are already dying due to a lack of ice.
Already the programme has caused controversy after it was revealed that the BBC is offering broadcasters in countries like the US, where there is more scepticism about global warming, the option of buying the series without the climate change episode at the end.
Writing in the Radio Times, Lord Lawson points out that certain populations of polar bears are rising and that sea ice cover is in fact increasing in Antarctica.
Sir David Attenborough is one of our finest journalists and a great expert on animal life. Unfortunately, however, when it comes to global warming he seems to prefer sensation to objectivity, he said.
However Cambridge University scientists questioned whether Lord Lawson understands or is even aware of the wider context of the latest peer-reviewed research on global warming.
For example Lord Lawson claims that polar bear populations are increasing in certain areas, although many people believe this is because the animals are spotted more around human settlements because they are hungry.
But Sir David makes clear that the under-nourished polar bears he is seen with on the television is from just one population.
Also, the programme makes clear that certain animals such as the killer whale will actually benefit from less sea ice in the summer.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) most populations of polar bears are declining as the animals struggle to hunt when there is less sea ice.
Lord Lawson says that that an objective point of view would have pointed out that Antarctic sea ice has expanded over the last 30 years.
He also claimed that evaporation from the melting ice is countering the warming effect by providing cloud cover.
Dr Ian Willis, a senior researcher at the Cambridge University Scott Polar Research Institute, said neither of these points counteract the overall loss of sea ice.
It is indeed the case that while total sea ice extent in Antarctica over the last three decades has increased slightly, the total sea ice extent in the Northern hemisphere has decreased more substantially. So there is now less sea ice on the planet than there was 30 years ago, he said.
The programme will be beamed to more than seven million viewers and shown in schools.
Like previous documentaries by Sir David, it is likely to have a huge impact on the publics understanding of natural science and will prompt wide concern about the need to cut carbon emissions to stop climate change.
We have only started to see changes in the Arctic and Antarctic recently so it is hard to predict what impact these changes will have but we can say for ourselves. These places are changing on a scale that is hard to ignore," he said.
The poles may seem very remote but what is happening there is likely to have a greater impact on use than any other aspect of global warming. If the Arctic sea ice continues to disappear it will drive up the temperature of the planet more quickly and the melting ice could drive up sea levels by one metre - enough to threaten millions of people by the end of the century. The animals are already adapting to these changes but can we adapt to what is happening to the frozen planet?
Sir David admitted that much of the science is in the early stages but having visited the Poles, he is convinced of man-made global warming and warned of the "devastating effects", especially in coastal communities due to sea level rise.
As the world meets in Durban for the latest round of UN climate talks, he urged all countries to cut emissions.
I dont think anyone can seriously deny it is happening, he said. What the controversy is about is whether mankind has been a factor in that. I personally think we have and it would be surprising if we hadnt given what we have been doing for the last 125 years. But in the way it is irrelevant given temperatures are increasing and we know that is potentially doing a lot of damage and if we can we should try and stop that happening. Whether it is caused by us or not, we can bring down carbon emissions and that could stop temperatures rising.
Dr Mark Brandon, Polar Oceanographer at the Open University, and a consultant on the programme, said Lord Lawson is cherry picking the science.
"Lord Lawson deliberately focuses on isolated pieces of factual evidence and then delivers them in a way to imply that his isolated facts apply to the whole cryosphere. [The programme] never overstates the evidence or uses hyperbole and it is a brave and honest portrayal of what is going on right now."
Frozen Planet episode 7 is screened on Wednesday, December 7 on BBC One at 9.00pm.
Now that Baldwin has been announced for the US version, I am torn about which version to get.Edmond Dantès;32906370 said:Yes, Discovery have their own version that they're currently working on, with a different narrator and the usual editing that they do with these series. Their version will also have a Blu-ray release shortly after it airs in the US. That is the full unedited BBC version with Attenborough's narration and the behind the scene featurettes on Amazon.
The ten minute behind the scene featurettes are normally cut out and the main part of the episode is edited to take the new narration into account. Also, commercial breaks are factored into the editing as well, but that shouldn't affect the Blu-ray release, only the version that airs on Discovery.Now that Baldwin has been announced for the US version, I am torn about which version to get.
Is the editing actually different? I had never known that.
TelegraphFrozen Planet has been a worthy reminder of the precariousness of both the world being filmed and those people filming it. So in a marked change, last nights penultimate episode focused on the humans, rather than animals, but who are as much a part of nature as the ice itself. As usual, the footage was divided between the Arctic, marginally more habitable, and the Antarctic, where it would be impossible to live for more than a few fleeting months.
In the Arctic, we met Inuit hunters and a family from the Siberian Dolgan tribe who have forged unusual methods of survival despite temperatures of up to -50c, including being sewn into their reindeer skins to prevent frostbite, and living in one room, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style, to retain body heat.
On paper, following humans who readily volunteer to be filmed should offer some respite to the camera crew. But the very act of monitoring the daily grind which here includes a spectacular Melville-esque walrus hunt across rapidly shifting ice floats - proves perilous. In another incredible scene, we witness an Inuit grandfather collecting guillemot eggs from a rock-face while dangling precariously from a single nylon rope. The afterword, or freeze frame, however, shows us what the cameraman had to go through in order to obtain the shot. Thats one of the most hardcore things Ive ever seen, laughs producer, Dan Rees. Well, quite.
But much in the same way that this series has previously excelled in portraying the intimacy of wild animals in their habitat, watching herders barter with Inuits over reindeer skins, whale meat and gossip was equally poignant. We could learn a lot from their way of life, not least their pioneering approach of nose to tail eating in which not one jot of a two tonne walrus goes to waste. Even the flesh is parcelled up in deft, little bags made from the walrus skin. All in all it was a welcome relief to view such humanity given that were constantly reminded its mankind that is also destroying the environment.
The Antarctic, however, is far colder than the Arctic, with temperatures hovering around -60c and 99 per cent of the land blanketed in ice. Most inhospitable, as Captain Scott discovered to his peril during his 1911 expedition for glory. Nowadays, man arrives in fits and starts and while the Antarctic Treaty dictates no one owns this land, it doesnt mean that around 5,000 people don't visit the continent each year - be it tourists photographing emperor penguin colonies, or scientists based at research stations scattered across the continent. Two stunning vignettes showed them mapping the sea floor with submarines and shooting rockets into the sky to spew smoke over the Aurora Borealis in an attempt to map its movements. Owing to the lack of pollution, its one of the best places to chart changes in the atmosphere.
Of course it all begs the question as to why anyone would live in a polar region at all, and while this question remains largely unanswered, watching the tribes in the north and the scientists in the south negotiate their surroundings on a daily basis, proved just as fascinating to watch as the animals themselves.
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Why is a guy a 'lunatic' because he has some valid questions about the assertions made in the program?
What's with david and the constant laying down next to animals in that episode? Is he that old that he can't stand up for long periods of time in the cold? Or was it just to frame it better?
David Attenborough journeys to both polar regions to investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the people and wildlife that live there and for the rest of the planet.
David starts out at the North Pole, standing on sea ice several metres thick, but which scientists predict could be open ocean within the next few decades. The Arctic has been warming at twice the global average, so David heads out with a Norwegian team to see what this means for polar bears. He comes face-to-face with a tranquilised female, and discovers that mothers and cubs are going hungry as the sea ice on which they hunt disappears. In Canada, Inuit hunters have seen with their own eyes what scientists have seen from space; the Arctic Ocean has lost 30% of its summer ice cover over the last 30 years. For some, the melting sea ice will allow access to trillions of dollars worth of oil, gas and minerals. For the rest of us, it means the planet will get warmer, as sea ice is important to reflect back the sun's energy. Next David travels to see what's happening to the ice on land: in Greenland, we follow intrepid ice scientists as they study giant waterfalls of meltwater, which are accelerating iceberg calving events, and ultimately leading to a rise in global sea level.
Temperatures have also risen in the Antarctic - David returns to glaciers photographed by the Shackleton expedition and reveals a dramatic retreat over the past century. It's not just the ice that is changing - ice-loving adelie penguins are disappearing, and more temperate gentoo penguins are moving in. Finally, we see the first ever images of the largest recent natural event on our planet - the break up of the Wilkins Ice Shelf, an ice sheet the size of Jamaica, which shattered into hundreds of icebergs in 2009.
SourceNEW YORK (AP) Discovery Channel's documentary series "Frozen Planet" will premiere March 18, and will encompass seven episodes including a program on climate change hosted by David Attenborough.
On that seventh episode, the famed British naturalist will investigate what rising temperatures will mean for the planet and life on it.
The network made the announcement Tuesday.
"Frozen Planet" is described as "the ultimate portrait of our Earth's polar regions." A co-production of Discovery Channel and BBC, it was four years in the making and comes from the team behind "Planet Earth," the acclaimed series that aired on Discovery in 2007.
The "Frozen Planet" team filmed in every nation inside the Arctic and Antarctic Circles during 2,356 days in the field, 1 1/2 years at sea, more than six months on the sea ice and 134 hours beneath that ice, according to Discovery.
Among the sights: the birth of an iceberg bigger than the largest building on Earth, a caterpillar with antifreeze in its veins and tiny baby polar bears, which at birth are 25 percent smaller than human babies.
"Frozen Planet" will be narrated by Alec Baldwin.
Discovery and TLC networks head Eileen O'Neill calls the series remarkable "because it's so surprising. 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."
She adds, "You see an environment that's changing, if not disappearing, in our generation."
TelegrpahIts arrived: the final episode of this landmark series and the one thats been whipping up controversy in the press when it was discovered that the commercial arm of the BBC, BBC Worldwide, has made it merely an optional element when selling the nature series to international buyers, possibly because not all other countries are thought amenable to its focus on climate change.
The mighty Sir David Attenborough takes centre stage in this episode. Having for decades presented programmes which present an essentially celebratory, positive view of our natural environment, here he makes a very serious clarion call that climate change is warming up the poles and its consequences are likely to be catastrophic.
The facts are worrying: Greenlands ice sheet, for example, melting twice as fast as it was 20 years ago, may add half a metre to world sea levels by the end of the century, swamping low-lying lands.
In one poignant moment, Attenborough sits on the ice stroking a polar bear thats been tranquillised for a health check: their numbers are in decline.
Typically, Attenborough delivers facts without drama, but with authoritative clarity.
TelegraphLet me start with a confession. Sometimes, in advance of yet another big David Attenborough wildlife series, I feel the same as before the latest big costume drama. What were in for will be so predictably high-class that its possible to feel quite blasé about it as if we were jaded emperors tired of being brought still more of those pesky golden eggs. Every shot a mini-masterpiece of cinematography? Check. A winning mixture of the cute and brutal? Check. Sights for which Victorian naturalists would have risked their lives served up every few minutes while we drink wine on our sofas? Check.
This attitude is, of course, wrong. In fact, as Frozen Planet (BBC One) has proved all over again, its so wrong as to be monstrously ungrateful. Right about now, dozens of programme-makers will be compiling those shows featuring the best television clips of 2011. When it comes to Frozen Planet, theyll be almost sadistically spoiled for choice. (Personally, amid the more spectacular thrills, I loved the scene where a seal pursued a penguin on land possibly the slowest screen chase since Grandpa Simpson tried to catch that tortoise.) True, as some critics have pointed out, thereve been an awful lot of penguins and polar bears. Yet if there werent, it would be like watching a band who refuse to play their greatest hits.
But all that was before last nights episode came trailing uncharacteristic clouds of controversy. At the beginning of the series, Attenborough had talked darkly of our seeing these wonders perhaps for the last time. Now, we were promised, hed tell us exactly what he meant in a demonstration of the effects of global warming that looked for a while as if it might be too hot for American TV.
Needless to say, the idea of Sir David Attenborough using his national treasure status to take sides in the climate change debate doesnt sit well with the sceptics. They wont have been reassured, either, by last nights opening scenes, which contained a blizzard of alarmist coulds and mights including the claim that the North Pole itself could be open water as soon as 2020. Attenborough then rather slyly suggested that while this would be bad news for polar bears and Arctic peoples, it would be good news for some at which point we cut to an oil refinery. (Boo!)
The longer the programme went on, though, the clearer it was that Attenborough remains a BBC man to his bootstraps. At times, indeed, the result felt virtually like a parody of the Corporations determined commitment to the sort of balance that proves its worth by annoying both sides.
Soon there seemed little doubt that the polar ice is melting. (I should probably say that I write as an instinctive sceptic a bit frightened by the full-blown kind.) Aerial photos of the Arctic showed that between 1980 and 2010, 30 per cent of the sea-ice has disappeared. For thousands of years the Wilkins ice shelf off the Antarctic coast was a solid Yorkshire-sized block, some 200 metres thick. Now it looks like a collection of huge white London Olympics logos.
Even so, the only cause of the melting that Attenborough mentioned was a shift in wind direction. At no point did he suggest any human involvement in climate change and whenever possible he pointed out the animals that have benefited from the warmer conditions. On the question of what we should do now, his message seemed not unlike Lord Lawsons, writing in the Radio Times last week: we must adapt to the new climate rather than necessarily doing anything to reverse it.
But the most unexpected twist of all came in Freeze Frame the little stand-alone film at the end which shows us how the programme was made. Last night, it explained how the camera team got those fantastic shots of a frozen waterfall in northern Canada bursting back into springtime life. To find the likely date of the big thaw, the camera team first asked a climate scientist. Having applied the latest technological gizmos, she predicted April 24, which two days later passed without incident.
The team then consulted a grizzled old-timer living nearby called, somehow inevitably, Red. Red didnt hold with these here gauges, but felt in his bones that the date would be May 6. Sure enough, he was bang-on. Are you always right? he was asked. No, said Red modestly. In 1985, I missed it.
This was, admittedly, good knockabout fun. None the less, chortling at the limitations of scientists and their technology seemed a strange way to finish a programme that had relied so heavily on these here gauges for its blood-curdling predictions of the Earths future climate.
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Check out Madagascar and Life for Attenborough narrated docs and South Pacific, Galapagos, Wild China, Ganges, Yellowstone, Nature's Greatest Events and Mountain Gorilla for great docs from the BBC Natural History Unit that aren't narrated by Sir David.I need to get more of these Attenborough docs on Blu Ray, I only have Planet Earth which I've rewatched about 3 times.
I always imagined someone making an educational game where you explore some of these places, and when you reach points of interest you'd hear Attenborough's voice describing and explaining them. Basically imagine Endless Ocean with modern graphics and Attenborough's voice narrating it.
Edmond Dantès;33311411 said:Check out Madagascar and Life for Attenborough narrated docs and South Pacific, Galapagos, Wild China, Ganges, Yellowstone, Nature's Greatest Events and Mountain Gorilla for great docs from the BBC Natural History Unit that aren't narrated by Sir David.
Also, check out the Life Collection featuring all of David's great specialist series.
Michael Palin's various series are still the benchmarks for travel documentaries. Bruce Parry's Amazon and Arctic docs are very accomplished series and Stephen Fry in America gives a fascinating insight into the lesser known spectacles and hidden treasures of the US.Thanks for the suggestions. I watched Life when it was broadcast but I wouldn't mind watching it again.
Do you have any good travel documentary suggestions? He doesn't seem to be very well known but I caught an episode of Simon Reeve's Tropic of Cancer and it really got me in to those more personal type of documentaries.
This is touted as the sequel because it's from the Planet Earth production team, who are regarded as the 'crown jewels' of the Natural History Unit. Life was produced by a different team who and it certainly shows. It didn't have the quality of Planet Earth, The Blue Planet and David's Life Collection. Not bad, but not great either.I thought Life was the sequel to Planet Earth?
Love these BBC nature docs but only loosely follow them.
Would the Blu-ray run fine on my US PS3 and TV? I've seen people with issues with previous BBC releases like this but I haven't read anything about this release.
I have had no issues on my PS3 using the British version of Planet Earth and LIfe. Hoping for the same with this one.
Frozen Planet's polar bear footage was standard practice, claims BBC
Corporation says shots of newborn cubs in wildlife centre, rather than their natural habitat, were 'editorially and ethically justified'
The BBC has denied misleading viewers in its Frozen Planet series by using footage of newborn polar bear cubs shot at a wildlife centre in the Netherlands rather than in the Arctic.
The fifth episode of the highly praised programme, which ended its run last week, cut from footage of a male polar bear on the Arctic ice to a female inside a den caring for just-born cubs. As the view shifts the presenter, Sir David Attenborough, says: "But on lee-side slopes, beneath the snow, new lives are beginning."
Some newspaper reports claimed this was potentially misleading for viewers, who would assume all the footage was from the wild. John Whittingdale, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons media select committee, said he felt it would have been better for the programme to be "entirely open".
He told the Daily Mirror: "If this was not filmed in the wild it would have been much better to have made that clear in the commentary."
However, the BBC said the narration had been deliberately "very general", so viewers would not assume it referred to the specific cubs.
BBC editorial guidelines on wildlife programmes say that when it is impractical or unsafe to film something in the wild "it can be editorially and ethically justified to use captive animals". They add: "But we must never claim that such sequences were shot in the actual location depicted in the film."
The corporation did not believe the Frozen Planet sequence contravened these and was "very happy" with the narration, the spokeswoman said.
She also pointed to a separate film on the Frozen Planet website explaining the background to the polar bear cub footage, which shows the hidden cameras being fitted at the wildlife centre weeks before the polar bear gave birth.
There was "no way" the programme could have put cameras in a wild den, the series producer, Kathryn Jeffs, explains in the film: "It would just be completely impractical. Even if we could, you wouldn't want to disturb the polar bears by getting that close. This wasn't part of the story that we could leave out of Frozen Planet, so there really was only one way we could approach it."
The BBC echoed this in a statement defending the programme. The narration was "carefully worded so it didn't mislead the audience and talked in general about polar bears in the wild rather than the specific cubs shown", it said, calling this "standard practice" for wildlife programmes.
Attenborough himself said the process had been necessary for "the safety of the animal".
He told ITV1's This Morning: "If you had tried to put a camera in the wild in a polar bear den, she would either have killed the cub or she would have killed the cameraman, one or the other."
To explain mid-programme that this one sequence was not from the wild would have upset the programme's atmosphere, he added: "It's not falsehood and we don't keep it secret either."