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07/22/2009

Movie Review: National Geographic's Strange Days

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By Sara Hoffman

Ntllll geo This series is a four-part explanation of strange phenomena that have occurred and are occurring due to human impact on the Earth. Like a murder mystery about the environment, each part walks the viewer through several real-case scenarios, starting with the problem, then putting all the intricately connected clues together to figure out a logical, yet unpredictable, answer.  

Part 1: Invaders discusses globalization and invasive species like myconia, termites and water hyacinth. "When everything moves everywhere, what will survive?" asks narrator Edward Norton. Because many researchers believe that a single piece of land can support far fewer species than the same area carved up into isolated islands and continenets, species without borders (caused by globalization) means many fewer species.

Part 2: The One Degree Factor proves just how much a single, tiny change can affect the natural world, like a butterfly effect. The environment is so delicate and cyclical that changes in Africa's landscape affect the health of children in the Carribean, and how the increase by a single degree in temperature can lead to changes that slowly kill off an entire species.

Part 3: Predators explains the significance of predatory animals that humans have always feared. "Humans expand, nature contracts," ponders the narrator. The mystery here is, why did aspens stop regenerating the same year that the last wolf was removed from Yellow Stone National Park?

Part 4: Troubled Waters, more science-y than the others, describes how "chemical cocktails" in water affect the health of living organisms - land and marine. It shows a clear link between land management, coast management, and obscure chemical mixtures.

Buy Strange Days on Planet Earth Collection on Amazon.com.

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