Race to Save the Planet

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Release date: October 07, 1990
Directed by: Marty Ostrow
Produced by: PBS Television
Running time: 600 minutes

Race to Save the Planet, an epic 10-part series, goes behind the headlines to uncover the hidden dramas taking place in the global environment. Filmed over three years in 30 countries on every continent, from the Himalayan foothills to Amazonian rain forests to the smog-filled streets of Los Angeles, "Race to Save the Planet" avoids the alarmist, doomsday tone that often accompanies such programs, instead presenting its case in a straightforward, slightly scholarly manner that makes sure you know the facts.

The first program, “The Environmental Revolution,” traces the development of humanity from prehistoric man to present day. For thousands of years, humans were a nomadic species and relied upon the environment for survival. The advent of agriculture in the last 10,000 years, and the Industrial Revolution, changed humanity’s perspective toward the environment. Next, “Only One Atmosphere” explores the Industrial Revolution’s impact upon the atmosphere through global warming and ozone depletion. Episode 3 examines the impact of contemporary affluency upon the environment. “Do We Really Want to Live This Way?” profiles Los Angeles and the Rhine River in Europe. The fourth program, “In the Name of Progress,” shows the impact of industrialization in India and Brazil. The episode examines both the negative and positive results of the development, and the vivid photography leaves no question in the viewers’ minds; both people and the environment get the short end of the stick. “Remnants of Eden” explores the loss of biological diversity, including genetic variations within each species. Humans have caused the demise of many species already. The sixth episode deals with energy conservation and ways to improve energy efficiency and our current power sources. The episode “More for Less” advocates moving away from conventional sources (such as fossil fuels) toward renewable sources like hydroelectric and solar power.

The seventh program in the series, “Save the Earth,Feed the World,” explores the possibilities and limitations currently available in agriculture. It advocates combining sound ecological practices with technology to produce the highest yields without sacrificing the land. “Waste Not, Want Not” deals with the problem of waste. More than half our cities are within five years of exhausting their landfills, and alternatives need to be considered. It suggests ways to reduce, reuse and recycle garbage so that it has the least impact upon the environment. Episode 9 explores three governments’ environmental policies. Viewers see how Zimbabwe, Thailand and Sweden include the environment in their domestic policies. “It Needs Political Decisions” challenges the world’s governments to take a strong stand environmentally. The final program focuses on the manner in which all levels of society are relating to the environment, from the individual to the nation. “Now or Never” dares all of us to reconsider our relationship to the natural world and rethink how the environment fits into our lives.

Part 1: Environmental Revolution
Part 2: Only One Atmosphere
Part 3: Do We Really Want to Live this Way?
Part 4: In the Name of Progress
Part 5: Remnants of Eden
Part 6: More for Less
Part 7: Save the Earth, Feed the World
Part 8: Waste Not, Want Not
Part 9: It Needs Political Decisions
Part 10: Now or Never