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Ghost Canyon

'Nova: Polar Extremes'
(DVD / PG / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: Renowned paleontologist Kirk Johnson takes us on an epic adventure through time at the polar extremes of our planet.

Following a trail of fossils found in all the wrong places - beech trees in Antarctica, redwoods and hippo-like mammals in the Arctic - NOVA uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-thick ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life.

DVD Verdict: Well, I have to fully admit that watching this new NOVA PBS experience was most definitely one of my own personal favorites of the past decade!

We follow along as a trail of strange fossils are found in all the wrong places - the aforementioned beech trees in Antarctica, hippo-like mammals in the Arctic and such - and our resident paleontologist Kirk Johnson not only uncovers the bizarre history of the poles, from miles-high ice sheets to warm polar forests teeming with life, but feeds us knowledge that, as best I can recall, I'd never actually known of before.

They investigate what caused such dramatic changes at the ends of the Earth and, perhaps more interestingly, what controls the dial on Earth's thermostat?

Of all the fresh water that exists on Earth today, 70% of it is frozen, held in glaciers and ice caps, most of it in the Arctic and Antarctic—but Earth wasn’t always like this.

Hidden in the rocks and trapped under the ice are clues that reveal a planet totally different from the one we know today.

Following along we quickly discover that there is evidence that the Arctic was once covered in a subtropical forest and dinosaurs once lived near the South Pole.

Indeed, a journey to the hot Death Valley desert uncovers rocks that could only get there by glacier, revealing another very different age, when ice sheets extended from pole to pole, turning the entire globe into a giant “snowball” Earth.

Today, the Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else in the world, and Antarctica has locked in its ice enough water to raise sea level by a terrifying 200 feet.

The way that the poles respond to a warming climate is one of the greatest wildcards in predicting our climate future and here in 'NOVA: Polar Extremes' Johnson uses Earth's history, written in stone, as a cipher to decode what is going on at our polar extremes today; and what the future may hold.

Furthermore, featuring stunning footage from some of the most remote locations on the planet, combined with rich, 3D graphics of long-lost landscapes, 'Nova: Polar Extremes' immerses viewers in a scientific quest to explore the unexpected secrets of our planet’s polar past.

In closing, the series shows that the Earth’s distant past is directly relevant to our collective future. “Humans are geology, and we are impacting this planet,” says Johnson. “This is the first time that a mammal has actually changed the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere and driven a dramatic change in the Earth’s climate."

"The question is, are we clever enough and forward-thinking enough to flip that switch back?” This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.