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Documentaries, medicine

How Pandemics Change the World

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (42 minutes)  |  SOURCE: DW

description:

COVID-19 is far from the first pandemic to wreak havoc in the world. A long line of infectious diseases have devastated and in some cases destroyed entire societies. Almost all of them started in animals and made the jump to humans. We are terrified of pandemics. And with good reason. Infectious diseases have cost the lives of countless people over the centuries, devastating families, towns, and even societies. The Black Death spread across Europe and Asia in the 14th century leaving millions dead in its wake. Between the 15th and 18th centuries, European colonists brought smallpox to the Americas, the Pacific region and to Australia. In Europe, the 17th century saw a series of major epidemics. And at the end of the First World War, more people died of the Spanish flu than on the battlefield. This documentary examines the causes of these epidemics – whether it be lack of hygiene, interaction with animals, overcrowding, or the growth of cities – and how people travelling helped to spread disease and promote pandemics. It also sheds a light on the impact these infectious diseases have had on politics and societal change. Today, the world is facing COVID-19. Measures such as quarantine and lockdowns are being rolled out in an effort to control the spread of the virus; and, just as our ancestors did before us, some are questioning how effective they are. Over the centuries, scientists managed to develop treatments and medicines to help control or even eradicate infectious diseases. Virologists are facing that task again with the coronavirus, as the world frantically searches for ways to overcome a pandemic which threatens our modern way of life.
Documentaries, society

Stabbed: Britain’s Knife Crime Crisis

YEAR: 2019 | LENGTH: 1 part (58 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

description:

Knife crime is surging across the UK. In 1993, Duwayne Brooks was waiting at a bus stop in Eltham with his friend Stephen Lawrence, when they were attacked by a racist gang, and Stephen was brutally stabbed to death. Witnessing Stephen’s murder left Duwayne severely traumatised. Still deeply affected 25 years on, he wants to take viewers on a personal journey into the current wave of knife crime and the impact it is having across the nation. He meets victims’ families and friends as they cope with the aftermath of a loved one being killed and the ensuing fight for justice. He engages with the perpetrators to understand what is making more and more young people turn to knives, and he explores what is being done to stem the violence. Along the way, he revisits his own past, facing up to the trauma that has come to define him. As the death toll rises each month, the film becomes a powerful account of a most deadly year – an intimate and revealing look at one of the biggest challenges facing the country.
Documentaries, society

Pablo Escobar’s Successors

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (42 minutes)  |  SOURCE: DW

description:

Colombia’s cocaine production dropped after Pablo Escobar’s death. But today, it is soaring again. The South American country has once again become the world’s leading producer of the drug. This documentary follows the trails of the cocaine cartels. Pablo Escobar was probably the most powerful, dangerous and unscrupulous drug lord who ever lived. His assassination by the police in 1993 was preceded by fights between rival drug gangs. In the years following his death, new leaders took control, and today cocaine trade in Colombia is once again a booming business. Spanish journalist David Beriain accompanies the Colombian armed forces in Operation Agamemnon, which aims to crush the most influential drug cartel in Colombia. Beriain also visits a cocaine laboratory and gains fascinating insight into the drug’s production process.
Documentaries, nature

A Perfect Planet

YEAR: 2021 | LENGTH: 5 parts (58 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: BBC

description:

Our planet is one in a billion. How incredible, awe-inspiring life is driven by its natural forces – and how we can ensure humans become a force for good. With David Attenborough.

episodes:

A look at how without volcanoes, there would be no life on Earth. Although destructive, magma from the planet’s molten core builds land, and mineral-rich ash from eruptions fertilises the surface.

From the frozen poles to the searing deserts, this episode shows how animals have come up with strategies to survive the uneven amounts of sunlight that fall on our planet.

Weather controls the distribution of freshwater on Earth, which in turn shapes the lives of animals in diverse habitats around the globe.

Oceans are the largest ecosystem on earth, covering two thirds of our world’s surface and providing half the oxygen in our atmosphere. They are home to as much as 80 per cent of all life on earth, and nearly three billion people rely on them for their primary source of food. But our planet’s oceans would be little more than stagnant wastelands, and life on earth - not just in the oceans - would cease to exist, were it not for one simple factor: a global network of powerful currents. Every drop of seawater on earth rides these currents, taking 1,000 years to complete a single circuit. Without the constant mixing of currents, tides and waves, our oceans would stop supporting life - and a healthy ocean is vital to a healthy planet.

Earth is the only living world we know of, but a new force threatens our perfect planet. That force is us. Humans are changing our planet so rapidly, it’s affecting earth’s life support systems: our weather, our oceans and the living world. To understand what is going wrong, we must look to the past. Earth has been through at least five mass extinction events, most of which have been caused by cataclysmic volcanic eruptions. It’s not the lava or ash that wiped out life, but an invisible gas released by volcanoes: carbon dioxide. Through compelling animal-led stories and expert interviews, we discover how CO2 is destabilising our planet. We meet rescued orphaned elephants in Kenya, victims of ever worsening droughts, and join ocean patrols off the coast of Gabon fighting to save endangered sharks. In the Amazon, we witness wildlife teams saving animals in the shrinking forests, and in San Diego we enter a cryogenic zoo preserving the DNA of endangered species before they become extinct. Almost every part of modern life depends on energy created by burning fossil fuels, and this produces CO2 in huge amounts. Humans are now acting like a super-volcano, releasing carbon dioxide at an even greater rate than the prehistoric mega-eruptions that extinguished life in the past. Globally, we now release 100 times more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all of Earth's volcanoes combined. The greatest change to be made is in how we create energy, and the planet is brimming with natural power that can help us do just that. It’s these forces of nature - the wind, the sun, waves and geothermal energy - that hold the key to our future.

chemistry, Documentaries

Every Breath We Take: Understanding Our Atmosphere

YEAR: 2019 | LENGTH: 1 part (58 minutes)  |  SOURCE: BBC

description:

The air around us is not just empty space; it is an integral part of the chemistry of life. Plants are made from carbon dioxide, nitrogen nourishes the soil and oxygen gives us the energy we need to keep our hearts pumping and our brains alive. But how did we come to understand what air is made of? How did we come to know that this invisible stuff around us contains anything at all?

Gabrielle Walker tells the remarkable story of the quest to understand the air. It’s a tale of heroes and underdogs, chance encounters and sheer blind luck that spans the entire history of science. It began as a simple desire to further our knowledge of the natural world, but it ended up uncovering raw materials that have shaped our modern world, unravelling the secrets of our own physiology and revealing why we are here at all.

Documentaries, technology

Who is afraid of Huawei

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (43 minutes)  |  SOURCE: DW

description:

Telecommunications giant Huawei is said to be one of the most powerful companies in China. But Huawei has been accused of systematic espionage, and some Western governments doubt whether the company is truly independent of the Chinese government. This documentary investigates concerns about Huawei and internet security. The company is a major player in the manufacture of smartphones, and enjoys a technological lead in the development of the super-fast 5G broadband network worldwide. But the US and some other Western countries suspect that Huawei works closely with the Chinese government on espionage and sabotage operations. Has Huawei becomne a pawn in the trade war between the US and China? The arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada in 2018 — at the request of US authorities — marked the climax of the conflict between Huawei and Washington. Some European countries also have concerns about the company. Does Huawei really have close ties to the Chinese government? And what are the benefits and risks for those foreign clients who choose to work with this 5G giant?
Documentaries, medicine

Cuba’s Cancer Hope

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (54 minutes)  |  SOURCE: PBS

description:

When the U.S. trade embargo left Cuba isolated from medical resources, Cuban scientists were forced to get creative. Now they’ve developed lung cancer vaccines that show so much promise, some Americans are defying the embargo and traveling to Cuba for treatment. In an unprecedented move, Cuban researchers are working with U.S. partners to make the medicines more widely available.
Documentaries, society

Bureau 39: Kim’s Cash Machine

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (45 minutes)  |  SOURCE: 4CORNERS

description:

North Korea is one of the most secretive nations on earth. Led by the unpredictable Kim Jong-un, the ‘hermit kingdom’ is largely sealed off from the rest of the world. Despite severe financial sanctions imposed by the United Nations, the nation has defied international pressure and developed a sophisticated and costly nuclear weapons program. While more than half of the population lives in poverty, Mr Kim and his cronies live a life of luxury, buying up big ticket items like state-of-the-art pleasure craft and top of the line Mercedes and Rolls Royce armoured cars. The question is, where is all that money coming from?
Documentaries, nature, society

H2O: The Molecule That Made Us

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 3 parts (55 minutes each)  |  SOURCE: PBS

description:

H20: The Molecule That Made Us is a 3-hour series from WGBH Boston, airing in three one hour episodes. The film dramatically reveals how water underpins every aspect of our existence. In the emptiness of outer space, Earth is alive because of water. Humanity’s relationship with this simple molecule is everything and has been both positive and negative. Explore our interdependent relationship with water and the cosmos.

episodes:

In Episode 1: pulse, segments from across the planet, intimate documentary and natural history cinematography combine to uncover dramatic discoveries and compelling characters and deliver important stories about this mysterious molecule. The Molecule That Made Us is a 3-hour series from WGBH Boston premiering on PBS.

Episode 2: Civilizations turns our 'water lens' on human history. Starting in Ancient Egypt, it charts the critical role water plays in history, and around the world we see the birth of civilizations on the banks of the great rivers: Nile, Tigris and Euphrates, Indus and Yellow. We end by asking if we can guarantee water supplies of the future?

Episode 3: Crisis examines how the planet's changing water cycle is forcing us to change our relationship with water. An increasingly, globalized agricultural industry is turning precious water reserves into profit, "mining" water faster than it can be replaced. As Chairman Emeritus of Nestle, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe says, ". - the water issue is more urgent than the climate issue."

biology, Documentaries

Secret Mind of Slime

YEAR: 2020 | LENGTH: 1 part (53 minutes)  |  SOURCE: PBS

description:

Who says you need brains to be smart? Extremely primitive life-forms called slime molds can navigate mazes, choose between foods, and create efficient networks—no brain required. New research on these organisms, which are neither plant nor animal, could help reveal the fundamental rules underlying all decision making.