February 17, 2013

Latest NOVA show is good but flawed

I watched this week's NOVA last night. It was called "Earth From Space". As always, I was mightily irked by the slowness of the show. The narrator says something...and then there's silence while some idiotic graphics are displayed. I assume this is so dimwits can ingest what's been said. I wish I had a filter that would join all the sentences together and skip the filler. Alas.

That aside, it was a good show with one major drawback. I'll get to that. It was largely an advertisement for the usefulness of NASA's satellites, and a plea to fund new satellites. There are 20 NASA satellites operating right now, but they're aging out. Within a decade, there will be less than 10. Allowing these satellites to fail is what insanity looks like. They give us vital information about our planet. Without them, we're blind.

The show did an (almost) bang-up job of explaining how the planet, life, water and air are related and interdependent. Change in one area causes change in the other. This aspect of the show was magnificent. I imagine many viewers learned for the first time about the global conveyor belt, the system of currents that drives the ocean down in Antarctica as heavy water dense with salt, and causes it to course around the planet, moderating temperatures and weather wherever it goes.

However, the show (which is funded in part by David Koch) completely ignored the Arctic end of the gyre, and the threat that melting ice poses for the continued circulation of the ocean current. In other words, they gave half the story -- the feel-good part.

In any case, the show is two hours and much of it was marvelous. See it if you can. It will bring Gaia to mind. Everything is connected in this universe of ours.

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