This book, a physical reminder of the excellent BBC TV series of the same name, was written by the Series Producer. Subtitled ‘Our One in a Billion World Revealed’, it is an account of the journeys made by the team of camera operators, production staff and other essential crew during the making of the programmes. More importantly, it is also a wonderful introduction to life on our unique planet, and a gentle but insistent wake-up call to all who have yet to understand how delicate and vulnerable that small blue marble spinning crazily through the vastness of space actually is.
The many colour photographs are stunning, and the tales of how they were made are full of humour about the often dangerous situations involved. The dedication and tenacity of the skilled technicians and associated crew cannot be doubted. The dedication these specialists applied to their task is a source of genuine admiration. They deserve proper recognition for their sacrifices made in order to bring the realities to viewers all over the world.
The book is divided into five sections; The Sun, Weather, Oceans, Volcanoes, and Humans, and examines the effects each of these influences have had on the evolution and development of our amazing world. The balanced view of these influences puts into perspective the relative ‘good’ and ‘bad’ effects each has imposed on the Earth. Sadly, it’s becoming ever clearer that humanity’s influence is increasingly destructive of both the climate and the general environment. We, as a single species, have displaced, damaged, and destroyed, very many species that would have managed perfectly well without our malign impact. That there are too many of us, that our success as a species, continues to work toward the destruction of the place we all call home can no longer be disputed. We need, as a whole, a community, to unite in our greatest challenge to date: the challenge to face up to the reality of our overbearing species numbers and our wasteful, careless way of life that is the root caused of both the rapidly approaching climate emergency and the growing likelihood of a mass extinction.
The book celebrates the huge variety of life, the sublime coincidences of nature and the development of the universe, that created the world we inhabit against all the odds. There’s a reason the subtitle refers to the Earth as a ‘One in a Billion World’; because it is. Unique coincidences occurring during the evolution of the universe, our solar system, and our companion satellite, the Moon, are responsible for life on Earth. But for these accidents of fate, no life would have emerged here. It took billions of years for us to develop into what we so flippantly describe as the superior, dominant life form. And yet, brilliant, creative, adaptable as we are as a species, we’re in imminent danger of destroying all that history in a matter of a couple of centuries that started with our industrialisation and will shortly end with our self-designed obliteration within a few decades.
This beautifully presented volume explains the dangers we face and gives the reasons for these threats in plain language everyone can understand. The gorgeous illustrations that accompany the text are inspirational and often spectacular.
I urge everyone, everywhere, who is still unconvinced or uncertain about the dangers posed by climate change to read this book. It may well prove to be the route to our salvation.
I wrote this review from the book sent to me as a prize in the UK’s PostCode Lottery. Something of a surprise, and a very welcome one at that!
[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]