In my quest to find the best eco programming out there, I endured a green TV marathon, during which I sat through dozens of hours of enviro-themed shows: specials, regular series, network, cable, news and weather channels.
My once-green eyes have turned red, my DVR remote thumb is raw, and my REM sleep is overrun with images of global warming, endangered species and, even scarier, a couple of corny TV "personalities."
Here, in no particular order, is the best of what's out there:
(series, Sundance/SUND) Last year, longtime activist Robert Redford announced a much-anticipated green block of programming on the Sundance Channel, and "the kid" did not disappoint, starting with this gem of a show. Simplicity rules with each episode exploring a single topic like water, kids, work, cities and fashion.
In the gadgets episode, we learn that "electronic gadgets have greatly improved energy efficiency, yet their toxic components can be harmful to the environment." Local green heroes and activists across America drive each show, giving the series a homespun, accessible feel. Their stories are interspersed with scientists and eco experts but it's never a lecture...just the facts, ma'am.
(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Anchor Bob Woodruff's weekly eco newscast explores everything from climate change impact to world events. In a recent episode Woodruff checks out Sarah Palin's environmental track record and delves into how the greening of Wall Street (a green collar workforce and eco-friendly jobs) will affect our future. Packed with facts, debates and interviews, and moving at the brisk pace you'd expect from an ABC News production, this show makes a difference.
(series, Planet Green/PLGN) Props to Planet Green for plucking this show from HGTV, who unceremoniously dumped it. Yes...Ed Begley, Jr. lives! Sure, Ed's scenes with his "holdout" wife Rachelle can seem contrived as they often wink to the camera, but at the heart of this show is Ed himself, a true eco warrior who deserves all the screen time he gets. Ed is like the uber nerd who grew into a thoughtful Earth daddy and was at it way before many of us even cared. His wife and daughter are fun accessories, but the real story and soul is Hollywood's green guru.
In this show, celebrities flock to Ed to get secrets and in turn, he puts the spotlight on green stars and their innovative lifestyles. Ed's rivalry with neighbor Bill Nye "the Science Guy" (see "Stuff Happens") is particularly fun to watch; one can't help but believe some of their repartee is actually real competition.
(series, Fine Living Network/FLN) This upbeat half hour, news-style show looks at eco-friendly practices, products and cutting-edge green trends without a lot of interference from pleasant host Renee Loux. One episode goes inside Google, the Mountain View, CA carbon neutral company that sports overstuffed bike racks, abundant recycle bins, and four acres of a rooftop supporting 9,000 solar panels. The company's cafeteria serves organic food, and Google has an incentive program for employees who drive hybrids. Submitting my application, pronto.View Clip
(series, Planet Green/PLGN) If you can get through the first five minutes where Bill Nye acts out his theme for the day but the scene ends up looking more like a set-up for a porn film, you'll be happy you hung in (excuse the pun), because the information Nye imparts, and the entertaining way he does it, is quite good. In this half hour, Nye examines our everyday lives-like what pig farming and anchovies have to do with breakfast. With the show's easy-to-follow science, humor and cool stories, one understands why Ed Begley, Jr. is so smitten, er, competitive with Nye.
(series, Science Channel/SCI) A one-hour show that's a feast for tech-heads. "Some of our smartest scientists are fighting back to tame mother nature," the show promises. "Even robotic ships and satellites could put global warming in reverse." Eco-Tech offers some good news in our race to save the world. In one episode, a meteorologist showcases his "Doppler on wheels" -- a device that helps measure the velocity of storms. Then Joseph Cione at NOAA's research lab demonstrates Aeronode, a 9-foot, 29-pound airplane controlled by a joystick that goes right into the eye of a storm to get measurements.
A geophysicist shows off his "synthetic trees," a machine that absorbs carbon dioxide: a 40-foot container, or one module, can do in one day what an average tree takes a century to do. The fascination never ends.
(special, National Geographic Channel/NGC) It opens with a disturbing premise: "Imagine the 21st century if global warming accelerates. Where does the next super storm hit? The next scorching heat wave? The next catastrophe, as the world warms degree by degree?" The voice over continues: "The debate has ended. Scientists around the globe agree we now live in a world warmer by almost one full degree Celsius. The predictions are alarming."
This HD special predicts and portrays the chilling impact each single-degree increase in temperature will have on our planet. Replays October 28, so don't miss it.
This Video Is No Longer Available
(mini series, Animal Planet/AP) Starting this November (Fridays at 9 p.m. EST), don't miss this high-stakes, high-seas battle between Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. For more than 30 years, Time magazine environmental hero Captain Paul Watson has been on a mission to enforce treaties and regulations that protect ocean wildlife. Even though the Sea Shepherd crew employs non-violent prevention tactics, the drama and adventure is gritty; in one episode, Watson gets shot (he is wearing a bullet-proof vest), in another his crew is held captive.
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.