“Journey to the End of the World” is the first hour in MSNBC’s new, four-part “Future Earth” series to air in 2009. The other three Future Earth programs will be broadcast later this year. In conjunction with NBC Universal’s Earth Week, MSNBC will premiere “Journey to the End of the World” on Sunday, April 26 at 10 p.m. ET.
“Journey to the End of the World” intertwines two stories. The first is a modern-day Indiana Jones adventure that takes a small band of scientists to the North Pole in dead of winter. The trip was called the TARA Expedition. In 2006, the polar sailboat, TARA – a multi-ton high tech marvel – let itself be caught in the ice packs of the Arctic Ocean. First, floating with and against the movements of massive ice sheets, swatted like a ping-pong ball, and finally frozen solid in millions of square miles of ice, one hundred miles off the magnetic north pole.
Their mission find out how fast the Arctic North Pole, the ground zero of global warming, is melting. Because the faster it melts, the more powerful the climate change it will cause and the sooner it all begins to happen. The scientists on the TARA must record in real time the critical data on sea ice thickness and air and water temperatures to help determine how and why the Arctic is melting, and more importantly, the effect it will have on the Earth. The result of an Arctic melt could be disastrous. In the film, a professor at the U.S. Navy’s Ocean Naval Post-Graduate School, Wieslaw Maslowski, states, “if the trend that we’ve seen for the last decade will continue this will be enough to melt all the (Arctic) ice . sometime around (the summer of) 2013.”
The discoveries of the TARA Expedition, both revolutionary and alarming, set the second part of the film in motion. To illustrate the chain reaction that will result from Arctic melting, the film uses state-of-the-art CGI (computer generated images) to show how rising sea levels will impact cities from New York to Shanghai, including fish eye views of Grand Central Station and the Statue of Liberty. Also in “Journey to the End of the World” there are additional CGI sequences depicting the world at the height of the last ice age 20,000 years ago when 1/3 of the planet was an ice ball.
NBC News’s Lester Holt, anchor of NBC’s Nightly News Weekend and co-anchor of Weekend Today show narrates “Journey to the End of the World.” The film is a co-production of MSNBC and France’s M4 and the Netherlands Off the Fence. Edgeworx created the CGI. The film will also be available as a DVD.
“This series represents a new direction for our documentary programming,” says Michael Rubin, vice president of MSNBC’s Long Form unit, “as MSNBC, the place for politics, takes a documentary look at one of the most pressing issues of our time, global warming, and the problems that might come attached to it.”
The other three Future Earth programs to be broadcast in the summer and fall will deal with key issues threatening our global future from energy to our diminishing water supply to species extinction. The second and third hours on energy and water will be co-produced with Darlow Smithson, a leading science documentary production company based in the UK. Wildlife expert, Jeff Corwin, will host the fourth program “One Hundred Heartbeats” a two-hour program that will deal with the growing problem of species extinction. It will be produced by NBC’s Peacock Productions and is based on Jeff Corwin’s forthcoming book of the same title.