Documentary Review – Planet Earth – Episode 7, Great Plains

It’s astonishing to me how simple and brutal nature is and how terrifyingly obtuse humans have become in our incredibly minute presence in history on this earth.

Providing a cross section of all the major grassland ecosystems on the earth, this episode captures the immense importance water plays in the cycle of life. The first part of the show follows the nesting of snow geese, who try to protect their eggs and young from Arctic foxes. While watching, I was reminded of a time when I lived in a cabin on a lake in Southern Oregon. During my first year there, two Canadian geese attempted to raise their young on an old log in the water that we used as a wave break for our dock. Every morning, I would hop in the boat and back out slowly, passing the goose, laying on her eggs only a few feet from my boat. One day, I looked down form the cabin and could see a family of geese on the bank – she had successfully hatched her tiny, yellow gosling and I had a front row seat.

The second half of the hour moved through the Tibetan Plateau, and then into the African Savannah to watch elephants desperately drinking from a water hole, next to a pride of lions. In the end, as night came, one unlucky elephant was served up as the prides’ weekly meal.

It begs the question: to what do we accredit ourselves as being those so highly evolved? Are we much better than this, than these animals and their feast and famine existence? Do we, as humans, not also operate from the base of our instincts to eat, have shelter and procreate? Is it because we think and can reason and can formulate thoughts within our heads and bring them about in the physical world? In the end of all our striving, are we yet still not simply animals on the prairie, taking what we can, consuming what befalls us?

If you want an intense experience, I recommend you watch this series. It will definitely make you question how man might fit in the world around him.

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