Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Melting Planet

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Melting Planet

Article excerpt

Byline: Marie Winckler

[bar] HE day Dan Rees, one of Frozen Planet's producers, finished filming with Greenland's Dogan reindeer herding tribe in April 2009, it was a balmy eight degrees. It should have been a bone-chilling -10 to - 20[degrees]C. "I started the Frozen Planet series with an open mind, but I have, even in the four years during which we filmed, seen the impact and the reality of climate change," says the 40-year-old from Guildford who has worked on the BBC's Natural History unit for 12 years.

The Arctic tribes Rees met told him that the increasing frequency and unpredictability of warm weather was having catastrophic effects on their livelihoods and animals.

As the series concludes on Wednesday with a hard-hitting portrait by Sir David Attenborough of the effects of climate change, the evidence is being laid bare in both polar regions.

"One of the tribesmen told me their village was sinking. The foundations of their houses were laid in the frozen ground but as it is melting, everything falls down," Rees says. "Some of the villages on the coast are being washed away because the water is freezing later, exposing the houses to huge coastal waves."

But it is the wildlife of the Arctic and Antarctica that is most affected. "There are tens of thousands of Pacific walruses and their calves that should have been floating out at sea on ice floes are now forced to come ashore because the ice has retreated so far. They were crammed together so tightly in panic and confusion that many of the calves were crushed to death. The local Inuit have never seen nor heard anything like it," says Rees.

He says the polar bear population is also under threat: "They hunt on the frozen sea and the hunts have become more and more difficult."

Some of the most dramatic images from Wednesday's programme will be the scenes comparing the location of photographs taken of Antarctica during Ernest Shackleton's 1914 expedition to South Georgia with the situation today.

"We tried to go back and to find the exact same spot where his photographer Frank Hurley took his pictures. …

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