What better time to roll out some earth-friendly programming than the week of April 22, otherwise known as Earth Day? Here are the highlights of your edutainment options:
• For the third straight year, Disneynature (“Earth,” “Oceans”) will release a documentary for Earth Day, and this year’s offering will follow families of lions and cheetahs in “African Cats.” And as before, Disneynature has launched a companion conservation initiative, pledging to donate a portion of every ticket sold during the film’s opening week to The African Wildlife Foundation to protect the savanna. Disney will double that donation for those who purchase their “African Cats” tickets via DisneyTicketsTogether.com.
• NBC’s “Green is Universal” initiative kicks off Earth Week April 17 with more than 100 hours of environmentally themed programming across its on-air and online platforms. Tom Brokaw will moderate a town hall event about climate science at Yale University called “Changing Planet” for The Weather Channel and Ted Danson will talk to “NBC Nightly News’” Brian Williams about his book, “Oceana,” and ocean conservation. “Nightly News” and MSNBC will cover the one-year anniversary of the Gulf oil spill disaster and its aftermath. “Today” hosts Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford will present winning items created from recycled and repurposed materials for an “Art of Reuse” handicraft contest; Style Network will offer eco-themed tips on reusing and repurposing; and G4’s “Attack of the Show” will spotlight eco-friendly gadgets and technology. CNBC will present the award-winning documentary “Fuel” on April 21, and on the April 20 episode of Oxygen’s “STORIbook Weddings,” Tori and Dean reuse old furniture and turn Mason jars into candleholders for a shabby chic ceremony.
• Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature this year, “Waste Land,” about the garbage pickers who scavenge an enormous trash dump in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for recyclable materials, comes to PBS’ “Independent Lens” on April 19.
• Pioneer environmentalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir is the subject of the PBS “American Masters” documentary, “John Muir in the New World,” which chronicles his life and efforts to preserve the Yosemite Valley and establish the National Park Service. The film by Emmy winner Catherine Tatge premieres April 18.
• In “Survivors of the Firestorm,” premiering April 17, PBS “Nature” explores the aftermath of a huge brushfire in Victoria, Australia, and how the ecosystem and unique wildlife that inhabit it are bouncing back in the two years since the disaster.
• On April 20, PBS’ “Nova” presents “Power Surge,” showcasing cutting-edge developments in alternative energy sources that could solve the global warming problem. It will be followed by “Saving the Bay: Marvel of Nature,” a documentary narrated by Robert Redford that focuses on the restoration of the formerly threatened San Francisco Bay ecosystem.
• Explorer Sam Branson tackles the elements to investigate the latest developments in weather prediction and control that may lead to preventing natural disasters in “Man Versus Earth,” premiering on April 22 on Current TV.
• The disastrous effects of global warming are illustrated in “The Last Days of Shishmaref,” about an island community of Eskimos that is losing its land to the rising sea. It premieres on Documentary Channel, Video on Demand and online on April 22, when the channel will also present an all-day marathon of environmental films and “Doc Talk — Earth Day Special,” showcasing interviews with the directors of “An Inconvenient Truth," “Cool It,” “Crude” and “Who Killed the Electric Car.”
• How’s this for a novel use for those ocean-polluting plastic water bottles: environmentalist and adventurer David de Rothschild built a catamaran from more than 12,000 of them, and is sailing his craft, the Plastiki, on a 1,500 mile voyage. National Geographic Channel chronicles his journey in “the 12,000-Bottle Boat,” premiering April 21. The same day, Nat Geo Wild will present “Secrets of the Mediterranean: Cousteau’s Lost World,” which retraces oceanographer Jacques Cousteau’s expedition to analyze the underwater landscape and find out if his predictions about its destruction from pollution and overfishing have come true.
• For the youngest environmentalists, PBS Kids’ children’s programming lineup celebrates Earth Day with four new episodes of “Sid the Science Kid” on April 18-22, exploring water issues in “Where Did the Water Go?,” pollution in “Clean Air,” recycling in “Reused Robot,” and animal habitats in “Save the Stump.” On Disney Junior, the “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” crew save a coral reef and “Handy Manny” catches a litterbug and builds a community garden in episodes airing April 22.
Homepage photo by Redjar/Flickr.