April 20, 2022


An Unprecedented Seven-Year Effort to Monitor Changes in Some of Earth’s Most Vulnerable Ecosystems,

Premieres Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Global Conservation Scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan Explores How Communities from Africa to the Amazon to the Arctic Confront Climate Change and Implement Solutions

ARLINGTON, VA; (April 20, 2022) – CHANGING PLANET, is an unprecedented seven-year global reporting effort launched by PBS and the BBC to monitor climate change in six of the planet’s most vulnerable ecosystems. Led by global conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan, the project travels from California to Kenya, the Arctic to Southeast Asia to highlight the latest science and explore communities pioneering efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. As PBS and Dr. Sanjayan return each Earth Day for the next seven years, audiences will meet winners and losers, and encounter positive impacts and reasons for hope. The first episode of the CHANGING PLANET series premieres Wednesday, April 20, 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS, and the PBS Video app.

In Hour 1, Dr. Sanjayan travels to Northern California’s Klamath River Basin, where the Yurok Tribe leads environmental projects that combine modern science with thousands of years of traditional knowledge. Decimated by decades of gold mining and the damming of its rivers, the area is now being brought back, thanks to a massive engineering program to restore the river’s flow and improve the health of the salmon population. The Yurok also practice traditional stewardship of the forest through controlled burns, which help maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem and prevent fires from getting out of control.

In Iceland, global warming is melting the ice in the Arctic at an unprecedented rate, raising the possibility that the country could become a land without ice. In the Maldives, where coral reefs are bleaching due to climate change, marine biologists are testing techniques to breed coral more resilient to temperature change. Scientists are also

studying endangered manta rays, which fertilize the reef with nutrients gathered from across the ocean. If the reefs lose their fertilizer, the entire ecosystem is in peril.

In Kenya, where 14 million people make their living by farming, human and animal conflict is increasing as drought deepens. Some communities are confronting drought by building sand dams, which can hold enough water to supply some 5000 households annually. Sand dams are being constructed across Africa, a grassroots solution that is improving food security and providing jobs.

In Hour 2, Dr. Sanjayan introduces Africa, the continent that has contributed the least to global climate change, but which is suffering some of its direst consequences. In the Tsavo Conservation Area, drought has forced elephants outside of the park to search for food and water, putting them in danger from poachers. But rangers are using aerial surveillance and tracking devices to protect them. Despite challenges, elephants in Tsavo can now live long enough to die of old age, a victory for conservationists.

In Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, Dr. Sanjayan visits a “cloud forest,” where condensation from the treetops drips down to the forest floor, forming streams and rivers that feed the land and the people. The forest is community-owned Maasai land, and the sale of carbon credits generated more than three million dollars in 2020, funding conservation projects and providing alternative livelihoods for the Maasai. Kenya’s Forest Service operates over 300 plant nurseries that supply seedlings to students, who are learning to help protect their environment by planting trees. And elsewhere in Kenya, women are finding a sweet solution to earn more money for their families through beekeeping.

In Brazil, the world’s largest exporter of beef, cowboys have discovered a new appreciation for the jaguar, an animal they used to hunt down for killing their cattle. With drought driving ranchers to eco-tourism, they have realized a jaguar is worth much more alive than dead. On Northern California’s coast, efforts are underway to revive carbon-storing kelp forests, which have been decimated by ravenous purple urchins that thrive in rising sea temperatures.

In Cambodia, like all of Southeast Asia, growth is lifting millions out of poverty, but it comes at a cost. The race for energy and natural resources is pushing one of the area’s most important wetlands — the Mekong Delta — to the brink of collapse. Tonlé Sap, a freshwater lake that expands to five times its size during monsoon season, supplies more fish each year than all the lakes and rivers in North America combined. But fish numbers are dwindling. The insatiable demand for electricity has led to the construction of 13 hydropower dams, which strangle the mighty Mekong. New research proves that the dam’s disruption of water flow to the lake is getting worse. This isn’t just worrying for the people of Cambodia; dams stop fish from migrating and prevent the sediment flow from fertilizing countries downstream: Burma, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The livelihoods of millions lie in the balance.

“As a scientist, I’ve been trained to think of nature as changing in very slow ways, barely perceptible,” said Dr. Sanjayan. “On this journey, we’ve met incredible people doing extraordinary things. When you run into Indigenous communities that are willing to do so much, it leaves you with this giant question: Why are our politicians, our corporate leaders, our communities, our religious leaders, our schools — those of us with real power — not doing an awful lot more?”

CHANGING PLANET will stream simultaneously with broadcast and be available on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video app, available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO.

CHANGING PLANET is a BBC Studios Natual History Unit production for PBS and BBC. Rosemary Edwards is executive producer. Richard Max, Laura Flegg, and Olive King are producers and directors. Series Producer is Charlotte Jones and Bill Gardner is Executive in Charge for PBS. BBC Studios is handling global distribution.