Episode 5: Seas of Grass
Shows the devastating environmental, political, and economic effects of the degradation of the world's grasslands, which make up 30 percent of Earth's land surface. Case studies illustrate the complex relationship between burning, livestock grazing, reduction in species diversity and the conversion of grassland to farmland or desert and poverty, disease, and loss of habitat.
- Argentina: The Pampas, a vast prairie in southern South America, is an example of the link between environmental degradation and unsustainable growth as ranchers convert their cattle grazing operations into more profitable farmland.
- Mongolia: Mining, oil exploration, and the infrastructure needed to service these industries threatens these precious grazing lands of the Steppes.
- Kenya: In the Rift Valley, much of the savannas have been subjected to 80 years of topsoil erosion on a huge scale.
- United States: Agricultural conversion of the Great Plains during the last hundred and fifty years has seen the erosion of half of the original topsoil the pioneers originally viewed as a priceless treasure.