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Making North America: Human

Host Kirk Johnson explores how the continent was shaped—and how it shaped us.

Premiered: Runtime: 53:02Topic: Planet EarthPlanet EarthNova
Premiered on PBS

Explore the intimate connections between the landscape, the colonizing of the continent, and the emergence of our industrial world. Beginning with Native American ancestors who crafted hunting weapons from stone traded across hundreds of miles, the program shows how pre-Columbian civilizations developed an expert knowledge of the landscape and its resources. With the arrival of Europeans, North America’s hidden riches became to key to prosperity, from the gold rush to today’s oil and gas boom. As a result, human activity has transformed the continent on a scale that rivals the geological forces that gave birth to it billions of years before. Yet, scientists warn of sleeping giants like the Cascadia fault, and the earthquake/tsunami one-two punch it could unleash on the Pacific Northwest. Even as we re-mold the continent to suit our needs, geologic processes inexorably continue, and they raise potential risks of catastrophe to our human civilization.

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National corporate funding for NOVA is provided by Draper. Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.

Major funding for "Making North America" is provided by the Alfred P Sloan Foundation.