“Warnings from Antarctica” teaches global lessons of climate change

As part of PBS NewsHour’s weekly Leading Edge science reporting on Wednesdays – correspondent William Brangham and producers Emily Carpeaux and Mike Fritz travel to Earth’s southernmost continent with the cross-platform series “Warnings from Antarctica.”

The four-part series follows how climate change and growing tourism have affected the continent and its wildlife to Antarctica’s history – where fewer than 200 years ago humans first set foot.

Antarctic penguins have existed for 60 million years. Can they survive climate change?

Ron Naveen used to be a lawyer for the EPA, but he left government in the 1980s to start Oceanites, a nonprofit that tracks the health of penguins that breed on the Antarctic Peninsula. Now, that 800-mile stretch of land is warming faster than almost anywhere else in the world, and the changing climate is affecting the “glorious creatures” Naveen studies. PBS Newshour‘s William Brangham reports from Antarctica.

Antarctica is losing ice at an accelerating rate. How much will sea levels rise?

The frozen continent of Antarctica contains the vast majority of all freshwater on Earth. Now that ice is melting at an accelerating rate, in part because of climate change. What does this transformation mean for coastal communities across the globe? Hear about the troubling trend of ice loss in Antarctica and how glaciers can serve as a climate record from the past.

How Antarctica’s tourist boom could affect Earth’s ‘last great wilderness’

For centuries, humans never ventured to the icy continent at the bottom of the world, but that’s now changing as a tourism boom takes off in Antarctica. Luxury cruise ships now shuttle thousands to see the spectacular vistas, frolic with the penguins and gawk at the whales. Some researchers worry this traffic might endanger this pristine environment, where the human impact has thus far largely been kept at bay. Others argue tourism can be successfully managed and these visits instead create citizens who care about climate change and protecting wildlife.

Can Antarctica remain a refuge for science and peace?

Antarctica is virtually uninhabited by people. There are no roads, no cities, no government. But thanks to a remarkable Cold War diplomatic breakthrough, the last continent ever discovered remains a place devoted almost exclusively to science. PBS NewsHour reports on how humans first found Antarctica, and how it proves that occasionally, even rivals can become partners.


Want to know what it was like reporting alongside penguins?

“Warnings from Antarctica” reporter William Brangham discussed the behind-the-camera experiences and surprising discoveries made during #NewsHourChats. You can find all the details — and penguin gifs — at this link!