Copyright 1995 ABC-CLIO. This review was taken from the ABC-CLIO Video Rating Guide for Libraries on CD-ROM, a 5-year compilation of over 8900 video titles and reviews, 1990-1994. For information regarding order VRGL CD-ROM, contact: ABC-CLIO, P.O. Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911; 805-968-1911

This following text has been included in the UCB Media Resources Center Web site with the kind permission of the publishers.

The Fragile Planet

  • Poisonous Currents of Air and Sea
  • Rating: ****
  • Audience: High School to Adult
  • Price: Public performance: $139.00
  • Date: Copyright 1990. Released 1990.
  • Descriptors: Water pollution. Ecology. Science. Pollution. Man - Influence on nature.
  • Production Information: Live action, Animation. Color. 14 min.
  • Production Company: NKH
  • Available from: Films for the Humanities and Sciences PO Box 2053 Princeton, NJ 08543 (800)257-5126
  • Cataloging: 574.5222 Pollution||Air - Pollution||Water - Pollution
  • Print Entry #: 2:135
  • Reviewer: Linda E. Sleeman

    Most of this production uses studies conducted by ecologist P. G. Ludwig to illustrate the effects of water pollution on wildlife. Dr. Ludwig's studies center on species of birds living and breeding on the shores of the Great Lakes. Four years ago, he noticed that the birds' breeding patterns had changed; less than one-half of the number of birds, compared to the 20 years previous, were ready to migrate with their parents. For two years, Ludwig studied the unhatched eggs, and found large numbers of chick fetuses that had abnormalities. In October 1988, further studies revealed that those birds suffering from a deformity called crossbill had high levels of polychlorobenzene (PCB) in their systems. Although the PCB-effect theory has not been completely proven, birds that eat fish from the Great Lakes do show evidence of increased levels of PCB.

    The production briefly explains that despite the deaths of thousands of seals in the North Sea, dumping of waste in this area has not been halted. The video concludes with a closeup of a dead seal on a beach in a polluted seal sanctuary on the east coast of Britain.

    This is a brief, clear, well-explained presentation that will be useful in classrooms for the study of ecology and pollution, from junior high level through college. The video will also be in demand in public libraries that have requests for such topics. The production is very timely and to the point.

    Technically, the production is excellent. Photography is clear, titles are legible, and sound and background music enhance the message. Many techniques are combined, such as live action, still photography, x-ray research film, and a computer-animated depiction of a PCB molecule. All the special effects work together to create interest. For example, a map is used to indicate the more than 200 sites along the Great Lakes where harmful chemicals are dumped. The danger areas, where toxic chemicals are being poured into the water, are then amplified to indicate the exact locations of Ludwig's studies. These three computer-generated dots, and later a fourth, are enlarged over the map, dissolving into pie graphs that illustrate the percentage of bird abnormalities discovered in these areas.

    This video is a useful purchase in our era of growing ecological awareness.

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