Climate scientists have been warning everyone for years about the disastrous effects climate change will have all over planet Earth. There is plenty of programming that highlights their warnings and shows the results of rising temperatures and sea levels. While Discovery’s Brink of Disaster takes on the topic, it does so in a hopeful manner, despite its somewhat ominous title.
Made up of three 90-minute documentaries on New York superstorms, West Coast superquakes and rising sea levels near Miami, the series highlights how metropolises are being threatened by climate change but also how scientists, engineers, architects and more are tirelessly dedicated to finding solutions.
“We cast our net far and wide in terms of finding interesting solutions and innovations and people to talk about those things,” Luke Pavey, series producer at Wildflame Productions, tells TV Real. “We were able to highlight some tangible things that organizations and technicians are already doing.”
This includes anti-flood meshes being used in the New York subway system and seismic resilience technology on buildings in California. But Pavey and the team behind the series also “wanted to tap into some of the more forward-thinking innovations, the more conceptual ones that were still in the development stages,” that viewers would likely not know much about.
These newer innovations include a bubble curtain technology in the Gulf of Mexico, in which bubbles are being pumped up from the ocean depths to the surface to take the fuel out of hurricanes and reduce their strength. There is also a group of scientists working on data-driven computer algorithms to help better predict or identify earthquake activity earlier. In Connecticut, an organization is harvesting seaweed that can be used for carbon capturing and, potentially, climate repair.
The dedication and hard work of these scientists demonstrates that “as a species, we’re not powerless to these forces of nature,” Pavey says. “We can plan. We can prepare.”
It’s not just individual scientists or smaller organizations laboring on these solutions either—national organizations such as NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) are working tirelessly as well. Pavey explains that, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the institution is carrying out a dune restoration project that reinstalls and adds to the natural dune system in order to protect the launch pads and space hardware. This program could later be extended and applied in other coastal areas in need of protection from rising sea levels.
These scientists and researchers aren’t the only ones who proved their dedication to the issue of climate change with this series—the crew found themselves at the mercy of the weather as well when capturing the solutions at work. Pavey notes that the crew filming in California had to deal with temperatures of 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius). Those in Florida dealt with high humid temperatures and mosquitoes, and additionally had to work around Hurricane Ian. In Greenland, Pavey says there were times when they were unable to land out on the ice sheets due to melting and instability. And these extreme weather patterns and events are happening all over the world.
“Some of the scenarios posed in the series are the stuff of Hollywood movies,” Pavey notes. “They are dramatic and over-the-top, but there are scenarios that could and may well happen, and there are scenarios that have happened, maybe not in living memory but in wider history.”
The Wildflame Productions series, co-produced with Saloon Media and distributed outside of the U.S. by Blue Ant International, highlights what organizations and individual scientists are already working at and, in some cases, proving: there are ways to mitigate the effects of climate change. “When it comes to big issues like climate change, we can and we should take action, whether that’s making personal choices or putting pressure on governments or industries,” Pavey stresses. “It can be quite easy to be doom-and-gloom, but there are opportunities, and we’ve really got to tackle these issues head on and do something about them.”
Viewers can find their dose of hope in the battle to save the planet in Brink of Disaster, which is available on discovery+ in the U.S. now.