Extreme Realities is the most crucial production in Marilyn & Hal Weiner's groundbreaking television series, Journey to Planet Earth. Here are some stories the documentary will investigate:
Why much of the $10-20 billion generated each year by illegal poaching can be linked to terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.
Will the melting of Arctic sea-ice lead to armed conflict over deep-ocean oil reserves?
An in-depth look at NY Times Columnist Thomas L. Friedman's piece linking climate change with the Arab Spring.
Why the UN warns that climate change could help push billions into extreme poverty.
Can the world's economy collapse as more intense hurricanes hit the oil refineries of the Gulf of Mexico?
How soon before severe drought and famine in Africa will cause global food shortages?
We in the final push to reach our goal; the project needs to go viral to succeed. It's extremely hard to predict why and how a project spreads, but when it goes viral, it's amazingly rapid and often global. So please help us continue to spread the word by sharing our Kickstarter link via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, personal blogs, e-mails, or web sites.
Just pick up any newspaper or watch any television news report and it becomes evident that unprecedented extreme weather events such as severe drought and heat waves, more intense hurricanes, increased tornado and wildfire activity, and crippling blizzards are leaving a trail of death and destruction throughout the world.
Who can ever forget these recent images...
In the wake of these disasters, we ask ourselves this fundamental question...
Are these merely weather events that happen once in a hundred years – or are they early warning signals of a new reality – a new normal – a tipping point pushing our planet towards an environmental cliff?
We did some investigating and here's what we learned...
Scientists told us that not only is our planet warming at an unprecedented rate, we will begin to experience more frequent weather-related disasters resulting in massive food, water, and energy shortages.
The intelligence community predicted that there will be a rise in terrorist activities and failing states as a direct result of the economic pressures caused by severe weather events happening around the world.
And Defense Department analysts concluded that the consequences of climate change may define life for people all over the world – just as much as the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union did for the last generation.
But what happens if three additional questions are added to our investigation?
Are there ways to work together to deal with these issues?
What does the present hold for the future of our planet if we don't act now?
Is it already too late to save our planet from an unstoppable environmental disaster?
What happens, in fact, is that we have all the dramatic elements necessary to produce a new and compelling prime-time television special.
Extreme Realities is all about encouraging viewers to get involved in local, regional, national, and global campaigns designed to meet the environmental and national security challenges of the 21st century.
All we need now is your partnership so we can finish telling a story that really needs to be told.
One of the major contributing elements to the success of the Journey to Planet Earth series is the continued and dedicated involvement of Matt Damon.
For more than a decade, Matt has been a key member of our team. As the host/narrator of the series, he helps craft the narrative elements of each episode, films on-air promotions, and participates in numerous interviews that generate an extraordinary amount of publicity.
Of course it doesn't hurt that Matt's an Academy Award-winning writer (Good Will Hunting), Harvard educated, and the co-founder of water.org, a non-profit group whose mission is to address fresh water and sanitation issues in the developing world.
About 20 years ago we became interested in environmental films after the Secretary General of the United Nations Earth Summit asked us to produce a short documentary about the environmental challenges facing our planet. It was shown to the 157 heads of state who attended the first Earth Summit Conference in Rio de Janeiro, and then went on to win an Emmy.
At the time we knew very little about environmental science, but we did know how to tell stories. We had just finished a five-year stint producing three feature films and were looking to apply these story-telling techniques to documentary filmmaking.
The success of our Earth Summit project convinced us to develop a television series we called Journey to Planet Earth. Twenty-two countries and five continents later Extreme Realities will be the 13th and most crucial episode in our series.
(A more detailed biography of Marilyn & Hal can be found at the top of the page.)
Extreme Realities will be produced in association with Screenscope's long-time partner South Carolina ETV, and in consultation with a blue-ribbon panel of scientists as well as organizations such as Greenpeace, Oxfam, the Earth Policy Institute, WWF, the Center for American Progress, and Climate Central.
Extreme Realities will be the thirteenth episode in the Journey to Planet Earth series. We are proud of the fact that every episode has been part of public television's prime-time national schedule and has enjoyed exceptionally high Nielsen ratings consistently 20 to 25 percent higher than the average public television audience.
In addition, Journey to Planet Earth episodes are broadcast in most major overseas television markets. Each episode of the series yields a global television audience of more than 40 million viewers.
The series includes an educational and community outreach campaign reaching more than two dozen science centers and museums as well as more than 3,000 universities and colleges throughout North America. In fact, more than 25,000 DVDs, along with companion Teachers Guides, currently yield an annual audience of approximately 1.2 million students.
Extreme Realities will be featured on the Journey to Planet Earth web site where each year more than 500,000 educators visit to download teacher's guides, lesson plans, in-depth information about environmental issues featured in the television series, and a variety of other resources. The series is also followed globally by thousands of individuals on social networking sites.
"The episode examines what is happening to wildlife in places like Africa, South America, the Arctic and the Everglades, illuminating the connections between seemingly far-flung places." New York Times
"The scope is wide, the photography compelling, the presentation is crisp. Take notice unless you've already booked passage to another galaxy." LA Times
"Profoundly serious stuff, crucial information for us and our children and theirs. A continuing series that looks at the orb with fresh eyes, is unmistakably a wake-up call." Newsday
"Don't miss Journey to Planet Earth." People Magazine
"Fans can see Matt Damon tomorrow and next Monday, hosting Journey to Planet Earth. 'Our environment is fragile,' he says. 'All the world's citizens must work together to protect it.'" Parade Magazine
"A global investigation of what scientists call the sixth great extinction of the world's animals and plants." Associated Press
"Looks at the possibility of a "Sixth Extinction," explaining how vast numbers of animal species could be wiped out in the near future because of poaching, global climate changes, a loss of habitat and other factors." Washington Post
Unfortunately, it all boils down to the state of our economy... and the underwriting challenges faced by independent public television producers.
We receive no funds from PBS...
Journey to Planet Earth has always been exclusively funded by grants from private or public foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, the Wallace Genetic Foundation, the Turner Foundation, and federal agencies like NASA and NIH.
Here's where we stand...
The project's production budget is $325,000. Towards this goal we are pleased to report that we have received financial support totaling $250,000 from foundations who are long-time underwriters of the Journey to Planet Earth series. But now that we are half-way through production, we have simply exhausted our search for additional funding from traditional sources.
This is where you come in...
To help get us over the finish line, we are launching this Kickstarter campaign. And who better to help than people who care about the environment and the power of public television. We think it important to note that any funds we receive from Kickstarter over the $75K we are seeking will be used to broaden and enrich our educational outreach activities.
Simply put – we need your partnership – and we need it today!
We think you'll agree that our choices are clear...
We can stay with business as usual and preside over an economy that continues to destroy its natural support systems – or we can all be part of a generation that changes direction and moves the world onto a path of sustained progress.
If you're new to Kickstarter, basically it's a way that innovative and imaginative projects are brought to life through the direct support of people like you. Each pledge has a corresponding reward, which is listed along the side of this panel. Please remember that your pledge doesn't actually get charged unless the project reaches its funding goal within the specified period of time. Learn more about Kickstarter.
Kickstarter donations are not tax deductible. However, if you'd like to make a corporate, foundation, trust fund, or personal tax-deductible donation, you can do it through our 501(c)(3) partnership with South Carolina Public Television. To learn more about this option, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
However, we do prefer that you donate through Kickstarter, at least until we reach our minimum goal of $75K. Here's the bottom line – if we don't meet our goal, we receive none of your pledges, and that would be a huge disappointment!
If you feel as strongly about the state of our planet as we do, in addition to making a pledge there are other ways you can help:
Share information about our Kickstarter project with your friends and colleagues.
Share the video at the top of this page with as many people as possible.
Post a link to our Kickstarter page on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, other social media sites, as well as on company or organizational web pages.
Since we have a limited amount of time to complete this campaign, we ask that you share the link to our Kickstarter site as often as possible so all of your friends and colleagues will know about the project!
Perhaps short clips from the three most recent episodes of the Journey to Planet Earth series will help you see the urgency of our message.
Risks and challenges
There are always risks and challenges when making a documentary. However, because Extreme Realities is being developed by the same creative team that has produced every episode in the Journey to Planet Earth series, we are confident that our new program will be as successful as the previous 12 episodes.
With your Kickstarter participation we can continue to provide millions of people with vital information about the environmental challenges of the 21st century as well as a realistic path towards sustainability.
All of the above plus educational/public performance rights to the "Extreme Realities" DVD. (A perfect tax-deductible gift for schools, colleges, public libraries, museums and environmental organizations.)
All of the above plus educational/public performance rights to the entire "Journey to Planet Earth" series. (An even better tax-deductible gift for schools, colleges, public libraries, museums and environmental organizations.) — Note: Current episodes will ship immediately; "Extreme Realities" when completed.
All of the above plus an invitation for two people to attend the narration session for "Extreme Realities" plus lunch or dinner with the filmmakers. Includes coach airfare from any location in the continental United States.