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Strange Days

National Geographic’s Strange Days on Planet Earth – was a four-year landmark environmental undertaking connecting some of the most urgent issues of our day. Climate change. Invasive species. Ecosystem degradation. Polluted waters. Overfishing. Strange Days on Planet Earth brought into focus how the decisions we make today will affect all life on Earth for years to come. The project’s multi-platform content included two award-winning PBS docu-series hosted and narrated by Academy Award nominee and environmentalist, Edward Norton. A comprehensive website on PBS.org and nationalgeographic.com, and six coordinated stories in National Geographic complemented the series.

For its public education and outreach, Strange Days assembled a consortia of 18 aquariums, science museums, and zoos. The Maryland Science Center developed a hands-on exhibit for other science centers. Educational materials included curricula for teachers and students and a toolkit for science centers and community organizations. Thirteen PBS station hubs partnered with consortia members to host screenings, Earth Day events, and panel discussions with scientists. The publicity campaign featured a national press conference with Edward Norton. Strange Days’ impact campaign focused on catalyzing behavioral change around seafood consumption habits. Led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch assesses the impacts of marine freshwater ecosystems of fisheries (wild-caught) and aquaculture (farming) operations and guides consumers on which seafood to buy and avoid. The project widely distributed branded Seafood Watch Cards.

 

The first season of Strange Days reached 20 million viewers and its two-hour premiere outperformed the timeslot average by 21%. The series won 14 prestigious awards, including Best Series at Wildscreen, the environmental Oscars ®. This success led to a second season. Summative evaluation showed significant impact. The project expanded its outreach to 75 environmental organizations and held 22 events. It received 312 million print media impressions and 12.5 million radio impressions. Seafood Watch now has 200 conservation partners worldwide. Because of the extensive publicity, educational resources, and outreach to communities and schools, Americans have changed their seafood-buying practices, leaning into the recommended seafood. This change in market demand led to more than 85% of the top U.S., Canadian, and European seafood retailers committing to environmentally responsible seafood.  As a result, rockfish and bluefin tuna populations, both in danger of extinction from overfishing, have rebounded.

“…This is PBS for ‘CSI’ viewers…”

– Melanie McFarland, Seattle Post Intelligencer

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