Man on Earth
About the Show
Tony Robinson examines how changes in climate have affected humans throughout history and asks what we can learn as we face our own climate crisis today
Series 1 Summary
Tony Robinson travels back through 200,000 years of human history to find out what happened to our ancestors when violent climate change turned their world upside down, and what they teach us as we face our own climate crisis today. While some civilisations flourished, others were destroyed. Vicious and sudden changes to the climate killed millions; but benign change has enabled humans to multiply and develop at an extraordinary pace.
Using CGI effects and stunning imagery, this series illustrates how climate has shaped human history from the beginning. Tony seeks answers at some of the world's most important and intriguing archaeological sites, speaking to leading archaeologists, historians and climate scientists.
Tony Robinson explores how a small group of our earliest African ancestors were rescued from extinction by the last great global warming 130,000 years ago. The barren landscape surrounding the oases in which they lived was transformed to lush savannah, enabling them to traverse the continent and eventually make it to Europe.
As temperatures rose, so they would also later fall: in the Russia steppes Dr Joy Singarayer finds out how the European Homo Sapiens adapted to survive the last great Ice Age.
But not all humans coped so well. In Gibraltar, Tony finds the last resting place of our Neanderthal 'cousins'. Lacking our 'social brains', which enabled us to trade and get help from outsiders, the Neanderthals starved, dying out in lonely communities, and even resorting to cannibalism.
Tony Robinson examines how global warming at the end of the last Ice Age was the catalyst for civilisation, creating the agricultural revolution in Europe, but also unleashed devastation.
Tony Robinson tries to discover what made the Mayans, Vikings and the North American Puebloans more vulnerable to climate catastrophe than their neighbouring cultures.
In this final programme, Tony Robinson examines societies similar to our own, who not only survived climate change, but flourished. And he looks into the new threat to human societies.
Man on Earth synopsis
Tony Robinson examines how changes in climate have affected humans throughout history and asks what we can learn as we face our own climate crisis todayEpisode Guide >