By Emma Marris
The three-quarters of Earth’s land not covered by ice is actively being used by people, and even the other quarter is feeling our effect. Seamlessly intertwining lyrical travelogue with ecological science, journalist Emma Marris explores conservation efforts worldwide, venturing from fragile island ecosystems in Hawaii to a seemingly primeval forest in Poland and Belarus. Throughout, she champions a controversial approach to conservation. Since humans have been altering the environment since prehistory, she says, there is no untouched nature to preserve. Instead, we should actively manage nature, interfering when necessary—by reintroducing native predators, moving species under threat, or even embracing invaders—to buttress important ecosystems and preserve diversity. —Nicole Dyer, Veronique Greenwood & Valerie Ross
For the start of its 37th season, PBS’s popular science documentary show marks a very different anniversary: one decade since the fall of the Twin Towers. NOVA takes a behind-the-scenes look at the reconstruction of Ground Zero, where teams of architects and engineers are attempting to build taller, safer, and greener than before. At the same time, they are confronting the unique technical challenges of construction in such a complex urban setting. Coming in October and November, NOVA also explores the search for life elsewhere in the solar system, digs into the past using clues from a frozen mummy, and investigates the nature of space and time with theoretical physicist Brian Greene. PBS, returning September 7 at 9 p.m. EDT. —Gillian Conahan
The Weinstein Co.
NASA’s storied Apollo program attempted seven lunar landings in the 1960s and ’70s. Its only failure, the near-fatal Apollo 13 mission, inspired the Academy Award–winning movie of the same name. But what if there had been another failure—one so shocking that the mission’s very existence was hidden from the public? Using “found footage,” this sci-fi horror flick follows the two astronauts of the fictional (or is it?) Apollo 18 on America’s clandestine and catastrophic final voyage to the moon.
When the last (or was it?) moon lander, Apollo 17, splashed down in 1972, NASA did in fact have plans for three more lunar missions. But none made it off the launchpad, leaving the program’s later projects open to speculation by conspiracy theorists and screenwriters. Incorporating grainy, shaky footage, Apollo 18 purports to expose a secret mission funded by the Department of Defense that makes it to the moon in 1973. Soon the astronauts have a mysterious infection and a very good reason not to go back to the lunar surface. Be prepared: The Blair Witch Project has gone to space camp. In theaters September 2. —Katie Palmer