We might think humans are the most powerful living thing on Earth, but it’s plants that time and again have set the agenda for life. All animals rely on plants for their survival. This is not an accident – they are the most powerful evolutionary force on Earth. Plants enabled amphibians to leave the water, they had a hand in the rise and fall of the dinosaurs, and they ensured the ultimate triumph of insects, mammals, birds and even us – all for their own benefit. Because plants have only ever had one goal – the total domination of the planet. It is a story of ruthless ingenuity, seduction and deception; of unimaginable power and ambition. An epic tale, How to Grow a Planet offers a stunning new perspective on Earth history.
Life from Light: In this first episode Iain journeys from the spectacular caves of Vietnam to the remote deserts of Africa. He sees how plants first harnessed light from the sun and created our life-giving atmosphere. He uncovers the epic battle between the dinosaurs and the tallest trees on the planet. And, using remarkable imagery, he shows plants breathing – and for the first time talking to each other.
The Power of Flowers: In the second episode, Iain discovers how flowers have transformed our planet. He journeys to the remote islands of the South Pacific to track down the earliest flowers. In the deserts of Africa and rainforests of Vietnam, he sees how they brought brilliant colour to the most barren landscapes and sculpted the earth itself. And he learns how they drove the evolution of all animals – kick-starting our human story.
The Challenger: In the third episode, Iain discovers the remarkable impact of just one plant: grass. On the savannah of South Africa he sees how grass unleashed a firestorm to fight its greatest enemy, the forests. He shows how cutting your finger on a blade of grass shows us how it transformed life in the oceans. In Senegal, he meets the cleverest chimps in the world. And, in the ruins of the oldest temple on Earth, he tells the extraordinary story of how grass triggered human civilisation.