Normally Cinetalk doesn’t focus on TV documentaries, but a particular one airing soon became an instant exception. One of Canada’s long-standing broadcast traditions, The Nature of Things has something engaging and relevant to show us all. After nearly two years of a global pandemic, we should all sit down and listen to what nature has been trying to tell us.

Christine Nielsen’s documentary, Nature’s Big Year is of course narrated by The Nature of Things‘ David Suzuki. However, his voice is there almost as a backdrop. The wildlife cameras and the nature researchers have much more to say. Months of lockdown could have thwarted their research, but things instead took a surprising turn. The pandemic was an opportunity to look at the impact humans have on the habitat we share with many other creatures.

When society went on pause, nature very quickly rebooted itself. In different regions of the world, remarkable findings show that animals and birds took advantage of the lack of human hustle and bustle. In Alberta, wildlife cameras had been installed before the coronavirus appeared. Since the lockdowns caused the devices to be left there for longer than expected, researchers had the unique opportunity to witness how things changed when human beings disappeared from this shared environment.

In other locations, hedgehogs, birds and loggerhead turtles changed migratory, predatory and mating habits. In the UK, studies on the decrease of roadkill can teach us how to help the little critters thrive once human re-crowding occurs post-pandemic.

On the other hand, some of the incredibly blue skies witnessed round the globe hold a secret we can only begin to research. Pollution plagues locations such as New Delhi. During lockdown, factories shut down and skies cleared. More sunlight was allowed through, bringing with it dangerous levels of ozone. Ozone in our atmosphere can cause emphysema and asthma.

Everything on the planet is connected. While we still can, we should collaborate with nature instead of destroying it. Humans still have so much to learn from nature, and this is a worthwhile watch.


Nature’s Big Year (The Nature of Things) – premieres Friday, November 12th, 2021, 9 PM EST on CBC TV, and streaming on CBC GEM.