Today, the strange story of a small group of islands that raise a big question: is it inevitable that even our most sacred natural landscapes will eventually get swallowed up by humans? And just how far are we willing to go to stop that from happening?
We are dedicating a whole hour to the Galapagos archipelago, the place that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection. 179 years later, the Galapagos are undergoing rapid changes that continue to pose -- and possibly answer -- critical questions about the fragility and resilience of life on Earth.
To The Brink
When our producer Tim Howard landed in the Galapagos, fresh from his honeymoon, he had the ghost of Darwin and dreams of Eden in his head. But he found something very different from what Darwin would¹ve seen. With a local election just days away, Tim discovered a strange new tension between the people who live there and the people who want to preserve the archipelago's incredible ecology. We meet the tortoises, those massive, lumbering creatures that mystified Darwin, and then we meet one of the most worst threats the tortoises have ever seen: the goats.
Nobody wants to see the tortoises disappear, as conservationists Linda Cayot, Karl Campbell, and Josh Donlan explain, but actually protecting the tortoises' home can be grisly, brutal work.
Fighting to protect a species is one thing, but what if that species is all but gone -- can you bring it back? Should you? Or, as Holly Doremus and Josh Donlan argue, have we already changed our world so dramatically that the only way forward is to accept that Nature will never be how it was? And Gisella Caccone explains how, at least on Pinta Island, we may be able to take the past...and raise it from the dead.
In Real Time
The finches of Galapagos are an iconic symbol of evolution in action: each species neatly adapted to its island's environment, thanks to enormous time spans and total isolation. But isolation is not so easy to maintain these days. Despite heroic efforts by the government of Ecuador to control the movement of critters from island to island, sometimes even just putting your foot on the ground can radically affect a landscape, or even alter the fate of Darwin’s famous finches.