channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 April, 2008, 12:00am

Tuesday is Earth Day; among the many things on your environmental to-do list, hopefully being a coach potato falls after solar-panelling your home, attending a Call for Climate workshop at Cyberport and working on a smart design for your rooftop vegetable garden. But if you are planning to relax in front of the television, at least entertain yourself with a mix of eco-centric programmes, which this week range from the crusading and sobering to the raucous and entertaining.

On his presidential campaign in 2000, Al Gore brandished a slide show on greenhouse gases. The views of Gore's opponent, George W. Bush, towards climate change have been well documented but while we all know who won the race, it is also clear many American voters do not share Dubya's outlook. So when 'the man who used to be the next president of the United States' told them An Inconvenient Truth (HBO; Tuesday, at 9pm) in 2006, they were ready to listen, and so was the rest of the world.

The Academy Award-winning documentary weaves the story of Gore's life, including key issues and people who shaped his world view, with a record of his slide show, which is packed with unforgiving facts, statistics and images that link human activity to the temperature increase in the Earth's atmosphere. Gore comes across as the bell-wether of global change and his candid look at a lifetime in politics makes an effective foil for the staggering truth.

For a more upbeat approach to global awareness, we have TV series 4Real (Nat Geo Adventure, Wednesdays at 10.30pm) and the online community of the same name, which mix star power, travel and cultural discovery with a pinch of hip hop. In each episode, host Sol Guy invites a celebrity to visit a city or remote village somewhere in the world to meet the people and learn about their culture.

This week, Guy takes bubbly Cameron Diaz (right, centre;There's Something About Mary, Charlie's Angels) to Peru to meet Puma Singona, a 27 year-old shaman seeking to preserve Peruvian music and traditions, much of which are inspired by the people's relationship with the natural world. The show, an eclectic mix of people and activities shown in short sequences with unique soundtracks, is geared towards the MTV generation - not surprisingly, given that the 4Real creators all come from the music business.

Finally, kicking off its 24-hour Earth Day special, National Geographic Channel presents I Didn't Know That: DIY Green (Tuesday, at 9pm), featuring Richard Ambrose and Jonny Phillips, two bona fide industrial scientists with a cheeky sense of humour. They investigate the realities of living the green life in Britain, starting with a competition to build the ultimate garden shed, which yields explosive results. Granted, some of the eco-friendly modifications may not be directly applicable in our crowded, expensive city, but the drag race between four types of fuel-efficient car and the home visit from an energy-efficiency expert should prove instructional for Hongkongers interested in saving both money and the environment.