‘How Earth Made Us’ is a ground-breaking BBC series that tells ‘the incredible story of the natural forces that have shaped our history’. Now available on YouTube, it is well worth watching, offering fantastic imagery and though-provoking commentary. Presented by Professor Iain Stewart, the series examines the influence of four fundamental elements – Water, Deep Earth, Wind and Fire – on human history. The fifth and final episode, called the Human Planet, presents humans as a natural force in their own right.
Nearly 50 years ago, Professor Bill Jackson published the paper ‘Fire, air, water, earth – An elemental ecology of Tasmania’. With a title like that, one could say he was ahead of his time.
“Many Aboriginal myths divide the land into different elements, each an Ancestral Spirit with its own history and personality.”
Anna Voigt and Nevill Drury (1997)