24 Hours On Earth (2014) Movie Script

The sun.
It creates the daily rhythm
for life on Earth.
A player in almost every drama
that unfolds across our planet.
Hour by hour,
its exact position is critical.
For some, it brings moments
of enormous opportunity.
For others, it can spell disaster.
All over the world,
animals' lives are governed
by the sun's journey
through the sky.
How they respond can make
the difference between success
and failure,
life or death.
This is just an ordinary day
on our extraordinary planet.
It's dawn.
The sun hasn't arrived yet,
but its power will soon be felt,
and the world is waking.
The day starts with a love song.
Lar gibbons.
With each note, they renew their bond
after the long night,
and remind other gibbons that
this patch of forest is theirs.
They've discovered that the hour
before sunrise is the perfect time
for their duet...
..because sound travels furthest
in cool air.
And at dawn, a warm layer
sits above the cool air,
reflecting and amplifying every note.
It's the best time of the day
to be heard,
and the gibbons aren't the only ones
making the most of it.
All over the planet, nature's
dawn chorus heralds the moment
the world's been waiting for.
a burning giant,
reappears above the horizon.
Its rays, travelling at over
180,000 miles per second...
..flick the switch
and the world is flooded with light.
This meerkat family is up early
to greet the sunrise.
It's not high enough
to warm them up just yet...
..and they're finding it
difficult to get going.
But unbeknown to them,
the early light
is having an extraordinary effect
inside their bodies.
Sunlight triggers the brain
to shut off drowsy hormones,
replacing them with
waves of energising ones,
kick-starting their metabolism
and preparing them for the day ahead.
Suddenly, they're wide awake.
Time to find breakfast.
All over the world, the rising sun
is making its presence felt,
forcing animals into action.
For the last eight months,
South Africa's rocky shoreline
has been a nursery
for this young Cape fur seal.
He, too, is hungry,
but the need to fuel his body
is about to get him into trouble.
Each morning, with the rising sun,
the current moving past the mouth
of the bay brings rich pickings.
But with opportunity comes danger.
A killer patrols these waters...
..waiting for inexperienced pups
to take the plunge.
The older seals know
the great whites are out there,
but by midday, the biggest
fish shoals will be out of range.
The seals must leave now.
The pups' best chance is to
fall in with a convoy of adults.
Experienced seals
are notoriously hard to catch.
But in the first two hours
of the day,
the great white has a better chance,
thanks to an ally.
The sun itself.
The early-morning light
is strong enough
to silhouette the pup from below.
But the slanting rays
can't penetrate the depths.
The shark can see the pup,
but the pup can't see the shark.
This time, the pup is just small
and speedy enough to slip through
the shark's jaws.
Away from the coastline, he's safe.
And as the sun rises higher,
illuminating the shadowy depths,
the shark's
window of opportunity closes.
At least, until tomorrow.
As the sun climbs higher in the sky,
its character is changing.
For the first time in the day,
it's not just sensed as light,
but as radiant heat.
Clusters of Monarch butterflies
huddle close together
against the chilly Mexican night.
Up until now, the morning has been
too cold to leave the branches.
But as the sun hits their wings,
warming their bodies to a crucial
12 degrees, they can finally fly.
Each cluster revealing
tens of thousands
of individual butterflies.
The first warmth of the day is
just as important to small mammals.
These Madagascan lemurs
aren't meditating.
They're sunbathing.
Too small to regulate
their body temperature well...
..they lie back
and soak up the warmth
through their thinly coated
A much-needed morning heat fix.
But nowhere is the warming of
the landscape felt more keenly
than in the desert...
..of Namibia.
Overnight, the temperature
hit freezing point.
But this morning, the sun
is radiating heat
directly onto the sand dunes.
Three hours after sunrise
and, already, the temperature
has climbed by 30 degrees.
Exactly what this desert inhabitant
has been waiting for.
The Namaqua is unusual...
which, for a chameleon,
is really saying something.
Somewhere in its evolution,
it drew the short straw.
So whilst its cousins around
the world live hidden in trees,
the Namaqua is exposed
on sand-blasted dunes.
Just surviving the freezing night
has left the cold-blooded
chameleon sluggish.
Its energy supplies so drained
that breakfast passes
right under its nose.
It's going to need to get warm
before it can eat.
By angling its dark brown, scaly skin
towards the light,
it becomes a reptilian solar panel.
An hour or two on charge
and it will be good to go.
In less extreme parts of Africa,
this change in air temperature has
burnt the hanging morning haze away.
In just a couple of hours,
the ground will become so hot
that it will begin to generate
a heat haze of its own.
But right now,
in this brief window of clarity,
with nothing to spoil her view,
conditions for this cheetah
are perfect.
She's a mother,
with responsibilities.
Three of them.
They're growing fast
and they're hungry.
Mum needs to make a kill.
The lions who share her territory
have excellent night vision.
But the cheetah's eye
is designed for sunlight.
Packed full of colour receptors,
she sees the world
in razor-sharp detail.
The lions could threaten her cubs,
but they're stuffed full
from the night's hunt.
Right now is her best chance.
Black tear stains under her eyes
combat glare and help her focus
in the crisp morning air.
Just in time.
The heat haze will soon be shimmering
above the ground...
..making it difficult
to see in any detail.
Then the time for hunting
will be over.
The best option?
To spend
the rest of the day
in the shade.
In more temperate parts of the world,
plants have been working hard
since dawn...
..photosynthesising light
into energy.
In the next hour,
the sun's intensity will peak.
These light harvesters
are gearing up for what should be
the most productive moment
of the day...
..but it's also when the sun
becomes its most dangerous.
As damaging to plant cells
as it is to our skin.
As the sun blasts down
from overhead...
..these sunflowers
are carefully monitoring
its intensity,
flooding each leaf with a sunscreen,
protecting the plant from sun damage.
At 90 degrees, directly overhead...
..the sun's rays pass through
the least atmosphere.
Millions of watts of energy
beat down onto the Earth.
In the Australian outback,
temperatures have soared past
50 degrees.
Out in the open, these kangaroos
are becoming dangerously hot.
The shade gives some relief,
but it's not enough.
The air surrounding them is baking.
To prevent heatstroke,
these roos have a trick or two
up their sleeves.
Along their forearms, vessels full
of hot blood run close to the skin.
They lick themselves.
As their saliva evaporates,
a little body heat is lost with it.
And by digging away
the hottest layers of earth...
..and resting on the cooler
layers below...
..these resourceful roos have found a
way to survive the midday onslaught.
Shade is hard to come by
in the Namibian sand dunes.
Our cold-blooded chameleon
is in danger of being cooked
in his own skin.
But life in this uncompromising place
has forced an incredible adaptation.
Doing what chameleons
all over the world do best,
it's changed colour.
Dark brown to brilliant white.
Reflecting the heat off its skin
and keeping its internal temperature
just cool enough to survive...
..and to hunt.
A solar-powered,
turbo-charged chameleon.
Well, relatively speaking.
Not everyone finds the midday sun
such a challenge.
In a lake, on a remote island
in the Pacific...
..a golden jellyfish is sunbathing.
This is no ordinary jelly.
Over 12,000 years ago,
its ancestors were marooned here.
Faced with starvation,
this seafarer became a farmer.
Absorbing lake algae into its body
and cultivating them.
The algae use light
to photosynthesise,
sharing the energy generated
with their hosts.
The jellies carefully tend the algae,
following the path of the sun
across the lake.
It's such a successful relationship
that now,
there are 13 million jellies...
..all clustered under the midday sun.
Gently spinning, to give their crop
just the right amount of light.
From midday onwards,
the angle of the sun begins to wane.
But it becomes no less dangerous.
The ground temperature
carries on rising.
While most animals
wait for the Earth to cool...
..amongst the craggy peaks of
the Ethiopian mountains...
..a quirky-looking crowd
is gathering.
Lammergeyers are vultures,
Collectors of bones.
Partial to the marrow
found inside them.
Heavy duty stomach acid
dissolves small bones,
but they're not exactly nutritious.
A lamb femur full of marrow
is much more like it.
But there's a problem -
the bone's far too big to swallow.
In the warmth of the afternoon,
this lammergeyer
senses an opportunity.
Heat, radiating from
the plains below,
has built into huge columns
rising into the atmosphere.
Warm-air thermals -
perfect for flight.
The lamb bone matches
her own bodyweight,
but the early-afternoon thermals
create an invisible elevator,
making flight possible.
At any other time,
this manoeuvre would prove dangerous
and costly in energy.
But by seizing her chance,
she's been rewarded.
While the lammergeyer
rides early-afternoon thermals
close to the Equator...
..a polar bear,
right at the top of the Earth,
is facing a very different challenge.
Because of the tilt
of the Earth on its axis,
the Arctic summer is filled
with almost endless light.
Hunting seals under the sea ice,
he's in no rush.
At three o'clock in the afternoon,
the sun is still high in the sky...
..but the radiant heat
from days of endless summer
is melting his Arctic world.
The sun will stay high over
the Arctic for another two months.
Soon, there'll be
no ice left to hunt on.
He will have to fast
until the seasons change again.
It's this seasonal journey of
the sun in the sky
that causes the greatest movement
of animals across the planet.
Driven by changes in weather,
by opportunity,
and danger,
migrants criss-cross the planet.
Across continents and through oceans.
Even the lives of the greatest
travellers are ruled by the sun.
This family of humpback whales
spent the winter breeding
in tropical waters...
..which made the perfect nursery
for the new calf...
..but are low on stocks
of krill and small fish,
the things 30-tonne adults
like to eat.
The calf is now strong enough
to swim the 3,000 miles north
towards the family's next big meal.
Navigating across thousands of miles
of featureless ocean
is an incredible challenge.
And with the adults running on empty,
they can't afford to get lost.
But the sun throws them a lifeline.
Humpbacks are expert navigators.
They use the sun
to keep their bearings.
Its changing position in the sky,
combined with information sensed
from the Earth's magnetic field,
creates a reliable compass.
So effective is their reckoning
that between sunrise
and this point in the afternoon,
the family will have deviated
less than one degree
from last year's course.
Late afternoon.
The sun's time in the sky
is running out.
Its power is fading.
Animals face
an urgent new challenge -
to make the most of the remaining
light and warmth
before it disappears.
Back in Namibia,
the sand is beginning to cool...
..and the chameleon has undergone
his most bizarre transformation yet.
He's split himself
right down the middle.
Black side faced towards the sun
to absorb every last bit
of remaining warmth.
White in the shade,
to stop his body heat being lost.
Being two chameleons at once
will help him survive
the cold night ahead.
And he's not the only animal
torn between the heat of the day
and a chilly desert night.
In the mountains of Oman,
a rock hyrax family
are soaking up all the
late-afternoon heat they can get.
They could also be accused of having
a bit of an identity problem.
Hyrax look like rodents,
but their closest relative
is actually an elephant.
And although they're mammals,
they need to bask to keep warm,
just like lizards.
Sunbathing in the late afternoon
is a serious business.
Every extra minute spent
absorbing warmth from the rocks
gives them a better chance
of surviving
the cold night ahead.
But stretching out in the open
like this is dangerous.
They've no choice
but to make themselves targets.
And stonebaked hyrax
is a black eagle favourite.
The family are on high alert.
The eagle's only chance
is a stealth attack...
..and the afternoon sun
provides the perfect disguise.
Diving at the same angle,
the glare is an invisibility cloak.
But hyrax have a unique adaptation.
In their eye,
the coloured iris slightly shields
the top of the pupil.
An in-built sun visor,
perfect for eagle spotting.
There won't be hyrax
on the menu tonight.
There's less than two hours left
before sunset.
The sun has lost its strength,
but it has not lost
its grip on our planet.
It has one last hand to play.
The phenomenal energy
absorbed by the ground
during the hottest parts of the day
is released back into the atmosphere.
Fast-rising, unstable, hot air
colliding with higher, colder air
creates weather.
If you live near the Equator,
rain in the afternoon is just
something you've got to put up with.
A waterproof makes it all
much more bearable.
this young orangutan
hasn't quite got the hang of
making his just yet.
But over drier parts of our planet,
all this pent-up heat energy
can spell disaster.
Turbulent air creates static charges.
Each strike five times hotter than
the surface of the sun.
Parched forests
take like tinder to a match.
The fire will eventually
burn itself out,
but the smoke lingers,
scattering all but the very longest
wavelengths of light -
reds and oranges.
While the Earth smoulders,
the sunset burns extra deep.
It takes, on average,
just two minutes
for the sun to sink
below the horizon.
Such a short time, in which
everything changes for life on Earth.
The sun's great energy,
its light and heat, is suddenly lost.
All over our planet, families regroup
and find the safety of their beds...
..as drowsy hormones
flood back into their bodies,
pulling them into sleep.
But not everyone's
quite ready to let the day go.
Above a limestone cave in Borneo,
a hawk, a day flyer,
has not yet flown to its roost.
What it's waiting for
is just beginning to stir.
Inside the cave, a storm is brewing.
The beating wings of millions
of wrinkle-lipped bats.
They use sound
more than sight to navigate,
so leaving the cave before dark
won't help them find food.
But there's just so many of them
that flying any later would
cut into valuable feeding time.
By pushing out into this last,
brief window of light,
they're taking a huge risk.
The hawk is just one of many
that's ready for them.
Our eyes would struggle
in this twilight.
But the hawk's eyes
can pick out fast-moving objects
in the faintest glimmer of light.
It's a twilight battle
of the senses -
sonar versus eyesight.
In the last moments before
complete blackness,
eyesight still wins.
As the very last of the sun's rays
are lost behind the horizon...
..for the first time,
the planet is in true darkness.
The night-time world.
The darkness holds allure for a whole
host of permanent night dwellers.
They've acquired
very different senses...
that don't rely on sunlight.
This scorpion has spent the daylight
hours hiding deep in crevices,
to avoid being eaten.
But when the sun is quite absent,
she becomes the predator.
Her small eyes are all but useless
in the darkness.
Instead, she senses prey
through vibrations.
The movement of
a single grain of sand
gives her all the information
she needs to attack.
But just as she closes in on
her first meal of the night,
she freezes.
Sensing danger.
Even in the dead of night,
our sun is still not lost.
Its rays pass by the dark side
of the Earth...
..and reflect off its moon.
A ghost sun.
The full moon rises
high and bright...
..and the scorpion begins to glow.
Ultraviolet light reacts with
fluorescent chemicals
in the scorpion's armour.
Her eyes can't see moonlight, but
her whole body is a warning system,
telling her that her cover is blown.
She needs to hide,
before a predator sees her.
So she uses the fluorescence
to her advantage...
..as a light sensor.
Any part of her armour in shadow
will stop glowing...
..telling her she's found safety.
The scorpion is not alone
in her fear of the moon.
Known as lunar phobia,
many nocturnal species
around the world will hide away...
..and choose to go hungry,
rather than risk coming out
under the reflected sunlight.
But to a hunter in Southeast Asia,
a bright-lit night
is an opportunity to be seized.
Every night, the rainforest's insect
population comes under attack
from a palm-sized primate.
Don't let the wide eyes fool you,
this family of spectral tarsiers
are ruthless hunters.
With saucer-like eyes,
each as big as their brain,
this family use
the faintest of starlight
to see the forest
in incredible detail.
And when your eyes
are this sensitive,
all this reflected sunlight
is a gift.
The family aren't about
to miss a moment of
the best hunting night
of the month.
In the moonlit forest, the family
might triple their hunting success.
But it's all too easy for a tarsier
to have eyes bigger than its stomach.
In the early hours, full to bursting,
the family call it a night.
It's nearly morning.
The moon is hanging
just above the horizon.
Soon, it will be overwhelmed
by the first light of dawn.
But in the Arctic, the sun is casting
a new and different power over
the last few hours of darkness.
Particles thrown from the sun's
surface across 90 million miles
of empty space, to reach the Earth.
They are directed by the Earth's
magnetic field to the poles.
This cosmic storm
creates a magical aurora.
The spectacular Northern Lights.
But behind this beautiful
light show...
..is a sinister force...
..that impacts on whales, with
potentially lethal consequences.
The humpbacks have been relying
on the Earth's magnetic field
to chart their night-time course.
But the Earth's magnetism
is becoming distorted
under this barrage of solar energy.
It's believed whales
can become disorientated.
Thrown off course.
They might even strand onto the land.
But soon, it will be morning,
and the sun compass
will bring them back on track.
The very first light of a new day.
The sun's power will soon be felt...
..and the world is waking...
..ready to begin
another ordinary day...
..on our extraordinary planet.