The acclaimed documentary series Breakthrough, airing on 21st Century Fox’s National Geographic Channel, continues to bring to life the most exciting stories from the cutting edge of science. As the series approaches the end of its first season, its final two episodes explore two of the most pressing issues in the fields of environmental science and sustainability: clean, renewable energy and increasing water scarcity. The episodes, directed by Academy Award winning writer Akiva Goldsman and Academy Award nominated actor Angela Bassett, air at 9/8c on National Geographic Channel on Sunday, Dec. 6, and Sunday, Dec. 13, respectively.
“Our premise in the series was to take a look at so many of the exciting and fascinating scientific breakthroughs on the near horizon,” said two-time Academy Award winner Ron Howard, who produced the series along with Brian Grazer. “And from there, to understand who the scientists are who are asking the tough questions and confronting the challenges.”
To tell these stories, Howard and Grazer recruited six prominent Hollywood stars to each direct a documentary about a given scientific subject. Peter Berg directed the premiere episode, which followed the researchers and first responders to pandemic outbreaks, and Paul Giamatti, Brett Ratner, and Howard himself directed subsequent episodes. Goldsman directed the Dec. 6 episode, “Energy from the Edge.”
“If we proceed at the pace we are proceeding, continuing to overuse the resources available to us, we’re going to run out,” Goldsman said. “I believe that there is clean, safe energy all around us, and it is our opportunity and our obligation to find ways to access it… I’m hoping we can learn to coexist with our planet and to cooperatively enjoy its benefits.”
In the season finale, Dec. 13’s “Water Apocalypse,” director Angela Bassett explores the various ways we are confronting the increasing problem of droughts and water scarcity.
“One of the things I’ve learned is that there is no one solution to the water problem,” Bassett said. “There are many, and a dialogue about each is important to have… There are great minds and big hearts who are coming up with ideas and solutions to this increasing problem of lack of water. I see breakthroughs happening all over the world.”
Goldsman offered similar thoughts on his episode, describing these breakthroughs as ultimately a triumph of the human spirit.
“In the show, you see human beings whose belief, whose dreaming, whose imagination converts into innovation,” Goldsman said. “For me, what is always quite inspirational is what one person can do. A single person can make a difference. In the stories that we’ve explored, we’ve seen that just a person with a vision can change the world.”
Breakthrough airs Sundays at 9:00PM ET / 8:00PM CT on National Geographic Channel. For more information, as well as digital extras, exclusive content, and full episodes, visit NationalGeographic.com.