The Wonder List

Bill Weir welcomes you to 'The Wonder List'

Bill Weir, CNNUpdated 15th April 2015
(CNN) — "My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late, so soon?" -- Dr. Seuss
Hello, lovers. Welcome to "The Wonder List."
As an astute Internet grazer, you've probably figured out by now that this is a web page about a TV show. In coming week and months, we will fill it with luscious images and rollicking stories from some of the most gorgeous corners of the planet. In fact, here's a nice one of the production team on an average casual Friday.
The Wonderlist crew, with the local villagers on the island of Rah, near Mota Lava, Vanuatu -- shortly after a display of their famous "Snake Dance" From left: Julian Quinones, Cassius Kim, Philip Bloom, Bill Weir
The Wonderlist crew, with the local villagers on the island of Rah, near Mota Lava, Vanuatu -- shortly after a display of their famous "Snake Dance" From left: Julian Quinones, Cassius Kim, Philip Bloom, Bill Weir
Jimmy Nelson/CNN
It's all very exciting, but honestly, I'm already picturing the wistful day when we'll look back on this and say, "Wow. Remember when there were web pages -- and TV shows?"
Premature nostalgia is a common side effect of 21st century existence, a time when innovation travels at twice the speed of anticipation. The condition is made even more acute by watching your tween suddenly put down her crayons and reach for the eye shadow.
I happened to be wallowing in a fit of premature nostalgia the day my bosses asked what sort of TV show I wanted to make.
"A show about change," I replied.
Much to my surprise, they said yes.
We mark our velocity on this planet in miles per hour, but lately I've been obsessed by a different metric we'll call "CPL" -- changes per lifetime.
Since they were around for the Wright Brothers and the Space Shuttle, my grandparents pretty much pegged the damn CPL needle. They were beta testers for world wars and miracle vaccines, Dust Bowls, interstate highways and the telephone. Seismic stuff.
My Gen X rate of change pales a bit in comparison. In third grade, the threat of Soviet missiles had us performing duck-and-cover drills, but by college I watched the Berlin Wall come down between rounds of beer pong.
We got to see Vegas pre-cheesy, MTV pre-Snooki and after surviving the screech of a dial-up modem, we all attended the funerals of both modesty and privacy.
But what about that little girl in eye shadow? When it comes to changes per lifetime, what is your average 11-year-old in for?
That question is the foundation of "The Wonder List."
And this is show where "wonder" serves as both a noun and a verb.
For example, I wonder ... who will be the last person to ski the Alps? Or see a tiger in the wild? Or get baptized in the River Jordan?
These are buzzkill questions, to be sure. But when a consensus of scientists tells us that glaciers, from Europe to Montana, are vanishing at an alarming rate, maybe it's time to pay attention.
I was stunned to learn that there are now more tigers in cages in Texas than in the jungles of India.
And did you know that the river where Jesus was baptized has been sucked nearly dry? Have you heard of the freakish sinkholes now swallowing huge chunks of the Holy Land?
Yes, our big, blue marble is changing fast. The same human progress that extended life expectancy and lifted millions out of poverty is also driving history's first manmade mass extinction and a potentially devastating change in climate.
And that change is only going to get more dramatic.
When I was born, there were fewer than 4 billion people sharing this planet. When my kid becomes my age, there will be close to 10 billion.
The wants and needs of all those new neighbors will create stresses we can't even imagine. But they will also drive innovation we've yet to fathom.
And so, this show (and this page) will scour five continents for stories of change and signs of hope.
To understand rising waters and vanishing species, we will take you from the canals of Venice to the reefs of the Galapagos. We'll go python hunting in the Everglades and snowboarding in Chamonix, France.
We'll find out what happens when a man with a bag of money tries to buy an unspoiled South Pacific paradise. And what happens when junk food and Facebook arrive on the Greek isle where people live longer than anywhere else.
The island nation of Vanuatu has all the trappings of paradise, without the luxury hotels and resorts (for now). Bill Weir caught up with guide and photojournalist, Jimmy Nelson, to look back at their extraordinary experiences on these extraordinary islands.
And since we want to cherish what we have, while we have it, I called the best filmmaker I could find to capture it all. His name is Philip Bloom, and his legions of followers can back me up when I say that he is a bloody photographic genius.
As the show ramps up in the new year, I'm hoping you will come back here and chime in with your own Wonder List. Maybe there is a lake you're trying to save, or a drive-in theater you'd like to mourn. I'd love to know how your corner of the world is changing and how you're fighting back or rolling with the times.
The best thing about premature nostalgia is that when it hits, you may have just enough time to save what you love.
This is how The Wonder List begins. Get a glimpse of the places you will visit and the people you will meet. Don't miss The Wonder List Sundays at 10p ET/PT.
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