CNN’s Violent Earth Reveals Why Natural Disasters Are Our New Normal (Exclusive)

By Ethan Alter 

If you thought last summer was a scorcher, 2024’s warm weather months are about to crank up America’s thermostat. Climate scientists are already predicting higher than average temperatures across the country in this El Niño-free summer, as well as increased rainfall on the East Coast and dryer heat towards the West. And there will almost certainly be a number of climate-related disasters that experts won’t necessarily be able to see coming, be it destructive hurricanes or devastating wildfires.

Violent weather is part of our new normal—and that’s why the new CNN Original Series, Violent Earth, is so well-timed. Premiering June 2 ahead of the official launch of summer on June 20, the five-episode docuseries provides in-depth scientific explanations for extreme weather events.

“The goal of the Violent Earth series is to bring the viewer as close as possible to these events to understand how destructive and dangerous nature can be,” Nancy Duffy—executive producer and CNN’s senior vice president of program development—tells TVNewser. “We hear personal stories from eyewitnesses and survivors, and experts explain the science behind these events and how they are being impacted by the changing climate.”


Watch an exclusive teaser trailer for Violent Earth below: 

Ray Donovan star Liev Schreiber is the host of our tour of across an increasingly violent earth, and his narration will accompany breathtaking footage of natural disaster, some of which left Duffy shaken. “A woman was sucked out of her home by a massive tornado,” she says, previewing one of the most memorable pieces of footage in the series. “She was sent flying into her neighbor’s yard and lived to tell about it.”

Another episode, meanwhile, provides a you-are-there account of a tsunami crashing down upon vacationers at a  beach. “They watch as a wave the length of the horizon begins moving back toward shore and soon they’re running for their lives,” Duffy remembers. “One survivor describes being swallowed up by a wall of water 40 feet high.”

Watch an exclusive teaser trailer for Violent Earth below: 

But Duffy is also quick to say that Violent Earth isn’t intended to be the documentary equivalent of a blockbuster Hollywood disaster movie—think The Day After Tomorrow or Dante’s Peak—that’s designed for entertainment, not education. “Pay attention to tornado warnings, and heed hurricane and wildfire evacuation alerts,” she says, ticking off some of the series’ key takeaways for viewers.

Above all, Duffy hopes that giving audiences a more visceral extreme weather experience will make the reality of these events more… well, real.

“We watch live news coverage of hurricanes and wildfires, but we’re always following at a distance,” she notes. “The footage of these natural disasters puts viewers in the tornado’s path or being chased by a wildfire. Most of the scenes were shot by storm chasers or people accidentally caught up in a fire or a hurricane. Because they are so close, you really get a sense of the power, the noise and the chaos of these events.”

Violent Earth premieres June 2 at 9 p.m. on CNN