A Life On Our Planet — David Attenborough’s Plea For The Future
Hello everyone and welcome back to our blog. In today’s instalment, we are going to take a look at David Attenborough’s latest film, A Life On Our Planet, which premiered on Netflix a couple of days ago.
Throughout his documentary, Sir Attenborough outlines five key points that he believes make up the largest issues which we should address and presents us with a very straightforward solution. Join us as we go through them step-by-step and look at what we need to do in order to best protect the natural world. We are going to have a look at:
- Climate Change
- The impact of nuclear waste
- What is going on with the ice caps?
- Why is the animal population dwindling?
- How can we curb the spread of greenhouse gasses?
- Why today is the best time to change
And now, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
David Attenborough is one of the few eco-friendly enthusiasts whose message has managed to reach the broader public consistently. Even if you are not a part of the green living community, you most certainly have seen some of his speeches or at least read about them. Pollution, climate change, marine life, greenhouse gasses — whatever the subject, his message rings true. And, despite the fact that he is now 94 years old, Sir Attenborough shows no intention of slowing down. A firm believer in humanity’s ability to change, he continues to create publications, hold speeches and create documentaries.
Just four days ago, David Attenborough’s latest film — A life on Our Planet hit Netflix and is now available in the cinemas. With it, the environmentalist tries to illustrate the severity of the situation that we are facing. It states, whether we like it or not, we are in this together. It is not just the fault of “this person” or “that corporation”. We all must take responsibility for the state of our world, and we must work together.
But the message in A Life On Our Planet is a bit different. The movie itself is a lot more personal than most of his other work. Here, Sir Attenborough recounts the time in his life spent with animals, highlighting the decline in the natural world, caused by human activity. He points out that, were he born in the present day, he would likely witness a struggling world in his old age.
The environmentalist is firm in his position that “We’ve destroyed it, that natural world has gone”. Furthermore, he goes on to state that our rapid expansion and excessive consumption of resources “have overrun the world… that is my witness statement — the story of global decline over a single lifetime.”
Still, like the majority of his publications, the film is not all “doom and gloom”. Quite the contrary — Sir David Attenborough has included a plethora of gorgeous animal footage and scenery shots to make it a pleasant watch for everyone. Arguably, the contrast between the beautiful natural world and the images of animals, fallen victim to the changing situation further empowers the message, allowing it to ring true in the heart of the average, uninformed viewer. Besides, as a devout environmentalist, Attenborough is a firm believer in the possibility of reversing and healing the damage that we’ve caused. Not all is lost, as long as we are willing to take responsibility and change our ways.
1. January 1978 — The date when Attenborough first faced the effects of climate change.
A powerful scene with Attenborough lying down beside mountain gorillas during a shooting which took place 50 years ago showcases the dramatic consequences of climate change. In his own words, this was the first time he really felt the weight of the situation on his shoulders.
He notes that, at the time, it was “noticeable” that certain species were increasingly difficult to encounter as a result of poaching activities and their impact on local biodiversity. Sir Attenborough likens the experience to his early memories of observing fossils, saying that it was very much like seeing the process of extinction take place right there, before his very eyes. And it wasn’t happening to some long-gone species, but to animals he knows and loves and animals he’s observed during his lifetime. To animals, which are our close “relatives”. And it was us, humans, who were to blame.
“Once the species became our target, there was now nowhere on Earth that it could hide.”
2. Chernobyl as a grim reminder of what the future might hold if we fail to act in time
The film’s opening and closing scenes take place in Chernobyl. The long-abandoned empty classrooms, derelict homes and harrowing public spaces in the Ukrainian city stand as a grim reminder of the cost of our mistakes. The nuclear explosion took place over 30 years ago, yet the location continues to haunt the dreams of many.
Sir Attenborough says that we should keep the memory of the catastrophe alive, not despite, but because of the consequences. Should we fail to act in time, this scenery might turn into a common one all across the globe, with greenhouse gasses and the destruction of the beautiful biodiversity. Everything in nature is interconnected, and if the ecosystems fall out of balance, the future is bleak, warns the environmentalist. “Advanced” as we may be, humanity would be hard-pressed to escape the destruction its activities can cause.
3. There is less and less ice
The segment on arctic summers brings attention to climate change in a massive way. Attenborough points out that he has personally observed and experienced the “warming of arctic summers”. He recalls arriving at locations, expecting to encounter “expanses of arctic sea” and finding nothing but water. His team has reached shores which were never reached before. All of this, and more, he attributes to the increase in temperature.
Nine years ago, when the film, Frozen Planet hit the screens, the reasons for all of this were well-known. The oceans are unable to take all of the heat, realised by human activity, increasing the overall temperature. “Global temperature today is one degree Celsius warmer” than it was when he was born. “A speed of change which exceeds any in the last 10,000 years. Our planet is losing its ice.”
4. Wild Animal Population is dwindling
Over the last 70 years, wild animal populations have been reduced by more than fifty percent, warns Attenborough. The environmentalist goes on to say that, even though he once thought that he was “out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world it was an illusion”. Even though the signs were only beginning to manifest back then, a significant portion of the damage was already done.
5. We must consider the long-term consequences
As frozen soils begin to thaw, the atmosphere will become increasingly filled with methane, essentially “speeding up” the entire process. By 2040, we might find ourselves in a downwards spiral of climate change accelerating itself as a result of our carelessness, warns Sir Attenborough.
But this is just the beginning. The increase in temperature and acidity can cause irreparable damage to coral reefs and fish, essentially crashing the entire marine ecosystem. Then, by 2080, global food production would grind to a halt. A large portion of the natural food resources would be all but depleted. Soil would be exhausted by overuse, pollinating insects would disappear, and the weather will grow increasingly more unpredictable.
Then, by early 2100, our planet will experience an increase in the overall temperature of over four degrees Celsius, rendering a large portion of the planet’s surface largely uninhabitable. Millions of people would find themselves without a home, and humanity would face the beginning of the sixth mass extinction event.
But the future’s not set in stone.
Luckily, it is not too late to act. As long as we take the necessary actions, the catastrophe can be prevented. Attenborough goes through some fantastic ways to halt the progression of climate change and assures the viewers that there still is time. His focus is mostly on the major corporations and governmental organisations, but everyone can and should participate. The environmentalist is confident that the following points are absolutely mandatory:
- The switch to renewable power must be made — fossil fuels have no place in the future. We must move away from harmful energy sources if we hope to preserve our world.
- The adoption of sustainable fishing practices is paramount — he points out that “fishing is the world’s greatest wild harvest”, noting that “Estimates suggest that no-fish zones over a third of our coastal seas would be sufficient to provide us with all the fish we would ever need”.
- Meat consumption needs to be lowered — the continually growing demand for meat is absolutely unsuitable. If everyone were to shift over to a mostly plant-based diet, “we would only need half the [farming] land we use at the moment”.
And this concludes today’s article. We hope that you enjoyed the content and we highly recommend that you have a look at Sir Attenborough’s film (you can find it on Netflix).
Remember — it’s never too late to make the right choice. Go green today and do your part in protecting nature and the future of our world.
And what about you? Have you made the switch to sustainability yet? Which part was the easiest, and what did you have the most difficulty with? Please give us your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments below!
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Thank you all for reading our blog, and we’ll see you all next time!
Image credit: The Telegraph