Our latest ‘Green Tomatoes’ review is on the film, David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet, which is now available to view on Netflix. David’s story is one that at times, feels almost like a real-life Roland Emmerich “2012” movie.
We begin with David in Chernobyl, where he talks about how bad planning and human error led to one of mankind’s worst disasters. He then compares that to how bad planning and human error could lead to something far far worse: mass extinction. As in, the event that wiped out the dinosaurs along with 75% of the Earth’s species. Yikes!
The big problem, as pointed out in the film, is that we have nothing to stop our growth. We have no natural predators, eliminated most diseases, and conquered nearly every terrain. Human beings have overrun the world. We convert rainforests to farms of oil palms. We overfish. We release fossil fuels and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“Doing things that are unsustainable leads to a point where the whole system collapses.”
Oceans warm and coral reefs die, leaving behind beds of white coral skeletons. The artic ice is nearly gone, with the summer sea ice in the Arctic reduced by 40% in 40 years. The global temperature is 1° c warmer than when David was born. It is, as David states, the “story of global decline during a single lifetime.” If we don’t do anything, the world is going to very quickly resemble the dust-bowl version of planet Earth in the film Interstellar.
The story could end there, but it doesn’t; and what is so great about this film is that it actually presents solutions to the problems it has outlined. We must, in David’s words, “rewild the world”. To do that, we must slow or stop population growth, raise people out of poverty, and increase education and healthcare. The goal is to “raise the standard of living around the world without increasing our impact on that world.”
- So how do we do that? David offers the following suggestions:
- phase out fossil fuels and switch to renewable energies
- fish sustainability by creating no fish zones
- radically reduce the space we use to farm by changing our diet
- reverse the land grab and bring back the forests
David ends his story wisely telling us, “it’s not about saving our planet; it’s about saving ourselves.”
My first takeaway from watching this film is that it is beautifully shot, with shots so amazing that you often find yourself wondering if they are computer generated or not. Some shots are so powerful that they need no narration from David to make their point. One in particular stands out: the lone surviving orangutan up in the last standing tree surrounded by a forest of felled trees.
The bigger and far more important takeaway is that we have to stop ourselves from ruining the planet. While I agree with David’s four action points, it was his earlier statements about education that resonate most with me. I believe that increasing education is our best chance at slowing or stopping population growth; and it’s the closest thing we have to a “magic bullet” to solve our world’s problems.
If you can spare ten minutes, check out this interview where I share my thoughts about education. If we cannot change course drastically and quickly, before we know it we may not have a planet to call home.
Patrick’s recommendation: Seriously, everyone on this planet needs to watch this film. Please, please, please make a point to check this movie out and then do your best to help spread the word!
See also: Green Tomatoes by Patrick Lee: Fantastic Fungi Review