Reaction to the new David Attenborough documentary and a call to action
Netflix’s new documentary may be one of the most important things that Sir David Attenborough has done. As he puts it, the film is his “witness statement”; a frank assessment of the state of the natural world based on over 60 years of working in it. It flawlessly combines career retrospective, damning indictment, warning, and optimism into a compelling message: human-wrought impacts on the natural world are real and if we don’t act now life on this earth will be impossible.
This film had a profound effect on me. I was brought to tears when Attenborough says “we’ve destroyed it, not just ruined it. It’s gone”. I was exasperated by the short-sightedness of the human race, and enraged by the wilful ignorance that persists even now. All throughout the film are graphics which display the population, atmospheric carbon, and wilderness loss at various points of his life. I was appalled by the figures from the years before my birth, nevermind how the numbers have changed in the forty years since.
Yet what moved me the most was the fact that despite seeing such thorough devastation to natural ecosystems, David Attenborough remains optimistic. He believes we can change, and that we can change quickly enough to save our planet and to save ourselves. It takes amazing strength to retain that kind of hope in the face of catastrophe, which makes him exactly the ambassador this cause needs.
I think the real value will not be for me (though it doesn’t hurt to have my anger raised once in a while), but for the unconverted. Those who are undecided about climate change, or are unconvinced about its scale. Everyone should watch this and take its lessons to heart. My only disappointment is that not everyone has Netflix; this is the kind of story that needs to be told on a free-to-air platform.
To the converted: we must watch and remember. We must act and we must fight every day. Impactful change must come from governments, industry and business, but these parties will not change unless we make them. Unless we communicate that this is important, unless we elect those who understand, they will continue with “business as usual”, turning away, denying, or paying only lip-service to the problem.
We must act and fight.
Watch the documentary, and tell your friends and family about it. Get them to watch it if you can. Get them to listen to the message.
Inform yourselves and campaign. There are countless groups advocating for the type of change we need, but often they are shouting into the void. Add your voice to theirs and let’s make people hear.
When the time comes to vote, make sure you vote with the planet in mind. I’ve written more about this here.
And finally, think about what you can do to improve biodiversity. I’ve identified eight actions we can all take in this article.