A life on our planet

I just finished watching a powerful documentary on Netflix that I wanted to share with you and urge you to watch as well. The name of the film is David Attenborough: A life on our planet. In this 1 hour and 23 minute documentary, David Attenborough, who was 93 years old when it was filmed, presents the highlights of his career as a documentary maker and shares lots of footage from his life’s work. If you subscribe to Netflix, you can watch it for free.

You get to see David age over the course of “A life on our planet,” and you also get to witness  the aging of our planet, and you will undoubtedly note that the earth has aged rather poorly during David’s lifetime. 

The film includes a number of wonderful clips from David’s documentary career, including some particularly troubling footage. Like Pope Francis, he raises the alarm concerning climate change and the troubling loss of biodiversity across the planet.

If we don’t change course, we are headed towards the earth’s sixth mass extinction. In the previous mass extinctions, the carbon buildup had taken over a million years to cause cataclysmic climate change and the extinction of a large number of the planet’s species; but the current carbon buildup from the burning of fossil fuels and the troubling loss of both wild habitat and biodiversity have happened over a mere 200 years. The film imagines what could happen during the next 100 years, if we do nothing.

Some quotes from the film that thought were noteworthy:

“If we do things that are unsustainable, the damage accumulates, ultimately to a point where the whole system collapses.”

“This is a series of one-way doors bringing irreversible change.”

“It’s crazy that our banks and pensions are investing in fossil fuels, when these are the very things that are jeopardizing our future that we are saving for.”

“The planet can’t support billions of large meat eaters. There just isn’t the space.”

“To continue, we will require more than intelligence, we will require wisdom.”

It’s not all doom and gloom; according to Attenborough, the solution is quite straightforward: 

“To restore stability to our planet, we must restore its biodiversity…We must re-wild the world.” 

How do we do this? David believes we must phase out fossil fuels and embrace sustainable energy, create no-fishing zones in the ocean, radically reduce the land area devoted to farming, change to primarily plant-based diets, greatly increase the efficiency of growing plants, halt deforestation, and replant native trees on as much land as possible.    

I found this quote at the end of the film to be particularly poignant:

“We need to rediscover how to be sustainable; to move from being apart from nature to becoming a part of nature, once again.”

Working together, we can help take care of our common home. 

Paul Litwin

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