David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

To christen the start of my second year as a movie blogger, I thought my first post should reflect something even deeper than sifting through the meaning of life through the movies we watch and open up the dialogue about what good is the meaning of life if we have no sustenance, no planet, and no life to look forward to! This is precisely why I have chosen to discuss the recent gripping environmental documentary made by Emmy Award winning broadcasting extraordinaire 93-year-old natural historian Sir David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet. This stellar depiction of Planet Earth’s struggle with climate change is a must-watch for everyone and can now be viewed on Netflix.

Released earlier this year this documentary includes incredible modern-day footage as well as clips of a young handsome Attenborough taken from previous film works dating back to the 50s. This 83-minute assessment on climate change illuminates the pitiful state of the planet uniquely framed within the life’s work of the most prolific nature documentarians of all time, David Attenborough himself. There are some enlightening highpoints reported on his journey but for the most part this journalistic piece is extremely bleak. Much of the film is a dire call to action that clearly illustrates how the global impasse of our deteriorating existence has deepened over his 9+ decade lifespan. With the ongoing destruction our world is facing as animal populations continue to decline and wildlife reserves dwindle this film is truly alarming with some disturbing scenes that will have some viewers in tears. The somber account of Planet Earth’s demise is a certainty unless us humans change our behavior and fast! Narrator Attenborough makes it clear that despite our selfish takeover of the planet, Mother Earth will find a way to survive but whether our species does is up to us. Humans are only 100+ years away from extinction. Take it from the man who has seen more of the natural world than anyone. Everything Attenborough predicts is already happening (e.g. fires, floods, ice caps melting, global warming, extinction, erratic weather…). It is frightening to see the tragic future that awaits in our midst.

Even though this documentary depicts abysmal obscurity on the horizon, I admire how Attenborough tactically lays out the massive problem but also provides us with a very basic yet comprehensive solution that mankind can actually accomplish. What’s so interesting is how the challenges we face with climate change also resemble the predicaments we face as a society. In short, minimizing the importance and necessity of diversity has gotten us into immense trouble on all fronts! Culturally, depleted variation coalesced with the quest for wealth has spawned huge divides between individuals who have means and those who do not. Much like the battles we face socially, the problems we face with our planet are the result of destroying bio-diversity and replacing it with homogeneity in the quest for money and dominance. Case in point, replacing lush rainforests with rows of oil palms. Much like nature’s need to maintain equilibrium by letting all life forms thrive, society needs to provide equal opportunity to improve the lives of all its citizens while accepting and appreciating the splendor of individual differences (a mission of the OHF).  

You guessed it – the take-away message of this documentary is the preciousness of balance and variation in nature and society. Conservation vs. Annihilation – Attenborough stipulates the terms of his practical formula and it’s really very simple. Equal opportunity for all and reforestation in the wild! Restoring our rainforests via replanting native foliage and reinstating wilderness in tamed farmlands. This is the answer. Such restoration has already been successfully accomplished on smaller scales. However, regrowth needs to happen in higher ratios, and it is up to everyday citizens to push for change, and make climate change a primary focus of all governments. In  David Attenborough’s own words, this is his final witness statement, ‘we have knowledge but now we need wisdom.’ Amen!

Sir David Attenborough has truly lived an amazing life through and through. What a gift he has left us with this magnificent textual film-based signature – a true masterpiece of his life’s work. Well done you! At age 93 David Attenborough could retire but instead he is working tirelessly with Prince William to establish a Nobel Prize for Environmentalism entitled the ‘Earthshot’ Prize, meant to inspire 50 formulated solutions on how best to tackle the planet’s biggest environmental problems. On this point, it is my opinion that Attenborough should receive the first of this type of Nobel Prize for his lifelong work as an environmentalist. If you would like to sign the petition to this effect as I and many others have done please do so at: www.change.org. Fast Fact: David Attenborough has received numerous awards over the years including the 2003 Lifetime Achievement Award at the Banff International Film Festival. Way to go Canada! One final note about this documentary and its ties with Canada; I really appreciate that this film highlights Canadian efforts to stop the slaughter or whales. Nicely done Canada.

P.S. My kids are both much more environmentally savvy than I am, but I’m really improving. I’m excellent at recycling, and I (and the OHF) often support environmental causes (e.g. when in ocean environments we wear our 4 Ocean bracelets in support of this great cause). On the topic of oceans and rainforests, I have hiked many spectacular Hawaiian trails including Moana Falls Rainforest Trail. I love these rainforest hikes, and have done them many times, made even better by the fact that decades ago this particular rainforest was at risk of disappearing. Though through conservation efforts that continue today, and which we support every visit, this rainforest has been richly replenished. Another reason why I love hiking this rainforest trail is because scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed here, and on top of that it may be the only rainforest in the world that does not contain snakes! Since the Hawaiian Islands are in fact an archipelago, snakes are not a native species in the region. Also, it’s highly illegal to bring snakes to the islands, and with fines as high as $200,000 USD who would want to. Speaking of snakes, I liked that this film was produced by the World Wildlife Foundation (aka WWF) as we too share a common bond – we both took the WWE to court and won!

The Hart Fam in Hawaii at Moana Fall Rainforest.

6 thoughts on “David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

  1. I’ve not seen this, but I am obviously aware of what he does & respect him for it. I have seen a fair bit of James Cameron’s stuff about climate change & protecting nature which is similar to Attenborough’s, so I feel more familiar with his specific stuff too, even if I’ve only seen bits & pieces.

    We had over half a billion animals killed in these horrible fires we had last year which we are still trying to recover from.

    Mum & I were going to do one of those tours of the same places you mentioned in Hawaii for the Jurassic Park locations, but we got to the meeting point & everything was so confusing & we ended up not doing it.

    I also like the WWF. Mum supported them monthly for a while but sadly had to stop.

    I hope you don’t mind me mentioning though, I do recall reading something despicable from Jerry McDevitt where he just dismissed them as treehuggers. I really despise that phony company. Hope everyone is well.

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    1. Hi Brett: Give this one a watch. It’s really worth seeing – and you are so right about the fires in Australia – just awful. The OHF was so glad to send Australia some relief during that time too. Also, if you visit Hawaii again do go to Manoa Falls – it’s a relatively easy hike and at the end you are rewarded with seeing the beautiful falls. BTW – WWF is much more than just tree huggers and only the ignorant would refer to them as that. 🙂

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      1. Thanks. I do follow him on Instagram, & I’ll try to keep my eye out for stuff but I just have a huge backlog of stuff to watch unfortunately. I did see your post about helping the fires, which was nice. Thank you. I am unlikely to go back to Hawaii. I’m just anxious to get back to London the most, but thanks for the tips. That deplorable remark honestly didn’t surprise me.

        Hope you’re well.

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      2. Attenborough has done so many lovely nature docs – what a legacy. I think he’s amazing. Too bad about you not returning to Hawaii but Australia has it’s own lovely rainforests to visit, which I have done. But I was always worried about the snakes since Australia is home to the 10 most deadly ones! Also, you have that heart-shaped killer stinking plant (aka suicide plant – Dendrocnide moroides). Yikes. But it wasn’t enough to keep us away as we still enjoyed all the wonders of your homeland – and so sad when those terrible fires hit this year and every year. Poor Australia. Stay well and keep watching movies – and reading my blog too! 🙂

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  2. Ugh. I think that’s my first thoughts after watching this. I mean, I always see news and read news reports about what is going on and realize we are in some trouble, but the way this film was laid out is very eye opening! It was nice to hear David Attenborough say we still got a shot to turn this around. Showing what some other countries are doing is encouraging. Obviously it needs to be a team effort. Here in the U.S. I’m sure some will label this as “fake news” or “liberal bias”, but maybe 2021 will bring some change. Kinda alarming hearing that in 100 or so years, humans could be on the brink of extinction. Feels like that should be a top priority, but what do I know. And wow does David Attenborough look fantastic for 93.

    That’s pretty cool you’ve been to the island where some Jurassic Park scenes were filmed. Maybe a hint of a future film review? There’s definitely some life meaning in that movie!

    Also, listened to the podcast you did with Mark Kondrat. A very enjoyable listen. When you started talking about and describing reflective functioning that really resonated with me. That’s something I try to live by and pass on to others. Friends and especially my family always think someone is purposefully trying to be rude or piss them off and I always say you never know what that person is going through and maybe they are having a bad day. Just smile and move on. It was cool knowing it had a specific term haha. And just want to add it’s always nice hearing stories about Owen outside the wrestling world. He is the best.

    Enjoy the weekend Dr. Hart!

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    1. Hi Christopher: This one is really worth seeing and unfortunately not fake news – it’s the real thing. BTW I should review Jurassic Park – maybe in the summer – 28 year anniversary. After all, I love that movie (the first one) and I love visiting where it was filmed. If you’re ever in Hawaii I highly recommend hiking the Manoa Falls Rainforest Trail – it’s so beautiful and relatively easy. Also thanks for listening in on Kondrat’s Podcast. It was a great chat with Mark and nice that I was able to talk about all aspects of my life including this movie blog! ha ha Stay well and keep watching movies! 🙂

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