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!