A Life On Our Planet By David Attenborough (Review)

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet

Netflix released the must-see film David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet.In its opening scene, the world-renowned natural historian walks through desolate buildings in a Ukrainian city abandoned following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion.

Some have called that catastrophe the most costly in human history, but David reminds us that Chernobyl was an isolated case:

“The true tragedy of our time is still unfolding across the globe, barely noticeable from day to day. I’m talking about the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.”

Throughout the film, he presents frightening chronological statistics showing the connections among Earth’s increasing human population, its rising level of atmospheric carbon and its shrinking wilderness.

1937: 

Population: 2.3 Billion

Carbon: 280 Parts Per Million

Wilderness: 66%

1954:

Population: 2.7 Billion

Carbon: 310 Parts Per Million

Wilderness: 64%

1978:
Population: 4.3 Billion

Carbon: 335 Parts Per Million

Wilderness: 55%

1997:
Population: 5.9 Billion

Carbon: 360 Parts Per Million

Wilderness: 46%

2020:
Population: 7.8 Billion

Carbon: 415 Parts Per Million

Wilderness: 35%

Much of the film focuses on the loss of biodiversity, but David also provides a serious look at solutions to our worldwide dilemma.

After expressing concern about the population reaching the 11 billion figure mentioned in my post Overpopulation vs. Overconsumption, he turns his attention to two ways we can start conserving our natural resources:

  • Phasing out fossil fuels. Calling out those who are Not Investing in the Future, he says,“It’s crazy that our banks and pensions are investing in fossil fuels that are jeopardizing the future we are saving for.”  

  • “Radically reduc[ing] the area we use to farm… The quickest and most effective way to do that is for us to change our diet.”

The natural image he uses to explain why we must change our diet is profound in its simplicity:

“Large carnivores are rare in nature, because it takes a lot of prey to support each of them. For every single predator on the Serengeti, there are more than 100 prey animals.”

He compares our position at the top of the food chain to that of the Serengeti’s predators:

“Whenever we choose a piece of meat, we too are unwittingly demanding a huge expanse of space. The planet can’t support billions of large meat-eaters.”

So what’s his solution? The worldwide embrace of, “… a largely plant-based diet.” And I couldn’t agree more!

The film ends with another shot of David in the abandoned Ukrainian city. This time, however, the cameras pull back to reveal something unexpected returning to the area.

Even at 94, he’s still spreading a message of hope for our planet and all the life that shares it: Nature is resilient – and it’s not too late for us to work together to heal what we have harmed!

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