Sir David Attenborough has made another wildlife documentary. No surprise there, the legend has made dozens of them over his long and distinguished career.
What is different about this one is summed up in his final sentence
“What happens next is up to every one of us.”David Attenborough’s, Extinction: The Facts
For the first time, BBC programmers and Sir David decided we were big enough and brave enough to hear the truth of the matter. All the habitat loss, the pollution, the poaching, climate change impacts, expressed as wildfire impacts, and the inevitable species extinctions.
It is all true.
It is happening every day and in Sir David’s lifetime, there has been more than enough time for even the blind to see the consequences of human appropriation of net primary production, the landscape changes and the, well, the consequences of nearly 8 billion of us.
Of course, we do not want to be told, at least that’s what the TV producers decided.
Only against expectations, the viewing numbers in the UK screening were good and got better as the show progressed. It seemed like we were up for the messages after all. Perhaps we are ready for the reality of what we have done.
The interesting part is the last postulate at the end of the show that will no doubt become a classic
What happens next is up to every one of us
Here is what we need to do next
- Feed an average of 8 billion souls every day for a hundred years – that means around 23 trillion kcals a day for 36,500 days at least.
- Change the trajectory of our diets so that this calorie and nutrient challenge is achievable
- Pay attention to soil and learn all we can about how to keep it healthy everywhere
- Rewild up to a third of the land area and a third of the surface ocean volume to give the remaining global biodiversity a chance to survive, but also to maintain critical ecosystem services
- Adapt through innovation to inevitable climate change impacts whilst transitioning to carbon-neutral economies
- Be positive and hear the messages even when they are frightening, then act
And to achieve all of these there is one more thing…
- Vote for progressive politicians.
I know this last one is the most difficult, for just now politicians with ideas are like hen’s teeth, exceptionally rare and hard to spot. But with necessity, they will appear and will stand out.
You’ll know them instantly.
Best of luck to us all.