Everyone’s favourite nature extraordinaire, David Attenborough, has released a new documentary that strays far from his usual content; this time sharing a grim message about the fate of humanity.
For quite some time, Attenborough has been a household name linked to breathtaking natural wonders and landscapes across the globe. It seems only fitting that he’s the one to team up with BBC and offer a documentary that gives visual insight into the climate crisis we all face. Extinction: The Facts explores the destruction of nature and the mass extinction of multiple species around the world in a radical way.
The documentary shares a warning for humanity to safeguard species from mass extinction for the sake of our own survival. Mankind’s intrusion and neglect of natural habitats has had awful consequences on the climate crisis and Extinction: The Facts, goes so far as to draw connections to pandemics that have plagued humanity. Including the current coronavirus pandemic.
Considering industries around the world are moving towards creating more sustainable habit (or at least they’re publicly claiming to do so via high profile campaigns), and also following the warning from international experts that animal, bird and fish populations have plummeted more than two-thirds in less than 50 years thanks to our over-consumption; it seems Attenborough’s documentary is being released at the perfect time.
The hour-long program has left viewers feeling terrified as Attenborough outlined the biodiversity crisis, from insects pollinating our crops to the loss of wetlands and trees contributing to mass floods; it has all left us all at greater risk of more pandemic diseases.
“Everything is joined up, from a single pond to a whole tropical rainforest” says Kathy Willis professor of biodiversity at the University of Oxford. “We tend to think we are somehow outside of that system. But we are part of it; and totally reliant upon on it.”
The film further explores this link between biodiversity loss and emerging diseases by explaining that the wildlife trade brings thousands of animals into close contact, creating the ideal breeding ground for viruses to jump between species. As we continue to remove large predators, it allows for the increase in rodents and bats, which are more like to carry dangerous viruses among each other.
The key here is overconsumption, particularly in wealthier countries. According to The Coversation, the average British citizen consumes more than four times the resources of the average Indian citizen. Reducing the amount we consume, as well as identifying where our product comes from, is essential to decreasing our harmful impact and avoiding offshoring our environmental problems to other countries.
The documentary also discusses the (thus far) shallow claims that the global coronavirus pandemic is traced to the Chinese ‘wet market’ and the large population of bats living in caves in the province of Yunnan. The sale of wild animals in the Chinese wet market is believed to be the root of the pandemic.
Many viewers expressed their visceral response to the documentary online, sharing feelings of hopelessness and fear.
Extinction: the facts.
More terrifying than any horror film I’ve seen:https://t.co/TZGRjRRnMY
A million species at risk of extinction. Sir David Attenborough explores how this biodiversity crisis has consequences for us all, including putting us at ⬆️ risk of pandemic diseases pic.twitter.com/w2CRWp3GpA
— Professor Andrew Rowland CF (@DrAndrewRowland) September 13, 2020
— Carrie Symonds (@carriesymonds) September 13, 2020
Are we going to listen? Feeling a bit terrified. #ExtinctionTheFacts
— Dr Jess French (@Zoologist_Jess) September 13, 2020
I'm stressed about Brexit.
I'm worried about the pandemic.
I'm terrified about climate change.
I'm beside myself with fear about ecological collapse.
Exploitation, injustice and greed links them all.#ExtinctionTheFacts
— Max Hislop (@Max_GCVGNP) September 13, 2020
The devastating Australian bushfires that destroyed towns, isolated and evicted both communities and wildlife from their homes, seems like a distant memory in the face of the global pandemic we are currently facing. And unfortunately, this has meant that many have forgotten about promoting national consciousness of climate disasters and the state of our natural world.
It is vital to note, as so many others have online, that Attenborough is 94 and still dedicating his life to informing us on a global crisis that seems to continue being forgotten. Perhaps that is why the documentary was considered so ‘radical’ and heart-wrenching to watch, Attenborough didn’t hold back.
After all, “We are facing a crisis and one that has consequences for us all.”
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