- A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough www.youtube.com/watch?v=64R2MYUt394.
- Kiss the Ground (how soils can sequester carbon if we farm right) www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3-V1j-zMZw.
Reviews by Victoria Ines
You have benefited from biodiversity. From medicines and therapies to food, biodiversity plays an integral role in every single life on this planet.
I have always been fascinated by animals and their ecosystems. Every time a teacher offered a chance to research a self-chosen topic, I jumped at the chance to investigate more about them. But, as I did so, I slowly discovered the horrors facing each ecosystem, as well as the biosphere as a whole. Humans rely completely on healthy ecosystems to survive, but we are, unfortunately, sending biodiversity into a steady decline.
Through careless interactions with nature, people are biting the hand that feeds them. At 93, David Attenborough, the narrator of the documentary A Life on Our Planet, has seen the world decline from a wild place to a depressively tamed and industrialized world. But even as a young man, when the first picture of Earth was taken from space, he realized that “our home was not limitless. There was an edge to our existence.”
As available space for animals and plants decreases, biodiversity is impacted as well. Humans have cut down three trillion trees and decreased the population of orangutans by two-thirds, just in the last 60 years. Fishermen have reduced the large-fish population by 90%, and the world’s coral reefs are turning white as a result of global warming. These are just some of the issues that Attenborough outlines in his documentary, but he makes it clear that they will not be the last. In the next 80 years, Earth will face devastations that we have never seen before. He calls this path, “a series of one-way doors… bringing irreversible change.”
With these dire warnings, however, Attenborough also discusses solutions that could, if implemented immediately, reverse the damage that has been done to the natural world. His main point stresses the importance of reintroducing more biodiversity into nature. By fishing responsibly, slowing population growth, and using renewable energy rather than fossil fuels, among other measures, Attenborough is hopeful that we can still return the Earth to what it was. Certainly, the solutions that David Attenborough proposes are simplified for the general public to understand and appreciate. But they are also effective and realistic goals for us to achieve.
Attenborough eloquently yet passionately describes the disasters that the Earth and humanity are facing, and it is an extraordinarily impactful message. People need to hear and understand his opinion in order to give humanity a chance at survival.
As a member of Generation Z, like most of my generation, I have worried for years about the Earth that we will inherit. I have seen the pictures of polar bears clinging to a tiny block of ice in an enormous, inhospitable ocean, and I’ve watched as wildfires rage through California, Oregon, Colorado, along with the intensity of the hurricanes, flooding and other weather disasters.
The effects of climate change are becoming more and more devastating every day, and experts have given dire warnings for the near future. We would love a be-all and end-all solution to climate change. Unfortunately, we also know that such an answer doesn’t exist. However, the documentary Kiss the Ground provided an insightful and achievable method by which humans can address climate change.
Their proposition is as follows. In farming, by avoiding tilling and the use of chemicals, we could avoid erosion to the soil and maintain the microbes in it. In turn, the microbes will help the soil sequester carbon from the atmosphere. According to the experts in the documentary, if farmers began to imitate nature in their farming practices, we could not only stop global warming but begin to reverse it in just 30 years. Without these measures, humans will ultimately ‘desertify’ two-thirds of the entire Earth, risk driving up to a billion people from their homes by 2050, and push global warming to a point of no return.
The question at this point is between desertification or regeneration. Will we switch to regenerative farming and put ourselves on the right path to ensure life for humans past this century or continue as we are now, which will inevitably lead to the downfall of civilization itself? For me, the answer is clear. I’m sure that no one hopes for a sixth mass extinction.
However, at this point, our future lies with politicians, who, especially in the current United States, have yet to take many measures to avoid the catastrophic end looming within sight. As such, at this pivotal point in our planet’s history, people must be informed to demand appropriate action. It is essential that we watch documentaries such as Kiss the Ground to understand the threats that Earth is facing, as well as realize that we have several paths to choose from. Kiss the Ground provides a hopeful, yet urgent commentary on resolutions to the existential threat that we all face.
Victoria Ines is a junior at Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, NY. She is passionate about working to protect both the environment and endangered species. After high school, she would like to attend a four-year college to study engineering or biology.