As soon as I discovered that David Attenborough’s new film ‘A Life on our Planet’ would have a limited cinema release, I booked myself a ticket. The world premiere event was scheduled to take place at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 16th April 2020 and would broadcast LIVE to cinemas across the UK and Europe. David Attenborough was then set to be joined live on stage by some special guests for a discussion on some of the most prevalent issues raised in the film.
This, of course, didn’t happen. Like many things, the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, five months later, the movie aired for one-night-only in cinemas across the UK.
The film tells the story of life on our planet by the man who has seen more of the natural world than any other. David Attenborough uses his lifetime to show us just how different the world is now from when he was born in 1926, and he is visibly saddened by his own vision for the future of our planet. However, he does offer hope for future generations.
So, what did I learn from watching this honest and revealing documentary, which serves as David Attenborough’s witness statement for the natural world? The familiar, soothing voice of a man that we all admire taught me:
- The world is not as wild as it once was. Since the 1950s, wild animal populations have more than halved. Humans have destroyed the non-human world.
- We’re replacing the wild with the tame. Half of the fertile land on earth is now farmland. 70% of the mass of birds are domestic birds, the vast majority of which are chickens. We, as humans, account for over 1/3 of the weight of mammals on earth. A further 60% are the animals that we raise to eat. The rest, from mice to whales, make up just 4%. This planet is now run by humankind – for humankind. There is little left for the rest of the living world.
- A sixth mass extinction event is well underway. Scientists predict that if nothing changes, we face a series of one-way doors, bringing irreversible change. Within the span of the next lifetime, the stability and security of the four seasons will be lost.
- Don’t waste anything, don’t waste electricity, don’t waste food, don’t waste power. Treat the natural world as though it’s precious, which it is, and don’t squander the bits that each of us have control of.
- We must re-wild the world. To restore stability to our planet, we must restore its biodiversity. The very thing that we as humans have removed.
David Attenborough: A Life on our Planet is available on Netflix from 4th October 2020.