The BBC aired a television programme last evening; called ‘Extinction’.
It involved animal campaigner and naturalist David Attenborough, and lasted for 1 hour.
Basically, the programme was based around the destruction of the environment, and the destruction of the biodiversity – the animals (big and small) which all interact to keep things as they should be.
It showed the ravages that humankind is having on the environment and the abuse and destruction of animal species.
More than anything, it was a warning to mankind and the governments who are turning the other way – the ‘ignorants’. The message was simple, clear; get your act together very soon or face the consequences for all mankind.
As a campaigner, I was personally pleased that the programme (sadly, the BBC usually keeps it clean and politically polite) decided to push the envelope a bit, by showing footage of caged animals at Wuhan wet markets, destruction of the Amazon rain forest, Bats, Pangolins, White Rhino; interviews with rangers in Africa, and importantly; Covid 19 overview; asking if this was the last virus we would see. The campaigner experts who contributed to the programme gave the message that things are bad, very bad; but we still can sort many of the problems if only the mass dickhead governments woke up to what people are asking; and what they want – IMPROVEMENTS. Is the Amazon destruction not just one prime example ?
This morning; the next morning, there are a couple of reviews by the UK national press which I copy below.
I do not know if the programme can be seen on Youtube, or if it will happen. UK citizens can re watch or first time watch the programme using the iplayer (catch up) system which is only available in the UK.
Wherever you are in the world; this programme must be seen at some time. As I say it is simply called ‘Extinction’. See it as soon as you can.
Here are the newspaper reviews from this morning – no doubt there will be more soon and I may add as extra posts as necessary.
The ‘Guardian’ – an excellent newspaper which covers masses of environmental issues:
Extinction: The Facts review – a heartbreaking warning from David Attenborough
With an eighth of the planet’s species at risk of dying out, this documentary offered a stark look at the devastation that humans have wreaked, and are wreaking, on the natural world.
It is hard to absolutely, positively look forward to an hour-long programme about the many varied, catastrophic ways we have ruined the world around us. David Attenborough’s Extinction: The Facts (BBC One) was as upsetting as you might expect. If his earlier Planet Earth series delivered joyous portraits of nature at its most spectacular, here we had beautifully shot footage of monkeys desperately leaping into a river to escape a forest fire, a baby bear looking lost in a ransacked, smoking landscape, and the corpses of killer whales, tangled in fishing nets, rotting on the shore.
It was unbearably painful to watch.
People who make programmes about the environment are constantly searching for new ways to force us to pay attention, to make sure we resist the temptation to change channel in search of less distressing content. This time they tried making the theme of extinction feel urgent by filtering it through the prism of the coronavirus pandemic. But there is something depressing about this need to persuade people to focus on the imminent extinction of 1m different species by appealing to our self-interest, highlighting how humans will ultimately suffer as a result of the devastation we have brought upon ourselves.
“This year, we have been shown we have gone one step too far. Scientists have linked out destructive relationship with nature to the emergence of Covid-19,” a mournful Attenborough said. It’s sad that both the scientists and the film-makers sense the problem of extinction has to be shown to hurt us (in the form of triggering global pandemics that cut a swathe through humanity) before we really care enough to engage.
Because, actually, once you had steeled yourself to absorb the stream of images of the tragedy unfolding around us, this was an immensely powerful film on its own terms, and not simply in the context of the extra disruption that Covid-19 has caused over the past six months.
Attenborough’s regretful delivery of the facts only made them worse to hear. There were a few flashes of a youthful, more carefree version of him, laughing as he filmed endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda in the 70s, but his tone has become stricken, acknowledging the failures of his and current generations to tackle the challenge.
He was joined by a chorus of aghast scientists, offering a bald summary of the accelerating state of decline. One million species out of 8m on earth are now threatened with extinction, they reminded us. Since 1970, vertebrate populations – birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles – have declined by 60%. While extinction is a natural process, it is the current rapid rate that is the problem. Studies suggest that extinction is now happening hundreds of times faster than the natural evolutionary rate and it is accelerating.
As you would expect from an Attenborough film, we learned much about some of the world’s most extraordinary animals, but touching footage of the giant anteater (who carries its pup lovingly draped over its back) was there only to illustrate the rapidly dwindling area of its remaining habitat in Brazil. Endearing shots of the nocturnal pangolin, which can consume 70m ants a year, was included only because it has become the most trafficked animal in the world, as a result of specious claims about the medicinal properties of its scales.
All this was set against the unforgiving soundtrack of a whirring electric chainsaw, cutting into the thick trunks of ancient trees, and the crunching of industrial machinery crashing through the forests.
The only polar bears and tigers that featured were the decapitated hunting trophies stored in customs warehouses, next to grinning crocodile heads and confiscated snakeskin boots.
There is a formula that makers of this documentary genre struggle to get right. They need the correct balance between displaying current levels of devastation and instilling a sense of urgency, while simultaneously offering an optimistic promise that it still isn’t quite too late for things to change. Contemplating his own mortality, Attenborough did his best. “I do truly believe that, together, we can make a better future. I might not be here to see it, but if we make the right decisions at this critical moment, we can safeguard our planet’s ecosystem.”
He showed how careful work by Rwandan conservationists has ensured that the mountain gorillas he filmed in the 70s have survived.
But this offered only a faint glimmer of hope. Images of the planet’s last two remaining white rhinos were the starkest illustration of how badly things have gone wrong. (see photo below)
“We betrayed them,” the Kenyan conservationist James Mwenda said.
A heartbreaking hour, but essential television.
The ‘Independent’ is non politically biased; and again reports on some outstanding environmental and natural issues:
The BBC documentary points out that there is no earthly reason why a new virus won’t one day wipe out the very species that has been trying to kill the planet for the past few centuries – us lot
You might have thought a pandemic that has taken half a million lives, inflicted pain and suffering on many millions more, and cost us trillions would make us think twice about the way we humans interact with nature. It seems not. The poor old pangolin and blameless bats are still being flogged and slaughtered in various so-called wet markets, even though it is widely believed that the coronavirus emerged through the close proximity of humans to these usually harmless wild animals.
As Extinction: The Facts makes clear, however, many deadly viruses – Sars, Ebola, Aids – have infected us via still-thriving wildlife markets and the intrusion of humans into natural habitats to rear cattle or grow soya (for animal feed) or produce palm oil (for processed food and fuel); places we don’t really belong. So, as the impressive collection of environmental talking heads assembled for this latest message from Sir David Attenborough depressingly points out, even when the climate crisis and mass extinctions are a clear and present danger, and coronavirus is taking our loved ones, humanity is still incapable of changing its voracious ways.
The documentary points out that there is no earthly reason why some new virus will not one day appear that is even more infectious and deadly than this coronavirus, and could wipe out the very species that has been trying to kill the planet for the past few centuries – us lot.
You could call it a revenge attack.
Still, it’s always nice to see nature’s survivors on film, and Attenborough is certainly one of them. If it’s possible to be a youthful 94-year-old, then that is what he is, his passion undimmed. He made his earliest TV appearance back in 1954, chasing giant anteaters around scrublands. These days, his knees probably aren’t up to that sort of lark, so his contributions are limited to impassioned pieces to camera, linking the archive footage of cute creatures, breathtaking panoramas and the controlled explosions of anger from thoughtful environmentalists. He also wouldn’t find it so easy to run around with anteaters now because there are fewer about; they too are losing out to land needed for cattle, to feed humans’ insatiable taste for a juicy burger.
Indeed, much of the show is basically a parade of animals that are on their way out – the last killer whale pod around Scotland (rendered infertile by pollution), the last two northern white rhinos (poaching), and of course the beleaguered pangolin (bogus “medicinal” usages for its scales, which are just keratin, the same as your fingernails).
Attenborough and his peers try to offer a little hope with the enviro-doom, because otherwise you’d just wipe away a tear, shrug and help yourself to another Big Mac, seeing as there is sod all anyone’s going to do about anything. Or you could join Extinction Rebellion and glue yourself to a train.
Thus it was genuinely moving to learn that the mountain gorillas Attenborough famously befriended four decades ago, then on the brink of extinction, have actually staged a recovery. That intimate encounter from his landmark series Life on Earth (1979) has lost none of its power, and seeing Sir David so young adds some poignancy. Now, an enlightened scheme taking money from tourists and, basically, using it to pay the local community to protect them, has seen the great apes population rise to more sustainable levels.
The wider message is that the planet too can be saved, if only we ease up on our consumption and waste.
Covid, said one expert, is a “moment” when we can reconsider how we live our lives. That’s true, but the inconvenient fact is that we all know we won’t, and we too are on our way to extinction.
The viruses may inherit the Earth.
Possibly a copy should be viewed by this person who blames everyone else for the issues:
Hey its ‘Bad (Forestry) Management; – am I not the chief ‘Manager’ ? – yes, but blame someone else !
What about pulling the Paris climate issue Mr ‘President’ ? – Karma ?