63 of 65 people found the following review helpful
Can we live in harmony with our planet?,
This review is from: David Attenborough - State of the Planet [DVD]  (DVD)
David Attenborough gives us an idea of what we're heading towards, based on the behaviour of our species up to now, and what we can do to avoid an impoverished future for our descendents. There are 3 episodes of about 50 minutes each. They are:
1) "Is There a Crisis?"
It seems humans have been fortunate to inherit a world with a greater diversity of plants and animals than have existed in Earth's history. However this diversity is shrinking and there's plenty of evidence to suggest that it's shrinking as a result of destructive human behaviour. A number of experts tell us what's happening to biodiversity and the environment in their particular areas of study. Apparently extinctions among the "furries" and "featheries" get noticed while less endearing species can disappear completely unnoticed. Our experts don't find this very surprising when so few of the species in existence have even been recorded. But is it a crisis? Are species disappearing any more quickly than they ever did? Does it matter? Should human-kind miss or care about a bunch of plants and animals that can't live without a healthy environment? David and his environmentalist boffins are very clear on that point. Yes! We certainly should care and do all we can to curb our destructive behaviour.
2) "Why is There a Crisis?"
According to the scientists who participate in these programmes, there are five ways that we damage our environment:
I) Over-harvesting - we chop down trees, take fish and so on, faster than they can regenerate and reproduce. They reckon that upto one half of the entire planet's new growth of plants and a large percentage of animals is harvested each year for the use of our species. And about 70% of major fish species are threatened because, with modern technology, we are just too good at fishing.
II) Introduction of alien species - for example, rabbits, hedgehogs, rats, mice, snails, rhododendrons - all over the planet, indigenous species are being threatened and in many cases exterminated by introduced species.
III) Destruction of habitats - it's not enough to save a species, it has to have somewhere to live. If the endangered primate's jungle is chopped or burned down to make way for agriculture, then the animal is as good as extinct.
IV) Islandisation - in the past it had been thought that species would be all right as long as a few bits of their native habitat were conserved while the surrounding area was cultivated or built upon. There would be undisturbed pockets left in a sea of agricultural or industrial landscape. But it doesn't work. The ecosystems of those islands starts to unravel from the edges, gradually fading inward, as species that are able to cross the "dessert" do so and those that cannot cross the alien terrain are left with a slowly degrading environment. It seems that many reserves are just too small to be useful.
V) Pollution - there are a lot of local pollution problems that are recoverable but there's one sort of pollution that's more serious: the pumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which, of course, doesn't remain in the area where it was generated. The resulting global warming is likely to cause rather a lot of extinctions. Even though the climate has changed many times in the past, species that had to move north/south with the warming and cooling, didn't have to cross roads, cities and other obstacles and they didn't have to adjust so quickly either.
3) "The Future of Life"
There may be a great number of individuals who are able and willing to change their habits to prevent further loss of species and environmental damage but, David points out, there must be change in our societies, economies and politics - and fairly soon - if we are to preserve the beauty and diversity we still have. There are things that have to be tackled with a long-term view, like population increase. We have to think about how we are going to manage the environment when the world population increases to eleven billion, when we can't even manage it sensibly with the current six billion. There are plenty of difficult issues to address. As one of David's boffs says, people have to learn to live with nature and not apart from it.
Considering all the horrors this series presents, it's astonishing how enjoyable it is to watch and listen to. There are all the usual magnificent and beautiful images of the natural world that we've come to expect from a David Attenborough production. And the compelling arguments of the wildlife and environmental scientists who participated in this series are fascinating and memorable. Even though I've read most of the actual information before, somehow the breath-taking scenery, together with the passionate and eloquent reasoning of the scientists made a deep impression on me.
It's a wonderful series. I thoroughly enjoyed it and thoroughly recommend it!