“We are at a turning point, what happens next is up to everyone of us.” In the BBC Extinction: The Facts programme, aired Sunday 13th September, the world renowned and widely respected naturalist, Sir David Attenborough delivered the hard truths about the state of the natural world. After all, aged 94 he is likely the most extensively travelled observer of the natural world than anyone else alive.
The biodiversity crisis the world is now in has consequences for each and everyone of us across the planet. It is often referenced that the environmental crisis will only fuel further pandemics, similar to Covid-19. However, we are at the ideal moment in time to inform ourselves, make changes and rebuild our lives, our natural environments and our economies in a way that will benefit the entire planet and all who share it.
The UN Nature Report from May 2019 warns “nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history – and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.” Over 1m species are threatened with extinction. These species are not just ‘nice to have’ each one (plant, animal, insect) all play a vital role in our global ecosystems, on which we all depend.
In the report, the UN warn that the current global response is insufficient; ‘Transformative changes’ are needed to restore and protect nature. It also states that opposition from vested interests can be overcome for public good.
These are facts that many of us with an interest in sustainability and making the world a better place, are already familiar with, but the BBC Extinction: The Facts programme for the first time lays bare to the wider public some uncomfortable facts that likely educate many. The choices we each make as individuals, as consumers across the global, have far reaching impacts,
It is up to us to decide whether these are positive or negative.
I for one was aware of the damage soya bean and palm oil plantations have on the environment but was probably not as well informed about coffee and chocolate. I’m old enough to remember making new choices back in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, as a result of the banning of CFCs and the Kyoto Protocol, I changed my aerosol deodorant and knew to buy Fairtrade coffee, so I am saddened to think damaging and unfair practices still exist in 2020.
Positive change can come about but we are running out of time, we need to act now. No longer do we have the luxury to think how nice it would be to make some changes in the future, we need to take radical decisions, inform ourselves and spread the word, so together we can take action.
If you have not already done so, take an hour out of your day, watch this programme with your colleagues, friends or with family. You will likely come away feeling less overwhelmed about where to start and wonder what as an individual each of us can really do to act. Everyone of us has the power to change some of our habits, encourage others to change and to put pressure on industry and governments to come together and be a collective force for good. Through global collaboration progress does and can continue to be made, it starts with each and everyone of us.