David Attenborough: The True State of the Planet

“The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”

– David Attenborough

We all have a responsibility. I made a decision today to dedicate my life to peace and sustainability, I walked away from an $80,000 job with $18 in my bank account. I felt deeply inspired with tears in my eyes that I must work for peace and nature. I feel the call and I feel it urgently. I am not afraid of insecurity, as I trust life to support me. I intuitively feel we can create the change we need to overcome the challenges we face globally. As a peace clown I do not doubt we can create a new earth. I will work with children. As a result of my feeling I went to the Library and felt inspired to get more information on the environment and whatever will move my work forward. I found an Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore), State of the Planet (David Attenborough), Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore), Divinci Code and interestingly Oppenheimer the creator of the atomic bomb. Interestingly I read today that Germany and Switzerland have announced a complete stop to their nuclear programs given the Japanese Nuclear disaster. If only we could do that with cars and other CO2 pollution with the same awareness of nuclear, I feel CO2 is more destructive. Where there is a will there is a way.

I felt it was important to look at the environmental issues and Michael Moore’s movie Bowling for Columbine as I see the latter as important to watch as we are living in cultures of fear which is not our true nature favouring survival. It is what is blocking solutions to the future, as we are running on fear not thinking about the future, many indicate they are in survival mode, yet when the world collapses, then we will understand what survival means. We are attached to objects of entertainment because we have been taught to look outside ourselves for fullfillment, to find it is empty. I had that feeling very clearly as I walked past a Time Zone games place. The children are not just going outside and playing, using their imaginations and socialisation skills to find peace and happiness, they are looking for things to mindlessly entertain them. It is not about entertainment it is about discovery, learning, excitement and fun, this is different from entertainment and it is free.

I see inner peace and the environment intimately linked. So for me, violence and fear and environmental sustainability are opposite outcomes. However, when we harmonise with our true nature – love, we will find the answers naturally arise. That I can assure you.

Here is an overview courtesy of Wikipedia of David Attenborough’s excellent documentary called ‘State of the Planet’. It is an excellent film, the biodiversity is unbelievable and to think we only have explored 5% of the oceans, we have found 1.5 million species out of a possible 100 million. We barely know our environment. The critical issue with climate change is the rate of change. There has been climate change in the past but the reality is that it changed over 1,000 years. Can you believe forests moved to follow the weather. You may ask how? Well the seeds get carried by animals. Literally the forests move, those that don’t die off. Our natural world adapts, but it can’t keep up with us, as wherever humans go, species become extinct. So we have much to learn about the natural world we were all born into.



State of the Planet is a three-part environmental documentary series, made by the BBC Natural History Unit, transmitted in November 2000. It is written and presented by David Attenborough, and produced by Rupert Barrington. It includes interviews with many leading scientists, such as Edward O. Wilson and Jared Diamond. Each of the programmes attempts to find answers to the potential ecological crisis that threatens the Earth.

The series was specially commissioned by BBC One for the millennium, and had a budget of around GBP2 million. The BBC drew criticism for scheduling the first episode in competition with the final part of ITV’s Inspector Morse; as a consequence, it drew just 4 million viewers, well below the channel’s typical share.[1] However, ratings recovered to around 7 million for the second and third programmes.[2]

Attenborough fronted this series in between presenting his 1998 ornithological study, The Life of Birds, and providing narration to the award-winning 2001 series The Blue Planet.

[edit] 1. “Is There a Crisis?”

Together with leading experts, David Attenborough examines the latest scientific evidence in order to discover if the planet’s ecosystems are really in crisis. If so, he asks how it could have come about, and what is so different now that prevents certain species from adapting to survive, as they did in the past?
[edit] 2. “Why Is There a Crisis?”

Attenborough presents some stark facts. He states that humans are now triggering a mass extinction on a similar scale to that which wiped out the dinosaurs — but at an unprecedented rate. He investigates the five main activities of mankind that are the most likely contributory factors:

* Habitat loss

Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms which previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity[1]. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industry production and urbanization. Clearing habitats for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling and urban sprawl. Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the primary cause of species extinction worldwide.[2] It is a process of natural environmental change that may be caused by habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change[1] or by human activities such as the introduction of invasive species, ecosystem nutrient depletion and other human activities mentioned below.

The terms “loss of habitat” and “habitat reduction” are also used in a wider sense including loss of habitat from other factors, such as water and noise pollution.

In the simplest terms, when a habitat is destroyed, the plants, animals, and other organisms that occupied the habitat have a reduced carrying capacity so that populations decline and extinction becomes more likely.[3] Perhaps the greatest threat to organisms and biodiversity is the process of habitat loss.[4] Temple (1986) found that 82% of endangered bird species were significantly threatened by habitat loss. Endemic organisms that obtains limited ranges are most affected by habitat destruction, mainly because these organisms are not found anywhere else within the world and thus, have less chance of recovering. Many endemic organisms have very specific requirements for their survival that can only be found within a certain ecosystem, resulting in their extinction. Extinction may take a very take place long after the destruction of habitat, though, a phenomenon known as extinction debt. Habitat destruction can also decrease the range of certain organism populations. This can result in the reduction of genetic diversity and perhaps the production of infertile youths, as these organisms would have a higher possibility of mating with related organisms within their population, or different species.

* Introduced species

Sweet clover (Melilotus sp.), introduced and naturalized to the U.S. from Eurasia as a forage and cover crop.

An introduced, neozoon, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived there by human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Some introduced species are damaging to the ecosystem they are introduced into, others have no negative effect and can, in fact, be beneficial both to humans-as an alternative to pesticides in agriculture for example-and to Ecosystems-as in New Zealand where introduced species of flora from North America have been shown to increase Biodiversity and Bioproductivity. A list of introduced species is given in a separate article. Introduced species and their effects on natural environments is a controversial subject and one that has gained much scrutiny by scientists, governments, farmers and others.

* Pollution

Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into a natural environment that causes instability, disorder, harm or discomfort to the ecosystem i.e. physical systems or living organisms.[1] Pollution can take the form of chemical substances or energy, such as noise, heat, or light. Pollutants, the elements of pollution, can be foreign substances or energies, or naturally occurring; when naturally occurring, they are considered contaminants when they exceed natural levels. Pollution is often classed as point source or nonpoint source pollution. The Blacksmith Institute issues an annual list of the world’s worst polluted places. In the 2007 issues the ten top nominees are located in Azerbaijan, China, India, Peru, Russia, Ukraine, and Zambia.[2]

* Over-harvesting

Overexploitation, also called overharvesting, refers to harvesting a renewable resource to the point of diminishing returns. Sustained overexploitation can lead to the destruction of the resource. The term applies to natural resources such as: wild medicinal plants, grazing pastures, fish stocks, forests and water aquifers.

In ecology, overexploitation describes one of the five main activities threatening global biodiversity.[2] Ecologists use the term to describe populations that are harvested at a rate that is unsustainable, given their natural rates of mortality and capacities for reproduction. This can result in extinction at the population level and even extinction of whole species. In conservation biology the term is usually used in the context of human economic activity that involves the taking of biological resources, or organisms, in larger numbers than their populations can withstand.[3] The term is also used and defined somewhat differently in fisheries, hydrology and natural resource management.

Overexploitation can lead to resource destruction, including extinctions. However it is also possible for overexploitation to be sustainable, as discussed below in the section on fisheries. In the context of fishing, the term overfishing can be used instead of overexploitation, as can overgrazing in stock management, overlogging in forest management, overdrafting in aquifer management, and endangered species in species monitoring. Overexploitation is not an activity limited to humans. Introduced predators and herbivores, for example, can overexploit native flora and fauna

* Islandisation

Habitat fragmentation as the name implies, describes the emergence of discontinuities (fragmentation) in an organism’s preferred environment (habitat), causing population fragmentation. Habitat fragmentation can be caused by geological processes that slowly alter the layout of the physical environment[1] (suspected of being one of the major causes of speciation[1]), or by human activity such as land conversion, which can alter the environment much faster and causes extinctions of many species.

The term habitat fragmentation includes five discrete phenomena:

* Reduction in the total area of the habitat
* Decrease of the interior : edge ratio
* Isolation of one habitat fragment from other areas of habitat
* Breaking up of one patch of habitat into several smaller patches
* Decrease in the average size of each patch of habitat

Habitat fragmentation is frequently caused by humans when native vegetation is cleared for human activities such as agriculture, rural development, urbanization and the creation of hydroelectric reservoirs. Habitats which were once continuous become divided into separate fragments. After intensive clearing, the separate fragments tend to be very small islands isolated from each other by cropland, pasture, pavement, or even barren land. The latter is often the result of slash and burn farming in tropical forests. In the wheatbelt of central western New South Wales, Australia, 90% of the native vegetation has been cleared and over 99% of the tallgrass prairie of North America has been cleared, resulting in extreme habitat fragmentation.

3. “The Future of Life”

As Homo sapiens relentlessly encroaches on the natural world and its inhabitants, the viewer is presented with a choice: leave behind a flourishing planet or a dying one.

“The future of life on earth depends on our ability to take action. Many individuals are doing what they can, but real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies and our economics and in our politics. I’ve been lucky in my lifetime to see some of the greatest spectacles that the natural world has to offer. Surely we have a responsibility to leave for future generations a planet that is healthy, inhabitable by all species.”

– David Attenborough, in closing

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Mohandas Gandhi

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”