A Life On Our Planet - David Attenborough’s Witness Statement and Vision of the Future Part 3
In 2020, the world population is 7.8 billion. The amount of carbon in the atmosphere was 415 parts per million, and the percentage of the remaining wilderness was 35%.
“Science predicts that were I born today, I would be witness to the following:
2030s: The Amazon Rainforest, cut down until it can no longer produce enough moisture, degrades into a dry savannah, bringing catastrophic species loss and altering the global water cycle. At the same time, the Arctic becomes ice-free in the summer. Without the white ice-cap, less of the Sun’s energy is reflected back out to space. And the speed of global warming increases.
2040s: Throughout the north, frozen soils thaw, releasing methane, a greenhouse gas many times more potent than carbon dioxide, accelerating the rate of climate change dramatically.
2050s: As the ocean continues to heat and becomes more acidic, coral reefs around the world die. Fish populations crash.
2080s: Global food production enters a crisis as soils become exhausted by overuse. Pollinating insects disappear. And the weather is more and more unpredictable.
2100s: Our planet becomes 4 degrees Celsius warmer. Large parts of the Earths are uninhabitable. Millions of people rendered homeless. A sixth mass extinction event is well underway. This is a series of one-way doors, bringing irreversible change. Within the span of the next lifetime, the security and stability of the Holocene, our Garden of Eden, will be lost.” David Attenborough
Man made disaster of global scale. Collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.
“To restore stability to our planet, we must restore its biodiversity. The very thing that we’ve removed. It’s the only way out of this crisis we have created. We must rewild the world. Rewilding the world is simpler than you might think. And the changes we have to make will only benefit ourselves and the generations that follow. A century from now, our planet could be a wild place again.” A Life On Our Planet
Every other species on Earth reaches a maximum population after a time. The number that can be sustained on the natural resources available. We must slow population growth. As nations develop everywhere, people choose to have less children. The number of children being born begins to level. The reason why our population is still growing is that we are living longer. At one point in the future, the human population will peak for the first time. The sooner it happens the easier it makes everything else we have to do. By working hard to raise people out of poverty, giving all access to healthcare and enabling girls in particular to stay in school for as long as possible, we can make it peak sooner. We have to raise the standard of living around the world without increasing our impact on that world.
The other solution is renewable energy. Within 20 years, renewables are predicted to be the world’s main source of energy. But we can make them the only source. But our banks and our pensions are investing in fossil fuel instead. Renewable energy will never run out and is full of benefits. Cities would be quieter, air would be cleaner and energy would be more affordable.
The living world can’t operate without a healthy ocean. With its help, we can reduce carbon in this atmosphere and the more diverse it is, the better it does its job. It’s also important as a source of food.
When it comes to the land, we must drastically reduce the amount we use for farming. The quickest, most effective way of doing this is changing our diet and changing the ways of farming to a more sustainable version.
Forests are a fundamental component of our planet's recovery. They are locking away carbon and they are centres of biodiversity. We must stop deforestation everywhere and start replanting native trees.
Nature is our biggest ally and greatest inspiration, it worked out the secret of life long ago. In this world, a species can only thrive if everything thrives too.
We need to rediscover how to be sustainable and how to become part of nature again. We have to learn how to work with nature and not against it.
This is now not about saving our planet. It’s about saving ourselves. With or without us, the natural world will rebuild. In the 30 years since the evacuation of Chernobyl, the wild has reclaimed the space, the forest has taken over the city. It’s a sanctuary for wild animals that are very rare elsewhere. It’s a powerful evidence that no matter how big our mistakes, nature will overcome them. We humans can’t presume the same. We are the smartest creatures that have ever lived, but to continue we require more than intelligence. We require wisdom. We alone are able to imagine the future. There’s a chance of us to make amends and manage our impact. And become in balance with nature. We know how to create the perfect home for ourselves, a rich, healthy home, full of magic.