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Attenborough’s New Documentary is Enlightening

Article by Shelby Gibbs April 26, 2019

‘Climate Change – The Facts’

David Attenborough is a national treasure, of that much we can be certain. But more recently his name is being attributed to the staggering reduction in single-use plastics; dubbed the ‘Attenborough effect’. His awe-inspiring yet informative TV shows have the nation captivated and for good reason. Planet Earth and Blue Planet have been met with huge success, but his latest show has especially rocked viewers.

Climate Change: The Facts calls for all of us to take action. We have first introduced to climate change over 30 years ago, but back then the threat was not imminent. Governments took too long to implement policies and there was also a great deal of resistance from the big wigs in oil and gas industries – confusing the people and distorting the message in order to prevent immediate action. People found the facts too complex and so failed to alter their behaviours, but now we are seeing the consequences, and people are still too slow in making amendments to our society. The documentary tells us “we are at a tipping point”,

the devastating impacts of climate change are clear now and if we continue along this path we risk creating issues that will soon be irreversible.

For many years, we as a society have been in denial about the dramatic changes in weather, but these changes we are seeing on a daily basis cannot be explained away; it is, as Attenborough puts it, a “man-made disaster on a global scale”.

In the hour-long documentary, how we use fossil fuels in day to day life is brought to the fore. Experts in their respective fields explain, in simple terms, what climate change is and how our excessive use of fossil fuels is contributing to it. The temperature of the earth’s atmosphere has increased by 1℃ – which seems, on paper, not quite as significant as it truly is. Animals who have adapted to withstand high temperatures are now suffering due to extreme heat. This raises the question, what does this mean for animals who are unable to adapt? There are already too many species at risk of becoming extinct; in fact, 8% of species are at risk of extinction due solely to climate change. It’s not just heat that the world is suffering with. There is more moisture in the air, creating more rain and floods that are tearing apart whole countries. We are losing ice at five times the rate we were 25 years ago, the people of the Isle de Jean Charles have been termed the first ‘climate refugees’ in the US. The Isle they once called home is losing a football field worth of land every 45 minutes, it is likely that it will be entirely submerged in the water in a matter of years. Sea levels are rising due to the rapid melting of ice as well, which we learned at such a young age in science class – so why is it so difficult for adults to understand?

Protests About Climate Change in France

In the show, forests are described as our planet’s lungs, they absorb the carbon dioxide; they are breathing in the CO2 we are putting out, or at least they would be if we weren’t cutting them down at an astonishing rate. Our endless search for palm oil is resulting in deforestation which, in turn, is creating ⅓ of our CO2 emissions. The worst part about all this destruction is it is likely to be those in developing countries who suffer most from the actions of more developed countries. The dangers we are now seeing are just what is known, we may discover further consequences, but by then it could be too late to reverse them. Alternative renewable fuel options already exist but we are not using them due to the higher cost when compared with fossil fuels. Fortunately, there has been a recent decrease in the price of renewable energies – solar power is the cheapest alternative in many countries. Hopefully, this decrease in price will continue, and encourage more people to swap to renewable energy sources.

Giving you facts and statistics is not going to stop the rapid changes to our earth, many want to know what we can do. Organisations like Extinction Rebellion are making huge leaps, creating remarkable disruption so that Government officials will take note and put policies in place – we refuse to return to ‘business as usual’ as the Mayor of London suggests we should. We need to decarbonize the industry and “reforest…vast areas of the world” in order to counteract the damage.

What can you do I hear you ask? We must buy less, buy products of greater quality and make them last. Eat what you buy, reduce food waste and avoided air-freighted foods. One of the biggest changes we can make is to reduce our meat and dairy consumption, beef and lamb especially. People as young as Greta Thunberg are able to understand our circumstances and create huge ripples in their communities, why can’t our politicians and peers do the same?

Climate Change: The Facts are now available on BBC iPlayer

Photo Credits: Harrison Moore

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