25 September, 2020
‘…The benign and stable conditions that underpinned both the growth of our civilisations, and the trade and financial systems that you preside over, have ended.’ David Attenborough, UN Climate Change Conference 2020
As we head back into semi-lockdown, another spectacular Blue Planet series would have been welcomed by all of us. But the world has turned a corner and we can’t pretend that nature, once plentiful and thriving, isn’t at the brink of collapse. Two very recent films – David Attenborough’s Extinction: The Facts and WWF’s Our Planet: Too big to fail – both take the opportunity to demonstrate that what we are seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg if we don’t act now on climate change and biodiversity loss.
In Extinction: The Facts, Attenborough starkly demonstrates how urgent environmental issues will affect all our lives and explains the primary drivers of mass extinction (spoiler alert: that’s us). The film shows that biodiversity loss is more than just the threat or losing our glorious white rhinos, but will severely impact our own futures as we destroy the delicate balance of nature. It’s uncomfortable watching and tragic. However, it ends with a glimmer of hope that if we do truly build back better (for want of a better phrase), by investing in environmental positive solutions and change how we produce and consume, we can achieve a balanced relationship with our planet.
The WWF’s film, Our Planet, is much more targeted towards the finance sector, but is no less relevant to any of us with pensions, investments or savings. The documentary focuses on the irony that the free, natural resources that underpin our economies – clean water, fresh air, healthy soils – are the very ones that we are systematically destroying at unimaginable rates, predominantly as a result of where our finance sector chooses to invest. Where we choose to invest our trillions or just our pensions, matters more than ever.
Although both films take a slightly different approach, their message is clear. We need our financial systems to be brave and ambitious, to radically rethink how we quantify a healthy economy, and ultimately invest in nature’s services so that people, and planet, thrive.
By Jennie Mitchell