David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet comes from the 94-year-old man who’s spent his entire working life travelling all around the world, and now berates us all for also wanting to see it, by plane.
So, the oldest-working hypocrite in TV is bringing us a summary of his career, and since he began in 1951, that’s 69 years, so you’d think it was a long movie, but… it’s just 83 minutes long.
It starts off interestingly enough with DA in the town of Pripyat, in the Ukraine, which could’ve been a long-term self-sustaining community town had it not been for the Chernobyl incident in 1986, and if you haven’t seen the exceptional drama series about it, you really should do.
However, he’s not here to talk about that, but to use it as a jumping off point to say that Earth’s wild places are disappearing as well, i.e. biodiversity, so the same lecture we had in BBC1’s recent Extinction: The Facts. It’s like he wants to call for extermination of the human race. That was also the call from a certain individual during World War II, and it didn’t work out well for him.
As biodiversity means restoring the food chain to what it used to be, surely this is the food chain? (below)
And in bemoaning how 3 trillion trees have been cut down across the world, he notes that every other species on the planet reaches a maximum number, and that an answer is for us to be like the Japanese and concentrate on our careers rather than having too many children. There should certainly be a limit on that, anyway, but he lost me with his suggestion how the population reaches a peak by raising the standard of living around the world without increasing our impact on it.
And when he talked about phasing out fossil fuels and run on sunlight, wind, water and geothermal – perhaps he wants us to live a pastoral existence like Tom and Barbara Good in The Good Life?
Personally, I’m all for changing cars for those run by hydrogen fuel cells, as they only emit water, but the governments of the world make a fortune out of petrol, so they’ll want to keep the oil going. After all, it’s what George W Bush and Tony Blair blew up half of Iraq for.
There’s old TV footage of his to show how he’s travelled more than anyone else, and how he’s clearly contributed to global warming more than anyone else… and in his life from a young boy, he charts the ‘progress’ from how Earth went – as of 1937, when the population was 2.3bn people, and there was 280 parts per million (ppm) of carbon in atmosphere, with 66% remaining wilderness, the figures in 2019 are 7.8bn, 415ppm carbon, and 35% wilderness.
Attenborough tells us how every now and again, the Earth goes through a mass extinction, and how it’s happened 5 times in Earth’s 4.6bn life cycle, the last time being when the dinosaurs were wiped out. Of course, life finds a way and has rebuilt itself over the past 65m years, but that’s not good enough for some.
Never mind the holodeck, he introduces us to the ‘Holocene’, and how the world’s gentle climate has sustained life without an issue because, based on his stats, for 10,000 years, Earth’s temperature hasn’t wavered by more than 1C, but then the doom-mongering intensifies…
The problem is, once again, those bastard humans. You see, we invented farming in order to live well due to our intelligence. And in telling us how “Human beings have overrun the world”, he moans how we breed animals to eat which he doesn’t like… cue a few shots of DA pondering to himself before insisting we change our diet and basically go vegan. Well, no, thanks, and in fact, in September, he told The Times: “I eat fish, and chicken, and my conscience does trouble me. I’m affluent enough to afford free range, but it’s a middle-class hypocrisy”.
Oh, but there is a more concentrated alternative to farming in the Netherlands, which looks more efficient. Whether anyone wants to fork out the cash for this is another matter. The place looks like an indoor plant-growing farm that you’d see in a sci-fi film travelling to Mars than a traditional farm. The same goes for the massive solar power generating station in Morocco.
Now, don’t rush off just yet because one plus with this is how it’s nice to see so many different places throughout the documentary, including how the Serengeti can be empty of animals, but the next morning, there’s a million wilderbeests plus other animals… so, like 10pm at chucking out time following Boris Johnson’s latest curfew wac-a-mole plans.
Oh, but don’t enjoy things too much, because from halfway through, the global warming scaremongering kicks in, with images of fire that look like the opening of Terminator 2: Judgment Day
So, David Attenborough clearly enjoys what he does, but he doesn’t need to be so bloody preachy with it. Naturally, you shouldn’t have animals and mammals being hunted for sport or money; and yes, there’s fishing, but it should be done sustainably.
But towards the end, the preaching reaches epic levels, since after he’s told us about all the changes he’s seen in his lifetime, he reckons that in another lifetime of his 94 years, the following will happen, with images in a Six Feet Under finale stylee…
- 2030s: the Amazon Rainforest will burn to hell, altering the global water cycle. The Arctic will be ice-free in the summer, causing less of the sun’s energy to be reflected back into space, and GLOBAL WARMING INCREASES!!!
2040s: Frozensoils thaw, releasing methane, so GLOBAL WARMING INCREASES EVEN MORE!!!
2050s: Ocean heats, coral reefs die, fish die off…
2080s: Global food prodiction enters a crisis as soils exhaust through overuse, polinating insects disapear, and weather is more unpredictable…
2100s: The Earth is 4C warmer, large parts of Earth are uninhabitable, millions of people are homeless, and a 6th mass extinction event on the way.
David Attenborough: A Life on Our Planet is on Netflix now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Running time: 83 minutes
Release date: October 4th 2020
Presenter: David Attenborough
Directors: Alastair Fothergill, Jonnie Hughes, Keith Scholey
Producer: Jonnie Hughes
Music: Steven Price
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.