The best TV program I’ve seen in years is without a doubt ‘Planet Earth‘ by the BBC. As far as I’m concerned programs like this are worth the license fee alone (to be honest it’s one of the very few things I regularly watch).
It’s a nature program narrated by David Attenborough showing the wonders of the planet on which we live. It’s years in the making and contains some of the most incredible footage of the natural world you’re ever likely to see. This week showed great white sharks (above) attacking fur seals off the coast of South Africa in super-slow motion. You just can’t believe how quick, aggressive and powerful these sharks are – weighing over a ton and yet exploding completely out of the water without warning like lightening. Truly amazing.
But at the end of each episode I always feel a bit sad, almost emotional. Watching programs like this shows what an incredibly diverse, beautiful and awe-inspiring planet we live on. But it’s fragile. And the sad fact is that in a matter of generations – the mere blink of an eye geologically – a great deal of these wonders will be gone.
No amount of reducing greenhouse gasses, cutting down on the usage of fossil fuels, recycling or any other initiative will change the fact that this planet is on dodgy ground thanks to us. You can forget some Star Trek Utopian world where everybody does what’s in the best interests of humanity rather than themselves suddenly appearing because in the last 5000 years human nature hasn’t changed at all. We may have nice technology but we’re still barbarians at heart.
You can also drop that idea of space colonisation. Even if there were a planet in the solar system or within easy reach that could support life, we wouldn’t be able to survive there. We’ve had millions of years of evolution that have allowed us to cope with the bacteria and viruses that are ever-present on Earth. The same won’t be said for another planet with a different set of bacteria – think War Of The Worlds only we’re the aliens – same result. You reckon we could be inoculated? Ha! You’ve been watching too much Star Trek: The Next Generation – I’m afraid 21st century medicine is little more effective than that of the 19th century.
And even colonising the moon or Mars is a bit far-fetched. You wonder why manned missions to Mars have been put off for so long? One of the big problems is cosmic rays that are un-stoppable and long term exposure is little understood, but irreversible damage to human DNA is one of the known side-effects. We’re okay on Earth since the atmosphere soaks up most of it, but these rays cut through metal and space suits like a hot knife through butter.
So we’re stuck here. And unfortunately as long as we’re here the natural wonders on this planet are under threat. I’ve been saying for years the best thing that can happen to the Earth is if all the people are removed from it. And that’s why I’m always a bit sad after watching nature programs – we started out as one of the most wonderful creations on this planet and now we’re destroying the lot for our own selfish, short-term gains. Shame on us all.
Ah hem, “…yet exploding completely out of the water without warning like lightening [sic]”! 😉
Still, we should all try to do our bit, don’t you think? It’s no good just giving up.
Only yesterday, I was in Wilkinson’s and I noticed that they had 99p off energy saving lightbulbs, so I bought five off them for a fiver. What a bargain! Now I can gradually switch our house over to them as the conventional bulbs fail and do a little bit extra to help the environment.
Another thing I do is to unplug our DVD player when it’s not in use, so it doesn’t have its standby light on. Did you know that all those standby lights are responsible for about 10% of a household’s annual electricity consumption? Incredible!
Now if only we could persuade the Americans and developing industrial nations like India and China not to screw up the planet…
Ha ha! Noticed me mixing my metaphors again eh?! Maybe I should have said like “greased lightening!”…
I think the problem is that it’s too late and distaster is inevitable. Thing is, if everybody does their bit, it’s only delaying the inevitable thanks to population expansion and so forth. A bleak outlook indeed. Or maybe I’m just being negative today!
Bloody ‘ell John, are you having a bad day at work, or what?!
Humans are remarkably resiliant. I think that science and technology will eventually provide a solution for many of these problems. If ITER is a success then we have the promise of cheap, safe and almost unlimited energy for all.
Change will have to be market-driven though and it may take an environmental catastrophe that wipes out a significant number of people before we finally give up our addictions to things that are bad for the environment. It’s just a shame that we waste so much effort on killing each other in the name of religion and capitalism when there are far more pressing things that need our attention.
Tell you what, we’ll have this conversation again in 50 years and see who was right – we’ll know enough by then!
I don’t expect to be around then, John!
Now who’s being negative! 😉