Monday, 25 June 2007

Saving Planet Earth

The Sir David Attenborough series started yesterday on BBC1 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/savingplanetearth ) with some nice photography and some telling points e.g. the dramatic increase, since DA's birth, in the world population of humans (not his fault) and the need to recognise that conservation of particular animal species means conserving viable habitats. Although I appreciate why it is being done, I am less comfortable with getting 9 'celebrities' to each visit and make a presentation on behalf of endangered 'superstar' animals namely albatross, Siamese crocodile, elephant, gorilla, orang-utan, rhinoceros, tiger, turtle and wolf. As usual, all are vertebrates and two thirds are mammals! I understand how 'flagship' species can generate support for wider environmental initiatives but there is something a bit odd about encouraging viewers to contribute online for particular species (it looks a bit like a talent contest) and I worry than some of the real complexities of the situations might be glossed over (at least in the viewer's minds). Paying some cash towards conserving a particular species might make you feel better but it doesn't make the problems go away. My slightly grumpy response was picked up by the Western Mail (http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0200wales/tm_method=full%26objectid=19400712%26siteid=50082-name_page.html)

4 comments:

Calvin Jones said...

Celebrities. We all love to hate them but it is i think unarguably the case that they posess an amazingly strong position in todays society.

However, thats not what i wanted to say. My primary concern is that this sort of program encourages a compartmentalisation of 'the environment'. We may be moved to act, we may not, what is surely taught however, is the fallacy of a 'wild' that is seperate from our economy and that we may or may not be able so save. If we save it great, if not the economy will continue as usuall.

In a whole range of ways this is wrong, the current economic system is pushing at the limits of planet earths physical systems. There is no business as usuall...our current mode of capitalism is unsustainable in the strict scientific sense of the word. This is an idea that we would do well to promote and discuss.

Capitalism as if the world matters is a great place to start on this. In terms of the dangers of compartmentalising the environment the polemical 'death of environmentalism' is a very interesting work.

Calvin Jones said...

opps i meant to include quotes

'Capitalism as if the world matters'

by Jonathon Porritt

jennifletzet said...

I saw the episode with Will Young and the gorillas. Apart from demonstrating our similarity to apes throughout the show - which I don't think was intentional! - he didn't have anything interesting or insightful to say. If they're going to utilise stars' celebrity to draw attention to serious issues, they should at least give them a decent script...
Compartmentalising the environment, and having favourite species to save ('cos plankton just isn't cute enough!!) is a big problem. But isn't it better that society does something - as in save a particular species - then just decide the problem is so huge as to be impenetrable. To some extent compartmentalising has to happen in order to make the problem more approachable and less like there's nowhere to start...

Paul Brain said...

I think you make serious points. I got the impression that the whole thing was turning into a 'telephon' kind of approach and that flying in 'celebrities' (generally unconnected with the animals chosen or even that area of the world) is not really sending out the kind of message that I would hope to see. Having said that, one wonders how far up 'conservation' really features in most people's priorities. I also think that the programme missed a trick in selecting the animals that it did.

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