Audio-book Review
 By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog: awalkingdelight)

A Life on Our Planet (My Witness Statement and Vision for the Future)

By: Sir David Attenborough, Jonnie Hughes

Narrated by: Sir David Attenborough

In a memoir of one man’s life, David Attenborough (with the help of Jonnie Hughes) reviews earth’s degraded environment and humanity’s future. Sir Attenborough tells a personal story of his life as an English broadcaster, biologist, natural historian, and author.

Attenborough recalls his education as an educated naturalist, BBC commentator, and program producer of travels, the environment, and species decline around the world. His career spans over 50 years of experience–from meeting famous conservationists like Jane Goodall to exploring remote islands in search of native culture.

In nearly a century of life, Attenborough reflects on what he has personally experienced on earth with a life-long interest in environment. The first half of the book is about the beginning of civilization and environmental despoliation. The last half of Attenborough and Hughes’ story is about their “…Vision for the Future”.

From recollections of the 1950s to the present, “A Life on Our Planet” is earmarked by population growth and wilderness decline.

Attenborough and Hughes describe earth as a closed system. His analogy is that earth is a petri dish that grows bacteria that will consume the world if humans fail to change their ways. Interspecies dependance is challenged and changed by environmental degradation caused by human activity. From the destruction of whales in the era of whale hunting to deforestation of land by farming and industry, the authors argue the earth is being murdered by humanity.

Global warming from industrialization and deforestation accelerates earth’s death by warming oceans. Just as the cycle of life in the sea is disrupted by global warming–removing forests, overhunting, and species extinction disrupt life on land.

Coral turns from a living, colorful paradise to a dead and crumbling, bleached underwater forest. Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Much of what Attenborough notes is evident when one personally travels the world. In a recent trip to Southeast Asia, a Hmong guide explains how diet of people in Cambodia changed because of the loss of wild game in the country. Snakes and spiders were rarely eaten by native Cambodians. Now they are considered a delicacy and a source of income for people who raise them for consumption. In visiting Norway, fish farming is a growing industry to replenish depleted salmon stock, and despite Norway’s oil wealth, wind farms are seen throughout the country.

Listening to “A Life on Our Planet”, one holds their breath to hear the last half of Attenborough and Hughes’ book for their “…Vision for the Future.” So many authors decry the fate of humanity, one becomes jaded by dire predictions of ecologists and environmental experts.

Is there a solution that does not end with the extinction of human life? Life on earth is unlikely to end from human environmental mistakes, but human beings are one of many species on earth that will disappear if humanity fails to respond to the environmental crises of its own making.

The author’s “…Vision for the Future” gives one hope.

Except for their mistaken belief that measuring GDP (gross domestic product) as a measure of success is an underlying singular cause of the world’s environmental disaster, they offer the idea of re-wilding the world. GDP will always be a part of societies’ measurement of success. However, the idea of re-wilding earth is a realistic solution to human life’s environmental Armageddon.

The principle of re-wilding the world is a practical solution that does not deny the natural instincts of humankind. The authors are suggesting countries of the world need to focus on bio-diversity policies that re-introduce lost species and promote current species of life.

A big step would be international agreement on fishing restrictions in different areas of the world (for enforced periods of time) that will allow ocean and waterway fish and mammal species to naturally propagate.

Similar to that is happening with Western Australia Fishing Restrictions.

According to science and experimental proof of established fishing area restrictions, food availability for a rising human population will improve.

A second point made by the authors is that women around the world must be liberated.

Repression of women has kept half the world from realizing its full potential. With free choice, women will be able to make their own decisions about work, family, and productivity. It is no coincidence that population growth in America slowed with the liberation of women who chose to have or not have children.

A third visionary idea is a nation’s choice on sources of energy.

Geothermal energy in New Zealand as an example.

Choosing to abandon fossil fuels will improve the air we breathe and reduce overheating of land and sea. In choosing renewable energy sources, the authors note two small countries have abandoned fossil fuels. Surprisingly, one is Albania. Having traveled there a few years ago, one could see how enterprising and vibrant the economy of Albania appears to be. The other fossil fuel independent country is Iceland which uses earth’s thermal energy to warm their homes from a sustainable, pollution free energy source.

A concern is raised about an aging population like that in Japan where women have chosen not to have children. What is unwritten by the authors is that many countries fail to open their borders to young people from other countries that have no work and limited opportunity in their home countries. There needs to be a growing understanding that all people of the world are on the same spaceship. In a perfect world, all people would be treated equally. It is not a perfect world, but GDP can drive countries to be more open to immigration.

“Dallas, Texas, United States – May 1, 2010 a large group of demonstrators carry banners and wave flags during a pro-immigration march on May Day.”

Attenborough has lived a long and interesting life. He offers listeners wisdom from being a witness to the truth about the world in which we live. This is not a story of the end of “…Life on Our Planet” but a formula for humanity’s continuation.

Humans can continue to despoil the environment. The consequence only makes human habitation impossible. Trees and wildlife are rewilding Chernobyl. Only humankind is unable to return.

Author: chet8757

Graduate Oregon State University and Northern Illinois University, Former City Manager, Corporate Vice President, General Contractor, Non-Profit Project Manager, occasional free lance writer and photographer for the Las Vegas Review Journal.

3 thoughts on “REWILDING THE WORLD”

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