A New Dawn: Blue Planet 2

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Some of our biggest motivators to take action and get the #Green18 campaign started were the numerous excellent documentary films and TV series that show off the amazing natural world but also highlight mankind’s constant abuse of our beautiful planet. This has inspired us to add to our blogging series with ‘Reel Talk’, where we will show the big and small screen as an excellent medium for getting important messages out there and showing everyone that change needs to happen.

Our opening entry comes from possibly some of the best documentary footage ever shown – BBC’s Blue Planet 2. My personal admiration for Sir David Attenborough and his work over the decades is no secret to those who know me and I have been inspired throughout much of my life by the TV series that he has worked on and narrated. My first experience of Attenborough was one that has inspired me since that very point – The Blue Planet (the original) from 2001 was released just before my 6th birthday and eventually sent me into my marine biology degree and has put me where I am today.

A major part of the success of the BBC’s Natural History Unit’s documentaries comes from the ground-breaking equipment and skill that is put into each series. Blue Planet 2 is no exception to this but it also had that little bit extra to bring it to life for people at home. The music provided by Hans Zimmer, Jacob Shea and David Flemming for this series is masterfully enhancing to the footage and gives so much to this powerful series. I would thoroughly recommend a listen. The videography and cinematography of each episode focuses excellently on the beauty and complexity of the wildlife found in these marine ecosystems. However, more unexpectedly, Blue Planet 2 focused on the damage that human activity, specifically plastics, is having on these wonderful environments, which was a new and necessary leap from the BBC.

One of the most heart-breaking moments of the series showed a female pilot whale mourning the loss of its baby calf by carrying it around in its fins. This type of premature death, caused by the leaching of chemicals from industries and our own plastic pollution, is becoming more and more common and is a serious ecological concern for the decades to come. We have seen this sort of problem before with DDT, one of the first widely used pesticides, that built up through each level of the food chain before being found at highly toxic levels in top predators like birds of prey. These birds were affected by thinning eggshells that led to increased mortality of young and, thus, declining populations. Without these top predators, a vast array of ecological issues arise that can see the shift of an entire ecosystem even having an effect on the physical geography of our surroundings (click here for an interesting example at Yellowstone National Park, USA). It is now, more than ever, that we need to tackle our plastic addiction, despite its practicality, and develop more natural alternatives to make them more widely available and economically practical.

This series led to a skyrocket in the publicity for plastic pollution in the oceans which is now a major concern for governments, institutions and companies as public pressure mounts. In recent days and weeks, we have seen the Scottish government and the Royal household tackle single-use plastics in world-leading fashion which, I believe, is as a direct result of this series and the voice of David Attenborough inspiring the masses.

 

If you haven’t taken the time to watch even part of this documentary series, I cannot recommend it enough. It will make you smile and laugh, gasp with wonder, shout with anger and cry with sadness. This is an emotional rollercoaster like nothing else I have ever seen.

Rufus SullivanComment