Many households have been watching the series Our Planet on Netflix, with the slow, wise voice of narrator David Attenborough reminding so many of their grandfathers. Attenborough has much of Aylmer sitting in a circle around him as he tells us the tales grandfathers seem best capable of passing along. But he’s not our grandfather; he is relating to all of humanity the modern tales we do need to hear about our world and its future. His measured tone and his observations, combined with absolutely stunning photography, makes this series a must-see for us all.
I’d prefer a more concrete message in terms of where we fit into this saga, one which will mark our history and maybe our survival. What can be done, should be done, is being done ... our future prospects, are we following the great dinosaurs like lemmings or do we demonstrate that humanity can overcome the huge threats which Our Planet so beautifully presents?
Even without such specifics (by now, we all know what they would be), the series prompts us to speculate and reflect.
One line of reflection runs something like this: behind climate catastrophe (a more accurate term than “climate change”), however we slice and dice the facts of this environmental upheaval, are the world’s gigantic corporations driving to enrich their bottom lines. The so-called environment is but one of their many concerns, and certainly not at the top. Many are indistinguishable from nations, many wealthier than nations. They gobble up the planet’s resources, converting them to revenue, and everywhere promote our consumerist lifestyle, converting our desires and appetites also to revenue.
However, we probably reflect that behind these pan-national corporations (many owned by national governments – China, especially) is the profit motive. Would we even have mega-corporations if we did not have the profit motive? I suspect not. The profit motive moves us to utilize anything we wish of the planet – and to waste what doesn’t produce profit. Surely their motive’s more fundamental than the corporations themselves, which are merely the means by which the profit motive realizes itself.
There’s more: deep behind the profit motive is plain human greed. Isn’t that more basic? I don’t believe that greed is born from the profit motive, as some claim; the profit motive is greed’s most effective manifestation.
So, reflecting on Our Planet, we ask:
How do we control these rapacious corporations?
How do we use the profit motive, but keep its excesses in check?
And how do we redirect humanity’s greed?
Coming down to politics, we see that liberals claim to control the biggest corporations. Socialists claim to control the profit motive. But who tries to redirect greed? Mother Nature? Is this the message of Our Planet? Mother Nature is stepping in at the most basic of levels?
What do the Bulletin’s readers have to say of the messages of this beautiful series, as we face more floods ... in this season of rebirth?