If you know me, you’ll know it was only a matter of time before this post appeared.
If you don’t know me then allow me to introduce myself: Hi, I’m a biology student and I adore Sir David Attenborough’s work. Of course I go by the cliche, growing up watching his shows is partly what inspired my interest in the life sciences and was one of many reasons why I study biology.
His ability to communicate with the public is something I feel many people do not focus on, the way he articulates the information (along with the help of producers and researchers) allows science to be accessible to the masses. It causes people who may otherwise disregard environmental and ecological sciences to engage with their planet.
Public engagement and education is key within science. Large scale public backing of science can change the course of research, the attitudes of policy makers, the direction of funding to name but a few impacts. Documentaries like Blue Planet II are one such way that research is made more accessible to people without a scientific background.
Like many of you I sat down every Sunday night (apart from one where I missed it and had to watch on catch up… guilty) to watch the nations favourite nature presenter.
The final episode really hit home, mankind’s impacts on the environment – especially the clips of coral reefs and the issues surrounding plastics.
Corals have always been one of my passions, when given free reign, my university assessments often mention them. Corals are animals (this surprises many people) which are within the taxonomic phylum of Cnidaria. This group also includes spectacular organisms such as jellyfish, anemones, hydra and sea pens. Many species of hard and soft corals create havens for life as explored in Blue Planet II. In my eyes they are one of the most curious groups of animals. If you have access to Netflix, I would highly recommend watching the documentary “Chasing Coral“, it is gut wrenching at times but the footage obtained of our planet’s networks of coral reef systems is extraordinary. It goes into more depth about the challenges facing corals, building on climate change and ocean acidification as mentioned in Blue Planet II.
As considered in Blue Planet II, plastics are a serious threat to our environment. Everyone already knows that they often end up in landfill sites and traditional plastics can take 100s to 1000s of years to break down. Statistics are rarely seen in the media about what happens to the plastics in our oceans and how they pass through the environment, especially the vast weight of plastics which end up in the oceans. Earlier in 2017 I had the pleasure of working at Wageningen Marine Research, during my time there I shared labs with researchers investigating plastics. Their experimental findings were incredibly interesting yet heartbreaking all at once. Plastics are the epitome of human impacts on the environment- there is no denying denying that they have a negative impact and there is no denying their source.
This post may seem very doom and gloom, but that isn’t what I intended. The mere fact that you have read all of this means you must care about the environment/ be interested in the environment (even if only a little). It is shows such as those created by Attenborough which spark people’s interest in the nature. This interest is what I believe is necessary to preserve our planet. Interest sparks action, which is what we need to prevent or, perhaps if that is no longer possible, minimise the negative effects on our ecosphere.