Our Planet Book Review | A Call to Action to Save Our Wild Places

Emily Goodheart Kautz April 5, 2019 0
Our Planet book cover.

Photo credit: NASA/BDH Creative/Silverback Films.

Our Planet takes us on a journey through the earth’s biological realms, highlighting its rarest creatures and hidden natural wonders. This photographic companion to the Netflix original documentary series details the ways humans are affecting the world’s ecosystems and urges us to collectively preserve wild places and species. Striking visuals showcase nature’s most extraordinary marvels, from the great migrations of wildebeest that move with the rains to the intriguing marine life found only in the deepest ocean trenches.

Our Planet is a result of a partnership between World Wildlife Fund, Netflix and Silverback Films. Alastair Fothergill and Keith Scholey, co-directors of Silverback Films, are the makers of landmark nature series such as Planet Earth, The Blue Planet and Big Cat Diary and have produced a variety of feature films for the DisneyNature label. Together with environmental journalist Fred Pearce, they weave a story of nature’s resilience and how we can restore our biodiverse regions in the face of massive environmental change.

A Cape petrel, hunting krill, skims the waves in front of an iceberg in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Gerlache Strait.

ICE SPECTACLE A Cape petrel, hunting krill, skims the waves in front of an iceberg in the Antarctic Peninsula’s Gerlache Strait. Photo credit: Justin Hofman.

We are at the tipping point—our planet is in peril. Our oceans are rising, our air is being poisoned and our soils depleted. Nature faces battles on all sides. This book is a global call to action for a “great restoration of nature” to recover the world’s threatened ecosystems, from desiccated grasslands and shrinking jungles to bleached coral reefs and melting polar ice caps. As David Attenborough so aptly encapsulates in the book’s foreword, that we are damaging our fundamental life-support systems is a wake-up call to all of humanity. However, while we are indeed in trouble, we have the opportunity to save our home before it is too late.

Our Planet reveals the fascinating inner workings of our ecosystems and showcases the unprecedented biological diversity found across the globe. Along with the wonder it inspires, the book brings to light ecological tragedies and the measures we must take to ensure the earth’s survival. Poignant and riveting, this evocative portrait of the critical condition of our planet fills one with an innate desire to engage in resolutions for a better tomorrow.

RAIN MAKING A great expanse of rainforest on the island of New Britain, off Papua New Guinea. The clouds of mist evaporating from the trees maintain the forest’s humidity, leading to daily downpours that nurture moisture-loving plants and animals as well as the trees themselves in a continuous cycle. Photo credit: Huw Cordey.

RAIN MAKING A great expanse of rainforest on the island of New Britain, off Papua New Guinea. The clouds of mist evaporating from the trees maintain the forest’s humidity, leading to daily downpours that nurture moisture-loving plants and animals as well as the trees themselves in a continuous cycle. Photo credit: Huw Cordey.

Blue sharks—the most abundant and widespread oceanic shark but also the most heavily fished.

BLUE SHARK DRIFTERS Blue sharks—the most abundant and widespread oceanic shark but also the most heavily fished. About 20 million are caught every year, in drift nets and especially on longlines set for other fish, such as swordfish or tuna, and the unrecorded catch may be a third more. Though blue shark meat is considered almost worthless and most bodies are discarded at sea, there is a lucrative market in the fins. As with so many oceanic fish species, there is no accurate population estimate, and much is unknown about its biology, but declines are being observed across its range. Photo credit: Oliver Scholey.

It is this book’s aim to encourage us to nurture the earth and view ourselves as a part of nature rather than its adversary. To consider ourselves as a microcosm of one living, breathing being, as the forests are the lungs of the earth, the rivers its vital arteries and the oceans are the blue heart of our planet. To reanalyze our relationship with the natural world and recognize that we are a part of one incredible story that connects us all.

As environmental change escalates, it becomes clearer that the incentives to share our home far outweigh the short-term gains of greed. There is hope for recovery, but we must act now and act together, as it is evident that the essential requirement for our wellbeing is protecting the planet. By changing what we consume and how we live, we can reduce our daily water footprint, support sustainable agriculture and minimize our waste. By safeguarding ecosystems and working in tandem with natural processes, we can foster regrowth and restore our world’s rich biodiversity. Our Planet inspires us to reconnect with nature and morph from destroyers to guardians of the wilderness.

The decision is ours and the choice is now. With wildlife retreating and communities at risk, will we rise to meet the call to action? Time will reveal our willingness to change. Our future, and the future of all species, depends on it.

 

A bowhead whale and her calf surface in the Arctic Ocean ice off the northern coast of Alaska.

BOWHEAD CHANNEL A bowhead whale and her calf surface in the Arctic Ocean ice off the northern coast of Alaska. Bowheads live among the ice floes, feeding on planktonic animals such as copepods. Extremely thick skulls allow them to break through seven-inch ice when they need to create breathing holes. Photo credit: Amelia Brower/NOAA Fisheries Service. All photos reprinted with permission from Our Planet, by Alastair Fothergill, Keith Scholey, and Fred Pearce, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC.

A nervous brown bear peeks out from behind a tree in Slovenia.

THE COMEBACK BEAR A nervous brown bear peeks out from behind a tree in Slovenia. Its home is mixed deciduous and pine forest in mountains, which has survived logging and where bears have survived persecution. Today, more than half of Slovenia is forested, with a population of about 500 brown bears. Conservationists believe their spread to the Alps now depends on a significant reduction in the numbers killed by hunters and a trans-boundary nature-conservation area being established between Slovenia and Croatia. Photo credit: Bruno Cavignaux/Biosphoto/FLPA.

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