Monday, August 15, 2011

"Home," An Ecological History of Humanity and the Earth

In his best-selling environmental study, "Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed," author Jared Diamond speculates about what went through the mind of the person who chopped down the last tree on Easter Island. One wonders what will go through the mind of the person who ploughs under the last hectare of tropical rainforest on Borneo, harvests the last fish off of Greenland, or burns the last gallon of gasoline in Los Angeles.

In the must-see documentary, "Home," (trailer attached, below) we are given a deep history lesson of life on Earth, our evolution, and the role that we are each now playing in changing the face of the Earth, perhaps irrevocably, And time is running out, we are warned, for us to ameliorate the collective damage we are doing.

An evocative film with spectacular aerial footage, and as poignant in its message as "An Inconvenient Truth," it directly addresses the horrendous impact mankind as a species is having on our shared environment and on each other, citing the following statistics:
  • 20% of the world's population consumes 80% of its resources.
  • The world spends 12 times more on military expenditures than on aid to developing countries.
  • 5,000 people a day die because of dirty drinking water.
  • 1 billion people have no access to safe drinking water.
  • Nearly 1 billion people are going hungry.
  • Over 50% of grain traded around the world is used for animal feed or biofuels.
  • 40% of arable land has suffered long-term damage.
  • Every year, 13 million hectares of forest disappears.
  • One mammal in 4, one bird in 8, and one amphibian in 3 are threatened with extinction.
  • Species are dying out at a rhythm 1,00 times faster than the natural rate.
  • Three quarters of fishing grounds are exhausted, depleted or in dangerous decline.
  • The average temperature of the last 15 years have been the highest ever recorded.
  • The ice cap is 40% thinner than 40 years ago.
  • There may be at least 200 million climate refugees by 2050.
"The costs of our actions are high," we are shown. "Others pay the price without having been actively involved."
"Must we always build walls to break the chain of human solidarity, to separate peoples and protect the happiness of some from the misery of others?"
And yet the message of "Home" is not pessimistic, but hopeful. "It is too late to be a pessimist," we are warned. . . . "(A) single human can knock down every wall. It is too late to be a pessimist. Worldwide, four children out of five attend school. Never has learning been given to so many human beings. Everyone from richest to poorest can make a contribution."

"It is time to come together," we are told. "What is important is not what is gone, but what remains. We still have half the worlds forests, thousands of rivers and lakes, and glaciers, and thousands of thriving species. We know that the solutions are there today. We all have the power to change."

"So what," we are asked, "are we waiting for?"

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To view the full documentary, click here.

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