I have not seen a wild tiger 1. I have not been swimming in the ocean with sharks or manta rays. Although I have not seen these species in their wild habitats, I know that each one fills a unique niche and that the planet will be a poorer place without them.
If you are reading this, clicking like, adding a comment or agreeing with my sentiments, then you may already know about the global premiere of Racing Extinction on the Discovery channel tomorrow, Wednesday December 2, showing at various times (9pm EST). If you are planning to watch it, that’s fantastic! But here is the problem – if you are already planning to watch it, then it is likely that nothing in this film will come as a surprise, because you probably already know about the industrial-scale removal and destruction of wildlife and plants underway across the planet, with countless species being decimated for our consumption, either as food, trinkets or products of some other kind.
The problem is, how do we get people who don’t know or care about these issues to watch this film (and others like it)? My plan had been to watch Racing Extinction with friends. I told several that I had already seen the film at a screening at The Explorers Club, so their 1st questions was “How bad is it? Is it graphic?” I can’t lie. Yes, parts of the film are graphic, but that is because what we are doing to other species on this planet is graphic. So several friends said they would not be able to watch it. How many other people, who might start to watch the film, will turn off as soon as they see something too graphic? I have seen many wildlife-related images and videos that haunt me. There are some I could mention right now that I think about probably every few weeks. I will remember them forever. They make me wince and want to turn away and think of something else. But turning away doesn’t help to solve the problem.
So here is my challenge to you, if you find it hard to watch films like this – try to watch the whole film (it ends with some suggestions about what you can do). Because only by seeing the graphic nature of what we, the human race, are doing, will we truly try to alter our behavior. When you feel that terrible pang of guilt, maybe you will stop eating so much meat, decide not to buy that teak furniture for your patio, avoid products containing microbeads2, use the dishwasher and dryer less, decide not to own exotic species as pets, or stop using harmful chemical products and excessive amounts of water on your lawn. That pang of guilt might make you think about your behavior and, ultimately, change. And change is what is desperately needed.
So watch Racing Extinction, preferably with a friend, then #StartWith1Thing !
1 Although I have been growled at by a tiger in Bardia, Nepal, while sitting on an elephant, in grass taller than the elephant, with my feet pulled up around my chest. But that’s a whole different story!
2 Microbeads are tiny plastic particles found in many personal care products. They pass through our water supply and eventually out into the ocean, where many creatures ingest them, accidentally mistaking them for food particles. Visit beatthemicrobead.org to download a free app to help you identify products containing microbeads.