In the documentary “8 Billion Angels”, fishermen, farmers and scientists examine the impact of the human population on the ecosystems we all need to survive.
The image is dark. Fishing is collapsing and industrial agriculture is devastating soil, water and forests. “We’re eating our way to extinction” is the title of another documentary showing at the RVA (Richmond, Va.) Environmental Film Festival, which ends Friday.
Oceans and rivers are filled with plastic, often in tiny particles, as is most of the water we drink: 93% of bottled water and 83% of tap water.
Watching a series of movies about what we’re doing to the planet is hard, to say the least, but so important if we’re to understand the desperate situation we find ourselves in.
It’s not just runaway climate change that we have to worry about. We pollute and destroy the land, air and water that all forms of life need to thrive.
Even though we say we want to bequeath a better world to our children and grandchildren, most of us don’t want to see that our way of life is the opposite of what is sustainable.
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How we treat livestock and grow food to feed livestock is the most destructive of our land-based actions. In the oceans, we are destroying fisheries and coral reefs, and filling the oceans with plastic.
In other words, “what’s on your plate affects the fate of the world”.
At the same time, we seem unwilling to face the fact of our numbers. When I was born, there were less than 3 billion people. Barely 60 years later, they are nearly 8 billion.
According to the film, one American child consumes as much as 40 children in Bangladesh.
We have an even greater responsibility to curb our voracious appetites and the number of children we have.
According to most population experts, the key is to educate girls, because when they understand that they have the right to have smaller families and to choose careers, that is what they do. .
But boys and men also need to be educated!
In much of the world, girls and women are still subjected to extreme patriarchy. They don’t have the ability to go to school or complete their education, to decide their age at marriage, or to limit the number of children they have.
It is therefore true that we need global action from governments and corporations if we are to stop the destruction of the planet as we know it.
To achieve this, however, a critical mass of people must demand and act, including voluntarily controlling our population.
Another solution in “The Plastic Story” is to require extended producer responsibility, which means that oil and petrochemical companies that make plastic must be responsible for producing plastic that can actually be recycled and bought back. : only 2% of plastic is actually recycled.
This idea could extend to a carbon tax. Instead, taxpayers continue to subsidize oil companies. It’s time to change.
Shannon Brennan can be contacted at [email protected].