Our Living World

Our Living World
Our Living World
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A cheesy quote opens the show “Our Living World” that says, “Realize that everything connects to everything else.” Probably said by Leonardo da Vinci. Promptly, this nature documentary has blue glowing lines flowing across the screen and Cate Blanchett doing a voice over on it asserting that this planet’s species support each other in ways we cannot see right away and may not have considered.

This programme seems to think of ecosystems as if it had discovered them for the first time and uses the same trick four times throughout these episodes: it shows us one organism or plant then astonishes us with how one helps with another. Nevertheless, what initially appears like an ad hoc device for amending results in a powerful meditation on climate change, conservation and little things mattering more than they seem to be. At a time when we desperately need to act but saving a habitable earth can seem beyond the capabilities of an individual let alone addressing it, This is valuable.

The opening scene depicts rhino casually walking through a Nepalese town during rush hour, untouched by traffic snarls or excited locals with iPhones trained at him. Our roads now cross his ancestors’ migration route from one grazing area to another. However, this is not really about how humans are invading nature; rather, it explores just how fragile our environment is such that minor trespasses may actually mean death – conversely reparation could be priceless.

Next up is the Arctic where reindeers are being followed by wolves. The wolves force the herd to constantly move we learn; hence they graze more widely. As a result there is more land covered with snow without gaps which means that the North Pole now produces even greater quantities of heat radiation due to its bigger roof reflector.

Nearby into sea waters starting to freeze form part of ocean flows as well as temperature changes system which results in African coastal storm responsible for heavy rains containing nitrates rejuvenating dry savannahs. Out of this comes a watering hole with hippos and Austin Powers lounge jazz. Another hippo tries to muscle in; the elder male fights him off; the cool jazz plays again.

From hungry wolves to angry hippos, we have flipped between two cute moments that one might see in any wildlife documentary. When it stops raining elephants pick at dry, already dead trees and throw them on the ground causing bushfires which results in phosphorus falling into the Amazon rainforest through fumes, where orchids grow around brazil nut trees which need bees and mice with sharp teeth for their pollination.

And so her narration continues along those lines, with Blanchett playfully anthropomorphizing her subjects: “He’ll only live for a year,” she says of a hatching cuttlefish, “so he seems determined to learn as much as he can, as fast as he can.” If she is supposed to raise an eyebrow in the script then she absolutely will in fact do so. It is wryly commented that “Hares rarely die of old age”.

The chase is an instance in which hare and hawk are hunted in wildlife programmes that take six months to be completed: a span of five minutes at the end of the shows is spent bragging about it as if they have done a great deal. Our Living World was not so quite good that It did not get any nice footage of claws on fur, so just put some shots together of only the two.

But those hares shooting through Oregon’s forests between the Cascade Mountains also signal a closing two episodes’ dreadful warning. They change their feathers and become white in winter─which is now increasingly impracticable due to reduced snowfall: this means that their old method of remaining stationary and merging with bright white surroundings whenever prey bird passes above them would not hold water anymore. The hawks will catch up with them sooner or later.

Our Living World has sought our understanding on what butterfly effect can come out as a result of interfering with ancient cyclical processes, but now it needs us to help. We have been shown how nature can adapt and survive: spawning salmon, finding that their journey upstream has had a road built across it with SUVs speeding through the shallow water, have resolved to take their chances and swim across the tarmac.

If this is possible then we could participate in rewilding, preservation activities, little things everyone can do. The enormity of the climate emergency and scale of crime we have committed are left for other programs to measure; instead here we got one dappled ray of hope and reminder again all in this together.

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