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Human Beings Are The Real 'Disaster For Wildlife', Not David Attenborough

David Attenborough is not our moral compass.

Undoubtedly, there are issues facing the planet. In the age of the Anthropocene, we're facing a sixth mass extinction that may see the loss of tigers and elephants, and climate change has become a fast approaching detriment to the health of planet Earth. Biologists call it an "extinction crisis", and it's no secret that human impact is the primary catalyst, with each of us to blame for the demise of Mother Nature.

There's also no shortage of information about the Earth's major problems. From climate change and biodiversity loss, to illegal whaling and deforestation, we have clear (and often free) access to reports, pictures, documentaries, films, interviews, statistics, debates and other material about wildlife and our troubled environment.

Environmental causes make up a large share of academic debates and non-profit campaigns work with major advertisers, like Parley and Adidas, to spread the eco-message. The internet is rife with the information we need to make informed decisions. There are films and books and campaigns.

But it's up to us to watch it. It's up to us to read it. And it's up to us to act upon it.

Yesterday, an element of criticism was leveled at David Attenborough's Planet Earth II, when BBC presenter and production rival Martin Hughes-Games claimed Attenborough was not as transparent about wildlife conservation in his documentary films as he could be.

Hughes-Games went as far as to claim Planet Earth II was 'a disaster for the world's wildlife':

"... These programmes are still made as if this worldwide mass extinction is simply not happening. The producers continue to go to the rapidly shrinking parks and reserves to make their films – creating a beautiful, beguiling fantasy world, a utopia where tigers still roam free and untroubled, where the natural world exists as if man had never been ... By fostering this lie they are lulling the huge worldwide audience into a false sense of security."

So rather than showing a deceased orangutan murdered by palm-oil plantation workers in Malaysia, as is reality, Attenborough's films showcase picturesque landscapes in Borneo where trees are filled with the swinging red men of the forest. Rather than filming butchered tigers at illegal pelt markets, Attenborough ends his scenes of big cats with thoughtful reminders to consider our environmental impact on their habitats.

However, many say they love Attenborough's films, and that his work inspired them to take a keener interest in the natural world. In his work outside the BBC, Attenborough speaks almost exclusively to environmental issues, tackling climate change, habitat loss and even challenging President-elect Trump on his natural world policies. But to some, his level of transparency is not enough.

The problem here is that David Attenborough is not our moral compass. David Attenborough is not our first and final hope at being an informed and aware citizen of planet Earth.

For that matter, no documentary filmmaker, conservationist or naturalist owes it to us to ensure we make the right decisions for the planet -- that onus is on us.

As a generation, we've come to a point in our Earth's history where claiming naivety is simply no longer good enough. And we certainly cannot blame filmmakers for leaving out the details.

For that matter, no documentary filmmaker, conservationist or naturalist owes it to us to ensure we make the right decisions for the planet -- that onus is on us.

We know tigers are endangered. We know global fish stocks are declining. We know our trash ends up in landfills. We know that store-bought puppies came from puppy mills. We know our beef burgers had miserable lives in factory farms. We know leaving electric appliances on contributes to global warming.

But we buy dogs, go fishing, eat meat and leave our lights on anyway.

When it comes to conservation, human beings are the true 'disaster for wildlife.' The problems facing our environment do not belong to David Attenborough and his team at the BBC. They belong to failing universal education systems, negligent international governmental bodies and everyday citizens whose repeated ignorance toward our planetary boundaries have failed the environment generation over.

And until we make the small changes necessary to emancipate the natural world from the grasp of modern society, we remain to blame for the destruction of planet Earth.

Not the BBC.

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