There is a duality to Bill Gates’ writing; a core message to humanity, split into two sentences of equal importance, and, if ignored, equal consequence. The first is this: carry out the solutions we have found. The second: find what is missing. When practiced in tandem, these two separate clauses create an endless cycle of action and reflection, taking responsibility before learning what those responsibilities are – and, of course, why they are – before, of course, taking responsibility again.
Craig Foster’s ‘My Octopus Teacher’ is proof that beneath the amorphous and kaleidoscopic skin of the octopus, there is something more – a message that could not be more relevant to the vertiginous state of human life today. What sets it apart from other documentaries, however, is the ways in which it can appeal directly to the individual. Rather than bringing our position within the entirety of humankind into sharp relief, it plays to a different set of emotions we all possess – and in a much quieter, slower way than some of the epic and cinematic pieces we have written on in the past.
The global effort against climate change has been brought much closer to the forefront over the past few years, with new initiatives, grants, plans and proposals being put forth by governing bodies with increasing frequency. In the UK, new measures as varied as the export tariff, local efficiency incentives, company and road tax benefits on electric cars, and new energy performance standards for the domestic construction sector comprise just a small part of the impetus driving toward a more sustainable future.
For many years now, the UK has been preparing itself for an uphill battle against its own carbon footprint. From the individual household and the solitary car on the morning commute, to the transport, agricultural and manufacturing sectors, the country’s way of life has proven itself untenable as we struggle to steer ourselves away from a future of devastation, and every area of existence as we know it seems to represent a significant contributing factor.
For the most part, the concept of air pollution remains abstract. Even now, as levels are reaching higher than ever before, and attempts at raising awareness are growing more aggressive, it is easy for many of us, particularly in the UK, to ‘forget’ about the issue unless the statistics are placed directly under our noses.
The underlying theme uniting each episode of Zac Efron’s Netflix Original docuseries, Down to Earth, is one of harmony. As a traveller and presenter, his mission is to cultivate a strong synchronisation between his own health and wellbeing, and that of the planet itself – to strengthen his personal relationship with Earth through an increased understanding of the ways in which it functions, and how those basic functions can fulfil his own needs.
We remain at such an early stage of repairing the planet that it is still refreshing to hear someone state the obvious, which is that, by now, we are all aware of the dangers posed to the planet, and to human and animal life. So much of climate awareness continues to centre on the notion that the vast majority of us are simply ignorant, or that we buried our heads in the sand long ago and, as a result, do not hold any comprehension of the enormity of the situation as it is in 2020.
Every now and again, someone is able to put the climate crisis into words so clearly, and yet so passionately, that neither detachment nor wishful thinking can argue them away. Sir David Attenborough’s exploration of the dissonance between modern life and the natural world – both of which we are a part – is far more than a documentary on climate change. It is a call to action, and he states the severity of the issue with such gravity that the viewer is left feeling as though they have been reached out to personally.
This year has further cemented the significance solar PV holds for the future of energy generation, both within the UK, and across the globe. From augmenting the necessity for a green recovery as the nation begins to re-emerge following the considerable trials of the past nine months, to yet more indisputable proof of the toll climate change is taking on communities around the world, 2020 has offered further, vital insight into the obligation we all hold toward forging a more sustainable future.