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A Witness for the past and future

Written by: Simon Palmer | Posted on: | Category:

Last night I watched the Attenborough Witness Statement. I cannot describe the level of emotions I went through. Everything from absolute love for this man through guilt, helplessness, hopelessness, anger and then a small glimmer of hope.

Afterwards, while sitting talking with Cate, I discussed the fact that this important document of evidence is only available to watch through Netflix. I understand the rationale that they helped produce and fund this and that they want to encourage as many people to subscribe to their service, but in a world where many do not have access to internet (or, if they do, do not have the disposable income needed to subscribe to a streaming service) there is no access to something so important. In some ways the irony of the gulf between those who have and those who don’t is shown in this very scenario.

Knowing that we have all been in a lockdown situation for some time, and hearing in the news that subscription services have done very well from it, one can only appeal to their humanity and hope that in some way, they could release this program to free view. It is certainly a programme that everyone should have the opportunity to view and learn from. In fact, I think it is critical to the future of us all. It is incredibly important, well-argued and scientifically validated.

Cate and I talked for some time last night about the content. It resurfaces questions like; Why aren’t all houses built with solar panels as standard? Even in countries where there is a poorer level of sunlight, there is a contribution this technology would make. Needless to say, the argument that it is costly has long since gone away; in fact, with a mandate to require solar panels on every new build, the cost would be driven down through the economies of scale. Not only that, but there is the potential for increasing employment in manufacturing.

Similarly, we talked about electric cars. They cost too much right now because the technology is still expensive and the infrastructure for supporting them isn’t available widely. You only have to watch the episodic “Long way up” with Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman. They are driving electric Harley Davidsons from the tip of Argentina to Los Angeles - even the two support vehicles are electric - but, at the time of filming, they have incredible challenges with temperature and recharging even though both the cars and bikes are leading-edge prototypes.

There are arguments that this would change if there were the demand. I say there is the demand, but the cost is prohibitive to those who would adopt it. Currently, you again have to have a level of income that means it is out of reach for many. Unfortunately, it takes a company to decide that wide scale adoption would be better than a shareholder return. How many of us see that happening?

I also had a conversation with my printers. They are currently producing one of my books, and they are based in the UK. They, like many in that business suffer at the hands of the cheap costs of producing in China – this too is changing. You only have to listen to the adverts, and you will hear every other one stating that they care about the environment. It’s recognised by the marketing companies that this is now becoming an important question. Even Sir David’s new book is printed in the UK, like my book!!

So, what can be done? The truth is that people power can make changes happen fast. This is why we should all be able to see the Witness Film by Sir David Attenborough. Armed with the motivation, the knowledge and desire for our children to have a future, because we are quite literally facing the end of human kind. Eighty years. Babies being born now are most definitely facing a future that is being predetermined by all our actions today and, right now, the future does not look good.


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