Sunday, 15 July 2007

Saving Planet Earth & the BBC Wildlife Fund

Saving Planet Earth & the BBC Wildlife Fund

I was very honoured to asked to be a Trustee of the BBC Wildlife Fund, which is the recipient of the funds raised by the Saving Planet Earth season on BBC TV over the past two weeks. As I write it has raised over £1,200,000. Which I suppose puts into perspective most people's views on the (un)importance of Saving Planet Earth. It's remarkably little, compared with Comic Relief. But we always knew that most people put the short term as much more important than the long term. And it is probable that the majority of the inhabitants of Britain, still think that climate change, the disappearance of rainforests and loss of biodiversty are all issues that won't affect them personally. How wrong they will probably prove to be.

Over the past few weeks there has been a lot written about ways of saving the planet -- magazines including BBC Wildlife, Radio Times and the Independent on Saturday -- have all proffered their advice. But not one of them have mentioned reducing family size. Switching off a few lightbulbs, recycling a newspaper or two, and cycling to work, all have negligible effects compared with not having any children. It may be politically incorrect to even mention the subject (certainly it seemed to be under the reproductively prolific Blair leadership), but it's an incontrovertible fact that it is the single most effective way of combating global climate change, preserving wildlife habitats, and preserving biodiversity. The burgeoning human populations in all parts of the world are unsustainable, and until politicians (and aid agencies) face up to that fact, the world is in dire straits.

But back to Saving Planet Earth. The season culminated in a concert in Kew Gardens, which was broadcast throughout Friday evening with various celeb's in attendance. Certainly not my idea of entertainment -- but it is argued it's a way of attracting an entirely new audience, and making them aware of the problems facing the planet. Only time will tell if this was worthwhile. I personally have a fairly low opinion of the average Sun reader (one of the areas where Saving Planet Earth was promoted), and would argue in favour of sticking to the normal target audience of Grauniad/Times/Indie readership. The argument against being that we would be preaching to the converted. But then aren't the converted are more likely to reach deeper into their pockets? Aren't they more likely to be policy makers? The readers of the Sun may have disposable income, but are they likely to respond? I'd put my money on the Opera-going, Royal Academy members, and Courtauld visiting public any day. But I make absolutely no claims to be a pundit on any of these issues -- which is why I would be interested to hear alternative views. How important is mass opinion? If the Iraqui war is anything to go by, not much. And that is probably a related issue......

But back to Saving Planet Earth. I was very encouraged by the fact that Sir David Attenborough did bring the human population issue into the picture, right at the begining in the very first broadcast of the season. Let's hope that moves it up the agenda.

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