Fahim Shahriar Tasnim
Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 every year. Earth Day was celebrated for the first time in 1970 in the USA to give a voice to the emerging public consciousness about the state of our planet. The movement went global in 1990 when it mobilised 200 million people in 141 country and lifted environmental issues to the world stage. Earth Day 1990 boosted recycling efforts all around the globe. It also leads the way to the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro. Today, Earth Day is considered as the largest secular movement in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behaviour in order to save the earth.
It is imperative that we care about our environment but what we fail to comprehend again and again is the extent to which we have destroyed our planet, and the environment we live in. This year on Earth Day we will be confined to our home because of the global Corona virus (COVID-19) pandemic. Watching Anthropocene: The Human Epoch could be the best thing we can do with our friends and family to raise consciousness about the planet we love. The first step towards change is to understand the extent of the damage. This documentary will definitely change the way we think about environmental issues in general. Environmental issues are not something that should be in the agenda of global policy-makers, governments and international institutions only. They should be on our agenda of day to day life too. We are going through the sixth mass extinction. The fifth mass extinction ended with the extinction of the dinosaurs was. Today, species are becoming extinct 100 times faster because of anthropogenic activities. The number of wild animals has more than halved since 1970. In the meantime, the population of human being has doubled. Human beings have existed for just 200,000 years, yet our impact on the planet is so great that scientists around the world are calling for our period in the Earth’s history to be called the ‘Anthropocene‘- the age of humans. The documentary is based on the research of the Anthropocene Working Group, a team of scientists. They recommended a formal declaration of the end of Earth’s Holocene Epoch in 2016. We are at a time when humans now change the Earth more than all the planet’s natural processes combined. The documentary, part of a multidisciplinary project by Jennifer Baichwal, Nicholas de Pencier and Edward Burtynsky, depicts the scale of disruptions caused by humans, which at times have an almost science fiction quality. This documentary has won a handful of awards — Canadian Screen Awards, CA 2019, Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards 2019, International Documentary Association 2019, Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival 2019, Toronto Film Critics Association Awards 2018, Vancouver Film Critics Circle 2018. It is a cinematic mediation on our massive engineering of the planet. The filmmakers have travelled 20 countries from 6 countries for over four years covering the concrete seawalls in China to the biggest terrestrial machines ever built in Germany, to psychedelic potash mines in Russia’s Ural Mountains, to metal festivals in the closed city of Norilsk, to the devastated Great Barrier Reef in Australia and surreal lithium evaporation ponds in the Atacama desert. This documentary will remind you again and again that we cannot treat our planet like this. It is poetic and powerful in the way it portrays the beauty and also the horrific impact of our activities as we have left the Holocene epoch and enter the Anthropocene.
Don’t follow Fahim Shahriar’s advice.