Changing Planet producer says coral reefs could stop reproducing in 5 years, 1 lakh species could go extinct each year

Jul 26, 2023 06:11 AM IST

Changing Planet executive producer Rosemary Edwards talks to HT about extinction of species and makes scary predictions about how things will change soon.

As global warming continues to harken the horrors that are to come, a topical documentary series Changing Planet delves into issues that prove to be a challenge for the planet. Executive producer Rosemary Edwards talks to Hindustan Times about the show and how it demonstrates innovative solutions for resolution of environmental issues. She also made some shocking revelations regarding how things could change for the worse in just five years. Also read: July upcoming web series: The Trial, Adhura, Sweet Kaaram Coffee to Ishq Next Door

A still from Changing Planet.
A still from Changing Planet.

Over the course of seven years, Rosemary's Changing Planet aims to show how solutions discovered in one location can be applied to address similar issues in other locations. Excerpts from the interview:

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What is the narrative of Changing Planet?

It is a look at conservation on one planet over seven years. We are charting the extraordinary work being done by extraordinary communities and scientists – all fighting to stop the key issues affecting the world today.

What are the challenges of making a show on flora and fauna?

Timing, nothing happens when you want it to even though it is supposed to, and climate change makes natural events even harder to predict. However, we do look at human involvement in environmental projects which makes it a bit easier.

Rosemary Edwards is the executive producer of Changing Planet.
Rosemary Edwards is the executive producer of Changing Planet.

The show touches upon the challenges of warming seas, shrinking habitats, and melting Arctic regions. How serious is the situation on Earth at present?

We are at a tipping point. Many ask why we chose 7 years rather than 10 or 20 and it is because we have just a precious handful of years, probably less than a decade to change our direction– what action we take now will decide the future of the planet. Our research has been to talk to science communities across the world and they have said time is running out, so we expect to know – in the lifetime of this series whether we have managed globally to keep temperature rise below the critical 1.5C.

In roughly five years, we could reach a point where the world’s coral reefs stop reproducing. The Amazon rainforest may now be close to its tipping point where it transitions from healing to hurting the planet’s carbon balance.

In Southeast Asia, the mighty Mekong River system which supports more than 50 million people could collapse in the next five years.

The most conservative estimates put our extinction rate at about 200 species a year. The more frightening possibility is that it’s closer to 100,000 species a year. Scientists are scrambling to record what we have before it’s lost.

We seem to be doing too little for the planet. What are the five most important steps we need to take in order to slow down climate change?

I think it is difficult to give everyone five steps to slow down climate change because we all live in different circumstances and with different levels of financial security or access to conservation initiatives. I would say do what you can.

Plant carbon-loving plants, cut down on your car journeys or if you can afford to go to green power transport, meat-free days, etc – do that. Ask questions – how can I improve and spread the word? Every little help. Read the solutions from the scientists and follow their advice.

The show also touches upon innovations that play a role in climate conservation. Can you give one easy and reasonable solution that can solve a massive problem regarding climate change?

We aren’t just looking at climate change – we are looking at many and varied ecological challenges that are threatening our eco systems so I would say one of the most impressive natural solutions that seem to prove themselves again and again is releasing beavers into our waterways. They are eco engineers and help many rivers to free flow.

Changing Planet will premiere on Sony BBC Earth on July 31.

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