Racing Extinction

In my timeworn tradition of being years behind trends, I just saw an amazing documentary from 2015 on Hulu. It’s called Racing Extinction, and it’s both beautiful and horrifying. It has forever changed the way I look at the world.

The cinematography is stunning. Many of the people involved in this documentary also worked for National Geographic. That pretty much tells you all you need to know about this film’s quality.

It moved me to tears more than once. The first time was when they played the recording of the very last O’o bird singing a mating song that would never, ever be answered. Then there were the views of hundreds of thousands of shark fins on a roof in Hong Kong, and footage of sharks with their fins chopped off, struggling to swim to get air through their gills, only to eventually suffocate. And the sight of majestic manta rays fighting for their lives in hour-long battles with fishermen made me want to scream.

At this point I’ve probably convinced you not to see this documentary, but I urge you to change your mind. It will open your eyes. It shows you incontrovertible evidence of the methane we release into the atmosphere every day. It shows how this methane is making the oceans more acidic, and how this acid dissolves seashells. It demonstrates how this is killing the phytoplankton that produces more than half the oxygen we breathe. As the film says, “Your life depends on the oceans breathing.”

It also says that “if every American skipped meat and cheese just one day a week for a year, it would be like taking 7.6 million cars off the road.” (I’m managing to be meat-free 3 to 4 days a week, but that doesn’t let you off the hook.)

But more than anything, it shows the gorgeous way they are educating all of us about this crisis. Check out their website to see the videos they have displayed on the side of the Empire State Building, for example. Absolutely stunning. The website also suggests ways you can help slow down this man-made mass extinction that is happening all around you, even as you read this. Please help.

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Copyright Jon Brumbaug

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Don’t Panic

Our basic instincts haven’t had a chance to catch up with the modern world. There are many things we are forced to do in our own best interests that go against every fiber of our being, like turning into a skid when driving on a slippery surface.

When the flight attendant does the safety speech and gets to the part about oxygen masks and says, “If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.” I always think, “Yeah, right. That’s gonna happen.” I mean, it makes sense when everything is calm, cool, and under control, but what parent isn’t instinctively going to go for their child’s mask first?

Then there are relationships. I stayed in a 16 year relationship that made me miserable because it felt safer than taking the risk of spending the rest of my life all alone. Back when women had to depend on men for their very survival, this was a logical choice, but in this modern era it was just a 16 year waste of my precious time.

Road rage, I’m convinced, is simply a misdirected reaction to being chased by some ancient saber-toothed tiger. I mean, honestly, blowing your stack because you’re stuck in traffic is a little over the top, don’t you think?

And what must the most ancient part of your brain think when we actually SEEK fear? When we ride a roller coaster, for example, it must feel like we are attacking ourselves on the most basic level. Our hippocampi must want to run for the nearest exit.

In this modern world, full of school shootings and traffic jams and artificial anxieties, it is very important to sit yourself down every now and then and seek a little bit of perspective. It’s going to be all right. It really is.